Heathrow: Expansion must deliver a better future for local residents

Having concluded a previous article by saying that the Heathrow Airport proposal would be the theme for a follow-up, I was pleased to be called by Mr Speaker to take part in the debate in the Commons on 27 June.  With a major infrastructure proposal of this magnitude, there needs to be a balance between the economic benefits which can be achieved, for the good of the national economy, against the detriments.

This proposal will affect some of my constituents directly, particularly in the Iver area, and so I am sympathetic to their concerns and to the possibility of blight affecting the community. Noise and environmental pollution will spread beyond the immediately-affected area. There are pressures on the ground, from increased traffic. In Iver village, it is not possible for two heavy goods vehicles to meet without one of them having to pull on to the pavement. Traffic counts show that an HGV lorry travels along the main street every minute.

However, our airports are nearing their capacity and we cannot keep postponing the decision, because the country needs a hub airport. We have to start from where we are today, rather than how we would begin had Heathrow not been in place. I am also conscious that amongst my constituents there are about 750 people employed directly at London Heathrow, and thousands more in some way connected with its economic success.

We must look at the network of infrastructure required to support Heathrow, such as addressing the traffic congestion which affects the Beaconsfield constituency, by the use of relief roads. We must also consider the community funding which accompanies the proposal and use it to enhance areas like the Colne Valley, to encourage biodiversity.

The Transport Secretary has said the third runway will only go ahead if it complies with strict environmental controls on emissions. If this project is to deliver a better future for our country generally and for local residents, the government will have to show they understand the wider considerations of environmental benefit and improvement that must go with it.

This article first appeared in the Buckinghamshire Advertiser on 12th July 2018.