Transport Committee Chair's reaction to Heathrow decision
11 December 2015
Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:
"Yet again, the Government has failed to take a decision on expanding aviation capacity in the South-East.
In May 2013, the Transport Select Committee I chaired in the last Parliament recommended expansion at Heathrow. Two years later the Airports Commission published its final report in which it made a clear and unambiguous evidence-based recommendation for an additional runway at Heathrow. The Commission was instructed not to report until after the general election; seven months on still no decision has been taken.
Both the Transport Select Committee and the Airports Commission made clear recommendations that the impact of noise and air pollution from airport expansion must be carefully considered. These are not new concerns. The Government should have used the time since the Airports Commission's report to conduct the necessary environmental assessment rather than waiting until now to announce that it is going to start this work.
The case for expansion – as the Secretary of State for Transport said himself – is clear. The work that needs to be done to put in place the environmental safeguards recommended by the Airports Commission can be taken forward in parallel with work on a National Policy Statement and the application for a Development Consent Order. We don't need to wait for further studies, we need a decision and then to get on with the work that flows from it.
The delays are already costing the UK as Heathrow loses out to other European hub airports like those in Amsterdam and Paris. The CBI estimates that if additional airport capacity is not operational until 2030 the UK could lose as much as £5billion per year in lost trade to the BRIC economies alone. The Government has failed to give a firm commitment on when a decision will be taken; in the meantime our competitors will continue to build their links with emerging markets.
It is not good enough to say the decision is delayed until 'at least' the summer of 2016. Companies are making investment decisions now and the lack of certainty about even when a decision will be made means the UK continues to lose out."