Today, the Transport Secretary has confirmed the worst-kept secret in British politics, that the Government have given the green light to a third runway at Heathrow Airport. However, this is a complete u-turn from Chris Grayling, who publically opposed the third runway in opposition, going so far as to say that HS2 would mean it wouldn’t be needed. In 2009 he told The Independent:
“Actually, I was the person who – when I was Shadow Transport Secretary – first proposed our alternative policy; a high-speed rail line linking Leeds and Manchester to Birmingham, Heathrow, London, Paris and Brussels. That will take huge pressures off Heathrow.”
Of course, whilst he now says ‘The case for HS2 is as strong as ever’, both the links to Heathrow and HS1 to the Channel Tunnel have been cut in an effort to cut the costs of the project.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 responded:
“What’s clear is the sheer length of time and the number of options which have been considered as an alternative to Heathrow. This contrasts strongly with the decision process for HS2. There was no discussion of what was wanted, just a decision that it had to be a fast train with limited stations.”
“What is clear with the current emphasis on connectivity, HS2 fails abysmally. The on-off connection to Heathrow has long been dropped and in central Birmingham there is no connection to trains at New Street station. What’s more, for a government that wants to emphasise international links, there is no connection to HS1.”