Since I was elected in 2005, I have been fighting against any increase in flights from Heathrow. We had some strong wins on the way, including restricting the number of night flights to just 16. We’ve had setbacks too. The Government approved the third runway and the initial defeat of our legal challenge earlier this year. But the battle is far from lost and I remain optimistic for the future if we stick together and fight on.
The economic case for Heathrow has changed significantly. The original proposal is nearly 5 years out of date and as a result is poorly costed and poorly planned. Heathrow bosses may try and dismiss this but just look at HS2, another badly planned and poorly costed policy which is woefully out of date. The line has been beset by problems and is due to arrive seriously late and at an eye-watering cost to the taxpayer. In this case the Government has finally seen sense and has ordered a full review into the delivery, scope, and cost of the project. The basis of this review rests upon the fact that HS2 is excessively over-budget and has consistently been delayed. If Parliament voted for a project on false premises, then that calls into question the legitimacy of the project and questions whether it’s in the national interest.
With this premise it would be undemocratic for Heathrow expansion to go ahead. It feels as though every week new cost over-runs are announced, the scope of the project is widened, and the feasibility of the project is questioned.
Just last week an independent estimate put the total cost for Heathrow expansion at over £60 billion, most of which will be paid for through more expensive fares. Furthermore, the bill for improved surface access increases by the day and currently stands at £10 billion, all of which will be paid for by the taxpayer. These spiralling costs indicate that Heathrow has no intention of keeping costs to a manageable level and may have wilfully misled parliament in doing so.
Don’t just take my word for it however, listen to their largest customer British Airways who have been vocal opponents against Heathrow expansion. Their chief executive has claimed that Heathrow lacks the “expertise” and “credibility” to lead a project of this size, whilst also revealing that £3.3 billion has already been spent before any construction has begun, let alone final planning approval been given.
The fact is Heathrow doesn’t need a third runway, they simply want an excuse to increase prices and profits or prevent anyone else from building a runway while they constantly find excuses to delay.
We know that people just want to fly direct to their destinations. They don’t want to be forced to connect through hubs. Furthermore, there is little evidence to suggest that Heathrow will be able to fill the extra capacity, particularly given that it will be the most expensive airport in the world at which to land. As a result, we will be left with an expensive, uncompetitive, polluting white elephant that will have devasting impact upon our local communities.
Taxpayers don’t deserve to pay a penny towards an over-priced, and incompetently managed, useless corporate vanity project which makes a mockery of our ambitious climate targets. I am certain that faced with this new reality MPs would think twice before approving expansion.
The government has shown with HS2 that parliamentary approval on projects does not make it a foregone conclusion. As it stands the battle against Heathrow is far from over, but I have never been more hopeful that the project will be abandoned as the government sees through all the bluster and fanfare surrounding this thoughtless project.
The fight goes on.