MP accused of 'staggering hypocrisy' on night flights

Ann Keen criticised for appearing at Heathrow campaign rally

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Ann Keen MP has attracted criticism from political opponents over what they see as her double standard on opposition to Heathrow. On October 10th, The Brentford and Isleworth MP voted against an amendment to the Civil Aviation Bill that would have retained limits on the number of night flights. Later in the month she appeared at a rally at Westminster and spoke against Heathrow expansion, urging constituents to send her letters on the issue.

Nic Ferriday of West London Friends of the Earth accused the MP of 'staggering hypocrisy' saying, "She had the temerity to come to the rally and say that she supported residents on night flights, while voting in Parliament to allow an increase in the number of flights. At least the other MPs who voted for more night flights had the decency to stay away from the rally."

Andrew Dakers, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Brentford & Isleworth, has accused Ann Keen of failing to represent her constituents’ interests on night flights. In a letter to Mrs Keen, Dakers wrote, “On an issue as significant as night flights and airport expansion your regular excuse that as a Parliamentary Private Secretary you must always follow the government line is simply not good enough. This is a matter of such importance to the people of this constituency you must start prioritising our needs.”

The proposed amendment would have left in place the original wording of the Civil Aviation Act of 1982 which limits the number of flights. The new act would allow the limit to be set by the total amount of noise. Opponents of the change argued that big increases in the number of flights could be achieved with a relatively small amount of noise.

When asked about the night flights issue Ann Keen said she was pleased to be able to speak at the rally and added, "I cannot stress enough to the constituents of Brentford and Isleworth the need for them to make their voice known at this crucial time. I will continue to work with the London Borough of Hounslow and lobby Ministers to highlight the impact of the airport on our community and especially children’s health and education."

Andrew Slaughter, MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush also voted against the amendment. He said, 'aircraft noise, especially at night, is a perennial problem for those of us living near to Heathrow. Improvements in technology should mean this becomes less not more intrusive, and I intend to play an active role in supporting my constituents who are seeking no more than the quiet enjoyment of their homes and neighbourhood'.

Tom Beaton of Hounslow Green Party attended the rally at Westminster and said, "It was heartening to hear how many MPs say they support us in our campaign to banish the misery of night flights. But there is something very strange about Ann Keen appearing on this platform. She obviously wants to give the impression that she is on the same side as the majority of her constituents. "

He praised local Labour Councillor Ruth Cadbury saying that her speech was effective in demolishing the economic arguments for expansion at Heathrow.

October 26, 2005