Councils Make Case For New Airport Role

Council Leaders from 2M met with Transport Minister Theresa Villiers

Local councils have a vital role to play advising government of the environmental impact of aviation policy decisions.

Council leaders from the 2M Group which campaigns on behalf of communities affected by Heathrow operations set out plans for closer involvement at a meeting this week with transport minister Theresa Villiers.

Issues facing the transport department include arrangements for a new night flights regime from 2012, proposals for a five-year extension to allow compliance with EU air quality limits and consultation on a new high speed rail line.

Wandsworth leader Edward Lister, speaking on behalf of the 2M group, said:
“The change of government has created an opportunity for new ways of working. The localism agenda strengthens the case for greater openness and increased local scrutiny of decisions that can affect the lives of millions.”

Hillingdon leader Ray Puddifoot added, “The key is to involve us early in the decision-making process and make full use of our expertise and local knowledge in areas like noise, air quality, traffic and transport. The noise and air quality effects will become increasingly important for the councils closest to the airport in the light of our new responsibilities for public health.”

The council leaders repeated their call for a full examination of the comparative costs and impacts of alternative high speed rail options including an earlier 2M proposal for an M1 alignment which would avoid the Chilterns.

Councils also want responsibility for drawing up noise action plans around the airport  and a bigger say in decisions on mitigation measures for the worst-affected communities such as sound insulation.

The 2M Group is an alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities.

The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people.

August 20, 2010