Heathrow’s latest plan for third runway would be ‘plane crazy’ for one village
Simon Calder meets the people who could soon have jets landing on their doorsteps
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 07 June 2013
When the Concorde used to fly over Stanwell Moor it set off car alarms. Now, after a decade of relative quiet, long-suffering residents of the Surrey village under Heathrow’s flightpath face having a runway outside their front doors.
They reacted with a mixture of indignation and resignation to the news that their village is the latest “silver bullet” solution to Britain’s aviation woes. The owners of Heathrow are understood to have abandoned plans for a third runway north of the present airport perimeter – and instead propose to build it to the south, encroaching on a village of 1,300 inhabitants.
The new southern runway, already dubbed “R3S”, is regarded as both cheaper and more attractive than the northern option. It would be used exclusively by smaller jets – the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 series – which are quieter than wide-bodied aircraft.
In addition, the eastern end would be located about a mile further from London than the existing two runways. Arriving and departing aircraft would therefore be significantly higher when flying over the capital.
The planned location could be constructed with no need for a sixth terminal. It would offer direct access from British Airways’ exclusive hub, Terminal 5, and Terminal 4 – home to Air France, KLM and the rest of the Skyteam alliance.
Much of the land needed for the runway is occupied by airport-related buildings, including a cargo village and car parks, which could be re-located with little fuss. But the western end would encroach on Stanwell Moor, a post-war development less than a mile from Terminal 5.
Villagers have not been consulted on the plans. Aslam Andanjee, 58, who owns Stanwell Moor Post Office, said: “It’s a surprise to me. We’ve never been mentioned before.”
“Bloody hell – are they really?” exclaimed Robert Mandry when presented with a sketched diagram of the proposed third runway. The 69-year-old retired compositor has lived in Stanwell Moor for 10 years, and conceded that noise has abated during that decade. He speculated that residents could be persuaded to move with sufficiently generous offers: “Our house is worth £250,000. If they offer us £350,000 I expect we’ll leave.”
Then he left to alert his partner, Rosemary Brown, who has lived in Stanwell Moor for 40 years. “She won’t half be upset when I tell her,” he said.
LHR Airports Ltd, which owns Heathrow, has declined to confirm or deny the reports. The company will submit its proposals for expansion to the Davies Commission, which is evaluating solutions for the airport capacity crunch in South-East England, before 19 July.
HACAN ClearSkies, which opposes expansion at Heathrow, said the new runway could increase flights by 46 per cent. Its chair, John Stewart, said: “It is a clever plan which Heathrow hopes might neutralise opposition amongst some of the communities and local authorities which successfully opposed a new runway to the north of the airport.”
He added that the campaigners would oppose the proposals because a new runway would be “massively disturbing” to “vast swathes of people”.
But back in Stanwell Moor, Sri Haran – proprietor of the village shop, T5 Stores – gestured towards the airport and sighed: “There’s not a lot a village can do when they decide”.
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