By Andy Slaughter
I have tendered my resignation from the government because of my opposition to a third runway at Heathrow. I do so with great regret, as I’ve enjoyed my last three years at the Departments of Transport, Trade and Industry and the Foreign Office.
This year will, I believe, see the biggest government investment ever in schools, hospitals and public transport and on these and other matters I will continue to support the government as it works to lead Britain out of recession.
However, I think the government has got it wrong on Heathrow, and on matters of this importance and where there is such a conflict I think my constituents – and my prospective constituents in Hammersmith – must come first.
Heathrow’s owners promised there would be no expansion after Terminal 5. Now they want a 3rd runway and a 6th terminal. Thousands of us could be affected by all-day aircraft noise, not to mention the impact on the wider environment.
Ministers are insisting that stringent noise and pollution limits are met before the new runway can be used, and that use of existing runways will not grow. But Heathrow will seek a way to break these promises once again.
So like many local people, I say enough is enough.
While I acknowledge that environmental controls insisted on by ministers and the refusal to allow increased use of existing runways were important concessions, they are not enough to prevent thousands of people being subject to all-day aircraft noise.
As a lifelong resident and MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush, I have battled airport expansion for 20 years. I now feel this issue is so important that I need the freedom from government to continue to work on a robust campaign that can stop the third runway being built.
I hope you agree that I have made the right decision.