Kwasi Kwarteng is going to learn a swift lesson – you dont stay a prospect for promotion by proposing to demolish four villages. A hub 4 runways airport would require demolition of four villages – Sipson, Harlington and Harmonsworth (the short runway would require deomiltion of sipson and part demolition of Harmondsworth) and to the South the far larger villages of Stanwell and possibly East Bedfont. In another Osbornite Omninshambles they wont be able to put this off until after the next election, the blight and mass protest will force that humilaiting Osborne.
The plan would destroy thousands of homes and would break a pledge made in the Coalition agreement, which ruled out a third runway at Heathrow.
It would also fly in the face of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s vision of an airport in the Thames estuary and calls by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, to expand Birmingham airport.
The future of Britain’s airports is a source of growing tension within the Coalition. There is speculation in Westminster that the Conservatives may eventually be forced to reverse their decision to block a third Heathrow runway.
Building two new runways at the west London airport is one of seven policies to boost economic growth that will be unveiled in a report tomorrow by the Free Enterprise Group, a panel of 39 Conservative MPs, many of whom are close to George Osborne, the Chancellor. Members of the group include Sajid Javid, one of Mr Osborne’s ministerial aides, and Matthew Hancock, the West Suffolk MP and the Chancellor’s former chief of staff. Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Commons Treasury committee who will lead the parliamentary inquiry into the Libor scandal, and Elizabeth Truss, an influential Conservative thinker, are also members.
Kwasi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne and one of the report’s authors, said: “Building two new runways at Heathrow is the most practical, most cost-efficient and fastest solution. This option would allow Britain to rapidly build on its strengths, rather than take a risk of a completely new airport.” Mr Kwarteng said neither the Thames estuary airport — dubbed “Boris Island” — nor expanding Birmingham airport were practical. “Building new runways at Heathrow would take about a third of the time as Boris Island and cost far less,” he said.
“Boris Island is grotesquely expensive. You’ve got to deliver the infrastructure with it. People from China want to fly to our capital, not Birmingham.”
The private sector has suggested that it would finance a third runway, previously planned between the existing airport and the M4, and the Prime Minister and Mr Osborne are said to be seriously considering reviving plans to expand Heathrow.Heathrow regularly runs at 99 per cent capacity, with London’s other airports nearly as congested. There are widespread fears that London’s position as one of the world’s economic hubs will suffer unless air capacity is expanded.Experts believe turning Mr Johnson’s vision of an airport in the Thames estuary into a reality would cost up to £70 billion. However, the price of building a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow is estimated at around £9 billion. The Free Enterprise Group’s paper suggests a third Heathrow runway could be built to the south and west of the airport on the town of Bedfont and Stanwell, a town with a population of 12,000.Gareth Coates, a marketing manager whose home would be under threat said: “Even though Heathrow is a major employer, there would be heavy opposition. It is striking that none of the Tory MPs proposing this have constituencies near here.”Mr Kwarteng said it was vital that residents were compensated for the loss of their homes. He said: “Even if you gave every resident £500,000 it would still be cheaper than Boris Island.”