Page last updated at 00:41 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Heathrow expansion: Local views

Heathrow proposed expansion

The government is set to confirm its decision to expand London's Heathrow Airport and, in the process, wipe out 700 surrounding homes including the entire village of Sipson.

The people of Sipson and their near-neighbours have campaigned for years to keep developers away from the quiet village where just a handful of shops serve the estimated 2,000 inhabitants.

Every lamppost in the village is marked with a poster saying "No" to the runway, while campaign placards have become a feature of most front gardens. But the British Airports Authority (BAA) says it is imperative a third runway and a sixth terminal go ahead if Heathrow is to remain competitive.

The BBC's Dhruti Shah asked local people for their views on the plans.

KIREN VADHER, STUDENT, SIPSON

Kiren Vadher
Kiren Vadher understands the reasons but doesn't agree with the plans

Kiren Vadher has lived in Hollycroft Gardens, in Sipson, with her parents for nine years. When she found out the village was under threat, she decided to take direct action to save it.

The 26-year-old said: "When my parents saw the house they just fell in love with it, but if the expansion goes ahead they will have to think about resettling somewhere else.

"My dad, Vinod, attends the public meetings and we've got to know our neighbours a lot better because of it.

"The plans galvanised me to take part in the Climate Change Camp and the Greenpeace Make a NOise protests last year.

She said she understood BAA had to make profits but was now more aware of the potential environmental risks.

"I'm still quite optimistic because if it does get the go-ahead, the development won't be built for a while yet. There won't be an order saying 'sell up and get out of town now,'" she said.

GERALDINE NICHOLSON, NoTRAG, WEST DRAYTON

Geraldine Nicholson
Geraldine Nicholson has vowed not to back down from the fight

Geraldine Nicholson is chair of the No Third Runway Action Group (NoTrag).

The organisation is funded by Hillingdon Council and represents people living in the London borough.

A thorn in the side of BAA, the 39-year-old says she will not back down from the fight against the expansion until she gets a legally binding promise it will never happen.

She said: "I have lived here all my life and I don't feel like I should have to move. My family and my friends are here."

Her home, in Little Benty, is just over 500m from the proposed runway and she is concerned about how this will affect her three young children.

"I had no option but to get involved. If we don't stop this here, it will set a precedent and happen all over the country."

ALISON LEE, HEATHROW PRIMARY SCHOOL, SIPSON
Alison Lee
Alison Lee does not want to see her school destroyed

Despite its century-old history, Heathrow Primary School will be demolished and the 350 pupils sent elsewhere if the developers have their way.

Assistant head teacher Alison Lee said the school in Harmondsworth Lane had to retain a non-political stance but it would be a "waste" of an "oversubscribed school with a fantastic reputation" if it did get paved over.

She said: "The children are aware of what is going on and we do have discussions about it but we try to keep as normal a life as possible for them."

She said the school had continued with its own growth plans and was applying for permission to build new classrooms.

"This is a place where children should be able to participate in lessons and enjoy themselves, not worry about what is happening with the airport."

SATPAL ARRI, PARENT, HARLINGTON

Satpal Arri
Satpal Arri chose Heathrow Primary School because of its good reputation

Satpal Arri's daughter Priya, eight, attends Heathrow Primary School.

The 44-year-old said although he did not believe his home in Oxford Road in Harlington would suffer any knock-on adverse affects because of the expansion, he was concerned about the future of the school.

He said: "I picked this school especially because it has a good reputation. I took my daughter out of another one nearby so she could go here.

"I work as a delivery driver for a courier company and we do get a lot of airport work but I think the authorities should still look at expanding elsewhere - there's more space around Gatwick Airport and Stansted.

"Priya says she's not so worried as she'll have left the school before it's demolished but she's one of the few lucky ones."

LINDA MCCUTCHEON, RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION, SIPSON

Linda McCutcheon
Linda McCutcheon's family all still live in the area

Linda McCutcheon moved to Sipson Road in the village 42 years ago when she married her husband, Terry.

The 63-year-old is chair of the Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents' Association, which has campaigned heavily against the expansion.

She said: "The area's changed a great deal ever since BAA made their plans known.

"Before, people would put their property up for sale and it'd be snapped up by another family within a week. Now that just doesn't happen.

"However, there are still plenty of people who see this as their home and, like us, have extremely strong ties to the area.

"But people here have been finding it difficult to get on with their lives - we've even had to put our plans to do our bathroom up on hold."

GULJEET SINGH, VILLAGE STORE, HARMONDSWORTH

Guljeet Sing
Guljeet Singh wishes he had known more about the plans

Guljeet Singh is the new owner of Harmondsworth Village Store, in Harmondsworth's High Street, having taken over the business a month ago.

He said: "The shop has been established for about 10 years so it looked like a good opportunity for us."

News of the expansion plans had come as a shock, he said, as the previous owner had not mentioned them.

He said: "I'm a bit concerned as a lot of my regular customers come from Sipson to buy their general goods here and they spend a bit of money.

"I do cater for airport workers too, since many buy their lunches here, but they only spend a couple of pounds a pop. This will certainly affect my business - I just don't know how yet."

JOHN BUTLER, HOMEOWNER, HARMONDSWORTH

John Butler
John Butler is not optimistic about the future of Harmondsworth

John Butler, 58, believed the result was a foregone conclusion.

The father-of-four, from Candover Close, Harmondsworth, believes his picturesque village will be BAA's next target.

He said: "I moved here from Iver eight years ago because I wanted peace, but how is this village going to survive when it's sandwiched between both runways?

"I don't like it - where I live is going to be directly affected. They've offered me treble glazing but what good is that going to do?

"We're going to get planes overhead and Terminal Six is going to be at the back of this lovely little village.

"It's not as if we can really move, especially in this current climate. We're settled with work, family commitments and, on top of that, I have a very big mortgage."

TONY PETERS, MECHANIC, HARLINGTON

Tony Peters
Tony Peters is relaxed about the situation

Tony Peters, 49, has worked at Exchange Gearboxes garage in Manor Parade, in Harlington's High Street, for more than 20 years.

He has seen his fair share of changes near the airport during that time and is not fazed by the expansion plans.

He said: "I can understand that a lot of people don't like change, especially when it is encroaching on where they live and work.

"But you can't stop progress and this is what it is. It's understandable why they want to build - everybody uses the airport.

"We don't rely that much on the airport but if people are on their way and have problems with their motors, they may come in and see us. If that picks up, great, if not, it's still all fine. We still have our regular customers."



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