Yesterday the Davies Commission Report was finally published and – not unexpectedly – recommneded a third runway (the North/West option) at Heathrow. I say not unexpected as the commission was asked to respond to the following question “what should Britain do to maintain its position as Europe’s most important aviation hub?” So Davies has done exactly that – with little to no consideration for environmental factors and the effects on residents living locally to the airport (a great swathe across London, Berkshire, Surrey and Middlesex). You may have heard Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye in the media yesterday making all sorts of promises re noise pollution, night flights and air quality. Heathrow does not currently meet air quality standards laid down by the EU – and we all know how much aircraft activity has increased over our area in recent times, so it is unclear how Heathrow can possibly hope to fulfil its ‘promises.’
It is also unclear how the much touted ‘benefits for the UK’ which include 70,000 (according to Davies) to 180,000 (Back Heathrow) new jobs will pan out. Heathrow is in a prosperous area – so much so that there were only 250 on the jobseekers register in Runnymede (October 2014). So, where exactly will the labour force to fill these new positions come from? If workers are to come from outside local boroughs, where will they live, what impact will have that on local infrastructure, roads etc? Interesting to note today that the PCS Union have come out against expansion, saying that they expect jobs to be low-paid and out-sourced and that jobs that are currently filled by three employees will be filled by two for the future. They are not alone in stating that any benefits to the UK will be to large companies doing business abroad. Not forgetting of course the massive increase in profit for the foreign-owned company that runs Heathrow.
Massive alterations to the M25 will be required – and these will be funded by the taxpayer. Airport and associated traffic already contribute to the air pollution in this area, Davies notes all sorts of unfulfillable promises by Heathrow to address this issue.
On to the increase in flights and aircraft activity: movements will grow from 480,000 per year to 740,000. New routes will, inevitably be introduced. We have all experienced an increase in flights and frequency during the trials last year – some would argue that things in this area have not returned to normal since. We have also seen how NATS introduce new flight paths – without consulation or due process, citing ‘safety’ to make it is a necessity.*
Will it end here? Unlikely, there is already talk of Terminal 6 and a fourth runway at Heathrow. It would seem our anti-social neighbour is out of control.
What can you do? The battle ground now moves to Parliament: let your MP, Patrick McLoughlin (SoS for Transport) know your opinions; also remind David Cameron of his ‘no ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway’ promise. Ensure your councillors and borough council are working hard to reflect your views. It doesn’t do any harm to keep complaining to Heathrow about noise pollution and individual incidents of low-flying, noisy, off-track aircraft – and. of course aircraft flying over us after 2300 (noticed more of them recently)? You will find all the contacts you need on the relevant page on this site.
Finally, just want to make this plain – nobody here is talking about ‘closing Heathrow down,’ assertions that Heathrow needs expansion to survive are exactly that – based on non-existent evidence. We all support an active and vibrant Heathrow, not an EXPANDED Heathrow.
* NATS admitted only recently that they had changed the routing of Compton on ‘easterlies’ in June 2014 which results in flights being pushed further north over Englefield Green (for some unstated reason).