Motions on Notice
a) By Councillor Beer
This Council wholeheartedly endorses and publicises the letter of the RBWM Lead Member for Planning to the Prime Minister and Minister for Housing and Planning which opposed an additional runway at Heathrow and emphasises that this would negate a previous Government decision regarding an airport monopoly
Councillor S Rayner left the meeting at 9.15pm as she had a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in the item. She left the room for the duration of the discussion and voting on the item.
Councillor Beer introduced his motion. He stated that there was no clear-cut opinion on whether in two or three weeks time Parliament would overrule the Airports Commission’s strong recommendation that there should be another Heathrow runway about a mile closer to Windsor than at present. Environmental groups and Councils such as RBWM had had a wealth of noise, air quality and health research and statistics to make strong objections. there had been no comparable objections on housing and infrastructure implications because of a confusing lack of data to balance employment prospects against housing and infrastructure demands had resulted in a reluctance of almost everyone to commit themselves to commenting due to other immediate pressures.
The Commission seemed to have had the same problems as its first report only gave one page on housing out of 140 on each runway. Other than suggesting distribution of more housing it omitted its duty to consider its viability, only saying it would be a big challenge for local councils.
He was very grateful for Councillor Wilson’s edit of his suggestions in his letter, but with respect to him as a very busy person in current and future planning, there had been a totally inadequate borough consideration of the long term housing and infrastructure risks.
Councillor Beer had picked up a more few clues than most during many hundreds of hours spent rubbing shoulders with senior officers within and around Heathrow over 17 years and a working life involving 500 house contracts, which gave rise to his huge concern about the tsunami-like impact of a far bigger Heathrow.
He urged Members to consider the facts: The developing Local Plan anticipated 13,000 more houses on top of the present 60,000, squeezing in around 20% more somewhere; another 5,000 would approach 30%, while only 17% (one seventh) was non Green Belt. The staggering figures demand that the letter be sent and reinforced immediately as it may yet tilt the decision and save enormous legal costs, as well as avoiding the nightmare and cost of another Local Plan.
He submitted the motion and particularly asked that an accompanying letter reinforced and updated Councillor Wilson’s letter, and that publicity included full page announcements in all three local newspapers and actively considered public meetings to encourage residents to write to MPs.
Councillor Dudley seconded the motion as detailed in the agenda, but stated that he could not support the other requests made in Councillor Beer’s introduction. A lot of work had been undertaken by officers and the council’s position was crystal clear in terms of protecting residents.
Councillor Hilton commented that Councillor Dudley had clearly set out the council’s position in that if a third runway was approved, the council would take the issue to the courts. He supported the essence of the motion which reflected views of residents. A recent MORI poll had shown a strong preference for a runway at Gatwick. The letter to Brandon Lewis MP had explained the serious issue of providing housing if the runway was expanded. In terms of noise pollution, an additional runway at Heathrow would affect 550,000 people, compared to 22,000 at Gatwick. The courts had already ruled that emissions from the airport combined with the M4 breached legal limits. The costs quoted did not include the cost of diverting local roads. The Gatwick option had a far lower call on the public purse.
It was proposed by Councillor Beer, seconded by Councillor Dudley, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That this Council wholeheartedly endorses and publicises the letter of the RBWM Lead Member for Planning to the Prime Minister and Minister for Housing and Planning which opposed an additional runway at Heathrow and emphasises that this would negate a previous Government decision regarding an airport monopoly.
(Councillor S Rayner had left the room so did not take part in the discussion or vote)
On behalf of the council, Councillor Dudley wished Councillor Jack Rankin and his bride best wishes for his wedding later in the week, and their future together.