The Airports Commission’s recommendation that Heathrow should have a third runway has sparked outrage amongst residents in Teddington, Twickenham and Hampton. Paul McGuinness, spokesperson for Teddington Action Group (TAG), said:
“The Commission’s recommendation beggars belief. It’s incredible that a government which has recently been legally bound by the Supreme Court to improve air quality to meet EU directives can even begin to consider a third runway at Heathrow, an area which currently exceeds all limit values on toxic emissions.
At a time when legislation to protect the environment is quite rightly being tightened, it seems extremely short-sighted of the Commission to propose the costly expansion of an airport that could find itself unable to operate within the law.
The Commission is recommending a proposition that will increase the number of flights from 480,000 to 740,000 a year and increase associated traffic on surrounding roads, while its published reports accept that proposed mitigation measures may never be implemented.”
The Airports Commission hasn’t accounted for the impact of more noise and air pollution on the mental and physical health of those densely populated communities under Heathrow’s monolithic wingspan. Hundreds of thousands more people to the south of the city – Greenwich, Lewisham, Wimbledon – will be subjected to noise disturbance and air pollution.
Teddington Action Group has outlined flaws in the work of the Airports Commission, such as excluding heavily affected communities from noise contours and failing to adequately consult the public on the vital issue of air quality.
It seems as though the Commission has been attempting to make the case for Heathrow from the outset, through masking – rather than exposing – certain realities. Residents fear that once Heathrow fills its capacity with the long haul, noisier, lower-flying “hub business” that has driven its campaign, there will be no argument left to fend off Heathrow’s demand for totally lifting restrictions on night flights. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye has suggested the possibility that a third runway will have reached capacity by 2040, necessitating a fourth.
Heathrow expansion will be heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. Yet the true price of expansion will be paid by those living in a world warmed by carbon emissions, whose health will be sacrificed for want of clean air and quiet nights, and by children who will pay with their failure to flourish because of noise disruption in their classrooms and homes.
In December the Government will decide how to act on the Commission’s recommendations. We call on Prime Minister David Cameron to stand by his pledge: “No Ifs. No Buts, there’ll be no third runway at Heathrow.”