‘Simply No’. That was the message of a cross-party rally staged by the campaign group HACAN in March in Central London. Politicians from across the political spectrum lined up with environmental chiefs, local authority leaders, businessmen and trade union leaders to pledge opposition to a third runway at Heathrow. Hundreds of people from London and the South East, including many whose homes are threatened by a new runway, filled the hall.
Twickenham MP Vince Cable made it clear that Liberal Democrat policy remained one of total opposition to a third runway. He said there was no sound economic reason why Heathrow needed to expand. John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, thousands of whose constituents are facing the loss of their homes, predicted that any decision to go-ahead with a new runway would result in the biggest direct action environmental protest in Europe. Tory MP Zac Goldsmith spelt out the impact of another 250,000 planes a year on local communities.
HACAN chair John Stewart said: “The rally sent a loud and clear message to the next Government: build a new runway at your peril. The coalition which saw it off last time round is still alive, well and fighting”.
The Airports Commission which is looking into the case for a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick is expected to make its recommendation towards the end of June. The next Government will need to decide whether or not to accept that recommendation.
The final speaker Christian Wolmar left the crowd with a war cry – he’s angry, we’re ALL angry that expansion plans are being even put to paper considering the human cost. It doesn’t really matter if Heathrow expansion is recommended because we would all fight it tooth and nail.
Full list of speakers:
Vince Cable MP: Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham
Natalie Bennett: leader Green Party
Steven Norris: former Conservative transport minister
Cliff Dixon: UKIP parliamentary candidate for Hayes and Harlington
John Sauven: chief executive Greenpeace
Andy Atkins: chief executive Friends of the Earth
Ravi Govindia: leader Wandsworth Council
Chris Baugh: Assistant General Secretary PCS union
Caroline Pidgeon: Liberal Democrat leader Greater London Assembly
Christian Wolmar: Labour mayoral candidate