Heathrow third runway expansion wins backing of Scottish government
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow have received a significant boost after the Scottish government announced its backing for the scheme, which it claimed would create up to 16,000 jobs across Scotland.
Holyrood made the announcement amid mounting speculation that the Westminster government is to back a third runway in the coming weeks, ending years of arguments over airport expansion.
Environmental campaigners and Green politicians decried the move as “a disaster for climate change”, and questioned whether the promised jobs stimulus would come to pass.
The cabinet secretary for the economy, jobs and fair work, Keith Brown, called on Theresa May’s government to follow Scotland’s lead.
It’s now time for the UK government to end its costly prevarication on airport expansion and support Heathrow’s plans to ensure Scotland, and the United Kingdom as a whole, can begin to reap the rewards on offer,
A series of commitments, including on jobs, investigating the use of Glasgow Prestwick airport as a potential site for a logistics hub for building the third runway, and a reduction of £10 per passenger on landing charges paid by airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland, will be included in a memorandum of understanding signed between London Heathrow airport and the SNP government on Monday.
Announcing the memorandum, Brown said the Scottish government had engaged extensively with Gatwick and Heathrow’s expansion proposals, and the latter’s offered the best deal for Scotland.
We have been clear from the start of this process that we wanted the best deal for Scotland and building a third runway at Heathrow provides the most significant benefits to the country’s economy and connectivity,
Growing the number of direct international air routes to and from Scotland remains a priority for this government, but the proposals from Heathrow offer all our airports a range of benefits that will help them grow passenger numbers and continue to build on their successes.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, said the partnership demonstrated how the expansion could work “for every region and nation of the UK”. He said an expanded Heathrow would create up to 16,000 jobs in Scotland.
It would facilitate more airlines flying routes to Scottish airports, meaning more flights, more competition and choice for families and businesses across the nation. That also means more visitors to Scotland, more destinations for Scottish tourists and more opportunity for Scottish businesses to reach new export markets,
Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, questioned the job creation figure, saying:
Every time there is discussion about airport expansion of any kind, it is accompanied by ridiculous jobs figures, but it is difficult to see how 16,000 new jobs could materialise with just a bit more direct traffic.
Dixon said it was self-evident that any increase in flights would equally take people and money out of Scotland:
If it is easier to fly somewhere else then people will do their business elsewhere so that takes business out of Scotland too, and balances out any increase.
He said his biggest concern was the impact on the environment.
The biggest disappointment is that the Scottish government talks a good game about climate change and here they are backing the expansion of one of our biggest airports, which will result in 70% more traffic and emissions. If we’re concerned about climate change we can’t possibly expand aviation even more.
Throughout the Scottish National party’s conference, which begins in Glasgow on Thursday, Heathrow will operate a “private, airport-style lounge” with a free bar to promote the benefits of the expansion to Scotland, as it did at last year’s event in Aberdeen.
There have been complaints that the SNP has priced non-corporate campaigners out of the event, with the cost of the cheapest, single stall for a charity this year rising to nearly £3,000. An alternative fringe, to run concurrently with the SNP conference at a nearby – and more affordable – venue, will include Friends of the Earth Scotland.
The Scottish Greens’ transport spokesman criticised the SNP’s “flawed thinking”. John Finnie said:
Expansion of hugely polluting aviation can only be a disaster for the climate, not to mention the impact on local communities. The Scottish government are flawed in thinking that more of everything is somehow sustainable.
Maintaining air links between cities as far apart as Inverness and London makes sense, but at the same time we must invest in improvements to our rail network and make it easy to use technology to do business from anywhere in Scotland. That’s where the Scottish government’s efforts should be focused. The growth of airports is a last-century idea and that’s where it should stay.
May is believed to favour expansion at Heathrow, despite opposition from members of her cabinet including Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Las week Zac Goldsmith, a longstanding opponent of the Heathrow plan, reiterated that he would quit as an MP if the government gave the green light to a third runway.
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Plans for a third runway at Heathrow have received a significant boost after the Scottish government announced its backing for the scheme, which it claimed would create up to 16,000 jobs across Scotland. Holyrood made the announcement amid mounting speculation that the Westminster government is to back a third runway in the coming weeks, ending […]
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