Heathrow is dealt a blow in airport expansion battle
Gatwick distributes leaflets warning residents of increased noise
GATWICK Airport is to distribute hundreds of thousands of leaflets in west London warning of the noise impact that building a third runway at rival Heathrow would have.
Both airports are vying to be chosen by the next government for expansion, to increase flight capacity in south east England.
The leaflets hit doormats from Monday, with Uxbridge and South Ruislip being targeted more aggressively than any other west London constituency, receiving 86,000 leaflets.
The leaflets will claim that 683,000 people and 362 schools would be impacted by noise if a third runway were to be built at Heathrow, while only 36,000 people and 15 schools would be affected were Gatwick to expand.
Once again, the move has provoked a slanging match between the two airports, with both sides claiming the other has cherry-picked data. A NEW support group is being launched to help people with sight loss in Uxbridge.
The group, organised by The Macular Society, will meet for the first time on Friday, April 17.
It aims to offer, encouragement, friendship and information to people who are affected by macular degeneration.
Tom McInulty, The Macular Society’s regional support and development manager, said: “This new group is here for anybody affected by macular degeneration. We want to encourage people to come along. Friends and family are also very welcome.”
The group will invite guest speakers on a variety of subjects, including macular conditions and their impact on the daily lives of those affected.
The first meeting will take place on Friday from 1.30pm to 3.30pm at Christ Church, Redford Way, Uxbridge.
For more information, call The Macular Society’s helpline on 0300 3030 111 or email help@ macularsociety.org.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said the information related to the proposed third runway option for expanding Heathrow, rather than the so-called Heathrow Hub option.
He said: “We felt it was quite important that we shone a light on this issue, in the west of London particularly and the area surrounding Heathrow, because we are not sure that this is fully understood by the residents, particularly those who would be newly impacted by noise.”
Gatwick claims the figures in its leaflets come from information given by both airports to the Airports Commission, which has been tasked with choosing which airport should expand.
The numbers, it says, relate to those who would experience an average noise level by 2050 of at least 55 decibels, a threshold recognised by the European Commission. Heathrow points out that it has offered to insulate homes within this contour.
Heathrow has pointed out that the Airports Commission has said that were Heathrow to implement its plans for a third runway, which also involves various technological mitigations, fewer people would be affected by noise than are currently.
But, the commission has said that building an extra runway at Gatwick would increase the number of residents impacted by noise, compared to current levels.
But Gatwick says the commission’s phrasing did not make clear that hundreds of thousands living near to Heathrow would no longer be impacted by noise in the future, even without any expansion, because of technological improvements and altered flight paths.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Our plans deliver vast economic and social benefits, while reducing Heathrow’s negative impacts, and have been developed by listening to our communities.
“As a result, over 300,000 people could be taken out of the airport’s noise footprint with expansion.
“In addition, we are proposing a £700 million schools and homes noise insulation scheme, which goes above and beyond government policy.”
Gatwick would not reveal how much it plans to spend printing and delivering the 400,000 leaflets, in what could be its final PR offensive ahead of the General Election on May 7.