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Heathrow Third Runway: Highway Vehicles

Volume 652: debated on Thursday 10 January 2019

8. What steps he plans to take to reduce a potential increase in highway vehicle trips resulting from a third runway at Heathrow airport. (908479)

As the hon. Lady will be aware, the airports national policy statement requires 50% of passengers to use public transport by 2030, rising to 55% by 2040. It also requires 25% fewer staff car trips to work by 2030, and 50% fewer by 2040. In addition, I expect Heathrow to meet its public pledge of no greater airport-related road traffic.

The terminal 5 inspector recommended that that expansion should be dependent on additional rail access, and we have seen the consequences locally of that not having happened. The Department for Transport’s own figures say that a third runway will put an additional 54,000 vehicles a day on our local road system. Will the Secretary of State make any further expansion at Heathrow conditional on western and southern rail access?

I want to go further than that. Western rail access is currently in development and we are in the early stages of preparation for southern rail access. We are also making provision at Old Oak Common for a Chiltern connection into that station that will provide a link into Heathrow. High Speed 2, of course, will arrive at Old Oak Common and deliver an opportunity to connect into Heathrow from a different route. Finally, it is my hope that the Mayor of London will, notwithstanding the financial challenges at Transport for London, deliver the Piccadilly line upgrade, which is so important.

The terminal 5 planning conditions, set as part of its go-ahead, were that there would be no third runway and that there would be a legal limit of 480,000 flights a year. Now, of course, we are getting a third runway, and last week Heathrow asked—and, I presume, will be granted—permission to go beyond its 480,000-flight cap. Is not the reality that any assurances—legal, ministerial or public pledges from Heathrow—are utterly meaningless?

My right hon. Friend has made her point succinctly. She will understand, though, that if an application comes forward from Heathrow to change the current rules, it would be wrong of me as Secretary of State to pass comment one way or the other at the moment.

The Secretary of State has mentioned the Piccadilly line upgrade, but he knows that that—and, indeed, Crossrail—is there to cope with existing and future passenger demand, and not Heathrow expansion. Given that we know that Heathrow, as always, will do nothing to cope with the problems that it causes, what will the Government do when there is this massive increase in passengers, a 50% increase in flights and no capacity on those lines to deal with those?

Even an expanded Heathrow is forecast to need only 6% of capacity on the Piccadilly line and, as I said a moment ago, we are already moving ahead with western access and starting the process of southern access. I am making provision for a Chiltern route into Old Oak Common, connecting to Heathrow by Crossrail, and HS2 will come to Old Oak Common as part of the first phase of that project. I think we are doing rather a lot to prepare for surface access to Heathrow.