The Mayor of London has described the Airports Commission decision to recommend that a third runway be built at Heathrow as highly predictable, short-termist and completely politically undeliverable.
Boris Johnson also says he was “astounded” by their recommendation that there be a legislative ban on a fourth runway. He feels that no Parliament can bind its successors.
Far from saying “sorry”, as Back Heathrow asked, Boris attacked the report more or less from start to finish, describing pledges to cut aircraft noise as “hokum”, said that the noise envelpe lacked detail, said the independent noise authority proposed as toothless, and criticised the night flight ban for not covering “the whole night” – it runs 11.30pm to 5.30am, obviously Boris likes a long sleep.
He has concerns over noise and air quality, both of which the Commission hopes will be mitigated over time by technological advances in aviation.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This highly predictable report offers a short-termist recommendation that would be judicially reviewed from here to Kingdom come and is completely politically undeliverable. Heathrow already contributes more to noise pollution than any other airport in Europe and the Airports Commission’s pledge that noise can be reduced there is quite frankly hokum.
He returned, as expected to the idea of an Estuary Airport, one discounted by the Commission due to cost, environmental issues, and business disturbance. He does not agree, saying: “The question the Government will now inevitably return to is whether we should go for an ambitious and visionary long term approach by building a new airport to the east of London, rather than a short term and environmentally catastrophic expansion of Heathrow. There are much better solutions and that is where we will end up.”
He also says his team have also highlighted a “wholly inadequate approach” by the Airports Commission in their consideration of the costs and provision of new surface access to Heathrow, saying they rely too heavily on schemes like Crossrail and the Piccadilly Line Upgrade which he says have been designed to meet the existing level of passenger demand, not for an expansion at Heathrow.
The Mayor of London’s chief advisor on aviation, Daniel Moylan, said: “The noise impacts of an expanded Heathrow are truly monstrous – and no amount of finessing flightpaths by Heathrow Airport Limited can hide that – or the increased incidence of stroke and heart disease that will follow. Faced with a report that runs roughshod over the serious environmental concerns it has identified, the only environmentally responsible course of action is to file this report where it belongs – in the recycling bin.”
The Mayor of London remains opposed to Heathrow, and prefers a solution involving a new airport. As a member of the Government, albeit not as a Minister, he will have a position to promote these views, as he did this morning by gathering with MPs who opposed Heathrow expansion outside the House of Commons.
Ignoring him, and others, and adopting the Airports Commission report as Government policy will take an act of political courage, and strong leadership. If Boris is right, we have wasted three years, £20m, and possibly any opportunity to maintain London’s position in the global city pecking order. When the Commission was created, some said it was a thinly disguised ruse to kick an uncomfortable issue in to the long grass, and out of the debate for the following General Election. If that is true, then it was irresponsible, and will have damaged many UK companies, and the future of our economy, possibly irreperably.