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Royal Borough to tell Airports Commission to expand Gatwick not Heathrow

Royal Borough to tell Airports Commission to expand Gatwick not Heathrow

Simon Meechan

Heathrow Airport should be ‘better not bigger’ is the message the Royal Borough will highlight in its response to the Airports Commission consultation on how to expand Britain’s air capacity.

The commission has three options, two separate Heathrow expansions, or building a new runway at Gatwick Airport.

Leading councillors at last night’s cabinet meeting agreed to respond to the consultation by telling the commission the specific pressures extra flights from Heathrow could bring to Windsor and Maidenhead.

They agreed that the borough should tell the Airports Commission to back Gatwick's expansion over the two Heathrow options.

Cllr George Bathurst (Conservatives, Castle Without), told his fellow councillors that air traffic noise is so loud that Sergeant Majors at the barracks are unable to bark their orders over the noise.

He said Windsor’s 7 million visitors a year will be put off by any more aircraft noise.

“By expanding Heathrow they’re harming the very things they came to see. It’s perverse,” said Cllr Bathurst.

A report heard by the cabinet said both Heathrow expansion plans would increase air traffic movements by 54 per cent, while noise could more than double in the villages near Heathrow if a new northern runway is built.

The proposal to build an extra runway to the north-west of the airport would see communities to the north of Windsor put on the flight path for night flights.

The report explained that any Heathrow expansion would require around 70,800 new homes – which would put strain on Royal Borough greenbelt land.

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) said: “Quite frankly we could do without the expansion. We want to protect our greenbelt boundaries. Therefore it’s only right and proper that the Gatwick expansion is seriously considered.”

Pro Gatwick campaigners say expanding the West Sussex airport would bring economic benefits with a ‘fraction’ of the environmental impact of any Heathrow expansion.

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