Council leaders divided over Heathrow expansion

by Noella Pio Kivlehan Thu 22 November 2018, 3:40 pm

The decision last summer to approve Heathrow's third runway has caused division among the London boroughs surrounding the airport.

Speaking at WOW, the conference for west and west of west London and Thames Valley in Slough today (22 November), Hounslow's council leader, Steve Curran says his borough is "still balancing on a pinhead, and has been for the last 10 years, as "we believe in better not bigger".

Hounslow is the only neighbouring borough around the airport which is not part of the Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (HSPG) that helps co-ordinate responses from local authorities with land adjacent to Heathrow Airport with the challenges and opportunities arising from expansion.

Curran was keen to state that while not a member of HSPG, Hounslow still has a positive relationship with the airport. "[We have] got to ensure we reap the benefits [of the expansion] for our residents."

Ealing's council leader, Julian Bell, said the local authority was "firmly on the fence" about expansion. "There are huge benefits for our residents in terms of jobs that Heathrow said could increase from 10,000 to 20,000 by 2030," he said.

Bell said Heathrow's pledge to each surrounding borough that it could eliminate youth unemployment is "highly attractive". "But what stops me being in favour of the Heathrow expansion is the noise and environmental impact of the flight paths."

He added: "I have a £150 million shopping list of community investment I want to give Heathrow."

James Swindlehurst, leader of Slough Borough Council, said: "I have always been in favour of the Heathrow expansion. But, it's easier in Slough as two-thirds of our residents back the plans."   

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