Urgent question on airport expansion
2 March 2020
Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, responded to an urgent question from Andy McDonald MP on the Court of Appeal's ruling against a proposed third runway at Heathrow.
Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that the government's decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow Airport was unlawful. The Court determined that the proposed runway contravened the Paris Agreement.
Heathrow Airport is the UK's busiest airport and currently consists of four terminals and two runways. Proponents of the third runway claim that the expansion is needed to deal with increased passenger numbers, but those against the plan argue that it would be damaging to the environment.
Kelly Tolhurst MP : "a greener future"
Responding on behalf of the Government, Kelly Tolhurst, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, said that the Government supports airport expansions but "will only permit it within environmental considerations". She said that the Government decided not to appeal the court's ruling against the runway as they "take seriously" their commitment to reducing CO2 levels.
Ms Tolhurst said that the Government was committed to airport expansion and to travel infrastructure, evidenced by projects such as roadbuilding and HS2 (the high-speed rail link).
The Minister told MPs:
"Airport expansion is at the core part of our commitment to global connectivity, but we are also a Government that is committed to a greener future."
Andy McDonald MP: "lack of real concern"
Responding to the Minister, Andy McDonald MP told MPs that the ruling was a victory for environmental campaigners. However, he said that the fact that citizens had to "rely" on the courts and activists was "clear evidence of the Government's lack of real concern about the climate crisis".
Mr McDonald asked why the former Transport Secretary failed to take the Paris Agreement into account when considering the expansion. He also asked what the Government means by a commitment to "overall airport expansion", and how this, along with its road building plans, align with environmental considerations.
The Member told the House:
"It's already clear that the Government's transport policy of roadbuilding, cutting aviation tax and airport expansions will put the UK even further off track to meet its climate targets."
- Watch Parliament TV: Urgent Question on Airport Expansion
- Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.
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