The proposed expansion of Heathrow and London City airports would be an environmental catastrophe. It would mean more plane noise, more pollution, more congestion on our roads. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions would make it impossible for the UK to meet even its current, inadequate commitments to address the crisis of the global rise in temperatures.
The construction of a third runway at Heathrow (in effect, a new airport adjoining the existing one) would have the most damaging environmental impact of any new infrastructure project in Britain. It will result in 750 more flights a day (280,000 a year); the destruction of around 750 homes; two new car parks with 24,000 and 22,000 parking spaces; diversions of the M25 and A4; the rerouting of local rivers; and loss of habitats at wildlife areas including Staines Moor, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Increased disturbance from flight paths will impact Southwark residents, along with millions of people across London, including many who are not currently overflown.
At London City airport in the Docklands, expansion plans would almost double the number of flights, affecting some of London's most heavily overflown communities, including parts of Southwark. The current respite break from 12.30pm Saturday to 12.30pm Sunday would be scrapped and there would be more early morning and late evening flights.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign against London City's plans, Caroline Russell, Green Party member in the London Assembly, said: “Londoners' lives are made a misery by aircraft noise. It’s really important people have their say to stop any expansion at City airport, especially into the weekends when flights are currently banned. It’s shocking that residents have to organise and campaign to keep their peace and quiet.”
Despite what the airports claim, neither of these projects is bound to go ahead – they can be stopped if public opposition and pressure on politicians is strong enough. So how can you make your voice heard? Both Heathrow and London City are now carrying out statutory consultations on their expansion plans (Heathrow closes on 13 September, London City on 20 September). We recommend you don't reply via the airports' websites, where "leading" questions in the online response forms encourage support for the plans, alongside misleading claims of sustainable development.
You can, however, state your opposition to airport expansion by replying directly by email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign online petitions organised by local campaign groups:
If your MP is Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham, email@example.com) or Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark, firstname.lastname@example.org), it's important to send them copies of your replies to the consultations. Both these Labour MPs backed the Heathrow third runway in last year's parliamentary vote. Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood, email@example.com) has so far opposed airport expansion.
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