The one thing we know for certain about Justine Greening, the new secretaryof state for transport, is that she is completely opposed to any expansion at Heathrow. It’s a classic case of nimbyism – not in my back yard. Greening is MP for Putney, and on her web site she says: “The new government has announced that it has scrapped the last government’s plans for the third runway at Heathrow, as promised before the election.
“This announcement is really fantastic news for us and will help protect our local quality of life. The campaign against the Heathrow Third Runway saw all sorts of communities come together and though it took years to win the argument and get the decision ditched, we finally made it.”
Greening has taken over from Philip Hammond who moved to the Ministry of Defence following the resignation of Liam Fox.
She has been economic secretary to the Treasury in the coalition government since the election in May 2010.
I don’t have a problem with a local MP representing the interests of her constituents – that’s what she is there for.
But nimbyism is not acceptable in a cabinet minister. That is particularly true of a minister for transport. By its nature, transport affects the lives of all of us every day.
Often that impact is positive – we have the freedom to travel, and we benefit from the movement of goods. But transport also creates congestion, noise and pollution.
Obviously, the secretary of state for transport has to be above reproach when it comes to weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of any transport development.
Greening faces a critical trial early on in her tenure – a decision on the future of HS2 is due before the end of 2011. Britain’s second high speed rail line will play a critical role in expanding capacity for rail freight between London, the Midlands and the North West. But it faces strong opposition from nimbys along the proposed route.
The question is: will she put the national interest first?