Devastating impact of Heathrow expansion – our view

CPRE Kent has expressed its concern about the effect on tranquillity and the environment of airport expansion after the Government backed a third runway at Heathrow.
The countryside protection charity has campaigned against airport expansion at both Gatwick and Heathrow, in particular because of the serious impact on air quality and the devastating effect of aircraft noise.

photo: CPRE

photo: CPRE

“Aircraft noise brings misery to those living under the flight paths, including many people in west Kent,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “The importance of tranquillity cannot be overstated – it is the main reason why people enjoy the countryside, it can prevent stress and increases our enjoyment of exercise and play.”

Photo: Phil Weedon

Photo: Phil Weedon

CPRE Kent also fears the extraordinary pressure that will be placed on the environment and existing infrastructure around Heathrow. Thousands of additional employees and passengers will be drawn to an area of the country already struggling to cope with the demand for housing and transport.
“We cannot ignore the fundamental issue of environmental capacity,” added Hilary Newport. “We also need to think about the indirect stress on water supplies, the heavy impact on the environment, in particular wildlife habitats and countryside leisure opportunities, and effects on the resilience to flooding in a future of uncertain weather.
“Plus any additional runway capacity, plus the corresponding increased freight and car journeys to and from the airport, will damage the UK’s efforts to control its carbon emissions. Higher pollution levels, with their impact on health and habitats, are not acceptable for present or future generations.”
CPRE Kent calls for more efficient use of existing airport capacity; requirements on all operators to use quieter, less polluting aircraft and a national approach: using the existing available capacity at all UK airports to facilitate economic growth plans not further intensification beyond environmental limits in the South East of England.

Ralph Smyth, Head of Infrastructure and Legal at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Building a third runway at Heathrow would in itself take a huge chunk out of the Green Belt. But creating the biggest airport in the world on London’s western edge would have an even more disastrous impact. Pressure for extra development would be felt in almost every village from the north of Oxfordshire to the south coast, urbanising and industrialising swathes of our most precious countryside.
“The north-south divide has been increasing: by giving the go ahead to yet another runway in the south the Prime Minister has effectively pulled the rug on her own flagship policy of rebalancing our nation’s economy.
“It’s madness to be promoting domestic flights at the same time as investing in alternatives like high speed rail.”

Plus read CPRE Chief Executive Shaun Spiers’ blog on how the expansion will intensify the housing crisis here.

October 31st 2016.

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