Government needs to come clean on the real impact of Heathrow expansion

Published: Friday 31st March 17

The Leaders of four London and Thames Valley councils have today (March 31) accused the government of failing to come clean on the real impact of Heathrow expansion.

In written evidence to the Transport Select Committee, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, said the Government’s draft National Policy Statement (NPS) ignores all the fundamental concerns about expanding Heathrow.

In the evidence the councils highlight a series of concerns including:

  • Increase in noise: Increase in flights and new flight paths over quiet parts of the South East, with noise respite being halved.
  • Road access: NPS doesn’t include a credible plan for how the Government will ensure there isn’t an increase in road journeys. Or indeed the cost of the infrastructure required to support the airport (and who would pay for it).
  • Increased levels of pollution: Heathrow already contributes to unlawful pollution levels which would increase with expansion. The Government has not yet produced lawful air quality plans.
  • More night flights: Night flights would continue and the Government's proposed 6.5 hour ban doesn't cover the whole night.
  • Increased detrimental health impacts: Expanding Heathrow would damage thousands of people’s health - particularly children and those with existing conditions. Noise annoyance is directly related to lost healthy years and premature deaths.  Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to noise around Heathrow and this contrasts with a much lower number around Gatwick.
  • Increased traffic levels: Expansion would generate extra road passenger journeys a year and double the airport’s existing freight operation. The NPS only ‘strives’ to meet its public pledge around road journeys.
  • Communities will be destroyed: Around 1,000 homes will be destroyed as Heathrow expands. There is also no planned infrastructure or community facilities to support an expanded airport.

Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “The Government’s plans for Heathrow will never pass a simple legal test on air quality. The airport already churns out unlawful levels of air pollution, offers woefully inadequate public transport connectivity and has Europe’s worst noise footprint - and that’s with just two runways. Expansion will make all these issues worse.

"It’s wrong on every level, legally undeliverable and will end in failure after years of wasted effort. Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting so ministers should face up to this truth now and abandon their plans for a third runway.”

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:“Big Heathrow will be more expensive, more polluting, more dangerous in security terms, will take longer to build, require more public money, destroy more homes, put more power in the pockets of state monopolists and be against all the principles of competition in which we should believe. Even in the sleek and selfish world of Heathrow’s fat-wad lobbyists eight such giant wrongs don’t make a right.

“The Government need to stop spin masquerading as consultation and come clean on the real impact of expansion on Londoners. The truth is that it isn’t possible to expand Heathrow without severely damaging the lives of millions of people. The Government should quit now and stop wasting money on this charade.”

Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "The Government repeatedly chooses to ignore the facts that are plain for the rest of us to see - that an expanded Heathrow would break the law on air quality and pollution and have a disastrous impact on people's health and wellbeing. It is gravely mistaken if it thinks we're going to stand by and let that happen.

"The current consultation doesn't reveal the full facts and is frankly a sham, designed to mislead residents into thinking they have a say when they in fact they have anything but. It's time the Government stops wasting time and taxpayers money and turns its attention to finding a workable alternative to Heathrow."

Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, said: “When I visited the consultation event in Maidenhead earlier this month I asked staff there directly why key information such as night flights, air pollution and flight paths over residents’ homes were not included and no one could give me straight answer.

“We want people to be given the facts and not the spin and throughout this supposed consultation we are yet to see full details of how a third runway at Heathrow would impact residents’ lives, homes and health.”

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Recent comments

Keep up the good work opposing Heathrow expansion. The government and the Heathrow people are being quite dishonest about what the impact would be. It is ridiculous to pretent that night only lasts for 6.5 hours and what about week-ends and holidays, when many people want to have a lie in. Then, there is the issue of polution, which the government is trying to ignore.
James R

8 April 2017

Why does Wandsworth council still persist in wasting our money? can they advise why they are being such nimby's? over Heathrow Especially when all that money has been invested in Crossrail to make Heathrow a very attractive proposition to bring more investment in London as with the forthcoming uncertainty of where we stand after Brexit we need all the trade and investment in London. Gatwick airport has no infrastructure at all and is more of a liability especially as there is no viable alternative to Southern Rail when they go on strike. Gatwick is isolated. Wandsworth should be channelling this money on other priorities such as investment it in our Medical services in Wandsworth, or other worthy services needing help.
Frank White

8 April 2017

It's regettable that a 6.5 hour night time ban is considered acceptable. When did such a lenient rule come into effect? Most people need more than 6.5 hours sleep, especially children and teenagers. I wonder why a total closure of Heathrow and a massive expansion of Gatwick was never proposed? Look at a map of the Gatwick area and you will see very few built up areas immediately east and west of the airport i.e. under the typical flighpaths.

7 April 2017

Am woken up several morning a week at 4.30 am - thought 6 am was when they could start. 6.5 hours respite - which flights does that apply to - still hear flights going over after midnight - and then starting at 4.30 am. Don't laugh - these 4.30 am flights then wake the birds up - and we have to put up with the hellish noise they make - at 4.30 am - .
Liz D

7 April 2017

It has nt been thought through, take the Hammersmith flyover, Boris had to close it now it needs major money. The beginning of the M4 needs to be widened with all the extra trafficking
Peter Alexandery

7 April 2017

More Wandsworth propaganda from Govindia and his clowns. I'd love to know who's lining their pockets.
Ted Gravenor

6 April 2017