Wandsworth Liberal Democrats have expressed fierce opposition to Heathrow expansion in their written response to the Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation, which closed last week.
Mark Gitsham, Sue Wixley and Olly Glover, the prospective Parliamentary Candidates for Battersea, Putney and Tooting, argued in their joint submission to Heathrow that the environmental costs of Heathrow expansion and the negative impacts on local communities will far outweigh any potential economic benefits.
“The Lib Dems have been fiercely opposed to Heathrow expansion for decades and we will continue to speak out against this unworkable folly. It is by no means a done deal,” they said.
In their letter, they explained that their opposition is founded on their determination to confront the grave and growing threat of the climate emergency. “If the Government is serious about meeting the challenges of climate change, it will stop Heathrow expansion. The UK has committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050 – an obligation secured in part by Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers in the coalition government. We know from recent research that an expanded Heathrow Airport, with extra flights and more traffic, will make this emission target almost impossible to achieve.”
The local party has seen a 30% surge in membership since late May when the Liberal Democrats won the European elections in Wandsworth, with 37% (36,012 votes) – more than double the Labour vote (15,487) and four times the Conservative vote (9,395).
Wandsworth Liberal Democrats now have a record number of members (1,340) and the party welcomed 300+ new joiners in the last few months. Nationally, the party’s membership now tops 115,000. Each of the three constituencies in the Wandsworth borough party – Battersea, Putney and Tooting – have benefited from this surge.
Josh Bloom, a new member in Putney said:
"After years of feeling politically homeless, with no party willing to make a stand on what was best for the country, I joined the Lib Dems. They are the only party putting up a credible fight to Brexit and are committed to centrist, progressive policies - principles all other political parties appear to have abandoned."
The Lib Dems’ Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Sue Wixley said:
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome our new members. More and more Remainers are becoming Lib Dem voters, supporters and members because they realise that Brexit is simply not viable. Voters in Putney are having sleepless nights about the political chaos led by Boris Johnson in No. 10 and supported by Jeremy Corbyn. Like me, our new members feel that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that represents their hopes and values."
Sue Wixley has lived with her husband in Southfields for more than a decade and stood in the ward for Wandsworth Council elections last year. Sue has been a director of several organisations working on healthcare and social issues and has served on the board of several others. She co-founded and led the South African Campaign Against Landmines, part of the global campaign that was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Liberal Democrat members in Putney have selected Sue Wixley to be their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC). Sue, who has lived with her husband in Southfields for more than a decade, was selected at a members’ meeting on Tuesday 2 July that was attended by 90 people.
She is the first woman ever selected by the Liberal Democrats as a candidate in Putney since the party’s founding in 1988.
In her hustings speech, Sue said:
“I’ve been fighting for Liberal Democrat values since I became an anti-apartheid activist as a student in South Africa, where I grew up. After participating in that epic, history-making struggle, I co-founded and led the campaign to ban landmines in South Africa, part of a successful global campaign that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Sue has been a director of several organisations working on healthcare and social issues and has served on the board of several others. She was recently selected as the Lib Dems’ candidate for the 2020 London Assembly campaign with mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita and in 2018 stood in the Southfields ward for Wandsworth Council elections.
Jon Irwin is fighting for a better future for everyone in Furzedown. Jon and the Lib Dems are asking residents to use this election as their chance to demand better from our Conservative-run council and Labour London Mayor.
With the EU elections just a month away on 23 May, it is vital that everyone with the right to vote is able to use it. Across Battersea, Putney and Tooting, we are encouraging voters who have not yet done so to register.
You can help, too, by sharing the information on this page with any EU citizens you know or with other would-be voters, such as young people who have just reached voting age and may not have registered yet.
The deadline to register to vote in the European Parliament elections is Tuesday 7 May. For UK citizens, there is a simple online registration process. For EU citizens there is one extra step required for the European elections: in addition to registering to vote as normal, you need to complete a form to say that you are not voting elsewhere in Europe.
The Liberal Democrats have contacted Wandsworth Electoral Services at Wandsworth Council to find out what is being done to support EU citizens in the borough to register for the European Elections.
A senior manager explained that letters have been sent to EU citizens in Wandsworth which outlines the steps needed to register. This letter will be followed up via email. EU citizens will be able to email their completed form to the Council as well as post them to City Hall.
Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the rights of EU citizens throughout the current Brexit chaos and beyond. For these upcoming European elections, it is vital that EU citizens – our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – are able to have their say.
The Lib Dems will give you the Final Say.
Over the past two years the Liberal Democrats have led the fight against this disastrous Brexit. The recent rejection of May’s Brexit Deal in Parliament takes us a step closer to an exit from Brexit - this was the biggest defeat in Parliament ever.
Tooting Liberal Democrats have been surveying local streets recently. Many residents tell us they feel their streets are unsafe for them and their children, because of fast driving and worsening air pollution.
The Conservative Council and Labour Mayor are letting us down, by not taking action on these issues.
Our railways are not delivering for us.
On Monday 19th November, severe morning disruption to Earlsfield’s rail service left many commuters unable to travel. Lib Dem spokesperson for Earlsfield Liz Jarvis said: “This is one of many problems to hit South Western Railway (SWR). Commuters are getting a rough deal and, with big fare increases, they have every right to demand better.
The local Liberal Democrat team has responded to Heathrow's latest consultation on its airspace design and future operations. The proposals would enable Heathrow to add an extra 25,000 flights each year, or 68 more flights a day. The Lib Dem's response to this consultation is below.
We are concerned that some communities, including parts of Putney, could be 'overflown' for the first time since they are positioned under the proposed new flightpaths. However, despite the enormous technical detail in the consultation documents and on the consultation website, there is little clarity on exactly how Putney would be affected. The Liberal Democrats call on Heathrow to explain directly and specifically to local communities what these proposals would mean for them.
Liberal Democrats have campaigned against Heathrow expansion, at a national level as well as through local parties, for more than 40 years. We think it is an unworkable folly which will do huge damage to the environment as well as disturb the health and well-being of residents. For example, in the 1980s the Lib Dems in Richmond won the campaign to reduce noise by getting aeroplanes to alternative between runways. The party subsequently succeeded in its fight to keep night flights to a minimum, restricting the number of movements permitted until 2017.
Heathrow consultation on airspace and future operations
Q1. Do you support our proposals for a noise objective? Please provide any comments you have on our proposals for a noise objective
- You propose to “limit…and reduce the effects of noise on health and quality of life” rather than actually reducing noise.
- Both the proposed airspace changes and future airport expansion will result in more noise for local communities, including those across Putney.
- Protecting communities from aviation noise should take priority over commercial interests.
- It is concerning that some communities will be experiencing noise for the first time if this expansion plan goes through. The impact of the proposed changes should be communicated clearly, especially to communities which will be newly overflown.
- The commitment to “regular breaks” during the day is not sufficient without a commitment to ensuring that they are predictable. In particular, local residents need longer breaks from scheduled flights
- There should be no flight noise between 11pm and 7am. Instead of managing the impact of flights between those times, they should be eliminated all together so that residents can enjoy uninterrupted seep.
- The objective also seeks to be “proportionate and cost effective”. Far from reassuring residents that they would receive adequate compensation, this vague term could mean no expenditure being made on noise reduction. This part of the noise objective should therefore by scrapped completely.
Q2 Would you prefer to have longer periods of respite less frequently or a shorter period of respite every day? Please tell us the reason for your preference. Please provide any comments or suggestions you have on runway and airspace alternation.
- A shorter period of respite every day would be preferable as this would enable people to have daily rest and fresh air as they enjoy their local environment in peace – something which is conducive to health and well-being.
- This should be part of an overall objective to limit nuisance to local people and take all possible steps to increase the hours of respite available to as many people as possible.
- There are no proposals for monitoring respite periods or issue penalties if they are not adhered to.
Q3. Should we prefer westerly operations during the day and easterly operations at night to reduce the total number of people affected by noise? Please tell us the reasons for your answer. Should we sometimes intervene to manage the direction of arriving and departing aircraft…Please tell us the reasons for your answer. Please provide comments/suggestions on directional preference.
- Heathrow should end night flights entirely, so these decisions do not need to be made.
Q4. To help inform our consideration of the options, we want to know whether you would prefer for us to:
Use one runway for scheduled arrivals from 5.30am (runway time 5.15am)
Use two runways for scheduled arrivals from 5.45am (runway time 5.30am)
Please tell us the reasons for your preference.
- There should be no runways in use before 6am.
- The consultation document provides no evidence of the “significant contribution” night flights supposedly make to the UK economy – just a vague reference to “independent studies”.
- People arriving from overseas might be ready for the start of the working day, but the economic impact of poor sleep on workers living near the airport should also be taken into account.
- The priority should be the right to a peaceful night’s sleep for people living near the airport.
Q5. Please provide any comments or suggestions on how we should encourage the use of the quietest type of aircraft at night (outside the proposed scheduled night flight ban)? Please provide any other comments you have on night flight restrictions.
- There should be an outright ban implemented on any aircraft landing at night with an older or noisier engine.
- Current incentives, including quotas and landing fees are not sufficient and are no compensation for disrupted sleep and the impact that this has on people’s health and well-being.
In addition to objecting to the specifics contained within the proposals, we object to the underlying principles of this expansion project.
The proposals would enable Heathrow to increase the number of flights by an estimated 25,000 per year. This would exacerbate the damage done to people’s health by aircraft noise and pollution and contradict the UK’s anti-climate change objectives. That is why we call for night flights to be stopped, a ban on aircraft landing at night with older or nosier engines and longer, predictable respite periods to be provided.
It is simply not sustainable to expand a hub airport in the midst of one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Instead of expanding operations and merely seeking to “minimise impacts for local communities”, we think Heathrow should be thinking again about its plans.
In addition, we urge Heathrow to explain clearly and directly to our community what would be the expected impacts of its proposals. There are some communities, including parts of Putney, that would be new ‘overflown’ and would be stung by noise, pollution and disturbance from Heathrow flights for the first time. The lack of precise flight paths in this consultation materials does not provide the information we need.