Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Third Runway Has Fewer Benefits Than We Thought, Admit Ministers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Third Runway Has Fewer Benefits Than We Thought, Admit Ministers

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

A THIRD runway at Heathrow will not benefit Britain as much as previously claimed, ministers admitted today.

They accepted that a new way of measuring the cost of pollution, introduced just six months after the Government-backed Heathrow expansion, means the economic boost from it would now be lower.

Geoff Hoon, who was last night suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party in the lobbygate row even though he denies any wrongdoing, gave government support for a third runway in January last year.

The Department for Transport put the monetised net benefit of another runway at [pounds sterling]5.5 billion using the then published values for the shadow price of carbon and assuming the number of flights were to rise to 702,000 a year.

But last July the Department for Energy and Climate Change introduced an assessment method for the cost of carbon based on mitigating the effects of pollution rather than the damage caused. A document released by the DfT under freedom of information laws taking into account the new methodology found the economic benefits of a bigger Heathrow were expected to fall. It said: "While the new shadow price of carbon would reduce the monetised net benefits of a third runway at Heathrow, it seems likely that the economic case for additional capacity at Heathrow would remain positive."

Opponents seized on the admission. Anti-third runway group HACAN's chairman John Stewart said: "This further undermines the case for Heathrow expansion."

Liberal Democrat climate change spokesman Simon Hughes said: "It seems now that the Government is finally admitting to what we have been saying for months, that there will be no benefit."

A Lib-Dem analysis of the plans based on the changing cost of carbon found that environmental damage from another runway would cost [pounds sterling]4.5 billion more than originally assessed -- a total of [pounds sterling]9. …

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