Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour
A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow. This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”. The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic. Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell.
A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today.
The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that Sir Howard Davies’s Airports Commission report recommends the building of a third runway at Heathrow. This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution.
Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”. The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election.
While stunned drivers looked on, Mr Keveren climbed onto the roof of the vehicle and shouted slogans including, “No Third Runway” until police arrived and negotiated with him to come down. The protestor made it clear that he was staging a peaceful protest, which he intended to end after 20 minutes. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic.
Neil Keveren wanted to reinforce the fact that this was a personal direct action protest and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group.
He said, “This was a personal decision but my actions were supported by local residents and our local MP, John McDonnell.
“We have been fighting this airport’s expansion for decades and enough is enough, the Davies recommendation was our red line.
We won’t let our communities be bullied any more or destroyed.”
The road tunnels are the only route for cars, taxis and buses to travel from the M4 to Terminals Two and Three.
A local supporter who preferred not to be named said, “I feel let down by Davies.
“He has seen the evidence, the communities it will destroy, the air and noise pollution, the carbon emissions and yet he’s ignored it all.
“Air pollution around here already regularly breaches EU limits and the noise is so bad that our children can’t learn in school. We already suffer with an airport of this size, let alone a bigger one.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “Police are aware of a protest at Heathrow Airport and have responded.”
From Get West London (though their article contained inaccuracies.
Heathrow third runway backing leaves village fearing for its future
Harmondsworth villagers say they will support direct action against any attempt to bulldoze 750 homes if government backs expansion
Community leaders in Harmondsworth, the village that would be largely flattened to make way for a third runway at Heathrow, have reacted with anger at Howard Davies’s recommendation that the plan should go ahead – and alleged they were “deceived” by the government.
Villagers pledged on Wednesday to fight on, including supporting “direct action” against attempts to bulldoze 750 homes, some dating to the 17th century, if the government backs the recommendation that the west London airport should be expanded rather than Gatwick.
Amatu Christian-Iwuagwu, vicar at the 950-year-old St Mary the Virgin church in Harmondsworth, said: “The government always knew this was going to happen and have deceived us. They have caused a lot of anxiety in this parish especially among older people. They should have told us so people could get on with their lives.”
Amatu Christian-Iwuagwu, vicar of St Mary the Virgin church in Harmondsworth, speaks out
He said he did not want to be the last of 50 vicars who have served the village for close to 1,000 years, and said he had even seen some in his congregation question their faith in God over the runway issue.
In the middle of the village residents have erected a mural showing where the new runway would be. They have also planted “a forest of defiance” on the recreational ground that would become the runway with oaks, hornbeams and field maples.
But the destruction of the village is moving closer. Within 90 minutes of Davies’s decision, letters were delivered from Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, reminding villagers their homes would be subject to compulsory purchase. He said: “I know this is a time of significant uncertainty and we will continue to keep you informed throughout the process.”
“This is not just a village issue,” said Neil Keveren, 53, a builder and chairman of the Stop Heathrow Expansion campaign. “It will affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, across London and there will be serious health issues. Boris Johnson, potentially our future prime minister, has promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers and we will be fighting with him.”
Keveren spent Wednesday morning trying to allay the fears of anxious villagers. He told Irene Nsona, 30, a nurse whose son attends the village school that will be demolished, that Heathrow will not win. She said she was very disappointed at the news, adding: “I hope we win this because this is a very, very good school.”
The village of Harmondsworth falls within the Heathrow expansion zone
Jackie Clark-Basten, the owner of a hairdresser in the nearby village of Sipson, which would be at the end of the third runway, said her business would collapse and her home above the shop would be uninhabitable.
“Jets’ landing gear will be clearing my roof every 30 to 40 seconds,” she said. “I will be about 200 yards from the end of the runway. It will be impossible to stay. I just think the process has been a farce. With all the information that was given to Howard Davies in the consultation period on health and the historical content of these villages he has still gone ahead and decided to go with Heathrow. This whole consultation has been a PR exercise and they were going to do this from the beginning.”
Bryan Tomlinson, a taxi driver who operates from Heathrow, vowed to defy Davies’s recommendations. “He will be gone to work at RBS, but we will still be living here,” he said. “He will never beat us. At the moment the people fighting are taxi drivers, hairdressers, mums, housewives, retired people. We are the frontline. But very shortly you will have Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace turning up and every person who believes the climate change act should be honoured by our government. There will be millions of angry people across the country who will make a fuss. They will be trying to glue themselves to David Cameron, they will be climbing Big Ben.”
It was a lot harder on Wednesday morning for Graham Wibrew to start work on the roof of his bedroom and kitchen extension. Davies’s announcement meant it was more likely than ever that his would be one of 750 homes in Harmondsworth to be flattened. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wibrew, 47, a carpenter and father of two, who is halfway through spending £60,000 on improving his home.
“When the builders turned up this morning I said you might as well go home, it’s all going to be flattened,” he said. But they are carrying on with erecting the two-storey extension even though, Wibrew admits, he might lose everything.
“I have no idea what the compulsory purchase arrangement is,” he said. “I could lose this money and have wasted £60,000. We went though so much trouble to get planning permission yet they can come along and say we’re going to build another runway as if nothing else matters. I’m the little man and money speaks. We are just figures to them.”