“Thus far and no further” said Theresa Villiers, shadow Transport Secretary, about the prospect of a third runway at Heathrow, at the Conservative Party Conference. Villiers promised that a future Conservative Government would block any third runway at Heathrow, in favour of High Speed Rail development.
Shadow transport minister Julian Brazier said: We are absolutely firm on our opposition to expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. It will definitely be in the manifesto.
He said he did not buy arguments from the air travel industry that extra capacity at Heathrow was vital for UK business. Only a quarter of passengers travelling through there are doing business in Britain, he said. The Evening Standardreports Mr Brazier clashed with Tom Kelly, head of corporate affairs at airport operator BAA, over the issue at a fringe meeting held by Right-wing think tank Policy Exchange. Mr Kelly claimed UK companies lost £1 billion every year a third runway was not built.
He said: For decades we have known that we don’t have enough runway capacity in this country and we didn’t think it through. We muddled on as Heathrow got fuller and fuller. The price of that is very real.
HACAN Clearskies said the Tory position effectively means the third runway is dead in the water. Chairman John Stewart said: That huge figure for how much business would lose if it isn’t built doesn’t factor in any of the associated costs such as noise, emissions and traffic congestion. Therefore its claims are exaggerated.
John Stewart, and others including Mike Forster of BAA, will speak on ‘A Business Case for the Third Runway?’ at Place West London on October 13. See the full programme here.