BASH Heathrow public meeting

IMG_9528.JPGTues 18 July 2017 BASH held their second public meeting at St John’s Community Hall, Isleworth with speakers John Stewart (HACAN), Caroline Russell (London Assembly Member for the Green Party), Ruth Cadbury (local MP for Brentford & Isleworth) with an introduction by BASH co-ordinator David Waller.

John Stewart pointed out that if the 3rd runway does go ahead the likely location will be north of the existing runway between the M4 and A4 where planes would need to line up before landing at the airport. There will be an additional 700 planes a day, meaning a further 255,000 planes a year.

  • The 3rd runway was given the amber light in October 2016
  • There were 70,000 responses to the 2017 Heathrow consultation
  • The Transport Select Committee will give a recommendation based on the feedback
  • Parliament will then vote on whether to go ahead with it in the first half of 2018
  • Plans will be drawn up on where the exact runway will be
  • Then there will be another consultation
  • The runway is proposed to be built by 2025

Obstacles in the way of building the runway include:

  • the impact on air pollution
  • noise implications
  • climate change
  • the question of road and rail infrastructure to serve the new runway
  • people making a significant opposition to it

Caroline Russell highlighted the issue of air pollution and the impact on transport. She said that the most important thing is that people affected by traffic, air pollution and noise, have a voice in the decisions made. The UK signed up to the Paris Agreement to protect citizens of this country and the rest of the world from the harmful effects of climate change. Fossil fuels should stay in the ground and increasing air traffic uses up this fuel. 10,000 Eurostar seats are unused each year as trains need to pay additional taxes to planes, so there are many possibilities to use our existing transport options more efficiently. TfL are worried that Heathrow haven’t considered how the increase in traffic will work and the London Assembly will be scrutinising the Surface Access Plans. In addition to this the Mayor has a target for traffic reduction, amidst an increase in delivery vans and Über taxis. This all adds up to form a picture of how London will cope with then impact of additional traffic. On health, there has been an increase in the development of asthma, and other diseases including dementia, attributed to the harmful emissions of diesel vehicles and the effect that NO2 and particulate matter has on human health. The Government has a duty to reduce exposure to air pollution and this is a powerful case to fight against further expansion at the airport.

Ruth Cadbury said that businesses want a quick decision, and it’s possible that if there are delays in the process and it’s too difficult then they’ll go for the next option. Even if we were able to eliminate diesel vehicles from the road, all traffic causes particulate dust from the wear of tyres. In the event of a tragedy if a plane crashed it would be over a densely populated part of West London as opposed to the green fields around Gatwick. The human and infrastructure costs would be immense, so there are serious issues around safety. Economically, it was noted that the increase in jobs at Heathrow would be on the lower pay scale with zero hours, and that these people would also add to the increase in traffic to and from the airport. It would be better to improve the working terms and conditions for existing workers at Heathrow. Regarding pay-offs from the airport, she stated that there is no compensation for the dis-benefit of 300,000 people living in a much noisier environment. Ruth and Zac Goldsmith have joined forces as co-chairs of a cross-party group called Sustainable Heathrow and they will be working together in Parliament to encourage other members to support them in opposing the 3rd runway. There is still a lot to be done and Ruth asked people to come up with ideas to raise publicity for the cause.

Steve Curran (Leader of Hounslow Council) stated that the Council’s response is that they are against further expansion at Heathrow, however they still need to encourage businesses to locate to and remain in the area. He also said that as a result of the T5 project, Hillingdon Council received all the compensation, being the borough where the airport is located, but Hounslow received nothing, and is the borough most affected by flightpaths and surface traffic to and from the airport. They are in discussions with Heathrow about potential compensation should the runway expansion go ahead.

 

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