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Heathrow Airport Third Runway: Harmondsworth Residents Link Decision To Brexit

'We’re saying the latest plan has been put together on the back of a fag packet.'

29/10/2016 08:49 | Updated 29 October 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Residents of the picturesque village of Harmondsworth, near Heathrow, west London, listen to the decision on Tuesday to build a third runway at the airport 

For Roy Barwick, the decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow Airport threatens to end his family’s near six generation long history in west London.

“My children, my grandchildren and myself occupy four houses in the villages and all of them are earmarked for demolition,” he told The Huffington Post UK.

Speaking in the living room of his Harmondsworth home adorned with family mementos, the former farmer recalled how the small landing strip beside fields his family worked grew to become the giant hub it is today.

George Bowden for HuffPost UK
Roy Barwick has lived in Harmondsworth his entire life and his children and grandchildren own property in the Heathrow villages

“I couldn’t have imagined it would all be concentrated in one place like this,” he said. “There’s been no new thinking at all.”

Yet this week ends more than a decade of uncertainty for residents like Roy, with the government heralding its “momentous” decision as a signal “Britain is open for business”.

This has led many of those living around the airport believe that the government’s desire for good economic news post-Brexit vote has hurried the decision to build a third runway.

BEN STANSALL via Getty Images
Campaign materials adorn a streetlight close to historic buildings in Harmondsworth
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Campaigner Neil Keveren looks out of his home in Harmondsworth, under the proposals his future view will be of a perimeter fence

“I think potentially Brexit is being used to force this through,” Neil Keveren of the Stop Heathrow Expansion campaign told HuffPost. “To say that we need this and that we can’t afford to lag behind the others in any way and to show that we’re open for business.

“I think it’s opportunistic messaging.”

The 55-year-old builder, whose Harmondsworth home will face a new airport boundary fence under the plans, has seen his fair share of political manoeuvring during the debate to expand the airport.

George Bowden for HuffPost UK
A plane ascends from the current northern runway at Heathrow over the village of Longford, near Harmondsworth
Jack Taylor via Getty Images
Harmondsworth is noted for its traditional English architecture, like Sun House above

“The electorate of Maidenhead believed Theresa May was opposed, they will feel betrayed,” he said. “David Cameron’s ‘no ifs, no buts, no third runway’ pledge was repeated in the House of Commons, Philip Hammond quoted Monty Python in his opposition - where’s their conscience now?”

The decision this week came as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling endorsed new plans for a ‘sloped’ runway over the M25 as a way of delivering expansion on time.

The slope would be built using earth from elsewhere on the site and, unlike previous proposals, leave the busy six-lane motorway intact. Pilots have since said this could mean more fuel is required on take-off and cause problems for landing aircraft.

Jack Taylor via Getty Images
The historic village of Harmondsworth has many listed buildings and is an official conservation area
George Bowden for HuffPost UK
Justine Bayley, a local historian, will face a perimeter fence from her home under the proposals

“We’re saying the latest plan has been put together on the back of a fag packet. We’ve got no details at all,” local historian Justine Bayley, who lives next door to Keveren and will also face the new perimeter, said. “This is a government that’s waving a magic wand, that is desperate and has got all sorts of big financial holes to plug because of the way the pound’s gone after Brexit.

“Now they’re prepared to spend money like there’s no tomorrow.”

Over in the village of Sipson, a mile from Harmondsworth, hairdresser Jackie Clark-Basten, 43, told HuffPost she thinks Brexit has clouded the government’s view.

The Huffington Post UK
A map showing the new proposed expansion and rough location of the new third runway at Heathrow in relation to the villages of Harmondsworth and Sipson
George Bowden for HuffPost UK
Jackie Clark-Basten runs a hairdressing salon in Sipson, west London, close to where a new runway is proposed

“They’ve agreed to something that’s deeply flawed,” she said. “I think that by looking at what will happen post-Brexit, Theresa May wants to make sure we’re a strong viable country once we leave the EU.

“I think Brexit has influenced Theresa May’s position because what she’s been left with is making Britain in an extremely strong position once we leave.

“They want to say ‘we’re open for business’. And I suppose one way is to open up new routes and trade links with other countries. We hear that a third runway will do that, but we’re not so sure.

Jack Taylor via Getty Images
Properties among those earmarked for demolition to make way for a third runway at Heathrow
LEON NEAL via Getty Images
The villages of Heathrow are picturesque in character, with campaign banners the only sign of the proposals

“Maybe that’s what the government has based the decision on. It feels like they’ve tried to get a square peg into a round hole.”

It comes as the Airports Commission report which “formed the basis” of the decision to back Heathrow was exposed to have potentially overstated the benefits of a new runway by as much as half.

The Times (£) reported that the number of new jobs delivered by an expanded Heathrow could be just 50% of that predicted by the Commission’s report and the entire economic case could be out by as much as £86bn.

George Bowden for HuffPost UK
Emma Steele, right, and daughter Millie, 9, left, in front of the family home in Harmondsworth
Conservatives
How the Conservatives presented Tuesday's decision to build a third runway on Twitter

Neil Keveren’s partner Emma Steele, 47, told HuffPost she fears of the effect on teaching if the new runway is built.

“I’m a music teacher over in Slough, and I already see my snare drums rattle when a plane goes overhead. I’m not sure the people over there know what’s coming.”

Having spent thousands developing their home, Emma said she felt betrayed by ‘absurd’ conservation laws that demanded the family use prescribed materials to renovate their house.

Alan West/WENN.com
Politicians' quotes are displayed across the Heathrow villages to remind passersby of promises and pledges
George Bowden for HuffPost UK
The campaign against Heathrow's third runway may well intensify after the government's announcement this week

“Yet despite all that, being a conservation area doesn’t matter if they want to build a runway,” she said. “The fact we’ve got listed buildings that will go. Why should it happen and how can they do that?”

But ignoring the campaign against expansion and the doubts surfacing over the economic case for a third runway, some residents of the villages affected are keen to sell up and move on.

“Looking at the wider benefits, the country seems to need better connections through the airways and it’s got to happen somewhere,” Ian Jarmaine, 70, told HuffPost.

George Bowden for HuffPost UK
Vapour trails cloud the sky above the Heathrow villages, where a new runway is planned

“I’m now retired and in a position where I can upsticks. It’s very much a personal view and if you like a very selfish attitude,” he said. “What annoys me is that this has been considered for 20 years. Asking myself do I buy new windows, do I spend money? Life has been on hold.”

Those whose homes are scheduled for demolition received a letter from Heathrow giving them notice just an hour after the announcement on Tuesday.

Ian Jarmaine and Roy Barwick are among the some 4,000 people who will lose their home under the current proposals, receiving full value of their home plus an additional sum. 

Eddie Keogh / Reuters
Houses earmarked for demolition are situated around 1km from the current Heathrow runways
Roy Barwick
Roy Barwick's touching photographs of memories made around Harmondsworth

Other’s like Neil Keveren and Justine Bayley will receive unspecified compensation should they need to sell their homes after the runway is built.

Yet some argue no amount of money can make up for the memories that may be lost under the tarmac of the new runway.

“Losing one’s home is a trauma second only to bereavement,” Roy said. “I’m not going anywhere. I shan’t leave.”

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