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Airport Expansion

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:17 pm on 2nd March 2020.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 4:17 pm, 2nd March 2020

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s comments about last week’s judgment, but I should point out that the Government were clear in our manifesto that the Heathrow expansion project was a private sector project and needed to meet the strict criteria on air quality, noise and climate change and to be privately financed in the best interests of consumers. Airport expansion is a core part of the Government’s commitment to global connectivity and investing in our infrastructure. We welcome the efforts of airports throughout the UK to come forward with ambitious proposals to invest in their infrastructure, under our wider policy of encouraging them to make the best use of their assets.

We want the UK to be the best place in the world and we are forming new trading relationships with the European Union and negotiating free trade deals around the world. Last week’s judgment is an important step in the process. Heathrow Ltd is obviously able to apply to the courts to appeal, but we take our environmental commitments seriously and they are important to how we reach our objective of net zero by 2050.

I highlight for the hon. Gentleman the fact that we are committed to the decarbonisation of aviation, as that is an important part of our efforts on climate change. That is why we are maintaining momentum by investing in aviation research and technology. We are investing £1.95 billion in aviation research and development between 2013 and 2026. In August last year we announced a joint £300 million fund, with industry involvement, for the Future Flight Challenge. We will introduce a Bill that will modernise the country’s airspace, reduce noise around airports and combat CO2 omissions.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the advice given to the Secretary of State. I understand that that advice may form part of one of the grounds of appeal of another party in the Supreme Court, so I am unable to comment while the proceedings are ongoing, but I will not take lectures from the Labour party when even Labour-supporting unions such as the GMB have called Labour’s plans “utterly unachievable”. As I have already outlined, airport expansion is a core part of the Government’s commitment to global connectivity and levelling up.