To tens of thousands of Londoners it represents the biggest threat to the quality of their lives. The rise and rise of Heathrow from wartime airfield to the world's biggest international airport has resulted in people living as far away as 20 miles from Heathrow experiencing continuous aircraft noise from 6am to 10pm.
New motorways in the sky are springing up all over London to cope with the ever-increasing number of planes heading for Heathrow. Neither councils not local communities have any legal right to object to these new flight paths.
New Labour, so keen on legislation to deal with noisy neighbours, has no clear plans to deal with the "city state" on the edge of London. It will be at least two years before it even begins to draw up the 30-year airport strategy it promised. It has commissioned no research to test the claims of the aircraft industry that a fifth terminal at Heathrow is essential for London's economy.
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