Today’s report by the Airports Commission is a big step forward for our city.
We urgently need new runway capacity in London and an expanded Heathrow will allow us to build the 21st Century transport infrastructure fit for a modern city in a global and increasingly interconnected worlds.
The most important thing now is that we quickly get on with implementing this recommendation. For too long London’s economy has suffered from a lack of airport capacity.
Our rivals have overtaken us and jobs, investment and enterprise have been lost to the likes of New York, Paris and Amsterdam.
It is time for the waiting game to end, for us to urgently start work on building a new runway and giving a growing London the infrastructure it needs.
The Airports Commission has determined that expansion at Heathrow would add £147 billion to economic growth and create 70,000 jobs. I urge the Government to now get on with approving that expansion.
A third runway at Heathrow has the support of passengers, airlines, employers and trade unions. It is also supported by a majority of people in the boroughs closest to Heathrow. It is the only option that can provide the global hub airport that London needs.
While Gatwick is a credible alternative, the experts have been clear in recommending Heathrow as the best option, and as politicians who commissioned them to make that recommendation we should now listen to it.
I also am very pleased to see the Airports Commission conclude that, importantly, expansion at Heathrow could be achieved while reducing its environmental impact and its noise impact on local people.
Air pollution in London is a serious issue and we must ensure that any airport expansion does not worsen the current situation.
I have always said that this issue is too important to play politics with. That’s why it was right that the independent Airports Commission was set up to remove politics from the equation.
A panel of experts has spent three years considering the issue and has made a clear recommendation. Any politician who still attempts to play politics over this will be putting their own interests ahead of Londoners, and that is unforgivable. It’s time for the political games to end and the moving forward to begin.
But while I fully support the need for expansion, this cannot be a blank cheque – expansion cannot just benefit airlines and passengers, it must benefit every Londoner too. We must set up an Independent Aviation Noise Regulator, as I called for during the last Parliament.
We need cast-iron guarantees that expansion will not mean any part of London will breach air pollution limits, and we need assurances that the vast majority of jobs created will go to Londoners. As Mayor I would also demand that Heathrow set up an apprenticeship scheme that takes a certain number of apprentices from every London borough.
If those conditions are met, I am excited at the prospect of creating a world-class transport system that will allow London to become the world-leading, forward-looking and connected global city that it can be. Now let’s get on with it.