Bogus choices on noise confirm Heathrow in wrong place for expansion

Councils say the only way to respond to Heathrow's latest attempt to persuade people that a third runway is inevitable is to state that the airport is offering bogus choices on noise which confirm that the airport is simply in the wrong place - writes

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils say the airport was offering residents a series of invidious choices over when and how often they would like to suffer the health impacts associated with aircraft noise while offering no information on where the new flightpaths for an expanded airport would go.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "People in south and west London live in the most densely populated part of the country. They are being asked to choose between noise for lots of people lots of the time or noise for even more people a little less often. Others are being asked what kind of relief they would like from noise they've never previously experienced. It's a bit like offering people a choice of inadequate remedies for an illness they've never had. We're also being asked whether we want to shatter the relative peace of rural areas and green open spaces or instead heap more noise on the communities nearby."

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said: "Heathrow expansion is certainly not inevitable and everytime we get more detail - the evidence points to Gatwick being the better decision for the country. It brings more benefits and less impact on quality of life. This includes noise. The airport also continues to bamboozle people on night flights and respite. With or without expansion there will still be flights arriving before 6am when people have a right to be enjoying their sleep. Heathrow is planning on expanding the airport by 50million extra passengers within the space of one year. There is no way this would not bring a significant amount of additional noise to West London."

The Leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, said: "It would be better if Heathrow simply admitted that promises on future changes to night flights cannot be guaranteed. It's the airlines that decide when they fly, not the airport. However they try to share the noise misery around the fact is that Heathrow is already the busiest airport in Europe. It is already bringing in more flights over built-up areas than any other European airport. There is no way to sugar this pill."

Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, said: "There is an alternative. Expansion does not have to take place at Heathrow. The Government's own evidence compiled for its national policy statement on airports showed that an extra runway at Gatwick could be delivered with greater economic benefits, at lower cost and with no taxpayer funding. Most importantly for the communities affected, the environmental impact of expanding Gatwick in terms of noise and air pollution would be substantially less. The only response to Heathrow's current publicity material is to repeat that Heathrow is in the wrong place for expansion. It is already too noisy for too many people."

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils told the Government in December that its own evidence demonstrated that an expanded Heathrow could not be delivered without unacceptable air pollution and noise. They concluded that the runway was unbuildable while expansion at Gatwick could go ahead without this risk.

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