“NOT on our watch!” that’s the pledge of Solihull MP Lorely Burt after fears a new Transport Secretary could mean a third runway at Gatwick Airport.
Following David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle this week, Patrick McLoughlin will take over the role Transport Secretary from staunch opponent against a new Heathrow runway, Justine Greening.
The move has been seen by many as heralding a new approach by government to air capacity in the south, moving focus away from regional airports like Birmingham.
However, Lib Dem Mrs Burt, confirmed her party had no intention of allowing any U-turn on aviation policy.
“We have a Coalition agreement which states that there will be no third runway at Heathrow in the lifetime of this government,” she said.
“There is no suggestion that Mr Cameron won’t keep to his word on that, but it does signal a change of emphasis. Well not on our watch.
“Lib Dem policy is to develop our regional airports to take some of the point-to-point traffic which currently goes into Heathrow and allow Heathrow to become more of a hub airport. There is plenty of capacity at Birmingham, it’s an excellent airport. We don’t need to go round building more.”
Just last week chief executive at Birmingham Airport, Paul Kehoe, spoke out in support of Ms Greening saying she was ‘absolutely right’ to dismiss calls for a third runway at Heathrow.
“The third-runway is not a long-term solution but a short-term stop-gap that would take years to build,” he said previously. “If we don’t want the UK to slide towards insignificance we need to be thinking about a practicable long-term solution and stop wasting our time revisiting a third runway at Heathrow.”