Heathrow reaction round up: End of the beginning...again


While a final vote in Parliament on Heathrow expansion is not due for around a year’s time, by backing Heathrow the Government today fired the starting gun on fights, feuds, prospective legal challenges, protests and a by-election.

Within moments of the announcement, reactions started flooding in. There can’t be many things that shadow chancellor John McDonnell and foreign secretary Boris Johnson agree on, but the problems of Heathrow expansion are among them.

Heathrow's third runway plans

Both Mr McDonnell and Mr Johnson have suggested the new runway was 'undeliverable' and that legal challenges against the plans could well scupper it.

Mr Johnson said ‘no other city in the world would do this to its inhabitants' and predicted an ‘inevitable fight in the courts’, stating there was not a high chance of success for the proponents of Heathrow's third runway.

Prime minister Theresa May has allowed ministers to vocally oppose the new runway if they have previously made outspoken comments on the issue or have a constituency that is directly affected, but not to 'actively campaign' against the Government's decision.

Where that line is drawn could well be the subject of some debate within the Conservative Party.

Conservative Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, is already set to resign and force a by-election in protest.

Mr Goldsmith's local Conservative association confirmed to the BBC that he would honour his pledge to stand down if the Conservative Government backed Heathrow.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate, said: 'The challenges facing Heathrow have not changed. Our message today is that Gatwick stands ready to proceed when the time comes.'

He added that Gatwick looked forward 'to studying the full reasons behind the Government decision in detail'.

Elsewhere, local councils have pledged to fight the decision and vowed that the battle is not over.

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead councils together with Greenpeace UK have confirmed they will consider a legal challenge against the decision if viable and said ‘a legal strategy will be developed over the coming days’.

Plans for the airport's expansion were defeated in the courts in 2010, over the issue of climate change.

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: 'It looks like we’re heading back to the courts just as we did in 2010 after the Brown Government backed Heathrow’s third runway. We overturned that decision in the High Court and nothing has changed since then to make expanding this airport any less damaging.'

Friends of the Earth vowed to fight the decision ‘every step of the way’, and its head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said ‘this is only the first step on a long journey that will see communities, councils and climate campaigners continue the battle to reverse this misjudged and damaging decision’.

Labour has set out four tests, which must be met for the Party to support the plans.

They are:

  • That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity
  • That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met
  • That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimized
  • That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East

Andy McDonald MP, shadow transport secretary, said: ‘The Government’s announcement today is not the end: it is yet another step in the process, rather than the final detail. As such we still need vital reassurance on a number of areas.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson still opposes Heathrow

‘The Government’s proposals on Heathrow have highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive transport and infrastructure strategy, which is sadly lacking.’

‘The Tories have dithered for far too long. Had ministers not done so, the UK could be much further on in addressing these issues by now. That is why they must now commit to dealing with their proposal’s environmental and infrastructure issues without further delay.’

Professional bodies and the business community largely came down in favour of the decision, even if there were hints that it was a decision, any decision, that they were in favour of.

The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) chief executive, Sue Percy, said: 'CIHT has consistently called for an Integrated Transport Strategy and the need to increase runway capacity in London and the South East.

'High quality international connectivity is vital to the UK’s economic wellbeing. As identified by the Airports Commission, our national hub airport, Heathrow, operates at almost full capacity. This limits the scope for improving connections to new markets in terms of passengers, freight and for UK regional connecting flights, all particularly pertinent in light of Brexit.

'It is now important that government and opposition parties work together to take forward the decision. Continued delay undermines the resilience of the UKs transport networks.'

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) aviation policy group chair Paul Le Blond, said: ‘The end to uncertainty over airports policy is welcomed by logistics and transport professionals, whichever option they supported, but there can be benefits for all parties, who can now take action to ensure that the decision is implemented in the best possible way for all.'

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association's head of external affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said she welcomed the ‘long-overdue’ decision: ‘International connectivity is extremely important for the UK economy and it is good news that the Government has now finally committed to the third runway.’

Paul Drechsler CBE, CBI president, said: ‘A new runway at Heathrow is really fantastic news, especially as the country has waited nearly 50 years for this decision. This project should form part of a long-term framework for aviation capacity for the whole of the UK.'

The decision also won praise from MPs on the Transport Select Committee.

Chair Louise Ellman MP, commented: ‘After decades of dithering, the decision has been made and it is the right one. The Transport Select Committee has consistently backed the building of a third runway at Heathrow airport, with the package of accompanying measures recommended by the Airports Commission, as the best solution to increasing airport capacity in the south east.

‘Guarantees will need to be met on noise and pollution. We urge the Government to have the courage of their convictions and press ahead so that the timetable to deliver the additional capacity by 2030 can be delivered.’


Also see

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Lead Engineer [Development]

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
£40,760 - £41,675 per annum
Looking for an exciting new opportunity? Join us in Knowsley’s Major Development Team! Knowsley (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recuriter: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Principal Engineer [Development]

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,788 - £35,934 per annum
Looking for an exciting new opportunity? Join us in Knowsley’s Major Development Team! Knowsley (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recuriter: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Director of Neighbourhoods

Havering London Borough Council
As Director of Neighbourhoods, you will provide strategic leadership for a full range of regulatory and non-regulatory services Romford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Havering London Borough Council

Director of Economic Development & Planning

Wiltshire Council
£99,856 - £110,084 per annum
In this role you will have a key role in growing the local economy Wiltshire
Recuriter: Wiltshire Council

Executive Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£24,660 - £31,764
A new opportunity has arisen for an Executive Officer to join The Environment and Community Services Directorate Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Director, Governance and Improvement

City of York Council
£87,623 to £97,149
We are looking for an exceptional individual to be appointed to the position of Director of Governance and Improvement. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Chief Fire Officer

West Sussex County Council
Competitive Salary plus Financial Support for Recruitment and Retention
We are looking for an exceptional individual who can lead our Fire & Rescue Service Chichester, West Sussex
Recuriter: West Sussex County Council

Inspector / Senior Inspector

City of Bradford MDC
£21,166 - £31,371 pa
This is an opportunity to join the Highway Maintenance team who have responsibility for maintenance of around 2,000km of adopted road network. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Traffic Management Operative/Foreman

Balfour Beatty
Are you a Traffic Management Operative/Foreman with Highspeed (12AB) Qualifications, looking for a new and exciting opportunity? If so read on..... Leatherhead, Surrey
Recuriter: Balfour Beatty

Senior Team Leader

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 to £38,994 per annum inclusive
Looking for individuals with initiative, evidence of experience in managing a street cleansing service and motivating... Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Road Safety Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,589 - £31,371
We are looking for a candidate who can participate in developing and delivering technically sound highway engineering solutions. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Information Management Officer x 2 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
Looking for better and smarter ways to operate and you will play a key role working across a broad range of service... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Graduate Engineer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
This is an exciting new opportunity in the Highway Services team to play a pivotal role in creating a safe and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata.
Looking for someone that is friendly, has great communication skills and enjoys working with children. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Engineer (Highway Design)

Darlington Borough Council
£31,371 - £33,799
Looking to employ an experienced person within the Highway Design team to meet the challenge of enabling development... Darlington, Durham
Recuriter: Darlington Borough Council

Project Manager – Major Maintenance and Infrastructure Projects 

Liverpool City Council
£42,683 - £47,491 
The successful candidate will ensure that effective procurement and delivery of highways maintenance and improvement. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Green Space Development Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£45,504 - £52,786
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Green Space Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£40,829 - £47,360
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for the people of Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Principal Planning Officer - Fixed Term

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£39.774 - £42.684
Looking for key members of the team that will be instrumental in transforming the Borough and opportunities available for residents.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planner

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27228 - £36711
In this role you will deal primarily with small-scale planning applications covering a wide range of planning issues. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich