Airport Campaign Set For Plane Talking EU Meeting
Delegation heads to Europe to highlight failure to tackle air pollution
Campaigners against Heathrow expansion are heading to Europe to highlight the failure of the UK government to tackle air pollution at Heathrow.
The airport already exceeds EU limits on air pollution and the UK government has no plans to tackle the problem, council bosses will tell EU chiefs.
The UK delegation, which includes Hounslow’s Cllr Barbara Reid, will warn the EU’s environment commissioner that the government plans to increase the number of planes using Heathrow within two years.
According to Cllr Reid, an additional 60,000 planes a year could be flying in and out of the airport by 2009, with the introduction of mixed mode runway operations. She said:
“The government is planning to add an extra 1,000 flights a week to Heathrow next year, but has absolutely no intention to make Heathrow play by the rules on air pollution.
“People living in west London experience some of the worst air pollution in Europe and the government’s answer is to allow more planes to fly over our homes. Everyone knows that more planes means more pollution, so it is clear that the government’s actions will mean more pollution for local people.
“It is little wonder that so many people are fighting the government’s plans to expand Heathrow. The say NO campaign has gathered huge momentum across London and the UK and we must build on that support. Taking our fight to Europe will help us build more support for our campaign against Heathrow expansion.”
Cllr Reid is travelling to Strasbourg with colleagues from the 2M group of local authorities representing 4.5 million people.
They will be meeting with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Stavros Dimas, on 8 July, to discuss what action can be taken to help people affected by the UK’s failure to meet EU standards on air pollution around Heathrow airport.
The delegation will present evidence to Dimas showing that the Government has no plans to ensure that the area around Heathrow meets EU limits on air pollution before 2015.
They will tell the commissioner that situation demands an urgent plan of action from the UK government to bring levels of dangerous nitrogen dioxide gas within EU limits.
It is hoped that the meeting will increase pressure on the UK government to abandon its plans to expand Heathrow, make a commitment to year-on-year improvements in air quality and bring the airport within European standards on pollution.
Also attending the meeting with Cllr Reid will be Cllr Edward Lister, Leader of Wandsworth Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council and the MEP’s Caroline Lucas, Baroness Ludford and John Bowis.
July 8, 2008