People in Richmond will soon get the chance to vote on Heathrow expansion as the council prepares for its borough-wide ballot.

The referendum, which is aimed at showing the showing the Government and airport lobby the strength of opposition to expansion, is likely to take place next spring, with the voting period lasting a few weeks.

The move comes after September 7, when the government announced its intention to create an independent commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to recommend options for maintaining the UK’s status as a global aviation hub.

Richmond Council has made its stance on Heathrow expansion clear, which has been strengthened by cross-party opposition towards expanding south-west London’s airport hub.

Leader of the council Lord True said: “Unsurprisingly, the expansion of Heathrow is a subject that deeply concerns the residents of our borough, with so many of them already affected by unacceptable levels of aircraft noise under the current flight regime.

“Any expansion could make life all but unbearable for a large number of people living beneath the flight paths that go directly over Richmond and other local boroughs and it is frankly offensive that central government and the airport lobby have seen fit to resurrect this idea that had seemed safely in its grave.”

When the decision to hold a referendum was announced by Lord True at the council meeting on September 18, he complained about being woken up at 5am by planes flying over his home in Barnes.

Although strongly opposed to Heathrow expansion, leader of Richmond Liberal Democrats Councillor Stephen Knight thought the referendum was a waste of money.

The council held a survey in 2008 in which 89 per cent voted against expansion and Coun Knight said the Government already knew  the position of Richmond residents.

He said: “The truth is that it is simply an expensive PR exercise designed to distance local Tories from their own party leadership's proposals. Together with the recent Tory leaflet that attempts to smear Vince Cable over this issue it smacks of desperation.”

The council estimated the referendum would cost about £46,000, including publicising the public vote and sending out poll cards.