The Airports Commission

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Given Sir Howard Davies' comments on the Estuary Airport do you want to apologise for the gross waste of Londoners public money?


Answer for The Airports Commission

Answer for The Airports Commission

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  On the contrary, as Dick [Richard Tracey AM] has just said, it is very unlikely that the Davies report’s recommendations in favour of Heathrow will be acted upon.  Others mentioned Gatwick around the horseshoe.  The real tragedy is that at this rate of fire, one of the most likely outcomes at the moment is that nothing will happen.  I hear John Biggs [AM] saying that what we need is more airport capacity in the southeast and he is right, but I fear that nothing will happen.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Chair, could he answer my question?

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, can we let the Mayor finish?  Whilst I am speaking, can I ask Assembly Member Biggs to not ‑‑

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Offer his opinion.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  ‑‑ speak unless I call upon him?

Darren Johnson AM:  Do not mutter.  Do not chunter.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.  Can I have the answer to the question?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The answer is no.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I do feel that there has been a lot of money wasted and a lot of opportunity wasted by your work on the Estuary Airport.  Sir Howard Davies said to the BBC that you had not come up with a plausible proposal.  The headline price tag was £120 billion.  It would have been unfeasibly expensive and highly problematic.

However, the real issue is that with all of that time and that money, you have been directing yourself and your attention to this fantasy airport proposal in the estuary, which is never going to happen.  You have wasted time.  You have not done anything to actually improve Heathrow.

If one of the key problems we have with Heathrow is a need to expand and improve the public transport offering, while you have been saying, “Let us close down Heathrow”, you have done nothing on the Piccadilly line.  The Piccadilly line upgrade has been delayed and work will not start until 2019, after you are long gone, with no new trains until 2022.  That is really serious.  Crossrail 1 is not going to Terminal 5 [at Heathrow Airport]; a total disgrace.  You have done nothing about it.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It will.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  High Speed 2 (HS2) has no spur to Heathrow: dropped without a peep from you, and nothing done on the Airtrack proposals.  Everybody in southwest London will tell you it is really very difficult to get a train to Heathrow, yet there is an empty station box ready for use, sitting under Terminal 5.  You have done nothing to help progress the linkage of Heathrow down to southwest London.  It is almost as if you have wasted all your time and effort saying, “Let us close Heathrow”, and the few things you could have done you have just ignored.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is complete rubbish.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  In your last few months as Mayor, are you going to do anything realistic and feasible to help the public transport access to Heathrow?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  First of all, obviously, we are progressing with the upgrades of the Piccadilly line and that will offer a superb service.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Nothing is happening until 2019, Mr Mayor.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Assembly Member Shawcross, you have put your question.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The public transport implications, by the way, of a third runway at Heathrow and the impact on the roads in that area will be absolutely colossal and disastrous.

What you need to explain is why you have changed your position from opposing a third runway to supporting it.  We would like a bit of clarity on that.  Are you now in favour of a third runway at Heathrow?

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Mr Mayor, we are a scrutiny body.  Given a report three years in the making and £25 million worth of expenditure and a lot of independent forensic research, we are going to scrutinise this properly.  We are expecting Sir Howard Davies in here.  Questions about the methodology, as Dick [Richard Tracey AM] raises, are things we are going to look at, but this paper deserves to be looked at properly before we make a kneejerk reaction.  However, I do react to the fact that you have wasted ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Have you read it yet?

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  ‑‑ your time and our money and have done nothing to ease a terrible situation at Heathrow over the past eight years.

You mentioned the roads, Mr Mayor.  This morning you said that 9,400 people a year are dying of poor air quality in London and yet you have done diddly-squat in terms of improving the air quality in Heathrow, which is a hotspot.  Heathrow has proposed a congestion charge for the airport.  Your response on LBC was, “I do not want to.  I think it is the wrong thing”.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You want a congestion charge now around Heathrow?

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  There is no proposal for Heathrow to go into a bigger and stricter Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You need to tell that to the businesses of west London and to Labour candidates in west London.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  ‑‑ and you could have done something during your ULEZ consultations ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is a very interesting thing that you want a congestion ‑‑

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  None of this is being recorded --

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Mr Mayor ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is a development in Labour policy ‑‑

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Can I say to both of you that none of this is being recorded?  It is impossible to record two voices at the same time.  Can I have a question from Assembly Member Shawcross?

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  I am trying to put my question and my question is: you have nothing to improve air quality ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is not a question.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  ‑‑ in Heathrow over the last eight years.  You have done nothing on a congestion charge and nothing on the ULEZ.  Actually, if you visit the bus station at Heathrow, it is full of dirty old diesel buses.  Transport for London (TfL) has done nothing to improve the air quality at Heathrow.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  This is total rubbish.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  What are you going to do to improve the air quality at Heathrow between now and your departure as Mayor of the Authority?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The first thing is that you are talking total nonsense in virtually every respect.  We have improved the buses.  We have 1,300 hybrids on the streets of London.  We have ‑‑

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  They are not going to Heathrow, Mr Mayor: the buses are dirty at Heathrow.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Would you let me complete the point?  We have introduced further changes to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), which directly affects Heathrow.  We introduced stage two and stage three of the ‑‑

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  That does not cover Heathrow.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It does cover Heathrow.  We have taken that action.  What you are absolutely right to say is that a third runway expansion of Heathrow would have catastrophic impacts on air quality.  Most people would agree that we have done a great deal to resist that disaster.  What I do not hear from you is whether you want to consider that resistance.  As far as I understand your position, you now want to inflict truly appalling air quality on the people of west London by expanding runway capacity at Heathrow.  That seems to be what she is now saying.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, Mr Mayor, that is not ‑‑

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Chair ‑‑

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, the question has been noted and we will note that you have not answered the question.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, you will not.  I have answered it.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Thank you, Chair.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, can I move on.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You will note no such thing.