Call for bigger air hub after Heathrow third runway rejected


Richmond residents objected to the plans to expand Heathrow.


By Ryan Bembridge

The Independent Transport Commission are calling for a new air hub after tens of thousands of Richmond residents opposed proposals for the expansion of Heathrow airport in West London.

In a month-long referendum, conducted with the borough of Hillingdon, around four-fifths of the 60,000 Richmond residents who took part objected to the plans.

The poll asked whether a third runway should be built and if there should be more flights in and out of the airport.

Richmond Council leader Lord True said: “Richmond and Hillingdon are against any plan to expand Heathrow now or in the future. It is not an adequate or a safe site for a massive airport.

“The government should stop fudging until 2015, rule out this not-fit-for-purpose site and get on with delivering an expansion in a better site.”

He said the boroughs’ combined number of objectors could overflow Twickenham Stadium twice over.

Dr Stephen Hickey, of think-tank the Independent Transport Commission, said Heathrow was under immense competitive pressure from growing European airports but there was the need for a bigger hub.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Hickey said: “We think there are three options which ought to be looked at in more detail. One is the Thames Estuary, one is Heathrow and one is Stansted.

“But Stansted and Heathrow would need to be expanded compared with where they are today.”

He said an indicative figure to build a new airport would be around £50 billion.

Heathrow currently handles 78% of the UK’s long-haul flights.

London mayor Boris Johnson said he was staunchly opposed to any expansion programme and the environmental impact would be completely unacceptable.

“It is sheer lunacy to even think about attempting to squeeze an extra runway into an area which is so densely populated and already blighted by noise and air pollution,” he said. “Especially as a third runway can only lead to a fourth.”

The referendum results from the two boroughs have been delivered to the government to show south-west London residents’ opposition.

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