23rd March, 2018
The Transport Committee, appointed to provide the official parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s Heathrow expansion plans, has today published its findings.
The report concludes that the Government’s plans on Heathrow expansion risk successful legal challenge unless it can urgently address a list of concerns and policy gaps. Unrealistic demand forecasts, underestimates of the environmental costs of a new runway, inadequate environmental conditions, and gaps in the supporting policy framework could all delay or block the scheme from proceeding, the committee argues.
Cait Hewitt, from AEF, said:
It’s no surprise that the Transport Committee says it supports Heathrow expansion. That’s been the case for many years. What’s notable is that, despite this, the committee has had to conclude that the Government’s draft runway plan is beset with a list of problems as long as your arm.
The environmental challenges the committee identifies – uncertainties about air quality impacts, absence of government policy on carbon, and the lack of any quantifiable noise limits – are not issues that can be easily dealt with using a bit of redrafting.
As the committee makes clear, the plans are wide open to legal challenge and riddled with gaps and uncertainties that MPs should be aware of if the vote goes ahead as planned. The Government has had years to think about these problems. It’s hard to see how it can come up with a convincing case between now and a summer vote that the project can be somehow ‘sustainable’.