While it is disappointing that the Commission’s first recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow reflects a backward looking view of aviation world, there is good reason for optimism. Gatwick remains on the table as a credible and commercially viable option.
With the door open for Gatwick we may finally be closer to a decision and I will be urging the Government to take the opportunity of a generation to choose Gatwick.
Noise comparison at UK airports, Click to enlarge.
One thing is for certain: Britain needs more aviation capacity to remain an open, globally-focussed trading nation. But the decision on expansion needs to take into account a range of issues, including the environment, local communities, feasibility and the needs of Britain’s aviation market.
The argument over noise is often dismissed as small-minded nimbyism. But airplane noise isn’t just a matter of irritation, it is linked to significant productivity losses and health complications such as hypertension, hearing loss, insomnia, mental health challenges and cognitive impairment. We must take this seriously.
While the debate on Britain’s aviation future won’t start in earnest until the final report from the Airport Commission is released in the summer, the fight against the third runway continues.
During the recent election campaigns, local MPs from the main parties won their seats on the back of a pledge to fight Heathrow expansion. This is good news because newly elected MPs must now live up to those pledges in Parliament by making the case that any airport expansion must not include a third runway at Heathrow.
It was a moving moment to be unanimously readopted as the candidate by the Windsor Conservative Association, back in 2013. To receive their endorsement means a lot to me, and has enabled me to continue focussing my energies on fighting for the things that matter to residents.
Having come from a pretty tough background in South East London it is a huge privilege to have served as the MP for Windsor since 2005. We’ve achieved a lot since then, but there is so much more to do and I am determined to see it through if re-elected in May.
The MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie, spoke up in Parliament to call for further reductions in the jobs tax.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, agreed with Adam’s suggestion, outlining plans to reduce national insurance on apprentices and young people.
As recorded in the House of Commons’ Hansard:
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): It seems to me that we would be wise as a nation to reduce taxation on the activities that we wish to encourage. I therefore very much welcome the reduction in employers’ national insurance, which has created jobs in my constituency, and I suspect in every constituency around the country. Does the Chancellor agree that we would do well to push on with these reductions in employers’ national insurance, which, to all intents and purposes, is a tax on jobs that discourages their creation?
George Osborne (The Chancellor of the Exchequer; Conservative): My hon. Friend is absolutely right that national insurance is a tax on jobs-
Edward Balls (Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer; Labour): He is a champion!
George Osborne (The Chancellor of the Exchequer; Conservative): My hon. Friend is a champion of businesses in his constituency. That is one of the reasons unemployment has fallen in Windsor and 2,000 businesses in Windsor are benefiting from our employment allowance. We are going to go on reducing national insurance on employing 21-year-olds and apprentices. The alternative path—the path offered by the Labour party—is to put the jobs tax up. That would increase unemployment and return Britain to the economic mess it was in when Labour was last in charge.
You can watch Adam speak from 18:35 on BBC Parliament at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b050zg8g/house-of-commons-live-treasury-questions