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Hounslow Council accused of 'throwing in towel' over Heathrow expansion

Criticism from Conservatives comes after council promotes 'opportunity of a third runway'

Heathrow
How Heathrow would look with a third runway (CGI produced for Heathrow)

Hounslow Council has been accused of "throwing in the towel" over Heathrow expansion after it promoted the "opportunity of a third runway".

The council is set to attend the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, from March 15-18, where it hopes to attract developers to invest in the borough.

It has raised eyebrows after its programme for the event included a panel discussion on the Tuesday entitled " Hounslow , responding to the opportunity of a third runway".

Hounslow Council's programme for the MIPIM property conference

Hounslow Council's cross-party position has always been that it opposes expansion of the airport, and it was behind the legal challenge which scuppered the previous bid for a third runway.

But questions have been raised recently about whether that opposition has softened, especially after the Labour-run council declined to join other local authorities in threatening legal action should the Government back a third runway.

getwestlondon has already reported how the council's promotional material for MIPIM offered potential investors the chance to board a flight simulator for a bird's eye view of development opportunities in the borough.

'Sticks in the craw'

The wording of the programme has prompted a stinging rebuke of the Labour administration from the opposition ranks.

Hounslow Conservative Group leader Peter Thompson said: "It is increasingly obvious that Hounslow Council has thrown in the towel when it comes to a third runway at Heathrow.

"We know this since the Airports Commission produced its report back in July and Labour Leader Steve Curran performed a U-turn and welcomed its recommendation to expand.

Protests have taken place at the prospect of a third runway at Heathrow, including this one in Parliament Square in October 2015

"Many of us have fought long and hard to oppose expansion and to have our council calling this an "opportunity" sticks in the craw! Residents who will lose sleep, have their roads increasingly congested or their children's education blighted by aircraft noise wont be calling it an opportunity!

"Brentford & Isleworth Labour MP Ruth Cadbury has been betrayed by her Labour colleagues on the council and we urge her to join with us and continue to say NO to Heathrow expansion."

Pamela Mayorcas, who lives in Chiswick and is a Labour Party member, also criticised the council's stance on Heathrow.

"The council's official policy is that it wants a better not bigger Heathrow but it's beginning to look suspiciously like that's just what they're saying in public while behind the scenes they're selling the possibility of expansion.

"If a third runway is built planes wouldn't just fly over Chiswick, they would fly over some of the most densely populated parts of London, and I dread to think what would happen if there was an accident."

Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran insisted its stance on Heathrow had not changed but said it needed to be prepared if the government approves the Airports Commission's recommendation for a third runway.

'Our position on Heathrow has not changed'

"Our position on Heathrow has not changed. We want a better not bigger airport," he said.

"While we have been opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by the addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights, we nevertheless want a better and successful Heathrow. But we will continue to push for the very best noise protection measures for our residents – and in particular, our schools.

"What we do want is for the government to complete any further consultation and come to a final decision as quickly as possible. The uncertainty has gone on long enough and our residents want to know what is going to happen.

Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran

"If the government does approve the Airports Commission’s recommendation for a third runway it will obviously have a huge impact on Hounslow. We need to be prepared for this and consider not just the environmental consequences but the effect on the development of our borough.

"We have done a lot of work already to masterplan development of the west of the borough around Heathrow – work that is relevant regardless of the outcome of the third runway, because it stimulates housing growth and new jobs.

"This development is what we want to attract investment for and will be the main focus of our presence at MIPIM. It’s one of the reasons for us taking part in this particular panel discussion."

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