Thursday, December 3, 2009

Labour isolated in favour of airport expansion plan?

On Thursday 19th November, Manchester Council Planning Department approved the demolition of 200 year old cottages,and a neighbouring environmental and historical oasis on Hasty Lane. This to make way for an extra airport freight hanger to double its air freight capacity. Campaigners from the Stop Expansion at Manchester Aiport group were inside and outside the meeting to show their support for the residents. All five votes in favour of the demolition of the 2 cottages came from the Labour Councillors despite the wishes of the local residents, environmentalists and even local Labour Councillors who had previously rejected the plans at the Wythenshawe Area Committee on 22nd October 2009.
Intended Plan for Hasty Lane This very unpopular decision has even been described as "worrying" by the Tories. Marie Raynor, the Wythenshawe Conservatives spokesperson commented that “to allow the demolition of two cottages, the destruction of a meadow, and the removal of a habitat for local wildlife sets a bad precedent. It sends a message to ratepayers, that Manchester's Councillors put the interests of big business before those of the people they were elected to serve.”With the Greens, the Lib Dems, Tories, residents and environmental campaigners opposed to the plans, it seems Labour are increasingly isolated on the issue. A coalition of English Heritage, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit, the Council for British Archaeology, local councillors and residents and SEMA have all opposed the previous plans and Manchester Airport had to withdraw its application to demolish Rose Cottage. The new plan still intends to demolish the buildings, fell the trees and concrete over the pond to build two giant air freight cargo units whilst arguing that the development will be good for the local economy. This renewed assault seems even more damaging than the last and will be met with fierce opposition.
Hasty Lane Now
The decision to go ahead with the expansion of the air freight facilities is in spite of the fact that air freight has been falling consistently for over 2 years. Added to this, it could seriously undermine the councils commitment to becoming a low carbon city. The Councils Climate Change Action plan was launched on the 18th of November, it makes bold commitments to reduce the City's climate change impact by 41% by 2020; it also talks about more green spaces whilst agreeing to build on Hasty Lane an area of biodiversity. Hasty Lane is one of the last parts of the Green Belt left out in Wythenshawe. If the council was serious about tackling climate change would they have made this decision?

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