Government statement on expansion finance is a major blow to Heathrow

Thur, 15 Oct 2015

On Wednesday 14th October, the Government dealt a major blow to Heathrow's expansion plans when it ruled out spending public money for the related costs of Heathrow-s third runway.

Conservative MP for Windsor and prominent Third Runway opponent Adam Afriyie tabled a parliamentary question to which Transport Minister Robert Goodwill responded as follows:
Adam Afriyie at Parliament Square Rally
Adam Afriyie at Parliament Square Rally

'In terms of surface access proposals, the Government has been clear that it expects the scheme promoter to meet the costs of any surface access proposals that are required as a direct result of airport expansion and from which they will directly benefit.'

The surface access costs for Heathrow expansion are estimated at 5 billion pounds by the Airports Commission, although Transport for London had put the predicted figure at 15-20 billion pounds.

In addition to improvements to the public transport system, roads will have to be widened and/or redirected. Much of the works to roads would be unnecessary if a third runway was not built. The additions to the public road network would also have to be maintained, which would be costly due to the increase in road traffic, including a significant increase in freight and large passenger vehicles. No private investors have come forward to pay these extra costs so the taxpayer, even those who never fly, would be expected to pay in Heathrow's current proposals.

It should be remembered that schools that have to be demolished or are rendered unusable would have to be replaced by the taxpayer. Heathrow, a foreign-owned company, has no obligation to replace the buildings its project destroys. Investors are pushing this project for their own benefit not for the benefit of the British taxpayer.

Mr Afriyie commented on the announcement, saying: 'It is welcome news that the Government has ruled out paying the costs of upgrading the railways and local roads or moving or tunnelling the M25.

'If Heathrow won-t pay and the Government won-t pay, then the third runway is already dead in the water and it would be foolhardy for the Government to choose Heathrow expansion.

'It is quite right that the public should not be made to fork out up to 20 billion pounds- of subsidies to a private company which refuses to pay its own costs of expansion.

'Heathrow-s proposals already fail on air quality targets, will impose noise pollution on far more people than any other airport in Europe and will not enable the UK to compete in the long term.'

Heathrow's action in continually pushing for expansion despite all the evidence that says it can't happen, is forcing some politicians and residents to wonder if there is only one solution to this perpetual threat - which is expected to continue with further calls for expansion in future. SHE does not campaign for expansion elsewhere but the Windsor MP had this to say: 'Heathrow's Third Runway is a sticking plaster to the UK-s aviation challenge. We need a strategic, long-term solution that will keep us at the forefront of world trade for decades to come. An offshore airport must be brought firmly back on the agenda.'