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Heathrow hits back as Labour opposes expansion

Heathrow r3 north west option cropped

Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) has hit back at Labour after the party said it will not vote for the third runway in next week’s parliamentary vote.

A HAL spokesperon said it is “disappointed” Labour “disregarded much of the evidence” on expansion, insisting that Labour’s reasons for rejecting the scheme are unfounded. 

Labour pulled its support for Heathrow expansion after claiming that the third runway failed each of its four tests on capacity, noise and air quality, CO2 reduction and spreading the benefits across the UK.

However HAL insists that its expansion plan meets all four of Labour’s tests and should still be backed. 

A HAL spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that Labour have disregarded much of the evidence on how their four tests will be met by Heathrow expansion.

“The independent Airports Commission – after its 2.5 year, £20M study – found Heathrow’s plans for a north-west runway deliver on all fronts including carbon, noise, air quality and nationwide benefits.”

It creates more uncertainty on whether Heathrow expansion will pass the vote, which had looked almost certain until now.

Labour MPs will be free to vote either way in the Commons when the expansion vote is held next week, but shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said that “after careful and rigorous consideration” Labour felt its four criteria had not been met.

Former transport secretary Lord Adonis said he still expected the third runway to go ahead, citing Brexit as a major reason for expansion.

He said: “Heathrow [expansion] is all the more imperative because of Brexit. You cannot have engagement with the wider world unless you can get to it and get them to you.

“We have spent 25 years debating this and I would be very surprised if it doesn’t go ahead now.”

Several major trade unions still support expansion at Heathrow despite Labour’s decision. The Conservative party still backs expansion but Labour, the Liberal Demorats and the Green party are opposed, with the SNP uncertain.

Heathrow opposition group HACAN said it welcomed Labour’s decison to pull support from the third runway.

HACAN chair John Stewart said: “We welcome Labour’s decision to oppose a third runway at Heathrow. It creates more uncertainty about how the vote will go.

“And the fact that the main opposition party is not backing a third runway means greater risks for Heathrow’s financial backers who are ploughing billions into a scheme that might be pulled by a future Government.”

It comes after rival expansion developer Heathrow Hub said it is gearing up to launch a legal challenge against HAL’s third runway if it passes the vote next week.

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