Call for councillors to unite against airport menace

Mayor agrees there should be a cap on night flights

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Local Assembly Member Tony Arbour gained a firm commitment from Mayor Ken Livingstone this week that there should be a ban on more night flights over London.

The Mayor also said there should be a “cap on total flights”, although he did not state what the cap should be.  Cllr. Arbour, who won the Mayor’s support during Question Time at City Hall, said “This is a real boost for residents blighted by noise from planes using Heathrow Airport. We do not need any more night flights. Limiting the overall number of flights by introducing a cap would be extremely desirable. I am delighted to have got a personal commitment from the Mayor on these issues. I will hold him to them.”

This news comes in the same week a leading aviation campaigner called on councillors across West London to unite against the menace of airport expansion “before it’s too late”.  The call to arms from Hounslow Council’s member for aviation issues, Cllr Ruth Cadbury, comes in the wake of a controversial campaign launched by supporters of expansion targeting councillors in the boroughs around Heathrow.

Cllr Cadbury said “There are plans in the pipeline that will see Heathrow grow by 50% in the next ten years. Expansion on that scale will be disastrous for the residents of West London. As their local representatives, we have a duty to protect their future and ensure the needs of our communities come before the needs of the airport.”

Cllr Cadbury was responding to media reports that Future Heathrow (a campaign group that supports and encourages sustainable capacity growth at Heathrow Airport) has been encouraging airport employees to send postage paid cards in support of expansion to their local councillors. The cards acknowledge that “constituents complain about noise and pollution” but urge councillors to focus on the economic benefits instead.

Councillor Cadbury said “Local people will be horrified by Future Heathrow’s suggestion that economic gain is more important than protecting our communities from noise and pollution. The aviation industry needs to strike a balance between all the social, environmental and economic factors, but that does not mean that profits come first.

“The airport is a proven economic success, so the suggestion that it will suddenly fall into decline if it is not allowed to expand relentlessly is highly irresponsible. Future Heathrow should not be promoting scare stories about job losses and economic disaster, it should be working with local councils to ensure airport employees living near Heathrow can enjoy a good quality of life and a decent night’s sleep.

“Local councillors recognise the contribution the airport has made to the local economy, but that does not mean it can keep on expanding at any cost. We need to act on behalf of our residents to ensure they are protected from the menace of airport expansion before it’s too late.”


February 23, 2006