Expansion of Heathrow (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
December 12, 2007
Question By: 
Mike Tuffrey
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


I think you are referring to the Colin Buchanan study, which essentially was making the case for expansion elsewhere, as I understand it, although it clearly did put some negatives in there. What we are looking for, given that the Government's case is essentially economic ' Ruth Kelly [Secretary of State for Transport] is saying that jobs will be lost and the economy will suffer ' is a very focused rebuttal of that argument. The sorts of things that we are looking for is the effect, given we have a skills and labour shortage in London, of, for example, having more construction beyond Terminal 5 at Heathrow, and the effect of that on Crossrail, increasing the costs of Crossrail; that if we expand airport capacity beyond the already massive expansion at Terminal 5, that undermines the economic case for additional fast rail capacity; that increased traffic and congestion in west London is going to damage the economy; that additional noise and pollution across London is going to damage the economy. What we need, I would put it to you, is a very focused economic rebuttal of the case for Heathrow expansion. I would press upon you, in addition to the welcome news you give us today, that short haul is going to be looked at. We have to win this argument on the economics essentially, would you not agree?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Expansion of Heathrow (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Expansion of Heathrow (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I completely agree on that. The guidance I have given to my staff is that we need to take apart what has been a very successful propaganda campaign by the air industry about how we are always in danger of being overtaken by Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle, that it is absolutely essential for business travel. All the work that we did in the Climate Change Strategy, the chapter on airports, shows that the real increase is short-haul leisure. The position is that Charles de Gaulle is not going to be expanded because President Sarkozy has ruled out any further motorway construction or airport expansion in France. When you come to look at these figures, Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle were nowhere close to overtaking Heathrow. It is already the largest airport in Europe, if not in the world. What we need to do is make the quality of the experience of the existing numbers of passengers going through better. That means replacing all the ghastly old terminals, tackling the hassle of immigration, tackling the problems of baggage handling. You can have an attractive airport at Heathrow. It does not need to be any bigger; you prioritise the business travel, you minimise short-haul and the investment that would be totally soaked up by another runway at Heathrow should be used to upgrade the internal rail services in Britain and link them up with Europe so that, in the same way that no one in their right mind would think of flying to Paris or Brussels 'I accept the point that Peter [Hulme Cross] raised about the cost differentials ' they would find it inconceivable to fly to Newcastle or Manchester or many of the closer European destinations. That is what we want.