The council is sticking to its position on Heathrow expansion – supportive but says public transport infrastructure must come first.

Green Party councillor Rob White said Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) position is “incompatible with the climate emergency”.

He asked if the council would join the Green Party in saying “no way” to Heathrow expansion at Policy committee on Thursday (September 26).

But RBC’s transport and environment chief Tony Page said the council supports expansion for its economic and employment benefits.

Say “no way” to the third runway

Cllr White said: “A few years ago Green councillors were disappointed when Labour Reading Council changed its position on the environmental disaster that is Heathrow expansion from opposition to qualified support.

“Huge numbers of people already suffer from the associated congestion, noise and air pollution from Heathrow.

“Recently RBC declared a climate emergency. The national committee on climate change has already said a net-zero carbon target means the government has to rethink aviation expansion.

“Will the Reading Labour council join the Green Party in saying “no way” to Heathrow expansion?”

“Economic and employment benefits”

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, said the council’s position recognises the economic and employment benefits to Reading from Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

He said Heathrow expansion “offers the strongest solution to the UK’s aviation needs” but the council will support it only if there is significant investment in public transport infrastructure provided beforehand.


Cllr White accused Cllr Page of “greenwashing” and said “declaring Heathrow expansion is incompatible with declaring a climate emergency”.

Greenwashing is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice.

Cllr Page called the Green councillor’s analysis “simplistic” and said the most damaging emissions around Heathrow are from private cars rather than aircraft.

He said the technology is there to reduce the emissions from aircraft but the government needs to “step up to the plate”.

What was the council’s response to the consultation

A consultation on Heathrow expansion ended on September 13.

The council’s response to the consultation was as follows:

“RBC’s view is that there needs to be effective public transport access to the airport to minimise the negative impacts of current car assess, and the plans for airport expansion must include provision as a central part of the those plans.

“Current public transport links to Heathrow Airport are unacceptably inadequate and poor given the existing level of flight operations.

“The proportion of passengers currently using public transport to access Heathrow is among the lowest of any of the large comparable international airports.

“As the Davies Commission rightly said there is an immediate need for a range of public transport improvements covering buses, light and heavy rail and cycling.

“RBC strongly endorses this view and believes that it is wrong to therefore link the funding of projects such as the Western Rail link to Heathrow to future airport expansion when the need for such schemes is now.

“Improvements to public transport links to and within Heathrow must be in place well in advance of any possible expansion taking place in order to improve current accessibility let alone future demands.”