Local Councils Unite Against Heathrow Expansion
As Government pledges to forge ahead with third runway
The timely formation of 2M Group which saw twelve local authorities unite against the expansion of Heathrow has added volume to the outcry over the Government's pledge to forge ahead with a third runway at the airport.
2M Group, which represents more than two million residents directly affected by proposals to expand what is already Britain's busiest airport, joined other campaign groups in condemning the government's plans to go ahead with the controversial proposals.
The "Progress Report on the Aviation White Paper" gave a commitment to a third, short runway at Heathrow airport which the London Chamber of Commerce claim will "act as a boost for business."
HACAN ClearSkies, the group that represents people living under the Heathrow flight path claims at least 700 homes would have to be demolished to make way for a third runway at Heathrow.
"Over 150,000 people in London and Berkshire would experience high levels of aircraft noise for the first time as they would find themselves living under the flight path to the new runway", campaign chairman John Stewart told the BBC. "Local councils, residents' groups and nearly all the MPs in the area are opposed to further expansion of Heathrow, and direct action would be inevitable,"
The cross-party alliance that comprises the 2M Group includes boroughs on all sides of the airport and will also be challenging Government plans to increase capacity at the airport by allowing dual use of existing runways which will bring to an end the temporary respite during the day when planes switch runways for landings.
Councils attending this week's inaugural meeting included the London Boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond and Wandsworth. Authorities outside London included Slough, South Bucks, Spelthorne and Windsor and Maidenhead. Hounslow Council leader Peter Thompson said "Hounslow, along with many other local communities, is facing a series of threats during 2007 as new Government plans around airport expansion are unveiled. This group will present a united front against the combined forces of the Government and aviation industry to protect the quality of life for all our residents."
Wandsworth leader Edward Lister said “2007 will be an unprecedented year of challenge for those of us concerned about the environmental impact of expansion at Heathrow. The aviation industry and the Government will press the economic case for expansion at every opportunity. By joining together as local authorities we will be able to highlight the environmental consequences for up to two million residents.
“The Government talks the talk on the environment but does nothing to check the industry’s insatiable desire for growth. As local government leaders we have a duty to speak up for our residents and defend their quality of life. We will be leaving ministers in no doubt about the scale of opposition to their plans.”
Serge Lourie leader of neighbouring Council Richmond upon Thames said, “It is right that local government should take the lead in making the environmental case on behalf of residents. If ministers think they can force through plans for more flights which will bring more noise and air pollution for such a large area of London and the South East they are seriously out of touch.”
Campaigners believe that Government proposals for expansion, which include a review of the current westerly preference model for landings, will worsen the situation for existing airport communities and expose new parts of London and the South East to aircraft noise.
Passenger numbers at Heathrow are currently around 68 million a year. These could rise to 116 million with both Terminal Five and a third runway. The eventual total could reach 151 million if the new runway were used to its full capacity and mixed mode landings and take offs introduced on the two existing runways.
December 14, 2006