Rachel's Spring Update
This year is a really significant one for those affected by Heathrow Airport and therefore a very important and busy one for us. There are two consultations happening - one focusing on airspace which has just finished and one about the proposed expansion, which will open this summer. In addition, as many of you will be aware, five judicial reviews challenging the legality of the government’s National Policy Statement to support a third runway at Heathrow airport have begun in the high court.
My overarching priority for the HCEB in 2019 is promoting a sustainable future for Heathrow communities. To this end, we are seeking to increase the depth and diversity of responses to Heathrow’s own consultations. We will be holding the airport’s senior management to account in relation to their day-to-day operations and making this public. We are also working hard to identify the complex needs of residents living within the compulsory purchase and wider property offer zones, to improve the accessibility and quality of support available. We have already started work on these priorities as you will see from some of our activities so far.
Our team has been delighted to welcome Nick Ward, our new Residents’ Advisor. He is already providing an advice service that supports residents to access sources of assistance relating to current airport operations as well as the proposed compensation schemes if expansion goes ahead. Nick is planning to run regular surgeries and is currently identifying suitable locations for these.
In January, HCEB hosted Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, at a coffee morning in Harmondsworth village and all the feedback about her visit has been really positive. Around 25 local residents attended the coffee morning, including some new faces, with HCEB and Department for Transport staff also present to answer questions. The Minister spent two hours with residents listening to the issues which affect them now and their worries for the future. Some of them took her on a walking tour of the village, visiting the Great Barn and the Barnes Wallace war memorial. You can read more about that visit by clicking here.
The following week, we had a joint meeting of both our Strategic Advisory Groups. They had the opportunity to advise and challenge Heathrow Airport on their Equality Impact Assessment. This assessment process is required to try and prevent any proposed changes having a disproportionate negative affect on particular groups. This was followed by a stimulating presentation outlining the results of the independent research we commissioned to identify groups who are impacted by the Airport but have little or no current engagement.
The HCEB Question Time event took place at the end of January, at the University of West London. We received over 1000 questions and so we worked with members of the community to group these into themes. With over a hundred people in attendance, questions were put to a panel including John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport as well as senior representatives from the Department for Transport and the CAA. Inevitably there wasn’t enough time to answer all the questions on the day, but we now have the answers to these on our website. We have published notes of the event as well – you can find more details by clicking here.
In December, we opened a survey to find out what matters most to those affected by Heathrow Airport. This was also posted to over 250,000 homes. We have received over 2,200 responses to the survey – both on-line and via post. A very big thank you to those of you who responded to the survey. We are currently analysing the responses and we will be publishing the outcomes shortly. The results of the survey will directly inform our recommendations to Heathrow Airport.
As we look ahead to Heathrow Airport’s summer consultation on expansion, we’re going to be working with local communities and stakeholders developing formal recommendations to the airport aimed at improving the next consultations. These recommendations will be based on learning from previous consultation exercises and current best practice. As part of this work, we will be inviting you to complete an on-line survey to get your views on Heathrow’s consultation on Airspace and Future Operations which closed earlier this month.
Last March, I had been appointed and was eagerly awaiting my first day in early April. As I reflect on the last 12 months, I realise how much we have achieved in establishing the HCEB and how much work there is to be done in the coming year. With the energy and enthusiasm that comes with the all the signs of spring, the HCEB team is looking forward to working with you in the months ahead.