Cautious welcome for Heathrow decision

There has been a cautious welcome in Chiswick for the Court of Appeal ruling that the proposed expansion of Heathrow is unlawful because it does not meet the Government’s international commitments on Climate Change.

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brenford & Isleworth, said:

‘‘I’m so pleased that the Court of Appeal has ruled that it was unlawful for a third runway to be built at Heathrow Airport. This is a huge victory to all those who’ve been campaigning against a third runway, and the damage it would bring both to West London but also to our global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. The court ruling has confirmed what many activists, scientists and climate experts have been saying for years- which is that a third runway would be a disaster for our environment and our commitment to the planet. Despite the spin, the myths and the hot air coming out from the aviation industry it’s clear that we cannot continue with a business as usual approach which ignores temperature and sea level rises, whilst people across the world suffer from the climate crisis.

Sam Hearn, councillor for Riverside ward and Conservative spokesman on transport, said:

“If the climate emergency strategy recently adopted with cross-party support by Hounslow Council is to mean anything we must for the sake our children and grandchildren act decisively to frustrate Heathrow’s current expansion plans.  We recognise the importance of the airport to the economy of London, the South East and the whole of the UK but we must now urgently address the causes of climate change that are actually on our door step”.

Heathrow plans to appeal

Heathrow has announced it will appeal to the Supreme Court and is ebulliently confident that it will ultimately succeed:

‘The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on “noise” and “air quality” – apart from one which is eminently fixable. We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful’.

Heathrow says the expansion would provide up to 180,000 new jobs across the UK, with new domestic routes and 10,000 quality apprenticeships by 2030, to build ‘a stronger home base of skills’. They say:

‘Expanding Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of Global Britain. We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future. Let’s get Heathrow done.”

Chiswick Conservatives say LB Hounslow trying to ‘have its cake and eat it’ on Heathrow

The legal challenge was brought by Friends of the Earth and the other environmental groups. Members of Chiswick Against the Third Runway (CHATR) celebrated on the steps on the court. A spokesperson for the group said:

‘This is a wonderful result. A huge thanks to all our supporters who have helped over many years to raise serious concerns about Heathrow expansion. Quite apart from climate change there are immense public health issues over noise, pollution and congestion. We still have yet to determine what this legal result means for Heathrow’s plans for Early Growth and independent parallel approaches which would bring a big increase in early flights over Chiswick. Watch this space.”

Ruth Cadbury, who has been a consistent opponent of the expansion both as a Hounslow councillor and as an MP, said:

‘London Mayor Sadiq Khan showed real leadership by supporting this legal challenge, and has helped to protect residents in West London from the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion. The Government now need to make it clear that there will be no third runway at Heathrow Airport and no increase in the number of flights coming into the airport on the existing two runways. I will keep campaigning and standing up for the rights of local residents who would have been impacted by the pollution, congestion and disruption that the third runway would bring.’’

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors’ statement came with a sideswipe at Hounslow Council, who have taken a more ambivolent approach to the expansion. Hounslow was noticeably absent from the list of west London councils which backed the legal challenge. In the Conservatives’ response to the Appeal Court ruling, Sam Hearn said:

“Hounslow’s Labour-run council has for far too long tried to have its cake and eat it. Council Leader Steve Curran continues to repeat Labour’s support for a better not bigger Heathrow but has repeatedly refused our calls for it to join with the five other London councils in the legal action that has led to the appeal court’s momentous decision… Success at the Court of Appeal is not necessarily the end of the road for the third runway. Although the government will not appeal the court’s decision we know that Heathrow Ltd will. We call on Hounslow’s Labour administration to join with those who oppose further expansion of the airport”.

Council leader Steve Curran has justified the council’s non non-participation in the legal action before, saying that Hounslow was against the expansion of Heathrow, but that whether the third runway was built or not, the airport would still continue to be there, and many of Hounslow’s businesses and residents depend on it for their livelihood. At a meeting in Chiswick in October he said he didn’t agree that taking an adversarial approach, joining the High Court action against Heathrow was good use of money. It was a waste of money, he said, and they were better “building a relationship which is not just adversarial”.

Loss of green belt land

The Chiswick councillors also criticise the loss of Green belt land which they say would be the result of Heathrow’s expansion:

‘In order to build the third runway two immigration detention centres at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook will have to be closed and a new one built at Faggs Road next to the Bedfont recreation ground and allotments. If built the detention centre would be the largest such facility in Europe. The problems that this would create were highlighted in our response to the public consultation on the third runway. They include the loss open fields and of a large number of mature trees, the destruction of recreational gravel paths ideal for wheelchair users and a huge increase in road traffic on the already congested Faggs Road.

‘The proposed site for the new detention centre is on land designated as part of the green belt. In order to build on green belt land Heathrow would have to apply for a development consent order (DCO) and then use a compulsory purchase order to buy the land from Hounslow Council.  We urge Hounslow Council to inform the Secretary of State in the strongest terms that it would not support a DCO to remove the green belt status of the proposed site for the construction of a new detention centre.

‘In a seemingly unconnected exercise Hounslow Council is reviewing the status of all green belt land in the borough. Again, we strongly urge Hounslow Council not to change the green belt status of the proposed site for the new detention centre no matter how much Heathrow offers to pay for it.

‘If the climate emergency strategy recently adopted with cross-party support by Hounslow Council is to mean anything we must for the sake our children and grandchildren act decisively to frustrate Heathrow’s current expansion plans. We can only support proposals that will fully comply with the Paris Agreement.  We recognise the importance of the airport to the economy of London, the South East and the whole of the UK but we must now urgently address the causes of climate change that are actually on our doorstep’.