Justine Greening warns Theresa May that Heathrow expansion could cost taxpayers billions

Former Transport Secretary Justine Greening panned her own Government over a “poison pill” she claimed is buried in the small print of Tuesday’s recommendation to back a third runway.

In a direct challenge in the Commons, Ms Greening – a bitter Heathrow opponent – asked the PM to explain a clause that allows the airport to recover costs if the project never eventually goes ahead.

She stormed: “They’ve somehow managed to get a poisoned pill agreed by DfT that means the taxpayer has to cover all their costs if things go wrong.

“Isn’t this the worst kind of nationalisation? The public sector and taxpayers bearing all the Heathrow downsides and risks but the private sector owning all of the upside and financial returns.”

Speaking during PMQs, Mrs May insisted Heathrow Airport Ltd would not have the right to claim any costs or losses should their scheme not proceed.

But in a ‘Point of Order’ afterwards, Ms Greening said No.10 had been “misinformed” by the Department for Transport.

She said a paragraph in the ‘Statement of Principles’ showed Heathrow had a right to cost recovery “in the event of…an alternative scheme being preferred by a the Secretary of State or Government … and/or the withdrawal of the Government’s support for aviation expansion for Heathrow Airport.”

A Government source last night insisted the statement of principles wasn’t “legally binding”.

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