Oct 29 2016

Then and now: Harrow Council’s U-Turn over Heathrow Expansion

harrow_council_broken_22Harrow’s Labour-run Council in February 2011:

“LBH is against the proposed expansion of London Heathrow. There would be significant environmental impact in terms of air and noise pollution, negatively effecting Harrow’s  climate change targets for air quality levels. The proposal would increase the surface  transport movements to and from the airport on an already congested road network.” – Response by Harrow Council to the London Councils.

Harrow’s Labour-run Council in October 2016:

“As a North-West London Council leader – I’ve supported Heathrow’s expansion from the very beginning. Heathrow’s been giving our local economy a huge boost for generations and this expansion will bring even more jobs and growth to our borough, improve our status as a global hub for trade and travel, and bring huge benefits for small businesses too. Harrow’s the best borough in London for small businesses, and everyone from our construction companies to our caterers will benefit from Heathrow’s expansion.” – Cllr Sachin Shah, Leader.

You might argue that five years is a long time – it certainly is in politics – but road conditions haven’t improved, air pollution is still high, and noise levels remain unacceptable for large swathes of people around the airport. Is Cllr Shah, in what seems be becoming the autumn of his political career, jumping on on a bandwagon?


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  1. Linda Robinson

    Thank you Paul for drawing attention to this volte face. I couldn’t understand why no one was pointing out that, just a few years ago, Harrow Council was part of the “2M Group” of West London councils which vehemently opposed the third runway proposals for a variety of sound environmental reasons. They were successful in their legal case against it, everyone rejoiced and David Cameron famously promised “No ifs, no buts, no third runway”.
    Now, all of a sudden, Sachin thinks a third runway will be a great boost to his business rates and reckons he’s been in favour of it all along.
    The environmental imperatives for saying no have not magically disappeared. Let’s hope the whole idea gets kicked into the long grass once again when the remaining 2M members and their allies launch their legal challenges. An extra runway will not benefit Harrow. Quite the opposite, in fact, with more noise from the new take off path right over our borough when the wind is in a certain direction, more air pollution, more traffic congestion and ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions which affect not just West London but the whole planet.

  2. Someonewhocares

    Note that Sachin Shah is actually stating that HE supports expansion; Is he actually ‘playing the game; of implying the WHOLE of the Council agrees with him? I do hope not! IS there an ‘official’ LBH stance then? Perhaps he should read this:


    1. iharrow.com

      It does seem very much like that’s the view of the Council, rather than Cllr Shah. The news item is titled “Harrow Council supports Heathrow expansion” on the council’s website. Although given the lack of other commentary in the article, it does feel very much like it’s been produced under duress by the PR spin doctors.


  3. Someonewhocares

    Yes there is certainly the distinct “nasty whiff” of ‘PR Sin’ in their statement!; But I wonder if we dig up (any) related records/debates from the Council activities back in 2011 we would actually find this exact same ‘opinion’ being expressed by Cllr. Shah? As LR already stated above all the key parameters are the same now as back then, so what changed (other than the PR company)?

  4. Someonewhocares

    Yes, I meant PR *Spin*, but maybe I was right the first time?

  5. Bill Stephenson

    I was bemused to read the comment concerning the third runway at Heathrow. I was Leader of the Council in 2011 and no such comment was authorised by the Council or by myself. I have checked with Cllr O’Dell who was our nominated member on the London Councils Committee which considered this matter and he confirms that the Council did not make any comment either way and, indeed, as might be expected London Councils was split on this matter. We simply kept a watching brief.

    We did, however, make very strong representations about suggestions which were floated about expanding Northolt Airport which would have had a very deleterious affect on residents in Harrow.

    I am at a loss as to where your quote came from – it has imaginative logo attached to it. It may be it was at an earlier date than 2011 from a different administration.

    Bill Stephenson
    (Leader Harrow Council, May 2010 – November 2012)

    1. iharrow.com

      Bill. It was a response to an FOI request, and states what I’d imagine to be the council’s position at that time. The link goes to the response hosted by whatdotheyknow.com, hence the logo.

      It was, as you say, some years back, but the document was released under FOI legislation three months ago.

  6. Someonewhocares

    First: It is certainly very easy to see how LB Harrow was (at least) *implicated* in the relevant (2M) High Court Action:-


    There were indeed earlier (2008) published ‘Public Consultation’ quotes from Susan Hall (understandably on Environmental etc grounds)

    Bill S: Probably an unfair question but if this issue is apparently now so significant to Harrow then why was there no ‘official’ LBH stance back then?

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