Delay on third runway decision ‘disappointing’
Council leader says it is unfair for residents to live with uncertainty for another six months
HILLINGDON Council leader Ray Puddifoot has said he is ‘deeply disappointed’ at the government’s announcement to delay the decision over a third runway at Heathrow for six months.
Referring to David Cameron’s now infamous ‘ no ifs, no buts’ promise ahead of the 2010 general election, he said: “The government should rule out Heathrow expansion now, not in six months’ time. No ifs, no buts.
“It has been proven yet again that it cannot be accommodated without resulting in unacceptable levels of noise, air pollution and destroying local communities.
“It’s deeply disappointing that our residents have to live with more uncertainly and distress while this futile debate rumbles on.”
Residents of Harmondsworth were ‘not surprised’ at the announcement last Thursday, having predicted a delay.
Christine Taylor, a Stop Heathrow Expansion committee member who faces losing her home, said: “The fact that Gatwick has not been ruled out indicates that the government knows Heathrow cannot meet pollution targets.
“We are confident that a third runway will never be built, but it is devastating for many residents that we have more months of delay and blight.”
Neil Keveren, from Harmondsworth, called on the Prime Minister to honour his original pledge and save Heathrow villages from the bulldozers.
But Matt Gorman, environment and sustainability director for Heathrow Airport Ltd, said he is ‘fully confident’ the airport will meet the environmental test the government has set.
He added that Heathrow had made a ‘generous’ offer to villagers who stand to lose their homes.
Mr Gorman told the Gazette: “Like those residents, we want a decision and we want certainty as soon as possible.
“For those residents where we might need to buy homes, we put forward a generous compensation offer for buying homes 25 per cent above market value.
“We have offered one-to-one surgery sessions to understand more about where we are and our plans for compensation in future but that doesn’t substitute for a clear government decisio decision, so I think the challenge really is for the government to make that decision as soon as possible.”
He added that H Heathrow has put forward a plan to reduce the number of people affected by aircra aircraft noise while also meeting a air quality targets.
HEATHROW’S environment and sustainability director argued this week that the airport is on course to meet pollution targets that have stalled government approval for a third runway.
Matt Gorman said: “The area within 2km of Heathrow, which includes Harmondsworth, already meets European pollution limits that we need to.
“You have to move 2km away from the airport to the M4 motorway to find it doesn’t meet those limits. 85% of the pollution there and more is not related to the airport.”
But Christine Taylor, a leading campaigner for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said Mr Gorman’s notion that 85% of the traffic on local roads is nothing to do with the airport was “a nonsense”.
She said: “We were promised that these pollution limits would be reached in 2015, because when we fought last time, the runway was due to be operational in 2015.
“Even Heathrow talks about the amount of freight they ship in and out of the airport. You only have to look at Colnbrook to see the number of heavy goods vehicles we have on our roads.”
Speaking about Mr Gorman’s assurances that villagers would receive “generous” compensation, Ms Taylor said: “They have not put anything into writing.”
“There’s no document for compensation - they don’t say who will get it - where is this generous compensation scheme?
“Let’s get Matt Gorman to find me one person in Harmondsworth who thinks that the compensation is generous.”
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