Airports Commission decision (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you very much, Chair.  Mr Mayor, I admire very much Len’s  [Len Duvall AM] very elegant attempts to disguise the policy U-turn of the Labour Party.  I am pleased very much that my Labour comrades in Croydon are still very much supporting Gatwick and are opposing Heathrow.  Mr Mayor, this is a good debate, but we must acknowledge that after Davies’ [Sir Howard Davies, Chair, Airports Commission] decision, anything around Heathrow is going to collapse into a quicksand of conditions, objections and challenges.  It is just not going to happen and will be pushed back many years.

To irritate you, Mr Mayor, I still believe the Estuary Airport remains and will remain only a twinkle in your mayoral eye.  I believe it is not going to happen.  Therefore, logically, the only thing that will suit will be Gatwick.  I know that was not something to your taste earlier on, but we are talking about practicalities.  We can discuss this and scrutinise this for many years to come, but there is a need for capacity.  Gatwick is ready to go.  It requires a small fraction of the public funding that Heathrow would do, if Heathrow ever happens.  There are some political objections, but not to the degree that Heathrow has.  Gatwick could be built within seven or eight years.  Therefore, logically, we should be pushing for Gatwick and of course this will assist jobs and opportunities throughout south London.

Mr Mayor, can I again ask you to support, to put your weight behind and also to urge any incumbent-to-be to support a further runway at Gatwick?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Airports Commission decision (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Airports Commission decision (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  I will qualify that by saying that I admire what you have done to campaign for your constituency, for the whole area and for the Wandle Corridor as a massive growth opportunity area.  I can see Gatwick’s advantages from that point of view.  However, there remain very considerable environmental difficulties with Gatwick as well and is something that local Members of Parliament (MPs) in the area have certainly drawn to my attention.  That will not be a walk in the park at all.

Steve O’Connell AM:  Madam Chair, the point I am making is that there is an immediate need for capacity.  You have said, or your Aviation Advisor has said, that Gatwick will probably only cater for the coming 20 years or 30 years.  Beyond that there may need to be another solution and that may be where an extra airport will come in, but for the next 20 years I would suggest we need a further runway at Gatwick. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The tragedy of the Heathrow cul-de-sac is that if you were to expand it - and I am grateful for Len’s [Len Duvall AM] clarification about where Labour is at the moment - you would be consigning hundreds of thousands more Londoners to greater pollution, greater noise and a real degradation of their quality of life for a short-term gain because, come 2030, as the Commission acknowledges, you would need to think again.  That is only 15 years away now.  The thing is not going to be built.  No plane can conceivably take off from a third runway at Heathrow before 2029; it is just not going to happen even if you started now and we are not going to start now.  The whole thing is wrongly conceived, in my view.

I disagree with you about the estuary, as I am sure you know.  We need to go for a long-term solution now.  Many people in the Government looking at the nightmare of choosing between Heathrow and Gatwick and the environmental disaster in both areas - Heathrow obviously much worse than Gatwick - are now thinking, “Why on earth did we not, a few years ago, take that estuary option and run with it?”