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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June 2005, 22:43 GMT 23:43 UK
Anger at Heathrow expansion plans
Plane flies near a demonstration banner at Heathrow

Proposals for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been criticised by residents and environmentalists.

Local pressure group Hacan said a third runway would bring more noise and pollution and destroy homes.

The owner of Heathrow airport, BAA, has published its plans to demolish up to 700 homes to make way for the runway and possibly a sixth terminal.

BAA says it plans to spend more than 7bn ($12.77bn) over ten years developing Britain's largest airport.

Friends of the Earth said the west London airport's expansion was "environmental madness".

But the pro-expansion group, Future Heathrow, said the new runway was needed to maintain Heathrow as Europe's main airport.

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP said she hoped EU regulations on nitrogen oxide would scupper the plans and said there would be demonstrations against the scheme.

Under the airport operator BAA's interim plans published on Monday, 357 hectares of land near the airport has been "safeguarded", discouraging future developers to build in case the land is needed for expansion.

Nobody in their right minds is going to buy a property in this blighted area
Brian Sobey, No Third Runway Action Group
Bryan Sobey, a member of the anti-expansion group NOTRAG (No Third Runway Action Group) said that by placing the area under such restraint, property was already being devalued.

He said: "Nobody in their right minds is going to buy a property in this blighted area. I think the plan itself causes blight - the safeguarded area is an enormous chunk of land."

His concerns were echoed by John Stewart, chairman of Hacan, who said: "It's not necessary for the economy. Unemployment is at an all-time low in west London.

"People would have to be brought in to fill the jobs and the infrastructure cannot support that."

'Expand or decline'

Richard Dyer, from Friends of the Earth, said: "Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

"If the government is serious about tackling climate change, it cannot allow the unrestrained growth of this industry."

But Clive Soley, campaign director for Future Heathrow, welcomed Monday's interim plans.

"The problem is that Heathrow has to expand or decline.

You can fly to 21 British cities from Amsterdam, 17 from Paris but just nine from Heathrow
Clive Soley of Future Heathrow

"It is in competition with Amsterdam and Paris who are literally promoting themselves as replacing Heathrow as Europe's premier hub.

"At the moment it is easier to fly from Amsterdam and Paris to other regional British cities than it is from Heathrow.

"You can fly to 21 British cities from Amsterdam, 17 from Paris but just nine from Heathrow.

"The economic importance of Heathrow to the UK and London is too great.

"No government will let Heathrow lose its position as Europe's premier airport."




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