Heathrow – MPs to vote soon

MPs will soon be given the opportunity to vote in parliament on whether expansion at Heathrow should go ahead. The campaign group Chiswick Against Third Runway (CHATR) believes that the true costs of a 3rd runway at Heathrow have not been disclosed to the public. A recent Freedom Of Information request has revealed Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures that show at least 2.2 million people will suffer noise blight when Heathrow is expanded.
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling claimed in October 2016 that an expanded Heathrow would be quieter in 2030 than today. This claim was not repeated in the revised draft consultation on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which conceded that 92,700 additional people in the area around Heathrow would be exposed to noise as a consequence of a third runway.
CHATR reveals that, following an FOI request for noise data contained in the CAA’s economic analysis, a new figure has now emerged of 972,957 households who would experience greater noise by 2060. Based on CAA assumptions of 2.3 people per household this gives a figure of approximately 2.2 million people – and this is the best case scenario, assuming that improvements in technology will have reduced aircraft noise. The CAA has conceded that realistically, in a worst case scenario the number is probably more like 3 million people.
“In Chiswick alone, the 3rd runway brings an extra 35,000 people under a new flightpath with planes anticipated to be at c.2,000 feet, noise levels of 55-75 decibels, every 90 seconds for up to 16 hours a day. This life-changing prospect is causing great distress to local families, many of whom put down roots in the area to avoid being blighted by flight paths” they say in their press briefing.

Institutional bias

CHATR also makes the case that Heathrow has over the years developed a close relationship with the DfT and alleges that this is having a significant bearing on the biased way the case is being presented to MPs. “This close relationship has in part developed because of the movement of staff between the organisations over many years”. A recent example, they say, is Simon Baugh, previously Director of PR at Heathrow and involved in the launch of “Back Heathrow”, a pro Heathrow expansion lobby group funded by Heathrow, who has been employed by the DfT as its Group Director of Communications. “We believe this bias contributed to the early narrowing of the options to Heathrow – despite this being the option will impact on the largest population and has the most harmful environmental and public health impacts”.

Impact on local infrastructure

There is then the question of who will pay for the additional infrastructure around and connecting to the airport. Heathrow have offered £1bn but thinks the government should pay the rest. TfL have estimated these costs as between £15bn and £20bn.