MP for Windsor
Working Hard For You
Adam’s Parliamentary Questions reveal Heathrow plans

I have been fighting non-stop against the calamitous proposals for a third runway, and the steady rise in aircraft noise from our neighbour Heathrow Airport Ltd, since I became an MP in 2005.

Over the past 11 years we’ve won some big battles. Ruling out expansion in 2010. Forcing restrictions on night flights. Bringing an end to invasive flight path trials. And so on.

The Government is expected to reach a final decision on airport expansion later this year and, while aircraft noise remains a real issue for all of us, this is the most important fight of all.

The colossal weight of evidence against Heathrow has been presented again and again.

Heathrow will not bring value for money, will not meet legally-binding environmental targets and will not cater to our long-term aviation capacity needs, and is thus not in our national interest.

Opposing Heathrow is not NIMBYism, it is a decision that will have a national impact.

In response to a recent Parliamentary Question I asked (44201) the Government confirmed that they will consider overall plans to improve air quality and its legal commitments before making a decision.

Given that Heathrow is already in breach of its legal commitments with two runways, the idea that it can reduce NO2 emissions in the local area whilst expanding its air capacity by 50% is clearly a nonsense.

If releasing the additional capacity from an additional runway is made dependent on meeting binding, real world air quality milestones, then we may soon find that an expansion at Heathrow won’t release any new capacity at all.

This alone means that expanding Heathrow would be questionable if it was the only choice. Combined with the fact that there are many clearly more cost-effective alternatives that are less damaging to local communities, it ought to be bottom of our list.

You have my commitment that I will continue to fight tooth and nail for the best deal for my constituents regardless of what decision is taken.

I am delighted that, in response to a further Parliamentary Question (44199), the Government has confirmed that they are considering a strong package of measures to mitigate the impact of runway expansion on communities.

This builds on a recommendation by the Environmental Audit Committee last year that, regardless of whether a third runaway is granted to them, a Community Engagement Board must be created to restore trust between Heathrow and the local communities that it blights.

Whilst it will come to a relief to residents that the Government is considering how to help  local communities deal with the costs of runway expansion – and the effects of noise pollution – this yet again demonstrates how cost ineffective expanding Heathrow is compared to Gatwick.

Heathrow’s noise pollution already affects 7 times more people than any other UK airport. Expanding Heathrow will affect 837,000 more people, expanding Gatwick will affect 37,000. Heathrow is permanently stymied by its archaic location from a time before mass air travel.

With our withdrawal from the EU it is more important now than ever before to demonstrate that Britain is open for business and increasing our long term air capacity must be integral to that aim. But it is more important to make the right decision that to make a hasty one.

I would urge the Government to make the right choice and back expansion at Gatwick.

 

The Airports Commission is stuck in the past

While it is disappointing that the Commission’s first recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow reflects a backward looking view of aviation world, there is good reason for optimism. Gatwick remains on the table as a credible and commercially viable option.

With the door open for Gatwick we may finally be closer to a decision and I will be urging the Government to take the opportunity of a generation to choose Gatwick.

Heathrow – Our Noisy Neighbour

UK Airports 57 db contour graph

Noise comparison at UK airports, Click to enlarge.

One thing is for certain: Britain needs more aviation capacity to remain an open, globally-focussed trading nation. But the decision on expansion needs to take into account a range of issues, including the environment, local communities, feasibility and the needs of Britain’s aviation market.

The argument over noise is often dismissed as small-minded nimbyism. But airplane noise isn’t just a matter of irritation, it is linked to significant productivity losses and health complications such as hypertension, hearing loss, insomnia, mental health challenges and cognitive impairment. We must take this seriously.

Where next for the fight against the Third Runway

Heathrow Noisy Airplane

While the debate on Britain’s aviation future won’t start in earnest until the final report from the Airport Commission is released in the summer, the fight against the third runway continues.

During the recent election campaigns, local MPs from the main parties won their seats on the back of a pledge to fight Heathrow expansion. This is good news because newly elected MPs must now live up to those pledges in Parliament by making the case that any airport expansion must not include a third runway at Heathrow.

Adam Afriyie says ruling out offshore airport option is a catastrophic mistake

Adam Afriyie MP today called The Airport Commission’s decision to eliminate the Thames Estuary option from its deliberations a “catastrophic mistake”.

Responding to the news, Adam Afriyie also raised concerns about the amount of scrutiny the offshore option had been subject to compared with other options.

Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor, said:

“Ruling out a Thames Estuary airport option is a catastrophic mistake. It shows a lack of ambition and undermines our economic future.

“Why build a single extra runway with all the expense, disruption and extra noise it will create for millions of people, when it doesn’t actually solve the long-term problem? We’d have to start to build several more runways soon afterwards.

“An offshore airport is the only long-term option. It would give British businesses, big and small, the space they needed to ramp up exports to the rest of the world, creating jobs for families across the country.

“Clearly The Airport Commission does not have the foresight to imagine Britain as a great trading nation in the future. This is an error that will damage our country’s prospects for generations to come.

“Questions must also be asked about the process as the Thames Estuary option was subject to far more scrutiny than the alternatives included in the final report.

“I will continue the fight against a third runway at Heathrow because it is against the local, regional or national interest. It would be the worst of all worlds.

“Heathrow Airport Holding Ltd’s should not be able to further ingrain its corporate monopoly. This will only make holidays and business travel more expensive by tightening Heathrow’s stranglehold on aviation.

“Gatwick is the best option for a short-term fix, which, as is clear from this decision, is the only thing The Airport Commission is looking for.”

Contact:

Notes to Editors:

  1. Mr Afriyie’s website: http://www.adamafriyie.org/
  2. A copy of The Airport Commission’s decision on the Thames Estuary option: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/349518/decision-and-summary.pdf