Labour has announced that it will oppose current plans to build a new runway at Heathrow Airport but will allow its MPs a free vote on the issue.
The party said that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament earlier this month, meets none of its four fests for Heathrow expansion.
As a result, Labour said it opposes ‘this expansion plan’ and called for a free vote for all parties on the NPS when it is put before MPs ‘next week’.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: ‘Labour has always argued that airport expansion must meet our four tests. After careful and rigorous consideration, we are clear that they have not been met.
‘Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project.
‘We support vital investment in our country’s transport infrastructure, but every investment must be tested on whether it provides real value for money and sustainability. A third runway at Heathrow fails this test.’
Confirming that the party would give its own MPs a free vote, Mr McDonald told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'A lot of MPs have got very clear views about this, they have constituency concerns.
'I recognise the reality - I am pragmatist - that people have these strong views and I respect the views they hold.'
Labour’s said its support for proposed Heathrow expansion ‘has always been conditional on four well-established tests’:
1. That increased capacity will be delivered
2. That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments
3. Minimise noise and local environmental impact
4. Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of the U.K., not just the South East and London
However, its 2017 General Election manifesto said that its tests ‘require noise issues to be addressed, air quality to be protected, the UK’s climate change obligations met and growth across the country supported’.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said no date had been set for the Commons vote on the NPS.