Report revealed third runway not best financial option for British people
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling knew about a report that concluded Gatwick expansion would benefit British people more than Heathrow expansion when he announced Heathrow as the government's preferred option, the Evening Standard has revealed today.
A cost-benefits analysis conducted by Department for Transport (DfT) officials using standard Whitehall methods concluded that when benefits to overseas travellers and firms were excluded, British people and firms could gain up to £4 billion more in advantages if rival Gatwick was chosen for expansion.
The findings of the study were in the annexe to a report published when Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced Government backing for the third runway.
The DfT has said that the full report went to the decision-making Cabinet committee chaired by Theresa May but it was not circulated to the full Cabinet when members held its own debate on airport expansion a week earlier.
The process by which Heathrow was chosen as the preferred option is being shown to be outrageously biased in favour of that airport, starting with the decision to appoint Sir Howard Davies to Chair the Airports Commission despite his connections to companies that have been linked to Heathrow.
In his Commons statement last week, Mr Grayling said Heathrow’s north-west third runway plan was chosen because it offered “the largest benefits to passengers and the wider economy, of up to £61billion over 60 years”.
However, the Further Review and Sensitivities Report makes clear that these benefits include impacts outside the UK as well as the value to overseas travellers using Heathrow as a hub to pass through. This is a statement clearly intended to mislead MPs who will ultimately get a vote to approve an expansion option.
When the UK-only benefits were calculated, they estimated that a third runway would bring benefits of between £5.8 billion and £9.9 billion. But they predicted Gatwick expansion would be worth £8.9 billion to £10.3 billion to UK residents.
The Evening Standard has detailed some of the other "startling findings" from the detailed report:
Mr Grayling’s case for a third runway included an estimate for the extra costs of road and rail links to Heathrow as being just £3.4 billion or less - that's even smaller than the Airport Commission estimate of over £5 billion and a fraction of Transport for London’s claim that they could cost farepayers £10 to £15 billion.
An overrun in Heathrow’s costs of just one per cent could be enough to negate the overall benefits of the scheme. By contrast the analysis found Gatwick, which would cost half as much, would still offer benefits if costs rose by 44 per cent.
The UK-only figures did not form part of the DfT’s central case for a third runway because, according to officials, they should be seen as “no more than indicative” and were “of low analytical assurance”. Funny how the Dft selects what it will and what it will not consider.
Zac Goldsmith, who is fighting a by-election as an Independent, said: “Yesterday it became apparent it would fall foul of air quality requirements. Today we see the economic benefits to British people are much smaller than offered by Gatwick. The Government has been herded into a quagmire by vested interests. They need to step back.”
John Stewart, of anti-expansion group Hacan, said: “It seems the Government has put the interests of hub passengers changing planes at Heathrow before anything else.”
Christine Taylor of residents' campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion said: "Around 10,000 people living near Heathrow could lose their homes as a result of a third runway. It is shameful that the British government thinks less of these people than greedy overseas businesses and passengers who are simply passing through this foreign-owned airport on their way to somewhere else."
A DfT spokesman told the Evening Standard: “Heathrow offers the greatest benefits. The independent Airport Commission report was very clear that it is the best scheme."
The spokesman then trotted out Heathrow PR about jobs and apprenticeships that COULD be created.
We all know about Heathrow promises - they are made to be broken.