Heathrow is looking at areas in rural Buckinghamshire and Berkshire for possible expansion of its west London base.
Having faced strong opposition to expansion of the existing site over aircraft noise, the airport is doubtless looking for a softer target, a fact that will be seen as a major victory by activists.
However residents’ indignation is likely to run equally high, say councillors representing the two proposed areas. It comes as no surprise that building an international airport in a quiet rural area would run into local opposition, perhaps even more so as the plans impinge on the Chilterns, an area designated as an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) since 1965.
The news comes as a blow to Boris Johnson who is urging ministers to scrap Heathrow expansion of any kind. Touting the future of his proposed hub in the Thames estuary, nicknamed ‘Boris Island’, the mayor says West London residents have enough noise pollution to deal with already and nobody wants more.
Justine Greening, the former Transport Secretary who was removed from her post last year amidst her vocal opposition to Heathrow expansion, also warns against the proposed move. Miss Greening, Zac Goldsmith and Boris will show their faces at an upcoming mega-rally against the airports expansion.
The trio also opposes the building of a third runway or turning the existing two runways to mixed-use. Currently, one runway is designated for take-offs and the other for landing; they then switch roles in the middle of the day. Switching to mixed-use would allow both to be simultaneously used for take-off and landing, heaping unprecedented levels of noise pollution onto local residents.
Whatever the decision, it seems Heathrow would be foolish to imagine they would not run into equal or even greater opposition with a Buckinghamshire or a Berkshire hub.