Legal action on Heathrow will happen warn council leaders

Published: Monday 25th July 16

The leaders of three London councils have written to the new Secretary of State for Transport threatening legal action if the new cabinet gives Heathrow expansion the green light.

The Leaders of Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth Councils wrote to Chris Grayling MP following reports that a decision on aviation capacity could be made in early September.

After years of delays ministers are expect to choose between two options for expanding Heathrow and one for expanding Gatwick.

The Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, said:

"I'm glad that the Secretary of State has made it clear that the government will make this decision and not duck the responsibility for this issue any longer. Having been promised by the last Prime Minister that Heathrow would not be expanded and that the environment and the health and wellbeing of the people would take precedent over profit, I have every faith in Chris Grayling and Theresa May opposing expansion for the same reasons. 

"There is a realistic and viable alternative in Gatwick, which could be delivered faster and with less damage to our environment and our people. However, Hillingdon along with other councils has prepared a substantial and strong legal challenge to any proposed expansion at Heathrow should the government renege on its promise."

The Leader of Richmond Council, Lord True, said:

“Heathrow expansion – in either the form of the new north-west runway or the extension of the existing northern runway – would be an environmental disaster for our communities. Under both scenarios the costs far outweigh the benefits and we urge the Government to dismiss the inflated and implausible case made by the slick PR promoters of these schemes.

“The Prime Minister has spoken of her concern to protect communities and listen to the concerns of ordinary people.  I have no doubt she will be true to her word.”

The Leader of Wandsworth Council,  Ravi  Govindia, said:   

“We have made it perfectly clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge if the Government resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects. Our residents have lived with this treat hanging over them for far too long.

“Heathrow expansion is unlawful, undeliverable and would create a severe political and social rupture at a time when our country desperately needs unity. Gatwick is a far better option on every level.”

The full letter is below:

Dear Secretary of State,

Congratulations on your appointment and we wish you every success in your new role.

We understand that aviation expansion will be one of the first major policy decisions before the cabinet and, as the Leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth Councils we are writing to make our position on this issue entirely clear.

The Prime Minister has spoken of her concern to protect communities and listen to the concerns of ordinary people. Heathrow expansion – in either the form of the new north-west runway or the extension of the existing northern runway – would be an environmental disaster for our communities. Heathrow expansion of all the solutions ever suggested does the most to hurt communities and would blight the lives of more people than any other. Under both scenarios the costs far outweigh the benefits and we urge you to dismiss the inflated and implausible case made by the promoters of these schemes. We hope this will be an early example of Mrs May’s commitment to protect both communities and the rights of ordinary people.

We all agree that after six years of dithering since a conservative Prime Minister rightly scrapped the 3rd Runway plan, we need a swift outcome. Heathrow expansion would be the slowest, as well as the most costly solution. Gatwick is far ahead in most respects.

We must also be very clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge against the Government in the unfortunate event that it resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects. Our arguments are set out in earlier correspondence (attached) and centre on the severe environmental damage that comes with a new or lengthened runway, and on the clear promises and policy commitments made to our communities by successive Governments.

Your commitment to rule on this issue in early September is very welcome indeed as the threat of Heathrow expansion has been held over our communities for far too long and it is high time they were granted the certainty they need to get on with their lives. 

We hope you recognise that Heathrow expansion is unlawful, undeliverable and would create a severe political and social rupture at a time when our country desperately needs unity. Councils, MPs, environmental groups, the London Mayor and millions of ordinary Londoners will fight the Government every step of the way if it favours this option and we urge you again to choose the deliverable, lowest cost, safer option of Gatwick

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council

Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council

Councillor Lord Nicholas True, Leader of Richmond Council

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Recent comments

I agree totally with comments and letter. Hearthrow expansion would be a greed gain by the owners of heathrow causing more noise and poor air quality. We are aware of more aircraft engine noise some as early as 4am. The reason heathrow have such a strong desire to expand is simply to sell more landing slots which I read can be worth £50m plus each. Well done Wandsworth for being prepared to fight should the politians vote in favour. Gatwick definitely needs to be expanded, we travel from there 3 times or more a year and it needs more facilities, including an extra runway.
Anthony

1 August 2016

Please can you outline why Gatwick is a better choice, using facts and figures rather than PR speak. This article above doesnt give any details. Thanks
Biraj Borkhataria

1 August 2016

The noise is bad enough this summer, quite intolerable, but we also worry about the air pollution, as the number of planes flying directly overhead is considerable. Two kinds of pollution is too much!
Brian St. Pierre

30 July 2016

What mandate does the council have to waste yet more ratepayers money on a subject that has already been extensively studied.?
A. West

30 July 2016

Surely no more tax payers money is going to be going into re-hashing the whole debate. So much money has already been wasted. Nimbys accept especially as the infrastructure is already in place for transport to and from Heathrow. It would be a retrograde step to choose Gatwick especially as the transport problems recently have no doubt made passengers wary of using Gatwick. There is no transport infrastructure in place to cope. I would hope that the new Prime Minister will come to an irreversible decision on this matter to enable Great Britain to remain Great. Business and tourism will be thinking twice before long as to whether Britain is a viable place to invest in.
Frank White

30 July 2016

Good. we HAVE to stop this monstrous expansion. Thousands of us have already had the summer spoiled by being driven inside with windows shut because of aircraft noise, never mind the promisewd all day every day noise
C. Tibbs

29 July 2016

This is how much the council tax has been wasted so far with this Heathrow issue - enough is enough, lets go with what the politicians decide. Freedom of information request : How much the Council has spent on fighting the Heathrow 3rd runway :- Since 2013, the Council has spent £3,135 on publicity materials. How much is the latest legal action costing? The costs incurred in seeking legal advice are shared amongst four local authorities; Wandsworth’s share of this is £5,400.
Simon

29 July 2016

I appreciate the councils' fight against Heathrow expansion on behalf of its residents.
Ah

29 July 2016