At the last full council meeting I was as the following question by a student from Bulmershe,
We are in the midst of an environmental and ecological crisis. This crisis threatens the future of our planet to the extent that we may not have a liveable planet in the not too distant future for future generations to enjoy as we do. Scientists estimate that the worst effects of climate change will begin in just 10 years’ time, at which point an irreversible chain reaction of disaster will be set off; yet already we are suffering in the grip of the climate emergency. 2019 was the 2nd hottest year on record on this planet, beaten in 2016 by just 0.04 degrees. In the past few weeks lots of media attention has been brought to the bushfires raging in Australia, and the floods across the UK, and the list goes on. To combat this, urgent action must be taken in the next decade. On 18th July last year, this Council declared a climate emergency, yet it continues to support the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
To what extent do you agree that this Council’s current policy of support for the Heathrow Airport expansion is in direct contradiction of its declaration of climate emergency?
This is the answer that I gave.
I agree with you that we are in the middle of an environmental crisis and I am proud to be leading this piece of work on behalf of the Council following the declaration of a Climate Emergency.
On Heathrow Airport there is a very important distinction to make. We were asked to feed into a consultation, which we did in September 2019. What we fed back was that we could only support the expansion of Heathrow Airport if it could be proven to be carbon neutral.
We set out three distinct criteria upon which that would be measured. We specifically said that Heathrow needed to prove that they could reduce emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon emissions and demonstrate a clear pathway to carbon neutrality by all means. We said that they had to be able to demonstrate, through monitoring, that any increase in the number of overflights over Wokingham Borough would have no adverse effects on the health and quality of life of our residents. We also said that they had to make provision in order to upgrade the western rail access with associated improvements to Twyford Station and be able to get their employees and passengers to and from the airport in a more carbon neutral manner. If those conditions are not being met this Council does not support the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Those were the conditions that we put in place and while they are not being met we do not support it. If they are being met and Heathrow can prove that they are developing in a carbon neutral manner that will not affect our Climate Emergency then and only then does this Council support the expansion of Heathrow Airport.