Coun­cil should chal­lenge flights

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

WHILE Hilling­don Coun­cil jus­tify the ex­pen­di­ture of £80,000 on le­gal fees to fight Heathrow ex­pan­sion (Evening Stan­dard, De­cem­ber 15) the coun­cil tells me it has nei­ther the re­sources or in fact, the will, to chal­lenge the Northolt Jet Com­pany.

They choose to ig­nore the nearly 10,000 noisy, pol­lut­ing low-fly­ing jets al­ready im­posed on res­i­dents (9,910 com­mer­cial jets in 2015 – MOD sta­tis­tics).

This Coun­cil’s fail­ure to rep­re­sent res­i­dents is, I be­lieve, to­tal .

It would be hard to find an in­ci­dence of lo­cal gov­ern­ment fail­ure of duty on this scale.

Whilst the ma­jor­ity of flight move­ments at Northolt are com­mer­cial the coun­cil choses to ig­nore the whole busi­ness on the grounds that it can­not chal­lenge the aero­drome’s mil­i­tary ju­ris­dic­tion.

In fact the coun­cil has many pow­ers to do so.

When the num­ber of jets was in­creased to 12,000 in 2012 the coun­cil failed to in­sist on con­sul­ta­tion, they did not re­quest an ap­pli­ca­tion for plan­ning per­mis­sion or cer­tifi­cate of law­ful­ness.

At a time when the ef­fects of pol­lu­tion are well doc­u­mented (WHO es­ti­mate that one in eight peo­ple will die pre­ma­turely from pol­lu­tion) this coun­cil did not carry out an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment.

The coun­cil con­tin­ues to ig­nore ma­jor safety is­sues stat­ing it is sat­is­fied with the ex­ist­ing vague di­a­logue be­tween the MOD and the CAA.

I be­lieve that in­creases in air move­ments are im­mi­nent. Northolt Aero­drome has a ca­pac­ity of 50,000 flight move­ments ac­com­mo­dat­ing 3.3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers (see the MOD’s re­port en­ti­tled Project Ark in the pub­lic do­main), a ca­pac­ity which the MOD will be keen to achieve.

This coun­cil has con­firmed to me that it will not be chal­leng­ing fur­ther com­mer­cial flight move­ment in­creases.

This coun­cil should ful­fil its obli­ga­tions un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act by tak­ing up a com­mu­nity lead­er­ship role.

The leader and cabi­net should com­mit to the only out­come in the in­ter­ests of res­i­dents’ health and liv­ing con­di­tions – the clo­sure of the VIP com­mer­cial jet busi­ness.

The law and gov­ern­ment guide­lines on the use of pub­lic as­sets states that small num­bers of cit­i­zens should not carry the bur­den for top­ping up min­is­te­rial in­come.

This coun­cil should chal­lenge mil­i­tary ju­ris­dic­tion legally and in­sist on full and com­plete in­for­ma­tion from the MOD.

The res­i­dents of this bor­ough could then make in­formed de­ci­sions to pre­vent the de­vel­op­ment of con­di­tions sim­i­lar to those near Lon­don City Air­port.

ANNA WIL­LIAMS via email

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