Hounslow Council received a delegation from the Department for Transport on Friday 21 June, led by Baroness Vere, Aviation Minister.
Published: Friday, 28th June 2019
The visit was jointly organised by the Council and the Heathrow Community Engagement Board which Hounslow Council is affiliated with.
The Minister was received at Hounslow House by Leader of the Council, Cllr Steve Curran, Chief Executive, Niall Bolger and the Corporate Leadership team. Representatives from some of the borough’s schools were also in attendance.
The Minister met with school representatives to listen to their views on the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport. They outlined how being located under the flight path has impacted children’s education, the improvements that have been funded to date by Heathrow Airport on school buildings and what is required from an expanded airport. The importance of skills, apprenticeships and jobs for young people and their families were also discussed.
The Minister then met with council representatives to obtain a better understanding of the council’s policy position on Heathrow airport i.e. that it should be better not bigger. The Leader and Corporate Leadership Team outlined the pragmatic approach the authority has taken to addressing the future expansion plans and proposals. Whilst the council is against the expansion of the airport due to the environmental impacts, it takes the view that since the north west runway has been endorsed by the government, it now needs to work with the airport operator to secure the best world class mitigation and compensation package for its residents, businesses and communities.
The discussion also focused on the need for a coordinated strategic approach across all government departments (particularly the Ministry for Housing and Local Government, Department for Transport, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Treasury) to ensure that Hounslow’s wider regeneration aspirations can be delivered alongside Heathrow expansion.
One of the issues outlined was the need to see every opportunity taken to deliver wider regeneration and the provision of good quality employment opportunities for our residents. Heathrow through their masterplan, and through being a major landowner locally, must do all it can to facilitate this.
The council also emphasised the importance of the delivery of a new southern rail access to the airport which must be a pre-requisite for expansion. The council has developed its own proposals for an alignment between terminal 5 and Feltham inclusive of a new station in Bedfont which is currently assessed as being excellent value for money by NR using standard DfT assessment.
The Minister was given a tour of Hounslow House by the Leader to highlight its location under the flight path, the level of sound proofing required to mitigate aircraft noise and the additional funds that would be required if the same level of sound proofing was to be implemented in council schools, community buildings and housing stock.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Steve Curran said:
“We had some constructive talks with Baroness Vere last week. Because of Hounslow’s close proximity to Heathrow, any expansion plans will have a direct impact on our communities in terms of air pollution, noise and traffic on our local roads. We need to feel confident that any expansion plans include mitigation and compensation packages to offset these detrimental effects.
“Our meeting with the Department for Transport delegation gave us a good opportunity to clarify our position in relation to emerging plans. Because of the importance of Heathrow to our local economy, we are committed to ensuring that Heathrow remains very successful, but this needs to be balanced with ensuring that that success does not compromise our communities.”