It is a stunning fact that over a third of the people in Europe already seriously affected by aircraft noise are those who live in the vicinity of Heathrow.
This is a very big issue for west London and I am wholly against plans to build a third runway at Heathrow. In 2009 I resigned from Government in protest over this issue. I have been heavily involved in the campaign against expansion at Heathrow and have taken part in a number of public events, including last year's mega-rally in Barnes.
The Airports Commission released their Interim Report into the future of airport expansion in the UK on the 17th of December 2014. The final report is conveniently due two months after the General Election but its intent is already clear; Heathrow expansion is firmly back on the agenda. Residents in Hammersmith and two million people across west London would have their lives further blighted by noise, pollution and congestion.
The Report does lay some myths to rest. It states that only one new runway in the South East will be required in the next 20 years, not the two or three floated previously floated by the pro-Heathrow lobby. It is not wedded to a single hub airport and points out the extensive existing spare capacity at all London airports except Heathrow.
The Report rules out expansion at Stansted but makes a positive case for a new runway at Gatwick. I look forward to the Commission exploring this option. Twenty times more people would be affected by noise pollution by a third runway at Heathrow than a second runway at Gatwick.
Another positive in the report is that it effectively buries the Mayor’s proposal for an island airport in the Thames Estuary. This is only mentioned in passing, to save face for Boris Johnson, and looks to be killed off completely next year. The estuary plan would have led to the closure of Heathrow with the loss of at least 100,000 jobs in west London.
In the lead up to the last General Election, David Cameron traipsed around West London constituencies and told local residents ‘no ifs, no buts’ that he did not support expansion at Heathrow. Even Tory MPs have called this an “off the wall betrayal” and a “catastrophic U-turn”. The Tories, both locally and nationally, have proven that they simply cannot be trusted to fight against the expansion of Heathrow.
I will continue to fight against the third runway on behalf of my constituents and I will work with local opposition groups such as the excellent HACAN.