Richmond, Merton, Kingston & Croydon councils write to PM to stop Heathrow runway, and choose Gatwick

In addition to the four councils that will legally challenge the government if it decides on a Heathrow runway (Windsor & Maidenhead, Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth) now four councils have written to the Prime Minister to oppose a Heathrow runway decision. Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils, calling themselves the South London Partnership, made the case to Theresa May to approve a Gatwick runway instead. All these councils know the highly adverse impact of the noise of Heathrow flights on their residents, and would prefer that noise burden to be pushed to others (who do not have the opportunity to vote them out – as with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also backs a Gatwick runway. They also say: “One thing in particular on which we want to contribute is ensuring the transport links to Gatwick and connectivity more widely, including into our area, central London and with other key corridors, are developed to support the full potential of airport expansion.”  Presumably they appreciate that the transport links to Gatwick are very poor, and would not be able to cope with a doubling in the number of air passengers. Conservative Richmond Council leader Lord True said the government should “stand up for ordinary families, rather than ‘big business’”.

Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils write to Prime Minister in bid to stop Heathrow third runway

South London Partnership chairman Stephen Alambritis urged Theresa May to stick to one of her predecessor’s pre-election promises in 2009

By Ben Weich (Local Guardian – Richmond + Twickenham)


Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils have written to Prime Minister Theresa May in a bid to stop Heathrow expansion.

It has been widely speculated the Government will back the plans in the next two weeks, despite David Cameron, Mrs May’s predecessor, pledging ‘no ifs, no buts’ there would be no third Heathrow runway.

The South London Partnership, chaired by Merton leader Stephen Alambritis, made the case to Mrs May for expanding Gatwick Airport instead.

It argued Gatwick would have lower environmental impacts, lower taxpayer costs and fewer legal barriers.

Cllr Alambritis said: “The South London Partnership boroughs stand ready to work with the Government, the Mayor, Gatwick and other partners to maximise the benefits of a new runway both in terms of stimulating additional economic growth in our area and by providing a skilled workforce to support other areas of growth.

“One thing in particular on which we want to contribute is ensuring the transport links to Gatwick and connectivity more widely, including into our area, central London and with other key corridors, are developed to support the full potential of airport expansion.

“Together with our neighbouring boroughs, we urge Ms May to make the right decision. Choose Gatwick.”

Conservative Richmond Council leader Lord True – who has also campaigned against Heathrow alongside Hillingdon and Wandsworth leaders – urged the Government to stand up for ordinary families, rather than ‘big business’.

He also pledged that Heathrow’s third runway would ‘never be built’.

Lord True said: “The Government should stick to its promise to rule out Heathrow, not pass the decision to Parliament.

“Government did the right thing in 2010 by scrapping Gordon Brown’s third runway folly and government should go for Gatwick now.

“We all know the Heathrow lobby can buy the best tables in town, but this is a government that has said it is for the ordinary family, the many, not the privileged big business few.

“If MPs vote to expand Heathrow it would spark a colossal backlash and a hail of legal challenges.

“Making Europe’s most polluting and worst located airport even bigger offends just about every environmental and security principle you can think of and will unite armies of campaigners in fierce opposition.”

Zac Goldsmith has repeated his threat to quit as Richmond Park MP if the Government approves the third runway at Heathrow.

Mr Goldsmith has previously said he would stand down as MP if Heathrow was allowed to expand, although he later told journalists he regretted that decision.

Mr Goldsmith told BBC Radio 4 on Friday that his position was ‘unchanged’.


See earlier:

Windsor & Maidenhead council (PM’s constituency) to raise amount for JR against Heathrow runway to £50,000

Windsor and Maidenhead council (Theresa May’s constituency) will increase its budget to fight a Heathrow runway, if it gets government backing. The council is prepared to spend £50,000 on a judicial review, which underlines the scale of resistance that the prime minister will face from residents in her Maidenhead constituency if she agrees to allow the third runway to go ahead. Council papers say the runway plans would have a “significant potential impact on the quality of life” of people living in the area. Lawyers for the 4 councils most opposed to the runway wrote to the government’s airport capacity directorate on 30 September 2016 calling for a consultation “in advance of any decision”, and that consulting councils afterwards would represent a “sham”. The councils say the process by which ministers have taken the decision has been “shrouded in mystery” and the “lack of openness and transparency is of great concern”. Specifically government work on air quality was promised but has not been released, and EU limits on nitrogen dioxide concentrations remain binding. The council is particularly concerned about residents who are currently not under flight paths, but would be under the new plans. The council says, moreover the mitigating factors being promised by Heathrow, such as a ban on night flights, are “expressed in vague terms which cannot meaningfully be assessed or considered”.

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Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon council leaders write to Chris Grayling to warn legal action threatened if Heathrow expansion is approved

Three Conservative local authorities – Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon – have written to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, warning that court proceedings will be launched if a Heathrow 3rd runway is approved.  The 3 council leaders, Lord True, Ravi Govindia and Ray Puddifoot, say any approval given to Heathrow would create “severe political and social rupture” at a time when unity is needed. It is also undeliverable and unlawful. They are already preparing a “substantial and strong legal challenge” and say “We must also be very clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge against the government in the unfortunate event that it resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects,” The reasons for the challenge are that bad air quality around the airport already breaches legal limits, and with a  3rd runway, the extra planes and cars in west London would “blight the lives” of millions of people. The  council leaders say, in their letter to Chris Grayling, that the runway “would be an environmental disaster for our communities”. Unfortunately they also urge government to back a 2nd Gatwick runway instead, content to  push the misery that they are keen to avoid for their own residents onto others.

Four councils affected by Heathrow threaten to take legal action against Government if it backs Heathrow runway

Four Conservative controlled councils – Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils –  are preparing to sue the government over a proposed 3rd Heathrow runway. The four councils are near Heathrow, and affected adversely by it. The warning to David Cameron, from their lawyers, says an escalation in the number of flights would be “irrational and unlawful”.  The legal letter to No 10 says court proceedings will be launched unless the Prime Minister categorically rules out expansion of Heathrow. It says “insurmountable environmental problems” around the airport mean it can never be expanded without subjecting residents to excessive pollution and noise. The councils have believed, since the launch of the (government appointed) Airports Commission’s final report, that it made a “flawed assessment” of Heathrow’s ability to deal with environmental issues (noise, NO2, and carbon emissions among them). The councils also say David Cameron’s previous promise – “No ifs, No buts, no 3rd runway” – had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that there would be no runway. The authorities have appointed Harrison Grant, the solicitors that led a successful High Court challenge in 2010 against the former Labour government’s attempt to expand Heathrow.