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Heathrow expansion threatens our health, our wellbeing and our wildlife

Wednesday 26th October 2016

Aeroplane flying over Crane Meadows in west London, near Heathrow Airport

London Wildlife Trust has warned that the disappointing, but unsurprising, decision to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow Airport will pose a huge threat to the natural environment.

Progress is not measured in air miles. It is measured in public health and wellbeing, in cleaner air and water, and action to protect and promote the quality of our natural environment... 

Most of the land required for the new runway will be within Greater London and there will be significant direct and indirect effects for nature and wildlife as a result of the proposed expansion. 

A number of wildlife sites are impacted under the proposed expansion, potentially resulting in the loss of or damage to over 60 hectares of woodland and 12km of river habitats. In addition, the impact on internationally important populations of wildfowl at nearby waterbodies, and the effects of air pollution and noise on sensitive wildlife sites, such as along the River Colne, will be profound.

Mathew Frith, director of conservation at London Wildlife Trust said: “Progress is not measured in air miles. It is measured in public health and wellbeing, in cleaner air and water, and action to protect and promote the quality of our natural environment. This retrograde decision rewards shareholders but shows complete disregard for the wildlife and natural environment in and around Heathrow. It also snubs future generations who will suffer from the detrimental effects of air pollution, carbon emissions and noise.”

The proposed expansion at Heathrow has yet to take full account of the likely impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitats, although the Trust expects these to be considerable. We need to see thorough, evidence-based assessments of these impacts as early as possible, so that they can be avoided where possible, minimised (where they cannot be avoided), and mitigated effectively and compensated for. The government must hold the airport to account to deliver net gains for wildlife if it is to honour its commitments to halt the overall decline in the country’s biodiversity.

Given the current State of Nature in Britain it is essential that parliament only sanctions this damaging expansion if sufficient resources are put in place to ensure that the development results in a net-positive impact for nature and wildlife, benefitting the wider natural environment and the long-term health and wellbeing of those most affected by this massive increase in Heathrow’s capacity.

More information

London Wildlife Trust response to Airports Commission consultation on airport expansion February 2015