Third runway at Heathrow will have impacts for Berks and Bucks wildlife says BBOWT

Roy MacDonald

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust is deeply concerned about the impacts for wildlife of the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport, following the announcement today of a third runway at Heathrow, and calls for a world class approach to dealing with the impacts on nature.

Most of the land required for the new runway will be within London. However, there will be significant direct and indirect effects for wildlife in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire as a result of the proposed expansion.

The full extent of the impacts aren’t clear from the announcement, because details about the redesign of the M25 are yet to be finalised.

The M25 will have to be either tunnelled or diverted, as the new runway will cross its existing path. Key concerns are the impact on internationally important populations of wildfowl, and the effects of air pollution and recreational pressure on sensitive wildlife sites.

The Government has committed to a worldclass package of mitigation, but their statement fails to mention any impact on the natural environment.

Key concerns are the impact on internationally important populations of wildfowl, and the effects of air pollution and recreational pressure on sensitive wildlife sites.

Matt Jackson, Head of Conservation Policy & Strategy for BBOWT said: “The Government’s policy is that they want this generation to be the first to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited.

"But, if today's decision to expand Heathrow with a third runway becomes a reality, the impacts on the natural environment will be massive.

"Air quality, carbon emissions and noise have been the headline issues, and all of those cause problems for wildlife as well as people.

“The permanent loss of habitat for internationally important populations of birds, as well as the impact of infrastructure that will come to areas around Heathrow, will need to be addressed for the Government to avoid undermining its own policy.

"The Government has committed to a worldclass package of mitigation, but their statement fails to mention any impact on the natural environment. If their commitments are to be honoured a world class approach to dealing with the impacts on nature is needed too."

The Airports Commission estimated that between 29,800 and 70,800 new homes would also be required to support the expansion of Heathrow, adding hugely to the pressure for development in the few remaining green spaces in an area already under pressure.

Matt Jackson added: “It is not clear if the Government has considered the environmental impacts of trying to squeeze so many new homes into areas that are already under considerable stress.”

The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust will review all detailed documents relating to Heathrow expansion and will respond to consultations.