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Response to consultation on Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport

February 2008

The Aviation Environment Federation believes that a third runway at Heathrow would

be severely damaging environmentally and socially, and would have uncertain economic benefits.  Similarly, a move to mixed-mode operations will end the Heathrow is within the boundary of Greater London, with residential areas immediately to the north, east and south (and some less concentrated settlements to the west).  It already has enormous adverse impacts on many thousands of people in terms of noise, air pollution, climate change, road congestion, visual impacts and accident risk.    

In additional to causing significant air and noise pollution impacts, adding a third runway to Heathrow would:

Lead to the loss of hundreds of homes, including the entire community of Sipson;  

Destroy the social structure of several communities;

Lead to the loss of 230 hectares of Green Belt land, with associated rights of way and areas of public open space;

Destroy or severely affect ten historic buildings (e.g. Manor Farm Great Tithe Barn at Harmondsworth) and an Archaeological Priority Area;

Increase the number of people living within Heathrow’s public safety zones;

Significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, going directly counter to the government’s climate change targets;

Disturb birdlife on the nearby South West London Water Bodies Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, and increase air pollution at Wimbledon Common, Burnham Beeches, Windsor Forest and Great Park Special Areas of Conservation. These are internationally important sites which, under the Habitats Directive, require “appropriate assessment” studies to be carried out for any plan or project that could affect their “integrity”;

Have landscape and visual impacts;

Add to pressures on energy and water resources.      

This response covers the environmental questions posed in the consultation. A supplementary AEF response is being prepared to cover the wider issues such as climate change.

In The Future of Air Transport White Paper, the Government itself recognised the ‘severe environmental disadvantages’ of Heathrow, and put constraints on when it would consider permitting expansion:

if the 57 dBA Leq contour would not exceed 127 km2

if it “could be confident that” annual mean concentrations of nitrogen dioxide would not exceed 40 µg/m3

The studies supporting the White Paper identified significant problems to achieving these constraints.  Since then, additional studies have been carried out, based on

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