THE expansion of Heathrow airport is formally supported by West Berkshire Council despite concerns about increasing carbon emissions. 

Heathrow is planning to build a third runway and has been running a public consultation, which closes today (September 13). 

Last night, councillors voted to support the expansion of the airport, following a heated debate with a noisy public audience. 

Councillor Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South & Holybrook), the lead member for transport, said the expansion was a chance for businesses and residents in West Berkshire, and rail and public services would improve. 

He said: “Noise abatement technology has seen huge advancements. Heathrow would have some of the strongest regulations of night flights across Europe.” 

Cllr James Cole (Con, Hungerford & Kintbury) said: “It’s not about expanding flying or aviation. In my part of West Berkshire, we no longer suffer from air quality problems.”

Cllr Carolyne Culver (Green, Wash Common) said: “Are we that craven that we are happy to publicly acknowledge the appalling impact this expansion will have on people, but we don’t care because we will have the benefits?

“Air pollution might be localised, but carbon emissions know no boundaries. How is it possible for it to be zero carbon? Will they build a runway but not put any planes on it?” 

Cllr David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) said many Conservative led London boroughs were against the expansion. He said: “It’s quite hard to find people in favour of it — Chris Grayling, and West Berkshire.”

Cllr Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield) said the Greens were motivated by a ‘deep and sinister’ agenda and implementing their economic policy would be ‘economic vandalism’. 

The Liberal Democrats opposed the expansion. Cllr Lee Dillon (Thatcham North East) said while he wanted his children to be able to fly and explore the world, most air travel was taken by business people. 

Cllr Dennis Benneyworth (Con, Hungerford & Kintbury), who works in international horse transport, said he used Heathrow last month to fly horses to Tokyo, and will do again this week to fly 36 horses to Dubai. 

He said the expansion will help his industry and will bring in the revenue needed to pay for ‘ambitious plans to achieve carbon neutral status’

Cllr Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen), the leader of the council, said the UK’s CO2 emissions have been falling consecutively for six years. “I’m proud of how far the UK has come. But I don’t believe demonising the aviation industry is the right direction to take.” 

Claire Willsher, from West Berks Climate Action Network, said in a statement: “This was the first chance for the council to show the people of West Berks they were serious about their declaration of climate emergency and they really would act accordingly.

“But they didn’t. Instead, they failed at the first hurdle.”

This article was updated on September 16 to correct what Cllr Ross Mackinnon said. The original story stated he said opposing Heathrow expansion would be 'economic vandalism'.