MPs, councillors, campaigners and scientists sign letter calling on Prime Minister to reopen consultation over air quality impacts of Heathrow expansion
MPs, councillors, scientists and campaigners have written to the Prime Minister urging him to reopen a consultation over the potential air quality impacts of building a third runway at Heathrow Airport – or to rule out expansion altogether.
Signed by politicians from across the political divide, the letter states that a third runway at Heathrow will “obviouslyâ€? worsen West London’s air quality and urges David Cameron to abandon the plans or reopen the consultation process “so the views of millions of people potentially affected can be properly consideredâ€?.
Earlier this month, the independent Airports Commission under Sir Howard Davies controversially recommended that a third runway be built at Heathrow alongside a number of measures to mitigate air quality and environmental impacts of expansion at the airport (see AirQualityNews.com story).
The recommendation followed a consultation process which ran from May 8-29 2015, which sought views over the potential air quality impact of expansion at the airport.
However, signatories of the letter – including eight London MPs and council leaders from six London boroughs – said this process was too short, with interested parties given only 13 working days to respond to the “highly detailed technical reports, spatial maps and data spreadsheets as well as to interpret the Commission’s own complex methodology on receptor locations for exampleâ€?.
In addition, the letter claims that as the Commission’s final 350-page report was published just a month later on July 1 2015 “limited further work was done to response substantively to the points raised during this exceptional consultationâ€? and that “it is clear that the Commission effectively regarded it as a tick box exercise and one that was immaterial to the overall reportâ€?.
“We believe that the problem of air quality has not been taken seriously enough by the Commission and are concerned that they made their recommendation after undertaking a flawed consultation on the issue.â€?
Others to add their names to the letter also include: King’s College London air quality Professor Frank Kelly; Conservative hopeful for London Mayor Zac Goldsmith; former Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer; two London Assembly Members; and campaigners from the likes of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Clean Air in London.
The letter also cites recent studies finding that almost 9,500 premature deaths in London each year are attributable to air pollution, as well as the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the UK government must produce a new air quality plan before the end of the year to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits.
Sent to the Prime Minister on Friday (July 24), the letter states: “Air pollution at Heathrow is already above the legal limit. It is hard to see how a third runway with millions more car and lorry journeys to the airport will improve air quality around West London. It will obviously make it worse. In doing so it will also raise the legal bar for expansion ever getting the green light.
“In our view this issue is too important simply to wish away. Either the consultation process should be reopened so the views of the millions of people potentially affected can be properly considered or – preferably – the government should rule out expansion at Heathrow given the huge environmental and health impacts it would cause.
“We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response.â€?