Angie Bray Gets Answer On Heathrow

The MP asks Transport Minister to clarify position on third runway

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Following all the speculation about a change of heart on a third runway at Heathrow, local MP Angie Bray has been making the case in Parliament against any expansion that would be damaging for the residents of West London.

The MP For Ealing and Acton asked the Secretary of State for Transport about recent claims that Heathrow, with a third runway, could compete with international hub airports.

The exchange took place during Transport Questions in the House of Commons. Ms.Bray (Con) said she was pleased with Justine Greening’s response, in which she acknowledged that to remain competitive as a hub, Heathrow would need more than a third runway, it would need a fourth at the very least.

After the question session, Angie said:

“I felt it was important to ask the Secretary of State directly about suggestions that Heathrow Airport could be turned into some sort of international hub, because this kind of talk continues the blight over West London. I was pleased with her response as she clearly recognises that Heathrow could never be a competitive hub and therefore a third runway would add to the problems without solving anything.”

The text from the exchange between Angie and Justine Greening:

Angie Bray (Ealing Central and Acton, Conservative)

What recent assessment she has made of airport capacity in the south-east; and if she will make a statement.

Justine Greening (Economic Secretary, HM Treasury; Putney, (Conservative)

It will be quite a job to follow the Minister’s last remark.

UK Aviation Forecasts 2011 provides an assessment of how demand for air travel in the UK is expected to change in the future. We will shortly launch a call for evidence to look at how we can tackle that challenge of emerging demand. Let us be clear, however: the coalition agreement stands. This Government cancelled the last Government’s plans for a third runway, and we will be sticking to that.

Angie Bray (Ealing Central and Acton, Conservative)

I thank the Secretary of Statefor that answer, and I know my constituents will be grateful, too. Does she also agree that talk about expanding Heathrow so it becomes a competitive international hub is wildly misplaced? A third runway would fill up almost at once—and where would a fourth runway go, unless we were to look at possibly knocking down parts of Hounslow and Staines, which I am sure would be entirely unacceptable?

Justine Greening (Economic Secretary, HM Treasury; Putney, Conservative)

My hon. Friend raises some of the very difficult issues we have already run up against with Heathrow as a hub airport. She also points out that these discussions and decisions matter massively to residents on the ground, and she is right that the question is not just about a third runway at Heathrow—about which we have been very clear—because expanding that airport further would pose significant challenges to local communities, which should be taken extremely seriously.

The chairman of Hacan, the campaign group which represents residents living under the flight path, John Stewart said,

“It was always unlikely that decisions on new runways would be taken in this Parliament.  But, if, after the election, the Conservatives were to reconsider a third runway, it would be the mother of all u-turns which would lead to the mother of all battles.”

July 2, 2012