“Back Heathrow” tries to blame councils for having to spend money, defending themselves against its runway plans
The lobby group funded and staffed by Heathrow, “Back Heathrow”, has had the (ill judged) nerve to criticise councils for spending money to oppose their expansion plans. Back Heathrow has attacked Hillingdon Council for spending more than £800,000 between 2007 and August 2016 on fighting the 3rd runway, while cutting public services. Back Heathrow say Hillingdon is having to make cuts of £309,000 in early support service and children’s centres, with the threat of £100,000 more cuts next year. And they complain that Richmond has spent nearly £109,000 opposing Heathrow expansion between 2007 and 2014 – and so on with other councils. Heathrow is trying to give the impression that residents in these boroughs want the runway, and councils are wasting money. They ignore the inconvenient fact that there is huge opposition to the runway within these councils, and the councils can see not only the effect of noise, air pollution and congestion the runway would cause, but also the social and infrastructure stresses – for example, on housing demand. Heathrow’s plans are costing, and could continue to cost, these councils a great deal of money. Heathrow is responsible for a lot of public money that taxpayers would have to fork out, to deal with the impact of its expansion.
London boroughs slammed for ‘wasting money on Heathrow third runway opposition while cutting services’
NICHOLAS CECIL (Evening Standard)
A London town hall came under fire today for spending more than £800,000 on fighting a third runway at Heathrow while cutting public services.
Pro-expansion group Back Heathrow criticised Hillingdon for the expenditure between 2007 and August this year to try to stop the west London airport expanding.
The group claimed Hillingdon is implementing £309,000 of cuts in early support service and children’s centres, with the threat of £100,000 more next year.
It added that Richmond spent nearly £109,000 opposing Heathrow expansion between 2007 and 2014, and a further £9,100 on lobbying against another runway in the past year.
It also claimed the town hall was proposing to cut £60,000 from a fund used to help vulnerable local children in care who are trying to start careers, though this was disputed.
Windsor and Maidenhead, where Theresa May is the local MP, spent £30,000 of taxpayers’ money on polling on Heathrow between January 2015 and August this year. Back Heathrow said the council had come under fire for proposals to cut a free school travel scheme which it claimed could cost some families £750 a year.
Its campaign director Rob Gray said: “Many taxpayers will be furious that while vital local public services are being cut, their money is being wasted on expensive lawyers to challenge a government decision that will bring thousands of jobs and investment to west London.”
But the town halls rejected the criticism. Hillingdon council said: “Hillingdon residents have repeatedly voiced their opposition to any expansion at Heathrow, and our job is to represent their views and challenge this decision by the Government to back a third runway.”
It added that David Cameron’s “no ifs, no buts” promise of no third runway had been broken, and “we have been left with no choice but to fight this in the courts”.
Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead have launched legal proceedings against the Government which Back Heathrow said could cost £200,000.
Richmond council leader Lord True dismissed the group’s claims as “utter nonsense”, saying: “Richmond council has not cut funding for services enabling vulnerable children in care to get on the career ladder.”
See earlier, when Rob Gray complained last time:
Heathrow Villagers welcome legal warning to Cameron, by 4 councils, of legal threat if 3rd runway is approved
Four Conservative-run local authorities have appointed a legal team, (Harrison Grant Solicitors) warning that if the Government did not rule out a 3rd Heathrow runway, then legal action will be launched. The four are the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond-upon-Thames, Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. All are long-standing opponents of a 3rd runway. The solicitors have written to the Prime Minister on their behalf explaining how “insurmountable environmental problems” would make government backing for a new runway “irrational or otherwise unlawful”. Local campaign group in the Heathrow Villages, “Stop Heathrow Expansion” representing residents in the south of Hillingdon whose lives would be directly impacted by the runway, welcomed the letter. Christine Taylor, Harlington resident and Stop Heathrow Expansion supporter, said: “Residents of the Heathrow Villages have had enough – we’ve been fighting this for over 30 years. We want to draw an end to the repeated threat of Heathrow expansion on our communities.”
Rob Gray, the voice of the “Back Heathrow” group, complains residents will be furious that councils are spending money. He ignores the fact that residents could be equally furious that Heathrow has, yet again, put the councils in the position where they have little choice other than to defend themselves from the airport’s plans.
Councils and campaigners take first step towards legal challenge against government support for Heathrow runway
Solicitors Harrison Grant acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident have (17th November) sent a letter, under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol, to the Secretary of State for Transport. The letter gives the Government a period of 14 days in which to withdraw its decision, issued on the 25 October to support a 3rd runway at Heathrow. If it fails to do so, judicial review proceedings will be commenced in the High Court, without further notice to the Government, on the basis that the Government’s approach to air quality and noise is unlawful and also that it has failed to carry out a fair and lawful consultation exercise prior to issuing its decision. The 33 page pre-action letter sets out comprehensive grounds for legal challenge, drawing on a broad range of statute and legal precedent, as well as highlighting the many promises and statements made by senior politicians confirming that the third runway would not be built. The move comes shortly after the Government’s air quality plans were overturned in the High Court, putting ministers under greater pressure to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in places like Heathrow. The latest court ruling rejected the current government plans to tackle emissions as inadequate and based on over optimistic assumptions.
Greenpeace to join with 4 councils in legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway
Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a joint legal challenge against Heathrow expansion. More claimants could join the alliance in the coming days as media reports have suggested a final decision has now been delayed until 25th October. Greenpeace and the four local authorities say both Heathrow expansion schemes would be unlawful due to their unrivalled environmental impacts, which include exacerbating illegal levels of air pollution, increasing Europe’s worst aircraft noise footprint and stretching the local transport network beyond breaking point. The councils jointly instructed Harrison Grant Solicitors to prepare their legal strategy last year and Greenpeace will now share costs and bring new environmental expertise to the partnership. The campaigners also worked together back in 2010 to successfully overturn the Brown Government’s backing for a 3rd runway in the High Court. Later that year the scheme was emphatically ruled out by the incoming Cameron Government. Heathrow current expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. New evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.