Heathrow expansion removed from DfT list of ministerial responsibilities for Aviation Minister, Kelly Tolhurst

Kelly Tolhurst has been appointed  Aviation Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) at the DfT.  She is the 6th Aviation minister in 3 years – they do not last long.  In the DfT reshuffle, the specific mention of Heathrow has now been removed from the list of ministerial responsibilities.  When the last Aviation Minister, Paul Maynard, had the job, his list of responsibilities included “Aviation (including Heathrow expansion). Now the equivalent list for Kelly Tolhurst just says “Aviation.”  This might imply the DfT now sees Heathrow as less important. The DfT were swift to say it was just a matter of wording, and a “stylistic difference”…. 


Kelly Tolhurst MP – now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

at the Department for Transport. Appointed on 13 February 2020.

She was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from 19 July 2018 to 13 February 2020.


Kelly Tolhurst is responsible for:

  • aviation
  • maritime
  • security and civil contingencies
  • Commons shadow roads

Rail Minister and Lancashire MP Andrew Stephenson has been given his portfolio, taking on responsibility for HS2, on top of overseeing the Transpennine route and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The appointment comes following Boris’ commitment to get control of the project’s spiralling costs. Initially the Government estimated the cost of HS2 would be £32.7 billion – saying at the time it would bring £46.9 billion worth of benefits. The cost has now ballooned to at least £106 billion. Stephenson will have a job on his hands…

Paul Maynard, whom Andrew Stephenson replaces, had “Aviation (including Heathrow expansion)” as one of the subjects within his portfolio.
Now on the Department for Transport website, published overnight, any specific mention of Heathrow has been dropped, it no longer features under any of the Ministers’ remits.
This much needed, no cost to the taxpayer, infrastructure boost for the global cargo trade which flows through Heathrow doesn’t seem to warrant a minister’s interest. This may be a reshuffle oversight or it might signal something about the commitment of this government…
Kelly Tolhurst has responsibility for aviation, with no explicit stated brief for expansion. What are we to (not) read into this?
UPDATE: A belligerent DfT spokesman gets in touch to spin “Heathrow expansion is included in the aviation brief and it’s only a stylistic difference. Nothing should be read into it.” In addition to the current legal delays there does seem to be a lack of will at the top to get this done.When the PM was asked at PMQs a few weeks ago about the building of a third runway at Heathrow he said “I see no bulldozers at present, nor any immediate prospect of them arriving.”


Government Drops Heathrow Expansion as Ministerial Priority


The No 3rd Runway Coalition remarked that new DfT Aviation Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, is the 6th since the Coalition was formed just 3 years ago. They don’t last.

Lord Ahmad (2017)

Lord Callanan (2017)

Baroness Sugg (2017-19)

Baroness Vere (2019)

Paul Maynard (2019-20)

Kelly Tolhurst (2020-)