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Another ‘external cost’ – re-building schools

6th January, 2009

The No Third Runway Action group at Heathrow (NoTRAG) has uncovered another ‘external cost’ – that is a cost that aviation is imposing on society. Here is what NoTRAG says:

“Government admits taxpayers will face massive hidden costs of third runway

The cost of replacing public buildings made unusable by a third runway will have to be met by taxpayers, according to a letter sent by a government department to a concerned parent.

The concerned parent, who happens to be Geraldine Nicholson of NoTRAG, wrote to The Department for Children, Schools and Families to discover what would happen to her three children if Heathrow School were demolished.

“It is for each LA (local authority) to make sure there are sufficient school places to meet the needs of the population and to provide good quality education in the most cost effective way.” replied Alice Hickey from the Public Communications Unit on 21st November.

This leaves taxpayers in the local authorities affected with a huge bill for rebuilding schools rendered unusable by a nearly 50% increase in flights and an increase in noxious pollutants.

Hillingdon and Hounslow boroughs are likely to face the biggest bills. In Hillingdon, seven schools are under immediate threat. The Ofsted-acclaimed school Heathrow Primary will be bulldozed for the runway while Harmondsworth Primary , William Byrd Primary, Cherry Lane Primary, Pinkwell Primary, Longmead Primary and Harlington Community School will be unusable due to high pollution levels and intolerable noise.

The Department for Transport has already confirmed that Ferrovial, the Spanish construction company that owns BAA, is under no obligation to rebuild.

NoTRAG has challenged the Government to supply it with figures showing the full cost of Heathrow expansion – this means factoring in the impact on ALL schools into its cost analysis.

Figures should also include the cost in relation to housing and health.”

While we cannot comment on the specifics of this case, the view of AEF and other environmental organisations is that avation (and other sectors) should pay the full external costs of their activities.