Testing New Flight Paths at Heathrow Airport

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Has the Secretary of State for Transport given you a satisfactory explanation as to why the recent flight path trials at Heathrow took place with no warning to you or to local residents?


Answer for Testing New Flight Paths at Heathrow Airport

Answer for Testing New Flight Paths at Heathrow Airport

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I have to say that it was outrageous that the flight path variations took place without adequate warning.  There was a meeting attended by an official of TfL, apparently, in which the subject was vaguely mentioned.  That was supposed to constitute consultation of this mayoralty.  I was not properly consulted.  I certainly was not made aware of it.  The trials have now been cancelled in ignominy and chaos after the massive rejection of those trials by local residents.  

Tony Arbour AM:  Thank you for that, Mr Mayor.  This is an example of the arrogance of supporters of the Heathrow expansion in thinking that they can do this kind of thing.  If I can add to the fact about lack of consultation, the boroughs were not consulted either, so far as this is concerned. 

You have already mentioned the weight of objections to this experiment.  They were running at 500 per day.  These were formal objections notified through the proper channels, which would be a tiny fraction of the people who were actually disturbed by this.  In the light of this, do you not think it shows the incompetence of the Heathrow campaigners in shooting themselves in the foot in this way in determining that the third runway will never be built? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Totally.  Absolutely right.  What it underscores is the sheer impossibility of building a third runway at Heathrow when even a relatively minor variation in flight paths can produce such an immediate public outcry and unrest.  It is perfectly obvious that that is a non-starter.  In that sense, actually, you could argue that Heathrow might have shot itself in the foot but it has done everyone a great favour. 

Tony Arbour AM:  Yes.  Given that it is clearly a blessing in disguise, do you find it astonishing that Howard Davies [Sir Howard Davies, Chairman, Airports Commission] has not commented on this, given the enormous weight of objection there has been already to what it has done? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I have made my views pretty well known about Sir Howard’s report so far.  I do not think it will stand the test of time.  This is helping to speed it on its way down the oubliette of history.  It will be forgotten in a year’s time. 

Tony Arbour AM:  Would it be appropriate for you to prompt him into commenting on this or into incorporating what has happened in his report simply by you saying there has been this great weight of evidence?  I can assure you that local authorities under the flight path will be taking this line.  They will be making formal objection to [Sir Howard] Davies, if not saying that he should reopen the matter and that there certainly should be an addendum to his final report saying, if you like, what has happened post his mistaken original decision in ruling out the Estuary Airport. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  To be fair to Howard, I do not know what account they are taking of what has happened on the flight paths, but it would be interesting to know.  Perhaps it might be a good idea for us to get something on the record.  I will be writing to him and making sure he has properly understood the impossibility of delivering the sorts of changes at Heathrow that he is still canvassing. 

Tony Arbour AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.