Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

May Confident of Resisting Airport Nimby Campaign

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

May Confident of Resisting Airport Nimby Campaign

Article excerpt

Byline: Gavin Cordon Reporter

THERESA May has insisted Heathrow Airport can be expanded without breaching legal limits on air pollution as she sought to head off a damaging revolt from grassroots Tories.

The announcement on Tuesday that the Government has finally opted to build a third runway at Heathrow brought a renewed threat of legal action by councils in the area, including Windsor and Maidenhead, which includes the Prime Minister's constituency.

Local Conservative MPs have also voiced anger over the decision, with Zac Goldsmith dramatically quitting as MP for Richmond Park, forcing a by-election in which he will stand as an independent.

In the Commons, Mrs May was challenged at Prime Minister's Questions by Tania Mathias, the Conservative MP for Twickenham, who said that legal air quality limits were already being breached around the airport.

The Prime Minister was adamant that all three airport expansion schemes considered by the Government - including the third runway at Heathrow - were compliant with air quality standards.

"The Government looked very closely at this issue of air quality and environmental impact. The evidence shows that air quality standards can be met as required by all three of the schemes, including the north-west runway at Heathrow," she told MPs.

Her intervention is unlikely to convince councils in the area to abandon their challenge.

Earlier, Lord True, the Conservative leader of Richmond Council, confirmed the authority was taking legal advice.

"The fact that the Government have already delayed action for a year results from us reminding them that they haven't yet fulfilled things which they are required to do under existing law," he said.

"Heathrow is operating illegally at the moment. This airport is busting air quality limits. It is already putting out over London 40% of the noise pollution in Europe associated with airports. We will be looking at every aspect of the decision."

With the Tories announcing they would not field a candidate in the byelection to avoid exacerbating divisions in the party, Lord True said he would campaign for Mr Goldsmith. …

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