As Davies Commission backs third runway at Heathrow, Boris says “it’s not going to happen”

Which other senior government figures oppose the runway?

After three years and £20m, Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission has concluded that a third runway at Heathrow is the solution to Britain’s air capacity problem.

There is a “clear and unanimous” case for the runway, Davies said.

According to the commission, the runway would add £147bn to the economy, and create up to 70,000 jobs by the time it is fully operational - forecast for 2050.

“The best answer is to expand Heathrow’s capacity through a new north-west runway,” Davies said.

“Heathrow is best placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets.

“It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers and the broader economy.

“To make expansion possible the commission recommends a comprehensive package of measures including a ban on night flights and a new noise levy to fund a far stronger and more generous set of compensation and mitigation schemes.”

The recommendation comes with tight restrictions on noise pollution and environmental pollution. In addition, it says that the new runway should not equal an increase in new flights, and that ministers should make a parliamentary pledge not to build a fourth runway.

Opposition

Despite the conclusive findings of the report, there remains considerable opposition to the building of a new runway, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson predicted this morning that the scheme would have a “catastrophic” impact and that ultimately, “it’s not going to happen”.

Upon his election to parliament in May, Johnson vowed to “lie down” in front of bulldozers to prevent the runway from going ahead.

Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Johnson said that the “discomfort being endured” today by Londoners on the hottest day of the year “would be nothing compared to the noise pollution that will be visited on hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people and the vehicular pollution as a result of a catastrophic decision to increase runway capacity in the west of the city. That will not happen.”

Several senior government figures are also opposed to the scheme, including front running Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith in Richmond, Justine Greening in Putney, James Berry in Kingston and Jane Ellison in Battersea, who have all said they will be campaigning against it.

“No ifs, no buts”

But what about David Cameron? In the build-up to the 2010 election, Cameron vowed to fight the building of a third runway at Heathrow, saying “no ifs, no buts”.

The Prime Minister will have to perform a very public U-turn if he presides over the initiation of the building work.

Downing Street officials today said that they would take their time to fully digest the report, and didn’t want to make a “snap judgement”. An official response is expected in the autumn.

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