The Airport has put forward plans for three potential locations for a new runway, which would provide vital new connectivity for the UK as a whole, and an estimated extra 150,000 jobs for West London.
However, the 2M Group, a campaign group of more than 20 councils on Heathrow flightpaths, remains opposed to the proposed expansion. It is also challenging the airport’s claims that it can reduce noise while increasing the number of flights over London.
The councils say that noise nuisance data used by the airport is out-of-date and understates the number of people who suffer under the existing and proposed flightpaths.
Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council and spokesman for the 2M Group, said: “Heathrow might be offering a choice over where their next runway goes but they won’t stop until they have four.
“To claim they can reduce noise while increasing the number flights over London is a complete sham and won’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. They grossly understate the number of people who suffer under their existing flightpaths and continue that trend with these projections. We calculate that around three million people will be affected by aircraft noise if the airport expands to four runways.”
They say that there is nothing new in Heathrow’s proposals since the High Court ruled against the previous Labour Government’s approval of third runway plans.
2M has consistently argued that Heathrow will not stop expanding if granted a third landing strip. Its main European rivals have four or more runways and 2M say Heathrow will seek to match their capacity. Charles de Gaulle, Heathrow’s nearest rival, has four runways. Frankfurt and Barajas (Madrid) also have four and Schiphol ( Amsterdam ) has six.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader, Cllr Nicholas Botterill added: “For the three million people living under London’s flightpaths, Heathrow have … spelt out their recipe for sleepless nights and constant noise.”
The authorities are walking a tightrope. Opposition to expansion at Heathrow could mean its closure, if the Davies Commission concludes that a four runway hub is essential to UK Plc, and that Heathrow cannot provide that.
The 176,000 jobs sustained by Heathrow are largely within 2M group councils. To lose those jobs could spell economic disaster for their residents, while the extra 150,000 jobs promised by a new runway could reduce their jobless figures significantly.
Other local authorities are also commenting on Heathrow’s proposals, with Hounslow supportive of the airport, if not its expansion, and Hillingdon suggesting they would prefer it to close.
The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities.
Members say they are not anti-Heathrow but that they work together to improve the environment and protect the quality of life for local people.
The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now say they represent a combined population of 5 million people.