Scottish Government pushed to drop Heathrow runway support

Scottish Greens called the airport project 'deeply irresponsible' at First Minister's Questions on Thursday.

Scottish Government pushed to drop Heathrow runway support Getty Images

The Scottish Greens have urged the Scottish Government to drop its support for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Controversial plans for the expansion took a step further this week when the Supreme Court ruled the owners of the airport could apply for planning permission, however the final say will remain with the UK Government.

The Scottish Government entered a memorandum of understanding with the airport in 2016, backing the expansion as long as Scotland sees economic benefits from the project.

During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie asked Nicola Sturgeon: “Can the First Minister explain why building this runway would be good for the climate or is she finally ready to drop her support for this deeply irresponsible project?”

Sturgeon said: “This is not a decision for the Scottish Government.

“I am very clear that we have a responsibility to meet our own climate change targets.

“We, unlike some other governments, include aviation emissions.”

Sturgeon went on to say there is a question mark over the new runway as more focus is put on the need to reduce emissions and stop climate change.

She said: “I think there is a big question over new runways at a time when all of us are focused on making sure that we reduce emissions and become net-zero, in our case by 2045.

“We will focus on making sure right across transport, how we heat our homes and buildings and the continued work we’re doing around electricity for example, that we are meeting those targets.”

Harvie said it is “not enough to say there are questions about new runways”, adding it is important the Scottish Government makes its policy on the issue clear.

Turning to the Scottish Government’s updated climate plan, which was released this week, Harvie said there are parts that should be welcomed, pointing to the influence of his own party in the document, including in lobbying for free bus travel for young people.

“As for the rest of the plan, the STUC have described it as ‘more rhetoric than action’, WWF have called it a ‘missed opportunity’, with big decisions over the future of farming and energy standards for homes dodged and delayed,” the Greens co-leader said.

“And of course the Scottish Government say they want to cut traffic but continue to plough billions into new roads.”

Harvie said “taking tough decisions” is the way forward on climate change, such as the Norwegian choice to stop fossil fuel exploration and set a date for the end of extraction as well as New York’s plans to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

The First Minister said the two places quoted by Harvie look to Scotland as a “world leader” on climate change, adding: “We have gone further than most other countries in the world in reducing emissions so far and I would disagree with Patrick Harvie that the scale of the ambition is demonstrated in the climate plan update.”

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