The Scottish Conservatives have condemned the “Heathrow hypocrisy” of the SNP and demanded answers about their position on a third runway.
Last week, the SNP Government announced it was reconsidering its support for the project – at a potential cost of tens of thousands of jobs.
It comes less than a year after senior SNP figures slammed the third runway proposals for not “being enough” for Scotland.
Scottish Conservatives are now demanding that the SNP make clear whether it will now oppose Heathrow expansion – and, if so, explain the u-turn.
Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary said;
“Last year, senior SNP figures like Ian Blackford sought to stoke the same old grievance by claiming that the 3rd runway proposals for Heathrow weren’t delivering for Scotland.
“Now, however, in an attempt to grab a few headlines, Nicola Sturgeon has made clear the SNP may oppose the 3rd runway plans.
“Yet again the SNP has shown that their promises aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
“This shows that the SNP will abandon any principle just for a catchy line in a Nicola Sturgeon speech.
“The SNP’s Heathrow hypocrisy has been utterly exposed. All those SNP figures who were demanding a 3rd runway and complaining they weren’t enough for Scotland have some explaining to do.”
Notes to editors:
100 slots were originally set aside for Scotland. The Transport Secretary originally said that expanding Heathrow meant 100 flights a week extra to Scotland (Hansard, 25 June 2018, link).
The SNP complained that this was not enough. Ian Blackford said: ‘One hundred flights means 50 arrivals a week—seven flights a day. We are talking about Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Prestwick and Inverness. It is simply not enough.’ (Hansard, 25 June 2018, link).
But this then increased - Scottish airports were then guaranteed additional slots at Heathrow airport as part of expansion plans. Heathrow airport agreed to double slots to Scottish airports, agreeing to set aside 200 slots (Scottish Government, 7 July 2017, link; The Times, 26 June 2018, link).
Heathrow Airport’s commitments include: creation of up to 16,000 new jobs; £200 million of construction-related spend in Scotland; £10 million route development fund to help support new domestic routes (Scottish Government, 10 October 2016, link).
Existing flights to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness could be joined by new routes to places like Prestwick. It would also mean greater choice of airlines at Heathrow and international destinations (UK Government, link).
Expanding Heathrow Airport would enable the airport to nearly double its capability to move cargo by air, offering increased export opportunities to businesses across Scotland (UK Government, link).
The SNP previously said Heathrow expansion would help all Scottish airports. Keith Brown said: ‘Heathrow’s plan offers significant job creation, major investment opportunities and, crucially, seeks to address how all of Scotland’s airports benefit from the new runway capacity when it comes and also in the lead-up period…Growing the number of direct international air routes to and from Scotland remains a priority for this Government, but the proposals from Heathrow offer all our airports a range of benefits that will help them grow passenger numbers and continue to build on their successes’ (Scottish Government, 10 October 2016, link).
The SNP used to complain that the UK Government might not move fast enough on Heathrow. ‘Mr Brown has now written to Mr Grayling, urging the UK Government to take early steps to make sure the additional capacity is safeguarded as soon as possible. Mr Brown said: “We have long called for Scottish airports to be given additional slots at Heathrow and welcome this commitment from the UK Government. This has been a key priority for the Scottish Government for some time, so we are very keen that concrete action is taken to build on this commitment and ensure that this vital additional capacity is safeguarded.’’ (Scottish Government, 7 July 2017, link).