More fudge on Heathrow expansion decision as new poll suggests Slough residents strongly opposed to Third Runway
The BBC has said tonight that is has been told that Theresa May will DELAY AGAIN a decision on a new runway in the South East to give Cabinet colleagues the chance to air their views.
Yet another blow to residents and business living with the interminable wait for a decision on whether permission will be granted for a new runway through the parish.
Groups for and against airport expansion have been propelled by a media in overdrive in recent weeks, speculating that Theresa May’s Government would make a decision tomorrow. The Cabinet’s aviation committee is still due to discuss the runway issue but it seems, if the latest BBC report is true, that the decision, once again, is to be deferred.
The BBC says that government officials believe that a third runway at Heathrow or an expansion of the existing northern runway are now the leading options.
An absence of any clear announcements from Theresa May’s so far relatively leak-free Government has been accompanied with reports that the choice has been extended beyond Heathrow’s “North West Runway”, Heathrow Hub’s “Extended Northern Runway”, and a Gatwick Second Runway. The Government is now also considering a “Heathrow Lite” and a “Hub Lite” option. Expansion at Birmingham has been mooted. Expansion at both Heathrow and Gatwick is also believed, by some, to be on the cards.
The Airports Commission was set up in late 2012, and closed in July 2015 following a £20 million spend. These most recent proposals apparently save £ billions by re-routing the M25 around the new runway instead of tunnelling it – but nobody is prepared yet to say where it will go.
Political heavyweights continue to fill column inches.
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who has previously said he will lie in front of bulldozers to prevent a third runway, will apparently not resign from the Cabinet in the event of a decision to expand Heathrow. Zac Goldsmith has renewed his pledge to resign his seat and force a by-election. Adam Afriyie, Colnbrook’s MP, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday that he will fight “tooth and nail” to prevent expansion of the airport, while party colleague, Spethorne’s Kwasi Kwarteng, said it was “ludicrous” that both Heathrow and Gatwick had not both already been expanded.
There have been claims that over 65% of MPs favour Heathrow expansion (from Heathrow itself) and the Scottish Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding similar to that signed by Slough Borough Council.
Closer to home the Slough Observer has held an online poll which suggests, for the first time, that residents in the borough might be opposed to expansion of Heathrow in a ratio of more than 2:1. Unlike other local authorities, Slough adopted a policy of support for expansion with a consultation that saw just 62 responses, of which only 85% were actually residents. In October 2013, predating the Airports Commission’s report, a report to Slough’s Cabinet reported a majority (68%) were affected by aircraft noise, and acknowledged a potential impact on coronary heart disease and cardiovascular complaints in Colnbrook and Poyle of the airport’s existing activities.
The Observer’s poll, which concludes on Tuesday, suggests 69% across Slough may be opposed. That contrasts with Heathrow’s last poll, in July, which found that 64% supported expanding the airport.
The BBC says that one option now being looked at is for the Cabinet committee to meet next Tuesday, 25 October, with an announcement on the same day.