New Heathrow consultation tries to 'force parliament's hand'

Published: Friday 15th December 17

Councils say a decision by Heathrow bosses to press ahead with consulting on detailed expansion proposals at a time when there is growing evidence that the extra runway is unbuildable is a desperate attempt to force Parliament’s hand.

The airport’s proposals which will be published for consultation on January 17 would eventually be included in its formal planning application for a third runway.

The most recent evidence published by the Government as part of its revised consultation on a draft national policy statement (NPS) demonstrates that a third runway could not be built at the airport without causing unacceptable air and noise pollution.

The NPS is the broad planning framework. Only when the Government has considered responses to its draft policy statement can it consider formalising policy support for expansion. At that point it would be for Parliament to decide if the policy should be approved.

The evidence compiled for the draft NPS fails to show how an expanded airport could meet air quality limits in an area where pollution levels are deteriorating. This makes a third Heathrow runway unbuildable while expansion at Gatwick could go ahead without this risk.

The leader of Wandsworth Council, Cllr Ravi Govindia, said: “By rushing ahead with consultation on detailed operational arrangements for their runway Heathrow are trying to make their scheme look like the only game in town.

“Yet the evidence published by the Government in support of its draft NPS shows that if there is a need for more capacity in the South East it can be built more quickly at Gatwick.

“It shows that expansion at Gatwick would be achieved at a lower cost and within lawful pollution limits with fewer people affected by noise. It would also offer more domestic routes than Heathrow.

”It might suit Heathrow to make a decision in their favour look like a fait accompli but it will be Parliament that decides.”

The councils are also concerned that the public will be confused by the timing of the new consultation.

The Government is currently inviting responses from the public to its draft NPS. This continues until 19 December.

Cllr Govindia added: “While the Government cannot order the airport to delay its consultation there is a real risk that the public will be confused by the timing. By rushing ahead now the airport must be hoping to present the third runway as a done deal to both the Government and Parliament.

“Given the scale of the evidence now building against the Heathrow option this looks like an increasingly forlorn tactic. “

Cllr Govindia was speaking on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils.

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Recent comments

No one has talked about the security issue of planes flying over London. It cannot be difficult for a terrorist attack to bring a plane down while flying over London causing a major disaster
Cecilia scott

23 December 2017

Do we really need more aircraft landing on UK soil. They fly overhead in Battersea - non stop all day - sometimes from 4.30 am. The pollution they are creating must be more than that created by 'the motorist'.
Liz D

19 December 2017

I thoroughly agree with Cllr Govindia's comments in the article. The rush to press ahead with the Heathrow expansion consultation is inappropriate and will most likely arouse confusion with the public. I am against the Heathrow expansion as it will blight the lives of the many people living nearby, giving rise to unacceptable increase in air and noise pollution. Gatwick has more space, fewer people living nearby and is the obvious choice.
Rosemary Anne Winton

17 December 2017

Heathrow has to be a "No go". However, Gatwick has to be a "Goer". It needs a second runway and it has all the space to do it. It is time that the truth about Heathrow, and the problems it would cause, be publisher!
David Hews

15 December 2017