The Richmond Council Leader has slammed the proposed plans to expand Heathrow airport at a House of Commons committee.
At the Transport Select Committee yesterday, Cllr Paul Hodgins gave evidence on behalf of Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils at why the case for expansion is flawed.
At the meeting he reiterated the devastating impact that expanding the airport would have on West London. He outlined the damage that would be caused to the environment and people’s health, and all this at a potential cost to tax payers of £15bn.
Cllr Hodgins, along with Val Shawcross the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport and Alex Williams, Director of City Planning, from Transport for London, reminded committee members that should Heathrow be expanded, a thousand homes would be demolished with thousands more lives blighted and long standing communities torn apart. Air pollution would be worsened, noise pollution increased and nearly 100,000 more people exposed to unacceptable levels of noise, on top of the hundreds of thousands who suffer today.
The Committee were reminded by Cllr Hodgins that the Government’s own draft policy statement on aviation shows that there is an alternative – Gatwick. An option that delivers – by the Government’s own figures, greater economic benefits, at virtually no cost to the tax payer, and with minimal impact on public health, the local environmental and communities.
Following the meeting, Cllr Hodgins said:
“The evidence is so clear, that if we are going to expand in the South East, everything points to Gatwick as the rational choice.
“The environmental case has always been against Heathrow. The airport doesn’t currently meet environmental standards and there is no proof that expanding Heathrow will make it any better.
“Public health would also be damaged by a bigger Heathrow through air and noise pollution. Moreover, we should be looking to improve the quality of life for people – not just try to maintain levels as they are.”