Latest twist in the saga around a third runway for Heathrow – UK opposition party, Labour, has dropped its backing for an extra runway. Shadow transport secretary said the party has taken the third runway off its agenda because of the “local environment impact”.
The move sends a worrying signal to those people who had been gearing up for the construction of a third runway during the Labour era. If they had been marking time while the coalition is in power waiting for the return of Labour, they now know that avenue has closed.
The uncertainty will also be frustrating for the inhabitants of the villages due to be bulldozed when the runway is built, as many have accepted the inevitable will happen sooner or later. Most are actually relaxed about the prospect of compulsory purchases (it is the residents under the new noise corridors that will be created across the home counties who are most concerned about runway 3), so for the villagers of Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington decisive action is the order of the day.
(comment from Graham Dunn, Airline Business) But in a mad, twisted logic kind of a way, maybe it helps. After all once one party takes a position on an issue, the natural inclination for the other is to do the opposite. And to my mind, the Conservatives switching to backing a third runway for Heathrow would help restore the more traditional political status quo. It’s always seemed a bit like the two main parties had their positions on the third runway slightly the wrong way round. If there was one UK political party you would normally think of as being pro-business and thus in favour of a third runway it is the Conservatives. But I’m no politician.
Meanwhile, after 65 years Heathrow is finally going to mixed-mode operations on its two existing runways, albeit on a trial basis for four months. Airport operator BAA denies it is to raise capacity, saying the mixed mode trial is more about providing “a better passenger experience”. If this means a reduction in the peak-time delays of typically 30-40 min when departing from, or arriving at, “London Airport” then bring it on!
And look out for news today of details of a rival to Boris Island - Thames Hub – Flightglobal will be there to find out more.