On 18 June 2019, the government unveiled its Heathrow Airport expansion plan. It intends to build a third runway to the airport amidst concerns around its environmental impact.

Buried underneath this announcement is this: a plan to build a replacement to the largest immigration detention estate in the UK, Heathrow IRC, composed of Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration detention centres. Why? The planned third runway will need to be built over Harmondsworth and Colnbrook, and the government is keen not to lose detention bed spaces.

According to Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation website “Following further engagement with the Home Office and the London Borough of Hounslow a site at Faggs Road between Bedfont and Hatton has emerged as our preferred location, but Mayfield Farm also remains a potential option.”

This replacement is totally unnecessary and goes against the government’s commitment to reduce its use of detention. Could this lead to a call for the closure of both Harmondsworth and Colnbrook once and for all? That will wipe out over 1,000 bed spaces in one stroke.

So what can you do? One way to get involved is to have your say. The consultation process started on 18 June and will remain open until 13 September. But what’s also needed is alerting and encouraging others who might be responding to the consultation to also oppose the detention centre replacement plan.

There is a group of people, End Heathrow Immigration Detention, organising a campaign to oppose this replacement plan and end immigration detention at Heathrow. You can visit their website, follow them on Twitter @EHIDCampaign or contact them at info(at)ehdcampaign.org to get more information. This is a time-sensitive campaign, and we recommend you familiarise yourself with the consultation process and start thinking about how you can get involved. We will share further information about the campaign in due course.

In the past, our strong and organised opposition stopped the government’s plan to expand Campsfield detention centre. Other centres also have sustained opposition from dedicated groups of people, including Yarl’s Wood, Dungavel and Morton Hall. Could this be the end of Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres? Will London finally stand together and say no to immigration detention?

For further information see ‘Have your say on a future Heathrow’ Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation website https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com