The NFU is seeking views on the knock-on effects to farm businesses of airport runway expansion plans either at Heathrow or Gatwick.

The Airports Commission published a consultation on 11 November to assess proposals for a new runway at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The consultation invites public comment on the costs, effects on communities of noise, property loss and construction, the economic benefits and environmental impacts. The consultation closes on 3 February 2015.

The commission is considering three options for increasing flight capacity: a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow or an extension of one of the existing runways at the airport.

Depending on the final site chosen, there is a strong possibility that farm businesses and good agricultural land will be lost.

A spokesman for Berkshire farmers J Rayner and Sons, based in Horton, near Slough, said they were “very concerned” about possible expansion of Heathrow.

He added: “The northern runway extension would go straight through our farm and finish us off.

The Rayners' farm near Heathrow

The Rayners’ farm near Heathrow

“Even if they don’t take any of our land to build the runway, the infrastructure around here cannot cope.

“The family has farmed here since the 16th century. We are in the same boat as farmers affected by HS2. Our lives are on hold.

“We cannot do anything on the farm to invest, such as making units or renting farm properties, because of the threat of Heathrow expansion.”

NFU member and retired farmer Roy Barwick, 93, whose son Roger farms in Harmondsworth, near Heathrow Airport, said: “The whole situation at the moment is totally fluid. Nobody knows what’s going to be happening until the commission reports back. [The farm is just to the east of Harmondsworth].

“We are the last functioning farm in this area. When we go, it will be the end of the line. Nothing may happen at all.”

The NFU said its members had a wide range of views both in favour and against the various options.

An NFU spokesman said: “The development of air transport infrastructure may represent substantial opportunities and risks for the export and import of food commodities as both options would expand freight handling capabilities.

“Alongside this we are also interested in making sure that both options avoid severe adverse impacts on our members’ farm business operations, and where these are unavoidable, appropriate levels of mitigation and compensation are included as part of the proposed scheme.”



J Rayner & Sons, Horton Farmers

J. Rayner and Sons Ltd


The Rayner family has been farming in the Colnbrook area since the reign of Elizabeth I. In 1945, the family purchased Berkyn Manor Farm & Manor House in Horton, together with 60 acres of land (the site of Berkyn Manor was also the home to the famous poet, Milton, and his parents from 1632 to 1638). In 1954, J Rayner & Sons Ltd was founded from the original farming partnership.

J Rayner & Sons Ltd farms over a large area from Guildford in the South, Henley on Thames in the West, Gerarrds Cross in the North and Upminster in Essex in the East, with a distance of 100 miles from one end to another.

The total area of the farm is 1600.25 hectares (or 3856.60 acres) of which the company owns, has full Agricultural Tenancy, contracts, shares and manages farms.

J Rayner & Sons Ltd specialise in restoring land to agricultural use after mineral winning and land filling operations.