Friday, 16 January 2009

Has Mike Gapes lost the plot? I've joined it!

I've signed up to be a "beneficial owner" of a plot of land on the site of the proposed third runway at Heathrow. (You can do the same, via Greenpeace.)

It's here in the village of Sipson, which the government would like to flatten and replace with tarmac. This will be devastating, not only to the community of 700 homes, businesses and a school, but to the natural environment.

The effects will be felt far beyond West London. Here in Redbridge, the Ilford Recorder reports:
"Planes could be roaring over Redbridge at levels lower than ever before, if ministers back a shake-up of aircraft plans.

The overhaul would allow an extra 60,000 planes to land at Heathrow Airport's existing two runways.

But with Ilford among a dozen outer-London areas that will be under the revised flight paths, the plans have sparked controversy.

Claire Dawson, of Thorold Road, Ilford, said: "We haven't been asked to give an opinion on this. It's something that's going to happen by stealth."

A decision on the overhaul of how planes come in to land at the airport is expected later this month, after plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow were rubber-stamped by the government.

It is believed the proposals will allow both runways to receive planes that are landing and taking off, instead of each runway catering for one or the other, which is what happens at present.

To allow for this, the points at which aircraft turn to enter their final approach, either from the east or west, will be moved eight miles further from the airport.

Planes could be as low as 4,000ft when they pass over Ilford."

The same article says that Mike Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South, has merely asked "for clarification" about flight patterns over the constituency. He told the paper, "We can't assume that even if there's no development at Heathrow there won't be changes anyway because more people are flying."

Yes, this is the same Mike Gapes who told the Evening Standard last month:

"Given that ... it is my job to visit other countries, it is not surprising that I am the most well-travelled MP. I make no apology for this because it is my job."

This was his the defence he offered for his many and lavish trips abroad (by plane) which cost taxpayers almost a quarter of a million pounds in one year.

Maybe this is why Mike Gapes didn't sign the Early Day Motion in Parliament on the environmental impact of a third runway at Heathrow. (Unlike 41 Liberal Democrat MPs, including Lynne Featherstone, Susan Kramer and Norman Baker.)

Whose interests does the Ilford South MP really represent?

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