Lib Dems: third runway 'is not going to happen'

7 Oct 2008 by Mark Caswell

The chances of Heathrow getting a third runway are non-existent, according to the Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor.

Vince Cable, speaking at a debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London last night, said that the political dynamics of aviation expansion had “changed fundamentally”, following the Conservatives’ announcement of their support for high-speed rail links from Heathrow.    
He said: “Both opposition parties will stop [aviation] expansion at Heathrow. The business case is weak and overstated, and politically it’s not going to happen.”
Cable, the MP for Twickenham, added that the current financial turmoil would weaken the arguments for a third runway. “Any plans based on business as usual are off the wall – we’re entering a different world,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of easing the congestion at Heathrow through “mixed mode” usage of the existing runways, Cable was equally negative, calling it “covert expansion”. He said: “The authorities will press for it, and the worry is that it will happen because it’s easier than getting permission for a new runway.”

Lord Soley, a former Labour MP and campaign director of Future Heathrow, offered some comfort to the airport’s beleaguered passengers. “What will happen is that the Tories will have an enquiry. They’ll decide that they can’t cover Stansted in concrete because there are too many Tory seats there, and that a new airport in the Thames Estuary would cost £36 billion, and they’ll say, ‘We’ve thought about it, and it’ll have to be Heathrow’.”

The motion in favour of the third runway was defeated by 396 votes to 247.

Report by Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker

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