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Awards: Issue 604 4 Sep 2012

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New DfT ministerial team brings previous transport experience

The Prime Minister has appointed former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin as his third transport secretary, replacing Justine Greening.

Derbyshire Dales MP McLoughlin was made a junior transport minister by Margaret Thatcher in 1989 and he served for three years at the department. As a backbencher, he voted for a "rethink" on the Labour Government's policy of expanding Heathrow in 2009 when Villiers made this the Conservatives' policy. He recalls he was scared of flying when offered the aviation portfolio in 1989.

He is joined by Simon Burns, who was minister for health, and Stephen Hammond, who was shadow transport minister from 2005 to 2010. And Norman Baker holds on to his job as the Lib Dem minister for local transport after being in post for two-and-a-half years.

The Campaign for Better Transport had said it would be "a big shame" to lose Greening because she was "actually putting in place a long-term strategy for transport, a rare thing". HACAN Clearskies chair John Stewart said the removal of anti-third runway Greening and Theresa Villiers from the DfT heralded "big changes in aviation policy".

Greening had claimed a "political consensus" for rejecting Heathrow expansion and had planned a consultation on how to "make sure that we have the hub capacity this country needs" without a third runway at Heathrow. But the Chancellor said at the weekend that a third Heathrow runway was one of the alternatives that needed to be looked at.


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