Councils across the county were split over Heathrow‘s future, with some supporting the third runway, while others were dead against it
The news that Heathrow’s long-awaited expansion has been blocked has divided opinion across Berkshire.
There was immediate disappointment in Slough, where the council argued building a third runway was “crucial” to the town’s economic success, as well as in Reading and West Berkshire, where the councils also supported expansion on business grounds.
But council bosses in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead were celebrating, after they had fought against the plans on noise and environmental grounds .
On Thursday, February 27 a judicial review, conducted by the Court of Appeal, ruled in favour of anti-Heathrow campaigners, calling on the Government to dismiss the third runway plans.
The ruling found the expansion has not taken consideration of the Paris climate agreement as well as the UK’s climate commitment such as reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
A spokesperson from Heathrow Airport said: “We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful.
“In the meantime, we are ready to work with the Government to fix the issue that the court has raised.
“We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future. Let’s get Heathrow done.”
Here’s what Berkshire’s councils had to say about the news
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
The authority, along with four other councils and environmental activists have long been opposed to the plan.
Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fullham and RBWM all lobbied together to challenge last year’s High Court decision to reject their appeal following Theresa May’s government approval of another runway at Heathrow Airport.
They opposed the plans as they claim the government failed to consider the full impact of health, environment and noise it will bring to their residents as well as thousands of homes that will be lost.
However, the judges said future plans for another runway could go ahead if it meets those criteria.
Council leader Andrew Johnson said: “We are pleased with the outcome which will force the Government to review the ANPS, ensuring that airport expansion does not contravene the Paris Agreement or impact the environment.”
Environmental group RBWM climate coalition called this ‘a stake in the ground’ for the Paris Climate agreement and for climate change.
Slough Borough Council
In advance of the Judicial Review decision regarding the Government’s aviation policy and Heathrow expansion, council leader James Swindlehurst issued the following statement on behalf of Slough Borough Council .
He said: “As a council neighbouring the airport, and as a member of the Heathrow Strategic Planning Group, we have worked collaboratively with Heathrow on their expansion plans for the last five years.
“We have seen Heathrow make changes to their proposals, based on feedback from consultation and engagement.
“As you would expect on a major infrastructure project of this size, there are some things we agree on, and there are others where we are still working with Heathrow to reach consensus.
“What is not in doubt, however, is that expanding the UK’s only hub airport is absolutely crucial for the future success of Slough, and for the whole of the country, particularly outside the European Union.
“We saw speculation in the media this weekend that the Prime Minister would not appeal the decision of the courts, should the outcome be unsuccessful and rule against the project.
“On behalf of Slough, one of the closest boroughs to Heathrow, I would urge Mr Johnson to consider this decision carefully.
“Heathrow Expansion is vital to secure 5,000 new apprenticeships, unprecedented new career opportunities, and the opportunity to eradicate youth unemployment for West London and the Thames Valley.
“Expansion will mean 40 new long haul routes to new markets across the globe, and connectivity, investment and tourism opportunities which our European neighbours are already exploiting.
“Cancelling Heathrow’s expansion would deliberately stifle growth in the economies of west London and the Thames Valley, and have a negative impact on the economy and status of the UK.
“Heathrow is the UK’s largest port by value, and without expansion, we risk losing valuable export opportunities to new markets.
“Slough is working closely with Heathrow to improve quality of life for our residents as the airport grows, including new local transport connections, investment in valuable green spaces, and employment and training opportunities.
“After months of intensive dialogue with HAL, I am confident in Heathrow’s commitments to protect communities and the environment, and this council will continue to hold them to account.
“So I ask the Prime Minister to respect the decision of Parliament to overwhelmingly back this project; to respect plans which have been through years of independent scrutiny and analysis; and to recognise the huge local support for Heathrow expansion, which has more support than opposition in 17/19 local constituencies.
“This is an opportunity to end a protracted 50 year debate and to connect Slough and the whole of the country, to global opportunities and growth.
“Let’s give local people the chance to have some of the best infrastructure in the UK, and give surrounding communities certainty about this crucial national project.”
Reading Borough Council
Heathrow expansion was backed by Reading Borough Council – but only if effective public transport to access the airport is provided first.
Its transport and environment chief Councillor Tony Page said the council’s position recognises the economic and employment benefits to Reading from Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
He said Heathrow expansion offers “the strongest solution” to the UK’s aviation needs but “significant investment” in public transport infrastructure must come first.
Green councillors asked the council to say “no way” to Heathrow expansion which it called an “environmental disaster”.
Here is its’s response to the consultation in full:
“Reading council’s view is that there needs to be effective public transport access to the airport to minimise the negative impacts of current car assess, and the plans for airport expansion must include provision as a central part of the those plans.
“Current public transport links to Heathrow Airport are unacceptably inadequate and poor given the existing level of flight operations.
“The proportion of passengers currently using public transport to access Heathrow is among the lowest of any of the large comparable international airports.
“As the Davies Commission rightly said there is an immediate need for a range of public transport improvements covering buses, light and heavy rail and cycling.
“The council strongly endorses this view and believes that it is wrong to therefore link the funding of projects such as the Western Rail link to Heathrow to future airport expansion when the need for such schemes is now.
“Improvements to public transport links to and within Heathrow must be in place well in advance of any possible expansion taking place in order to improve current accessibility let alone future demands.”
West Berkshire Council
West Berkshire Council voted to support the third runway on September 12, despite concerns about how the expansion would increase carbon emissions.
Conservative councillors argued that technology to tackle noise pollution “has seen huge advances”, and the new runway was essential for businesses to export.
Cllr Dennis Benneyworth said he needs Heathrow to fly horses as far away as Tokyo and Dubai.
Council leader Lynne Doherty said: “I don’t believe demonising the aviation industry is the right direction to take.”
Opposition councillors, in the Liberal Democrat and Green parties, were mostly against the expansion.
Liberal Democrat councillors argued while it was a good thing for young people to be able to travel and explore the world, most flights are taken by business people who fly several times a year.
Green councillors questioned claims that the airport will be zero carbon.
Cllr Carolyne Culver said: “How is it possible for it to be zero carbon? Will they build a runway but not put any planes on it?”
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