The Conservative position on Heathrow Airport is very clear. We want a
better not a bigger Heathrow. With that in mind we have a manifesto
commitment not only to putting a stop to any plans for a third runway at
the airport but also to constructing a high speed railway network between
Heathrow and our northern cities thereby reducing the number of domestic
flights using Heathrow. This will provide a fast and efficient alternative
for those who wish to access the airport and who currently find flying
there the only option. Getting flight numbers to Heathrow down will lessen
pressure on the existing runways and ensure that there would be no need to
resort to scrapping the alternation system.
I, personally, have always opposed any plan to end runway alternation and
tabled questions on this issue several times while I served on the London
Assembly. I am pleased to say that this was one of the few occasions in
which the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and I found ourselves in
complete agreement. We both agreed that a "mixed mode" system would be
unacceptable because it would deprive West London residents of some relief
from aircraft noise during the day. I am delighted that our current
Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson is also implacably opposed.
The Conservatives are determined to prevent Heathrow Airport from
blighting further the lives of Ealing and Acton residents and it is an
important manifesto pledge. I wonder, however, whether the same can be
said of the other parties? The Labour party is explicitly committed to
expanding Heathrow and the LibDems are unconvincing. They have dropped
strong hints that their preferred partner in the event of a hung parliament
is the Labour party. Yet they have not clearly stated that, in any
negotiation, they would insist on a Labour promise to drop its support for
the third runway. Until they do so, the only party that can be absolutely
trusted to curb the ever-growing menace of Heathrow Airport is the
I am opposed to expansion of Heathrow because of the effects on already congested roads and local public transport, the negative impact on climate change, but also beause of the proposals on impacts on noise for local residents.
'Alternation' currently means that at least local residents like myself get half a day with no flights overhead, getting rid of this would mean all day flights and no break in sight. Additional noise is one of the reasons that I would oppose expansion of Heathrow and it is also why I also oppose the ending of 'alternation.
Both I personally and the Liberal Democrats as a party completely oppose Heathrow expansion and support the retention of runway alternation, together with the Cranford agreement which attempts to minimise flights over densely-populated Ealing. I recognise that the noise and pollution that is suffered by some local people already would be worsened by abandoning alternation and would be inflicted on many more residents if a third runway was opened. This is an issue that I have been personally campaigning on for many years, including collecting a petition with over a thousand local signatures against expansion.
Opposition to a third runway at Heathrow is a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment. By contrast the Labour Party manifesto for this election states "we support a third runway at Heathrow" and the Tories have flip-flopped on this issue. As recently as three years ago, no Conservative MP supported Lib Dem MP Susan Kramer's motion in parliament against Heathrow expansion. If elected as your MP, I would robustly stand firm on behalf of local residents against any move by either old party to weaken Liberal Democrat resolve against Heathrow expansion.