In an article in The Times this morning the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says:
“Too many Londoners already have their daily lives plagued by noise pollution; Heathrow exposes more people to unacceptable noise levels than Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid airports combined. A third runway at Heathrow would mean an extra 200,000 Londoners, including 43,200 schoolchildren, suffering every day.
“And even worse, too many Londoners have to breathe air which is so polluted that it breaches the legal limit for toxic pollutants. A third runway at Heathrow would make London’s air pollution crisis even worse — risking more children growing up with stunted lungs — and it would be incompatible with the government’s legal duty to achieve and sustain legal levels of air quality.”
He’s quite right. The Mayor adds:
“I have directed Transport for London (TfL) to provide expert advice and assistance to support Greenpeace and the local councils worst affected by Heathrow — Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead — as they prepare a legal challenge to stop this irresponsible decision.”
He has also indicated that the Mayor may well join the legal action.
So it is extremely disappointing that Hammersmith and Fulham Council is refusing to join the legal challenge.
Peter Smith, the Council’s Policy Manager, tells me:
“H&F Council is opposed to the Government’s preference for a third runway at Heathrow and has previously made this position clear in its responses to consultations conducted by the Davies Commission. The Council is not, however, enjoining in the legal challenge being brought by Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead.”
Other councils are fighting for the interests of their residents.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot Leader of Hillingdon Council said:
“I was in the High Court in March 2010 at the last JR on Heathrow expansion when the judge referred to the third runway plans as ‘untenable in law and common sense’. Six years on it is unbelievable that the current Government are promoting an expansion that is still untenable in law and common sense and it is simply not acceptable in this country. This is the first round of this legal challenge and whilst we should win by a knockout in the first round we are prepared for a long fight if necessary.”
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said:
“Heathrow expansion is incompatible with environmental legislation and the process leading up to this decision has been deeply flawed. Ministers have not listened to our warnings so we have no choice but to take legal action. The simple truth is that Heathrow is in the wrong place for a major airport and its location amplifies its damaging impacts to world beating levels. Expansion will make this dire situation much worse. An objective assessment from the High Court is bound to conclude that you can’t mitigate against such a bad location.”
Why doesn’t Hammersmith and Fulham Council have any stomach for the fight?