Despite fierce opposition from environmental organisations like Greenpeace through to powerful politicians including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Heathrow Airport has insisted there is “no delay” in the decision over a third runway and claims most MPs back its expansion. The Government’s preferred option will be announced next week. According to an airport spokesman, Heathrow expansion has the support of the majority of MPs. “In recent polling, 71% of Conservative MPs and 73% of Labour MPs back a new runway at Heathrow. We also have the support of business, unions and over 30 airports in the UK.
The Airports Commission made a clear and unanimous recommendation that only expanding Heathrow will deliver the connections to emerging markets that Britain needs.” Meanwhile, Gatwick Airport said it will remain on standby to deliver its own plan for a second runway even if Heathrow’s gets the green light next week. It warned again on Monday that the number of people overflown by a new runway at Heathrow would be 70 times more than would be affected by a second runway at Gatwick. A new runway at Heathrow would affect 278,000 people compared with 3,800 for Gatwick’s plans. New flightpaths at Heathrow would cross prime residential areas of London whose inhabitants have so far escaped aircraft noise, including St John’s Wood, Maida Vale, Kensington, Notting Hill and Shepherd’s Bush.
Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “The difference in noise impact between the two schemes is stark. We have to decide whether to ignore the views of a million Londoners whose health will be affected by constant noise, or expand Gatwick, the environmentally responsible option where we can cap the number most affected by noise.” Opposition to a third runway at Heathrow is not just coming from politicians. Greenpeace has joined forces with councils surrounding Heathrow to launch a legal challenge to any new runway.
Written by : Ian Mcintosh