Heathrow expansion will harm canals

The Grand Union Canal – the IWA is concerned about the effect of the Heathrow expansion on local waterways Photo: Stephen McKay/Geograph The Grand Union Canal – the IWA is concerned about the effect of the Heathrow expansion on local waterways Photo: Stephen McKay/Geograph

Heathrow's expansion plans will cause significant harm to the local canals and rivers, destroying habitats and heritage and reducing access to the waterways.

That's according to the Inland Waterways Association in its response to the government's Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation.

The IWA states that around 13 miles of the Grand Union Canal and the Slough Arm will be affected by the permanent loss of 900 acres of land in the southern part of the Colne Valley Regional Park. This loss of land will narrow the park and disrupt wildlife connectivity between the Thames Basin and the Chilterns.

Threaten the Thames ecology

The government's preferred masterplan will mean combining three rivers (Wraysbury River, River Colne and Bigley Ditch) into a single waterway that can pass under the runway whilst the Duke of Northumberland's River and the Longford River will do the same in a parallel covered channel. The IWA has expressed concern that roof voids allowing daylight to the rivers will be open to spillages, causing pollution that could potentially threaten the ecology of the Thames.

According to the IWA, measures to reduce the effects of the expansion will be insufficient to mitigate the harm to the natural environment. Likewise, the expansion of the airport will be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of those in the entire area, not just those close to the airport. Potential community funding should therefore be widened and include measures to create new open space and improve access to the waterway corridor.

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