Heathrow Airport has told Sir Howard Davies to change his assessment of the impact of Third Runway plans on local communities from “adverse” to “neutral” in light of the benefits it will bring. Heathrow’s consultation response
It is with a curious mixture of feint amusement and head-banging-against-wall despair to be ploughing once again through a 200-page response to the Airports Commission’s 10,000-page analysis of Heathrow’s 1,000-page submission for a Colnbrook Third Runway.
(Submission being the appropriate word of course. Up there with water boarding, Heathrow’s vast public relations monster has perfected the technique of drowning you with yet more and more ways of spinning the same thing until, you just feel worn down by the nonsense of it all and beg mercifully for it to stop. Which, of course, must be at least 90% of the strategy. The other 10% being to keep citing your own highly debatable tweets as “evidence”).
But one part of Heathrow’s response to the Commission will cause even the most die-hard-supporter-of-a-Third-Runway-in-spite-of-all-the-evidence to do a double-take and read the same passage again … maybe even half a dozen times.
Heathrow has actually suggested to Sir Howard that he is wrong to say that losing large tracts of the village to tarmac while subjecting an untold number to as yet unquantified noise and air pollution is actually, on balance, going to be a good thing.
Far from being an “adverse” effect on the village, Sir Howard Davies has been told to rethink his conclusion and find instead that mitigations proposed by the airport will “set remaining communities on a new footing underpinned by facility provision and other community support mechanisms”.
Local residents and those interested in Heathrow’s expansion, told us that they welcome the proposal to offer 25% above market value
That doublespeak found its way into its response on February 3, where the airport said it disagreed with the generalisations made on community cohesion by Davies that “at the very local level it is difficult to see any existing community cohesion being maintained, unless entire communities and their facilities could be moved en masse at the same time.”
Heathrow doesn’t dispute that it will not just rip out the heart of some communities but the body and soul too:
“We do acknowledge that the effect of the airport expansion on Harmondsworth and Sipson would be considerable and that Longford would be removed completely.”
But it’s not all bad …
… we do believe that, even for these communities, although the local dynamic may change, there will still be community cohesion for those that wish to continue living in these villages.
Colnbrook and Poyle are going to “benefit” from the creation of a new bypass to replace the existing A4 and A3044, “routing traffic around the villages and easing the congestion they currently experience.”
“We will ensure this through the mitigation efforts that we are making, particularly through provision of new community assets and an enhanced local ‘green’ environment.”
We’re going to benefit from lots of new community facilities without doubt. Recreational areas around the replacement incinerator; sports pitches, formal gardens and a new visitor centre (why?) on what remains of the Green Belt in Poyle; a natural swimming pool, riding stables and cross country course on land vacated by displaced businesses; and new allotments, mountain bike trails and “woodland corridors” demarcating car parks on what used to be prime arable land.
And we know that Slough Borough Council has already partnered Heathrow to take over its purchased housing stock to re-let to airport workers:
In addition our intent is to offer all displaced residents the option of a new home within the local area which will again mitigate to some extent the effects of local people relocating from the area.
So here in Colnbrook, let’s hear no more of this talk that the further encroachment of the airport is a bad thing. Wake up and smell the … err … nitrogen dioxide.
“With regard to Colnbrook, Brands Hill and Harlington we feel that there is insufficient evidence to justify the Commission’s wording. The character of remaining communities may change over time. But this effect would be seen whether or not the airport was to expand, and there is no necessary connection to airport expansion or wider social change with an absence of community cohesion.”
Now, we know John Holland-Kaye and his 80,000 (or is it 800,000 now?) strong Back Heathrow team must be inhaling some ever stronger stuff these days: 50% of us apparently say “bring on” a Third Runway as soon as possible.
But Sir Howard and his merry band can see through that. Just as they can see through the £4.5m sweetener to Slough that convinced the town to ditch core Green Belt and air quality policies. Or its £1.5 million no-strings-attached “grant” that led it to tell Davies that the airport’s compensation plans for residents were “generous”.
So really, JH-K, you are doing your case a disservice by give your PR supremos the freedom to spout such … utter nonsense!
Airports Commission assessment
The Airports Commission’s document with its thinking on the impact on the community is at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374663/evidence-base-heathrow-airport-extended-northern-runway.pdf for Heathrow Hub
at for the Heathrow North West runway option;
In this the Commission says:
16.6 Given the scale of the land take north of the airport the Commission consider that un-mitigated community impacts would be HIGHLY ADVERSE. The extensive mitigation plan proposed by the promoter could reduce this effect to ADVERSE.