British MP Zac Goldsmith quits Parliament over airport expansion

British MP Zac Goldsmith resigned from Parliament Tuesday over a government decision to push forward with the controversial addition of a third runway at Heathrow airport in London. Goldsmith, among other MPs, campaigned against expansion of Heathrow, which proponents say would add billions of pounds to the British economy and add as many as 77,000 jobs. Photo by Philip Capper/Flickr

LONDON, Oct. 26 (UPI) — A member of the British Parliament resigned Tuesday after the government green-lit construction of a third runway at Heathrow airport in London, a decision which more than a few other elected officials also expressed disappointment at.

Zac Goldsmith resigned as a Member of Parliament Tuesday because of the Heathrow expansion decision, a reversal of the Conservative party’s promise not to back the long-debated third runway at the airport.

Goldsmith’s decision will trigger a by-election for his seat. While he said he would run as an independent in the new election, the Conservatives said they were unlikely to run someone against him.

“Seven years ago I put myself forward as your Conservative parliamentary candidate. I promised you I would fight the threat of Heathrow expansion, which has been a sword hanging over our community for years,” Goldsmith said in a statementconfirming his resignation. “I promised you if my Party won the election, the Third Runway would be scrapped. And I wasn’t making it up.”

Goldsmith had already promised to step down if the airport expansion was approved because of the pollution, disruption, noise and expense of expanding Heathrow.

Prime Minister Theresa May and the British Department of Transport say the new runway and airport expansion will benefit passengers, boosting the national economy by about $74 billion and creating about 77,000 jobs during the next decade and a half.

The runway could be built as early as 2025 and would be expected to increase air traffic over London by 50 percent, in addition to other effects on more than 200,000 people near the airport.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement the Heathrow decision was “the wrong decision for London and the whole of Britain.” Khan said he thinks Gatwick, another London airport, is more ideal for expansion in nearly every way that Heathrow is not.

“Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris CDG, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid combined. A third runway would mean an extra 200,000 people impacted, exposing 124 more schools and 43,200 more schoolchildren to an unacceptable level of noise,” Khan said. “An expanded Gatwick would have boosted our economy without causing these huge air and noise pollution problems and it could be built quicker and cheaper.”


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