Labour sources have indicated [paywall] that Jeremy Corbyn might have a nasty surprise up his sleeve for Theresa May when parliament returns from its summer break. Senior Labour figures have stated that he is likely to oppose the expansion of Heathrow airport. And given the splits that already exist in the Conservative Party over the issue, opposition from Labour could be a massive blow to the Prime Minister’s fragile majority.
Although the Labour manifesto backed airport expansion in theory in the south-east, it also stated there are a number of tests that any expansion would have to comply with. These include:
Noise issues to be addressed, air quality to be protected, the UK’s climate change obligations met and growth across the country supported.
And a Labour source told [paywall] The Financial Times that “no one here expects” it to pass the tests. A further Labour source claimed:
If the vote is any time soon there is no way we would back it, mainly on the basis of air quality, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
But while a source close to Corbyn claimed that no decision had been made, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is well known for his opposition to a third runway. And London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also opposed to the expansion. They are joined by unlikely bedfellows such as Zac Goldsmith, who previously resigned from the Conservative Party over the plans, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening, who also oppose the plans.
But while air pollution is certainly one of the major issues over the building of the third runway – the expansion makes it likely that the UK would breach EU limits – there are other problems.
According to Stop Heathrow Expansion, these include:
- The impact of noise. Already at least 725,000 people are affected by noise pollution from Heathrow. This is 28% of people affected by airplane noise across Europe. And this figure is likely to increase if the expansion goes ahead.
- The demolition of 3,750 homes, including a medieval village.
- The transport infrastructure needed to support the new runway could cost the taxpayer as much as £18bn.
- The expansion would mean that it is “realistically impossible” for the UK to meet its climate targets.
Just say no!
Climate change is one of the biggest threats, if not the biggest threat to the world. It is time we all take responsibility for that threat and decrease our reliance on polluting forms of transport such as flying. And with some scientists claiming that climate change is happening even faster than predicted, expanding an already polluting airport cannot be a good idea.
But while opposition to Heathrow is good for the environment, it is likely to mean a headache for May. Her minority government could be threatened by a vote. And given the opposition from her own party, questions are likely to be raised as to whether she will even risk pressing ahead with the issue at all.
– Support Stop Heathrow Expansion.
– Support Plane Stupid.