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How not to make a decision on Boris Island
There is a right way and a wrong way to make decisions on airports and Cameron’s approach would have been destroyed in the courts. The 2008 Act, and the EU SEA directive, and the Greenpeace caselaw all set out a proper process for making such decisions:
Of course a minister can be minded to change a policy but they can’t show predetermination. Announcing support for ‘Boris Island’ before the need had been established, before that site had been shown to be practical or even if there were not much better sites (which they are) would have been a recipe for successful JR.
Yet again Cameron has shown that he is is own worst enemy when it comes to major policy decisions when he ignores the advice of DCLG and DT civil servents. The rules aren’t that complicated – they can be written on the back of an envelope.
Andrew Lainton 17th Jan 2012
David Cameron to give his provisional support to estuary airport
Cameron is expected to offer his provisional support to Boris’s estuary airport scheme. He is now thought to back the project, though he was initially against it.
The Thames airport proposal will be in the government’s aviation policy consultation that starts in March, though Downing Street says the government will make a final decision on the basis of the consultation process. This announcement may have been intended for earlier in the month, and may have been delayed by doubts by Nick Clegg. The Lib Dems used to have a policy to oppose airport expansion.
Since we have committed to spend £32 billion on HST, there isn’t a lot of spare money for other projects.
AirportWatch 17th Jan 2012
Cameron paves the way for new London airport
The Prime Minister is expected to offer his provisional support for a scheme originally proposed by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. The Government had planned to announce preliminary backing for the scheme on Jan 3, with feasibility studies beginning in the Spring. The announcement was expected to be linked to plans for a second high-speed rail line as part of the Government’s long-term vision for Britain’s transport infrastructure.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, blocked the announcement amid concerns that it was being rushed out and had not been thought through. No 10 sources said a decision on aviation strategy was now due to be announced in March and that “discussions are ongoing”.
The Daily Telegraph understands that Mr Cameron will be supportive of the proposed airport but will make a final decision on the basis of the consultation process. Mr Clegg is said to have an “open mind” over the proposal but is keen to consider the views of environmental campaigners and residents. The Liberal Democrat position is currently to oppose airport expansion.
One senior Conservative source said: “No 10 was all ready to announce the new airport and then at the last minute Nick Clegg stepped in to block it.”
Another Tory source claimed: “It was a purely political act that had nothing to do with the national interest.”
However, a senior Liberal Democrat source said:
“Aviation policy is very sensitive and we didn’t support rushing out an announcement over the New Year. The consultation will almost certainly be launched in March and Nick Clegg does not have a fixed view on the outcome.”
Mr Johnson has advocated building an airport on a man-made island in the Thames Estuary to cope with the growing pressure on other London facilities. He claims that without providing more airport capacity, the capital will lose jobs as businesses relocate elsewhere in Europe.
Environmental campaigners claim it will boost global warming emissions and endanger wildlife.
Mr Johnson has ordered his own detailed review of the plan. He recently said:
“The capital’s airports are full, our runways are rammed and we risk losing jobs to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid or other European cities should we fail to act. No other city even approaches the volume of passengers handled at London’s airports but we need to start planning for a brand new airport that can help meet the ever-increasing demand for aviation and act as a hub, particularly to the rest of the UK.”
The Prime Minister has refused to allow the expansion of Heathrow on environmental grounds and was previously thought to be lukewarm about the prospect of a new airport. However, both he and George Osborne, the Chancellor, are thought to have become more interested.
Telegraph 17th Jan 2012, Robert Winnett, Political Editor
So let’s look at this decision. Instead of building a third runway at Heathrow at a cost of a few billion pounds, Cameron wants to build a £20 billion airport on the estuary. The total cost of the project is £50 billion when you add in an orbital railway and other infrastructure. And this is somehow better for the environment. In what way? Not in engine emissions.
What this decision is about is that Cameron wanted to keep seats around Heathrow at the last election. Philip Hammond’s constituency is nearby and Justine Greening’s is under the flight path. So the government has decided to spend tens of billions more than is required to save seats around Heathrow. The level of stupidity is beyond limits for this government.
And who will be funding this airport? Since we have committed to spend £32 billion on HST, there isn’t a lot of spare money for other projects. So much for an Oxford education when you study PPE.