Cllr Ruth Cadbury Host Heathrow Public Meeting

HACAN says expansion not necessary for economic prosperity


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Over a hundred people packed Brentford Methodist Church last Wednesday to consider the proposals for extra airport capacity in the South East. The meeting was organised by Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Ruth Cadbury, in advance of the Davies Commission’s report

Ruth Cadbury said: “Heathrow is a massive issue for this constituency – it’s the major driver for our economy and source of jobs, but also causes noise, air pollution and traffic congestion.  I have been campaigning for years to protect the people of this constituency from increased noise and pollution. With the Airports Commission now considering the responses to the short-list of three proposals – I organised this meeting so that the proposers could make their case, and HACAN, Heathrow’s noise action group, could also have their say.” 

Nigel Milton from Heathrow airport described their proposal of an additional runway close to the northern runway but set further west than the current ones and further south than the last proposal.  Whilst it would no longer involve the demolition of the barn at Harmondsworth, it would involve tunnelling the M25.  Flights would increase from the current 480,000 cap to up to 740,000 per year.  The proposal would mean that a new set of people would be impacted by aircraft noise. Heathrow are also offering an insulation scheme that is more generous than the current scheme, additional rail lines and more job opportunities for unemployed young people in the area.  

Kevin Harman, from Heathrow Hub Ltd presented  the alternative Heathrow expansion proposal which plans to double the length of the current north runway then divide it in two to create a third runway. He said there would be no new communities within the noise footprint, and that the Heathrow Hub would cost significantly less than Heathrow Airport’s plan.

Charles Kirwan-Taylor explained that a second runway at Gatwick would be half the price of the Heathrow options and would need no public subsidy and the construction would be simpler and deliverable.   Whereas 300,000 more people would live in a noisy area (within the 55 LDen noise contour) if Gatwick were to expand, the numbers of residents affected would increase from the current 9,500 to 37,000 – 5% of those affected here.   Gatwick is also committed to provide full insulation to homes up to 15km from the airport, and to pay the Council Tax for those most affected whilst they still live in their homes.

Mr Kirwan-Taylor contested the “hub airport” notion – international aviation growth will be point-to-point travel so new capacity needs to serve London as a destination.  Interlining passengers don’t benefit the UK economy and anyway the future generations of planes will be super-long distance and the middle-east will be the hub airports of the future. As planes get quieter (if, indeed they do) then not expanding at Heathrow is the opportunity to significantly improve the noise climate around here. Until now, in the debate around expansion, the only options have been expand Heathrow or do nothing.  Now that Gatwick is a separate company, there are two real options, Heathrow or Gatwick.

With the prospect of half a million more planes per annum John Stewart of HACAN, said there is no way Heathrow could be quieter. He asked if the justification for disrupting the lives of around 300,000 more people was adequate.  Let’s not confuse the economic arguments for runway expansion with the commercial needs of Heathrow plc, and he seriously questions whether the third runway is essential for the economic prosperity of London and the South East.  There is no evidence to suggest that it is.

After the proposals had been made there were comments and questions from the floor – including Stop Heathrow Campaign, Friends of the Earth and local residents associations.

Ruth Cadbury has long campaigned for a better not bigger Heathrow. Her submission to the Davies Commission continued her fight to oppose any expansion at Heathrow.

March 20, 2015

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