West London Residents Oppose Heathrow Expansion in Vote

Residents of two west London boroughs close to Heathrow Airport voted by 71.8 percent to 28.2 percent against the building of a third runway, the councils said today.

Richmond Upon Thames and Hillingdon councils ran the referendum, which concluded on May 16, to gauge local opinion and said 140,516 residents, or almost 41 percent of those eligible, took part. The leader of Hillingdon Council, Ray Puddifoot, said the result is a reminder to Prime Minister David Cameron about the strength of feeling in the area.

“The council has always been clear about our opposition to expansion at Heathrow and this emphatic result shows that the majority of our residents agree with us,” Puddifoot, a member of Cameron’s Conservative Party, said in an e-mailed statement. “At the last general election we were promised by David Cameron that there would be no third runway at Heathrow,” he said. “I believed him, and so did many of the residents of Hillingdon. The strength of this vote is an indication that they now expect him to be as good as his word.”

The potential expansion of Heathrow is currently being reviewed as part of an investigation into U.K. airport capacity led by Howard Davies, a former chairman of the Financial Services Authority. Cameron set up the inquiry, which will delay a decision on the expansion of Heathrow until after the 2015 general election.

A panel of House of Commons lawmakers said May 10 that Heathrow should be expanded with the addition of a third and even a fourth runway, while they rejected London Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposal for a new hub airport in the Thames estuary to the east of the U.K. capital.

Residents in the two London boroughs were also asked about a proposal for additional flights at Heathrow and voted by 72.8 percent to 27.2 percent against the idea.

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