Cameron likely to lose seats in constituencies affected by airport expansion

A Bloomberg article says voters affected by noise from Heathrow flights paths are likely to vote against the Conservatives at the next election, if they do not oppose expansion at Heathrow. Zac Goldsmith only won the Richmond Park district 2 years ago by 4,091 votes out of 59,268 from the Liberal Democrats. Cameron can’t afford to lose seats if he wants to retain power after the next election, scheduled for 2015.  Conservative Brentford & Isleworth MP, Mary McLeod  – with a majority of 2.000 – , says she was elected on the basis of no Heathrow expansion. Data from the EC and Britain’s CAA show that 725,000 people are affected by aircraft noise around Heathrow. Justine Greening’s Putney constituency was held by Labour before 2005. Districts to the SE of London in Dartford, Chatham and Gillingham, all of which the Tories won from Labour in 2010, might be vulnerable if an estuary airport went ahead.


Bloomberg News

Heathrow Indecision Risks Costing Cameron Seats in Next Election


Heathrow Indecision Risks Costing Cameron Seats in Next Election

A British Airways aircraft approaches Heathrow airport in London. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Children play soccer and adults sip from pints of beer on Kew Green in west London, pausing their conversations every 90 seconds as airplanes approach nearby Heathrow airport.

On one of the last sunny evenings of the summer, their talk is dominated by their fears that Prime Minister David Cameron, who many of them voted for, is preparing to expand of Europe’s busiest hub, going back on his 2010 election pledge not to construct a third runway.

“You can’t build more at Heathrow; build it on the other side of London,” said Sebastian Golding, an Internet entrepreneur, as another jet passed over, wheels down on the approach to the airport, about seven miles (11 kilometers) to the west. “It’s the wrong question. It’s not a third runway, it’s the fourth and fifth runway after that.”

Golding, who voted for Cameron in 2010, said he will change his vote if the prime minister reneges on his promise. The Tories only won the Richmond Park district two years ago by 4,091 votes out of 59,268 from the Liberal Democrats, now their coalition partners. Conservative lawmaker Zac Goldsmith has threatened to quit, forcing a special election, if Heathrow expansion is given the go-ahead.

After failing to win a majority in 2010, Cameron can’t afford to lose seats if he wants to retain power after the next election, scheduled for 2015. Under pressure from business leaders, airlines and some Tory lawmakers to improve an airport that’s operating at 98 percent of capacity, he sought to buy time this month by ordering an inquiry into airports that won’t report until after that vote.

Election Pledge

“My constituency is right under the flight path, and I was elected on the promise that there wouldn’t be a third runway,” said Conservative lawmaker Mary Macleod, who has a majority of less than 2,000 in Brentford and Isleworth, which adjoins Richmond Park.

“If local people still think this is the most important issue and they’re concerned about what a future Conservative government will do, they may not put a cross in the box for me,” Macleod said in a telephone interview. She urged Cameron to publish the report before the election.

Data from the European Commission and Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority show that 725,000 people are affected by aircraft noise around Heathrow. That’s more than a quarter of the 2.5 million people who suffer from such noise across the entire European Union.

‘More Runways’

“What should be happening is more runways,” Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., said in an interview in July. “It’s holding Great Britain back and holding us back.”

On the other side of Richmond Park is Putney, held by Tory Justine Greening. An outspoken opponent of expanding Heathrow, she was moved from her job as transport secretary when Cameron overhauled his Cabinet this month, to be replaced by Patrick McLoughlin, who represents a district 150 miles away in the English Midlands. Greening’s seat was held by the Labour Party before 2005. Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, now in opposition, oppose a bigger airport.

The uncertainty over Heathrow, run by BAA Ltd., also threatens Tory seats in areas where alternative runways might be built.

Boris Island

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London touted by some as a possible successor to Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, has proposed building an airport to the east of the capital in the Thames estuary, dubbed “Boris Island” in the British media. Johnson has already approved a 50% increase in aircraft movements at City Airport, near the Canary Wharf financial district, which is mostly used for short-haul flights.

Districts to the southeast of London in Dartford, Chatham and Gillingham, all of which the Tories won from Labour in 2010, might be vulnerable if an estuary airport goes ahead.

“The Tories fighting those seats will not be happy if that’s a live issue at the next election,” Anthony Wells, the YouGov Plc (YOU) pollster who runs the U.K. Polling Report website, said in a telephone interview. “It’s very much a local issue. The places where it matters what people think about this are around Heathrow and in the flight path for Boris Island.”

Others, including former Conservative minister Steven Norris, have proposed expanding Stansted Airport, to the northeast of the capital. Another suggestion is to open up the Royal Air Force base at Northolt in northwest London to commercial traffic, making further seats vulnerable as a result of indecision over Heathrow.

‘Clear Mandate’

Johnson has promised to fight any proposed extension of Heathrow, further muddying the waters for Cameron.

“I was elected on a very clear mandate to oppose the expansion of Heathrow and that’s what I’d like to see and do,” Johnson told the BBC on Sept. 5. “If such a commission were not to report until after the next election we’ll have lost a huge amount of time. I don’t think British business will be remotely satisfied with that answer.”

Even amid the aircraft noise, some of the housing under the Heathrow flight path is among the most expensive in the U.K. capital. A four-bedroom house on Kew Green sold for 2.15 million pounds ($3.49 million) in February this year. Many are resigned to Heathrow being enlarged.

“People know what they’re getting when they buy around here,” said Sarb Rai, 37, who runs Martin & Co., a realtor in Brentford. “Of course they’re going to expand Heathrow. We need to keep it as a hub, we need it for the area, if they don’t we’re going to get left behind as a country.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at; Thomas Penny in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at






Thousands overflown by Heathrow ready to fight if the Conservatives resurrect expansion plans



Article by Gwyn Topham, on the noise issue at Heathrow. Hounslow’sdeputy leader of the council, Colin Ellar, points out: “The impact on hundreds of thousands of people is undersold, under-reported, never stated.” “What we would really like is the mitigation of noise.” Just in Hounslow there are dozens of schools badly affected by noise, with a plane overhead for part of the day every 90 seconds, making teaching very difficult. BAA have provided some sound insulation, but not air conditioning – making rooms stifling in summer with windows closed. There is no sound insulation possible with open windows, or when outdoors.  Prestigious office blocks can afford air conditioning as well as double glazing, but this is not offered for the homes of ordinary residents. There are some  750,000 people living under Heathrow’s flight paths. Slight improvements in aircraft are not enough to make a significant difference to noise perception.   Click here for full story ….