Heathrow review needed by new Government Minister, says Council Leader

Release Date: 28 August 2019

Council Leader calls for a Government Minister to "come good" on a review of proposals to expand Heathrow Airport, following questions raised by the new Transport Secretary on whether the expansion "stacks up".

Last week, Government Minister Grant Shapps MP announced a Government-commissioned independent review into the future of HS2, following concerns around the railway’s design and growing budget. As a result, the Leader of Richmond Council has asked Mr Shapps to apply a similar evaluation process to proposals on the expansion of Heathrow. This follows questions raised by the Minister on whether the Heathrow expansion "stacks up" on financial grounds and his promise to take a really close look at the case for building a third runway.

Cllr Gareth Roberts has written to Mr Shapps to ask him to move with haste, before any more money is spent on the project.

Richmond Council, along with four councils, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace have campaigned for over a decade against the airports expansion, saying that a third runway can only be built by demolishing thousands of homes and making life noisier and the air deadly for hundreds of thousands of people living in London and the Home Counties. Large increases in road traffic both for freight and passengers is inevitable, making pollution even worse. It would be catastrophic for the environment.

The Council is joining others in the Court of Appeal to challenge the Government’s decision to allow expansion to go ahead and the four-day appeal hearing will commence in October later this year.

In his letter to the Minister, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: "There is still time to review this project before any lasting effect on our country and our environment for future generations I have no doubt that history will judge a third runway a Heathrow as one of the environmentally damaging decisions taken in a generation. We simply mustn’t let this happen on our watch.”

Commenting on the Letter, Cllr Roberts, said: "The foundation for our legal case is that the Government has not looked at the proposals carefully enough. We have been clear that the previous Secretary of State failed to consult properly on noise, failed to look at how the effect of expansion would impact local plans and failed to properly consider the significant adverse impact on protected habitats.

"The financial case for this expansion does not stack up. And whilst Heathrow claim that the expansion would be fully funded by the airport, this isn’t true. Billions of pounds of tax payers’ money will need to be spent to providing the local infrastructure to enable the airport to expand if it is to get anywhere close to meeting the legal air quality limits

"Our request is simple, before one more tax-payers pound is spent on this red herring, I urge Mr Shapps to make good on his concerns and commission a full review. Only this will expose the truth about how disastrous expansion will be for our environment and our health.

“I urge Mr Shapps and the new Prime Minister, let’s not wait until there is a need to lie down in front of any bulldozers. This can end now."

Read the letter from Cllr Gareth Roberts to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP.

Notes for editors

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Reference: P269/18

Updated: 30 August 2019