Case against Heathrow expansion is ‘stronger than ever’ says Zac Goldsmith

Hundreds of additional flights a day are likely to cause more misery for south west London residents suffering from noise and air pollution according to a Conservative MP. 

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, who has long opposed Heathrow expansion, was also highly critical of the consultation on expansion which closed on March 4, as a judicial review into Heathrow’s proposal’s including the building of the third runway began last Monday.

The judicial review is being held at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was granted following five separate legal challenges from Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hillingdon, Windsor & Maidenhead, and Wandsworth councils as well as environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

In a statement Mr Goldsmith said: “Like many thousands of people in south west London, my constituents are already plagued by noise and air pollution from Heathrow – and that’s before Heathrow’s new proposals for 25,000 extra flights as well as the proposed third runway.

‘‘It is particularly scandalous that Londoners aren’t being told where the new flight paths will be, and that surely makes a mockery of the Heathrow consultation.

‘‘The case against expansion is stronger than ever, on every level, and I hope that the court case will demonstrate that Heathrow’s plans are not compatible with pollution and other laws.”

The judicial review is expected to take around two weeks to decide if the decision by Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to approve the expansion of Heathrow is legal. A key consideration for the court will be the government’s airports National Policy Statement (NPS) which makes the economic and business case for expansion.

According to the latest proposals, from 2021 between 17 and 47 flights could go directly over Richmond Park every hour as low as 300 metres (1,000 feet).

Ron Crompton, and economist from East Sheen and the chairman of the Friends of Richmond Park said: “The park is the quietest place in London and it’s a place where lots of people come to get away from the hassle and bustle and noise for some peace and tranquillity. That’s all going to be shattered by these planes.

‘’My view is that they just thought we can dump the planes over Richmond Park no one is going to worry about it.’’

Current flight paths to Heathrow aren’t directly routed over the park. However this is all set to change by 2021 with the number of flights expected to increase from the current annual capacity of 480,000 by 25,000 a year with flights expected to increase even further on the completion of the third runway in 2026.

A spokesperson for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Sadiq has serious concerns about the impact of a third runway on air quality, noise pollution and public transport.

“That’s why the mayor has joined councils and Greenpeace in taking legal action against the additional runway at Heathrow. He is hoping the government sees sense and doesn’t proceed with the plans that will be damaging for our city and for the wellbeing of Londoners.”

However Heathrow Airport said that expansion was overwhelmingly backed by Parliament including majorities in the Conservative and Labour parties, having gone through seven years of consultation and parliamentary scrutiny.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Judicial reviews are a completely normal occurrence in infrastructure projects of this size and whilst these are being heard, we will continue to deliver on our plans and remain on-track for the third runway to open in 2026.’’

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