Ex-transport minister: Heathrow expansion will never happen

Posted On: 
19th September 2016

A former transport minister has said a third runway will never be built at Heathrow, as the Government prepares to finally make a decision on airport expansion.

Top Tory Theresa Villiers is not expecting a third runway at Heathrow
PA Images

Theresa Villiers, who took the transport brief during the coalition government, said building an extra runway at the west London airport would be “undeliverable”.

She ruled out Heathrow expansion as transport secretary in 2012, but Cabinet opposition has been weakening since then.

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The much-delayed verdict on a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick was again set back until at least October following the vote for Brexit.

A report published last July by the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, recommended a third runway at Heathrow.

But speaking last night to the BBC's Westminster Hour, Ms Villiers, who was sacked from her post as Northern Ireland Secretary by Theresa May, said the Prime Minster would “realise” Gatwick was the better option.

“I don’t think that runway will ever be built at Heathrow. I think it’s undeliverable,” she said.

“If you look at what the Davies Commission report outlined by way of a Heathrow proposal, for example it includes tunnelling the M25.

“This is a huge logistical project and there are going to be millions of millions of people opposing it because of the huge impact it will have in terms of airport noise. I think the much better option is to enlarge Gatwick instead.”

She said Mrs May was “someone who looks very carefully at the evidence” and added: “I hope that when she does she’ll realise that if you can build a new runway at Gatwick for half the cost, in half the time and at a fraction of the environmental impact. That’s obviously the better option.”

Last week Boris Johnson condemned Heathrow expansion as a “fantasy” which should be “consigned to the dustbin”.

In his first outspoken attack on the issue since being appointed to the Cabinet in July, the former London mayor said a third runway at the hub “simply won't get built”.

His comments came after he was excluded from the Cabinet committee tasked with making a decision on airport expansion.