BAA plans for 3rd Heathrow runway delayed — but is it too late for Sipson?

18.1.2010   (Guardian)
Airports group will not press ahead with application until after the general
by Peter Walker and Dan Milmo
BAA will not take the next step towards building a third runway at Heathrow until after the general election, it has said.

BAA secured government approval a year ago for its controversial plans to expand Britain’s largest airport resulting in renewed protests from green groups and
local residents. For the last seven years, a loose coalition of
Sipson villagers, more seasoned environmental campaigners and celebrities have been battling
BAA’s plans to expand northwards. The company says Heathrow – and Britain – are
greatly hampered by a main airport with only two runways – Charles de Gaulle in
Paris has four, while Amsterdam’s Schiphol has six.

But now, BAA has confirmed it will not launch a public consultation on a planning
application until after a general election. With expansion
strongly opposed by the Conservatives, who are ahead in the polls, any planning proposal could be quashed by a Tory

The airports operator told the Guardian in a statement that it was still working
on its application. However, it admitted that the process will be interrupted
by the election: “We expect to be in a position to consult with local residents
and all other interested parties in the second half of 2010.”
BAA denied that efforts had ceased altogether, saying the delay was caused only
by discussions with the government’s new
infrastructure planning commission (IPC), set up last year. “The timing of any planning application and its component
parts are not influenced by anything other than the requirements of the IPC and
the volume of work to put together a compelling application,” a spokesman said.

But with only Labour committed to the runway, the statement would nonetheless
appear to mean that 700 homes in Sipson – the village that would have been flattened
to build the runway – along with its handful of pubs, restaurants and other businesses,
may be saved.

It would seem a moment of celebration for the No Third Runway Action Group, but
members remain cautious.

Firstly, they say, even if the Conservatives win power they could change their
mind in the face of relentless lobbying from BAA and British Airways. The latter’s
chief executive, Willie Walsh, called the runway decision the party’s “biggest
mistake ever”.

Equally pertinent, they stress, is that the fabric of the village is, slowly
but surely, collapsing around them.

“It’s like a slow death for Sipson,” said Jim Doyle, 47, who has raised a family
in what remains a clearly defined ­village ­nestled in acres of green belt fields,
despite sitting only a few hundred metres from Heathrow’s northern perimeter and
not much further south of the M4.

“I can’t remember the last time a family bought here. To do what they’ve done
to a community, with no timescale, no schedule, is an absolute disgrace.”

Sitting in the 400-year-old William IV pub, like the rest of Sipson affected
surprisingly little by aircraft noise thanks to the orientation of runways, Doyle
describes how the threat hanging over the village means the only home buyers are
speculative landlords who install short-term tenants, many from eastern Europe,
with no real stake in the community’s future.

“It’s a very different place from how it used to be,” he said.

BAA has already offered to buy up hundreds of homes in Sipson and an estimated
75 householders have agreed. Such an exodus, believes Sean Walters, the pub’s
landlord, would mean the end: “No one wants to be next door to an empty house,
so they’ll move on as well. That’s how BAA will get the runway anyway – who’ll
want to live in a ghost village?”

Others are hopeful they can extract a long-term commitment from the Conservatives.
David Cameron has not only backed their cause but sponsors an apple tree on land
in Sipson bought by protesters and planted as an orchard. “If Cameron reneges
on his promise, it would be so bad I won’t ever vote again in this country in
my life,” said Linda ­McCutcheon, 64, who has lived in ­Sipson for more than forty years. “He said it, so he
needs to take action. We’ll work from there to get a definite no.” Any minister

planning to send the bulldozers to Sipson will be aware that within ­minutes
of their arrival, several sexagenarians would be lying down in their path. Many
locals have promised direct action and are supported by younger, more experienced
green campaigners through an innovative “adopt a resident” scheme.

The seemingly unlikely alliance began in August 2007 when the annual Climate Camp protest based itself around ­Sipson. “When they came we told them, ‘Oh, you’ll
forget about us, you’ll go on to something else.’   But they said they wouldn’t
and they’ve kept to their word,” McCutcheon said.

Her optimism is tinged by an ever-present sadness at the thought of what is at
stake: “My children were born in the village, at the cottage hospital, which has
now gone. They were christened in the local church and went to school here. It’s
an entire life, and it would all be under concrete. It’s a terrible thought.”
see also

A third runway at Heathrow could lead to more domestic flights, the Government
has admitted.
19.1.2010   (Evening Standard)
Ministers have encouraged travellers to opt for a train for domestic and short-haul
European trips.
But in evidence to the Commons transport committee’s inquiry into aviation, the
Department for Transport said a third runway could result in more flights to parts
of the UK.
"Additional runway capacity would clearly provide more opportunity to cater for
demand for regional air services," it said.
A BAA spokesman said: "There is a powerful argument that regions of the UK need
to be connected to Heathrow in order to do business around the world."
The Government has backed expanding Heathrow, and is pursuing plans for a high-speed
rail network.
Airport operator BAA said it will start a public consultation after the election.
link to article
for a lot of past news on Heathrow, see Some Heathrow News