HUNDREDS of protestors took to the streets on Sunday to send a message of
defiance to airport developers.
More than 400 people marched over a mile through Heathrow villages Harlington, Sipson and Harmondsworth to protest against plans for a third runway at the airport.
Their route approximately followed the path a third runway would take as outlined in airport operator BAA’s interim masterplan. Where there are now homes, make way for the new runway.
Families with babies as young as five months old were joined by pensioners who had lived in the area for 60 years, walking to try to save their community. The torchlight protest was organised by the No Third Runway Action Group (NoTRAG) as a final statement of objection before the closure of public consultation on the masterplan on Monday.
NoTRAG chairwoman Geraldine Nicholson said: “This is an excellent turnout, especially as it’s a Sunday and a bit chilly and it was supposed to rain.
“It’s encouraging because it means our meetings are working, and people are realising it’s not just the villages on their own who are under threat.”
Areas north of the villages, including West Drayton, will suffer from more pollution and noise if a third runway is built.
Glowsticks were handed out to walkers, and a bit of family fun was introduced with many of the younger walkers dressed in spooky Halloween costumes.
However, the message remained a serious one, for if a third runway is built many of the children could lose their homes and school, as Heathrow Primary school would be demolished.
Joanna Barton, 12, of Hayes, completed the walk on crutches, having broken her toe when she tripped on a post.
She said: “If I had to live right next to an airport I would run away.”
Joanna said she was taking part because she was worried about the effects the pollution from a third runway could have.
The walk began at Sipson Meadow, in Harlington, and ended in High Street, Harmondsworth, where guest speakers addressed the crowd.
Speeches were given by Father Phil Hughes, parish priest at St Mary’s, Harmondsworth; Baroness Sarah Ludford, Lib Dem MEP for London; Councillor Richard Barnes (Con), GLA member for Hillingdon; and Heathrow villages councillor, Lee Griffin (Lab).
BAA will only be able to build a third runway if it meets strict EU air pollution levels by 2010, and planning permission is given.
A BAA spokesman said: “We welcome all feedback and for this reason we have consulted, and will continue to consult widely, on all issues effecting our local residents.
“Now the consultation period has closed we will begin work on the updated interim masterplan, to be published in 2006.”