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homeTuesday 17th September 2019

Heathrow plans split parties

Katie Coyne07/06/2018 - 11:59

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Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport

With the debate over Heathrow’s third runway reignited, the CIEH has expressed concerns about the government’s plans to give it the go-ahead.

Arguments over whether to expand Heathrow have raged for almost two decades with only a brief respite for five years during the coalition government.

While transport secretary Chris Grayling has said it will not go ahead unless it meets air quality rules, many are sceptical including the CIEH.

A statement from CIEH said: ‘Despite the positive noises from the transport secretary, CIEH continues to have major reservations about this proposal on the grounds of air quality and noise.  

‘We acknowledge Grayling's promise of “world class” mitigation measures; nevertheless, both the existing noise and air quality environment around Heathrow are poor and bearing in mind the national air quality problem experienced at the moment, we remain to be convinced that these proposals will not add to the current burden on health and well-being of people living and working in the vicinity.’

Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas said the plans were ‘disastrous’ and ‘fly in the face of common sense and climate science. She said it was an ‘absolute disgrace’ that Grayling did not mention climate change in his announcement.

She commented: ‘We know that expansion at Heathrow will make meeting our carbon emission targets near impossible, and that local people will suffer as a result.’

Lucas added that she was calling on long-standing opponents to make the public case against the plan and said: ‘History will not forgive those who failed to make a stand for what's right at this most crucial of moments.’

Environmental campaigners ClientEarth, have taken the government to court three times over non-compliance with EU air quality regulations.

James Thornton, ClientEarth CEO, is doubtful about the project going ahead: ‘The UK government is already failing to meet legal limits for harmful air pollution, so expansion looks very tough under those circumstances.

‘Ministers should be doing everything they can to comply with air pollution laws to protect people’s health before even considering adding to the problem.

‘It’s also very difficult to see how this could be done given the UK’s climate commitments. We’ll be examining the final plans with interest.’

The government has made £2.6bn available to compensate homeowners forced to move, including £700m for noise insulation for those who stay. He has also promised a six and a half hour night flight ban and legally enforceable noise restrictions.

On current plans, an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise will be set up to advise noise issues and provide a ‘link between airport operators, airlines and local communities’.

MPs are expected to vote on the third runway by 11 July and already there are discussions about whether some Conservative MPs will be able to abstain or even vote against the government. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is against the plans, so Labour may be split.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has said he will ‘lie down in front of bulldozers’ to stop it.

Lucas said that if Johnson goes abroad, as reported, to miss the vote, he would be, ‘guilty of unforgiveable cowardice’.

Unions support the expansion, with its promise of creating ‘tens of thousands of local jobs’ and benefits of up to £74bn to the economy.

 

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