Ministers join opposition to third runway in face of economic slowdown

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow are looking shaky after reports of a Cabinet revolt against the government policy.

Some ministers are said to be supporting a Commons campaign against the airport expansion, based on the view that a recession-driven slowdown in aviation would render it unnecessary.

An early day motion on the issue, tabled yesterday by Labour MP John Grogan, has been signed by 78 politicians. It calls on the government to look for alternative solutions, including improved high-speed rail links, and brands the consultation paper on the expansion “deeply flawed”.

It says: “[This house] believes that the consultation paper Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport was deeply flawed as it paid insufficient regard to the costs of air and noise pollution in the surrounding areas and the commitment to curb carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change.”

It also “regrets the fact that provisions to improve high speed rail lines from Heathrow to major cities have not been fully explored, along with the potential of other UK airports to handle more long haul flights”.

Grogan has said he received encouragement from senior ministers to table the motion. It is widely believed that environment secretary Hilary Benn is opposed to the plans.