Advisor slams government failure to act on Heathrow

Advisor slams government failure to act on Heathrow

A senior aviation policy advisor to Parliament has slammed the government’s appointment of the Davies Commission to look into UK airport expansion.

Laurie Price, former advisor to the Transport Select Committee and now advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Aviation Group of MPs, said: “There have been innumerable studies. We have studied this to death.”

He told Travel Weekly: “We know what the problem is. What is different about the Davies Commission? What will it say that is different from all the previous studies?”

Price, a consultant for engineering and management consultancy Mott MacDonald, chaired a Waterfront conference on A New Aviation Policy in London yesterday. He said: “We have no idea even about the composition of the Davies Commission at the moment. We’ve got to get on with it.”

The government announced the commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, earlier this month in an attempt to end the furore over its lack of policy on airport expansion.

The commission will not start work till next year and not produce a full report until after the next election.

Price said: “While we’ve been vacillating even the Germans, who have a more acute sense of green issues than us, have built a new runway at Frankfurt and a new airport at Munich. What have we done?

“I’ve spent 40 years watching this nonsense.”

He said: “Even during the recession, in the worst conditions for 60-70 years, world air traffic grew by 5% a year. What more information do we need? We’re an island. We’re a trading nation.”

Price said the importance of Heathrow was demonstrated by the fact that “as soon as there is any capacity available at Heathrow, everything cascades from Gatwick”.

“The UK is incredibly good at air transport. We punch above our weight. But we’ve only got six regional routes into Heathrow.”

He dismissed the idea of a new Thames estuary airport to replace Heathrow, championed by London mayor Boris Johnson.

Price said: “Boris recognises there is a problem, but it’s political posturing. It can be done from a civil engineering point of view. But who will pay for it?
“If there is not money for schools and hospitals, why pay for an airport? And how will you move 250,000 people east [to work at the airport]?

“The industry will pay if the capacity is added at Heathrow.”

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