Coalition keeps up the fight


Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by QASIM PERACHA qasim.peracha@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @qasim­per­acha


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

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