Zac is back – and ready to fight airport ex­pan­sion

For­mer MP will help four coun­cils chal­lenge Heathrow

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­

THE for­mer Con­ser­va­tive MP Zac Gold­smith has been given a piv­otal role in help­ing four coun­cils who are bat­tling the pro­posed Heathrow Airport ex­pan­sion in the courts.

Mr Gold­smith, who re­cently lost his Rich­mond Park con­stituency, has been given a new role as a spokesman and or­gan­iser for the four-coun­cil coali­tion.

Rich­mond Coun­cil an­nounced the high-pro­file ap­point­ment on Wed­nes­day last week and Mr Gold­smith said he is “hon­oured” to sup­port the cam­paign.

The group of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing Hilling­don Coun­cil , launched their le­gal chal­lenge against the ex­pan­sion of Heathrow Airport in De­cem­ber last year.

Backed by en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign group Green­peace and a Har­ling­ton res­i­dent, the coun­cils have made a le­gal sub­mis­sions to the High Court call­ing for the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ex­pand Heathrow to be over­turned.

Mr Gold­smith, who was the Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date in the 2016 Lon­don may­oral elec­tion, said: “The ar­gu­ments against Heathrow ex­pan­sion are over­whelm­ing, but alone they aren’t go­ing to win this cam­paign. That’s why the le­gal ac­tion launched by the four heroic coun­cils is so cru­cial.

“I am hon­oured to have been asked to sup­port their cam­paign, and will do all I can to en­sure we win. I am con­fi­dent we will.”

The au­thor­i­ties are seek­ing a ju­di­cial re­view and hope the third run­way ex­pan­sion will be aban­doned be­cause of “un­law­ful air qual­ity im­pacts, the con­sul­ta­tion was fund-amen­tally flawed”, and be­cause of the gov­ern­ment’s prom­ise not to build a third run­way.

In Oc­to­ber, min­is­ters backed the ex­pan­sion of Heathrow Airport to in­clude a third run­way which sparked a warn­ing from the group of coun­cils that they would take le­gal ac­tion if the de­ci­sion was not re­versed.

Heathrow Airport has said it is con­fi­dent the chal­lenge will not stop the ex­pan­sion.

The leader of Rich­mond Coun­cil, Lord Ni­cholas True, said: “It is ab­so­lutely right that we should com­mit our re­sources to fight­ing the ex­pan­sion of Heathrow and it is our duty to the res­i­dents of this bor­ough who voted no to a third run­way.

“We have al­ways been op­posed to a third run­way at Heathrow.

“We say no and we have al­ways been united against this threat.

“We have launched le­gal ac­tion on a de­ci­sion that is so flawed. This is the be­gin­ning of the fight.

“Ev­ery­one knows Heathrow fears Zac Gold­smith most of all.

“All of us must make our voices heard. I wel­come the role of Zac Gold­smith – a great cam­paigner for green causes.”

Lord True said that Mr Gold­smith was ap­proached by Hilling­don Coun­cil, sup­ported by the other au­thor­i­ties in the group.

But his ap­point­ment has been dis­missed by cam­paign group Back Heathrow, who crit­i­cised the coun­cils for us­ing tax pay­ers money to op­pose the third run­way.

A Back Heathrow spokesman said: “There is huge sup­port for Heathrow ex­pan­sion in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties around the airport.

“Zac Gold­smith has al­ready rolled the dice and dis­cov­ered that he does not even have a ma­jor­ity to op­pose ex­pan­sion in his own for­mer con­stituency.

“He now joins four coun­cils in­tent on wast­ing tax­pay­ers’ cash on le­gal chal­lenges in­stead of sup­port­ing the many res­i­dents that back the jobs and pros­per­ity that Heathrow ex­pan­sion will bring.”

Back re­leased Heathrow fig­ures in De­cem­ber which re­vealed that Hilling­don Coun­cil had spent £154,219 on cam­paign­ing against the airport’s ex­pan­sion be­tween Jan­uary 2015 and Au­gust 2016.

This in­cluded £50,000 to fund anti-ex­pan­sion group HACAN (Heathrow As­so­ci­a­tion for the Con­trol of Air­craft Noise) and £45,800 for Stop Heathrow Ex­pan­sion.

How­ever, Back Heathrow re­fused to re­veal how much money they re­ceived from Heathrow Airport when asked by getwest­lon­don.

RUN­WAY: A CGI im­age of an ex­panded Heathrow

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