London a ‘giant suction machine’ warns Cable

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Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned London is “becoming a giant suction machine draining the life” from the rest of the country as he renewed his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.

The senior Liberal Democrat said the issue of regional capacity had not been sufficiently addressed by a Whitehall-commissioned review of airport provision.

He insisted that expansion of the country’s biggest airport – the flightpath of which crosses his Twickenham constituency – “is not going to happen”.

A new or extended runway at Heathrow and a second at Gatwick were the three preferred options to deal with growing demand for flights put forward by a commission led by Sir Howard Davies. It ruled out pre-2030 expansion at Stansted in Essex or Birmingham.

Mr Cable said more use should be made of regional airports.

“One of the big problems we have at the moment – which I don’t think the report sufficiently addresses – is that London is becoming a kind of giant suction machine, draining the life out of the rest of the country, and I think more balance would be helpful,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

He said he believed a third runway – ruled out for this parliament by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition – was “very unlikely”. But that did not represent a watering down of his previous stance that it was “not going to happen”, he insisted. “I still hold that view,” he said.

“I was making a firm declaration of my own position and indeed my own party’s position. That hasn’t changed.”