Guardian News and Media/London
A primary school is to be demolished and rebuilt in an area where pollution levels regularly breach legal limits in order to build the third runway at Heathrow, the airport’s master plan reveals.
Three other primary schools will be left just metres from the new runway, campaigners against the expansion said. The playground of one of the schools will border the new runway fence if the controversial plan to build a third runway goes ahead.
Campaigners say the relocation of Harmondsworth primary from the village of Harmondsworth, where it is surrounded by fields and farmland, to an area on the Stockley bypass in West Drayton, where air pollution monitors regularly breach legal limits, will harm children’s health.
Details of the relocation of the school are included in the airport’s master plan released on Tuesday.
The document states: “Harmondsworth primary school will be displaced by the new runway. Land to the north of the M4 highway on Stockley Road has been identified as a suitable replacement site for the school as it is within the catchment area and has appropriate road access and connections to green areas for recreational purposes. This site also has the benefit of being able to accommodate early delivery to enable vacation of the existing facility in time for the commencement of construction of the new runway.”
Rob Barnstone, co-ordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “How can it be allowed for a primary school to be relocated in an area with already high exposure to toxic emissions to make way for 260,000 more flights, emitting more emissions in its former location.
“We already know that emissions from Heathrow-related traffic and planes have an impact on children’s learning and exam performance. Yet the airport seem quite content in doing so. Children deserve better.”
Details of the impact of the new runway on local primary schools are contained in the document Heathrow published at the start of a 12-week consultation on its expansion.
If it goes ahead, the expansion will leave three other schools – Cherry Lane primary, Heathrow primary and William Byrd primary – just metres from the new runway. The playground of Cherry Lane school will run up against the runway fence, according to details contained in the plan.
Barnstone said the impact of noise on children’s learning was well documented.
Geraldine Nicholson, who works in a local school and is part of the campaign to stop the expansion of the airport, said: “Considering one in three children inhale toxic air in the UK, is this government prepared to do this to our children in all of these schools? The planes will be literally a few metres above the playground.”
As well as demolishing a school, the third runway building will involve rerouting natural waterways, moving the M25 into a tunnel and creating a carpark for 50,000 vehicles.
The land grab will far exceed the boundaries of the new airport during its development, with construction and earthwork sites set up. An estimated 20mn cubic metres of earth will be moved – more than 1mn lorry loads.
Friends of the Earth is continuing its legal challenge against the expansion, after losing a high court case in the spring.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is also appealing against the decision of the high court to rule against five challenges.
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