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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Will the government u-turn on Heathrow?

The UK Government's commitment to building a third runway at Heathrow will come under intense scrutiny this week when the Court of Appeal rules on Thursday on whether the approval of expansion was unlawful because ministers failed to properly consider the impact on the climate and the environment.

But as the Independent reports there are other strong reasons why this development should not go ahead. They report on a study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which concludes the third runway, approved by MPs in 2018, would see the UK pumping out an extra 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Equivalent to around 100,000 jobs in manufacturing, this would also penalise other regions – which would be forced to cut output if the UK is to hit its net zero emissions commitment by 2050.

The NEF also say that the third runway will trigger a £43bn shift in the nation’s income to London and the southeast from other regions, with 27,000 jobs also relocating to those richer areas, wrecking the Prime Minister's resolve to "level-up" the UK. They add that the worst-hit region would be the northwest – which could lose up to 15,000 jobs by 2050:

The NEF says its analysis of the “Heathrow effect” is based on Department for Transport (DfT) modelling and data obtained from freedom of information requests.

It calculates that 17 million fewer passengers will be flying out of non-London airports by 2050 if the third runway is built.

Of the 27,000 jobs that could shift to London and the southeast, about half would not be directly associated with the aviation sector.

Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, criticised the DfT for only releasing the data “grudgingly, long after parliament had voted on the issue”.

“Government needs to come clean about the economic damage that Heathrow expansion will inflict on regional opportunity,” he said.

Boris Johnson famously promised to “lie down” in front of bulldozers to stop a third runway. Will he now take heed of this latest research to call a halt to the project?
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