PM to chair new committee on airport expansion in South East
Theresa May is to chair a new Cabinet committee to decide on airport expansion in the South East, aimed at reviewing the evidence in advance of an announcement this autumn.
The Airports Commission Report that was published on 1st July 2015, which recommended expansion at Heathrow but did not rule out Gatwick, was heavily criticised. Campaigners opposed to Heathrow expansion demonstrated that the report failed to fully examine a number of issues including the impact of pollution and noise on health. They complained that safety concerns were brushed under the carpet and supposed benefits claimed by Heathrow were not seriously challenged. Other calculations were not reliable and projected benefits to the economy were grossly exaggerated.
It became clear that a decision could not be based entirely on the flawed report, which also did not consider the possibility of Britain leaving the EU. Sir Howard Davies had stated to politicians that expansion was required because of immigration and enjoyed using a phrase he found amusing: "Poles like to go home to mum".
Thankfully Theresa May represents the constituency of Maidenhead and will know that Heathrow expansion is not a joke, it is likely to prove disastrous for the country and the government. It is therefore not surprising that she, like David Cameron before her, has decided to personally chair the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-committee. The full list of members will be revealed shortly.
It would be useful if Cabinet members who already oppose Heathrow expansion, such as Justine Greening, the Education Secretary and Putney MP, were on the committee but we are confident that the arguments against the Heathrow options are strong enough to convince anyone who takes the trouble to listen to them.