Heathrow Vote Comes In

A majority of residents in two boroughs close to Heathrow did not vote in a local referendum on expansion at the west London airport.

Only 43% of the ballot papers sent to nearly 137,000 residents in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames were returned, it was announced today.

And the "turn out" was even lower - at 39.41% - in the London borough of Hillingdon, which includes Heathrow in its boundaries, with only 81,050 of the 205,634 ballot papers returned.

Of those who did vote, the vast majority were against expansion in a result hailed by Richmond and Hillingdon council leaders and also by London Mayor Boris Johnson who is vehemently opposed to Heathrow expansion.

The residents were asked two questions:

:: Question One - Should a third runway be built at Heathrow?

:: Question Two - Are you in favour of more flights into and out of Heathrow?

A total of 20% of Richmond residents voted yes to question one with 80% against, while 18% said yes to question two with 82% against.

Support for expansion was slightly stronger in Hillingdon where 34% said yes and 67% said no to question one, with 33.7% saying yes to question two and 66.3% saying no.

Mr Johnson said:

"It is sheer lunacy to even think about attempting to squeeze an extra runway into an area which is so densely populated and already blighted by noise and air pollution - especially as a third runway can only lead to a fourth.

"Sometimes I wonder if those championing Heathrow expansion are looking at the wrong map. The people of Richmond and Hillingdon have spoken with a resounding 'No' to this ludicrous idea.

"They are shouting this so loudly that even those with their heads buried firmly in the sand over the issue should be able to hear them"

Richmond council leader Lord True said:

"Enough people have said 'no' in just two of London's 32 boroughs to make Twickenham Rugby stadium overflow. The people have spoken - now let the people be heard."

Hillingdon council leader Councillor Ray Puddifoot said:

"Our council has always been clear about its opposition to expansion at Heathrow and this emphatic result shows that the majority of our residents agree with us.

"Today the people of Hillingdon have sent a clear message to the Prime Minister and the Government."

The voting period for the referendum was April 22 to May 16.

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