|Hounslow Council has today submitted its response to Heathrow Airport’s two consultations regarding the proposal for a new Northwest Runway at Heathrow; the first on the detail of the expansion on site and the second on changes to airspace management.
The consultations follow the announcement in July 2015 by the Airports Commission that the proposal for a new Northwest Runway at Heathrow presents the strongest case for delivering additional capacity in the South East of England and maintaining the UK’s position as an important aviation hub. This was followed by the publication of the Government’s draft Airport National Policy Statement (NPS) outlining its policy, details of the preferred location and the considerations that would be relevant to a future planning application for that scheme.
In addition to public consultation during the last quarter of 2017, parliamentary scrutiny of the draft NPS is ongoing. If the Government decides to proceed, a vote in the House of Commons is expected in the next few months, to formally approve the Government adopting the NPS.
Heathrow Airport’s consultations which close on the 28 March after a 10 week duration, look to gather views on the emerging proposals. Hounslow Council’s response was delegated as a single member decision for consideration by Councillor Mann, Lead Member for Transport & Heathrow and includes the following:
Hounslow Council has a long-held position that Heathrow should be better, not bigger. While the council has been opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by additional flights, addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights, the council wants the airport to be successful as it plays a vital role in the success of the borough.
The council outlined its belief that the benefits of living near Heathrow need to extend to the whole community and that concerted efforts must be made to minimise the direct negative effects of expansion such as noise, poor air quality, congestion of the transport network and loss of green space and biodiversity. The council’s response reiterated calls to have a ‘quality of life’ fund established to fund measures to reduce the impact of these negative effects or otherwise compensate local people for a range of negative aspects of living close by. Such a fund could finance a range of beneficial measures to offset negative side-effects such as e.g. investment in local infrastructure, greenspace and biodiversity enhancement and support for training and apprenticeships.
The council has strong concerns over the impact on quality of life that will result on communities around the airport from intensification of overflying. The council is therefore in favour of an approach to airspace management that minimises the number of aircraft movements that impact on Hounslow residents and that also maximises periods of predictable respite for those residents. The council would therefore prefer flight paths which share noise more widely across the sub-region rather than intensifying paths across Heathrow, and to consider how these paths can overfly less densely populated rural areas rather than urban areas. In particular, the council would like to see a complete ban on night flights across an eight-hour period to reduce health impacts that arise from aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am.
In addition, the council expressed its concern over the credibility of the surface access strategy put forward by Heathrow and in particular to its ‘no more traffic pledge’, given that no additional public transport is proposed to achieve this. This raises important questions about whether air quality can be improved to meet legal limits if expansion happens. The council is also extremely disappointed that its proposal for a link to the South Western Railway network from Feltham station, including the addition of a new station at Bedfont is not alluded to in any way in the proposals. This link was carefully assessed by Network Rail in 2017 and was found to offer the best solution to linking the airport to the rail network to the south.
Councillor Amrit Mann, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Environment said:
“As an international Hub of huge strategic importance to the UK economy and as our largest local employer, we want Heathrow to be successful. However, this aspiration will never be at the cost of what is best for our local communities. We have raised several issues in our response to the airport’s public consultations and we are committed to working with Heathrow to address these issues before the proposals can go any further.”
The council’s full response to the consultations can be accessed via Hounslow Council’s website by clicking here.