Heathrow or Gatwick? The Cabinet is to decide this month which of the south-east’s two airports should be allowed to expand.
Some say an enlarged Heathrow with a third runway would boost jobs and the economy, while for others it would be an environmental disaster. getwestlondon invited leading opponents and supporters of Heathrow expansion to set out their case.
Christine Taylor from SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) makes the case against a third runway.
Greed is the driver for Heathrow expansion. The airport’s foreign owners have sold the other former BAA airports and now want British taxpayers to help boost the value of their remaining asset.
No government should contemplate adding 260,000 flights to the crowded skies over densely populated areas.
London is already the most overflown city in Europe. It makes sense that all the candidates for next May’s election for London mayor are opposed to Heathrow expansion.
The Airports Commission report favoured Heathrow, but its figures and conclusions are disputed. Some recommendations, such as ruling out a fourth runway and ending night flights, could never be implemented. The author admitted they were a ploy to appease opponents.
In July, Heathrow’s CEO said the decision had been made once and for all. That wasn’t true either.
Last year, Akbar al-Baker of Qatar Holdings, which owns 20 per cent, said he wanted flights 24/7 at Heathrow and felt that locals had ‘excessive freedoms’.
Surely everyone has the right to breathe air without fear that it is shortening their lives and the right to respite from noise.
Research shows that air pollution stunts the development of children’s lungs and excessive noise increases the risk of heart disease and damage to the cardio-vascular system. Our NHS spends around £20bn a year treating pollution-related illness.
If Heathrow can’t clean up the air with two runways, it won’t do it with three.
It encourages car journeys because airport parking makes money.
Fifty-five million more passengers create the need for major road and rail projects, requiring long-term maintenance. Taxpayers’ cash again.
Increasing freight in passenger aircraft makes them heavier and noisier on take off and generates more polluting HGVs on the road. In this crazy world, Heathrow exports tonnes of Scottish salmon while local supermarkets sell imported Norwegian salmon.
And what madmen would destroy up to 3,750 homes during a housing crisis?
Heathrow wants ‘shovels in the ground’ for a runway in 2019, yet no homes are being planned for the thousands displaced. Fundamental issues are pushed aside.
Predictions of benefits are fanciful. Job gains look ahead to 2050, while economic growth of £147bn is over 60 years, yes 60 years! That’s a feeble annual benefit and those predicting it will be long gone by then.
Heathrow won’t say how many long-term jobs, if any, were gained by building T5.
This October, Heathrow revealed that employee cost cutting includes a ‘redefined’ pension scheme and a 2018 target to have about a third of its workforce on salary packages 30 per cent lower than today.
One in five workers in Heathrow Villages is in the lowest grade of employment and the ward has Hillingdon’s lowest percentage of professionals.
Let’s give the next generation a better future, not another runway.
Rob Gray is the campaign co-ordinator of the pro-expansion group, Back Heathrow.
Heathrow Airport is a vital asset for communities in West London, the Thames Valley and for the whole country.
It’s not surprising that so many local people want to ensure it is protected and equipped to grow in the future so that it remains the UK’s premier airport, able to match its foreign competitors.
There is massive support for Heathrow expansion from across all political parties, the majority of UK businesses, international airlines, local firms and, most importantly, from local residents.
In the Airports Commission public consultation [Nov 2014 Jan 2015], 82 per cent of the 70,591 responses backed Heathrow expansion, mostly from residents near the airport.
And a recent Populus poll of more than 12,000 residents in the constituencies and boroughs close to Heathrow found many more residents (50 per cent) supported Heathrow expansion than opposed it (33 per cent).
People in the local area are rightly proud of the airport and those that work there are particularly proud that Heathrow carries 78 per cent of the UK’s long haul flights, a quarter of UK exports by value and is our country’s largest port.
Clearly Heathrow is a huge success story, yet this success is at risk if expansion doesn’t go ahead. Heathrow is currently operating at full capacity and it has to grow to meet demand. The UK’s only hub airport is the front door to Britain, yet it is currently closed to new business.
If Heathrow isn’t expanded then new flights will operate from a different hub airport abroad that has spare capacity, like Paris or Amsterdam. Investment, jobs and export opportunities for the local area and across the UK will be lost and could cause irrevocable long term economic damage.
That’s why we need to secure the 114,000 jobs in the local community and a further 250,000 jobs in the wider region that rely on a thriving Heathrow Airport.
If Heathrow is to succeed in the future then it is essential that we build extra runway capacity and offer new flights to emerging markets.
This will protect existing jobs and create 77,000 new jobs in the local region, including 10,000 apprenticeships from the boroughs neighbouring the airport which would help eradicate local youth unemployment.
In total, 180,000 jobs will be created across the UK and the benefits to the country are predicted to be worth £211billion.
The independent experts at the Airports Commission report that an expanded Heathrow can be bigger, better and quieter.
“We have a golden opportunity to secure the jobs and investment for the local area that come from expanding Heathrow. We must take it.