Justine Greening vows to carry on fighting Heathrow
2:59pm Monday 10th September 2012 in Wandsworth
Justine Greening has vowed to continue fighting airport expansion despite losing her Transport brief last week.
David Cameron shuffled his Cabinet last Tuesday (September 4) moving the Putney MP to the lesser-known Ministry of International Development.
The change sparked fears Ms Greening was being removed because of her tough stance in expansion.
But when questioned about the possibility of a third runway in the House of Commons last week, Mr Cameron seemed to rule out a change of heart over the issue.
He said: "While I do believe we need to establish a formal review and make a decision about airport expansion, I will not be breaing my manifesto pledge."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, also a Putney resident, was also forthright about the matter.
He said: "We have ruled out giving a third runway to Heathrow. Our position under the terms of the Coalition Agreement is crystal clear."
Ms Greening, replaced by Patrick McLoughlin, refused to comment on her demotion at the time but by Thursday had vowed to carry on opposing Heathrow expansion.
The former accountant said: "I’m delighted to have been appointed Secretary of State for International Development.
"I will continue to work hard locally on issues that matter to our community. That includes absolutely supporting the Government’s opposition to a third runway."
Ms Greening had campaigned vociferously on the issue because any new development's flightpath passes directly over her Putney constituent.
But her ministerial position and the Government’s perceived desire to expand the airport, was at odds with the issue she campaigned about.
Last week Mayor of London Boris Johnson reacted angrily to the news of Ms Greening's departure describing her as a "first rate" Transport secretary and claiming the move was a sign that airport expansion was back on the Goverment's menu.
He said: "There can be only one reason to move her – and that is to expand Heathrow. It is simply mad to build a new runway in the middle of west London. Nearly a third of the victims of aircraft noise in Europe live in the vicinity of Heathrow.
"Now it is clear the Government wants to ditch its promises and send yet more planes over London. We will fight this all the way."
Councillor Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and head of the anti-expansion 2M Group, believes many residents will be deeply concerned about Ms Greening's demotion.
He said: "Our residents will be alarmed to see one of the strongest opponents to the third runway removed from such an influential post."
Despite his admission in the Commons, Mr Cameron did announce that ministers will set up a cross-party review of airport capacity in the south-east of England, which is likely to defer any final decision on Heathrow expansion until after the next general election.