Fury at Heathrow expansion rumours

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Anger: Tony Arbour has been among the dissenters Anger: Tony Arbour has been among the dissenters

Campaigners are furious at claims all options the Davies Commission will set out in next week’s report will include extra runways at Heathrow.

The commission is due publish its interim report on Tuesday, December 17, but leaked information suggested it would set out three options for extra airport capacity in the south-east in the report: a third Heathrow runway, a four-runway Heathrow and another runway at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

The draft, presented to Chancellor George Osborne, allegedly ruled out new runways at Stansted or an estuary airport, but it is thought Tuesday’s report may formally retain more options in an attempt to give it some balance.

The claims sparked a backlash from MPs and campaigners, who said a Heathrow expansion would be far too unpopular to push through.

MP Zac Goldmith said: “Osborne wanted a green light for Heathrow expansion, and it looks like he has secured that, as he always knew he would, using Howard Davies.

“The leaders of all three parties must now front up and let voters know where they stand.

“The alternative to Osborne’s hopes of recreating what is effectively a vast foreign owned monopoly on one edge of London, is to facilitate a super-competitive multi hub for the whole city, with our three main airports competing fairly for customers.

“Above all, that means investing immediately in better surface links to Stansted and Gatwick.”

Chairman of Hacan John Stewart said: “It is astonishing that Davies has put so much faith in an option he must know is politically the hardest to deliver.

“The one good thing is that he will force political parties to come out for or against a third runway before the 2015 General Election.”

Leader of Richmond Council Lord True reiterated the council’s position as completely opposed to any expansion at Heathrow.

He said: “Many feared the Davies Commission was a Trojan horse - presaging broken promises to London residents and a cave-in to the big foreign interests who dominate the ownership of Heathrow.

“From what we read they may have been right.

“Of course the Government can still stop it. Local people expect David Cameron and Nick Clegg to stand by their word and do just that. They heard the promises.

“They can expect Richmond council to stand four-square with them: we will not accept any expansion of Heathrow, by this Government or another.”

Leader of Richmond Council’s Liberal Democrats Councillor Stephen Knight raised concerns for people living in St Margarets, Twickenham and Whitton, who could face low flying planes every 90 seconds for the first time.

He said: “The truth is that we cannot carry on encouraging more and more low-cost air travel and meet the carbon reduction targets that we need to achieve to prevent climate catastrophe.

“We need a totally different approach to the planning of future air transport - one that shifts short-haul trips on to high speed rail and that ensures that the cost of flying properly reflects the environmental impacts.”

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