Leading article: Less lobbying, more debate

 

Share
Related Topics

A head of steam is growing behind calls for a third runway at Heathrow. At least that is what a conjunction of powerful interests is trying to suggest. Not a day currently passes without someone challenging the Prime Minister to renege on his party's manifesto commitment giving the go-ahead for that runway, or hinting that he has already changed his mind.

Yesterday, it was the MP Tim Yeo, chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, who asked David Cameron whether he was "man or mouse" – the "man", in his book, being brave enough to reverse tracks in order to stem Britain's otherwise inevitable decline. But it could have been the director-general of the CBI, John Cridland, who believes the UK is losing business to continental airports that have more direct connections to more Chinese cities, or Len McCluskey, of the trade union Unite, for whom a third runway means jobs – both of whom were quoted by Mr Yeo. Or it could have been Willie Walsh, head of British Airways, who still hankers after that runway, while officially accepting that the prospect is dead.

The purpose of all this would appear to be to make the third runway a fact of life, so that any controversy, when the U-turn comes, is minimal. So far, though, the Government is sticking to its manifesto – or so the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, said yesterday, citing the Coalition Agreement as cover. Then again, she has her own vested interest: her south-west London constituency, where aircraft noise is a central issue. This may be why there has been speculation that she could be moved in the expected Cabinet reshuffle.

But key elements are being lost in all the positioning. One is the voice of those whose lives would be affected for the worse by a third runway and who believed they had won the battle. Another concerns carbon emissions and damage to the environment. And a third is any semblance of transparency in government decision making. It is not certain that more capacity is needed and there are other options, including more intensive runway use at Heathrow, expansion at Gatwick, or a completely new hub, to be weighed. Whatever case there is to make must be made openly and argued out in public. The closet lobbying must stop.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
.  

When league tables claim that 0% of students at top schools are getting a good education, it's glaringly obvious that they need to be scrapped

Chris Sloggett
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links