Friday, 21 January 2022

Heathrow expansion gives chance to discuss Henley noise

JOHN HOWELL says the expansion of Heathrow airport will provide the perfect opportunity to tackle aircraft noise pollution over Henley.

JOHN HOWELL says the expansion of Heathrow airport will provide the perfect opportunity to tackle aircraft noise pollution over Henley.

The Henley MP was speaking after the Government announced it wants a third runway built at Heathrow instead of a second runway at Gatwick airport.

MPs will vote on the issue in a year’s time after public consultation.

The estimated cost of the project is £17.6 billion.

Heathrow bosses say the runway could be open by 2025 if planning permission is granted by 2020.

The runway would be about 3,500m long and allow for an extra 260,000 flights a year.

Mr Howell said: “This is an important decision for our national infrastructure and the economy of the country as a whole.

“I will be looking at the data which will be published in the New Year to understand the implications of this for constituents, especially those currently experiencing nuisance from air traffic.”

Mr Howell has received repeated complaints from residents about the noise from planes circling over Henley when coming into land at Heathrow during easterly winds. This is caused by aircraft performing a 180 degree turn 4,000ft above the town.

He raised the issue in the Commons, saying Henley was “very badly blighted” by noise pollution from aircraft.

He has also met representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority and air traffic controllers NATS.

Senior officials from Heathrow told him a new runway would ease pressure on air traffic and help to reduce the need to hold aircraft in a holding stack.

Mr Howell said: “I am particularly pleased that in the forthcoming scrutiny, issues of noise will be considered and I will be looking to evaluate what impact the new runway will have and to ensure that there is adequate noise mitigation in the final deal.

“This is a long-awaited opportunity for full and robust review and I will be encouraging constituents to engage with the public consultation and share their views with me.”

Reading East MP Rob Wilson said the decision would have economic benefits but shared Mr Howell’s environmental concerns.

He said: “The Government has outlined how environmental challenges will be mitigated around Heathrow itself, with more stringent noise restrictions a requirement of expansion and new, legally binding noise targets.

“Nevertheless, this is already an issue for some of my constituents and I will be seeking further clarification.

“Our proximity to Heathrow and the consequent attraction to international investors of choosing to locate or expand their businesses in Reading means that accelerated journey times inflicting less pollution has to be the overarching priority.

“Alleviating traffic gridlock is essential and that’s why a third Thames bridge is crucial if we are to deliver the efficient road network on which businesses and investors rely.”

Keith Douglas, chairman of the Henley Business Partnership, said: “Change is good for business in general but there will be winners and losers. As Heathrow is a major part of the Thames Valley, this has got to be good for businesses.”

But Dave McEwen, a member of environmental pressure group Henley in Transition, said: “This shows that the Government does not care about air and noise pollution or its commitments on climate change.

“Air quality is already poor around Heathrow, as it is in Henley, and this decision will only make things worse.

“It is estimated that there are currently over 40,000 premature deaths a year from air pollution. How many does this need to rise to before the Government will take the problem seriously?”

Former Henley MP Boris Johnson is set to lead the fight against Heathrow expansion.

He said: “No other great city would do this to its inhabitants. London, if we go ahead with this project, will be known as the city of planes.

“I think it very likely it will be stopped. We have been here before and we are going to see an inevitable fight in the courts and I think the chances of success for the proponents of the third runway are not high.”

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