McDonnell: North-west Londoners ‘betrayed by Cameron’
HEATHROW Airport expansion plans were fiercely opposed by community and environment activists yesterday after a report recommended that it get a new runway rather than Gatwick.
The Airports Commission said that Heathrow was best placed to deliver “urgently required” capacity, but residents of north-west London and environmental campaigners strongly condemned the idea.
Prime Minister David Cameron will also have to decide this year whether to accept the recommendation, despite risking a humiliating U-turn on his own “no ifs, no buts” vow that Heathrow expansion would not go ahead.
Labour’s MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell, whose constituency includes Heathrow, said: “My community has been absolutely betrayed by Mr Cameron.
“We will fight with every mechanism available including political lobbying, legal action and, where necessary, direct action.”
The report also recommended a sweetener package to make expansion of Britain’s busiest airport more palatable to those living in the area.
This includes banning all night flights from 11.30pm to 6am, noise limitation laws and a new levy to fund sound insulation for homes, schools and other community facilities.
The Green Party’s candidates for the London mayoralty urged their rivals to publicly oppose the expansion.
“We call on all mayoral candidates from all parties to unite in opposition to a new runway at Heathrow, which would be a disaster for public health and climate change.”
Expansion seems incompatible with targets on greenhouse gas emissions, which are legally required to drop by 80 per cent by 2050.
Britain will be “a laughing stock” at climate talks in Paris this year due to “having nodded through new runways, killed its onshore wind industry and foisted fracking on communities that don’t want it,” said Friends of the Earth spokesman Andrew Pendleton.
Up to 4,000 homes are at risk of demolition or being rendered unliveable by air and noise pollution.
The commission recommended that Heathrow should compensate at least 783 mortgage-holders for their homes at full market value plus 25 per cent and reasonable costs for being uprooted from their homes.
TUC leader Frances O’Grady backed the commission’s findings due to skilled jobs and growth that the runway would require.
“Although its impacts on the environment, both in terms of carbon emissions and noise pollution, must be recognised,” she said, “the government must act to implement the commission’s findings, not let them sit in archives gathering dust.”