"Bring Forward Airport Capacity Decision"

Wandsworth urges Government not to postpone decision until 2015

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In its response to a national consultation on aviation policy the authority says that ruling Heathrow expansion out of the debate will shorten the decision making process and is entirely consistent with Government policy.

A High Court ruling blocked a third runway in 2010 and nothing has changed that would make the environmental impact any less damaging. The same noise, air quality and surface access constraints remain.

The council also says that a third runway at Heathrow would not provide the extra capacity the UK needs and a fresh demand for a fourth runway would quickly follow. This, according to Wandsworth, would be an environmental disaster and create new flightpaths over the most densely populated area in the UK.

The consultation response also points out that Heathrow’s owner BAA has based the case for expansion on the need for increased connectivity between London and emerging economies - but the company does not have the means to ensure that extra capacity will be used in this way.

The council says that airlines will always fly to the most profitable routes, not those which serve the best interests of the UK economy. For example British Airways recently bought up BMI’s runway slots and now uses them to fly new services to Alicante – not long haul business destination.

To build a third runway on a promise of connectivity that neither the airport operator nor the Government can deliver would be a reckless gamble, according to the council.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said:
“If extra hub capacity is required in the South East then Heathrow must be ruled out. Its site is simply too constrained and every new runway would subject new parts of London to the misery of low flying planes.

“We want the Government to bring forward the timetable for the Davies Commission, remove the Heathrow expansion option from consideration and focus on a review of capacity at other locations in the southern half of the country that can be within easy reach of the capital.”

Wandsworth Council is a founding member of the 2M Group of councils opposed to Heathrow expansion. This all-party alliance includes more than 20 local authorities.

In 2010 the group led a successful High Court challenge against the previous Government's plan to add a third runway.

The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people.

Wandsworth's full response is available on line here. It was approved on October 8th by the council's executive.

October 10, 2012