The Conservatives have re-iterated their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, with Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers stating:
"Anyone getting involved in any contract for a third runway should be very, very careful, we will not consider ourselves bound by any decision taken by this government. People involved with contracts should be warned - we will stop a third runway going ahead."
There still appears to be a difference of opinion between the Mayor and his colleagues in Parliament as to the viability of the estuary airport which he proposes, though opposition to the future expansion of Heathrow is now clear.
The alternate scheme proposed by the Conservatives - a high-speed rail link from St Pancras to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, which would cut the need for the third runway by some 30%, suggests a direction of travel which is far more amenable to public transport.
This is perhaps good news given the findings of a Civil Aviation Authority survey this week:
In 2007, 137m passengers (56% of the total 241m) used one of the four London airports surveyed. Twenty eight per cent of passengers travelled from Heathrow, the same as 2006. Gatwick, Stansted and Luton also retained their respective 14, 10 and 4% share of UK passengers.
Public transport usage was significantly higher at the London airports – Stansted (45%), Heathrow (38%), Gatwick (35%) and Luton (30%) – than at the regional airports – Liverpool (14%), Manchester (11%), Doncaster/Sheffield (7%) and Humberside (1%).
Whilst significantly higher than in the rest of the UK, a high-mark of 45% public transport usage to arrive at London's airports is pathetic.
A large proportion of the carbon emissions found at airports come from the cars which drive to them. The Government must ensure that more is done to move people from cars to forms of public transport which are accessible, clean, and efficient. Bringing back in-city check-in would be a significant step in the right direction.
If the Government, or the Conservatives, are serious about changing our transport habits and lessening the damage to the environment, more needs to be done to manage the journey which comes before arriving at the airport. To do so would be a sign of a truly joined-up transport policy.