The Government’s draft aviation strategy tries to shut down any discussion on expansion at Heathrow and puts the demand for additional flights ahead of the health impact on communities affected by increased noise and worsening air quality.
Speaking on behalf of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, Richmond leader Paul Hodgins said: “It is difficult to see what purpose the draft aviation strategy serves when, in it, the government is ignoring the problem of Heathrow.
“First we had a pro-Heathrow airport draft national policy statement with no details on flightpaths, out of date passenger demand figures, an economic case which doesn’t stand up and unattainable pollution limits. Now we have a national strategy that leaves out Heathrow.
“Any serious attempt at a UK-wide policy must come before any policy on individual airports, including Heathrow.
“Today’s strategy paper also fails to make any attempt to join the dots between aviation expansion and its effects on other key transport sectors such as road and rail. People in the rest of the country need to know just how much public money would be needed for rail links around Heathrow if this privately-owned airport were to expand.
“It also makes no reference to the impact on other airports if Heathrow alone is allowed to expand. “The Department for Transport is once again acting as a cheerleader for Heathrow instead of putting the interests of communities affected by aircraft operations first.
“If it was playing fair by people the Government would draw up a UK-wide policy on aviation before it pressed ahead with expansion at one favoured location. They are putting the cart before the horse. “They are going for an option that minimises competition, maximises prices, sucks in private investment that could go to other parts of the country and maximises environmental damage. “Other options, for example expansion at Gatwick, enable the same growth and create competition which is good for consumers.
“Sustainable growth is only possible if it is based on a full understanding of all the impacts on the communities affected. The Government should withdraw this partial and disingenuous strategy document, abandon its unjustified policy support for Heathrow and begin again with an approach that people can trust.”
The councils say in their response that the Government is attempting to make policy at Heathrow in the face of evidence on illegal air pollution in London and without up to date evidence on passenger demand, noise, health impacts and legally-binding climate change targets.
The draft consultation paper makes no mention of the effect of expansion at Heathrow on demand at other airports, nor of the impact of climate change limits on other airports’ ability to grow.
They add that by putting the emphasis on consumer expectation and demand the Government is returning to an out-dated ‘predict and provide’ approach which has no regard to health and environmental impacts.
Originally published in the Twickenham Tribune 20th October 2017