Government Drops Heathrow Expansion as Ministerial Priority

Rail Minister and Lancashire MP Andrew Stephenson has been given his portfolio, taking on responsibility for HS2, on top of overseeing the Transpennine route and Northern Powerhouse Rail. The appointment comes following Boris’ commitment to get control of the project’s spiraling costs. Initially the Government estimated the cost of HS2 would be £32.7 billion – saying at the time it would bring £46.9 billion worth of benefits. The cost has now ballooned to at least £106 billion. Stephenson will have a job on his hands…

Paul Maynard, whom Andrew Stephenson replaces, had “Aviation (including Heathrow expansion)” as one of the subjects within his portfolio. Now on the Department for Transport website, published overnight, any specific mention of Heathrow has been dropped, it no longer features under any of the Ministers’ remits. This much needed, no cost to the taxpayer, infrastructure boost for the global cargo trade which flows through Heathrow doesn’t seem to warrant a minister’s interest. This may be a reshuffle oversight or it might signal something about the commitment of this government…
Kelly Tolhurst has responsibility for aviation, with no explicit stated brief for expansion. What are we to (not) read into this?
UPDATE: A belligerent DfT spokesman gets in touch to spin “Heathrow expansion is included in the aviation brief and it’s only a stylistic difference. Nothing should be read into it.” In addition to the current legal delays there does seem to be a lack of will at the top to get this done. When the PM was asked at PMQs a few weeks ago about the building of a third runway at Heathrow he said “I see no bulldozers at present, nor any immediate prospect of them arriving.”
mdi-timer 19 February 2020 @ 13:05 19 Feb 2020 @ 13:05 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
British Ports Already Jostling for Freeport Status

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak has announced a ten week consultation to rapidly establish ten freeports across the UK, covering sea, air, and rail ports. The ports, once designated as free, will have no domestic taxes levied on any goods within them. Taxes will only be levied when a product leaves the freeport, and enters the rest of the UK…

This has the effect of encouraging international business to come to the UK to process or store goods with little to no red tape, bringing jobs and investment in the mainly coastal communities that have been neglected during the UK’s membership of the EU. Ten are set to be designated by the end of the year. Industry leaders have already started lobbying for freeport status…

  • A large North East ‘Virtual Freeport’:
    • The Port of Tyne, along with the Port of Blyth, Nissan, the British Ports Association and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, has been pushing for a large North East ‘virtual freeport’.
    • CEO of Port of Tyne Matt Beeton said Government’s freeports consultation and commented: “A free trade zone targeted at growing the advanced manufacturing and renewable energy clusters would boost global trade across key North East locations – helping to secure existing supply chains and attracting many more in to the region from overseas.
  • Freeports in London and Scotland:
    • Chief Executive of the Forth Ports Group Charles Hammond said “Our network of international connections, streamlined customs systems and developable land close to key markets in the Central Belt of Scotland, Greater London and the South East mean our operations are ideal locations to support existing or fresh manufacturing and processing business opportunities.”
  • An Atlantic freeport in Wales’ Haven Waterway:
    • Andy Jones, Chief Executive of Wales’ largest port, Milford Haven said “A free trade zone covering the international businesses on the Haven Waterway will help them maintain competitiveness in a global marketplace. Our proposition will boost our unique engineering, fishing, marine renewable energy and oil and gas cluster for future generations.

Guido suggestion to the consultation is to expand the freeport zone to cover the whole of the UK…

mdi-timer 10 February 2020 @ 10:27 10 Feb 2020 @ 10:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments