Tory MP Zac Goldsmith calls for referendum over Heathrow expansion

17:46 19 September 2012

The Liberal Democrats discussed aviation policy at their party conference today. File picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Liberal Democrats discussed aviation policy at their party conference today. File picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Conservative MP has called for London boroughs to hold referendum-style votes on the expansion of Heathrow airport.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, made the comments after Richmond council leader, Lord True, announced a ballot to give residents in the borough a chance to say yes or no to a third runway.

Some Conservative MPs are calling on the government to drop its manifesto promise not to expand Heathrow, but Mr Goldsmith has threatened to resign and trigger a by-election if ministers perform a u-turn.

Mr Goldsmith told London24: “I absolutely support Richmond’s decision, and very much hope this extends far beyond Richmond borough.

“The referendum will establish a crucial link between Heathrow expansion and voting, and with a good turnout and result, the Government will be left in no doubt about the significance of Heathrow to west London voters.”

The government has renewed its promise to oppose expansion at the west London airport, but only until the next election in 2015, leaving residents living under its flight path in limbo until then.

Last week Mr Goldsmith asked the Chancellor George Osborne why the government’s policy was to “do nothing” for three years, adding: “Voters need to know where the Government stand before they vote.”

Earlier this month a commission was set up to look at the urgent need for more airport capacity. The body, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is not expected to report until after the next election.

Lord True earlier this week “declared war” on any expansion at Heathrow airport. He said: “I deeply regret that the nightmare vision of Heathrow expansion that had been so wisely laid to rest by our coalition government has been resurrected.

“This time we must kill it off for good.”

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