|Hounslow gives evidence to Transport Select Committee|
MPs warned of need for greater protection for those living under flight paths
Hounslow Council has told MPs that there needs to be a better system to protect communities living under the flight paths to the busiest airport in the UK from aircraft noise and pollution.
The call came as the Council’s lead member for aviation issues, Cllr Ruth Cadbury, gave evidence at the Transport Select Committee. She said “For people living in Hounslow, the noise disturbance from Heathrow is now almost continuous and air pollution exceeds European standards. Unfortunately, the regulatory framework for aviation does not consider the needs of residents living near airports. The CAA should have a stronger regulatory function, and also oversee a statutory home insulation scheme.
“Our residents also need airports and airlines to take responsibility for the cost of protecting communities like ours. This could be achieved simply by introducing a ‘polluter pays’ principle with funds for mitigation collected through a levy and administered through the CAA.”
In 2003, the Transport Select Committee highlighted the need for the Government and the industry to be committed to minimising ‘real’ environmental impacts. The committee also recommended that the funds from environmental fines should be used to benefit affected communities.
Cllr Cadbury told the Select Committee that there has been little in the way of progress on these matters and the voluntary mitigation schemes that are currently in place are inadequate.
According to the Council, many homes in Hounslow are lacking adequate insulation and ventilation and the cost of upgrading the borough’s school buildings to protect children from the negative impact of aircraft noise is around £100m. The imminent increase in night flights that appears to fly in the face of Government promises to “bear down” on night noise is also a major concern.
The Council acknowledges the economic contribution that Heathrow makes to the local economy, but believes the airport has reached the limits of its sustainable development. Its primary concern is to secure adequate mitigation for those who already affected by the airport as well as those who may be affected by any further developments.
As part of the Council’s ongoing campaign to ‘give Hounslow what Hounslow needs’, Cllr Cadbury is inviting the Committee to visit the borough and experience at first hand the problems faced by Hounslow residents on a daily basis.
February 3, 2006