Four local authorities – Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and the Windsor and Maidenhead – are threatening to take the Government to court unless it drops plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow.
In a letter to the Government its solicitors cite failings in the Airport Commission’s report over noise and air pollution as reasons for a legal challenge. They also say that, on the basis of David Cameron’s clear promise in 2009, ‘No ifs; no buts; there will be no 3rd runway’, people in the Heathrow villages had a ‘legitimate expectation’ that they could plan their lives on the basis that no runway would be built.
Any challenge is expected to be made after the Government makes known its decision later this year as it is that decision that will be challenged in the courts.
Monday 1st February for immediate use
CAMPAIGNERS PLASTER OSBORNE’S CONSTITUENCY WITH NO 3RD RUNWAY SIGNS
Campaigners against Heathrow expansion today plastered George Osborne’s constituency with No Third Runway signs. They put up the signs in the main street of Knutsford in the heart of the constituency, including one outside Conservative Party headquarters in the town. The campaigners wanted to get across to the Chancellor, thought to back expansion at Heathrow, that a new runway would cost the taxpayer billions of pounds .
Peter Jones, one of the Londoners who went up to Knutsford, said, “We deliberately chose the day after people have had to get their tax returns in so as to emphaisise to George Osborne just how much public money will be needed to pay for the road and rail links for a third runway.”
The Airports Commission, which the Government set up to look at the need for new airports, put the cost at almost £6 billion. Transport for London has put it even higher. Heathrow has said it will pay no more than £1.1billion (1).
Jones said, “That leaves the taxpayer to find around £5 billion.”
Campaign group HACAN calculated that everybody in the country would each need to fork out £80 to pay for the road and rail links a third runway would need (2).
HACAN also unearthed evidence that £5bn could buy 83,000new social homes or 835,000 hip replacements (3).
HACAN Chair John Stewart, said, “The billions of pounds of Government money that would be needed for 3rd runway road and rail schemes might even make the Chancellor, George Osborne, think twice about backing it.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). Heathrow would pay for the runway itself but not all of the associated road and rail costs.
(2). If the cost is £5 billion and the UK population is 63,182,000 (2011 census), that’s £79 each.
8/1/16, embargoed until 6am on 12th January, 2016
New Report: Health of over a million people at risk from aircraft noise
Launch: Tuesday 12th January, 2 – 3pm, Committee Room 19, House of Commons; Hosted by Tania Mathias MP; Key Speakers:Tim Johnson, Director of AEF, Professor Stephen Stansfeld, Professor of Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London
A major new report published today has found that the health of over one million people in the UK is at risk from aircraft noise. The report, Aircraft Noise and Public Health: The Evidence is Loud and Clear, commissioned by campaign group HACAN and produced by the Aviation Environment Federation, has called on the Government to undertake a complete review of all its polices to ensure that they take full account of the health impacts of aircraft noise.
And here is the summary: AEF_aircraft noise and health_FINAL3
- People exposed to high levels of aircraft noise around Heathrow have a 24% higher chance of stroke, 21% higher chance of heart disease, and 14% higher chance of cardiovascular diseases compared to people exposed to low levels of aircraft noise
- Over 460 schools around Heathrow are exposed to aircraft noise levels that may impair learning and memory
- In the UK close to 600,000 people are exposed to night-time aircraft noise levels far above WHO recommendations
HACAN chair John Stewart said, “These findings are shocking but not surprising. Aircraft noise is having a major impact on people’s health. HACAN is calling on the Government to postpone any decision on new runways until a full health assessment has been carried out on each proposal. Today HACAN is setting up the Heathrow Health Alliance to monitor progress.”
On January 5th, the day Parliament returns, campaigners against a third runway at Heathrow ‘planted’ 2000 black paper planes in Victoria Gardens in Westminster at 10am to highlight the fact that 2016 will be a grim year for residents if a new runway is given the go-ahead. The campaigners expect around 2000 flights at day will use the airport if it gets a third runway, up from 1350 a day at present.
(photo by Phil Weedon)
HACAN was joined by people from groups in Chiswick and Ealing as well as Stop Heathrow Expansion, which represents people in the Heathrow Villages whose homes are under threat, Friends of the Earth and residents west of Heathrow (1).
HACAN Chair John Stewart said, “2016 is likely to be the year when the Government makes a decision about a new runway. It will be a grim year for Heathrow residents if the Government decides to go for a third runway at Heathrow. Our New Year’s message to the Prime Minister is we will fight to the bitter end to stop a third runway happening.”
Just before Christmas the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that a decision about a new runway, expected in December, would be deferred for at least another six months.
The Department for Transport is still looking at the options for a third runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Gatwick and the plan put forward by Heathrow Hub to double the length of the existing northern runway at Heathrow.
(1). The organisations represented were HACAN, SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion), CHATR (Chiswick against Third Runway), ENAG (Ealing Noise Action Group), Friends of the Earth as well as residents living west of the airport.
18/12/15 for immediate use
Anti-3rd Runway Campaigners post pre-Xmas thank-you letters to PM
Over the past week hundreds of people campaigning against Heathrow expansion wrote pre-Christmas letters to David Cameron thanking him for keeping his promise not to build a third runway and urging him not to break it next year when a decision on runway capacity is expected to be announced. This morning three representatives of the campaigners posted letters through a post box in the heart of Westminster.
Last week the Government announced that it would postpone a decision on new runways until at least the middle of 2016. It made clear that Heathrow and Gatwick were still in the frame.
In 2009 David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, pledged in a speech in Richmond, “No ifs, no buts; there will be no third runway at Heathrow.”
John Stewart, chair of HACAN, one of the groups opposed to expansion, said, “These letters are yet another indication of how strongly people feel about a third runway. We urge David Cameron to keep his promise in 2016.”
At 7pm on Friday 11th December the Government announced that it is delaying any final decision on new runways until at least the middle of next year. It wants to do further work in assessing particularly the environmental impacts of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, the Heathrow Hub proposal for an extended runway and a 2nd runway at Gatwick.
The full Government statement is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-confirms-support-for-airport-expansion-in-the-south-east
This delay shows once again just how difficult it will be to build a third runway at Heathrow. The last Labour Government tried and failed. And now this Government has run into real obstacles. Heathrow would require almost 1,000 homes to be demolished and part of the M25 to be moved and put in a tunnel. It would mean a quarter of a million more planes flying over the city with the biggest aircraft noise problem in Europe and could cause air pollution to exceed the EU legal limits. Many of these problems won’t go away however long the final decision is delayed. The Government should face up to the reality that a third runway is unlikely ever to see the light of day. Although there are party political reasons for this delay, these should not obscure the fact that the real problem with a third runway is its impact on the area London and its people.
The economic benefits of a third runway are unlikely to be as high as the headline figures claim. Read on: HACAN Briefing, September 2015 (pdf)
1/12/15 for immediate use
Influential committee of MPs ‘put Government in a straightjacket’ over Heathrow Third Runway
A leading committee of MPs has ‘put the Government in a straightjacket’ over a third runway at Heathrow. The influential Environmental Audit Committee released a report today (1) which said that a third runway should not go ahead at Heathrow until strict environmental conditions are met. These included proof can be that noise and air pollution will be less than they are now; that the Government has clear policies in place to show it could meet the climate change recommendations in Airports Commission; and that Heathrow Airport commits to paying for the associated road and rail infrastructure and agrees to a ban on night flights.
HACAN chair John Stewart said, “The Committee has put the Government in a straightjacket over a third runway. This report makes it that much harder to build a third runway at Heathrow.”
The Government is expected to make an announcement before Christmas about whether it favours a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick.
Notes for Editors
21/10/15 for immediate use
No Third Runway Flash Mob Staged at Heathrow Terminal Two
Over 50 campaigners from across London and the Home Counties staged at Heathrow Terminal Two today in protest against a third runway.
At 11am on the dot the campaigners, standing in front of the giant sculpture in the new terminal, revealed red t-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘No 3rd Runway’.
The campaigners included residents from Harmondsworth whose homes would be demolished to make way for the new runway as well as people from West London and Berkshire and as far afield as Lightwater and Binfield. They were joined by polar bears from Plane Stupid.
John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, the campaign group which organized the Flash Mob, said, “This was a fun event with a serious purpose. We wanted to send a strong message to David Cameron that, if the Government gives the green light to a third runway, he will face united, determined opposition.”
The Government is expected to make an announcement about new runways in December.