Responding to comments on the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport made by the London Assembly, Back Heathrow Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda said:
“This is a serious issue that requires analysis, not lazy sloganeering. Londoners need the tens of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships Heathrow expansion will create in the capital and they expect their politicians to help make it happen by setting strong targets on air quality and noise.
“However, what we have seen from their response is a shrug of the shoulders and five reasons why they are against something. That’s the easy and lazy way out. The London Assembly has massive resources which should be used to engage constructively with a project that will create up to 180,000 new jobs. But that means engaging in the detail on night flights, public transport infrastructure and air quality targets, not playing politics to an audience with soundbites.”
The new runway project has been approved by an Independent Airports Commission, received a 296 vote majority in the House of Commons last year after the scrutiny of a Select Committee, passed a High Court challenge earlier this year, and is presently subject to the most extensive planning consent process ever in the UK. It has the support of the Unite and GMB trade unions, as well as the CBI. Polling by Populus has consistently showed that more people in the boroughs surrounding the airport support a new runway than oppose it.
Back Heathrow represents over 100,000 residents and local businesses who want to see a new runway built at Heathrow, with robust targets on air quality and noise.
It says the new runway will only happen if it is truly sustainable and meets tough targets on emissions, air quality and noise. It urges people to get involved with the consultation process and help Heathrow shape its plans.
Mr Dhanda added: “A combination of technological innovation, cleaner, more efficient aircraft and robust plans for Heathrow to be carbon neutral by 2020, means we can have the benefits of expansion and tackle the effects of climate change. However, we also need politicians to help shape this vision, rather than just play to an audience as we’ve seen with the London Assembly’s rather shallow response.”
Hillingdon residents and Back Heathrow supporters last week asked the Prime Minister to support the expansion of Heathrow airport, by showing him how much support there is for the project in his own constituency.
Handing in over 700 postcards from his constituents, which ask Mr Johnson to give his full backing to the expansion project, a delegation of Back Heathrow supporters from his constituency met with Boris' doppelganger outside the Civic Centre in Uxbridge.
Mr Johnson v2.0 caused quite a stir with people getting off buses to come and have pictures taken. He almost forgot to take his box of constituency correspondence, but luckily he was caught before he left to go back to work on Brexit!
Back Heathrow says the new runway will provide a huge boost to the economy, both with new capital investment and thousands of new jobs created – whilst being strictly regulated by targets for emissions, noise and a push to further improve Heathrow's already strong commitments to the environment, through technological innovation by partner airlines.
Back Heathrow Campaign Manager, Paul Cowling, said: "There is huge support for responsible expansion in the borough of Hillingdon, as proven by regular independent polling, and this includes many people in the Prime Minister's own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
It is a reminder to the Prime Minister that local people and their families depend on the airport for their livelihoods and want to see future prosperity for their communities. It is time for him to do what is best for his constituents, best for the region and best for the country, and get behind this vital national infrastructure project."
Heathrow is the UK's biggest port by value and the country's only hub airport, but it is at full capacity and will fall behind other European airports unless a new runway is built.
Note: the postcards will be delivered to the Prime Minster's office in Westminster as there is no address in the constituency.
Residents in Ealing are positive about Heathrow expansion and now they want their council to be positive about it as well.
Back Heathrow supporters in Ealing helped launch a campaign last week at the Bridge Hotel, Greenford, to persuade the council to have a free vote on its stance over Heathrow expansion
Back Heathrow Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda said: “There is a big appetite among Ealing residents for their local councillors to be given a free vote on the council’s support for Heathrow expansion.
“It is the right time for Ealing to reconsider its formal position of opposition through a debate and an unwhipped, free vote at a future council meeting. The position of the council should reflect the view of its own residents’ survey where 69% support a new runway.”
Local resident Robert Morse said: “Expansion will bring tremendous advantages to the local economy. However, the council must look at the bigger picture for the UK.
“Many Labour councillors privately back Heathrow but were forced to vote against expansion by their party managers. They should be free to make their own choice, with the information about the views of residents from their survey. We need a free vote now, it’s the democratic thing to do.”
A survey earlier this year of over 1,200 residents commissioned by Ealing Council found that a large majority - 69% - of its residents back a new runway at Heathrow Airport. The council voted to oppose the scheme at their meeting in December.
Commenting on the Court of Appeal decision allowing claimants against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow permission to appeal in a hearing beginning on 21 October 2019, Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said:
"We know that the ‘No 3rd Runway Coalition’ is campaigning off the backs of local people and their council tax payments. We estimate over £2m of taxpayers' cash has now been wasted.
“However, they will continue to raise expectations that they are going to win another court battle, despite the damning verdict of the last one, where it was made clear that they had not raised any significant issue which had not already been addressed.
“I don't believe they will change the view of the new Prime Minister and they will certainly not change the view of the vast majority of local people who want to see the project succeed with robust safeguards in place on air quality, noise and carbon reduction."
Chiswick and Isleworth based Back Heathrow supporters got together last week to discuss the Heathrow consultation. They were joined by representatives from Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, who were there to lend the support of the local business community.
Local resident Donald MacCallum said: “A survey of Hounslow residents earlier this year showed that in Chiswick, support for the new runway outstripped opposition by 47% to 28%. We have been a silent majority for a long while, but it’s good to see that so many local people are now prepared to say that jobs and business opportunities really matter to us. We want expansion.”
Back Heathrow Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda said: “You can have Heathrow expansion and tackle carbon emissions successfully. Local councils need to get involved in the consultation to ensure a new runway is built with strong environmental and noise safeguards in place. From independent polling, we know local residents are on our side.”
The Hounslow residents survey report shows that 59% of residents overall now support the third runway – up from 44% in 2016, with only 22% opposing it. From Bedfont, Feltham and Hanworth, to Isleworth and Brentford support is over 50%. In Chiswick, support outstrips opposition by 47% to 28% respectively.
Link to survey HERE
Silent majority finds its voice in favour of Heathrow expansion, and calls for talks
Over 70 local residents voiced their support for Heathrow’s expansion at Hillingdon Civic Centre last night (July 4th), at a demonstration where they were surprised and pleased to make contact with Labour and Conservative councillors on the issue.
Until now the council has refused to receive correspondence or acknowledge the Back Heathrow campaign, but at the demonstration councillors appeared to soften their line and started to engage with the pro-expansion argument for the first time.
Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of the Back Heathrow campaign said:
“It was good to see a senior Labour councillor engage in conversation with Unite’s Regional Secretary Peter Kavanagh, our campaigners and myself last night. Council Leader Ray Puddifoot and I, who have had a good rapport in the past also had a short but cordial conversation. I hope that will be a prelude to a proper dialogue. There is nothing for the borough’s residents to gain by us tearing strips off each other. My view has always been that we need an expansion which gets the best deal for local people, for jobs, air quality and all other issues. Proper engagement with Ray and his council will only improve the project so I hope he’ll consider my offer to talk in the positive spirit I made it last night.”
In a conversation with a senior Labour councillor, Peter Kavanagh, Regional Secretary of Unite the Union’s London and Eastern Region, offered to meet with Hillingdon’s Labour group of councillors to explain why so many local Unite members support expansion. He said:
"Everybody knows at this time we need to create quality, skilled and sustainable jobs. Unite is fighting for exactly that at Heathrow. Instead of working with the community to demand such opportunities for future generations, Hillingdon’s Tory Council is turning its back on a project that it should be helping to shape. And instead of protecting local services, it chooses to spend tax-payers’ money on expensive lawyers in an attempt to halt what West London and the UK so desperately needs."
The show of support for expansion was organised by Back Heathrow, the community-based campaign in favour of expansion, and took place outside Hillingdon Civic Centre.
Hillingdon is the lead council co-ordinating other boroughs – Wandsworth, Richmond and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, who are opposed to Heathrow expansion and who led a failed legal challenge to the new runway in the High Court earlier this year. It also funds anti-expansion groups from taxpayers’ money. Over £2 million of taxpayers money has been spent so far.
The new runway has received approval from Parliament in 2018 with a huge majority of 296 and the backing of an independent Airports Commission. It is also supported by the CBI, TUC and by the majority of residents in boroughs around the airport (Populus Polling).
Local Hillingdon resident Barry Nelson West said: “Hillingdon council has its head buried in the sand on expansion. Locally, public opinion is in favour of it because of the potential for thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships in our local communities. The airport also has ambitious targets to meet on air quality and noise mitigation, if it is to proceed.”
Mr Nav Rana, who works as an engineer at Heathrow and is a local Labour Party member said:
“Young people like me need these jobs. Hillingdon’s councillors, both Labour and Conservative, should be fighting for these jobs and getting engaged in the consultation process. The views of local people can't be ignored anymore. This show of support demonstrates that we are real people who have a right to be heard by local politicians.”
Speakers at the event included Peter Kavanagh (Regional Secretary of Unite the union), Keith Williams (GMB London Senior Organiser) and Parmjit Dhanda (Former Labour government Minister and Executive Director of Back Heathrow).
Back Heathrow, the campaign that represents over 100,00 local residents, has welcomed the launch of the airport’s biggest ever consultation which lays out the detailed plans for the proposed new runway project.
Back Heathrow executive director, Parmjit Dhanda, said: “This is a major milestone for the realisation of this critical infrastructure project. It will bring thousands of new jobs, apprenticeships for young people in local communities and boost the wider UK economy. It will also help the airport maintain its position as the UK’s only hub airport and largest port by value of its trade.
“However, it is vital that local people engage with the 12-week consultation. We know that more local residents support than oppose expansion in boroughs around Heathrow. It is time the silent majority have their say so the best expansion plan possible can be delivered when the airport submits its planning application next year.”
Heathrow is consulting on the future layout of the airport, including the new runway and road access; plans for how it will manage the environmental impacts – including a proposed ultra-low emission zone, a vehicle access charge and a ban on night flights and proposals for property compensation.
It is already obliged through government targets to mitigate air and noise pollution. Heathrow plans to carbon neutral by 2020.
Heathrow is on track to start building the new runway in 2021 and ready to open by 2026.
An independent and representative sample of over 1,200 residents commissioned by Ealing Council has found that a large majority of its residents back a new runway at Heathrow Airport. This is despite the council voting to oppose the scheme at a meeting in December.
The survey results were welcomed by Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow, the community campaign for a new runway at Heathrow airport. He said: “In February a residents’ survey in Hounslow showed a 15% rise in support for Heathrow expansion to 59%. Now Ealing Council has confirmed this pattern of rising support, with 69% of residents backing expansion.
“Ealing Council is right to ensure that air quality is protected and noise minimised as part of this scheme, but this is a clear message from local people that the council should now wholeheartedly back the scheme and the thousands of jobs and apprenticeships it will create.”
The shift in support towards expansion follows the Parliamentary vote in June 2018, in which two of the three Ealing MPs (Steve Pound and Virendra Sharma) backed expansion (Rupa Huq voted against), in a Parliamentary majority of 296.
In February, the Hounslow residents’ survey revealed that 59% of residents supported a new runway – up from 44% in 2016, with only 22% opposing it. http://bit.ly/2JXXMRh
ast month the Royal Borough of Maidenhead and Windsor, which had been one of the leaders of the failed legal challenge against Heathrow expansion decided it would reconsider its position with a free vote at a full council meeting in June.
Mr Dhanda added: “With this new information at hand I hope Ealing Council will reconsider its formal position of opposition through a debate and free vote at a future council meeting. The position of the council should reflect the view of its residents.”
The full Ealing council survey results can be found here:http://bit.ly/2HV2tZV
Transport Minister Jesse Norman MP has revealed that costs of £625,000 from legal challenges to Heathrow expansion will be recovered from the unsuccessful claimants.
That will include substantial costs against the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. The Mayor of London will also be liable for a portion of the costs.
The cost to the councils is in addition to over £2 million of expenditure in legal fees, PR costs and funding of local ‘anti- Heathrow’ groups over the last decade.
In response to a question asked by Justine Greening MP to the Secretary of State of Transport: “What estimate he has been made of the (a) legal (b) other costs to the public purse of the judicial review of the Airports National Policy Statement.”
The Minister stated: “The external costs to date to the Department of defending the judicial review claims are £1,608,642 for legal costs and £95,152 for other costs. Following the judgments in favour of the Secretary of State, the Department will seek to recover up to £625,000 in costs from the unsuccessful claimants.”
Executive Director of Back Heathrow, Parmjit Dhanda said: “This is embarrassing for local council leaders, who have played fast and loose with tax-payers’ money, and lost it all. They could instead have been negotiating how their boroughs would benefit from new jobs and apprenticeships.
“They should now get around the table and engage in the consultation process to help develop a regeneration project for local communities to be proud of, whilst also tackling noise and reducing our carbon footprint.”
A leading Conservative Peer and former member of the European Parliament, Lord Balfe of Dulwich, has launched a withering criticism of Conservative run councils like Hillingdon, Wandsworth, and Windsor & Maidenhead urging them not to waste any more money opposing Heathrow expansion.
The Peer supports Heathrow expansion on economic grounds and has questioned the motives of London councils, led by fellow Conservatives, that oppose the new runway.
Last week these councils had their bid to stop Heathrow expansion thrown out at the Royal Courts of Justice. However, they have threatened to appeal the decision, with further legal costs.
Lord Balfe said: “As a Conservative Peer, I am very disappointed at the attitude of London councils like Hillingdon, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead for wasting taxpayers’ money on a legal challenge against the much-needed new runway at Heathrow. I find it difficult to understand why Conservative councils do not seize the opportunities of expansion. They should invest in success, rather than play to a vocal minority.”
Lord Balfe has a long-standing interest in aviation - as a former MEP, as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation and through work with trade unions. Hence, he is well versed in the arguments about Heathrow’s expansion.
Lord Balfe added: “The majority of MPs – Conservative and Labour – voted in favour of this project. Conservatives have a reputation to uphold as the party of business. In this instance, they could be the party of business and the people.”
An independent commission and the government have set out key environmental targets which must be adhered to as part of expansion. Expansion also has the strong support of local people, as polling shows.
Lord Balfe’s intervention is a significant blow to the approach of councils involved in legal challenges against expansion in the courts, earlier in May.
Executive Director of Back Heathrow, Parmjit Dhanda echoed Lord Balfe’s criticisms. He said: “These councils have wasted over £2m of taxpayers’ money already on legal challenges fighting a project that will create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships. They should not waste any more money by appealing a High Court decision that categorically struck out their claims. It’s time they spent council revenues on public services instead of an appeal they know they will lose.”