BORIS JOHNSON’S demand that the government rule out a third runway for Heathrow has been snubbed, new Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitting that “all the different options” are still on the table.
Shapps confirmed that no new runway would be started before the next election, scheduled for 2015, but that’s not saying much as, even if approval were given today, work wouldn’t start for years thanks to the planning application process.
After the election, Shapps suggested, the third runway could get the go-ahead.
“There are a lack of [airport] slots around London and it must be addressed, otherwise we are dooming ourselves to economic failure in the future,” said Shapps today.
“I think you want to have a good look at all the different options.”
Johnson has been quick to smell a rat.
Yesterday, he reacted angrily to the sacking of anti-third runway Transport Secretary Justine Greening, saying that, “the government wants to ditch promises and send yet more planes over central London”.
Today the London Mayor upped the pressure on the government with his challenge for it to come clean about its plans.
“We need to end the uncertainty about Heathrow; end this anxiety that’s now building up that a U-turn is in progress and say: ‘No folks, it’s all right, the policy is as it has been, which is to say ‘No’ to the third runway, both now and in the future i.e. beyond the next two-and-a-half years’.”
Johnson favours a completely new airport for London in the Thames Estuary, but Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osbourne are rumoured to back, albeit so far in private, Heathrow expansion.