MS-1: Public Works Order - Airport Expansion

Before the drudgery of daily work begins, Members may convene in the Chamber to discuss any manner of motion that is brought before the House. Likewise, this is the opportunity for Ministers of the Crown to address the House.
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Sir James McCrimmon
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MS-1: Public Works Order - Airport Expansion

Post by Sir James McCrimmon »

Public Works Order - Airport Expansion

Issue: London's airports are too congested and not well-connected. The proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport does not efficiently solve this issue, as it is more expensive, worse for our planet, and more unpopular than other options. Ultimately, any proposed solution must ensure that Heathrow remains a vibrant international hub, while also ensuring that it remains connected to short and medium-haul flights.

Intervention and Implementation: The Government has halted all plans for the creation of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Instead, the Government has approved the expansion of Gatwick Airport through building a new terminal and a second runway, as the airport proposed in 2016.

To connect the airports, the Government has approved the creation of a high-speed rail shuttle to connect London Luton Airport, London Heathrow Airport, and London Gatwick Airport that will, for the time being, be a fully sterile train that can connect travelers after they have gone through security. This shuttle will have terminals at London Luton Airport, Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, and Gatwick Airport South Terminal.

This rail shuttle will, to minimize environmental disruption, be parallel to major roadways - the M23, the M25, and the M1. Recognizing that there will still be environmental impact, the Government also commits to expanding greenbelt land to replace the area to be used by building at a ratio of 1:1.05 for disruption. Additionally, the Government will rent four environmentally friendly Optare Metrocity xFE buses for the next seven years, as a means of securely transporting passengers from the sterile shuttle station to the sterile area of other terminals (T 2-4 at Heathrow and North Terminal at Gatwick).

Cost: £6-7bn over the period of 8 years for Airport Rail Shuttle, £0 for Gatwick Expansion, £575k for buses.
Sir James McCrimmon
Conservative and Unionist
First Secretary of State
Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury
Secretary of State for Transport

MP for Chesham and Amersham (2015-present)
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Re: MS-1: Public Works Order - Airport Expansion

Post by Sir James McCrimmon »

Mr. Speaker,

It is a distinct honour today to be standing here today at the despatch box for the first time as Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Transport. This is a vital brief in these challenging times - we are called to build infrastructure while being eco-conscious, to encourage and support citizens to consider their own use of transit and how that affects our environment, and so much more.

Today, I am here to announce the submission and approval of a Public Works Order relating to expanding airport capacity in London and the Home Counties. I have here today with me a copy of the DfT's 2017 updated appraisal report, and it offers some scintillating reading, especially as it compares between building a second runway at Gatwick and a third at Heathrow. Here are some of the highlights - Gatwick expansion is estimated to cost at most 8.2 billion pounds, and Heathrow will cost in the realm of 18.4 billion. Gatwick expansion will incur 14.8 metric tonnes of CO2 through 2084/5, versus Heathrow’s 23.1 Mt. Gatwick expansion will have a cumulative monetised air quality impact through 2084/5 of -0.05 billion pounds, contra Heathrow’s -0.15 billion pounds. Gatwick expansion will create a cumulative noise impact through 2084/5 of -0.2 billion pounds, as opposed to Heathrow’s -0.6 billion pounds. The total Net public value of expansion at Gatwick is in the range of 72.6-74.4 billion pounds, whereas Heathrow’s is 67.8 to 72.7 billion pounds.

The numbers, Mr. Speaker, speak for themselves. They show us that with what we know now, there is a clear answer for which option we should take. This Government will commit to expanding Gatwick Airport through the building of a second runway and a third terminal. But then, Mr. Speaker, that begs the question - what do we do with two large airports and four smaller ones? The answer is simple. We make them work together.

I would like to invite the House to think about New York City. Similarly to London, New York has three major airports - two larger and one smaller. To get from John F. Kennedy Airport on Queens's south shore to LaGuardia on its north shore, you have to drive around 15km on major interstate highways that go through heavily populated areas. To get between either of them and Newark-Liberty in New Jersey, one would have to cross through at least two densely populated city boroughs and through an urbanized section of New Jersey as well. But here, Mr. Speaker? Heathrow, Gatwick, and Luton are all connected by our motorways, which are in less dense areas. A number of years back, the idea was first mooted of a connecting train between these three airports. It would not be as hard to do. Only a few years ago, the good people at Expedition Engineering proposed "HS4Air," which would connect Heathrow and Gatwick both with HS2 in Birmingham and HS1 in Ashford. Both of these, Mr. Speaker, are good ideas on their own. But together, they're even better.

This Order also approves the creation of the London Air-Rail Shuttle. At this moment, the Air-Rail Shuttle will travel parallel to the M1, the M25, and the M23 and stop once at each airport in a sterile environment. This environment will be linked to the main gate areas and will eliminate the need to go through security twice in one day. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, we are authorising the leasing of four coach buses, two for Heathrow and two for Gatwick, that can be used to safely and securely transport passengers between the sterile zone of the Air-Rail Shuttle Station and another terminal.

But why do this, Mr. Speaker? I would argue that this is the only solution. Expanding Heathrow cannot be our answer - it does the most damage to our climate, to the people of Hillingdon, and to the other airports. Expanding Gatwick is, as DfT analysis shows, better for us. But it would seriously unbalance the character of the airport, forcing out smaller and cheaper carriers to smaller and cheaper airports. Even tying the two together does not work. And that, my friends, is where we bring in Luton. Ultimately, our projections show that this will lead to a common structure at each airport - Heathrow will be for long-haul international flights, Gatwick will offer short and medium-haul flights, and low-cost carriers will find their home at Luton - and they will all be connected, first by this shuttle, and later by high-speed rail. This is an out-of-the-box solution, Mr. Speaker. But as I have learned so far in my life, if nothing works from inside the box, you've must get outside of it.

And finally, before I bore you all to death with my voice, I would be remiss if I did not talk about the Greenbelt. The Prime Minister and I are both cognizant of the fact that these airports are surrounded by Greenbelt land. As such, my friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs has asked me to inform the House that this Government will pledge to renew and grow our Greenbelt after disruption and that, in the coming months, he will introduce legislation that requires the Government to expanding greenbelt land to replace any disrupted areas at a ratio of 1:1.05. While this is not a legal mandate yet, Mr. Speaker, I find it to be a moral mandate for myself and this Government - and we will follow it.

The next few decades are make or break as we work to do right by ourselves and our planet. I commend this statement to the House, and I thank my colleagues for their support.
Sir James McCrimmon
Conservative and Unionist
First Secretary of State
Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury
Secretary of State for Transport

MP for Chesham and Amersham (2015-present)
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Re: MS-1: Public Works Order - Airport Expansion

Post by Dr. James Webster »

Mr. Speaker,

I have to say, if my party needed another reason to oppose airport expansion it's the series of take backs, U-turns, that have resulted in us having to debate an alternative proposal to the one this house already approved of is absurd. At this point, how can this house be sure that the next Tory PM, won’t want to do a third completely different proposal? How far into this project will we get before, we get another U-turn on airport expansion. I have to ask for what? Some very small economic benefits, by 2084, by the metric of one report. That’s if the Department of Transportation report remains accurate over the long term. Which I don’t think this government believes is the case, as they had this report last year, when they decided that Heathrow expansion was the route they wanted to go, and decided that a slightly better forecast for a generation from now, wasn’t worth it. I won’t stand here and pretend that any airport expansion is the right answer and that it has to happen, but I will argue that this government’s U-turns on it’s plans hurts this country, whether or not you agree with expansion in the first place.

While I support neither expansion, I do have to ask why we are going the route that’s less economical, in the short term, the medium term, and basically the same in the long term. To me that does not sound like a fiscally responsible proposal. Not to mention that it’s probable that another expansion will happen in the next sixty-five years by another Tory Government that will completely change the economic forecasts of the proposals. So if the long term gets disruptive, then the economic benefits of this expansion might never get seen over the proposal already approved. I am just having a hard time understanding the logic on exactly why we are having this debate again. Is there something I’m missing from the analysis of the Airport commission that unanimously agreed this wasn’t the right answer? Or the previous Prime Minister who chose that plan over this one? Because if I’m not missing something, I almost have to assume that the reason we are going in a different way, is to make yourself seem different to everything done by the former Prime Minister.

I honestly have to ask if anyone in the Government bothered to inform the private companies involved that they were cancelling already approved plans, as I imagine that Heathrow Airport Holdings, was already gathering up the finances to build the runway this government already approved for them. I know many on my side of the house might not care about the financial damage that the Government could cause to this company, but when debating this, I think it should be considered that this government is happy to let a company take on debt, and then cancel the project outright, only a year later. I bring this up because it could make it harder for other companies to receive the necessary funds for other projects that are approved if there is concern they might be cancelled in a year by the same government.

Moving on from the absurd to the ludicrous, the Secretary of State is trying to convince us that because there might be slightly less pollution, so it is worth more airplanes, more climate issues, more fossil fuel burnings. I believe the answer is no expansion. We have other options of where we use our money, in Scotland there are being tests done to create electric aircraft. I think the people of Britain would be happier to invest our money trying to figure out a low or zero carbon solution to air travel. There are tests being done to create electric aircrafts in Scotland. We can choose to lead the world in this regard, and bring jobs to Britain. I think it's time Britain leads in creating a Green Collar workforce. That's where I believe that we should put our effort, not trying to figure out where our next airport is.

I strongly believe that the environmental impact is far too great no matter if you can get it down slightly. This is not an argument about climate change on the margins, increasing the amount of air traffic that comes to the UK causes real issues with our environment. Honestly the government’s proposal that this is okay because it only slightly hurts the environment less. The environmental impact of this project will still be astronomical just like Heathrow expansion, and we should not be trying to say otherwise. If this government truly cared about the environmental impact of air travel, they would have stuck with the Cameron line, of no expansion. No amount of cheerleading the marginal reductions is going to change that. I say instead we work hard to create the green industries of tomorrow, and make Britain a leader in the development of clean technologies like electric aircraft.

I do not believe that the environmental figures touted by the Secretary of State have considered the expansion of the rail lines and the construction necessary to make sure the plan works smoothly, that could lead to the removal of people from their homes. Why must we go through a massive rail expansion purely for the benefit of the airlines? Why must people lose their homes? Why must greenspace be destroyed and rebuilt for airlines? Why does the Government prioritize this construction project over everything else? Family homes are worth less to this Government than a rail network, that they airports don’t even want. I think the most absurd part of this proposal is that the airlines themselves oppose it. Yes the people who benefit most from the concept of airport expansion oppose the Government's plan. From top to bottom this is not a sound policy, and the series of U-turns that define how we got here is the only thing more absurd than the policy itself.

At the very end of his speech on the statement, the Secretary of State said that the next few decades are very important. I completely agree with him. Which is why I argue that we should focus on developing the industries and economy of tomorrow, instead of expanding air travel. We should completely focus on making sure that Britain is ready to be a leader in the technology, and the industry of tomorrow, and if I were making the announcement today, I would be announcing ways we are working to make transport cleaner, and bring jobs to the United Kingdom. Furthermore, if the proposal is about making the right choice for the next few decades, why did you choose to go with the one that’s economic benefit take’s almost sixty-five years to fully realize?
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Re: MS-1: Public Works Order - Airport Expansion

Post by Blakesley »

I thank the minister for his statement. The House will now move on to other matters.
Blakesley
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