Heathrow plans ditched by new Government

By Paul Cahalan

Plans to build a third runway at Heathrow have been ditched by the new Government.

The news, which was expected as both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats opposed the runway, was welcomed by councils – including Wandsworth – residents and green groups and MPs who had campaigned strongly against it.

After the decision to cancel the plans came in a joint Conservative-Liberal Democrat policy agreement, Heathrow’s operator BAA said it would work with the new government to provide strong trading connections.

Wandsworth Council leader, Councillor Edward Lister, said on behalf of 2M, a group of councils which successfully overturned the Government’s decision to expand the airport in the High Court.

He said: “Today’s news is the final proof of the extraordinary success of our campaign. First we won in the courts and now we’ve got the new Government confirming that it’s all over.

“We could not have known what the outcome of the election would be when we brought this challenge. The judgment meant that whatever the result the case for the third runway would have been set back years.

“This won’t be the end of our campaigning, we will want to ensure that the current relief offered to residents by runway alternation is maintained and we will be pressing for reductions in night flights and more stringent noise and air quality controls.

“The new Government now has the chance to draw a line under an unsatisfactory period of public administration when too often it seemed that the aviation lobby’s interests were being placed ahead of the concerns of local people about the environment and their quality of life.”

John Stewart, Hacan ClearSkies, which also campaigned against the runway, said “the third runway is now dead in the water”.

He said: “It is good news for London. A third runway would have been bad for the capital’s environment and was not essential for its economic well-being. A long campaign has ended in victory. We are delighted.”

Former transport secretary Geoff Hoon’s decision in January 2009 to support the new runway, but in the High Court earlier this year a judge said 2M had made a powerful demonstration on of the developments in climate change policy since 2003. The court also ordered the Government to pay 60 per cent of the councils’ legal costs.

Putney MP Justine Greening added: “This is a victory for our local community who have campaigned to stop this for years. I’m delighted that a Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government has kept its promise to stop the third runway and protect our quality of life.”