Dominic Raab backs the Heathrow Expansion – the Liberal Democrats will oppose it

Dominic Raab published a piece in last month’s Your Elmbridge outlining the so-called benefits of the Heathrow Expansion.


Read above, or view here on page 20 of 23

As the Liberal Democrat candidate, I find it imperative to respond. A third runway at Heathrow would have a serious negative effect on our community, both during and after construction. The promises are a premature ‘take-off’ and we need to bring the discussion back down to the ground!

Let’s be quite clear at the outset – the case for a third runway at Heathrow has not been made; in fact, the opposite. The national government’s report identifies Gatwick as the better economic choice. Since its release, the figures for Heathrow have been thoroughly dismantled by impartial experts. The government has halved the estimated benefits. Transport for London has tripled the projected costs. On the government’s own figures, the net benefit over 60 years is a mere £6bn.

Have a look at the proposed work.

The runway (red) cuts across the M25 requiring demolition of many homes and businesses and terminates near a nature reserve. The motorway will be rerouted, tunnelling underneath the runway and other major road works will be necessary (blue).

A new Heathrow ‘hub’ (orange) replaces a golf course to the north. The words “amenity to residents” seem to have disappeared from the Raab radar screen! The M25 upheaval will spread across Elmbridge. The knock-on economic costs have not been factored into the decision.

Dominic Raab’s claim that a 54% increase in aircraft traffic will lead to reduced aircraft noise beggars belief! Homes and businesses near Heathrow will need heavy soundproofing, building work better employed constructing new homes. But, for a huge area under new flight paths including Elmbridge, if you want to open your windows, sit on your patio around the barbeque or visit local nature reserves, well it’s ear-defenders for you. The threat to impose fines on the airport for noise infringements won’t benefit the residents and will just be passed on.

More empty promises are made. “No increase in road traffic”! The M25 and interconnecting roads across our community are frequently gridlocked focused around Heathrow junctions. “Air quality will be maintained”! Currently, local air quality frequently breaks health guidelines. A 54% increase in air traffic will make both aspects worse.

The Transport Minister “Suggested that a new rail link connecting Surrey directly to the airport is under consideration”! If this doubly hedged ‘carrot’ happens, a large intermediate transfer hub would appear somewhere in leafy Surrey and a cross-country tract would be converted from nature, farm, housing and business to railway. Shifting the problem does not solve it.

The Heathrow Authority will only meet a small fraction of the cost of the project – billions will come from taxation. But in the time since the start of the decision process, aircraft and communication technologies have been transformed. Do we need this runway at all? With improving seat booking, current passenger capacity would increase by 30%. Superliners that are lighter, quieter and more efficient raise this figure even more, also reducing environmental pollution. Concrete mixer unnecessary! Put your wallet away!

Elmbridge has long been an area of outstanding beauty and tranquillity with its rivers, parks and commons. This is under real threat. It is not too late for us to make our concerns known.

Andrew Davis
andrew-davis.org.uk