Run up to runway announcement
The media has been full of Heathrow expansion stories in the run up to the government's announcement of its preferred option, which PM Theresa May told Parliament would come by the end of the month - hotly tipped to be Tuesday 25th October.
The Prime Minister wrote to her ministerial colleagues and outlined the timescale of the decision, making it clear that a National Policy Statement and MPs vote would not happen until winter 2017/18.
Both campaigners and Heathrow accepted that the content was an outline of the process, NOT a further delay, since a consultation period was essential prior to the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS).
This didn't stop the pro-Heathrow lobby moaning about "yet another delay" and banging on about "getting on with it". Even the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who wants Gatwick expansion, joined in. It is very sad that few politicians spare a thought for the people who will be very severely impacted by the schemes under consideration.
Labour's Chukka Umunna went as far as telling Andrew Neil (This Week 20th October) that "constant dither and delay" is due to "short-term political inconvenience" (forgetting the minor inconvenience of having to force thousands of people from their homes without any plans to find homes for them.) Chukka also said, from his cosy couch, that he believes that environmental concerns can be dealt with.
Dear Chukka, please don't keep the solution to yourself. We have been promised clean air with three runways but it has not been achieved with two. If you have a way to end the noise that tortures people under flightpaths or know how to meet climate change targets while adding a quarter of a million flights and yet more vehicles on our already strained road system, just let us all know. Experts have been grappling with the problem for well over a decade.
On the same plush sofa as Chukka sat former Tory politician Michael Portillo, who said he would not have appointed Cabinet members who did not agree to accept the PM's decision on a Heathrow runway that they had campaigned against. His attitude probably explains why he was never elected Leader of the Conservative Party. Theresa May is reported to listen to her Cabinet minsters unlike Cameron and Osbourne who made a decision outside the meeting and then presented the Cabinet with a fait accompli.
Also last week, the London Evening Standard reported that Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith had good news from his local Conservative branch regarding his pledge to force a by-election at some point should the government announce its preference for Heathrow.
Goldsmith's Conservative branch held a meeting and agreed to back him as an independent over an endorsed rival - a move that would seem to break party rules.