Chiswick House and Gardens Trust opposes Heathrow expansion

A letter to Ruth Kelly opposing the Heathrow expansion from Rupert Hambro

A letter to The Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP opposing the Heathrow expansion from Rupert Hambro.

The Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP
Secretary of State for Transport
House of Commons

7 May 2008

Dear Secretary of State,

I write on behalf of the Charitable Trust that is overseeing a £12.1 million project to restore Chiswick House & Gardens in West London.

As Chairman of the Trust, my Trustees and are committed to maintaining and protecting the Grade I listed villa and registered Grade I gardens, which have been enjoyed as a public park since 1929.

I am pleased to say that the Trust recently secured £7.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to undertake essential restoration work and ensure the site is financially sustainable and can be enjoyed by future generations.

However, the Trust is very concerned that proposals to expand Heathrow airport will have a negative impact on the 1 million visits to this historic site every year.

As guardians of this site it is our duty to make the House and Gardens available to the broadest possible audience and offer increased opportunities for enjoyment, learning, volunteering and training.

Many of our visitors view the gardens as a haven of peace and tranquillity where they can enjoy the quiet beauty of our unique heritage gardens.

The Trust believes that your Government’s plans to expand Heathrow Airport will permanently blight the experience of millions of visitors to Chiswick House & Gardens. We understand that noise from the flightpath of the proposed third runway will directly cover the gardens. Furthermore, your proposals to replace runway alternation with mixed mode operations on the two existing runways will mean that visitors to this peaceful heritage site will experience noisy planes flying overhead all day every day.

We are particularly concerned to learn that you intend to push ahead with the introduction of mixed mode even if you abandon your plans for a third runway. This would mean more than 1,000 extra planes flying in and out of Heathrow every week by 2015.

People already come from near and far to enjoy Chiswick House and Gardens and the history and atmosphere that make it so special. It is one of the most important landscapes in the world for its influence on garden design, in particular the English Landscape Movement.

Our ambitious restoration plans and successful fundraising will help us to save the gardens from years of decline. It will be a travesty if this world-famous heritage site, that we are working so hard to preserve, is permanently blighted by your unsustainable plans for Heathrow airport.

On behalf of the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust, and the 1 million visitors, who enjoy the site every year, I urge you to abandon your proposals to build a third runway and also introduce mixed mode at the airport.

Rupert Hambro

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