Councils hit back over R3

A group of local authorities which won a 2010 High Court challenge to overturn the previous government’s Heathrow policy say the evidence against a third runway is as strong today as it was two years ago.

Council leaders from the all-party 2M Group which opposes Heathrow expansion said today that nothing had changed in the last two years that made a third runway or the imposition of mixed mode operations any less damaging to noise, air quality and traffic congestion in south and west London.

This comes in the wake of calls from Conservative backbenchers and businesses for an about turn on Government policy on Heathrow, and a further delay in the Government commissioned review of South East air capacity which has led to accusations that the Coalition is trying to “Long Grass” a decision until after the next General Election.

Wandsworth leader Ravi Govindia, a leading figure in the 2M Group, said: “The noise will get worse on both sides of the airport, air pollution will continue to breach EU levels and the tubes and trains just won’t be able to cope. No amount of lobbying by BAA can change these facts. Expansion at Heathrow was a non starter in 2010 and is a non starter in 2012.”

Hillingdon leader Ray Puddifoot said: “The Government confirmed today that it is committed to achieving full compliance with EU air quality standards. Any attempt to resurrect the previous expansion plans would lead straight back to the European courts.   You simply can’t set out to make air quality worse in a location that is already recording NO2 levels above EU limits and expect to get away with it.

“This was why the last government backed off introducing mixed mode as a stepping stone to a third runway. Whether it’s 60,000 extra flights from mixed mode or 220,000 extra flights from a third runway the result is the same. There is no need to delay further consultation – the Heathrow position is clear, does not need to be reopened and need not hold up the wider considerations. “

Hounslow leader Jagdish Sharma said: “The noise burden for our communities is already intolerable with recent studies showing that it affects our children’s education and our health.  We have to distinguish between what’s good for BAA and what’s right for our communities.

“The commercial benefits of expansion to the airport owner should not be allowed to outweigh the overwhelmingly damaging environmental consequences for our residents.”

The stage is set for a confrontation between the needs of business and environmental concerns. With one in five West London jobs predicated on Heathrow, business will argue the effect of a waning of its status as the UK’s hub, and a World Leading Airport would radically alter West London’s employment landscape.

The City, and other businesses in and around London will argue that London’s status is at risk, and since it is the biggest driver for the UK, the national economy.

The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of 23 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people.

The full membership comprises the London boroughs of Brent, Camden, Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Sutton, Southwark and Wandsworth and Reading, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wycombe and South Bucks District Council.

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