Heathrow expansion won't happen, says Vince Cable


Vince Cable says there is "formidable" cross-party opposition to a third runway

Related Stories

An expansion of Heathrow Airport is "not going to happen", Business Secretary Vince Cable has said.

His comments came after the government launched a commission on how to increase the UK's aviation capacity, amid fears business is losing out.

Mr Cable told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show the value of this exercise was to "look at the alternatives".

Several senior Tories say Heathrow must expand, but others, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, oppose the idea.

Environmentalists and many residents of west and south-west London have raised fears over pollution, noise and damage to the area's way of life.

A commission chaired by ex-Financial Services Authority boss Sir Howard Davies to examine ways to expand airport capacity will report in 2015, leaving the decision to the next government.

'Political commitment'

The 2010 coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats included not expanding Heathrow. The previous Labour government backed a third runway, but now opposes the idea.

However, there have been growing calls among senior Tories for a change of policy, with supporters arguing that UK business is losing out to international rival "hub" airports, such as Schiphol in the Netherlands.

But Mr Johnson, who opposes the expansion of Heathrow, has called the decision to set up a commission a "fudge".

And Tory and environmental campaigner MP Zac Goldsmith, who represents Richmond Park and North Kingston, in south-west London, has threatened to resign if the Conservative Party changes its policy.

Mr Johnson is understood to have discussed the idea of standing in any resulting by-election as part of a bid to fight plans to expand Heathrow Airport.

Liberal Democrat Mr Cable, who also represents a south-west London seat, Twickenham, said: "This is not a parochial little problem for south-west London. There are potentially two million people affected by this.

"There's an absolute political commitment not to expand Heathrow."

He added: "It's not going to happen, so the value of the commission that the prime minister has looked at is looking at the alternatives."

'Difficult debate'

These could include Mr Johnson's proposal to build a new airport east of London, partly on reclaimed land in the Thames Estuary.

The new transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has said the commission - headed by former Financial Services Authority boss Sir Howard Davies - will identify and recommend to government "options for maintaining this country's status as an international hub for aviation".

In a written statement, Mr McLoughlin said: "This is a very difficult debate, but the reality is that since the 1960s Britain has failed to keep pace with our international competitors in addressing long-term aviation capacity and connectivity needs."

The Davies commission will publish an interim report by the end of 2013, with ideas on how to improve the use of existing runway capacity over the next five years and an assessment of what is needed to maintain the UK's global hub status.

That will be followed, in the summer of 2015, by its final report.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    No matter how Boris's ideas for the estuary airport are dressed up it still leaves the fact that it will destroy an accepted INTERNATIONALLY important habitat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Boris Johnson for Prime Minister please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    DLS #153
    That is a brilliant surgestion, I was in favour of re-developing the "Olymic Park" into an airport, but surely that would have been too close to the Westminster Palace for the MP's to suspend their debates every 30 seconds while a Boeing 747 circled central London instead of West London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    The Davies Commission - when you want to kick the cn down the road, you form a Commission. Its INTERIM report is due by the end of 2013, with ideas on how to improve the use of existing runway capacity over the next 5 years.
    What this really means is status quo till 2014 (at least), & probably longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Is it just me, or are there several posters making almost identical posts which are extremely insulting to the rest of the UK?

    Vampire, Charles, Peter Buck, ged et al - you have been rumbled. Stop using multiple logins, stop trolling and get over yourself - the vast majority of us are not interested in your precious London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Heathrow is surrounded by housing and the M$ and the transport is terrible at best. What about improving transport links for Gatwick and Stanstead (high speed rail) and build an extra runway each AND build a 4 runway hub and build high speed rail from Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, London &. It was be costly but it will help and generally improve internal railway infrastructure too

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Business wants a 3rd runway? I suspect that businesses in the Midlands, Wales, the North and Scotland want better communication, but that isn't a runway at Heathrow. Most regular users want to avoid LHR - ask Nissan engineers in Sunderland or RR engineers in Derby or software designers from all over the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    It wrankles with me and many HYS'ers but visitors want to fly into London and not elsewhere. Even the barmy trick that Labour tried in naming other airports London, as in London/Luton and London/Stansted didn't work.
    Therefore London Heathrow HAS to be expanded in some way. Bigger aircraft, open longer hours, whatever!! but it has to be done to please tourists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Yes there is life North of Watford, but people and business do not want to go there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    and when there is a major accident or terrorist attack involving a large aircraft, obliterating residential areas, killing and maiming people, and closing down London and commerce, will it then seem so sensible to have this airport of ever increasing sprawling size there? No. Lets look and plan ahead while still hoping the scenario never arises.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Crossie I think it's you missing the point. Yes, most business is conducted in London but if the transport infrastructure was better elsewhere then that could only benefit the economy more and distribute the wealth better. I understand how you Southerners want to have it all. Don't let your greed get in the way of common sense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    I'm seeing all the comments stating the "visitors only care about London and not the other backwater towns" and I realise that because of this mentality of putting all the "eggs in one basket", the UK is one of the few industrialised countries that appears to only have town. If the Olympics happen again, people from elsewhere will ask "London? Again? Don't they have any other cities?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Though I am no Boris fan, he is totally right on this issue, it is a complete fudge. This review is a prime example of the coalitions desire to cling to power at any cost, I would have some respect for the government if it started making decisions that actually mattered to the country, rather than a wasteful reorganisation of the NHS and tinkering with our democracy. What a shower they are

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    So we have to wait until 2015 and when will the decision taken. In the meantime we will be delegated to the third division in international league of Airports and China will probaly build few more airports. The decision making powers of this Governmet need some injection of Oxygen so help us God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    The Thames Estuary concept is not something that is unthinkable. The studies into feasibility of the Thames Estuary Airport have put the approximate cost at £50bn. That's not a lot. Now considering there is £32bn being spent on HS2 it IS economical.Then LHR can be demolished, set aside for some large scale housing & com. developments thus keep West London and the M4 commuter corridor worthwhile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    Green belt is important.Also other parts of U.K. can do with growing and that also can be seen.Also increase in transportation service by other means between other parts and London are important too.It will bring more employment,which is needed..

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    And who exactly is Vince Cable? Nothing will ever get done with this concertina government.

    Try piloting through London air space, put it this way one delay and you have a domino effect with air traffic as well as passengers.

    You can never believe Cameron, his promises are like water and one day they will run dry... is Cameron pulling the strings here or is it the lobbyist?

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    @103 Dr_Ads:
    "but you don't have to, you can fly out of an airport near you"
    Yes - to London - that's how the hub model works and it means I have to pay for an additional flight and spend 3-5 hours getting to and transiting through London.

    And how do you know how many people want to visit my part of the country? What do you know about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    4 HYS on this in one week !?

    Scots, Northerners, Midlanders, Welsh ... just use your regional airport and a European Hub. Ergo ... LHR capacity problem sorted. All airlines speak perfect English and provide a more pleasant experience from your home airport.

    No reason for us to support a Spanish/Qatari owned airport and a private airline (BA) which has no regard for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    If, as stated in the #2coaliton agrement, (that's the one that doesen't include any LibDem proposals) why do we need an inquiry/investigation or other money wasting exercise. Surely the money would be better spent on "reducing the deficit" or should we just borrow a few more million of "public (not the Govternments)" money to finance D.C.'s attempt to cling on to power


Page 27 of 35


More Politics stories



  • Firth of Forth bridgeWhat came Firth?

    How the Forth was crossed before the famous bridge

  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?

  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing

  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    The number of old people killing themselves has fallen. Why?

  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.