CHATR Launches The ‘Heathrow Hurdles’ Campaign

Despite the rain and an early start, a large group of Chiswick residents gathered to launch the ‘Heathrow Hurdles Campaign’ outside Chiswick Town Hall on Monday 22 February. “These are hurdles that we believe Heathrow can never jump’ said Hamish Pringle who created the ‘Hurdles Campaign’ for HACAN. ‘They include pollution, noise, security, homes lost, cost, climate change, and the scale of the opposition. Each one of these creates very significant problems for Heathrow that we believe make the 3rd runway undeliverable”.

A Promovan featuring the giant hurdles was parked outside the Chiswick Town Hall as the crowd began to gather shortly after 9.00 am. This is the start of a three day London tour which will end outside Willesden Magistrates Court for sentencing of the ‘Heathrow 13’on 24th February.  The campaign has been developed by CHATR for HACAN with support from many other local groups opposed to a third runway including Airport Watch, Ealing Aircraft Noise Action Group, Communities Against Increased Aircraft Noise, Residents Action Group Elmbridge, Stop Heathrow Expansion, Teddington Action Group, and The Bedford Park Society.

Heathrow’s impossible hurdles:

“When it comes to noise, Heathrow is in a league all of its own” says Hamish. “At least 725,000 people are already impacted by aircraft noise from Heathrow - that is 28% of all people affected by aircraft noise right across Europe. And the World Health Organisation says even that is an underestimate.”

If the 3rd Runway at Heathrow gets the go ahead, countless more will be adversely affected. The new flightpaths will pass over central London, directly above one of the most densely populated areas of Europe. New areas that have never been overflown will come under flightpaths for the first time, including central and north Chiswick.

In the absence of figures released by Heathrow, Airport Watch has estimated that the new glide path over Chiswick would have planes at around 2000 feet. Aircraft noise would be between 70-80 decibels, every minute or so, for up to 12 hours a day. “If you can imagine the noise of a vacuum cleaner in the room, every 90 seconds” says Hamish “that gives you an idea of what it would be like”. Existing flightpaths will also carry many more flights and there are areas that will be affected by aircraft noise from two flightpaths simultaneously.

“There is a great deal of data showing how noise is harmful to human health” says Sara Furnas, co-founder of CHATR, “and we believe that noise is a hurdle that Heathrow can never jump.”

Heathrow is one of the most polluted areas in London; indeed in the entire country. Air pollution levels already exceed the legal limits set out in the 2010 EU Air Pollution Directive. “A recent study for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that Heathrow aviation pollution causes fifty early deaths each year and that figure could rise to one hundred and fifty if a third runway is built”, says Deborah Cadbury, another co-founder of CHATR. “When it comes to ground transport pollution the problem is even worse”. London’s air pollution already causes up to 10,000 deaths annually and that figure would rise with the increased traffic in West London serving any expansion of Heathrow. “It is hard to believe that the government would spend tax payers money locking into our infrastructure for generations to come, something that could be so harmful to human health” continues Deborah.

The number of homes lost is another hurdle that Heathrow can never jump. Heathrow’s own figures show that 783 homes would need to be demolished in the historic town of Harmondsworth. In total, Heathrow has said it is prepared to buy nearly 4,000 homes because the noise of planes landing and departing could be too unbearable for many people. In addition to this many houses would be massively degraded by the effects of Heathrow: first floors where it is hard to sleep because of the noise, gardens that cannot be used, windows that cannot be opened. “These effects across wide sweeps of London do not seem to have been factored into the costs of a 3rd runway” said one concerned resident at the Chiswick Town Hall rally.

The Heathrow Hurdles campaign, which will run for several weeks, will feature all seven issues: noise, pollution, security, homes lost, climate change, costs, and the scale of the opposition. ‘These are seven hurdles that Heathrow can never jump’ concluded Hamish Pringle in his address to the crowd at the Town Hall. ‘These are the reasons why David Cameron will be able to keep his promise later this year’. His speech was followed by a resounding chorus of “No ifs, no buts, no third runway”.

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For Peter Eversden, Chairman of the Bedford Park Society’s comments on latest developments please see: