Stephen Byers' Terminal 5 decision "puts Londoners at risk" and Putney hit with double whammy as night flight decision postponed.

Artists impression of the new terminal


The decision by Stephen Byers to give the go ahead to a fifth terminal at Heathrow will blight the lives of 1 million people in London and the South East living under the Heathrow flight path Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister has warned.

Today's announcement is also a snub for last month's European Court of Human Rights ruling on night flights, which found that the UK Government was wrong to have put economic arguments ahead of environmental considerations.

Cllr. Lister said the minister was taking a huge gamble in choosing to bring in yet more flights over the most densely populated part of the country and added:

"Last week the French chose to site their new Paris airport 80 miles north of the capital at Cheaulnes. Yet we go on adding more and more capacity to an already overstretched airport in a city with the most overcrowded skies in Europe."

He criticised the proximity of the decision to September 11th saying the Minister should have paused to allow time for the security and safety issues to be properly examined.

The Minister also revealed that the situation on night flights would only be reviewed in 2003 when the present contracts expire. This disappointed campaigners who were hoping for a commitment to implement the Strasbourg court's ruling. There was also no commitment in the report not to build a third runway at Heathrow which had been expected in some quarters.

Mike Hodgkinson, BAA's Chief Executive, said that the decision was good news for the economy and "the local community which has won sensible safeguards. The approval of Terminal 5 was conditional on the number of flights annually being limited to 480,000 and the number of extra passengers is not to exceed 25 million. In addition there are new restrictions on noise levels. A spokesman for HACAN the residents group campaigning against aircraft noise pointed out that previous commitments to limit air traffic levels at Heathrow have been breached. BAA told the T5 inquiry in 1994 that flight numbers at Heathrow would only have risen to 473,000 a year by 2013. This level has almost been reached already with total numbers last year running at 466,000 flights.

Cllr Lister said that the Council would continue to demand cast iron guarantees on three remaining issues:

  • an early end to all night flights
  • no third runway
  • no parallel operations for the north and south runways

He added that the local authorites in London opposed to the new terminal have not yet reached a decision on whether or not to challenge the ruling.

BAA say the fifth terminal will increase capacity at Heathrow to 80 million passengers a year although local authorities believe the real figure could top 100 million. The inspector has now put this at 90 million. The airport is already running at 64 million passengers (compared to a nominal capacity of 54 million).

Aircraft noise affects many thousands of local residents in Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney. The council is part of an-all party group of local authorities in London and the South East opposed to any further expansion of Heathrow on environmental grounds.

Wandsworth helped to raise more than £50,000 from other councils towards the legal costs of the eight west London residents who brought the night flights case to Strasbourg.

The building of Terminal 5 will affect all residents within SW15. Do you wish to voice you opinion? Contact the forum or write to the editor

Tony Colman MP - gives us his reaction to the decision.