Tough Heathrow questions
Politicians quiz Sir Howard Davies on expansion decision
AIRPORTS Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies was told the case for Heathrow Airport has not been proven, as he faced a grilling from London Assembly members last week.
Sir Howard fielded questions on his controversial report which concluded that a third runway should be built at Heathrow, at a Q&A session on Tuesday September 8.
The questions covered every hot issue surrounding the expansion debate, including the recommendation for night flights, noise and air pollution, congestion and the economy.
Val Shawcross, Labour AM for Lambeth and Southwark said: “It is clear that the case for the expansion of Heathrow has not yet been proven and there remain serious questions about the environmental, noise and public transport impact.
“Whilst not insurmountable, Government would have to insist on far stronger measures to tackle air pollution and to manage the dramatic impact expansion would have on the transport network. The Government cannot just nod Heathrow expansion through without proper scrutiny.
“There’s a long list of concerns which need to be addressed before I could see Heathrow’s expansion going ahead.” Her motion, that the case for Heathrow was not proven, was unanimously agreed by 13 votes to none, but 11 Labour AMs abstained.
Hillingdon Council leader, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, said afterwards: “Unless you are living in a teapot and viewing life through the spout then it is obvious that expanding Heathrow is not a viable option.”
Speaking after the vote, GLA Conservative, Andrew Boff, said: “By fudging their position on expansion, Labour have sacrificed their principles by putting the interests of their Mayoral candidates above Londoners.
“The truth is Tessa Jowell is for Heathrow expansion, Sadiq Khan is against, and that leaves our Labour colleagues on the London Assembly in a pickle. Today they chose to worry about political power rather than the interests of those they serve. We’ll carry on opposing a third runway at Heathrow and fighting for the interests of Londoners.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson praised Tory Assembly Members as “demonstrated that they are representing Londoners” by opposing any extension of Heathrow, which he said would be an environmental disaster. The Mayor, who is also the Uxbridge & South Ruislip MP added: “This U-turn from London Labour, who campaigned against expansion at election time, shows why they cannot be trusted to run our city.”
When questioned on his suggestion of a ban on night flights in return for a third runway, Sir Howard said: “What local people were saying to us suggested that the flight between 4.30am and 6.30am were disproportionality troublesome to communities.
“These were the flights people were most concerned about. We believed that we should look carefully at what should be done about it.
“After analysing the places that they came from, we believed they could leave later. It would affect some passengers, but largely transfer passengers. But overall we believe the impact would be manageable by the airport and airlines.”
James Lee, of
the Aviation Environment Federation ( AEF) said: “Heathrow should be able to meet that ban quite easily, so the fact that they’re resisting is a particular issue for those next to the airport.”
John Stewart, chairman of HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), added: “It is clear from Howard Davies’ remarks that the case for a third runway is far from clear-cut.”
n VARIED VIEWS: Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission (left) with Dee Scott, headteacher of Beavers Community Primary School; Councillor Ruth Cadbury and deputy Hounslow Council leader Amrit Mann