Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have published a detailed assessment of the Airports Commission’s final report, which, they say, exposes a series of flaws and “persistent bias”.
The commission’s report strongly recommended expanding Heathrow and the Government is expected to respond by the end of the year.
The local councils highlight what they believe is an inflated economic case used to justify Heathrow expansion and what they describe as “clear legal and environmental barriers to the project”.
The councils’ full technical assessment and a high level summary booklet has now been handed to all MPs ahead of a possible commons vote in the weeks ahead.
The councils say that, according to the Commission’s own forecasts, building a new Heathrow runway will give the UK just five extra long haul routes by 2050. However, they also say that regional airports – including Aberdeen and Leeds/Bradford – will lose existing long haul routes as a bigger Heathrow monopolises the long distance market.
They also say the Commission forecasts overall regional aviation connectivity will decrease, with direct routes between Heathrow and UK regional airports falling from 7 to 4, and suggest that the economic growth numbers in the Davies Report are greater than HM Treasury growth forecasting which, they say, predicts £33.6-54.8 billion for expanding Heathrow expansion, which is still greater than Gatwick expansion with £27.2-47.1 billion.
They say that Transport for London say the Commission has underestimated the cost of surface transport upgrades by £10-15 billion. TfL is controlled by the Mayor of London, who also opposes Heathrow expansion.
The councils report also discusses noise and airquality, and in particular suggests that the Commission’s test for compliance with EU pollution limits is based on “an incorrect understanding of the law”. The councils say that approving a scheme which exacerbates illegal pollution levels directly contravenes EU air quality legislation.
Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “The critical factors which present the biggest challenge to a potential third runway have been either avoided, or worse, misinterpreted by the commission.
“There is a distinct lack of information on air quality and flightpaths and instead there are inflated claims about a colossal economic windfall that the commission says will come from a handful of new trade routes. It’s clear to me that the case for expansion at Heathrow doesn’t add up and a third runway will never happen, no ifs or buts.”
Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council said: “The Airports Commission’s recommendation points the way to more wasted years and another failed runway scheme. Heathrow is simply in the wrong place and there is no realistic prospect of overcoming the complex physical, legal and environmental factors that will always constrain its growth.”