Heathrow criticised by key London councils for jumping the gun on Government expansion decision
The latest consultation from Heathrow is ‘jumping the gun’ – according to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils. The Leaders of 3 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 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 – causing immense damage to the environment and people’s health, tear communities apart, see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, and potentially cost taxpayers £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 (concentrated or less concentrated…) The councils view is that the noise burden is too high now and all efforts should be made to minimise the number of people impacted by noise. Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling.”
Heathrow criticised for jumping the gun on Government expansion decision
25 January 2018 (Richmond Council press release)
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.”
Alistair Osborne writing in the Times: “Heathrow on flight path to nowhere”
Commenting on the frankly ridiculous “consultation” put out by Heathrow, Alistair Osborne – writing in the Times – puts some of the criticisms beautifully. For example, he says: “After half a century on the job … Heathrow still doesn’t even know where to put its new runway. The best it can offer is three options, with “length varying from between 3,200 and 3,500 metres”. …Heathrow has “emerging proposals” but “In fact, so many crucial details are still up in the air that it’s hard to spot what the ten-week consultation is consulting on.” … “Apart from the multiple choice runway location, there are three possible sites for a new terminal, a smorgasbord of potential taxiways and some gobbledegook about “realigning” the M25. Having noticed that the “M25 is one of the busiest roads in the UK”, Heathrow says it “will ensure that our proposals do not result in disruption”.” …”Two other crucial issues — illegal air quality and noise — get no more than platitudes.” … “If it is not yet possible to map the detailed impact on local communities, what is the point of consulting right now?” As details of flight paths, noise and air pollution will only emerge AFTER MPs vote this summer on the NPS: “As consultation processes go, it’s all a bit of a sham.”
Important points demonstrating how the Heathrow 3rd runway is far from certain, at Westminster Hall debate
On Wednesday 24th January, Vince Cable MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall, on the issue of the 3rd Heathrow runway plans and Heathrow’s current consultation on their expansion hopes. Some of the MPs who spoke were Ruth Cadbury, Zac Goldsmith, Andy Slaughter, Karl Turner and Stephen Pound. They expressed serious reservations on issues of cost to the taxpayer, cost of surface access transport improvements, increased noise, uncertain air pollution, uncertain CO2 emissions, uncertain economic benefits and uncertain links to regional airports. Quotes from the MP contributions are shown below. Just a couple include: Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con) – “one problem with the consultation is that we know that hundreds of thousands of new people will be affected by noise, but we do not know which hundreds of thousands, because the Government and Heathrow have yet to tell us where the new flight paths will be, which renders the entire consultation process entirely disingenuous, if not dishonest? It is a bit like saying, “We’re going to put a new incinerator in your constituency, and we’d like to ask people their opinion, but we’re not going to say where it’ll be put.” Surely the entire basis of the consultation’s legitimacy has a question mark hanging over it.” And Andy Slaughter – “Getting these glossy pamphlets through the door, as one does on a regular basis from Heathrow, sends the subliminal message, “This is a done deal. Get used to it. Get what you can out of it by way of mitigation.” It simply is not good enough.”
Heathrow premature “consultation” demonstrates NOT how inevitable the 3rd runway is, but just how absent any details are
The Heathrow consultation (17th January to 28th March) is vague in the extreme. It purports to be a consultation about how the airport should expand with a 3rd runway. But no government permissions for this has even been given yet, with a vote in Parliament and several legal challenges to be undergone before there is any certainty there will be any 3rd Heathrow runway. The consultation’s main purpose appears to be to give the impression to politicians, business people, the public, the affected communities etc that the runway is a “done deal” and is definitely going ahead; Heathrow is just sorting out some details. That is NOT the case. As the consultation makes manifestly clear, rather than sticking to details of the recommendations of the Airports Commission (on noise increases, night flight curfew periods, location of runway, means of getting over the M25 and so much else) Heathrow is not sticking to this, but trying out other options – which were never part of the Commission’s scrutiny. Far from making the runway look inevitable, the numerous areas in which there is no certainty of Heathrow’s plans demonstrate immense weaknesses. The consultation is aimed at trying to make the runway planning appear sensitive to public opinion. It is in fact far more underhand than that, and highly unlikely that consultation responses – other than endorsing what Heathrow wants – would even be given more than passing consideration.