Coalition keeps up the fight
‘CONCERNS HAVE NOT BEEN ADDRESSED’
CABINET APPROVES THIRD RUNWAY PLAN BUT CAMPAIGNERS HIT OUT AT ‘FLAWED’ PROJECT
A COALITION of anti-Heathrow expansion councils have accused the government of only incorporating three out of 25 select committee recommendations in its Heathrow plan.
Hillingdon Council, alongside Wandsworth, Richmond and Windsor and Maidenhead have been opposed to the third runway being added to Heathrow Airport and have in the past launched legal challenges against expansion.
Following the publication of the National Policy Statement on Airports, the councils have accused the government of not including recommendations made by the Transport Select Committee (TSC).
The coalition of councils say that of the 25 recommendations the government omitted 22 in its final report published on Tuesday June 5.
After the report was published, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the Commons 24 of the 25 recommendations had been “acted upon” and that expansion at Heathrow had been agreed by the cabinet.
The coalition is now calling on Mr Grayling to return to parliament and explain to MPs why, after months of scrutiny by the select committee, its recommendations were not included in the final National Policy Statement (NPS).
According to the councils, recommendations asking for a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to noise and for planning approval to be granted only if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met are missing from the final statement.
A vote is due to be held in the coming days, where MPs will be given a final decision on expansion.
Transport Select Committee recommendations allegedly omitted by the government include:
More detail on the evidence on environmental, health and community impacts on all three short-listed schemes
Updated population estimates to reflect the increased number of air traffic movements from a northwest runway scheme
A more stringent interpretation of air quality compliance including ‘headroom’ to manage future increases in pollution
Planning approval to be granted only if the target for no more airportrelated traffic can be met
A clear definition of how the requirement for 15% of new slots will be secured for domestic connections
Updated noise modelling to reflect a range of flightpath scenarios
A definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to noise
A condition that planning consent would only be granted if the Secretary of State was satisfied that the scheme would avoid ‘significant adverse impacts on health and qual- ity of life from air quality’.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot , leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “It is a disgrace that the government has failed to address the TSC’s significant concerns regarding exposure to noise and pollution in its final NPS report, showing little regard or protection for those people whose lives will be affected by increased noise and air pollution from a third runway at Heathrow.
“There is not even any attempt to consider a range of different flight path options so that people could have some idea if they will be affected by Heathrow expansion, and for how long each day they will be subjected to aircraft noise.
“This once again demonstrates what a flawed and ill thought through project this is.”
However, the coalition has been attacked by pro-expansion group Back Heathrow, which said the councils were “disingenuous” and “at it again”.
Parmjit Dhanda, Back Heathrow executive director and former government minister under Gordon Brown, said: “The ink is barely dry on ballot papers and these four local councils are at it again.
“They have already wasted over a million pounds of taxpayers money over the last decade on legal challenges, when they could have spent it on local services.
“They are now shaping up to waste even more money on legal challenges if don’t get their own way when MPs vote on expansion in the coming days. We have now seen council leaders in Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Maidenhead & Windsor putting out press releases that appear to be part of a ‘softening up exercise’ to spend even more of your money opposing a democratic decision, if Parliament backs a new runway.”
The group says it has the support of more than 100,000 residents who believe the airport’s expansion will bring jobs and prosperity to west London and the Thames Valley.
Mr Dhanda added: “The councils have been disingenuous on this. The government says it has accepted 24 out of 25 recommendations, but many of these recommendations will be incorporated in to the planning stage of the process and that includes important measures on air quality and noise.
“The councils haven’t said that and are only looking to delay and confuse, which will ultimately delay creation of 77,000 jobs for local people.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The committee was clear when they published their report that they accepted the need for airport expansion in the south east and that the Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme is the best option for delivering it. We have welcomed and have acted on 24 of their 25 recommendations.
“Where appropriate we have done this through amendments to the National Policy Statement.
“In other cases we have confirmed that these are issues best addressed later in the planning process, once detailed proposals are developed, or through the national Aviation Strategy, which we are taking forward this year.”
The cabinet has given the go-ahead for a new third runway at Heathrow Airport