The University of Sussex Students’ Union has spoken out against last Thursday’s decision by the government to approve a third runway and sixth terminal. If built, the new runway will support 125,000 extra flights per year and make Heathrow Britain’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. The planned expansion would also destroy the nearby village of Sipson and an active cemetery, as well as causing an increase in noise and Nitrogen dioxide pollution.
At Tuesday’s Eco Uni. Meeting USSU president Laura Tazzoli voiced her support for the Sussex Uni. against Heathrow expansion group which is allied with groups such as Greenpeace, WWF, Natural England, the Green Party, Liberal Democrats , the Conservatives, 52 Labour backbenchers and many more in their opposition to the planned Heathrow expansion.
The government’s key reasons for approving the runway were economic, claiming it would secure up to 117,000 jobs and contribute £5.5 Billion to the UK economy; however, the department for transport (DFT) admits that Heathrow’s employment would fall from 63,000 to 52,000 jobs once the third runway is built due to improved efficiencies and that construction would cost £5 billion. This along with WWF’s report which states that the environmental impacts to the UK would also cost £5 billion and the ex BA chief Bob Ayling condemning the Heathrow expansion as a ‘costly mistake’ the opposition’s arguments are economic aswell as environmental. There is also debate as to whether this is needed because demand for flights in the UK is falling according to BAA’s own figures and Demand for high speed rail to Paris up 10% last year (FT.com). Over 100,000 flights per year from Heathrow are to destinations less than 300 miles away.
Sussex Uni. against Heathrow expansion has a Facebook group and last Thursday over 500 people contacted government as a result of their Facebook campaign. Strangely, government had removed its email address ahead of the announcement and many people reported being ‘fobbed off’ when they mentioned Heathrow to government switchboard operators.