Expansion Z-team visit Wandsworth

Fri, 28 Nov 2014
There was standing room only as hundreds of people packed into St Mary's Church next to Putney Bridge to hear the latest expansion twaddle from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) and Heathrow Hub.

Justine Greening MP deserves a massive 'thank you' for being such a competent and knowledgeable Chairperson at this superb meeting (27th November). Like Wandsworth Council, Justine is firmly against Heathrow expansion.

Justine is known for being a strong campaigner. Residents in her constituency face more unbearable aircraft noise and more dangerous air pollution. Justine also opposes the destruction of our long-established communities. It should have been no surprise that the usual HAL and Hub representatives chickened out and sent their B-Teams. I could be wrong, maybe they were the X, Y or Z-Teams.

Nice to see our friends John Stewart and Rob Barnstone of HACAN at the meeting. John gave his usual eloquent and informed appraisal of how Heathrow noise pollution will have a detrimental effect on the lives of Wandsworth residents. Let's be honest, only a paid spokesman for the Chinese and Qatari Governments would say otherwise.

Heathrow next, represented by Matt 'gormless' Gorman followed by Heathrow Hub's Kevin 'harm-us' Harman. We know their fictional tale of 400,000+ extra Heathrow flights creating an oasis of peace and tranquility so I won't do a re-run. I'd be embarrassed repeating their claptrap so it must be excruciating for them having to spout the stuff to an audience. That's PR 'spivvery' for you. As long as the pay cheques arrive, these people will continue to claim that visitors come to London because of Heathrow Airport not because of London's culture, trading opportunities, tolerance and heritage.

To cut a long meeting short, here are a few great highlights:

Marvellous Justine Greening ticking off the Hub rep for making the closure and re-routing of the M25 sound as simple as putting the rubbish out.

Heathrow's Matt Gorman confirming that Back Heathrow was set up by Heathrow Airport Limited and is funded by them. We've always pointed out that Back Heathrow is not impartial and is not a grassroots organisation so thanks Matt for helping us prove that its mouthpiece, Rob Gray, is a liar.

The Q&A session was excellent with the well-spoken audience proving the HAL and Hub reps wrong on so many occasions.

There were many brilliant examples of the how the local audience had done their research, having suffered ever increasing aircraft noise for years. The public ran rings around the highly-paid salesmen peddling expansion who were floored by questions such as:

  • A bigger Heathrow will need 70,000 new homes, where will they be built?
  • Why do Heathrow say they have 98% capacity when flights are only 76% to 82% full?
  • How can Back Heathrow claim impartiality while sending biased surveys out, inflating their numbers of supporters and being funded by Heathrow Airport Limited?
  • Heathrow only has 30% business flyers. Why should the carbon footprint of 90 million leisure travellers at Heathrow be allowed to increase and who will have suffer the reduction in household energy use to allow carbon targets to be met?
  • No one in Wandsworth Borough will receive any compensation, even if Heathrow gets 400,000+ extra flights.
  • Who owns Heathrow?
  • Why doesn't Heathrow pay taxes that other businesses have to pay?
  • Why can't Heathrow have a strict curfew on night flights between 6am and 10pm as other urban airports do?
  • If flight connectivity is so important to deprived areas of the UK, why isn't an increase in airport capacity in deprived areas the better option?
  • Why is Stansted Airport neglected?
  • Isn't it true that the biggest increase in aircraft use is on budget airlines that do not use Heathrow?
  • Transit passengers at a hub do not leave the airport. What value are they to the UK economy?

There did appear to be one expansion supporter in the audience. He told us that people knew the airport existed when they moved to the area so Heathrow is entitled to be as noisy as it wants. Luckily a man at the back disproved his theory by pointing out that communities have lived in the Heathrow area since 600 AD and that the airport builders knew they were there when they moved onto the land.

A bloke at the back also caught Matt Gorman lying to Justine Greening MP, the Leader of Wandsworth Council and the audience. Matt, on behalf of his bosses, stated that “Heathrow has no plans for a fourth runway”, then said, 'Heathrow had plans for a fourth runway but it was a long time ago” and finally, “It may have been recently but we're not talking about a fourth runway at the moment“.

In PR 'spiv-speak' that means “We've got enough trouble trying to sell a third runway so we'll erase the fourth runway plans from the Heathrow website in October and put them back the day after Heathrow gets permission to build a third runway, fingers crossed”.

Unfortunately for Matt and Kevin, we've heard all the expansion lies before and successfully exposed them last time. We expect the same result this time round – no further expansion at Heathrow.