Simon Calder: Sir Howard Davies has tight-rope walked the line between Cameron and Boris over airport expansion
Ruling out all Thames Estuary options at this stage would have fuelled that political battle rather than allowing the Airports Commission diligently to evaluate each of the three short-listed options
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 17 December 2013
Sir Howard Davies has had a distinguished career as businessman and academic. With the deftness shown in his interim report on solving Britain’s aviation capacity crunch, he has now shown himself to be a formidable politician.
The UK’s role in global aviation has long been subservient to local politics in west and south-west London. One purpose of the Davies Commission was to elevate the debate above political squabbles. But airport expansion has become a proxy for the rivalry at the heart of the Conservative Party between the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London.
Ruling out all Thames Estuary options at this stage would have fuelled that political battle rather than allowing the Airports Commission diligently to evaluate each of the three short-listed options. Sir Howard has bought some time by looking at the theoretical consequences for the environment and economic geography of an Isle of Grain development, while simultaneously focusing on his three preferred options.
Which solution will prevail? Well, in this game of two halves, what Davies concludes in the summer of 2015 is only the start. At that point, local politics will resume their role – with legal challenges adding to the complexity. Perhaps Sir Howard should consider a further career as lawyer.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...