Conservative-run Richmond Council is holding a referendum on the expansion of Heathrow Airport. I am not clear whether it will be a purely postal ballot (which would be cheaper) or would also include the full network of polling stations (which would encourage a higher turnout.) However it will be held before May next year and other west London councils will be encouraged to take part.
The Council Leader, Lord True, said:
“Richmond Council has again taken a united stance on an issue where people righty expect us to put aside party bickering in local politics. We are all elected to fight for our residents – and there is no issue more important to them than this.
I deeply regret that the nightmare vision of Heathrow expansion that had been so wisely laid to rest by our Coalition government has been resurrected. This time we must kill it off for good. As far as this Council is concerned it will be all-out war with the big money interests and slick-suited PR men peddling this foolish project. It is perfectly possible to deliver increased airport capacity in south-east England without expanding Heathrow. No-one in their right minds would consider building a new airport on the Heathrow site today – that must surely go for a new runway, too.
Frankly, Richmond and other west London residents have had enough. They have patiently borne the scourge of Heathrow, with all the noise, pollution and risks, for decades. In 2010 they were given hope of permanent relief from expansion – they trusted the word of those who gave that promise and it should not be broken.
As their elected representatives we are not prepared to sit meekly and take incoming fire from the Heathrow lobby without giving our residents the chance to hit back and have their say. The proposed ballot will give the long-suffering people of west London an unprecedented opportunity to shout loud and clear to those that run the airport, and anyone inside government who may support them, that Londoners simply won’t take it. I hope that other boroughs will join us.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added:
“I warmly welcome the news of this ballot in Richmond. It is a positive step that people living in the vicinity of Heathrow and who would feel the impact of any expansion most acutely, are given an opportunity to have their opinions clearly heard. Londoners elected me on a platform of opposition to expansion at Heathrow and it is a mandate I am absolutely determined to defend. A third runway would mean more traffic, more noise, more pollution and a serious erosion in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people. We need to rule out this option once and for all and quickly take forward a bolder, longer term solution capable of supporting the needs of the capital, namely a new hub airport ideally to the east of London."