Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, told the Uxbridge Gazette LB Hillingdon will hold their referendum if the Mayor of London doesn’t hold a London-wide one. Richmond have committed to a local referendum next May. Both councils are likely to encourage others to follow suit.
Given the choice between Heathrow expansion and the promised “noise hell”, and extra runways at Gatwick, Stansted, or in the Thames Estuary, it seems likely most of those who would vote would oppose the expansion, although one in five west London workers owe their living to the airport.
Business in the sub-region is generally in favour of expansion at Heathrow, and fearful of the long term effects of not expanding – one plan for funding the Thames Estuary airport involves building homes across Heathrow and closing the airport altogether. Many businesses would be forced to relocate to nearer a new hub airport in this scenario, taking their jobs with them.
Since those who would fund the £50bn for a new airport, or benefit economically from any expansion are spread throughout the UK, a national referendum might be a fairer way to discover public opinion.