Heathrow criticised for jumping the gun on Government expansion decision

Release Date: 25 January 2018

The latest consultation from Heathrow is ‘jumping the gun’ – according to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils.

The consultation, which was launched by the airport last week, invites the public to put forward their views on various factors of the expansion scheme.

These include the design of the terminals and whether to bridge over or tunnel under the M25 to improve access. The consultation also looks at whether flights should be concentrated over a single area or spread out over several sites.

However, the Leaders of three councils have slammed Heathrow for holding a consultation when the Government are yet to make a decision on whether or not the airport should be expanded at all.

Parliamentary scrutiny on the Governments proposals is still underway, with a vote by MPs due to happen later this year. As part of this process, tens of thousands of people have already had their say, making it clear that expansion at Heathrow is not deliverable.

The Leaders argue that any expansion of the airport would have a devastating impact on West London. Expansion would cause immense damage to the environment and people’s health, tear communities apart, see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, and all this at a potential cost to taxpayers of £15bn.

The latest Heathrow consultation fails to recognise any of this well documented feedback.

Confusingly, this latest consultation is also seeking residents’ initial views on how airspace and flight paths should be designed in the future  This is the first of several consultations, and presents scenarios on how severely communities might be affected.

The councils view is that the noise burden is too high now and all efforts should be made to minimize the number of people impacted by noise. In addition, there appears to be no intention to provide any clarity over new flight paths, until after any Planning process has been concluded. This means that residents will only understand the true impact of a third runway on their lives, when a decision has been made.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

"Heathrow are yet again consulting on vague proposals, and MPs will have to vote before anyone really knows how a proposed expansion would impact West London. Even the prospect of a congestion charge to drive to Heathrow, which is speculated to be £40 for each trip at a minimum, is glossed over.

“Yet even by the Government's own figures released recently, expansion at Gatwick brings more long term economic benefit, is cheaper, will require far less public subsidy, and of course has less impact on noise, air quality, congestion, and is a lower safety risk. All the evidence points to Gatwick.

“Residents should make it known that the information provided by Heathrow is not good enough.

“I’ve grown even more confident that in the end it will be Gatwick, not Heathrow.”

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said:

“I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling. We know that this scheme is fatally flawed and if it went ahead would have a serious impact on our local environment and the health of our residents.

“I urge everyone who opposes this expansion to make their voices heard and get involved in this consultation process. The Gatwick option has great merit, we need to make sure that is the message that rings through loud and clear.”

Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, said:

“We have made clear and repeated representations about airport expansion on behalf of residents - and we have called for Heathrow to be up front in their plans, and will continue to do so.

“While we are concerned about the timing of this consultation and the information put in front of residents, we are keen they make their views known.”

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Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159. 

Reference: P042/18

Updated: 3 June 2019