Heathrow expansion won't happen, says Vince Cable

 

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

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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.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 687.

    685.
    Adam

    Can't argue with that.

    I do find it strange that Labour have made a U turn and no longer support, and now the Conservatives seem to be making the opposite U turn.

    Meaning whomever is in power seems to support, as if for no other reason than they are in power (and the opposition oppose for no other reason than they're in opposition).

    Why don't the media just give the pros and cons?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 686.

    How about fast rail link between Heathrow and Northolt half of the line is already there. Have Northolt for many domestic flights. The link time between the airports would not be much more than between LHR terminals.

    Might have to lengthen the runway and put A40 under it!

    It is only 6 miles between airports and only requires less than 4 miles of rail to link them.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 685.

    669. Rodders

    LHR is a private business and the expansion will be paid for entirely by the private sector. The only people standing in the way are central government (who are right to consider alternative options in the national interest) and some NIMBY's at Hillingdon Council.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 684.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 683.

    Changing planes at Heathrow is a nightmare. That is what I hear from my overseas colleagues -- I am based in the UK and never have to do this. I do not see any point saving the Spanish-owned BAA by expanding Heathrow. Build a new airport, expand Birmingham, increase the competition between airports for the benefit of British consumers and British business.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 682.

    673.
    David M
    ___

    Well it seems that by avoiding the usual media outlets i found some info!

    Seems this expansion was supported by that nasty Labour party, and opposed by those forward thinking Conservatives (who cancelled the plans on 12 May 2010 when taking office).

    No wonder they're squirming!

    Gov't should let it be assessed on merit as opposed to turning it into a party issue.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 681.

    Frankly, I'm sick and tired with all this emphasis on London and Heathrow. London is supposed to be the capital of the UK. There to promote the UK, as opposed to (selfishly) itself at the expense of the rest of the nation. If it can't do the job of a capital city anymore, it should step aside and simply become like New York. I propose that our 'Washington DC' be set up in Birmingham.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 680.

    There may be a huge requirement for business people to fly in and out of London, but the rest of the flying population of the UK don't need to haul all the way to Heathrow or further just to go on holiday. NY has 2 hub airports, as does DC, 2 hours away by train. So why the demand that the UK only has one. But a decision needs to be made quickly and end all the speculation and procrastination.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 679.

    This run way has been planned for at least 20 years or more, Esso has a terminal in the the planned 3rd way, they have been waiting to close for the last 20 years. It will happen, it will take a party in power to have the balls to give it the go ahead!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 678.

    675 Adriansmith "plus less density of population", have to disagree, I think the UK population is being very dense to swallow this no new runway hogwash. We need the capacity and the Estuary idea has been looked at repeatedly and failed for numerous reasons, although it still appeals as it has less effect on conservative consttuency property values.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 677.

    The problem with Heathrow is that it's got far to many aircraft coming into it, this airport operates at 99% of capacity due to demand which has always outstretched capacity. A third runway is the only and best option, simply because it's an ideal airport. A new Terminal 6 and a third runway will reduce airborne holding, and add further business opportunities. It's a no brainier guys!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 676.

    673.
    David M

    They are of course making the case
    ___

    I don't mean the politicians making the case...

    Where is the planning application?

    Why all the talk of taxpayer funding?

    Can LHR not make a public case?

    If they have submitted an application etc why is that not being discussed anywhere? (including by the politicians)


    Why aren't we seeing the pros and cons instead of political wriggling?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 675.

    Its all very well saying how many other capitals have 3 or more runways, they have larger landmass than we do, plus less density of population next to them unlike Heathrow has. It will of course come down to cost. It would be cheaper to add to Heathrow as infrastructure is already in place. We do need to expand but where is the question. Nimbies watch out we may be coming to a garden near you.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 674.

    UK economic growth or house price values in West London and the Home Counties, that's an easy call... Just need some more austerity measures....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 673.

    669.Rodders

    "LHR is a private business (aiming to make a profit). If there is a real business case for a third runway, why is LHR not pushing that case?

    More to the point, if there were such a business case, why is that business not investing for itself?"

    You plonker Rodney! They are of course making the case. There is absolutely zero capacity at Heathrow. They would also fund it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 672.

    @649 ForQueenAndCountry: London may be all the things you believe it is, but it is not the place where 75% of the UK population lives, nor is it somewhere we wish to pay for the privilege of travelling through on our way elsewhere.

    Stop forcing everyone else to travel through London, and you'll find that the SE of England has more than enough capacity already.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 671.

    When will Vince Cable actually start being a BUSINESS secretary and get some back bone. A third runway is the only option which could be started soon and actually aid the economy in the short term. The Libdems should be pushing for this rather than constantly opposing every possible pro-growth measure.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 670.

    Vince Cable may say that Heathrow expansion won't happen, but it think the chances of the government's review recommending that no changes be made to airport capacity in the South East are almost nil. Yes the initial costs may be high, but we need more airport capacity if we are to compete in the modern world. Burying our heads in the sand isn't an option.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 669.

    662.
    A Realist

    What economic basis is there to support another runway?

    LHR is a private business (aiming to make a profit). If there is a real business case for a third runway, why is LHR not pushing that case?

    More to the point, if there were such a business case, why is that business not investing for itself?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 668.

    A more direct link to the solution if needed...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrN99RELqwo&feature=youtu.be

 

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