Shock as Heathrow shortlists Poyle for Third Runway; Colnbrook faces 2 year property blight
Colnbrook residents are reeling today following the shock announcement that large parts of Poyle would be concreted over along with 300 acres of Green Belt if one of Heathrow’s two preferred schemes for expansion, published this morning, is allowed to happen.
It’s rare for Heathrow to surprise anybody but after months of speculation on where it would build a new Third Runway, focusing mainly on Stanwell Moor, the airport has shortlisted three options. In addition to a “North runway” on the same Sipson and Harmondsworth footprint as the previously cancelled Third Runway, Heathrow now favours a “North-west” or “South-west” runway.
As recently as last week there was widespread speculation that Heathrow was planning on a new runway through Stanwell Moor. The speculation was fuelled by meetings between Heathrow and the Stanwell Moor Residents Association.
As it turns out, the proposal for a South-West runway – while still requiring the loss of some properties in the village – would be situated instead further to the west. However, both the Wraysbury and Staines Reservoirs would need to be moved making this by far the most expensive scheme.
The airport operator has already said it ranks the old North option as it lowest preference. This would require the demolition of 2,700 residential properties in Sipson and Harmondsworth.
950 homes, 2 listed buildings, and 300 acres of Green Belt would be lost
Heathrow says that few residential properties in Poyle would be affected if the North-West option was selected. It nevertheless estimates that 950 homes would lost in the ward and says there would be significant loss of industrial property.
Harmondsworth and Longford would be completely destroyed.
The scheme would also require the re-routing of the A4 Colnbrook By-Pass through Poyle and the building of a massive new Terminal 6 to the west of Terminal 5. The M25 would need to be moved.
Heathrow says that two listed buildings in Harmondsworth (the Tithe Barn and St Mary’s Church) would be lost if the North-West option is selected but suggests “an optimised version of this option may allow these to be retained”.
Ironically, Heathrow’s plans for Colnbrook may have stopped proposed Goodman’s Slough International Freight Exchange in its tracks (no pun intended). But the third runway would take up a much larger footprint – greater than SIFE and nearly as large as its predecessor LIFE project. Harmondsworth Moor, already under threat from HS2, would also be lost.
In total, the North-West option could see the loss of a further 300-400 acres of Green Belt.
However while ignoring any mention of the importance of Colnbrook’s “Strategic Gap” – upheld by the High Court in 2010 – Heathrow acknowledges that the scale of direct and indirect habitat loss that would result from the South-West option would require “compensation at a scale that is currently unprecedented in the UK”:
… development of the South West option could lead to a loss of integrity of part of the South West London Waterbodies Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site (sub-sites of which are also Sites of Special Scientific Interest). The loss of complex integrity would occur as a result of both direct habitat loss and indirect habitat disturbance caused by increased air traffic movements and the potential need to implement bird strike control measures.
A two-year property blight is now possible
(Click on the graphic to enlarge).
While the Davies Commission on Airport Expansion is expected to come up with preferred options by the end of this year a two year property blight is now possible until the Commission deliver its final report. Sipson, where Heathrow has purchased over 240 properties, has been badly hit by the dithering while Stanwell Moor’s Residents’ Association said it would prefer “a quick death” than endure a similar fate.
The normally grounded Independent seized on off-the-cuff comments from a few Stanwell Moor residents willing to sell up for a good price as evidence of STIMBYISM (“Stick it in my back yard“) but it remains to be seen how much real opposition will be generated from communities worn down by a generation fighting airport expansion and related developments.
In Colnbrook, where only 14 have signed the online petition to save 200 acres of Green Belt north of the by-pass since it was set up exactly 10 month today, apathy and lack of leadership may well give Heathrow a clear run.
A North-West runway would cost £16.9 billion, could be operational by 2026, three years earlier than the South-West option.