Tim Yeo is wrong on the issue of a third runway for Heathrow: we need a fourth

Janice Atkinson for The Daily Mail
28th August 2012

I have worked with Tim. I do not agree with him on climate change and challenge him on whether a third runway is all we need at Heathrow. Tim, we need a fourth runway at Heathrow too. Let’s be big and bold, think about our economic future and plan ahead, without years of further wrangling. Let’s have a fourth runway now.

We are the only advanced economy in the world that is not planning for airport expansion. It is no coincidence that France and Germany have more Chinese visitors than the UK because they have sensibly planned their air traffic with China.

Our future is trading with China and the other 166 countries outside of the EU. At the moment we trade more with the little island of Ireland than China. It is losing us our competitive edge.

Boris Island is dead in the water because it will cost billions to build.  Heathrow’s expansion will be funded by business. The Institute of Directors, the CBI and other business leaders are calling desperately for expansion at Heathrow. It may be no coincidence that Yeo has been a successful businessman and Cameron hasn’t. The business secretary Vince Cable calls for expansion of Birmingham which does not help London, the hub and wealth creator of Britain. But then again he is the MP for Twickenham, under Heathrow’s flight path. By all means agree an expansion of Birmingham too, if there is the business case.

Tim has made the green case for expansion. The bigger but quieter planes cannot access Heathrow at the moment. We can continue with the older, smaller, noisier and high polluting planes, or we can go for growth and cleaner air.

Tim Yeo has come under considerable criticism for his belief in climate change and because of his green business interests. He has been described as pompous and plummy voiced. He can’t help the latter but he is certainly not pompous, having a great sense of humour and being very well liked amongst other Tory MPs. I urged him late last week to make a stand, he has now done so, let us support him.

Cameron should be very afraid.

When people like Tim take on the leader of their party and challenge him on whether he is a ‘man or a mouse’, then Cameron should heed the warning. UKIP is nipping at the Conservatives’ heels and Redwood and Davis are flexing their leadership voices. Both men are very capable, have been in business and will appeal to the UKIP wing of the party. Michael Gove has attracted support for his much needed education reforms and is becoming a darling of the right.   And there’s Boris’s rise in popularity. Watch out for Boris backing Heathrow.

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