FEARS are growing that RAF Northolt is being considered as an alternative to a third runway at Heathrow – despite the idea being dismissed by two local MPs and the Mayor of London.
People living in South Ruislip are concerned commercial flights could one day be swooping down over West End Road before touching down at London’s biggest air force base.
A report at the weekend suggested this was one option being discussed by ministers as they seek to find more airport capacity in the south east, at Chancellor George Osborne’s behest.
Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell said he considered the threat to Ruislip was now greater than that endured by the Heathrow villages in his constituency.
But London mayor Boris Johnson – due to tour Ruislip today (Wednesday) on his election battle bus – rubbished any suggestion of using RAF Northolt for commercial flights.
“The idea that Northolt could be a viable alternative to a third runway is ridiculous,” he said.
“The runway is too short, its capacity too small and the congestion it would cause on the surrounding roads would be unbearable.
“Any notion that Northolt be developed is a red herring. What we have to do is solve the problem of a new hub airport.”
The suggestion was that a high speed rail link could be built between the two airports, effectively making Northolt a satellite of Heathrow.
Sid Jackson, a transport spokesman for South Ruislip Residents’ Association and a former member of ground staff at RAF Northolt, agreed the runway there is currently not long enough.
“It is OK for some aircraft but not others,” he told the Gazette. “It is not as feasible as has been made out, but the idea is still plausible because Northolt is not a fighter base with a strike command, it is basically a passenger airfield.
“I am concerned that there is very little distance between the runway and houses in Ruislip.”
Tory MPs for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, Nick Hurd, and Uxbridge and South Ruislip John Randall, within whose constituency RAF Northolt falls, have ruled out the plan to make it a ‘northern third runway’ for Heathrow.