Tory Peer tells councils to stop wasting money on legal challenges

A leading Conservative Peer and former member of the European Parliament, Lord Balfe of Dulwich, has launched a withering criticism of Conservative run councils like Hillingdon, Wandsworth, and Windsor & Maidenhead urging them not to waste any more money opposing Heathrow expansion.

The Peer supports Heathrow expansion on economic grounds and has questioned the motives of London councils, led by fellow Conservatives, that oppose the new runway.

Last week these councils had their bid to stop Heathrow expansion thrown out at the Royal Courts of Justice. However, they have threatened to appeal the decision, with further legal costs.

Lord Balfe said: “As a Conservative Peer, I am very disappointed at the attitude of London councils like Hillingdon, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead for wasting taxpayers’ money on a legal challenge against the much-needed new runway at Heathrow. I find it difficult to understand why Conservative councils do not seize the opportunities of expansion. They should invest in success, rather than play to a vocal minority.”

Lord Balfe has a long-standing interest in aviation - as a former MEP, as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation and through work with trade unions. Hence, he is well versed in the arguments about Heathrow’s expansion.

Lord Balfe added: “The majority of MPs – Conservative and Labour – voted in favour of this project. Conservatives have a reputation to uphold as the party of business. In this instance, they could be the party of business and the people.”

An independent commission and the government have set out key environmental targets which must be adhered to as part of expansion. Expansion also has the strong support of local people, as polling shows.

Lord Balfe’s intervention is a significant blow to the approach of councils involved in legal challenges against expansion in the courts, earlier in May.

Executive Director of Back Heathrow, Parmjit Dhanda echoed Lord Balfe’s criticisms. He said: “These councils have wasted over £2m of taxpayers’ money already on legal challenges fighting a project that will create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships. They should not waste any more money by appealing a High Court decision that categorically struck out their claims. It’s time they spent council revenues on public services instead of an appeal they know they will lose.”