The Davies Commission (1)

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Richard Tracey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How will you respond to The Davies Commission's report?


Answer for The Davies Commission (1)

Answer for The Davies Commission (1)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thank you very much, Dick.  Yes, the Davies Commission [Airports Commission] report is already running into a great deal of trouble.  It is very striking that one of the conditions that the Commission attached to going ahead with a third runway at Heathrow was that there should be no night flights.  That has already been strongly contested by the airport.  The thing is basically collapsing already.  You only have to read it.  If you read the whole report, it is staggering how thin the argumentation really is.

The key facts are very glaring.  The increase in the number of people who will be affected by noise over 55 decibels is in the hundreds of thousands.  A huge number of people will now have noise of more than 70 decibels and that is quite extraordinary.  It is an amazingly retrograde step for a country and an economy to inflict that quantity of environmental damage for such a short-term solution.  As Howard Davies [Sir Howard Davies, Chair, Airports Commission] himself says, he tries rather feebly to rule out a fourth runway because he accepts that that would be truly catastrophic and undeliverable.  If the argument against the fourth runway is so powerful, the argument against a third runway is equally powerful.

Richard Tracey AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I am glad to hear that you are continuing to be robust about the failings at Heathrow.  However, do you not think it is rather important that the whole of this Assembly supports your view?  It is rather strange that the Labour Party seems to be shifting its ground not just in the Assembly but in London with various mayoral candidates changing their positions.  Surely it is most important in London that we do remain robust about this.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, I strongly agree with that.  It is sad and surprising that so many Labour Members of the Assembly seem to have executed another U‑turn.  I am not sure how many of them now adopt the policy of their leader.  Most of them were elected on manifestos to oppose a third runway at Heathrow: they are all looking a bit shifty now.  Harriet Harman has taken a very different line.  I wonder what the current Labour position is.

Richard Tracey AM:  You have mentioned already the statement from the Chief Executive of Heathrow [Airport Holdings Ltd], Mr Holland-Kaye, which I heard.  He made it to a lot of London businessmen on Monday.  The very fact that Heathrow seems to feel that it has no power whatsoever to prevent a fourth runway is very worrying.  You begin to wonder whether it would actually welcome the idea.  What he said, as I heard it, was that he felt it was in the hands of the airline operators, totally.  That is surely contrary to what the Davies Commission said.  What is your view on that?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The reality is that the airline operators will have to build it.  One of the facts that people do not realise is that it is the airlines themselves that will have to fund the third runway were it to be built and they are most unwilling to do that.  The only conditions under which they might do that are if they have more of a say over night flights, mixed mode and other such issues.  The whole thing is unravelling very fast.

One of the reasons EasyJet supported building a third runway at Heathrow was because, after all, it is not at Heathrow now and so it would not have to pay for the blooming thing but it could then go and use it after it had been built.  That is its whole game.  Companies like British Airways, which would be on the hook for absolutely huge sums of money to build it, will want their pound of flesh.

Richard Tracey AM:  It has taken three years and heaven knows how many millions for the Davies Commission to produce this report.  We hear that Sir Roy McNulty [Chairman, Gatwick Airport Ltd], admittedly, favours Gatwick and is tied in with the Gatwick ideas.  He said that the whole report is faulty and is based on out-of-date data and so on.  Also, it seems as though there is going to be enormous difficulty - and you have mentioned it this morning - for the Heathrow project to meet the emissions rules that [Sir Howard] Davies has called for.

What is the point of going on?  Surely it has been a complete waste of money and the Government must surely and sincerely consider the alternative, which is obviously Gatwick.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have to say that I do think that it was inevitable that we would get this outcome.  I have said it for many years.  This is part of the via dolorosa that we have to take to get to the right solution.  I am afraid that there are several more Stations of the Cross before we get to the right answer.  We will eventually get there.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Will it lead to crucifixion?

Richard Tracey AM:  Those of us who live in west London are certainly waiting for your strong support to make sure that these faulty ideas do not go through.  Thank you very much.