No Third Runway

Heathrow has over the years shown a voracious appetite for growth, always at the expense of the local community who have continually been made promises that have never been kept. The airport was set up in war-time under the false pretence it was needed for military use and the lies have continued ever since.

Of course it has created jobs in the local area – and for some time there were many skilled jobs, but increasingly now they are low paid and low skilled jobs in what has become more and more a shopping centre with an airport attached. Increasingly jobs will be lost as automation at the airport continues, and Heathrow is likely in the future to create less employment than almost any other possible use of its huge site.

What it does bring to the area – and in great variety – is pollution. Most obviously noise pollution, now affecting a large swathe of West London and further out in Berkshire, but also air pollution, not just from the planes and vehicles using Heathrow, but from the cars and lorries which bring and take away passengers and freight, and by the congestion that these cause to other non-airport related traffic in the area.

By the 1970s it had become clear that Heathrow was in the wrong place, and that London needed a new site for its major airport. Had the right decision been made, Heathrow would long ago have joined Croydon as a former London airport (and Croydon was probably rather better placed.) But Government buckled to the interests and lobbying of a powerful aviation lobby, joined by others, and Heathrow continued to be allowed to expand, with a fourth terminal, and then a fifth, and then the push for the ‘third runway’.

I took part in an photographed the protests against that third runway and the celebrations when that proposal was defeated, with even the Conservative Party leader David Cameron making a clear promise it would not be built. But Heathrow and the vested interests came back, with the setting up of an inquiry by the government on premises that were almost bound to favour further expansion, and the spectre of the third runway re-emerged, despite the ever-increasing argument of the enviromental catastrophe it would be.

I’m not a fan of Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP who had organised a rally on Richmond Green – and had resigned when his party changed tack to back Heathrow expansion, and was fighting a by-eleciton on the issue, but I went to photograph the rally which was supported by all the local groups fighting against the plans.

What I hadn’t expected was to be harassed by one of Goldsmith’s crew, who told me that this was a private event and that I couldn’t take pictures, threatening to get the police to evict me. I told him that this was a public meeting in a public place and I had every right to report it, but for several minutes he followed me around trying to stop me. I told him rather forcefully to go away and talk to the police – and he did, so I was bothered no more. But so much for freedom under the Conservatives!

I wasn’t sorry when Goldsmith lost his seat to Sarah Olney – also opposed to Heathrow expansion, and whose supporters were also present (looking rather less like estate agents) and it was something of a disappointment when he regained it – by 75 votes in the June 2017 election. Goldsmith took the seat in 2010 from Susan Kramer, a Liberal Democrat MP who had been a staunch fighter against Heathrow expansion.

From Richmond I took a train and a bus to the Three Magpies on the Bath Road at Cranford on the northern edge of Heathrow. Nearby some activists from Rising Up! were blocking the motorway spur into the airport while on the bridge above the road a few hundred yards away I covered the ‘family friendly’ rally that was also taking place – with a huge and unnecessary police presence.

More at:

Climate Crisis rally against Airport Expansion
Rally against Heathrow Expansion


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