The government’s advisory body on Climate Change has pointed out the obvious; you can’t expand Heathrow if you are serious about meeting the climate change targets that all mainstream political parties are signed up to. The Davis Commission relied upon the Committee on Climate Change and a huge hike in fares as its way of justifying the Heathrow option. That fig leaf has now disappeared. We should be clear that MPs who vote for Heathrow expansion can’t ever claim to be taking climate change seriously.
The government will have to look again at its backing for Heathrow, but most significantly it will require the Labour Party and SNP to ask why they are not opposing the airport when the planning application comes before Parliament at the end of next year?
I know Corbyn’s top team are long-term opponents of Heathrow expansion, but what is the good of having them leading a party that gives a free vote on a project that has such a huge impact on the climate. It reinforces my sense of disappointment that Labour remains committed to a set of dinosaur schemes like Trident and Hinkley. I had hoped that Corbyn would be able to make a difference, but the frightening and frustrating experience of watching them abstain on, or even vote for, the draconian snooper’s charter has made clear the limitations of Corbyn’s Labour Party.
The government presented a budget last week which failed even once to mention climate change. This is despite the evidence of severe arctic ice melt and 2016 being the hottest year on record. Indeed, the fuel duty freeze, road building programme and record number of polluting cars on our roads drew no comment from the official opposition apart from Labour complaining that the Conservatives had failed to build the roads they had promised last year. It was left to Caroline Lucas MP to point out the absence of any action to deal with the biggest crisis facing humanity and to show once again the importance of having Greens in Parliament.
Heathrow expansion is the one big project where a united opposition could combine with rebellious Conservative MPs to show that they take climate change seriously. I really hope that we can spend the next year changing minds and seizing the opportunity to do something worthwhile for ourselves and the rest of the world.