Hounslow is one of London’s best connected boroughs located as it is directly to the east of one of the world’s busiest international airports, Heathrow.
The future of Heathrow has been prominent in the debate around airport expansion in the United Kingdom. The Government has set up the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davis which will make recommendations on this issue after the 2015 general election. To date the commission has made two key announcements:
- That one additional runway is required by 2030 to meet anticipated capacity requirements (with the potential need for a further runway by 2050)
- The shortlisted options for delivering the additional runway by 2030, which are:
a) Two variations of a third runway at Heathrow
b) Provision of a second runway at Gatwick
The Council welcomed the shortlist on the basis that it did not include an option that would lead to the closure of Heathrow. Along with Ealing and Slough Councils we commissioned an employment impact study that showed that the potential impact on our boroughs of Heathrow closing was much greater than had been stated by other parties. Our intervention resulted in the Airports Commission giving greater consideration to the local economic impacts of the different proposals than had previously been the case. The Council is now confident that Heathrow will continue to serve London’s needs for the foreseeable future. We have demonstrated its value in stimulating economic activity in our borough and we fully expect this to continue.
Whilst proposals for an Inner Thames Estuary airport have not been included in the shortlist, neither have they been completely dismissed. The Airports Commission will shortly launch a parallel study into the proposal before finally deciding ‘whether a new hub airport proposal in the inner Thames Estuary is a credible option to be taken forward for further detailed development work or not.’ The Council is therefore continuing in its efforts to ensure that the Airport Commission takes full account of the impacts upon the local economies and communities serving Heathrow.
The Council is opposed to any proposal that would lead to the closure or downgrading of Heathrow as an international hub. The Council has yet to take any position with regards to the short listed proposals for airport expansion. The overall position on Heathrow remains ‘Better not Bigger’ reflecting the economic importance of airport, but recognising the environmental impact faced by our residents.
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