Airports Commission decision

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Darren Johnson
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


With the overwhelming noise, air pollution and climate change cases against a third runway at Heathrow and your resolute opposition to the Airports Commission decision, can you update us on what course of action you are planning to take in order to prevent a third runway from going ahead?


Answer for Airports Commission decision

Answer for Airports Commission decision

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  A lot of this has been covered, Darren, in the previous exchanges.  The most important thing is to keep up the pressure and to try to get a sensible solution.

Darren Johnson AM:  It is disappointing that Labour Members on that side of the Chamber are wobbling now on Heathrow after such a long period.  For the last seven years, we were all working together to oppose Heathrow expansion.

I am just wondering what thoughts you have given to working with the majority of the Assembly, which still strongly opposes expansion, to make that case.  For example, will you ask TfL to examine the case for a legal challenge around the issue of air pollution?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We are going to be watching that space, Darren.  I do not want to make any particular commitments on legal challenges, although you will recall that in the past City Hall has funded, both under the previous mayoralty and under this mayoralty, the 2M movement and other groups that have campaigned for better air quality and for no more runways at Heathrow.

Darren Johnson AM:  Yes, I can understand why you do not want to go into the legal possibilities now.  However, given that there could well be some sort of legal challenge from someone, can you get TfL to examine the evidence in light of the Supreme Court’s air pollution judgment and what the Davies Commission’s recommendation means in light of that recent Supreme Court judgement?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.  Certainly, the Supreme Court judgment on air quality was extremely damaging to the case for Heathrow.  As I think even Howard [Sir Howard Davies, Chair, Airports Commission] acknowledges, it is very difficult to square with the expansion of the airport.

Darren Johnson AM:  Could you, for example, commission an independent assessment of the local air pollution implications of a new runway at Heathrow Airport?  We have precious few months left now in this term to really make the case on this.  I am urging you as Mayor to deploy all the resources of the GLA group available, to speak up for Londoners on this, to make the case for London on this and to do everything to ensure that a third runway never goes ahead.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am grateful to you, Darren, for that ‑‑

Jenny Jones AM:  We are on your side.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and you have my absolute assurance that we will go ahead on that basis.  I have to say that many west Londoners - and indeed many people in south London and people across the city who have not yet experienced aircraft noise but who would under these proposals experience very serious aircraft noise - will be listening with incredulity and deep disappointment to what is now being said by the Labour Party, which is proving once again to be the tool of the trade unions.

Darren Johnson AM:  Can I just finish my questions?

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Yes.  Can Assembly Member Johnson just finish his question?  Then I will take a point of information [point of personal explanation], was it, Mr Duvall? 

Darren Johnson AM:  Thank you, Chair.  Obviously, there has to be some serious campaigning on this, but there also has to be some serious evidence-gathering and some serious research done.  I hope we can all work together on that to put the case.

Can I also stress that it is not simply a west London issue?  There are many people in south London and southeast London now who are hugely affected by the noise from Heathrow.  Together, we really need to make the case against Heathrow expansion on the grounds of noise, on the grounds of air pollution and on the grounds of climate change.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I wholly agree.  I will see you at the barricades, Darren.  It is going to be a campaign.  I have to say genuinely that the single most likely outcome is that nothing will happen anywhere at present.  That is very sad.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  OK.  Can you stand and put your point of information, Assembly Member Duvall?

Len Duvall AM:  Thank you very much.  On what has just been said about the ‑‑

Kit Malthouse AM MP:  I do not believe standing orders contain  ‘ a point of information’?

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, it does not but Chair’s action gives me the ability to take the decision.  I can make the decision and I have been spoken to by Assembly Member Duvall and I have agreed that he has a point of information that will bring clarity to a number of things that have been said.  Can I have a brief point of information from you?

Len Duvall AM:  Can I just say?  Much has been said of the Labour group position  and I agree with the point that Darren Johnson AM said.  I just want to put into the domain that we asked for more scrutiny and evidence to be done since the publication of the Davies Commission.  None of the political parties opposite want that scrutiny to take place.  We said, before you rush to condemn, let us see what [Sir Howard] Davies has said and then actually dissect it in the way that maybe Richard Tracey AM outlined earlier on.  It is wrong of this Assembly to portray that as us changing our position. 

Jenny Jones AM:  U-turn!

Len Duvall AM:  What we have asked for, Chair, is more scrutiny and evidence, which Darren Johnson AM has decided to call on the Mayor for.  This Assembly should be doing it.  That is the job that Londoners expect and that is the point of information that others may not fully be aware of and it is documented.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.  That is well documented in the minutes of the Plenary session that was had at our last meeting.

Before I take Members, I have already missed them because I was waiting for the opportunity.  I just wanted to say that they have just gone but we did have with us Richmond Park politics summer school pupils.  Through their Assembly Member, can I ask you to thank them for their visit to us?