More doubts about Heathrow runway figures

Airports Commission analysis not good enough

MPs have raised more doubts over plans for a new runway in the southeast saying that the economic case for expansion had not yet been made.

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative chairman of the Treasury select committee, said the  Airports Commission’s analysis used to justify an additional runway was not good enough.

He described the economic case put forward by the Airports commission  as “opaque in a number of important respects”.

In a letter to UK Chancellor, George Osborne, he urged the government to carry out further analysis before reaching a decision in the summer.

Mr Tyrie said that the robustness of the Airports commission’s conclusions could not be determined from the information in its report.

“Parliament has demanded more transparency over the environmental case,” he said. “At least as important is the economic case.”

Mr Tyrie said it was impossible to tell if the potential economic benefits for the UK of the proposals by Heathrow or Gatwick differed significantly from one another, or even if the benefits of building either are significantly different from not building any new runways.

In his letter, Tyrie complained that ministers had failed to respond to a series of detailed technical questions tabled in the Commons seeking clarification in areas such as the impact on fares and passenger demand.

Mr Tyrie said he had written a public letter to the chancellor because the Treasury had failed to answer questions posed under the usual procedures for members of parliament asking questions of ministers.

In July 2012, Mr Tyrie was advocating the building of two more runways at Heathrow. So the pro-expansion arguments he has seen must be pretty poor.

Airports Commission

There has always been a strong suspicion that the Tory Government set up the Airports Commission to deliver the result required by them – a third Heathrow runway.

In considering the economic case, the Airports Commission created five scenarios for how the aviation sector and the global economy might develop. But it provided figures on the costs and benefits of the runway proposals under just one of these – a Heathrow third runway.

The Davis Airports Commission is now widely discredited as a poor report.

Howard Davis was appointed as Chairman of the UK Government owned Royal Bank of Scotland after he delivered his report supporting a third runway at Heathrow.

Who appointed him as Chairman of The Royal Bank of Scotland ? George Osborne.

The politics

David Cameron is seen as the front man for a new Heathrow runway as he has gone back on his infamous pledge of “no ifs, no, buts, no third runway” by allowing the Airports Commission to even consider Heathrow expansion.

But a PassengerSelfService source, very, very close to the matter, says that Mr Cameron doesn’t really care about the issue and that the Heathrow expansion is being driven by George Osborne.

Recently Mr Osborne was seen as a shoe-in to replace Mr Cameron as Tory leader but in the last weeks his reputation has taken a severe beating mainly because of his Google tax fiasco.

Zac Goldsmith is the MP for Richmond (where PassengerSelfService is based) and is the Tory candidate for Mayor of London to follow on from the eight years of Tory Mayor Boris Johnson.

Mr Goldsmith, and his Richmond constituents, are opposed to a third runway.

Internet links

UK Treasury committee letter to George Osborne on airport expansion