Heathrow runway court hearing welcomed by Chiltern campaigners

13.8.2009   (Bucks Free Press)

by Andy Carswell

CONSERVATION groups in Buckinghamshire have welcomed the news plans for a new
runway at Heathrow airport will be reconsidered.

The High Court announced on Friday a hearing will take place in court later this
year to listen to residents’ concerns.

A leading judge said there was "significant public interest" in the planned runway,
which would lead to an increase in air traffic over the Chiltern hills.

Campaign groups say planes would fly lower than they do currently over a designated
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and would increase pollution and ruin the
area’s tranquillity.

Sue Yeomans of the Chiltern Countryside Group was pleased at the news of the court hearing – adding the group would try to
make its voice heard.

She told the Bucks Free Press: "It’s good news. I think the general feeling in
the Countryside Group is we wouldn’t be happy with anything that would cause more
flights and more pollution over the AONB and Chilterns.

"We will be putting these things forward again to any hearing that we were able
to be involved in."

Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board, said: "Our position is we oppose the third runway on the grounds the local
impact is enormous. We would get a disproportionate number of flights coming over
the Chilterns and we think there’s enough already.

"On a global level, anything that encourages noise increase and air traffic is
a bad thing."

Referring to the court hearing, Mr Rodrick said: "This is a good thing, another
pause for thought, and a chance for people to have their say. We will certainly
maintain our opposition."

Both conservation groups said the initial consultation carried out by the Government
was "flawed".

Mr Rodrick said: "There’s a broader issue that, at the time the original consultation
was taking place, there wasn’t enough effort put in to make it known that areas
such as Chiltern would suffer from noise pollution.

"It was only people living in Hounslow for who this was a big issue and therefore
the level of consultation was inadequate."

Mrs Yeomans added: "The tranquillity measurements don’t have means of testing
noises against different backgrounds.

"The actual noise level from the plane may be the same in the countryside and
in towns, but the human beings’ perception will be quite different.

"We would want these kinds of things we want to make sure were identified and
brought to the attention of the people making the decision."

A date for the court has not yet been set.