The overdue debate on the future of London’s airports is finally taking off.
I’ve been blogging for about a year, and my most consistent topic is transport and the need to take grown-up and very urgent decisions about the future.
London airports are a perennial theme: London desperately needs new runway capacity. Heathrow is full up – and we need more runways to fly to the new markets of Asia and South America.
The last time I looked at this topic – six months ago – it seemed the Coalition was trying to kick airports back into the long grass. The Transport secretary Justine Greening was due to publish the eleventh inquiry into London airports since 1946: eleven inquiries, which had delivered precisely nothing.
Today, however, things are starting to move as the Cabinet Reshuffle throws some interesting possibilities into play. With Justine Greening gone from Transport, the Coalition could now do a U-turn on a third runway for Heathrow. While this option – if it ever emerged from the planning process – could give airlines more capacity, it comes at a massive political price. The Prime Minister would face opposition from flightpath MPs – and London Mayor Boris Johnson is leaving no room for doubt about his position. He believes any expansion of choked-up and hemmed-in Heathrow to be “simply mad”.
After years of idling on the runway, it looks like the debate on the future of London’s vital air connections is about to take off. And, with so much at stake, it should be quite a show. As they say, fasten your seat belts…