Jenny Jones wants Labour to rule out supporting Heathrow expansion.
Yesterday, Labour’s John McDonnell suggested the party would oppose Heathrow expansion.
Here’s Green Party peer Jenny Jones’s take on McDonnell’s words and on Labour’s climate plans.
Unless Labour rejects Heathrow expansion then they are not accepting there is a climate emergency.
They might have great policies in other areas, but Heathrow is already the single biggest source of greenhouse gases in the UK and stopping its expansion is one of those hard choices that can’t be ducked.
Yet John McDonnell refused to give a clear statement of opposition and the manifesto may well be worded in a way that gives their parliamentary candidates the lee way to support, or oppose, expansion if their feel it passes certain tests.
If Labour try to remain silent about it, or ambiguous, as they did in the last election, then most of their existing MPs will return to Parliament and vote for the single most polluting project this country has ever seen.
Last year, Heathrow expansion was supported by 119 Labour MPs, while 96 voted against the move.
Those same MPs are happy to declare a climate emergency and a desire to make the UK zero carbon by 2030, while laying the concrete that will enable passenger numbers to almost double.
I’ve heard a lot of talk of electric planes and ways in which Heathrow can reduce its emissions while expansion goes ahead.
Electric planes might be an option at some point, but I can guarantee that all the 700 extra planes in 2026 (post expansion) will be burning aviation fuel.
As for congestion charging and improved public transport, I have been hearing that discussed since presentations I attended back in 2002.
If Heathrow were sincere about reducing traffic and emissions, they would not be building a car park for 50,000 vehicles.
The truth is that a lot of Labour controlled local authorities want to expand their local airports and supportive Labour MPs have the mistaken belief that an expanded Heathrow will enable more short haul flights to London that link with major destinations. It is greenhouse gas madness and highlights how wedded the Labour Party is to the idea of all growth being good.
It is the same logic that leads local councillors to support road building. I had a big struggle with London Mayor Ken Livingstone over his support for an urban motorway project in east London and that tradition has continued with London Assembly member Sian Berry opposing Mayor Sadiq Khan’s attempt to build the Silvertown Crossing.
The good news is that many within Labour want to turn this around. For example, five out of six Labour councils involved in the Silvertown Tunnel project now oppose it’s going ahead.
I would urge environmentalists to join me in telling Labour that their green claims will lack any credibility if they support Heathrow expansion.
The same should go for individual Labour Parliamentary candidates who attempt the hypocrisy of supporting action on our climate emergency while backing Heathrow expansion. It is hypocrisy and we have to say that very loudly and very clearly.
There is plenty to debate in this election and lots of great ideas being put forward by mainstream politicians about promoting renewables, ending fossil fuel subsidies and transforming our transport system. Unfortunately, Heathrow expansion negates so much that is positive, can Labour please drop it?
Jenny Jones is a Green Party member of the House of Lords
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