A LARGER Heathrow with four runways further to the west is the 'most viable' option on the table for airport expansion, Hounslow's deputy council leader said today.
Councillor Colin Ellar gave the proposal his cautious backing this morning as the initial findings of the council's borough-wide consultation on Heathrow's future were announced.
Expanding Heathrow by building four new runways to the west of the current airport and retaining the existing terminals is one of several options being considered by the Airports Commission, set up by the Government to examine the need for extra aviation capacity.
Asked for his views on the proposal, Mr Ellar said: "It's certainly the most viable proposal I've seen that doesn't damage west London in the same way other proposals would."
He added that there was a balance to be struck between the benefits of less noise, because the runways would be further from Hounslow, and the drawbacks of more flights.
A third runway at Heathrow was opposed by 72 per cent of residents responding to the council's consultation, based on analysis of a third of the estimated 9,000 questionnaires returned.
More than four fifths (83 per cent) backed a complete ban on night flights between 11pm and 7am, while 94 per cent called for better noise insulation for people living under the flight path.
Announcing the results, Mr Ellar said: "I think Howard Davies (chairman of the Airports Commission) has to listen to what our rseidents have to say, and there's a clear message.
"We do value the economic impact of Heathrow but we would like it to be a more responsible neighbour and take care of us."
He added that the overwhelming verdict on the question of noise insulation supported the council's demand for stronger legislation on airports' responsibilities.