Mayor ready to join legal action against third runway at Heathrow
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join legal action brought by local councils against Heathrow Airport expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a third runway next week.
At Mayor’s Question Time this morning, Sadiq reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and highlighted the many obstacles in the way, including significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements.
Sadiq’s announcement builds on his previous support for the joint legal challenge by the affected borough councils - Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils, which Hammersmith and Fulham Council recently indicated they would join.
Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid airports combined. An expansion would mean the intolerable prospect of an extra 200,000 Londoners, including 124 schools and 43,200 schoolchildren, being exposed to an unacceptable level of noise every day.
This disturbs the everyday lives of Londoners, leading to health problems related to stress and sleep disturbance, with noise exposure for school children reducing reading levels and memory recall.
A third runway at Heathrow would also lead to even higher levels of toxic air in an area where pollution is already well above legal levels for NO2 emissions.
The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, compared to just £3bn more for Gatwick expansion.
The comprehensive recommendations of the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.
Alternatively, a second runway at Gatwick would require much less additional transport investment, and provide London and rest of the UK with all the economic benefits of expansion, while keeping air quality safe and within legal limits.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “While I believe in a better Heathrow, I do not believe a bigger Heathrow is the right answer for London and I remain committed to opposing such a short-sighted decision. There are no plans on how to deal with the valid concerns about Heathrow expansion.
“If the vote on Monday in Parliament goes in favour of a third runway, then it is my intention to join the legal action brought by the local authorities.
“This will be a critical moment, and for the sake of Londoners affected by poor air quality, disruption from noise and the costs needed to improve transport connections I will do what I can to stop these poor plans.
“The south east of England is in need of additional airport capacity, but I believe the Government is pressing ahead with the wrong decision to build a new runway at Heathrow. It is my view that a second runway at Gatwick is a better option.”
Sadiq has regularly made known his opposition to a third runway through formal consultations and correspondence to the Secretary of State. The Mayor will ensure that briefings will be provided to MPs to inform Monday’s debate and vote.