What do west London politicians say?
THE Cabinet may have approved Heathrow Airport ‘s plans for a third runway, but judging by the response of many west London MPs they are going to have a battle to get it accepted in Parliament.
MPs representing the boroughs which will take the biggest hit from noise and air pollution associated with the third runway – Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing – condemned the announcement made in the House of Commons by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on Tuesday.
MP for Hayes and Harlington and shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted shortly after the announcement: “So that my constituents are fully aware, I remain implacably opposed to expansion at Heathrow and, after listening to the transport minister Chris Grayling today, I am even more convinced that this would be a costly, environmental and social disaster that will never be built.”
Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq spoke in the House criticising what she called a government U-turn over the third runway.
She said: “It may be long overdue but this is the wrong decision. At a time when 9,000 Londoners die prematurely because of toxic air, this demonstrates the government’s... green dalliance is well and truly over.”
Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury, who was also present at the Commons, told BBC Radio 4: “London has five airports and some haven’t even reached capacity.
“Most of the growth that will occur will be from outbound leisure passengers so the argument that this is about economic benefit doesn’t stack up. Two million people in London and the south-east will suffer far worse noise and congestion on roads that are already congested.”
However, Southall MP Virendra Sharma who once opposed the expansion plans, responded favourably, saying: “The airport has worked closely with local residents in developing proposals that will deliver significant benefits to the local economy, and minimise the impact on Heathrow’s neighbours.”
In local politics, the Labour group in Hillingdon – where Heathrow lies – said it supported the Tory-run council’s unequivocal opposition to the expansion.
In 2013, Hillingdon Council conducted a local referendum with 66% of those who took part opposing Heathrow expansion. It plans to mount a legal challenge to the scheme if it is approved by Parliament.
Labour group leader in Hillingdon, Councillor Peter Curling, said: “It comes as no real surprise to me that this Government has decided to push ahead with Heathrow expansion despite figures within their own party strongly opposing it.
“The political parties across Hillingdon are united in our opposition to a third runway, and we will work together with residents however we can to voice and demonstrate this opposition.
“People’s homes and communities face being destroyed, not to mention increase noise, congestion and pollution in the area. We stand by our commitment to a better Heathrow, not a bigger one.”
The plans will go before the House of Commons later this month. Some commentators have called for MPs to have a free vote.