Sadiq Khan and John McDonnell have criticised the Government’s decision to give the green light to expansion plans for Heathrow, highlighting the effect on air pollution and local communities.
McDonnell, shadow Chancellor, released a statement saying it “remains a disaster for air pollution, noise levels and our efforts to tackle climate change”.
He added that: “4,000 homes face the prospect of either being demolished or rendered unliveable by air pollution and noise… I’ll continue to support my constituents in campaigning against this runway so that it never sees the light of day.”
Khan, London mayor, says: “The government are running roughshod over Londoners’ views – just five months ago I was elected as Mayor on a clear platform of opposing a new runway at Heathrow, a position that was shared by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates in that election.” He highlights the issue of decreased air quality, stating that “air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2” and the issue of noise pollution. He says that an expansion of Gatwick would have been better on these issues, and it “could be built quicker and cheaper.”
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald cautiously welcomed the move, stating how airport expansion is “much needed in terms of investment and growth in our country” He however made clear his support was “conditional on four tests being met: on capacity, climate change, noise and air quality and the wider national benefits”.
Trade union GMB, which represent airport workers, said: “This not only protects the 80,000 jobs directly employed at the airport but will increase to a further 114,000 jobs”. They added: “the project is set to have a huge impact on the UK steel sector and will create thousands of jobs in both construction and steel industries.”
They also point to the economic stimulus that will be provided by the expansion, with a 2014 report suggesting that up to 180,000 jobs could be created and £211bn in economic benefits provided across the UK by 2050.
Mick Rix, GMB national officer for transport and distribution said: “GMB has a long standing policy of support for Heathrow expansion for the best part of a decade. Heathrow expansion has a clear cut case. The airport needs expansion if it is to retain its world class status as a global hub airport. In recent years because of this long standing process work has slowly drifted to European competitor hub airports. Heathrow expansion is not reliant on public money. It will be built to stringent environmental standards. Heathrow must now mean Heathrow.”
He added: “Heathrow expansion is a win, win for everyone. The time for dithering and political expediency has to stop, there is a clear cut case for Heathrow expansion, Heathrow expansion and the economy desperately needs decisiveness not delay.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has tweeted:
#Heathrow expansion vital for Britain. It can create thousands of quality jobs and apprenticeships, with huge benefits for UK supply chain.
— Frances O’Grady (@FrancesOGrady) October 25, 2016
Unite the Union’s dedicated Heathrow expansion campaign tweeted:
Woohoo!! Now let’s get on & build it #Unite4Heathrow
— Unite4Heathrow (@Unite4Heathrow) October 25, 2016