THE Council is poised to change its stance over a third runway for Heathrow airport.
It has been asked to submit a response to a consultation over the plan and historically it has been in favour but now council leader, Cllr John Halsall has told The Wokingham Paper that this stance is being looked at.
And in a separate move, Wokingham Labour group leader, Cllr Andy Croy, has launched a petition calling on the council to ditch its support. It notes: “I have set up this petition so you can quickly and easily send a message to the Council – the third runway is bad for our environment and bad for the Thames Valley and we do not want it.
“We are in a Climate Emergency – encouraging more flights will make it harder to win the fight against climate change.
“The expansion of Heathrow will concentrate even more economic growth in the Thames Valley and increase the demand for housing here.”
Writing in support, Cllr Shirley Boyt said: “The third runway at Heathrow is completely at odds with the Council’s acknowledgement of a climate emergency and its alleged commitment to allowing fewer houses to be built in the borough.”
Cllr Halsall said: “Our position has changed. We recognise the economic benefits but there are climate change, quality of life and environmental health issues.
“We have to report to the consultation. We are preparing it [a response] and will go through it in detail.”
Cllr Halsall said: “There’s a huge seam of documents we have to respond to.”
He added that if the third runway went ahead, it would need to include local benefits.
“There is a need for improvements to Twyford Station,” he said, as an example.
Explaining why the council was planning to change its previously agreed stance he said: “It’s a shift in emphasis, but things have moved on since five years ago.”
Cllr Paul Fishwick, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Highways and Transport, said: “There’s a big YES to us being against a third runway.
“Heathrow is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in the UK. Add in another runway with more flights and it will make matters worse.
“A third runway could see the number of flights go up from 480,000 per year to 740,000. This would have an impact on local areas.
“Wokingham Borough Council has declared a climate emergency. We only have 10 years to take drastic action. If we’re really serious about climate change, we must object.”
In April, the neighbouring borough of Windsor and Maidenhead was among five that lost a High Court bid to have the third runway dismissed.
Earlier this year, Duncan Sharkey, managing director of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said: “The underlying obstacles to this runway haven’t changed.
“The Government didn’t inform communities across south and west London about how they would be affected by noise and to what extent.
“The five local authorities which brought the challenge are all committed to defending the quality of life of local people. Few, if any, of our communities will escape noise and many will be affected seven days a week.”
To sign the Labour petition visit: www.change.org/p/wokingham-borough-council-wokingham-borough-council-listen-to-us-on-the-third-runway