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Conservatives propose high-speed rail links in place of 3rd runway at Heathrow

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The unveiling of a plan to invest in high-speed rail instead of a third runway at Heathrow, at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham has been met with wide-spread approval across west London.

In her speech to the conference, Theresa Villiers, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said a future Conservative government would build a high speed rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Following the announcement, Mary Macleod, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Brentford & Isleworth, said, “I am delighted that the Conservative Party has come out strongly today saying they are against the third runway and have proposed instead the development of a high speed rail link.

This will make a tremendous difference to those who live locally. We have listened to local residents and their concerns about noise, pollution and congestion. The quality of life of local people is more important.”

Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly member for South West London said, “Heathrow airport is vital to the local economy, but it shouldn’t be expanded at the expense of people’s quality of life.”

Cllr Barbard Reid, said, “The hundreds of thousands of people who say NO to expansion at Heathrow will welcome this news.

“Our job now is to continue working with people of all political parties to persuade the Government to abandon their increasingly unpopular plans for airport expansion and join the debate about high speed rail.”

However, BAA who operate Heathrow, were adamant that the way forward was to expand the airport. In a statement to the press, a spokesperson said, "BAA believes this country needs both a third runway at Heathrow and high speed rail. To prioritise one over the other is a false choice and will put Britain's future competitiveness at risk.

“It is not clear how this proposal will resolve the lack of airport capacity, a problem which must urgently be addressed. The total number of flights to Manchester and Leeds/Bradford is only 13,356 or less than 3% of Heathrow's total flights.

Even if every flight from Manchester and Leeds/Bradford were replaced by a new high speed rail line then Heathrow would still be operating at 97% of capacity.There are currently no flights from Birmingham to Heathrow."

September 30, 2008