Local concerns must be heard in Heathrow consultation

Since the Beaconsfield constituency shares a border with Heathrow Airport, I want to draw  residents’ attention to the further short consultation, running now, about the proposal for a third runway.

This time last year the Government said development at Heathrow would provide the best solution for extra capacity at South-East airports.  72,000 people responded to the first consultation and now amended proposals form a consultation open until 19 December. (Search www.gov.uk for details.)

When the proposal was announced, I said I have mixed feelings about the development. As a constituency MP I know there are communities locally on whom development will impinge directly. There are also wider implications for the South Bucks area concerning air quality and aircraft noise.

The principal amendments cover issues like setting up a new, independent body to ensure communities around airports can have their say about changes affecting them, increasing democratic accountability for the most significant decisions. Other proposals will enable modernisation, to use the airspace most effectively. This could reduce delays and the need to ‘stack’ planes approaching busy airports.

Air quality is also under close consideration. New information was published during the summer about the National Air Quality Plan. Development at Heathrow would be linked to mitigation measures. Poor air quality can have a detrimental effect on adults’ and particularly childrens’ health: it’s essential to get those measures right. If air quality targets cannot be met this development cannot in my view go ahead.

We do need sufficient airport capacity and good transport network links. One of the reasons for opting for Heathrow was the Crossrail expansion.  Iver station in my constituency will form part of this network, as well as nearby Langley and Slough. If there is proper infrastructure and environmental improvements locally a development at Heathrow could have a positive impact.

Dominic Grieve

This article first appeared in the Burnham and Maidenhead Advertiser on 2nd November 2017.