Lewisham joins Council coaltion against Heathrow expansion

Lewisham Council has joined 2M - the alliance of 19 local authorities "concerned at the environmental impact of [possible] Heathrow expansion on their communities."

As Brockley Jon reported from the recent BrocSoc meeting, some residents of Brockley suffer from aircraft noise, generated by Heathrow flights. If a third-runway is built, then flights over Lewisham could double during the day, although limits on night flights would remain.

As one of the residents affected, Brockley Central is not overly-bothered by aircraft noise, which we only notice occasionally during the day, when we're outside. We'd rather it wasn't there of course, but the situation isn't comparable to the noise pollution experienced by people in West London and it is a fairly long way down our list of public nuisances - below dog poo, commercial waste bins clogging the main streets, litter, speeding drivers and massive car stereos, for example.

The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, said: “Aircraft noise is a growing concern for Lewisham residents, so we have joined with other councils to make the case against the expansion of Heathrow.”

But here's 2M's stated "position":

Members are not anti-Heathrow but feel passionately that the Government consistently fails to either acknowledge or assess the airport's full environmental impact...

The 2M Group believes that the Government and the industry consistently overstate the economic benefits of aviation and fail to measure the full environmental costs.

We believe the Government should commission an independent cost-benefit analysis for all expansion proposals.

We do not think it can be right for the Government to allow for a doubling of carbon emissions from domestic aviation by 2050 – while expecting all other sectors to reduce their emissions.

The proposals ask people to take on trust that extra flights will not lead to more noise or worsening air pollution. This is based on the promise of a radical change in airlines' fleet mixes including new aircraft not currently on the drawing board.

Which, of course, is not much of a position at all. The 2M literature doesn't exactly make the case against Heathrow expansion - it prefers to pose lots of questions and challenge many of the assumptions made in the case for Heathrow expansion, such as the number and quality of jobs created.

While this is all completely legitimate and there are plenty of strong arguments against expansion, it avoids 2M having to state the reality of the situation, which is that if you block Heathrow expansion, you either restrict flights (making the cost of UK air travel more expensive and (according to supporters of the expansion) restrict economic growth) or you build a new airport elsewhere (the vaunted alternative being the Thames estuary) at enormous (and unknown) cost.

The reason 2M don't say any of this of course, is because they want to create the biggest possible coalition, and don't want to alienate support by spelling out the implications of their questions. Far easier to demand further enquiry.

Mayor Bullock is happy to have signed Lewisham up to outright opposition to expanding Heathrow. But are Brockley residents happy with this decision?