The UK’s airport policy is a “national disgrace” and the chance of a final government decision on Heathrow expansion next year is “no more than 50/50”, National Infrastructure Commission chairman Lord Adonis has said.
Speaking at the London Infrastructure Summit yesterday, Labour’s former transport secretary made the prediction based on the potential stance on a third runway among senior government figures.
“I would say we have a two-thirds majority in the Commons in favour of it, but unfortunately we have a foreign secretary who is strongly against, a chancellor where planes fly over his constituency and we have a prime minister where it goes pretty near to her constituency, too,” he told delegates.
“All of those factors will conspire together and I make it no more than 50:50 that a decision will be taken next year.”
The Labour peer added: “I predict an urgent review next year on further assessment of air quality that will take at least five years, then that will take us through to the next election and we can avoid having any vote in this parliament.”
He railed against the fact it has already taken 25 years to “take a decision” on Heathrow expansion, adding: “Airport policy is a complete national disgrace.”
He said: “In a post-Brexit world… we cannot have our major hub airport essentially closed for new traffic as it’s operating at 100 per cent capacity.”
In June, Lord Adonis warned that a hard Brexit would be a “calamity” and could even threaten Heathrow’s expansion.
He told delegates to “ignore completely and pay no attention to Brexit”, as there is “nothing anyone in this room can do about it”.
He added: “We are now in the land of very high politics where the future of this nation will be decided in Whitehall.
“The powers that be know what the business community think. They know you think they have taken leave of their senses and none of this should be happening at all, but unfortunately that isn’t going to make much difference.”
On housing in London, he said the figures on housebuilding are still “very grim”. He added: “There’s almost no social housing being built at all.”
Last month, Lord Adonis told Construction News that he was not concerned by wafer-thin profit margins among big construction firms as they had been “cut down to size” and argued the public sector is “getting a good deal at last”.
Speaking to Construction News on the sidelines of the conference yesterday, the peer said he stood by his comments but had “nothing more to add”.