Over the past few weeks I have received a lot of correspondence from constituents about Heathrow expansion, from both those who are in favour and those who are opposed.
Expanding Heathrow will not only better connect the UK to long-haul destinations but it will also improve connectivity in the UK itself. Heathrow claims that the anticipated benefits for our region from expansion include the creation of up to 12,000 new jobs and up to £13 billion in economic benefits. With regard to the country as a whole, Heathrow expansion will deliver a boost of up to £74 billion to the economy, ensure the UK maintains its position as a global leader in aviation, boost trade and send a clear message that the country is open for business.
Since becoming an MP I have consistently lobbied the Government on the need for expansion of regional airport capacity and I have been clear that while I support the decision on Heathrow and voted in favour of expansion, it should not be the end of the conversation about airport capacity and expansion in the country. Forecasts show that even with this expansion at Heathrow there will be demand for an additional runway by 2050 and Birmingham, together with Stansted and Gatwick, would be likely a candidate for expansion.
I welcomed the Government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow when it was announced in October 2016 and I think that the decision to support it as part of the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) is a momentous step for the country as a whole. The urgent need for increased airport capacity should not be underestimated, with forecasts showing that by the mid-2030s all five of London’s major airports will be at full capacity.
Constituents opposed to the decision have raised a number of issues about the impact that expansion will have, particularly on the environment and local communities, and action has been taken by the Government to address these. The NPS takes into account public and industry feedback and includes a legally enforceable ban on scheduled night flights. It also includes a package of mitigation measures and up to £2.6 billion to help those most affected by expansion – one of the most generous packages anywhere in the world and ten times larger than under the 2009 third runway proposal. As Transport Minister Jesse Norman said during last night’s debate, both the independent Airport Commission’s analysis and the Government’s own shows that a new runway can be delivered in line with our obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008 and the clean growth strategy published by the Government last year also set out how the UK will reduce carbon emissions across all sectors, including transport, across the 2020s.
Finally I must emphasise that while Parliament has now formally given its support for a new runway at Heathrow, under the NPS development consent will only be granted if the Government is satisfied that UK air quality obligations are not breached.