Scottish government backs a third runway
"The Scottish Government has announced its support for plans to build a third runway at London Heathrow Airport, after securing key commitments for Scotland" its website reported on 10th October 2016.
It evidently didn't think its readers would even know the location of Heathrow so, hey, why would it think that anyone in Scotland would care if their government supports the destruction of historic English villages and thousands of homes? That explains why the article never mentioned anything about the impact on the world beyond Scotland's border.
According to this article, Scottish politicians think "the expansion plans offer the greatest strategic and economic benefits to Scotland." Presumably they also think investing billions of UK taxpayers' money in more development in the South East is the best use of that money, far better than investing in projects in Scotland.
Their conclusion is based on "the airport's commitments". Those who live around the Heathrow have had decades of the airport's commitments, broken promises and downright lies. (No mention of the other Heathrow option in the Airports Commission report, Heathrow Hub, but presumably the company behind that idea couldn't compete with the airport's lobbying.)
Here is what Scotland has been promised by John Holland-Kaye CEO at Heathrow:
1. The creation of up to 16,000 new jobs across the whole of Scotland. (The exact number of new on-airport jobs quoted when Heathrow wanted approval for Terminal 5. Despite the fact it opened in 2008, the airport can't say how many, if any, were created.)
2. Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway. (Not a promise then, just bait.)
3. £200m of construction-related spend in Scotland during planning and construction. (Heathrow is promising spending in other regions - while also seeking to take billions off the construction budget to make it more attractive to government. At best, it looks like such investment will be short-term.)
4. A £10m route development fund to help support new domestic routes. (Good luck on that one!)
5. From January 2017, a reduction of £10 per passenger on landing charges paid by airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland. This will benefit existing services from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness and incentivise the introduction of new services. (Wouldn't it be better to put some money into real projects in Scotland?)
6. A significant, long term marketing campaign at Heathrow to promote all that Scotland has to offer. (How much does this promise to Scotland cost Heathrow? A few posters, some adverts plus chocolates, biscuits and mug as a sweetener box to MPs - yes, they actually tried that one.)
7. A procurement event in Glasgow to enhance opportunities for Scottish firms to win business with Tier 1 Heathrow suppliers. (Whoopee! Looks like Scottish firms will get the chance to beg for the crumbs from the Heathrow table. We suspect the big money will be going in other directions.)
The Scottish government is rather pleased with itself and says, "London Heathrow Airport will make these commitments in a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with the Scottish Government today." (10/10/2016) (Is that worth the paper it's written on?)
Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown (SNP) said, “We have been clear from the start of this process that we wanted the best deal for Scotland and building a third runway at Heathrow provides the most significant benefits to the country’s economy and connectivity."
Keith Brown MSP (SNP) and his colleagues have been talking with Heathrow and Gatwick to find out which can promise the best deal to boost their popularity with Scottish voters. They may claim to be interested in benefits for the whole UK but this seems unlikely with Nicola Sturgeon saying that independence is "highly likely" in the next two years.
If MPs are given an unprecedented free-vote on airport expansion, the 54 SNP MPs could vote to destroy the homes and health of people in England. On 16th October BBC's Andrew Marr asked Nicola Sturgeon whether Scottish MPs would vote on English issues. She made it clear that the SNP would use the Barnett Formula excuse to vote on just about everything - with grammar schools in England and health provision in England being subjects Marr put forward. So if the Scottish MPs feel that spending in England affects the money Scotland receives, they will want to vote.
It surely can't be right that major decisions affecting life in England can be decided by MPs who stood for election on the basis that they will seek independence from the rest of the UK.