New runway would mean demolition of 3,000 homes and a new flight path over Brentford, Chiswick and Hammersmith

A third runway would probably mean a flightpath directly over Chiswick and Hammersmith

The Government have issued a series of studies on the future of the aviation industry in the South East. It is increasingly felt that they are favouring the further expansion of Heathrow and that a third runway is becoming inevitable.

It is almost certain that this runway would be sited to the north of the existing terminal buildings close to the M4. This could create a flight path directly over Chiswick and Hammersmith bringing up noise levels to the those currently experienced by areas like Kew and Richmond.

The Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling is to issue seven regional studies setting out a series of options, including a third runway at Heathrow. The Government appears to be linking information suggesting that the Heathrow option is the favoured one at the moment.

Campaigners against the further expansion of Heathrow believe that this is a Government tactic to divide opposition to airport expansion. Hacan, the aircraft noise lobbying group and most West and South West London councils are urging that a greenfield site in the Thames estuary should be considered.

However environmental campaigners will oppose this option due to the destruction of natural habitats and the Government is apparently indicating it is not the most favoured option as the investment in related transport infrastructure would need to be massive.

Wandsworth Council's cabinet member for transport Kathy Tracey said, "Ministers should explain publicly why they appear to have dismissed this option when the environmental arguments against further expansion at Heathrow are so overwhelming."

Leader of Hounslow Council, John Chatt, is appalled at the Government�s latest proposals: �This is devastating news for Hounslow and indeed the whole of west London. The impact of nearly a quarter of a million additional flights will be extremely harmful to residents. When the Government went ahead with Terminal 5 after enormous local opposition, we pressed hard for a commitment to not build a third runway near Heathrow. We are angry and amazed. Apart from the fact that 3000 families will lose their homes, the environmental effect will be catastrophic. Living in west London will be unbearable. We fear that the Government will push ahead at any cost, but we will be fighting them all the way"

A third runway could mean that there will be 210,000 additional flights and an extra 30 million passengers a year over west London. It is estimated that over 3,000 homes would need to be destroyed putting further stress on the housing market in West London. The existing public transport and road infrastructure is already causing severe problems for local people and the proposal released by the Government has little to say about improving infrastructure.

The controversial decision to proceed with Terminal 5 will bring the number of passengers travelling to Heathrow up to 100 million a year from the present 64 million.

British Airways has campaigned for another runway, saying that by 2010 Heathrow will trail six other European airports for hourly runway movement. Three-quarters of travellers use airports in the South-East but there has been no new runway since the Second World War. A White Paper on the matter is likely to make the final decision and the government have clearly indicated their frustration with the pace of the public enquiry into Heathrow suggesting that the enquiry process will be much more streamlined in future.  

Artists impression of the planned Terminal 5

Some commentators have pointed out that this may not be all bad news for people in this area. One pointed out that the third runway will be shorter and catering for smaller planes. They claim this will mean that if there is a new flight path over Brentford, Chiswick, Acton and Hammersmith it will mean that large planes such as jumbo jets will not be able to use it and a third runway may actually reduce noise

If you are concerned about the possibility of a third runway at Heathrow they can write to Mike Fawcett, Aviation Division, DETR, 72 Marsham St,SW1, with a copy to the Aviation Minister, David Jamieson, Eland House, Bressenden Place, SW1. The contact details for local MPs are in the local government section of this site.

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