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Bill could introduce barrier to airport expansion

27th February, 2009

MPs have voted to introduce a new Bill that could stop airport expansion being steamrollered in with the new Planning Act.

On 24th Feb MPs voted to allow Liberal Democrat MP Susan Kramer to introduce her Bill, which would take airport expansion outside the Planning Act.

MPs approved her ’10 minute Bill’ by a majority of 243 to 203.

Jenny Tonge will be introducing a similar bill in the House of Lords.

A full Bill may now be introduced to the Commons which, if passed, would ensure that airport expansion would need parliamentary approval, and would not  rely on the independent Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

The Conservatives have already pledged to scrap the IPC.

Under the Planning Act, the Government sets out National Policy Statements (NPS), detailing national infrastructure priorities for the country in areas such as energy, aviation, road and rail transport, water and waste.

The NPSs must then be approved by parliament.

However, whether individual projects go ahead will then be taken independently by the IPC.

Kramer’s new Bill, if passed, could open the door to make exceptions for airport expansion, and require Parliament to give final approval.

With expansion at Heathrow airport dividing opinion, this could introduce more opportunities for any expansion to go ahead.

This ‘10 minute bill’ just authorises Susan Kramer to introduce the real bill into Parliament. This is quite a different kettle of fish; any vote will be ‘whipped’ by the government and will require considerable support from rebel Labour MPs if it is to become law.

Nonetheless, the result is important because it keeps the issue of airport expansion in the public and keeps up the pressure on the government.  Congratulations to Susan Kramer.