Research conducted by us at Redfield & Wilton Strategies in August found that a plurality of Londoners (39%) support plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, despite a recent landmark ruling by the court of appeal.
27% of Londoners oppose the expansion plans and a further 29% neither support nor oppose. Back in February, the court ruled that ministers did not adequately take into account the Government’s commitments to tackle the climate crisis, making plans for a third runway illegal. Boris Johnson had previously opposed the runway, declaring in 2015 that he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction” and his Government will not appeal the verdict.
Interestingly, we found that there is slightly higher support for a third runway among 2019 Conservative voters (45%) than Labour voters (41%), suggesting Boris Johnson is slightly out of line with his party (although not necessarily with his own constituents in Uxbridge and South Ruislip).
Given that the expansion does not have majority support and given the hit to air travel caused by the pandemic, it is likely that Boris Johnson will not be too anxious to appeal the court’s decision and instead prefer to focus on greener measures to improve Britain’s transport connectivity. The UK government recently published details of a £2bn scheme allowing homeowners to claim up to £5,000 off building work to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, in an effort to create a green jobs revolution. This sort of economic project might remain more attractive to the government post-COVID than carbon heavy ones like expanding Heathrow.