The Mayor of London says that a yawning gulf has opened between what the Airports Commission has recommended and what Heathrow Airport is willing to accept.
In its report earlier this year recommending that a third runway be constructed at Heathrow, the Commission made clear that this could only be allowed if certain conditions were met to protect the health and wellbeing of long-suffering Londoners.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, went before the House of Commons’s Environmental Audit Committee on Wednesday to answer questions on its expansion plans.
Mr Holland-Kaye repeatedly refused to commit the airport to one of those key conditions, that there should be no flights before 6.00 a.m.
This is because it is in Heathrow’s financial interests to continue those flights.
He also waved away concerns about deteriorating air quality by insisting that a third runway, with 50% more flights at the airport, would not lead to any more cars on the roads.
And, as a consequence, he also refused to commit to even the modest contribution to widening the roads that the Airports Commission said should come from Heathrow.
Nor would he endorse the Commission’s recommendation that a fourth runway be ruled out.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP said:
“John Holland-Kaye this afternoon showed that, at its first outing, the recommendation of the Airports Commission is falling apart.
“I have never accepted that a third runway at Heathrow is the right solution even with all of the Airports Commission’s conditions, but Mr Holland-Kaye’s flat refusal to rule out the possibility of a fourth runway or to commit to conditions to limit air pollution, night flights and noise shows that he simply doesn’t understand that the recommendation of a third runway is crucially tied to these conditions.
“As so often with Heathrow in the past, it is all ‘take’ and no ‘give’.
“Today’s hearings, apart from showing that Heathrow is willing to undermine the Airports Commission in pursuit of its own ends, prove once again that Heathrow expansion is the wrong solution to Britain’s aviation needs.
“It also makes it politically impossible for the Government now to endorse the Airports Commission’s recommendation.
“Only by taking a bold approach and committing to a long-term solution to the east of London will we be able to create the jobs and growth this country needs to remain competitive.”
N.B. Image credit: stopheathrowexpansion.co.uk