Heathrow expansion to harm waterways

Heathrow expansion to harm waterways

27 September 2019

The Heathrow expansion plans would cause significant harm to the natural environment of local canals and rivers, impacting habitats and heritage, as well as reducing access to the waterways and their benefits for local people.

Some 13 miles of the Grand Union Canal and the Slough Arm would be affected by the permanent loss of 900 acres of land in the southern part of the Colne Valley Regional Park. The loss of this land will narrow the Park and disrupt wildlife connectivity between the Thames Basin and the Chilterns. We are concerned that, particularly in urban areas where the canal offers a green refuge, increased noise and pollution would reduce use of the waterway as an important recreational amenity and that the health and wellbeing benefits of the canal will be diminished.

The Heathrow Expansion Preferred Masterplan also requires three rivers (Wraysbury River, River Colne and Bigley Ditch) to be combined to the north of the airfield to pass under the new runway in a single covered channel, whilst the Duke of Northumberland's River and the Longford River will also pass under the runway in a parallel covered channel. We are concerned that the roof voids that would allow limited daylight to the rivers would be open to spillages, causing pollution that could potentially threaten the ecology of the Thames.

The measures identified for reducing the effects of the Heathrow expansion on the water environment will be insufficient to mitigate the harm to the natural environment. Likewise, the expansion of the airport will be detrimental to physical health and wellbeing to those in the entire area of the Colne Valley Regional Park and the communities close to the Grand Union Canal and Slough Arm, not just those close to the airport. Potential community funding should therefore be widened and include measures to create new open space, improve accessibility and enhancement of the waterway corridor.

Read our full Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation Response (pdf, 373KB)

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