Taking the fight against Heathrow Expansion to the seaside

Today saw the TUC bring their conference to Brighton where senior Trade Union officials and their members meet to discuss policy matters and campaigns ahead.

With the Trade Unions split on whether to oppose or support a Third Runway at Heathrow, my friends at Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) decided to run a coach full of campaigners from Harmondsworth to the seaside to put their side of the story and convince the Unions that opposition is the best course of action.

Leaving the Village at 9.30am, we arrived in a wet and windswept Brighton just before 11 and formed up outside the conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were joined shortly for a briefing on the latest developments by Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell, who posed with the team from SHE for photos afterwards (Below)

 

With the wind whipping up, the two of us holding the long banner were struggling to hang on to it – after John McDonnell commented on the weather, I joked that we were about to get some impromptu kite surfing in at this rate. His response was to quip, ‘ what’s that, the UKIP air force?’ – he obviously hasn’t heard the news! Whilst it was strange to be joking with a man who I have locked horns with politically for many years (Some of it quite unpleasant), it shows the strength of feeling against the runway that such diametrically opposed characters can come together and work alongside people of all backgrounds and political views on a subject that transcends politics and affects so many.

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UKIP – Job done or only just started?

With the resignation of both Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, many in the media are now saying that UKIP has achieved its goal and it is no longer relevant on the political landscape.

Indeed, the aforementioned Mr Carswell has been gloating on his Twitter feed about a council byelection in his area where the Tories have taken a seat from UKIP , claiming that many Kippers think ‘job done’.

So, what is the reality? With the triggering of Article 50 and the initial founding reason for UKIP (Leaving the EU) looking like a reality, what have UKIP got left to offer?

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Rumours of the demise of UKIP are greatly exaggerated

The following article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the official view of the party

Uxbridge street stall Oct 2013 with MS MG and Ilyas
It is often said that a week is a long time in politics – with the events of the last seven days it has certainly seemed that way!

Following on from the surprise resignation of leader Diane James MEP after just 18 days in the role, we have now seen media headlines surrounding an altercation between two of our MEP’s in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

The Party is currently investigating what actually happened and as such it would be wrong for me to speculate before that investigation is concluded. I feel sure that we all wish Steven Woolfe MEP, a personal friend and a thoroughly decent man, a speedy recovery.

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Davies Commission recommends Heathrow Expansion

UKIP Hillingdon Press Release – 1st July 2015

 aeroplane

For immediate release

 

Davies Commission recommends Heathrow Expansion

 

The long awaited Davies Commission report in to aviation in the South East has been released this morning and recommends expansion at Heathrow.

UKIP Hillingdon reject the need to build an additional runway at Heathrow based on a flawed business case which is all about the profits of big overseas investors and not the needs of the UK economy and local people.

 

CD leaflet image jpegCommenting on the news, Hillingdon Chairman and spokesman for Hayes & Harlington Cliff Dixon said, “The figures show that both business and ‘hub’ flight numbers are in decline as new aircraft enable longer distance point to point flights with the trend moving from business to leisure travel.

The case for one ‘super airport’ when we already have excess capacity in the South East at Stansted, Southend and Luton and a runway that can be re-activated at Manston for larger aircraft is unproven. Indeed, the old BAA was broken up to stop one company having a monopoly on air travel around the capital yet expanding Heathrow will effectively reinforce the dominance of one site.

New York is a similar city to London and operates with multiple airports yet the Davies Commission was instructed to look at a single airport expansion only rather than consider upgrades across the South East that would put less strain on surface infrastructure and the communities that have to live around an expanded Heathrow”

Bryan sensibleUKIP Heathrow Villages spokesman Bryan Tomlinson stated, “Our community in the Villages has suffered blight, noise and pollution from Heathrow with the two runways, adding a third will make our environment impossible to live in.

Air pollution is already double the maximum safe limits – On a bad day it can be up to nine times that limit with many people suffering adverse health conditions because of the aircraft emissions and the increased traffic levels that the airport brings.

To add a third runway to benefit the pockets of rich overseas investors at the expense of our historic local area is unacceptable”

 

Press release ends….

 

The Davies Commission to report tomorrow

Sir Howard Davies will be publishing his report in to aviation expansion in the South-East tomorrow morning.

I received the following from my friends at the independent campaign group She Heathrow Expansion (SHE) earlier today –

STOPHEATHROWEXP1-1024x768 Harmondsworth

The Davies Commission Publishes Tomorrow

Thank you for your continued support for our campaign against further expansion at Heathrow.  As you will probably know by now, the Airports Commission recommendation for the site of a new runway in the South East will be made at 7am tomorrow morning.  From 5.30am journalists will be allowed sight of the final report but because of the sensitive nature of its content they will not be allowed to reveal the recommendation in advance.  Therefore, we expect to be in the same position as you, regarding whether Heathrow is the favoured option, until 7am.
Most of our committee and many residents will be involved in media interviews throughout the day.  We have arranged interviews with everyone from BBC Radio London, Breakfast TV shows, Sky TV, Radio 5 Live, Radio 4 Today programme, Channel 5 News and Channel 4 News with Jon Snow to name just a few.
Whatever the recommendation, remember that this does not bind the government to follow the results of the Commission’s report.  Our case is extremely strong and we do not believe that a third runway or extension to the existing northern runway are deliverable options. Therefore, if Sir Howard Davies recommends Heathrow for expansion, we will step up our opposition.  If the decision is for Gatwick, we remain determined to ensure that Heathrow is not considered by the government and that our future is protected from further threat.  The people of London and the surrounding areas impacted by its noise and pollution deserve a break.
Thank you again for your valued support.  We will contact you again soon, in the meantime keep an eye on our website: www.stopheathrowexpansion.co.Neil Keveren and the Stop Heathrow Expansion team
Kind regards
The SHE committee

 

Heathrow Villages – History on your doorstep

With the sun shining brightly this morning, I decided to show my wife around some of the landmarks in Heathrow Villages

With the ongoing fight against the new runway and the rubbish and pothole issues that are frequently highlighted by our representatives in The Villages, it is good to highlight some of the positive aspects of life in the area and to take some time to look around the sites of historic interest that Heathrow Expansion would blight

The Great Barn, Harmondsworth

Great Barn internal shotReferred to as ‘The Cathedral of Middlesex’, the Barn was constructed in the 16th century and was still a working building up until the late 1970’s.

Restored by English Heritage in conjunction with The Friends of the Great Barn, it was re-opened to the public in April and can now be viewed on the second and fourth Sunday of each month between April and October.

Situated behind the historic St Mary’s Church, my wife and I were treated to a tour by local expert Justine Bayley, who pointed out a number of facts about both the building and it’s reconstruction that highlighted the level of craftsmanship that has enabled the structure to survive for centuries with hopefully many more to come.

For more details on The Barn please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/harmondsworth-barn/

The next days available to view are 14th and 28th June

 

 

The Barnes Wallis memorial

Barnes Wallis memorial

Just around the corner from The Great Barn is the relatively recent memorial to the famous inventor Barnes Wallis, who developed the revolutionary ‘bouncing bomb’ that RAF Lancasters of 617 squadron used to destroy the Ruhr dams in 1943. The leader of the raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, was one of my boyhood heroes so it was good to see the architect of the raid remembered in this way. Barnes Wallis had previously designed the Wellington bomber, the mainstay of RAF Bomber Command in the early years of World War 2 and went on to play a key role in the development of the Tallboy and Grand Slam weapons that were used to sink the battleship Tirpitz and wreck well fortified underground weapons factories in Germany respectively.

The immaculate state of the memorial is a tribute to local resident Armelle Thomas, who was instrumental in its construction and spends time making sure it is always well kept.

Cranford Park

Cranford Country park sign

Cranford Park is a haven for wildlife and one of the prettiest walks in Hillingdon. Amongst the numerous plant and insect life, the park is also home to such birds as the Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Nuthatch along with birds of prey such as the Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

We kept to the pathways whilst visiting in order to not disturb the nests of the Skylarks, which they build on the ground and are very busy at this time of year.

A number of them were noticeable in the air with their distinctive calls, drowned out only by the noise of the Greater Airbus and Boeing that were in evidence on the flightpath in to Heathrow on a regular basis!

Heathrow Villages have been local communities for centuries, with settlements at the ground where the park now sits dating back to The Bronze Age. Seeing the beauty and the history today makes me more convinced than ever that a Third Runway at Heathrow must be stopped to preserve the area for many generations yet to come.

 

Communities unite to fight the Third Runway

hacanrallyLast night saw a coming together of politicians of all parties, Trade unionists and environmental campaigners at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster for the Rally against the Runway, organised by independent campaign group HACAN Clearskies. (As previously reported on our site by Heathrow Villages ward representative, Bryan Tomlinson)

Chaired by HACAN’s John Stewart, this was a community reply to the significant financial muscle of Heathrow Airport Ltd and their ‘astroturfing’* propaganda arm, Back Heathrow, who have spent millions plastering adverts over newspapers, the internet and just about any billboard in London they can find. Go on any tube train currently and you will see those ad’s, usually with a modified Union flag, telling you how the country needs this expansion – Ironic when none of the investors in the airport are actually British!

 

It was a rare showing of political unity but totally justified when out of 27 surrounding boroughs, only 2 actually support expansion (Hang your heads in shame Spelthorne and Slough!)

Many valid points were raised by the speakers – Destruction of housing, pollution, noise, the lack of infrastructure to support additional traffic around the airport, the flawed business case and the madness of allowing an increase in numbers of aircraft flying across the densely populated urban sprawl of London to name just a few.

3rd runway John RandallThere were veterans of the previous campaign – Outgoing Uxbridge Conservative MP John Randall (Left) was third up to the podium, with the final speaker being Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell – He repeated his call from the recent public meeting that ‘you can’t trust any of the politicians from any of the party’s on this ‘, no doubt mindful that despite his own stated aim to stop the Runway that neither his own Labour party or The Conservatives will say where they stand on expansion before the election, preferring to wait on the recommendations of The Davies Commission that has been postponed until after May 7th.

 

Former Conservative transport minister, Steven Norris (Below),  spoke of the calls in the seventies to make urban freeways on flyovers through London, and that at the time the prevailing wisdom that we needed to be ‘more like Detroit’ in order to get cars around London is similar to the flawed case being put forward that we need more aircraft capacity at Heathrow to deal with increased ‘hub’ traffic.

3rd runway Steven Norris

Headline speaker Vince Cable MP (below left), the current secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, spoke of the flawed projections of ‘hub’ passenger numbers that are being put forward, arguing that the biggest hub of the future will be in Dubai and that Heathrow’s best option for growth is to embrace the switch to more short haul traffic and direct flights to long haul destinations.

3rd runway Vince Cable3rd runway Adam Afriyie

MP’s Zac Goldsmith and Adam Afriyie spoke of their determination to beat the runway, with Mr Afriyie (Right) speaking of his childhood in South London teaching him how to fight and if the airport wanted a fight he would give it to them.

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace’s John Sauven gave the environmental viewpoint, talking of pollution and the effects on climate, whilst Chris Baugh of the PCS Union  dispelled the notion that the Trade Union movement are solidly behind expansion despite what the airport would have you believe (Manuel Cortes of the TSSA was also scheduled to speak, but was called away on urgent business before he could do so)

Further speeches were also heard from Lib-Dem GLA leader Caroline Pidgeon, Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia and MP’s Mary Macleod and Andy Slaughter.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also spoke after waiting patiently just before John McDonnell’s closing speech and seemed to be getting over the cold that had hampered her TV performances in the previous week (Below)

3rd Runway Natalie Bennett

UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour MEP was due to attend the event, but due to unforeseen circumstances was unable to show up on the night – With trepidation, I stepped in to represent UKIP and my speech can be viewed below –

 

Cliff Dixon speech to Rally against the Runway

I’m sorry that Jill Seymour MEP, UKIP’s National Transport spokesperson, is unable to be here tonight but as UKIP’s candidate in the constituency that includes the airport and a Hillingdon borough resident I hope I can speak from the heart and tell you why UKIP is firmly against another runway at Heathrow.

With a life long interest in aircraft, I can see the idea of a third runway for what it is – Not an essential requirement for the UK economy, but a cash cow for the investors in Heathrow Airport to swell the coffers of their bank accounts.

cliffdixonrostrumThey care not for our local communities affected by noise and pollution on the flightpaths in to the airport – Indeed, Akbar Al-Baker of Qatar Holdings, a major stakeholder in the airport, has been quoted in the national press as saying that locals enjoyed ‘excessive freedom’ and ‘made too much fuss’ about noise, which they would ‘soon get used to’.

It may be fun to visit an airshow for a day, but it’s not much fun for Heathrow Villagers who see aircraft flying over their houses every couple of minutes – Some of whom have been in those houses for generations before the expansion of Heathrow in to the airport that is has become today. People I have been fortunate to meet and class as friends who stand to lose those homes if expansion goes ahead and will see a community they have been a part of torn asunder.

This is to say nothing of the pollution that increased aircraft activity will bring. My mother was a Hillingdon resident who suffered with breathing problems which have now mysteriously disappeared since moving out of the area . How many of our children in Cranford, Sipson, Harlington and Harmondsworth are suffering similarly today?

We hear from Heathrow Airport Ltd that newer aircraft are less noisy and less polluting. That might be so, but if there are more of them then those benefits will be negated by sheer numbers.

I have stood close to an Airbus A380 at Farnborough Airshow and it is indeed an improvement noise wise on take off, but that same almost empty plane sounds somewhat different with a full load taking off from a runway at Heathrow – Those here from Harlington will know what I mean.

They also neglect to mention that their proposed steeper glide paths to offset noise in the outer boroughs will require faster deceleration on final approach, meaning more ‘reverse thrust’ and increased airframe sound – You can only do so much because of the sheer physics of aircraft design and those closest to the airport, our community in Hillingdon, are likely to see increased disruption from these measures.

3rd runway audience

So, what can be done?

Heathrow is a major employer in the area and has been here for many years. It has become a part of our daily lives.

However, it can be a better neighbour to us all by engaging with the local community over improved noise mitigation.

Heathrow can improve operations by looking at the flights that operate out of it – For a ‘hub’ airport, there are a disproportionate amount of short haul point to point flights versus long haul.

There also needs to be a radical rethink of the ‘grandfather rights’ that allow airlines that have traditionally had landing and take off slots to use under occupied or empty flights to block out new routes from coming to the airport and making better use of the existing runways. By doing this, it will preserve and create jobs that Back Heathrow have been scaremongering will be lost whilst improving relations with those of us who live daily in its shadow.

Whatever people’s view on whether we actually need to increase aviation capacity in the South East of England, there is no convincing argument for building a third, and possibly fourth, runway at  Heathrow particularly when weighed up against all the arguments against it.

lies

If we do indeed need to increase aviation capacity in the South East of England then we need to be smarter in our use of the existing airports in concert with Heathrow. In London, we have 7 runways spread around 6 airports. We also have an unused large runway at Manston in Kent that can be re-opened if necessary and would not require the decimation of housing nor bring the noise and pollution issues we would see at Heathrow.

Finally, improving our communications networks should be a priority and would do away with the need for some of the business flights.

I stand here tonight alongside our community and members of all political parties and none who oppose a Third Runway at Heathrow.

Whilst this is a non-politically aligned event, it will ultimately be politicians who make the final decision on whether the runway gets built.

I can relay a message from Jill Seymour MEP, that UKIP stand with you in opposing the Third Runway at both a national and local level.

Make sure that those who seek your mandate at the General Election can say the same with their national party’s support and hold them to account at the ballot box.

The future of our local communities depend on it.

Thank you very much

Last night’s event showed that local communities and those who represent them will not be bullied in to an expansion plan that benefits the corporate interest of the Airport at the expense of  our area. The Third Runway has been beaten before – Through unity, it will be beaten again.

* ‘Astroturfing’ is a term for a fake grass roots campaign propped up by vested interests