100,000 reasons why Heathrow expansion is the only option for the UK

By Rob Gray

Back Heathrow is delighted to announce that we now have 100,000 supporters living in the communities surrounding the UK’s only hub airport. We must push home this incredible advantage, which proves that Heathrow is the only politically deliverable option for airport expansion in the south east. A map showing the location of Back Heathrow’s supporters can be found here.

It has been less than two years since Back Heathrow was launched to provide a voice for local people who support growth at Heathrow and the thousands of jobs that the airport provides. Until Back Heathrow was founded, local people who support and rely on Heathrow were left out of the discussion, allowing a vocal minority opposing expansion to do all the talking.

Not anymore.

From a starting point of just a few hundred supporters, Back Heathrow has grown into a movement of thousands. We were delighted when 20,000 local people signed up to the campaign, followed soon after by reaching the impressive target of 50,000. By the start of 2015, our campaign numbers had soared to more than 80,000 supporters, and the race to sign up 100,000 people was on.

Now, just a few short months later, we have reached this important and significant milestone. There are now:

  • 100,000 reasons why a bigger and better Heathrow will deliver for local people.
  • 100,000 reasons why Gatwick cannot compete with Heathrow: their neighbours do not want expansion.
  • 100,000 reasons why the Airports Commission must listen to local people near Heathrow.

But, the story is not over yet. Back Heathrow has really taken off, and we’ve reached the cruising altitude of 100,000 supporters. However there is still much work to be done before we can help land an extra runway. Back Heathrow will continue to make the case for a quieter, cleaner and bigger Heathrow and to fight for the best deal for our local communities. If you would like to be part of this, why not sign up here?


No one questions the scale of opposition to Heathrow….but they should

Plane Stupid

By Rob Gray

On Tuesday, opponents of Heathrow expansion held what was billed as “the biggest rally of the year” at 664-seat Church House in central London. The event had been advertised extensively, with the first publicity appearing last year, followed up with social media and thousands of pounds worth of full-page adverts in local newspapers.

The rally organisers, HACAN, promised a major event that would be an opportunity to ‘show Westminster your opposition’ but unfortunately the number of attendees failed to match expectation, with the venue remaining around half full.

We are well aware that there is opposition to the expansion of Heathrow, and indeed any infrastructure project. Look around the country, whether it’s Heathrow, Gatwick, new railway lines or housing, any major infrastructure project has its opposition groups. Yet even the organisers of Tuesday’s rally have previously admitted that the majority of people in west London support Heathrow expansion.

Far from being the biggest rally of the year, this event is the latest in a long line of unfortunate attempts by Heathrow’s opponents to overstate their support. Last month, HACAN was left red-faced after they claimed that Twickenham MP Vince Cable was speaking at this week’s rally on behalf of the Government. Local business leaders were angry that Vince Cable had been billed as speaking as ‘Secretary of State for Business’, appearing to be in breach of official rules. When challenged, organisers of the event claimed that this billing was an ‘error’.

But it wasn’t an ‘error’ because they were warned several weeks prior to the event that this information was misleading, but they chose to go ahead anyway and promote Dr Cable’s appearance as ‘Secretary of State’ in their advertising blitz.

This followed misleading claims that Heathrow Airport had received more than 90,000 individual noise complaints. It was revealed that more than half of them were from just 50 people, with around 30,000 of those complaints being sent using automatic software. The numbers had been artificially inflated by those who are trying to claim that the opposition to expansion is greater than it really is.

Anti-Heathrow protestors have also been pushing anyone opposed to expansion to sign a petition on the Hounslow Council website. The petition has been advertised widely, including an expensive letter drop to houses across the London Borough of Hounslow, whilst national anti-aviation groups have been urging people to sign online, no matter where they live. So far it has fewer than 850 signatures despite running for more than six months.

Although the petition was aimed at Hounslow residents, a quick scan down the list of signatories reveals that many names are from people living nowhere near Hounslow, including residents in Lambeth, Windsor and Richmond. The petition even allows you to sign if you’re not resident in the UK! How’s that for local?

This week the Airports Commission said that during the consultation they received 68,000 responses, and whilst we don’t yet know exactly how many Back Heathrow supporters responded, we know that many of our supporters have been in touch to say that did. When the Commission publishes its final report, it will also publish the responses it received and it will be fascinating to see how these break down.

Those opposed to expansion will register their opposition, and they have every right to do so. It is important that those who may lose out have their views heard, and more importantly, are treated fairly and adequately compensated if plans get the go ahead. Unlike some who oppose expansion, we do not try to gag those who hold a different view.

However, there has been a clear and consistent pattern of deliberately overstating the amount of opposition to expansion, whether through electronic fakery, or struggling to half-fill venues. This now raises some serious questions about the level of opposition to Heathrow expansion. No one has challenged the wild numbers bandied about by the anti-Heathrow campaign....until now.


Anti-Heathrow rally dogged by speaker controversy

By Mike Appleton

Organisers of a controversial anti-Heathrow rally will have red-faces today. This morning it was reported that Vince Cable is in trouble because two west London business leaders have reported the Secretary of State to the Prime Minister for an apparent breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

Anti-Heathrow expansion group HACAN has being trying to put together a ‘Rally Against the Runway’ to draw together a few hundred people in central London next week. Heading a line-up of the usual suspects dominated by the ‘green blob’ is the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

This billing is highly unusual as the Ministerial Code makes it very clear what Ministers can do as a constituency MP, and what they can’t do as a Minister. The Code is there to make sure that Ministers are doing what is right for the entire country, rather than just for the constituency that they represent. Section 1.2 (h) of the code is very clear:

Ministers in the House of Commons must keep separate their roles as Minister and constituency member”

This week, the Chief Executives of both Hounslow Chamber of Commerce and West London Business, representing thousands of businesses in west London, wrote to the Prime Minister to complain that the Minister responsible for business, manufacturing and exports appears to be using his official position as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to campaign against Heathrow expansion.

It is no surprise that the CEOs are unhappy about Vince Cable’s impending appearance as Business Secretary at next week’s protest when businesses are overwhelmingly in favour of expansion at Heathrow. In their letter to the Prime Minister, which you can read in full here, they make clear that more than 30 Chambers of Commerce representing many thousands of businesses throughout the UK support expansion at the airport, alongside bodies like the EEF which represents UK manufacturers.

When this story broke earlier today, HACAN immediately acknowledged that Dr Cable wasn’t speaking as Secretary of State, claiming it was an ‘error’. But if this is true, why did they ignore the same warnings that we gave them in early January, seven weeks ago? Why did they then go ahead, taking out full page adverts in local newspapers advertising the top speaker as ‘Secretary of State’ and ‘Cabinet Minister’? Why did Vince Cable retweet a flyer promoting the rally clearly showing him topping the speaker line-up as Secretary of State?

HACAN should have made clear from the start that Dr Cable was appearing as a local MP, rather than trying to overstate support for their rally. How on earth could the UK’s business secretary allow his privileged position and title to be used to promote an event that is so anti-business and anti-growth? We may never know because today he is busy opening the International Festival for Business which helps UK companies export in a global marketplace. You couldn’t make it up.


Our trip to Parliament

WATCH: OUR TRIP TO PARLIAMENT: 80,000 say ‘YES’ to Heathrow expansion

My how we’ve grown! We are delighted to announce that 80,000 local people have now shown their support for the Back Heathrow campaign. On Monday we took a campaign bus to Central London to visit the offices of the Airports Commission and take our message to Parliament. You can watch a video of our day by clicking on the link above or read on below to find out how we got on.

Around 50 campaigners hopped on a coach at Hounslow, travelling to Westminster to hand in our official Back Heathrow response to the Airports Commission public consultation. ‘Voices For Our Airport’ draws together a sample of the thousands of positive views we have heard from residents and businesses. It makes for compelling reading.

We’d have liked to include a quote from each one of our supporters, but it might have been a little too heavy to have taken with us. Luckily, we know that our supporters have been sending in submissions in their thousands, so the Commission can be in no doubt about where they stand.

After delivering our response to the Airports Commission offices in Westminster, we then headed off to Parliament to demonstrate the local support for Heathrow. What better way to show off our big number, than to do it with a big number! (See video.)

Heading into Parliament, our supporters had the chance to walk the corridors of power, telling MPs and peers what we’ve all been saying for months: the people of west London and the Thames Valley want a bright and successful future for their local airport. The message was clear: stop listening solely to those who oppose Heathrow, and please start listening to the majority who support the significant benefits that a bigger, better and quieter Heathrow would create.

Over the past few days there has been a further outpouring of support for Heathrow expansion, and not just from local residents. Thirty Chambers of Commerce from Inverness to Plymouth, Britain’s manufacturers and two major unions have said ‘Yes’ to growth at Heathrow. Even Gatwick’s biggest customer easyJet has come down in favour of Heathrow.

This is all good news. However, with an Airports Commission recommendation and a new government just round the corner, there is much work still to be done. Meanwhile, this formidable campaigning coalition of 80,000 residents, local businesses and community groups looks set to keep on growing.

You can read Voices For Our Airport, the Back Heathrow response to the Airports Commission public consultation by clicking here.


Poll shows huge local support for Heathrow expansion

By Rob Gray

The past few months have seen support flooding in for Back Heathrow with thousands of residents signing up to our campaign for a bigger, better and quieter airport.

In some cases local people have been ahead of their elected representatives in acknowledging majority support for Heathrow expansion. But if anyone was in any doubt then a new independent poll from Populus has confirmed this in spectacular style.

The top opinion pollster interviewed more than 10,000 people living in the 10 parliamentary constituencies closest to Heathrow, making sure their sample accurately reflected the make-up of the local population, and asked them for their views on the UK’s hub airport. It is a massive poll by any standards and should provide a wake-up call to any politician who still believes the myth that most residents do not want their airport to grow.

Across these local communities, 50% of residents expressed support for Heathrow expansion compared to 33% opposed. The rest remained neutral. No less than 57% felt positive towards the airport set against just 7% who felt negatively towards the airport. Slough showed the most support for Heathrow’s expansion with 63% of local people surveyed giving the thumbs-up for growth.

Supportive majorities in favour of Heathrow expansion swept across west London. They were found in Feltham & Heston (57% v 29%), Hayes & Harlington (56% v 28%), Spelthorne (53% v 29%), Ealing Central & Acton (53% v 28%), Brentford & Isleworth (52% v 34%), Uxbridge & South Ruislip (47% v 32%), Windsor (43% v 40%) and even Richmond Park (42% v 41%).

Twickenham was the only constituency that showed a majority against. The core of opposition has always been in Richmond, London’s wealthiest borough, comprising both Twickenham and Richmond Park constituencies. However, even here it is a complicated picture because whilst there is no doubt aircraft noise can be an issue, Richmond residents are right up there as some of Heathrow’s most frequent flyers. In 2013, 786,920 passengers began their journey from the borough.

The majority of people in west London, Thames Valley and beyond support the expansion of the UK’s hub airport. Even the leading opponents of Heathrow expansion have acknowledged this fact. Nevertheless, it is important that we tell decision-makers about the levels of support for Heathrow.

As you may know, the Airports Commission is running a public consultation on Heathrow expansion but it finishes next week on Tuesday 3February. It is really important that you let the Commission know your views on expansion. You can send your views directly to the Commission through our super-quick online form.

If you have already done this – thank you!

We’ll have more news on the campaign for you soon.


Back Heathrow at the Airports Commission

By Rob Gray

On Wednesday 3 December the Airports Commission, the independent body charged with making a decision about where to expand airport capacity in the south of England, came to Heathrow to hear evidence from local people about the future of Heathrow.

For the first time ever, residents who are in favour of expansion made their views known. The Commission can now be in no doubt: a majority of local people are in favour of growth, at a bigger, better and quieter Heathrow Airport.

The day kicked off in the way that many predicted, a handful of people formed a tiny protest outside the hotel's entrance, whilst two members of 'Plane Stupid' scaled the roof over the hotel's entrance and sat there, preventing guests from entering the hotel. What happened next surprised everyone, except us. Our supporters took their position next to the four protesters - just dozens of ordinary people making their case for a positive future for their community.

The silent majority certainly found its voice! Our supporters sang and waved placards urging Sir Howard Davies and his team of Commissioners to hear their side of the story. You can see a picture of our supporters in full voice above. Opponents admitted it was the first time they had ever seen a pro-expansion protest.

As well as making a scene outside, we had a job to do inside. The Commission heard evidence from both Heathrow Airport and Heathrow Hub, laying out their plans for the future of the airport, and how a bigger, better and quieter Heathrow could bring so much prosperity to our area. Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith, who is no fan of the airport (except for when his constituents are using it), and he used his speech to attack Back Heathrow and its supporters, claiming that we're a 'bogus’ campaign.

Our supporters were quite surprised and offended to be referred to as 'bogus', particularly when they have lived in the area for decades and have been supporters of our campaign for many months. Had Zac Goldsmith stayed and listened to our supporters, he would have known that they are like the majority of local people, proud of the airport and keen for more jobs and better prospects for local people. Instead he insulted local people who support growth and discounted their views.

Then it was time for Rob to speak on behalf of the campaign. It was a privilege to speak on behalf of our 50,000 supporters, if the commission had allowed it we would have preferred them to hear from you all individually, but we don't think they've got a fortnight to spare! You can read Rob's speech here but we'd like to share a small part of it with you:

"We only exist because of our thousands of supporters - they are our core and our strength. They are the reason we are here today".

Despite all the nonsense that has been written by those who hope we will fail, nobody can deny that truth. People who have said 'yes' to expansion, and 'yes' to a bright future for our local communities. You are the reason why we were able to have our voice heard yesterday.

Time and again throughout the day, pro-Heathrow residents rose to their feet to give the Commission their heartfelt views. It was truly inspiring to hear how passionately local people felt about the airport past, present and future.

There are of course two sides to every story, and it was also an opportunity for those who oppose the airport's expansion to have their views heard. We know that not everyone wants Heathrow to expand. It is important for the Commission to hear about the concerns people have, but also the constructive ways that the airport hopes to address those concerns. Many pertinent and valuable points were made on both sides of this argument.

Even if you couldn’t all be there yesterday, you can still make your views to the Commission known. You can contact the commission to provide your views through their consultation page on their website.

Our supporters are our core and our strength, and the only reason we're here at all.


Airports Commission goes live with Public Consultation

By Rob Gray

Today has been yet another significant milestone in our campaign, as the Airports Commission launched its public consultation. To support this, they have also released detailed analysis of all the options over hundreds of pages, but don’t worry, we’re not going to make you read it!

If you are interested in all the details, they can be found on the Airports Commission’s website, but we thought it might be a good idea to spare you the effort and bring you some of the headlines.

The Commission has been very clear that building additional capacity at Heathrow would provide a much needed boost to our local economy and huge economic benefits for generations to come.

An extra runway at Heathrow could benefit the economy by up to £211 billion, whilst also creating almost 180,000 jobs by 2050. By 2030, 41,000 of these jobs would be at the airport alone. Proposals to expand Heathrow would benefit the UK as a whole, boosting jobs right across the country, and not just in west London and the Thames Valley.

The Commission’s workings are complex, but more importantly they are independent of both Heathrow and Heathrow Hub, the promoters of the expansion projects at the airport. What is interesting is that in terms of the economic benefits of Heathrow’s expansion, the Commission has said that the airport’s own estimates were too low and that expansion would have a bigger effect on the local area and the UK than the promoters anticipated.

Local people will also benefit through reduced noise from aircraft. As the report notes: “When compared to current noise levels, fewer people are predicted to be affected across all metrics”, meaning that even a bigger Heathrow would lead to a smaller number of people experiencing noise than they do today.

The report also, for the first time, puts a figure on the price of doing nothing at Heathrow. Anti-expansion campaigners have always accused Back Heathrow of ‘scaremongering’ for pointing out that doing nothing would lead to fewer jobs at the airport. The Commission’s report estimates that there could be 14,000 jobs fewer jobs at the airport if Heathrow doesn’t grow.

These jobs would not all be lost in one day, but instead as part of the steady decline over the years, something we have warned about over the past few months. This report now shows that there are 14,000 local reasons why doing nothing at Heathrow is not an option.

The Airports Commission's findings show beyond doubt that our campaign has been right to call for expansion to boost our local economy and to protect our local communities from decline. Despite this, the campaign is far from over, and there is still a long road ahead before the Commission makes its final decision.


Celebrating IMBYs not NIMBYs

By Rob Gray,

The debate around airport expansion is often complex, as you might expect for a decision that could have such an enormous impact on the future of the UK’s aviation policy and the economy. Despite this complexity, the question facing the Airports Commission is a very simple one: Heathrow or Gatwick?

It might not surprise you to learn that Back Heathrow is firmly behind both Heathrow Hub and Heathrow Airport’s proposals for expansion. Whilst we don’t oppose an additional runway at Gatwick, any expansion at Gatwick must not be at the expense of extra capacity at the UK’s only hub airport: Heathrow.

This week anti-expansion group HACAN published a blog in which the Chair of HACAN, John Stewart, said he would not lead a campaign for NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard). In his blog, John noted “I have watched nimbys in action and I don’t like what I see.  I get particularly irritated by nimbys picking and choosing arguments to ‘support’ their case when they really mean ‘not in my backyard’.”

We agree.

At Back Heathrow we were particularly dismayed to see a small number of NIMBYs in action over the past few weeks, where some politicians in west London feel that they cannot support expansion at Heathrow due to misplaced ideas of opposition, but are quite happy to expand other airports instead. Only this week Wandsworth Council was called the ‘NIMBY capital of Europe’ for opposing Heathrow, but backing Gatwick expansion.

Wandsworth noted the importance of airport expansion and the ability of growth to create ‘valuable new jobs’. These benefits could just as easily have been used to support Heathrow. Wandsworth is clearly picking and choosing the arguments that they wish to use to support their case, when, as John Stewart noted, they clearly mean ‘not in my back yard’.

What is really needed in this debate is facts. Luckily for us, the facts are firmly on Heathrow’s side. Figures released from the Civil Aviation Authority show that Heathrow’s position and value as the UK’s only hub airport continue to make its case for expansion stronger. Between Heathrow and Gatwick there really is no contest as to where capacity is urgently needed:

  • Heathrow is running at 98% capacity- the only airport in the UK that is almost full.
  • Last year 30% (21 million) of Heathrow’s passengers travelled for business compared to just 13% (4.5 million) of Gatwick’s passengers.
  • Last year 60% of Heathrow’s passengers were foreign nationals, showing the international importance of the airport and how vital it is to business in the UK.
  • Last year 37% (26 million) of passengers used Heathrow as a connecting hub to transfer on to other flights; just 9% (3.1 million) of Gatwick’s passengers transferred. Heathrow is one of only six airports in the world that serves more than 50 long haul destinations, so the ability to transfer via a hub airport is vital to the UK economy.

These statistics are compelling, but even more so when we consider that the majority of Heathrow’s frequent fliers live in the boroughs closest to the airport. What’s more, two thirds of the UK’s air freight goes from Heathrow, 15 times more than Gatwick.

The economic case for Heathrow’s continued growth is overwhelming, and it is facts like these that make our 50,000+ supporters not NIMBYs but IMBYs. Our supporters have chosen to join our campaign because they want to build on the existing strength of the local economy and provide jobs and prosperity for generations to come.

Expansion at Heathrow would provide our local communities with over 50,000 new local jobs, and 10,000 new apprenticeships for our young people, with the potential to end youth unemployment in the areas around the airport. They want these benefits in their back yard.

Doing nothing is not an option. The UK is falling behind its competitors, losing around £14 billion every year due to a lack of connection between us and the world’s developing economies. The UK trades 20 times more with nations to which we have a direct connection compared to those with which we don’t. It is vital that we get the direct flights we need to countries like India, China, Russia and Brazil in order to allow British business to take advantage of the huge potential that these global markets offer.

Yet Heathrow is about more than flights to far flung places. It is about thousands of local people being incredibly proud of a major west London employer. There is a wonderful opportunity to secure a bright future for a national asset and the local communities who rely on its success. Let’s stand together and say ‘yes’ to the benefits of a better, bigger and quieter Heathrow.


Heathrow is better, now let's make it bigger

By Mike Appleton

A slogan frequently quoted by those who oppose Heathrow’s growth is that they want a ‘better not bigger' airport. Since expansion was taken off the table in 2010, some have sought to use the idea that Heathrow could still compete with other hub airports around the world if it simply became ‘better’ at what it does.

Despite overlooking the fact that Heathrow is bursting at the seams, this idea is one that the airport has taken to heart, and it has set about improving its procedures and its operations to ensure that they are as efficient as possible to make the most of the squeezed runways.

The airport has seen record investment, showcased in the new Terminal 2 that was opened by the Queen earlier this year, creating jobs from construction to operation and ensuring that travellers coming to this country have the welcome we would want them to receive.

This week, Heathrow released its traffic figures showing an increase in the number of people using the airport, and just as important, an increase in the amount of freight that passed through Heathrow. Most telling was where the cargo is heading.

In September freight to Mexico was up 57.2%, 52.2% to Nigeria, 37.1% to Russia, 25.6% to China and 20.8% to India. These are the emerging economies, the markets that the UK needs to unlock to ensure that British goods are traded alongside those from other nations. In previous blog posts we have argued that freight is just as important to the UK as passenger traffic with around a quarter of UK exports by value now being sent through Heathrow, an astonishing 86% of all UK air freight.

These increases in passenger traffic and freight are very welcome, but they could only be achieved by using larger aircraft, with more seats and hold space, not by increasing the number of flights. This means that without expansion, the gains made by bigger aircraft will tail off. Any business leader will tell you that a business that is not growing is stagnating and that jobs will have to be cut to keep the business viable. This is not scaremongering, it’s how business works.

What these numbers also show is that a new runway at Gatwick simply does not solve the UK’s capacity problem. With Heathrow full to capacity, airlines could have taken their business elsewhere. They could have left Heathrow’s busy runways in favour of Stansted or Gatwick, both of which have room to grow. Instead the airlines at Heathrow have chosen to use bigger aircraft to maximise their routes and capitalise on the huge numbers of passengers that want to fly from the UK’s only hub airport.

It is only Heathrow, which brings together passengers from London, UK regions and other parts of Europe to fill the planes, making long haul routes to emerging economies possible. Gatwick’s low cost carriers rarely take freight with them to their holiday destinations.

Without additional capacity at the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow, flights and airlines will not use the spare capacity at other airports, they will simply go abroad, taking British jobs and business with them.

The Prime Minister has said, that he intends to double the amount of exports that the UK sends to China, but the question is, how can this be done without expanding the gateway responsible for sending a quarter of UK exports overseas? Surely the Prime Minister knows that the UK trades 20 times more with countries that we have a direct air link with, compared to those that we do not.

Heathrow has made great strides in improving the airport under the intense capacity constraints, even Boris Johnson told the BBC: “[at Heathrow] They do a wonderful job in many ways”.

The final word should go to ex-concorde pilot Captain Jock Lowe, “Sometimes people tell me Heathrow should be better not bigger, but when I ask them what they mean, they have no idea. We’ve been making Heathrow better for 30 or 40 years- now it needs to be bigger”.

 


Politicians are inching towards a decision…let’s keep them going!

By Rob Gray

September is always a time of intense political activity, as the main political parties meet for their annual conferences. This year’s conferences are special because it will be the final major meeting of politicians and party activists before the general election; and the decision of which airport to expand.

With the Airports Commission’s process ongoing, senior politicians have been keen not to pre-empt its findings but that has not prevented them from dropping plenty of hints as to where they stand.

In his conference speech last week the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls told delegates “whatever the outcome of the Howard Davies review into airport capacity, we must resolve to finally make a decision on airport capacity in London and the South…No more kicking into the long-grass, but taking the right decisions for Britain's long-term future." 

This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said, “We will…decide where to put a runway….Decide or decline. That is the choice.”

These encouraging hints that both Labour and the Conservatives would be willing to make a firm decision on Heathrow’s future are in part down to supporters of Back Heathrow. Just four years ago Heathrow expansion was completely off limits because a vocal minority had shouted louder than everyone else and politicians bought the myth.

Now, the idea that Heathrow could grow is not just back in consideration, it’s on the shortlist. The difference between then and now is local people speaking out to support Heathrow.

We have now have more than 40,000 individual supporters making us one of the fastest growing campaigns in the country. We are reflecting wider opinion in the local area with polling in nine out of ten parliamentary constituencies surrounding Heathrow showing majority support for expansion. The exception is Zac Goldsmith's Richmond seat, home to huge numbers of frequent flyers. 

Journalists, politicians and the industry are waking up to the fact that most local people want Heathrow to grow because they value the jobs and security that the major engine of growth in west London gives to the community. Far from the anti-aviation protestor’s view that the battle was 'big business' versus 'residents', it is now becoming abundantly clear that businesses, both big and small, are united with residents in backing Heathrow. Together, we have made this happen.

The hints in those speeches from senior politicians have shown us how far we have come, but we should not forget how far there is still to go. The Airports Commission has said that the UK needs one new runway straightaway, and there is still a chance that Gatwick will be chosen as the location instead of Heathrow. Gatwick is a great point-to-point regional airport in Sussex but we don't think its expansion alone is the solution to this particular problem. It would not solve the blockage in the system: a lack of capacity at the UK’s world-class hub airport. That said, any growth must come with clear commitments for a cleaner, quieter Heathrow.

In their conference speeches, both David Cameron and Ed Miliband made reference to people they had met who told them how they could improve the country. I know that if they came to your area, you’d speak up for your airport and your future, and tell them that hints simply aren’t good enough. 

The future of Heathrow and local communities are inextricably linked. Heathrow has promised 50,000 new local jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships if it is allowed to expand; each one supporting a household and spending cash in our local area in shops, restaurants and local businesses. If Heathrow grows and flourishes, so too will our local economy and everyone will be better off as a result.

Through the Back Heathrow campaign, we have achieved a great deal together in a short space of time. Only with your support will we be able to finish our journey by taking a golden opportunity for local communities and the UK.