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1. Heathrow expansion

Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of the Council, said: 

“This decision by the government to support proposals for a third runway is disappointing and shows once again that the facts about the true impact of a third runway at Heathrow are still being ignored.

“We have tried to bring these concerns to the attention of the government and campaigned again and again against expanding Heathrow as doing so would be at the expense of the millions who live in its shadow.

“We will  continue to hold government to account and will work with our partners to ensure the impacts including noise, respite, night flights and pollution are both properly assessed and considered”.

Cllr John Bowden, Chairman of the Aviation Forum, said:

"Ultimately, the expansion proposals put forward by the airport are unsustainable and would bring an unacceptable blight to the communities surrounding the airport, many of whom already experience a significant adverse environmental impact. 

“The Royal Borough does not believe Heathrow is a suitable site for expansion and asserts that the airport can get better, without getting bigger. 

“In comparison, we believe that the proposal at Gatwick remains the only viable and least environmentally damaging long-term option for consideration by the government and wider public going forward”.

Our key expansion concerns

Noise burden

The proposed scheme at Heathrow would see capacity rise at the airport with the number of air traffic movements (ATMs) increasing from 480,000 to around 740,000. This represents a 54% intensification and is completely unsustainable to residents whose noise burden is already unacceptable. 

The Royal Borough has long called for the commissioning of a proper study into the health effects of noise on communities surrounding the airport. Only by undertaking this piece of work can credible noise limits be set, against which the airport can be assessed – such as those put forward by the World Health Organisation.

On the matter of respite (periods of quiet where no planes are routed overhead) - the borough does not agree that operations from the three runways proposed can be considered truly independent for the purposes of determining respite; with communities in-between runway approaches likely to be disturbed continually in some capacity.

The airport appears also not to acknowledge the impact upon green and open spaces to both the east and west of the airport. These are used and valued by the residents and visitors to the Royal Borough as a method to escape noise and other pollutant sources. Concentrated flight paths over these areas would effectively remove this public benefit.

Fair distribution of flights

The Royal Borough has continually pressed for a fairer distribution of flights, which could be achieved by the airport undertaking taxiway works to facilitate the abandonment of ‘Cranford Operations’.

If abandoned, the airport could enable the currently restricted easterly departures from the northern runway and enable alternation for landing aircraft onto both runways from the west. Currently Windsor town centre experiences 100% of the noise burden when the airport operates in this manner.

The borough was disappointed to hear that the airport decided to withdraw these taxiway proposals at the end of 2018 and now states that these works are delayed until the proposed third runway works. This has created the effect of unnecessarily prolonging noise burden to our communities.

Night flights

The Royal Borough remains in complete opposition to night flights and advocates a complete ban on flights between 11.30pm-6am.

We welcomed the Airports Commission accepting our recommendation that there should be a 11.30pm-6am night flight ban, something resisted within the current Heathrow expansion proposals.

It should be noted that the 6am time should be read with caution, with this time referring to the time the aircraft parks on the stand. In reality community disturbance occurs well before this time. 

Air quality

The area of proposed expansion is within and surrounded by Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) due to existing non-compliance with air quality legislation, including the Royal Borough’s AQMA declared around junction 13 of the M25. To expand in this area would lead to increased vehicular movements and congestion, resulting in decreased air quality for local communities.

With increased passenger numbers there will clearly be an unacceptable increase in traffic and congestion on the local road network unless the airport proposes adequate strategies to control and manage both staff and passenger traffic and encourage a modal shift away from the car.  

Despite assertions over a potential guarantee, the airport has not demonstrated how it can effectively deliver its proposed scheme, including its proposed 50% public transport modal share target by 2030, without adversely affecting air quality. Furthermore current communication from the airport does not adequately define what it believes to be direct ‘airport related impacts’ to allow for such analysis to be made.

Green belt / Local plan

From the information presented by the airport to date; the Royal Borough is concerned about the lack of detail concerning the quantity and spatial distribution of additional housing that will be required to meet the needs of the increased population, drawn to meet the jobs expected to be generated by the expanded airport.  The Royal Borough submitted its Borough Local Plan (2013 – 2033) to the Secretary of State on Wednesday 31 January 2018.  

One upper-end housing estimate associated with plans for an expanded runway, highlights that around 70,000 homes may be required around the airport’s catchment area to support the development. 

Given the constrained nature of the borough, including a range of european designations, crown land, the River Thames and the waterbodies to the west of the borough, as well as Metropolitan Green Belt, the scope to accommodate additional housing over and above the levels to be accommodated through the local plan is severely restricted.