Government should ‘not run away’ from backing Heathrow expansion - South Downs MP

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert

The Government should ‘not run away’ from backing a third runway at Heathrow over expansion at Gatwick, Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has urged.

The Airports Commission published its final report on airport expansion in the South East back in July, but the Government has yet to signal whether it will accept its recommendations.

Last Thursday the Backbench Business Committee discussed the report in the House of Commons, where a number of MPs, many from West London constituencies, continued to voice opposition to expansion of Heathrow.

But Mr Herbert called on ministers to take the decision in the national interest, and warned against any attempts to go against the commission’s recommendation for ‘narrow political considerations’.

He said: “The recommendation is unequivocal and the evidence is clear. The Government set up the report and now is not time to run away from it.”

Mr Herbert argued the economic benefits alone made a compelling argument for Heathrow, while a number of reasons, from inadequate transport infrastructure to connectivity issues, made Gatwick a ‘sub-optimal choice’.

He added: “We have seen too often in this country the cost of making short-term, short sighted infrastructure decisions.

“We cannot make the same mistake this time by ignoring the clear recommendation of the Airports Commission to expand Heathrow and develop a single-hub airport.”

During last week’s debate Stephen Hammond, Tory MP for Wimbledon, said the report by Sir Howard Davies was ‘one of the most flawed public policy documents ever created’, while Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham, argued it was ‘filled with ifs and buts, and it is shrouded in fog’.

Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting and Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, said that Gatwick needed far less Government money to deliver a new runway, would be more deliverable, and was the better option when they were looking at air quality.

Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, said Gatwick was ‘crying out for expansion’, but Mark Menzies, Tory MP for Fylde, said he supported a third runway at Heathrow and described it as ‘frustrating that we have spent all this time prevaricating and being sucked down by, in effect, glorified nimbyism’.

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