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Third Heathrow runway would be full frontal assault on Green Belt and tranquillity

1 July 2015

Third Heathrow runway would be full frontal assault on Green Belt and tranquillity Photo: © iStock

Airports Commission’s flawed terms of reference meant its recommendation of a destructive new runway was inevitable, say rural campaigners

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) condemned today’s decision of the Airports Commission to recommend a third runway at Heathrow [1].

If it is ever built, the proposed Heathrow north western runway would be expected to [2]:

  • Destroy 694 hectares of Green Belt and 60 hectares of woodland;
  • Wreck tranquillity in parks and gardens with impacts likely to spread into the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty;
  • Destroy up to 950 homes and require up to 70,800 new homes to be built by 2030, with many more being required afterwards – all in an area of acute housing pressure;
  • Produce 54.6% of the UK’s aviation carbon emissions in 2050.

Ralph Smyth, transport campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), comments:

“The recommendation today for a third runway at Heathrow casts a dark shadow over a wide swathe of the south east. Besides the destruction of much of the ancient village of Harmondsworth to make way for the new runway, a much wider area is at threat. On top of the almost relentless din of jet engines, runaway development and traffic would shatter the remaining fragments of tranquil countryside in the south east, already one of the most densely overflown areas in the world.

"All of the options short-listed by the Airports Commission would have a devastating impact on the countryside, directly as well as indirectly. But, equally, they would undermine the national imperative of rebalancing our economy away from the overheated south east. London already has 50% more flights to it than any other city in the world and enough’s enough. We believe that the growing political consensus over the need for a Northern Powerhouse will effectively pull the rug from under the Commission’s report . We now need a national spatial plan to rebalance growth and aviation, making the most of the ample spare capacity in other airports.

“While the Airports Commission in some ways set new standards for public engagement, it was clear that its terms of reference were rigged from the start. Another new runway in the south east was the foregone conclusion, preventing proper consideration of greater use of high speed rail or an ambitious regional rebalancing strategy.”


Notes to Editors

[1] You can download the Airports Commission report and CPRE's most recent response to the Commission

[2] All figures from Airports Commission report.

If you would like to talk to Ralph about this in more detail then please contact Ben Halfpenny or Jane Seymour on 020 7981 2819.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Sir Andrew Motion, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.

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