Tuesday, 25 September 2018

I support Heathrow expansion (probably), says MP

MP John Howell

JOHN HOWELL says he would have backed plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport if he received assurances about the impact on his constituency.

The Henley MP missed Monday’s Commons vote in favour of the £14 billion expansion project as he was at a European Council meeting.

Mr Howell has received repeated complaints from residents about the noise from planes circling over Henley when coming into land at Heathrow.

This occurs during easterly winds when planes perform a 180-degree turn 4,000ft above the town.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Mr Howell told the Henley Standard that he would have wanted to take part in the debate to find out more about how the expansion would affect Henley.  

He said: “I don’t think you can look at a third runway on its own, you have to look at it in the context of the airspace review that is taking place at the same time.

“If you bring in planes when the wind is in an easterly direction at a much higher level, say between 6,000ft and 7,000ft above Henley, that will make a huge difference to the noise over Henley as you are then bringing them in on a glide path at a much higher altitude and they don’t start descending until they get nearer the airport.

“The second thing I wanted to look at is how the provision of the third runway would take away the need for stacking. Stacking creates quite a bit of pollution and noise as aircraft have to circle before they land. The predictions are that the third runway would do away with stacking so planes can then land and take off straight away.

“The third thing was to make sure that, if it went through, they would look to bring local communities in at a more basic level so they can discuss some of these things and try to solve them.

“I have had two open meetings in Henley over the last couple of years with the Civil Aviation Authority, NATS and Heathrow and I am keen for that to continue.

“If I was there I would have taken part in the debate and asked questions and if I got reassurances on all three of these things I would have voted with the Government. If I didn’t, I would have had no issue in voting against it, as did some of my colleagues.”         

Labour MP Matt Rodda, who represents Reading East, said: “I voted against the plan because of the difficulty of building the runway, damage to the environment and lack of guaranteed connections to regional airports.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading opponent of expansion, missed the vote because he was in Afghanistan. He may have had to quit the Government if he had voted against the plans and was mocked by fellow MPs for failing to appear.

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