Friday, 16 January 2009

So who won then?

It will take a while, perhaps years, to work out whether yesterday's announcement on Heathrow is a disaster for the environment or so hedged around with conditions that the new runway may never be viable.

Certainly, in the short term, the proposed increase in flights though mixed mode has been put off, although, bizarrely, Geoff Hoon seems to have used this as an excuse to push through the runway, as the Guardian's Dan Milmo points out:
He said his refusal to allow more arrivals and departures on the existing site in west London made the need for a new runway all the more urgent.
Meanwhile, "Climate Change" secretary Ed Miliband has been telling the Indy's Andrew Grice that he won the last ditch negotiations with Hoon.

He spent Wednesday with the Transport Secretary, refusing to budge over his concerns that the expansion would scupper his forthcoming "carbon budget" designed to put Britain on track to meet its target of an 80 per cent carbon emission reduction by 2050. In the end, sources close to Mr Miliband say he won concessions. He negotiated for the third runway to initially run at half-capacity, limited to an extra 120,000 flights, and he secured a guarantee that carbon emissions from aviation would fall to 2005 levels by 2050.

"Ed is satisfied. The business lobby will effectively get half a runway," said a source familiar with the talks. "BAA won't be happy but we couldn't make an announcement that would blow our carbon budget straight away."

Labour MP and ministerial aide Andy Slaughter is now officially thinking about resigning, having met Gordon Brown yesterday, according to Grice.

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