Heathrow free to lobby on third runway, says transport minister: FT.com

Posted: May 20, 2012 in Aviation & Airports (General News), Heathrow
Tags: , , , , , , ,

[Financial Times Online] Heathrow airport’s owner will be free to make the case for a third runway during the government’s long-awaited consultation on how to preserve Britain’s status as a leading aviation hub, the transport minister has declared.

Theresa Villiers said BAA, Heathrow’s operator, could lobby for a change of policy.   Photo: Wikipedia

Theresa Villiers said BAA, Heathrow’s operator, could lobby for a change of policy. 
Photo: Wikipedia

In an interview, Theresa Villiers, whose responsibilities include aviation, reiterated the government’s opposition to expansion of Heathrow but said BAA, Heathrow’s operator, could lobby for a change of policy. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2ba3e730-a0ea-11e1-851f-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1vQGPiZKd

Ms Villiers hit back at the government’s aviation critics, denying the decision to reject the previous Labour administration’s plan for a third runway at Heathrow was a pitch to secure votes in west London, where residents object to the noise generated by jets flying into the airport.

She also strongly rejected suggestions that ministers were being “slow” by not coming to a conclusion on how to respond to Britain’s hub airport capacity crunch until the spring of next year.

The government has delayed a consultation document about airport capacity issues from March to the summer, and BAA has signalled it could take legal action if ministers refused to consider responses that make the case for Heathrow expansion.

Ms Villiers highlighted how the general election manifestos of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrat opposed a third runway at Heathrow, but said: “If BAA want to come along and argue for a different approach – of course we’ll consider their representations and the evidence that they submit.”

Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, is operating near full capacity, and BAA claims Britain risks missing out on trade worth £14bn over the next decade because the airport is struggling to support aviation links to fast-growing emerging markets.

Ms Villiers responded by saying the government had to balance the needs of the economy with concerns about the environmental impact of aviation.

“We have to make a decision, as a government, based on the evidence of what’s best for our economy and UK plc,” she said.

“The commercial interest of BAA is one thing – it’s not necessarily the same as the economic needs of the overall economy. We have a wider picture to look at.”

Some in the aviation industry consider Heathrow’s expansion to be the only affordable way of preserving the UK’s position as a leading aviation hub, although Lord Foster, the architect, has proposed a new airport in the Thames estuary.

While acknowledging that Heathrow was “very full”, Ms Villiers questioned whether the UK was suffering from a…….

Read the full story at FT.com

By Andrew Parker
May 20, 2012


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