Tories and Lib Dems at loggerheads as anti-Heathrow expansion motion passed

Surrey Comet: Anti-expansion: But who opposes it more? Anti-expansion: But who opposes it more?

The London Assembly rejected Heathrow expansion proposals at a meeting today and suggested more use be made of spare capacity at other airports.

Members passed a motion in reaction to the interim report published by Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission and the options proposed for expanding Heathrow and Gatwick.

Conservatives said the Lib Dem motion opened the door for more flights at Heathrow due to the support it showed for increased capacity in the south-east.

Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member for Richmond and Hounslow, proposed an amendment which said there should be a categorical opposition to any additional flights at Heathrow.

He said the Lib Dem motion, which recognised the need for more airport capacity in the south-east, “opens the door for dual use of runways at Heathrow which will increase noise for millions of Londoners.

He said: “I, and my Conservative colleagues, are unequivocally opposed to any increase in flights at Heathrow and we, unlike the Lib Dems, will not consider any concession to those who would increase the pollution that the airport brings to residents.”

Caroline Pidgeon AM, who proposed the motion, said she was disappointed to see Heathrow expansion back on the table.

She said: “Airport capacity in London is currently under-used, in fact some London airports have more than half of their runway slots free.

“Rather than inflict further misery on the residents of west London, the Davies Commission should rule out expansion of Heathrow and focus on better use of capacity at other south-east airports.”

Liberal Democrats branded Tories expansion-supporters after all Conservative members voted against the motion.

Robin Meltzer, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Richmond Park, said: “It’s no longer the case that the Tories are split on Heathrow.

“Now, almost everyone they have in elected office is in favour of mass expansion or, at best, isn’t bothered. The few who are on our side of the argument are simply sidelined by their leadership.”

MP Zac Goldsmith, who has long made clear his opposition to Heathrow expansion and organised a mass protest rally against additional runways last year, hit back at Lib Dem claims, and said their failure to back Coun Arbour’s amendment meant they were standing in the way of true opposition to Heathrow expansion.

He said: “The fact remains that the Lib Dems could have removed Heathrow expansion from the terms of reference of the Airport Commission without any effort at all.

“That would have killed it off forever, but they chose not to because they see the threat as a campaign opportunity.

“Putting it mildly - for those seriously committed to stopping Heathrow expansion, the Lib Dems have been a real pain in the backside.”

Comments (5)

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12:12am Thu 16 Jan 14

LadyOr says...

Heathrow and Gatwick can never operate 24 hrs services and create too many risks for the modern day, flightpaths over heavily populated areas to pollution.

The Airport Commission Report was always poised to be a waste of time, as you can can only expect this outcome.

Seems like Cameron is already losing the battle, Lib Dem have no control over this issue of Heathrow and the media have Cameron's cards marked.

Why? Even suggesting Heathrow would permanently loose too many voters!

other parties will control as mo
Heathrow and Gatwick can never operate 24 hrs services and create too many risks for the modern day, flightpaths over heavily populated areas to pollution. The Airport Commission Report was always poised to be a waste of time, as you can can only expect this outcome. Seems like Cameron is already losing the battle, Lib Dem have no control over this issue of Heathrow and the media have Cameron's cards marked. Why? Even suggesting Heathrow would permanently loose too many voters! other parties will control as mo LadyOr
  • Score: -4

10:41am Thu 16 Jan 14

Sophrosyne says...

Meltzer has ignored an inconvenient detail. The Lib Dem motion opposed expansion (in general terms) but they then refused a Tory amendment to narrow this to:

"The Assembly categorically states its opposition to any additional flights at Heathrow"

I struggle to see how he can construe that as being Tory support for expansion.
Meltzer has ignored an inconvenient detail. The Lib Dem motion opposed expansion (in general terms) but they then refused a Tory amendment to narrow this to: "The Assembly categorically states its opposition to any additional flights at Heathrow" I struggle to see how he can construe that as being Tory support for expansion. Sophrosyne
  • Score: 0

11:13am Thu 16 Jan 14

Dan Hampton Hill says...

While the other parties discussed and amended the motion before the meeting, the Conservatives didn't table an amendment until the motion started. The other parties did state this could have easily been added to the motion if this wasn't tabled at the last minute, however the amendment removed parts of the original motion and didn't just add in a clarification that wasn't actually necessary.

To then vote against the motion as a whole which clearly states "The Assembly reaffirms its opposition to Heathrow expansion plans" (which include night flights / mixed mode etc), really shows their commitment on the issue. If the Conservatives are serious about opposing Heathrow expansion maybe they should talk to the other parties, and possibly talk to their MPs who mostly are in favour of expansion.
While the other parties discussed and amended the motion before the meeting, the Conservatives didn't table an amendment until the motion started. The other parties did state this could have easily been added to the motion if this wasn't tabled at the last minute, however the amendment removed parts of the original motion and didn't just add in a clarification that wasn't actually necessary. To then vote against the motion as a whole which clearly states "The Assembly reaffirms its opposition to Heathrow expansion plans" (which include night flights / mixed mode etc), really shows their commitment on the issue. If the Conservatives are serious about opposing Heathrow expansion maybe they should talk to the other parties, and possibly talk to their MPs who mostly are in favour of expansion. Dan Hampton Hill
  • Score: 3

12:58pm Thu 16 Jan 14

buggsie says...

The objections to Heathrow from me are about the 4.00 am flights going over our homes.
Trouble is which ever airport expands is going to have the same complaints from residents unless the airport authorities stop these early morning flights (but then there are workers who are night duty workers who need to sleep during the day).
Maybe the answer should be that every home under a flightpaths should have sound proofing put in by the airlines/ports. And - all this new building around Wandsworth should be soundproofed from building.
The objections to Heathrow from me are about the 4.00 am flights going over our homes. Trouble is which ever airport expands is going to have the same complaints from residents unless the airport authorities stop these early morning flights (but then there are workers who are night duty workers who need to sleep during the day). Maybe the answer should be that every home under a flightpaths should have sound proofing put in by the airlines/ports. And - all this new building around Wandsworth should be soundproofed from building. buggsie
  • Score: 2

8:56am Mon 20 Jan 14

Concerned_Resident says...

Sound proofing only works so well. Come summertime, I personally like to open my windows. Air conditioning anyone?
Sound proofing only works so well. Come summertime, I personally like to open my windows. Air conditioning anyone? Concerned_Resident
  • Score: 1

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