Well worth reading as an apparently complete list of the arguments against
(By local LibDems)
We are responding to the Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation on behalf of the communities in the Twickenham, Richmond Park and Kingston and Surbiton Parliamentary constituencies.
We wish to unequivocally state our opposition to Heathrow expansion. The economic benefits do not justify the environmental costs or the negative impacts on nearby residents.
Full response to the consultation:
Above all, our opposition to expansion is rooted in our determination that more must be done to tackle the growing threat of the climate emergency. The UK has committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050 – a commitment secured partly by the hard work of Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers in the coalition government – and recent research has shown that the expansion of Heathrow Airport, with its additional flights, will make that almost impossible to achieve. The proposal contains no information on how the airport will address the additional carbon emissions of increased flights. There are no plans for carbon capture and storage, or any other mitigations.
In the face of the serious and ongoing climate emergency, this is a major omission and the expansion of Heathrow should be halted if the Government means what it says about meeting the challenges of climate change.
The Airports National Policy Statement, approved by the Conservative Government in July 2018, stated that surface access improvements would be needed to mitigate congestion on existing transport routes from increased numbers of passengers and volumes of freight. Despite potential projects being identified to provide this mitigation, the proposal does not show that Heathrow Airport plans to make more than the barest minimum of contribution towards the costs. This must inevitably mean that the costs of mitigating the surface access impact of expansion will either fall to the taxpayer or will not be met at all.
Transport for London estimated the costs of surface access upgrade to be in the region of £18 billion, of which Heathrow Airport has committed to a contribution of £1 billion.
Expansion cannot be delivered in accordance with the National Policy Statement at the current level of committed funding to surface access upgrades.
It took a great deal of time to find information about proposed respite periods in the documentation, yet it is an issue of the highest importance to those communities that are currently overflown, or can expect to be overflown in the future. It is disgraceful that information about this important impact should have been hidden away.
Overflown communities currently get about half a day’s respite from aircraft noise. For young families, workers, people recovering from serious illness and many others, it is essential to have a sustained period during the day where they will not be plagued by aircraft noise. The proposal plans to cut that period from half a day to a third of the day for many communities. This will have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of people living in those communities.
It was a huge flaw of the National Policy Statement that it accepted “predictable” respite periods while reducing the overall duration of respite. This will have enormous negative impacts on communities suffering from aircraft noise.
We wish to state our opposition to any increase in night flights, and to call for a curfew between 11pm and 7am. We hear many complaints from residents in our communities about the impact that aircraft noise has on their ability to get a good night’s sleep. The benefits of decent sleep to overall health are well-established and we believe that people’s rights to undisturbed sleep should be protected as a public health goal.
The National Policy Statement has an expectation that there will be a night flight ban of at least six and a half hours – the proposals for an expanded Heathrow cannot deliver this.
The consultation does not include any information about future planned flight paths. This is deeply concerning as it inhibits the ability of individuals to respond appropriately. We know that planned changes to flight paths mean that many more people are likely to be disturbed by aircraft noise than currently, including communities in Richmond, Twickenham, Kingston and Surbiton that currently experience little disruption. The lack of information about proposed flight paths in this consultation mean that residents in these communities did not have the information they needed to be able to respond to the consultation fully.
The section of the proposal which refers to ‘Early Growth’ reveals that Heathrow are planning to inflict a further 25,000 flights a year on local communities before the runway has even opened. There is no mandate for this immediate expansion of flight numbers in the National Policy Statement. It is quite clear that Heathrow intend to accommodate this expansion on its existing runways by putting on early morning flights, within the night time period. Not only will the additional flights increase the noise burden on local communities overall, it will intrude further into the night time period, which will be the time of greatest disruption for local residents.
Comment on the consultation
The consultation as a whole has been difficult to access, with large impenetrable documents that are difficult for people to understand. Important information has been hidden in footnotes and appendices and the public consultations (although excellently staffed) have given only a very superficial overview of the proposals.
We wish to repeat, above all, our absolute opposition to any expansion at Heathrow Airport.
(Signed – Sarah Olney, Munira Wilson, and Ed Davey)