The Department for Transport has attacked us for using its own evidence!
In March 2018 the New Economics Foundation published a report called ‘Flying Low: The true cost of Heathrow’s third runway’. The report used data produced by the Department for Transport (DfT). In particular, it reproduced DfT’s own estimate of net economic benefits, expressed as ‘Net Present Value’. See economics page.
The Department’s calculations show there is negligible economic benefit from a new runway (between minus £2.2 billion and plus £3.3 billion over a 60 year period – see economics briefing)
But DfT are very keen to hide this evidence because their political master – Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling – and the government are so keen to expand Heathrow. For what, in the absence of a good economic argument, can only be construed as political/ideological reasons.
So much so that DfT launched an attack on NEF (New Economics Foundation). They said to the City AM and the Guardian “This report makes a number of deliberately misleading claims that do not stack up against the evidence we have set out in two comprehensive reports.”
NEF were, needless to say, unimpressed. See NEF blog.
West London Friends of the Earth (WLFOE) asked DfT what in the report was “misleading”. DfT refused to answer, even when the request was repeated with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
They also declined to say who actually wrote/authorised this attack on NEF. However they did say it was cleared by “the relevant Minister and media adviser”. The relevant minister would be Baroness Sugg and/or Chris Grayling.
WLFOE are particularly unhappy because DfT are displaying, once again, a lack of impartiality. We have right to expect our civil servants – whose wages we pay – to confine themselves to matters of fact, of evidence and of public policy. Not launch attacks on civil society on behalf of its political bosses or its pals at Heathrow Airport.
Boris Johnson’s antics over the vote in Parliament on a third Heathrow runway received much coverage in the press. And rightly so.
Johnson has always said he was implacably opposed to a third runway and famously said he would lie in front of the bulldozers.
Johnson missed the vote by conveniently having a prior appointment in Afghanistan. He even cited national security as the reason not to say where was going. This is pretty deceitful behaviour.
Boris Jonson’s excuse for not voting was that him resigning would achieve absolutely nothing. This is a very dubious argument. He did not have to resign in order to vote the way he wanted. And it is extremely unlikely that Theresa May would have sacked him. Far more damaging things against her are being been done and said by members of the Cabinet all the time and they have not been sacked.
Very telling in his resignation speech: ” we will be forced to match EU arrangements on the environment”[if we negotiate a ‘soft Brexit’]. So why would we not wish to match the EU’s world leadership in environmental and social protection and regulation?? So that air pollution, noise, biodiversity, climate and human health can all be set aside when public policy and infrastructure decisions such as Heathrow expansion are made?
Boris Johnson might still be against a third runway, but he can’t now be trusted.
MPs have voted in favour of a third runway, proceeding to the next stage of planning.
Many Conservatives expressed serious concerns about all the topics we have highlighted – while feeling forced to support the government because of the 3-line whip. The fact that Theresa May had to impose a whip demonstrates that she could not rely on the actual evidence or logic in order to win the vote.
They and Labour supporters of expansion showed a touching faith in future technology to provide solutions. This is not supported by evidence, of course.
The lies have it !
Despite powerful and increasing evidence against, the vote in Parliament went in favour of new runway.
The big problem the opponents of expansion had – and still have – is the misleading propaganda put out by the Department for Transport (DfT). Culminating in the National Policy Statement (NPS), presented to Parliament.
The NPS hid key information from MPs, such as the fact that the Net Economic Benefit of a runway is about zero. Such as the fact that taxpayers would have to fund road and rail access to the tune of £9 billion to £14 billion. Such as the actual air pollution and impacts. Such as the truth about the climate impacts.
Instead of being “civil servants”, acting on behalf of the public, DfT have behaved more like an extra public relations department for Heathrow Airport.
Given this panoply of misinformation and concealment, it is not surprising that MPs were led to believe that Heathrow expansion is a good idea. Without their own team of analysts, most MPs could not reasonably be expected to uncover the truth.
So who is responsible for this campaign of misinformation and misdirection? See here.
The truth about a third runway may be found on the other pages of this web site.
Labour Party policy announced today (20/6/18) is against Heathrow expansion.
The proposals in the National Policy Statement (NPS) do not meet the 4 tests that Labour established as their criteria for supporting a third runway. See Labour’s 4 tests not met .
Nic Ferriday of West London Friends of the Earth commented: “We are pleased to see that Labour has correctly assessed the NPS and has seen that it fails on both environmental and economic grounds. Labour MPs will now be allowed to take these matters into account when voting. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have imposed a ‘3 line whip’ in favour of a third runway, which means their MPs are forbidden from allowing noise, air pollution, climate change and government evidence of no economic benefit to influence their vote.”
The Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which recommends a third runway at Heathrow, was presented to Parliament on 5th June. Transport minister Chris Grayling made a statement to the House.
We have now read the NPS. We consider it to be one of the most dishonest and misleading documents ever presented to Parliament.
Key evidence, painstakingly assembled by staff at the Department for Transport and published at the very last minute in dense supporting documents, has been excluded from the main NPS. Meanwhile, the NPS is filled with pages of verbiage, interlaced with dubious arguments and spurious statistics.
The intent is to mislead MPs so that they will vote for a third runway. The reason for this deceit is clear. The government has set its heart on a third runway and the last thing it wants is to tell MPS and the country the truth about the impacts. And about the economic benefits, now shown to be zero or negative.
For more about these issues see our home page , with forward links to subject pages.