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Wokingham borough councillors clash over Heathrow Expansion

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) approved its response to the Heathrow Airport expansion consultation on Tuesday.

Its response gave ‘conditional support’ to Heathrow’s proposals, providing environmental concerns can be addressed.

Leader of the council, John Halsall, told the Advertiser: “The council gave its support, only if the project can reduce greenhouse gases, including carbon and become carbon neutral.

“[Also] if the increase of the number of flights over the borough will not harm the health and quality of life of the borough’s residents and if direct rail access from within the borough is included as part of the project.”

Cllr Halsall (Con, Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe) described himself as a ‘very well known environmental campaigner’ and said: “There is no way I would put my name to anything which would be certain to damage the planet.”

He added: “Anything we do should be to better the planet. Heathrow promises to do just that.

“Our consultation response says this support of the council [for] the expansion of Heathrow is conditional on the need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon emissions and to demonstrate a clear pathway to carbon neutrality by all means.”

In separate development, Cllr Ian Pittock (Lib Dem, Finchampstead South) submitted a motion for tonight’s full council meeting stating the Liberal Democrat's position on the matter: ‘This council does not support the expansion of Heathrow Airport’.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Lindsay Ferris, said: “A key and recurring message must be that any attempts to persuade people to believe that Heathrow expansion can be made compatible with tackling the climate emergency, including here in Wokingham Borough, is not only wrong, but dangerous for our future.”

Discussing the motion, Cllr Halsall said: “Sadly timescales did not permit debate to take place prior to the completion of the consultation.

“It’s very tempting to be against anything which may look like it will be damaging to the environment, however, if support is based upon a beneficial outcome to the environment then it's a win-win.”

Cllr Andrew Croy, leader of the Wokingham Labour group, also launched an online petition calling for the council to oppose the expansion.

The petition stated: “On September 17, the council will publish its submission to the consultation on the third runway at Heathrow.

“At the moment, the council supports airport expansion, but councillors have not been able to vote on the issue.

“I have set up this petition so you can quickly and easily send a message to the council – the third runway is bad for our environment and bad for the Thames Valley and we do not want it.”

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