Heathrow Expansion

MQT on 2012-06-13
Session date: 
June 13, 2012
Question By: 
Victoria Borwick
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Given that airport capacity in the South East needs to expand, would you accept that if you oppose Heathrow expansion it is important make the case for expansion elsewhere?


Answer for Heathrow Expansion

Answer for Heathrow Expansion

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Thank you very much, Victoria [Borwick]. Yes, I think you are absolutely right, Victoria, that my opposition to Heathrow expansion, which I think is the right policy. I think there is only one Member of this Assembly who wants to expand Heathrow. There is only one Member of this Assembly who wants a third runway, as far as I know. OK, there are no Members of this Assembly. We are united, I think, in opposing the third runway, are we?

All: Yes.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): We are united in opposing, a great day. This is a great day for democracy. The London Assembly is united in opposing the third runway but there are plainly capacity problems in the southeast and my view is that if we are going to compete, if we are going to create jobs, get back to Andrew Dismore's point, and we are going to have a great future, which we will, then we need to address those issues. I am open to all kinds of suggestions. Let's look at Stansted, let's look at Luton, let's look at Gatwick, let's look at Manston, all those options are clearly there. So indeed is the option of an eco-friendly four-runway 24-hour solution in the Thames estuary. I think that would be the wisest thing.

What we are not, I think, able to support is doing nothing, letting jobs migrate to France, to Spain, to Germany, to Holland, losing competitiveness, losing out in the long term. If you look at all the mistakes this City has made in the past, they are to do with a failure to invest in transport infrastructure, a failure to deal with the challenge of modernisation. You saw it in the 1960s, it was a tragic mistake - we must not make that mistake again. Anybody who thinks that the current position is eco-friendly, or that restricting aviation capacity is eco-friendly, should talk to the pilots who have to circle over London at the moment, burning 7 tonnes of kerosene an hour. That is the policy; that is what restrictions on aviation capacity are forcing planes over this City to do. We need to move forward.

Victoria Borwick (AM): Thank you. A couple of follow-up questions, if I may, Mr Mayor. Recently, of course the history of London shows there is a shift east, if you think about it. The docks have moved from the Pool of London to Tilbury, a large part of the City's business has moved from the City off to Canary Wharf and of course we have seen the Olympics now, our third Olympics, also moving further east and even Billingsgate we can see has moved eastwards. Do you think there is some sense of a kind of historic and economic inevitability towards your desire for a shift?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do think there are huge economic advantages to the kind of proposal that you saw from Foster Associates. I am not necessarily wedded to one model or another, but there are brilliant ideas out there that would be transformative of parts of London that have been neglected for a long time, parts of the United Kingdom economy, and I think that once people in North Kent or Essex understood clearly the economic benefits that would flow to them from schemes like that and the environmental benefits, the possibility for clean energy generation that these schemes have, I think they would see real attractions in them. I think it is time this debate moved forward. I think there is a huge possibility for the Government to seize the initiative, to go for the single biggest generator of growth that one could imagine and something that would assert most powerfully London's credentials as the economic motor, not just of this country but of the whole European Union. London is already the most broad and commercial city in Europe. This would extend our lead, it would entrench London's position as the motor of the European economy. The financial capital, the artistic and cultural capital and it would be, I think, the right way forward for the City and for the country.

Victoria Borwick (AM): Thank you. So in the meantime, can I ask you to maintain your position of being open to all opportunities for expansion, and if necessary, safeguarding the land at Gatwick and also including any rail connectivity of projects, whilst decisions about where the next big project is going to be? What I am really asking is will you keep an open mind on the various options available?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Of course I will.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): Can I just notify Members of the next three questions. The next question is Shared Services from Assembly Member Arbour and then it is the A12 Junction at Newbury Park Station from Assembly Member Evans and then Childcare from Assembly Member Duvall; so can I have an answer, Mr Mayor, to the question on Shared Services in the name of Assembly Member Arbour?