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Heathrow Airport Expansion: Funding

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 13 July 2023

5. Whether he has had recent discussions with relevant stakeholders on proposals for funding the expansion of Heathrow airport. (905929)

Well, that answer was succinct, if nothing else. The Minister will know that a new chief executive has been appointed at Heathrow Airport Ltd, and he will inevitably meet that chief executive. When he does, will he take him through the costings of any road and rail infrastructure associated with the proposed development of a third runway? Heathrow has offered £2 billion to cover the cost. The Government’s airports commission calculated the cost at £5 billion, but we now believe that, because of the tunnelling under the M25 and the road links and rail links—in particular, the rail links for western and southern access—the cost of the scheme could be between £10 billion and £20 billion. Will he make it clear to the chief executive of Heathrow that not a penny of taxpayers’ money will go into subsidising the profits of the overseas owners of Heathrow?

It appears that the right hon. Gentleman knows a lot more about this than I do. Any expansion of Heathrow is a matter for it, as he will know. If that is financed, it will be by private finance for what is a private sector project. The Department has no position on this matter, because at some point the Secretary of State may need to be invited to decide on any development consent order, so we do not take a view.

While Heathrow and Gatwick set out plans to expand, the Government’s regional airport strategy has been seriously undermined by the—hopefully—temporary closure of Doncaster Sheffield airport. The Secretary of State has the power to protect the air space around the airport while Doncaster council undertakes negotiations with Peel on the lease. Will the Secretary of State do that?

We recognise this important issue. The Secretary of State has had the question put to him by local stakeholders. He is considering the matter and will respond in due course.