Heathrow expansion - Airports Commission
The Airports Commission examines the need for additional UK airport capacity and recommends to government how this can be met in the short, medium and long term.
Richmond, Hillingdon, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, members of the 2M group, have produced a report assessing the work of the Airports Commission.
This report has been sent to all MPs in the House of Commons – including the Prime Minster.
Airports Commission report
The Airports Commission were asked to write a report, including recommendations on how the UK can maintain its position as Europe’s most important aviation hub.
The final report was released on 1 July 2015 and despite considerable opposition from West London councils, local communities and politicians, it recommended building a new runway at Heathrow.
The report recommends that the airport should only be expanded if a comprehensive package of measures are introduced. This includes a ban on night flights, a noise authority and a levy to fund compensation schemes.
In the days following the release of the report, Richmond, Hillingdon, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils announced that the report was flawed and that the legal, political and environmental barriers to expansion are insurmountable.
The councils have also criticised the Commission for suggesting a ban on night flights should follow the delivery of a new runway, instead of being imposed straight away. They argue that the airport and airlines have to prove they can actually deliver a night flying curfew before it is used as a bargaining chip.
Other key weaknesses highlighted by the councils include:
- Air pollution - the report says new runway capacity would only be ‘released’ if air pollution targets are met. This means a runway could be built at a huge cost to taxpayers but with no guarantee it can be used. This is a ludicrous gamble.
- New flight paths - the Commission has ducked the politically toxic issue of new flight paths, which it says will be decided after a further review of airspace. The councils say it is unacceptable that after £20million and three years of work, the Commission cannot confirm which communities will be affected by its preferred option.
Letter to Prime Minister
On 24 July 2015, MPs, councillors, scientists and campaigners wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to reopen a consultation over the potential air quality impacts of building a third runway at Heathrow Airport – or to rule out expansion altogether.
Signed by politicians from across the political divide, the letter states that a third runway at Heathrow will “obviously” worsen West London’s air quality and urges David Cameron to abandon the plans or reopen the consultation process “so the views of millions of people potentially affected can be properly considered”.
Up to: Heathrow
Updated: 12 November 2020