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05.09.12

‘U-turn in progress’ on Heathrow – Johnson

The row over a third runway at Heathrow has escalated as Mayor of London Boris Johnson states that Justine Greening’s replacement as transport secretary was purely to remove an obstacle to expansion.

Greening had campaigned against the expansion of the airport, but has now been appointed secretary for international development.

Chancellor George Osborne recently spoke of the third runway as an option to be considered in the future, U-turning on the Conservative manifesto, which ruled it out.

Johnson has said there were increasing signs that a “u-turn is in progress”.

He said: “What we need to do now is to end the uncertainty over Heathrow and say 'no folks it is all right, the policy is as it has been which is to say no to a new runway both now and in the future - i.e. in the next two and a half years.”

And considering the removal of Greening and Villiers from the DfT, Johnson told the Today programme: “I think their movement out of the Department of Transport shows the Government is at least trying to open the door to the possibility of a third runway.”

The new Conservative co-chair Grant Shapps said there would be no expansion during this parliament, but refused to rule it out in the future.

He said: “There will not be a third runway at Heathrow. We have made that commitment for this Parliament and there is no chance of it being broken whatsoever. The third runway will not be built in this Parliament, that is absolutely guaranteed.”

“If we are going to remain a great trading nation in the future, you need to have ports. Airports are particularly important these days and there are a lack of slots in the south-east around London and it must be addressed, otherwise we are dooming ourselves to economic failure in the future,” he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

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