‘local people will be devastated by Heathrow expansion’

campaign slogan?   No, Theresa May statement in 2009

Theresa May has always been a passionate opponent of Heathrow expansion.  On public record as arguing instead for a better, not bigger Heathrow.    However, as PM, concerns for public health and well-being as well as those for the environment have simply evaporated in her spectacular u-turn presumably to appease those wanting to use expansion as an ill-considered post Brexit 'open for business' policy.  

The public deserves and demands better from a Government charged with decisions which will have far reaching consequences for families and the environment for decades to come.   It it time to have our say!

why oppose a third runway? 

  • Heathrow is already highly disruptive, its flight paths overflying the most densely populated residential region in the UK.  In the entire EU, a staggering 29% of people adversely impacted by aviation noise live under Heathrow's flight paths. 

  • And yet a 3rd runway will mean a 54% increase in flights that will halve periods of "respite" for residents (times when areas are not overflown). 

  • Residents have not been properly consulted and Heathrow has significantly underestimated the current noise footprint – and ignores the increase of 260,000 more flights per year!  New areas will be overflown for the first time, yet the government's consultation maps failed to indicate where.

  • Air quality around Heathrow already fails to meet the current required standards as shown by the current breach by the Government of the High Court Order recently made against it. If the air quality is to deteriorate further, it is difficult to see how expansion can be lawful.

  • The Key Findings of the Health Assessment in the National Policy Statement include findings that people most affected by the negative effects of expansion of Heathrow will be least likely to benefit, inequality between children and people in low income housing on the one hand and higher income families on the other will increase and air quality for children and people living in areas with poor health status will deteriorate. 

  • Who will foot the bills for expansion? TfL claims infrastructure costs will be at least £15 billion, the government claims £5 billion, but Heathrow has committed to contribute only £1 billion. 

  • A 3rd runway will increase "hub" traffic (transfer passengers) and profits for Heathrow's 92% foreign shareholders, but what will be the economic benefit to the UK?  Even the government believes the net benefit (after infrastructure, compensation & mitigation costs) to be no more than £6 billion over 60 years. Put another way, each UK citizen will benefit by £1.86 per year – less than the cost of a cup of tea! 

  • The Airports Commission, which recommended a 3rd runway, was chaired by Sir Howard Davies, who on the date of his appointment was employed by GIC Private Ltd - one of Heathrow's principal owners and cheerleaders for Heathrow expansion. 

  • Evidence for expansion is flawed. Questions raised by the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, doubting the economic benefit, remain unanswered.  


  • Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has issued a damning report on the health and environmental impacts and will put more pressure on the overloaded NHS. 

  • Heathrow currently fails to meet environmental emissions targets. Additional pollution concentrated at Heathrow, with a 3rd runway, will need to be offset against other industries and in other regions. 

  • The UK is legally bound through its Climate Change Act 2008 to reduce CO2 levels by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. To ensure this occurs, the government takes advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent, statutory body.  The CCC has made it very clear that a limit of 37.5Mt by 2050 for flights departing the UK (around a quarter of the UK’s 2050 total emissions) is the maximum that can be accommodated that is compatible with the Climate Change Act. The Department for Transport has predicted aviation emissions to reach 47Mt by 2050, by expanding Heathrow.


The Government has said Heathrow “can” be delivered within emissions limits but it hasn’t decided or stated what these limits are.   

We’re already in carbon debt with no credit card, so there is no room to take account of extra emissions from aviation. Comments by Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, have emphasised the frustration with the government refusing to show its working on climate change, using terms like ‘magical thinking’ and ‘fantasy’. 

MPs will not take a final vote on whether to approve expansion until the end of 2017 - if you are rightly concerned about the long term consequences of expansion, then you should take action to make your views known.