Heathrow “consultation” largely an exercise in spin – but scary for those whose homes might be demolished

Heathrow put out a consultation on its runway hopes, on 17th January. It is very premature, as it is still months before the government even has a vote on whether to approve a 3rd runway. However, Heathrow is running this “consultation” exercise, partly as a way to give the impression that the runway is a “done deal” and all that remains is to sort out details. In reality, there is little of substance in the consultation, that is in part just a PR exercise. However, it has got people worried and anxious. One reason is the scale of the number of properties to be demolished for the grandiose plans, for the A4, M25, terminal buildings, as well as the runway itself. One of the proposals (remember, nothing is agreed, and this is just the airport trying to persuade people the runway is inevitable – it is NOT) is that 13 homes in Elbow Meadow, Colnbrook, may have to be removed as part of the realignment of the M25 150 metres to the west of the airport.  In addition, two of three options to expand terminal infrastructure would see further land grabs needed around Colnbrook with Poyle and Richings Park. And so on.  Changes to the plans mean the airport scheme is not the one the Airports Commission gave its blessing to. A key factor is the location of flight paths, but there is absolutely NO information about those. The consultation is therefore largely a sham, without vital details that would be necessary in a meaningful consultation.

Homes face compulsory purchase as Heathrow consultation begins

By Greg Taylor, Trainee Reporter (Windsor Observer)


PROPOSALS to expand Heathrow Airport have been revealed in more detail this week, with major changes outlined for the A4, M25, terminal buildings, as well as the development of the third runway itself, likely to lead to properties nearby being bulldozed.

It has emerged that 13 homes in Elbow Meadow, Colnbrook, may have to be removed as part of the realignment of the M25 150 metres to the west of the airport. This comes as Heathrow looks to lower the motorway by seven metres and build a tunnel so the new third runway passes over the M25.

Meanwhile, two of three options to expand terminal infrastructure would see further land grabs needed around Colnbrook with Poyle and Richings Park. This is if the airport opts to expand Terminal 5 to the west, or create a new satellite terminal to the north, which would create more capacity for aircraft and car parking.

Additionally, Heathrow has confirmed the three options for the third runway itself, between Colnbrook in the west and Sipson in the east, which would see the runway stretch between 3,200 and 3,500 metres. The latter option is certain to prove controversial, with more aircraft noise and closer proximity to Colnbrook a main consequence.

All proposals are part of a new, 10-week public consultation, as Heathrow seeks the views of residents on the physical changes needed to expand the airport. Heathrow has said that none of the proposals are concrete currently and residents’ views can help shape the expansion. It is still awaiting sign-off from the Government, with a House of Commons vote likely to happen in the first half of this year.

A statement from the Colnbrook Residents Association said on Tuesday: “This will necessitate the compulsory purchase of 13 properties in Elbow Meadow Colnbrook. Residents have been informed by letter.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We recognise that any infrastructure project of this scale will cause disruption and for that, we are sorry.

“Residents have been informed of proposed changes that affect them and options that are available to them. We have developed our proposals with input from local communities, and we are going further than statutory schemes or Government guidance by committing to a £2.6 billion compensation package.

“This includes a £700 million noise insulation scheme and offering eligible homeowners within the compulsory purchase area the unaffected market value of their property, plus an additional 25 per cent home loss payment, stamp duty, legal fees and moving costs.”

Meanwhile, a large section of the A4 Colnbrook bypass would be axed as the highway is rerouted between Colnbrook and Sipson. Two of the options take the road from the south to the north east of the new runway, with one connecting to the M4 Spur with a new junction and slip roads. However the third proposal seeks to keep the A4 south of the new runway, passing through an airfield in a cutting or tunnel. Heathrow said this “has good connectivity” but would be “more complex and costly to deliver”.

A rebuilding of the A3044 road, affecting Colnbrook with Poyle and Brands Hill, is also proposed with four different options.

Areas of Colnbrook with Poyle and South Bucks appear to be included in the airport’s “indicative” compulsory purchase zone – and the lesser “wider property offer zone”, where homes could still be affected and required for the expansion project.

As part of the consultation, the public’s views are also being sought on the rules that could apply when Heathrow redesigns the airspace – as part of the development. However no flight paths have yet been drawn up.

If the Commons vote goes through, Heathrow will submit a planning application after further consulting communities on detailed proposals. It hopes to begin construction in early 2021, with the runway completed by the end of 2025.

Rob Barnstone, coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition representing MPs, local authorities and campaign groups opposed to expansion, believes the consultation is premature and said Heathrow should “calm down and await Parliament’s verdict”.

He said: “The consultation has major gaps in information including the lack of any information on new flight paths and robust plans to address issues arising from expansion including air quality and roads and rail around the airport.

“There is also no evidence that Heathrow can deliver on promises made to local communities. All of its promises are, as usual, ‘indicative’.”

There are consultation events in Burnham, Colnbrook, Maidenhead, Windsor and Slough amongst others. For more information visit www.heathrowconsultation.com