City airport plea before MPs back Heathrow expansion
AMAJORITY of MPs have voted to back controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, but West Midlands MPs were split on the proposals.
Birmingham Airport warned before the vote that its business might suffer if Heathrow expansion went ahead.
And a group of councils and campaigners against the plans are preparing to take the Government to court to block the move.
A judicial review against the decision is being launched by four London local authorities affected by the expansion – Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Hammersmith and Fulham – in partnership with Greenpeace and mayor Sadiq Khan.
The Government’s motion backing a third runway at Heathrow was approved by 415 votes to 119, a majority of 296 on Monday evening. It means that the airport will find it much easier to gain planning permission for the project, and although there are likely to be legal battles, the third runway is now almost certain to go ahead.
But before the vote, Birmingham Airport issued a statement urging the government to help it grow by improving transport links in the West Midlands region, rather than “focusing narrowly on connectivity to Heathrow”.
Birmingham Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne said that instead of building a third runway at Heathrow, the Government should instead ensure Birmingham Airport was directly connected to Heathrow via the HS2 high speed rail line.
He said Birmingham Airport was capable of carrying more passengers without needing to build a new runway, so it was more sensible to make use of the spare capacity here than to expand Heathrow in London.
Mr Byrne said: “Birmingham Airport could take 17 million extra flights now on the existing infrastructure, and that capacity could be unlocked... should we not look again at using high-speed rail to unlock capacity we already have rather than bring forward a proposal that will drain 43,000 flights from our airport?”
An hour before MPs voted, environmental activists staged a lie-in just
Birmingham Airport could take 17 million extra flights now on the existing infrastructure MP Liam Byrne
metres away chamber.
Police locked down the Central Lobby area after the 12 protesters, who described themselves as from a “pop-up” Vote No Heathrow campaign, sprawled across the floor while chanting.
The plans have been met by pockets of strong opposition within both Labour and the Conservatives.
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers was one of eight Conservative MPs to rebel against the Government, as well as Greg Hands, who quit as a minister ahead of the vote so he could oppose the plans. from the Commons
Boris Johnson, a long-time opponent of expansion, missed the vote as he was in Afghanistan.
The Foreign Secretary, who could have been forced to quit the Government if he had voted against the Government, was mocked for failing to appear with MPs shouting “where’s Boris?”.
Labour is officially opposed to the move but allowed a free vote on the measure.
Some senior Labour MPs, including Chief Whip Nick Brown, went against the official line and voted in favour of Heathrow expansion. The plans will create 114,000 extra jobs in the area around the airport by 2030, with an extra 16 million long-haul seats by 2040, according to officials.