My letter to 57 Labour MPs who signed EDM 2344 calling for rethink on Heathrow expansion

January 25, 2009 at 9:06 am | Posted in Climate change, Heathrow | 2 Comments
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Yes, I wrote to the 57 Labour MPs who signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 2344) against airport expansion.  I also sent a copy to my own MP.

Dear Mr (name of Labour MP who signed EDM 2344),

Thank you for speaking out against Heathrow expansion.

When you vote on Wednesday in the House of Commons please remember that a vote against Heathrow expansion gives hope to two groups of people, local and global:

  1. those who live around the airport, some of whom are faced with losing their homes.
  2. those who live on our shared planet, who are concerned about the potential negative impacts of climate change on the world their children and their children’s children will inherit from us.

Heathrow expansion symbolises that greed still holds sway over need: business-as-usual means (despite global financial system meltdown) powerful, well-funded special interests seek to benefit from economic growth at all costs, while ordinary folk pay the price.

The vote on Wednesday goes beyond constituency matters and your vote will reflect how serious British politicians are about tackling climate change.

The world will be watching.

On September 24 2007, in ‘The Future in Our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change‘, a high-level event at UN HQ in New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told more than 80 national leaders in the General Assembly chamber:

“I am convinced that climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.”

Your vote defines you, and your contribution to the world as an MP. In this case, your vote helps determine whether or not Heathrow will become the single biggest source of carbon emissions in the UK.

Any deliberate expansion of greenhouse gas emissions through human industrial activity directly contradicts the recommendations of world-class scientists, and ignores copious amounts of infomation provided to policymakers by the IPCC. Expanding greenhouse emissions through ‘Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport’ defies common sense.

The government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 is completely undermined by its support for Heathrow expansion. In order to make it look like it can achieve the necessary reductions, the government will have to rob Peter to pay Paul. This is not fair on all businesses around Britain that fail to benefit from Heathrow expansion. Businesses and regions of Britain that could have made use of £9 billion will be penalised indirectly through carbon cost increases and ever-more stringent emissions targets. A national investment of £9 billion in alternative renewable energy sources, or a clean technology sector, would make far more sense than spending the money on making a problem airport bigger!

Local environmental conditions will worsen in our area, for the sake of a business case that would have been weak even at the best of times—yet we are now officially in the midst of a recession, with economists warning that Britain is on the brink of the worst depression since the Great Depression, and the government thinks it can forge ahead with the business case it crafted for Heathrow expansion during pre-recession times?

Meanwhile, we are told that most responses to the consultation were from locals, and more than 3 out of 4 respondents to the consultation who stated a preference expressed opposition to Heathrow expansion. (This is not widely known, but supporting numbers can be found in an independent report on the responses to ‘Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport’ consultation.)

Given the urgency of reducing our emissions and the challenge of realising it, I will keep track of your vote next Wednesday.

The government’s response to tackling climate change is an important issue for me and one that will definitely influence how I vote in the next election. (See America for the most recent example of electoral consequences with global ramifications.)

I hope that you favour strong leadership on climate change, which necessitates your vote being opposed to the third runway.

Yours sincerely,


The alphabetical list of MPs is here, with remarks as I get replies:

Name          Constituency  


 Diane Abbott    Hackney North
 John Austin    Erith and Thamesmead
 Hugh Bayley    City of York
 Roger Berry    Kingswood
 Colin Burgon    Elmet
 Martin Caton    Gower
 Colin Challen    Morley and Rothwell
 Michael Clapham    Barnsley West and Penistone
 Ann Clwyd    Cynon Valley
 Harry Cohen    Leyton and Wanstead
 Michael Connarty    Linlithgow and Falkirk East
 Frank Cook    Stockton North
 Jeremy Corbyn    Islington North 


 Jim Cousins    Newcastle Central
 Ann Cryer    Keighley and Ilkley
 John Cummings    Easington
 Janet Dean    Burton
 Frank Dobson    Holborn and St Pancras 


 David Drew    Stroud
 Frank Field    Birkenhead
 Mark Fisher    Stoke-on-Trent Central
 Neil Gerrard    Walthamstow
 Dr Ian Gibson    Norwich North
 Roger Godsiff    Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath
 John Heppell    Nottingham East
 Kate Hoey    Vauxhall
 Kelvin Hopkins    Luton North
 Eric Illsey    Barnsley Central
 Brian Jenkins    Tamworth
 Lynne Jones    Birmingham Selly Oak
 Alan Keen    Feltham and Heston
 Peter Kilfoyle    Liverpool Walton
 Mark Lazarowicz    Edinburgh North and Leith
 Martin Linton    Battersea
 Andrew Mackinlay    Thurrock
 Bob Marshall-Andrews    Medway
 Chris McCafferty    Calder Valley
 Michael Meacher    Oldham West and Royton
 Chris Mullen    Sunderland South 


 Denis Murphy    Wansbeck
 Bill Olner    Nuneaton
 Nick Palmer    Broxtowe
 Linda Riordan    Halifax
 Martin Salter    Reading West
 Virendra Kumar Sharma    Ealing Southall
 Alan Simpson    Nottingham South
 Andy Slaughter    Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush
 David Taylor    North West Leicestershire
 Emily Thornberry    Islington South and Finsbury
 Paul Truswell    Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough
 Desmond Turner    Brighton, Kemptown
 Rudy Vis    Finchley and Golders Green
 Joan Walley    Stoke-on-Trent North
 Robert N Wareing    Liverpool, West Derby
 Mike Wood    Batley and Spen


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  1. Having sent my own letter out, I now wonder whether it may be counterproductive. If MP’s received 6000 each I doubt whether many were read – particularly if they didn’t originate within the constituency.

    The extract from Hansard yesterday shows that they were noticed :

    3:36 pm
    David Taylor (North West Leicestershire, Labour)

    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At the weekend, I received within just a few hours more than 6,000 e-mails in relation to the debate on Heathrow. They were apparently organised or encouraged by Greenpeace and came from e-mailers right across the south-east; none were from my own constituency. Will you advise me whether the Standing Orders of the House can be amended to reflect such new developments? I think that what I have described is called e-mail bombing, which is designed to overflow e-mail inboxes and interfere with the legitimate work of MPs at what for most of us are busy times. The e-mails took many hours to deal with. I am sure that you personally find the practice reprehensible, Mr. Speaker. Are there ways in which we can prevent it from happening to other Members? Indeed, it may have already happened to them; I do not know.

    Michael Martin (Speaker)

    My first piece of advice is this. The hon. Gentleman works hard throughout the week. Sunday is a day of rest, and he should not look at e-mails on that day. Seriously, I should say that the House authorities are looking at the matter.

  2. Hello Tim,
    I think my friends in California who were actively involved in grassroots efforts in favour of Barack Obama would laugh at this development.
    If only MPs here knew the extent of the support that was behind Obama’s election, they’d soon realise that it’s their job to represent the people. When people feel that they are not being represented, they take action in America (hardly so in Britain).
    This was not “designed to overflow email inboxes and interfere with the legitimate work of MPs”. It is just a case of people trying to encourage our elected representatives not to bend to other more powerful influences that have much more regular and generous access to them than ordinary folk (see recent Lords scandal).
    Sunday is a day of rest? I think that idea went out of fashion when we chose to benefit from global markets …

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