Jenny Randerson writes… The final decision on Heathrow is imminent and Lib Dems are standing firm

It feels as if we have been waiting for a decision on airport expansion for a very long time. And in fact we have been – it was 2012 when the Airports Commission was set up and asked to come up with a recommendation for how the UK can best meet its international connectivity needs. But we finally have the long awaited “Davies Report”, and it is now up to the Government to make the final decision.

They are facing a major political dilemma. The report has a very clear conclusion: Heathrow is the airport it wants to see expanded. But if the Government goes ahead with this it may see resignations from its own benches as well as a huge number of angry and upset Londoners.

Liberal Democrats are continuing to hold our firm stance of opposing expansion at Heathrow. The threats are too great – in terms of air quality, carbon emissions and noise pollution. Heathrow already breaches legal limits on air quality and there is nothing more than lip service in the report on how this would be addressed.

Instead, the focus should be on airports outside of London which have spare capacity, such as Birmingham and Manchester. Greater use of these airports would see economic growth and jobs across the UK, attracting foreign investors to businesses located in the north and midlands. This is the opportunity we should be grasping.

We have been promised an answer from the Government by Christmas. I challenged the Minister in Parliament again yesterday about it and he reiterated this promise. Lib Dems will continue our opposition to it, led by Caroline Pidgeon our London Mayoral candidate, and we will keep putting on the pressure. It will not be long now before we see whether the Government stick to their word, or opt to kick it into the long grass once again. ​

* Jenny Randerson is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, and is the party's front bench spokesperson on transport.

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  • East Midlands has plenty of space for expansion, easily accessible from the M1 and central. Easy to access from most parts of England (well less so for south west). Would reduce the amount of traffic going to and from the southern airports and may encourage business to move into the east Midlands.

    Always attempts to build up Manchester & Birmingham, leaving the other areas in the Midlands & North east left to the side lines. It’s great to invest in the north/Midlands but it needs to be evenly spread it we still have the same inequality for many.

  • Tsar Nicholas 24th Nov '15 - 10:10pm

    Given that both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have released data showing that global average temperature for October 2015 was 1.25 degrees centigrade above 1880s levels, and a full one degree above the average for 1951-1980, isn’t it time to stop talking of airport expansion at all?

    We are more than halfway to the supposedly safe two degree limit (imposed by politics not science) and our society shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, its race to the edge of the cliff is speeding up.

  • Peter Bancroft 25th Nov '15 - 12:08am

    Has anyone asked why the airports outside of London have spare capacity? Isn’t it likely to be that nobody wants to buy the capacity, despite Heathrow having been at 99% utilisation for a few years now?

  • Shouldn’t we be having a “connectivity” push regarding trains? Surely reducing short and medium haul loads within UK and in Europe should be our aim. Long term, I think we can already see a future with less long-haul air travel anyway, unless we all want to be burned alive! I think those many on LDV opposing HS2 should give that a thought. However, other frustrating issues with lack of rail capacity are holding us, and our connections with Europe, back. An example is the DB(German Railways) proposal to operate through High Speed services from Frankfurt and Koln via the tunnel to London. This proposal was due to be implemented around 2 – 3 years ago, but has been delayed several times, the latest date likely to be 2019. This delay said to be due to SNCF (French Railways) delay in assessing passage requirements for the trains concerned, but my understanding is that the British authorities have not exactly been pushing the project!

  • @John Bennett – That’s because they don’t get to use or see the M25 when travelling in from central London…

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