Message to residents under threat
In the past week, SHE has distributed around 2,000 leaflets to residents living to the north of Heathrow Airport who fear that the government may announce that its preferred option is a third runway that would destroy or severely impact their villages.
As it was not possible to leaflet everyone who would be affected, we are addressing this message to our fellow Heathrow Villages residents and hope that the content can be passed on to neighbours who may not be on the internet.
We know that your home is important to you and that the government announcement on airport expansion, which we expect at 12.30pm today, will be of considerable concern.
Our group has been campaigning hard to preserve our villages and we want to be sure that you received information from us before Heathrow creates unnecessary worry, as they did when the Airports Commission recommended expansion at Heathrow in July 2015.
The announcement that the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, will make today is the government's "preferred option" and is merely the start of a process that could take years.
Strong arguments have been made against expanding Heathrow, particularly because of the environmental impact, pollution, noise and cost. Although the airport has made predictions about job creation and economic benefits, the figures are disputed. Our campaign has gathered support and we are optimistic that, should Heathrow be the preferred option, neither a third runway nor an extension to the existing northern runway will ever be built.
It is, however, entirely possible that our government could ignore all the arguments against Heathrow expansion and follow the Airports Commission recommendation. An alternative put forward by the Commission would be a second runway at Gatwick. It could even suggest expanding both.
What is sure is that an announcement in favour of Heathrow will result in legal challenges. One of those challenges will be from a group of local authorities: Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead. They have been joined by environmental group Greenpeace.
A series of public consultations will also take place before a National Policy Statement on aviation is put before Parliament. The government timetable suggests a vote would take place in winter 2017/18 but that is without delays caused by challenges in court.
Beware of promises from Heathrow regarding compensation
Heathrow has been keen to promote a compensations scheme, should its proposals get to this stage. It is less keen on providing guarantees. The money needed for any schemes to buy homes or provide mitigation measures for those that remain will be far greater than the current budget allows. Heathrow’s Chairman has already revealed that the airport is looking to cut billions from its construction budget. We do not believe that it will have the funds to purchase all the properties impacted by expansion. The best course of action is to fight for what you have.
We’ve been here before
Heathrow has repeatedly asked for a third runway but has always failed. You may remember that in 2009 the Labour Government backed a third runway that would have wiped Sipson off the map. The case for the new runway was successfully challenged in the High Court – a victory for residents, campaigners and common sense.
This time we want to ensure that our villages are never put under threat again. Please join us.
This morning, The Five Bells in Harmondsworth is opening early for breakfast as campaigners and residents may want to get together. You can come along and show your support for the campaign throughout the morning.
If you don't want to be on your own to hear the government announcement, come to The Five Bells at noon. There should also be residents meeting on the village green, to plant our black planes, and some in The Crown, which is the other pub in Harmondsworth High Street.
St Mary's Church is planning to hold a special service at 6.30pm.
If the preferred option is Heathrow, watch this space for forthcoming events and protests.
Looking further ahead - Our AGM is an ideal time to show your support for our campaign and find out the latest news on how the proposals could affect you.
Details: Monday 14 November
St. Mary's Church Hall, Harmondsworth, Middlesex
Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start
If you can’t make the AGM but would like to show your support, please contact us.
Write to: Howcroft, High Street, Harmondsworth, UB7 0AQ or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org