As Consultation Deadline Fast Approaches

The protest against Heathrow’s expansion goes mobile

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The growing campaign against Heathrow expansion has gone mobile with a 'Just Text No' message being backed by all twelve members of the 2M group of local councils. Supporters are urged to send a free text to 80800 and to attend an end of consultation rally at Westminster Hall on February 25.

Hounslow Council leader Peter Thompson, speaking on behalf of the 2M Group, said, "The Government seems happy to set no limits on the size of Heathrow. This is one expansion too far. They might have got away with it in the past but people today are much more protective of their quality of life.

The DfT consultation runs until February 27. Details of how to respond are available at www.dft.gov.uk/heathrowconsultation.

Meanwhile local groups have been making their views heard by responding to the consultation by letter.

The Trustees of Chiswick House Friends registered their opposition to the proposals stating, “The Friends exist to protect the unique assets of Chiswick House and Grounds, a haven of peace and tranquillity in the busy capital and a place where individuals and families can wander in nature and restore their spirits.

“This atmosphere will be ruined by over flying aircraft every few minutes if a third runway is built at Heathrow, and the Friends totally oppose it. For the same reason, we also oppose the imposition of mixed mode and the ending of runway alternation.”

Members of the West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society, whilst not opposed to the sensible and sustainable economic development of west London and the surrounding areas, overwhelmingly support the opposition to the development of Heathrow as set out in the Department of Transport’s Summary Document.

They state, “We oppose both the third runway, the suggested end to runway alternation, as well as the lifting of the limits of 48,000 aircraft movements per annum at Heathrow. We consider the claims made in the proposals to be both contentious and unsubstantiated, particularly those relating to the impact on the environment and consider the statements concerning the impact of the noise problems to be biased in favour of the development, as well as misleading and narrow in interpretation.”

They go onto make a number of other statements including:
1. We take the view that the Department of Transport paper is partisan in its approach, lacking in objectivity and has failed to properly consult the residents in the Chiswick and Gunnersbury areas, or those likely to be affected in other parts of west London.
2. The economic and social impact on the areas affected by the development is hardly addressed. Yet it will be considerable. West London and the area surrounding Heathrow is already subject to considerable traffic delay and pollution.
3. In addition, there will be a consequential impact on the people who live and work in the areas affected by these flights. In particular, some additional 70 schools will be under the flight path for runway three. Furthermore, those schools already under the existing flight paths will be increasingly affected by the alterations to the proposed flight plans in terms of increased noise and other pollution.
4. We consider that economic considerations have taken precedence over the social impacts on the local population. Yet even these economic benefits have not been clearly identified, or how they will benefit the local community. The claims made are somewhat spurious, vague and open to challenge. They seem to be designed to deliver considerable economic benefits for the transport companies concerned, as well as the developers involved in its construction.

Local MPs Alan and Ann Keen, who have both been vocal in opposing their own party’s plans, held a well attended public meeting in Hounslow last week which also heard from one pro expansion campaigner.

Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Mary Macleod has been conducting conducted her own consultation process since the beginning of December. Over 45,000 survey forms were delivered to residents in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth, Syon, Osterley and Hounslow because, according to Ms Macleod, “I could not trust that the Government would be honest with us and give us the real feedback from the formal consultation process. I therefore sent out my own survey – one which was much simpler and easier to understand.”

The current results from her survey show 93% of local residents firmly stating that they are against Heathrow expansion - against night flights, a third runway, mixed mode and increasing the current numbers of flights.

Mary commented, “This shows loudly and clearly what local residents think about expansion of Heathrow. They are concerned with the impact it will have on their lives – especially the increase in flights and also ending current runway alternation. They will never get any peace in their own homes. If the Government does not listen to residents and their point of view, then the whole consultation process, which ends on 27th February, is a sham.”

 

February 18, 2008