New aviation minister Robert Goodwill opposed third runway at Heathrow

Minister staged ceremony at his Yorkshire home to show solidarity with local Heathrow homeowners over plans over airport expansion

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The Independent Online

The new aviation minister was previously a vehement opponent of building a third runway at Heathrow Airport, it has emerged.

Robert Goodwill was so hostile to its expansion that he even staged a ceremony at his farm in Yorkshire to show his solidarity with people living near Heathrow whose homes could be bulldozed.

Mr Goodwill, a former Tory whip, was promoted by David Cameron in this week’s ministerial reshuffle to take charge of air policy.

The biggest item in his in-tray will be where to build a new runway to relieve the huge pressure on airports in the South East.

But his attitude to the issue may dismay supporters of Heathrow’s expansion.

Three years ago Mr Goodwill, the Tory MP for Scarborough and Whitby, invited six Greenpeace activists to watch as he “twinned” his farm with the village of Sipson, which was threatened with destruction at the time.

He marked the occasion by planting an apple tree and said: “I am delighted the Conservative party and Greenpeace are working together in opposing the third runway at Heathrow.”

Another opponent of the airport’s expansion, the Liberal Democrat Baroness Kramer, became a transport minister in Monday’s reshuffle.

The Government has appointed Sir Howard Davies, the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, to examine the options for increasing air capacity. He is not due to publish his full recommendations until 2015, but will publish an interim report in December.

The Department of Transport refused to comment directly on Mr Goodwill’s past views.

A spokesman said: “The Government is clear that to stay ahead we need to plan for the future and build a strong political consensus, which is why we have asked Sir Howard Davies to conduct a detailed, independent review of all the options in order to develop a lasting solution to maintain the UK’s global hub status.”