Calls Made For Hounslow To Join Legal Challenge To Heathrow Third Runway

Campaigners say council should join local authorities seeking judicial review

plane heathrow HACAN

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Anti-third runway campaigners are calling on Hounslow council to join legal action being initiated by other local authorities against expansion.

MPs voted on Monday night (25 June) to back the plans but the proposals still need to be approved by a planning inquiry before construction can proceed. Opponents say that Heathrow expansion is incompatible with the UK's climate change and air quality commitments.

A number of local councils - including Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead and Hammersmith & Fulham - have already promised to take part in action and now Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (Bash) is urging Hounslow to join the campaign.

David Waller, Bash co-ordinator, said: "Hounslow Labour's manifesto in the May council elections included a commitment to 'campaign for a better, not a bigger Heathrow'. Given that the campaign will now be focused on the court surely this means the council must join the legal action."

More than 60 councillor candidates pledged to oppose a third runway during the council election, including many members of Hounslow council's cabinet, he said.

Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran said, 'Hounslow Council has a long-held position that Heathrow should be better, not bigger. Whilst the council has been opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by additional flights, addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights, we nevertheless want the airport to be successful as it plays such a huge role in our economic success.

'The council does, however, believe that the benefits of living in proximity to Heathrow need to be greater for the whole community, not just those who catch flights or whose jobs are directly or indirectly linked to the airport. Concerted effort must be made to mitigate against the direct negative effects of airport operations on our communities - particularly in relation to noise; poor air quality; congestion on the transport network and; loss or degradation of green space and biodiversity. These negative impacts on quality of life are likely to be vastly exacerbated by expansion if adequate attention to mitigation is not provided.

'Whilst Heathrow’s initial consultation suggests some welcome options for reducing that impact, the council does not currently believe these go far enough to address the scale of the problems a third runway will result in, particularly in relation to surface access issues. We will therefore continue to engage proactively with the airport as they develop their ideas further to ensure that our voice is heard and we win the best possible deal for residents should expansion proceed. We also encourage residents to engage with the process by responding to consultations undertaken by the airport operator and making their views known to the Planning Inspectorate who will consider the development consent order lodged by Heathrow.'

MPs voted on Monday night to back the plans but the proposals still need to be approved by a planning inquiry before construction can proceed, with concern growing that Heathrow expansion is incompatible with the UK's climate change and air quality commitments.

The Labour MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury voted against the third runway plan. Speaking in Parliament, she said the economic case had not been made but 'the generously funded Heathrow lobby keeps bringing the proposal back and will continue to do so until it gets the answer it wants.

'On noise and air quality, which are the issues affecting my constituents most of all, more than 300,000 people in our region of west London and the Thames valley will experience significantly worse noise than they do now. Most of them are not aware that they will be under the final approach path to the third runway'.

Labour, whilst offering a free vote, adopted a recommendation to vote against expansion, saying the plans failed to meet the party’s four tests. The SNP decided to abstain in the vote, stating they were ‘unconvinced’ by the government’s case for Heathrow expansion, whilst the Liberal Democrats remained strongly opposed to the plans.

From the Government benches, Greg Hands, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers voted against their party whip for the first time in 13 years.

The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe that given large infrastructure projects, which stretch well beyond the lifetime of one parliament, require strong cross-party unity in order to actually be delivered.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, a long-established residents’ group that has campaigned against a new runway at Heathrow for 15 years, said, 'A third runway will turn peaceful areas of London and the Home Counties into torrents of noise as planes pass over at a rate of one every 90 seconds. Up to 100,000 people could experience relentless noise for the first time.'

Mr Stewart added, 'Of course the new runway is not a done deal. This vote simply permits Heathrow to draw up detailed plans which in due course will need to be approved by a planning inquiry before construction can start.'

The plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport were given backing by the Cabinet on 5 June. Opponents of expansion warned of "a tsunami of noise" over flight path areas and said it was "a bad day" for residents. Pro-expansion group Back Heathrow has welcomed the decision. The Cabinet approval of a decision by the government's economic subcommittee, to give the go-ahead to the project, was described by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling as "a historic moment.

The National Policy Statement, laid before Parliament by Chris Grayling, set out a number of binding conditions which Heathrow would need to adhere to. These included a six and a half hour night ban, up from five hours at present; strict air pollution limits; improved compensation for local residents; and tough powers for the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure the costs of the third runway do not become excessive.

Parliament was required to vote on the Airports National Policy Statement, which sets out plans for a third runway, within 21 days of the Cabinet decision, and that vote was held Monday.

Recent airport expansion protest

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Parliament has ended 50 years of debate by deciding that Heathrow expansion will go ahead. This vote will see us deliver more jobs, create a lasting legacy of skills for future generations and guarantee expansion is delivered responsibility. We are grateful that MPs have made the right choice for Britain and today we start work to create the best connected hub airport in the world.”

"The newly established Heathrow Community Engagement Board will play an important role in building and maintaining trust between the airport and its communities making sure that Heathrow delivers its commitments today and in the future. In particular, it will ensure that communities are meaningfully engaged in the process over the coming months and years."

"Today’s decision secures a £14bn private investment for the UK – one of the largest private projects in Europe – that will have major benefits for the local economy, stimulating growth and inward investment opportunities. Local businesses, particularly smaller to medium sized enterprises, are also set to benefit from up to 40 new long-haul trading links and double the cargo capacity at an expanded Heathrow."

"Over the next 12 months alone, Heathrow says it will sign £150 million worth of contracts with British businesses, creating 900 new jobs and 200 new local apprenticeships. In his position as Chair of the Heathrow Skills Taskforce, Lord Blunkett will coordinate members to develop the talent needed today and arm a generation with the skills it needs for the future.

"In addition to the tens of thousands of new jobs the project will create locally, Heathrow has taken steps to ensure expansion does not force a choice between the economy and the local environment. Heathrow has made binding commitments to deliver a £2.6bn compensation package to residents, implement a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights and a triple lock guarantee to meet air quality obligations."

June 27, 2018

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