planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION


* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * *

PhD study indicates flight ban until 6am could save £ millions on NHS prescriptions for health impacts

A PhD thesis by an economics researcher at Kings College London, Silvia Beghelli, looked at “The Health Effects of Noise and Air Pollution”. She looked at the medications prescribed to patients in areas affected by Heathrow planes, and the medical costs of the health impacts. She looked at a trial performed over 5 months at Heathrow in 2012, when planes did not fly over designated areas in the early mornings, between 4:30am and 6am. She found that  fewer drugs were prescribed for respiratory and nervous system conditions in areas with the reduced air traffic. Mrs Beghelli cross-referenced NHS data with the trial’s findings and found a link between air traffic and health, notably a 5.8% decrease in spending on pills including anxiolytics for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression in the no-fly zones. As well as meaning the quality of health of people in these areas must have been better, the lower prescribing saved the NHS money. She calculated that modifying flight schedules could save £5 million in NHS prescription costs. It could also cut demand for hospital appointments. The study suggests that early morning planes are causing people to need more prescriptions.

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Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow – to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now).  If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels.  The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against.  Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote – so he gets 2 votes.  Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people.  UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary – of an increase by 10 million annual passengers.  SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.

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Government, not content with ONE new runway breaching UK carbon targets, is now planning for TWO

The Government will open the door for another new runway by 2050, in addition to the plans for expansion at Heathrow, in a consultation to be launched next month.  The DfT’s “Aviation Strategy Green Paper” will consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050, according to Sarah Bishop, DfT’s Deputy Head of Aviation Policy. This would be in addition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, and perhaps Gatwick making use of its emergency runway. Ms Bishop says there could be a “need” (sic) for more expansion, to meet air travel demand. Classic outdated “predict & provide” thinking.  [The DfT gives the impression it is entirely unaware of of global climate breakdown, or the UK’s responsibilities on its carbon emissions]. It remains unclear how even ONE further runway (perhaps Heathrow) could be delivered within the UK’s legally binding CO2 emission targets – which require the aviation sector to keep its CO2 emissions to their 2005 level by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change warned as recently as June 2018 that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about even ONE new runway (let alone two). The No 3rd Runway Coalition believes the possibility of yet another runway being approved by the DfT would cause concerns for investors in Heathrow.

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Living near to a busy road or airport TRIPLES your risk of a heart attack and stroke because the noise triggers a harmful response in the body

More evidence – now from Massachusetts General hospital – is showing that living near to a noisy road or a busy flight path significantly increases risk of a heart attack or stroke. The added risk is in addition to risks of smoking and diabetes. It is thought that exposure to environmental noise alters the amygdala – a brain region involved in stress regulation and emotional responses.  This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed “a greater than three-fold risk” of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular event. People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. The study looked at 499 people, with an average age of 56 years old. None had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants’ home addresses government noise maps. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.

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Birmingham airport unveils draft Master Plan, for huge growth over next 15 years

Birmingham Airport has unveiled its draft Master Plan, with its hopes of expansion over the next 15 years. There is a consultation till 31st January. It wants to increase its capacity by 5 million passengers a year (mppa)  Much of the intended spending will be for a larger departure lounge with a mezzanine floor, new retail and restaurant units, more toilets and seating. Also more self-service desks (ie. fewer jobs…) and “the latest bag-drop technology and a new back-of-house baggage sorting area aimed at improving efficiency.” (ie. fewer jobs). This has been seen by the airport’s consultative committee on 5th November.  There is no plan for a 2nd runway, but the expansion will cause more environmental damage, more noise, CO2 emissions etc. – of which, no mention is made. (The usual airport attitude is “the majority of emissions are from planes in the sky and that is nothing to do with us…”). In the 2006 Master Plan the forecasts were for 25mppa by 2030; now they have reduced that to 18mppa by 2033. There were 12.9 mppa in 2017. Local campaigners suspect this will not be encouraging shareholders to fund expansion plans till the runway situation in the south east is sorted out. The airport is claiming the increased number of passengers will boost the local economy by £xx billion, and increase jobs by yyy.  (These claims never materialise).

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“Back Heathrow”, massively funded by Heathrow airport, tries to discredit Hillingdon, for their spending to protect residents

“Back Heathrow” is the “astroturf” group set up, managed by and (probably entirely) funded by Heathrow airport, to promote its 3rd runway, largely by claiming it has huge local support. Their accounts show that in 2017 “Back Heathrow” had current assets of £1 million (£1.24m in 2016). They have Net Worth of about £951,300. They complained in January 2017 about how much money Hillingdon Borough had spent in trying to defend its residents from the adverse impacts of an even larger Heathrow airport. Back Heathrow is complaining again. It has got figures from Hillingdon Borough Council, through FoI, for what it has had to spend to oppose Heathrow’s plans.  (Not being a council etc, Back Heathrow cannot be FoI-ed). It says Hillingdon has spent £1.4 million of taxpayers’ money on this, between 2007 and now. In fact Hillingdon has spent about £1.12 million, as they received some funding towards the expenses, from other councils. Meanwhile, it is known that Heathrow spent £1.25 million advertising on Transport for London between June 2016 and 2017. It is also known that, between July 2015 and January 2017, the DfT spent over £3.8 million on external firms such as financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, law firms DLA Piper UK and Allen & Overy. No wonder local councils are given little alternative to spending money, to counteract this.   Lots of info at the link below.

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Might Heathrow only be able to afford its 3rd runway scheme, by being allowed another 25,000 annual flights well before runway was ready?

The Times’ Chief Business Commentator, Alistair Osborne, has written on the deeply unclear finances of a possible Heathrow 3rd runway.  Alistair suggests, one way the airport could try and get in some extra cash, early in the building programme (when no airlines can use the new runway yet) is increasing the current numbers of flights and passengers. Heathrow loves to say it is full, but it is not. Each year the number of passengers creeps up – there is spare terminal capacity. But if instead of the current cap of 480,000 annual flights, Heathrow could get consent for an extra 25,000 (ie. to 505,000), it could add perhaps 6-7 million more passengers, up from the current 78 million or so.  That could bring in much needed income, to help fund the vast project – including what to do with the M25. But adding 25 million more annual flights means about 65 more per day. Heathrow hopes to appease the ire of badly impacted local residents, by saying they would start flying at 5.30am rather than the 4.30am start now. But there would then be plane after plane after plane then, when people are still trying to sleep. And the airlines don’t like the idea, as it upsets their lucrative long haul schedules, and causes less resilience if there are delays, at the peak periods.

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SSE say Stansted airport spin doctors are in a desperate final attempt to sway Uttlesford DC planners

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the latest Stansted press release claiming public support for its expansion plans as a complete distortion of the facts and a desperate eleventh hour attempt by the airport’s spin doctors to influence members of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee. The Committee is due to consider the airport planning application – for 44% more flights and 66% more passengers per year – on 14th November. The expansion would mean far higher CO2 emissions (over 1 million tonnes) from Stansted flights than now.  SSE says the expansion plan “would have very serious environmental consequences for this generation and future generations.  It would inflict yet more noise misery upon local residents and it would be a recipe for gridlock [local roads]. … We simply do not have the infrastructure to support an airport the size of Gatwick”. When Stansted claim hundreds of people support its plans, this is in part due to “repeatedly badgering all airport employees to trigger automatic computer-generated “I support expansion” emails. Only 16 members of the general public sent individual letters or emails to UDC backing the proposals. But UDC received 934 individually-written letters and emails opposing the plans including objections from 47 Parish Councils.  No Parish Council has registered its support for the expansion proposals.

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Heathrow regulator, the CAA, demands answers urgently on airport’s 3rd runway plan

The CEO, Richard Moriarty, of aviation watchdog body, the CAA, have written to the Department for Transport (DfT) asking that they should “decisively and urgently” address major concerns about the funding for the 3rd runway scheme – at least £14 billion, and doubtless more with cost over-runs and things not going to plan. They say Heathrow must “provide assurance that its revised timetable is realistic” and would “ensure timely delivery” of the expansion. The CAA threatens enforcement action against Heathrow to force it to provide clear evidence about how it would finance the scheme, while avoiding pushing up costs for airlines and passengers. The CAA says the project had been hit by a further delay, with a public consultation on detailed plans for the new runway now scheduled for June rather than in the first three months of next year. Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world, with landing charges of over £20 per ticket, and that is likely to rise – regardless of flimsy Heathrow assurances. Mr Moriarty said there is a  “lack of high quality and comprehensive information” about how Heathrow would keep costs down, while being commercially viable, and these concerns had “not been adequately addressed, despite repeated requests”.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says Uttlesford DC planners’ recommendation is just an uncritical rehash of MAG’s claims

The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning.  As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted, in return for approving the application. SSE say the UDC officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. They say UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved – thought that would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year.  But UDC say this “would not result in significant adverse impacts.”  It is now for UDC councillors on the planning committee to decide.  This case seems too large and complex for a small team of planning officers in a small local authority, without the necessary resources or expertise.

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Local group SHE advises residents they should NOT be intimidated by, or respond to, Heathrow demands for their household information

Residents living in the CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) area for the proposed Heathrow 3rd runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed runway. Local group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) says this repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment. In a long, detailed article here SHE gives information on what Heathrow is doing, what they ask for, and how residents do NOT have to give Heathrow any of the details they ask. The runway is NOT a done deal, and until it is, no resident is under any obligation to reveal personal information about themselves, their household members, their mortgage etc. The details are wanted by Heathrow, in order to facilitate future acquisition of the properties. The persistent propaganda by Heathrow, and the letters etc are having a demoralising effect (which suits the airport) on residents.  SHE advises residents that they should NOT feel under any obligation to help Heathrow, and they should “NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life.”

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Edinburgh Airport flight path plan rejected by CAA, as it was not the same as in the consultation

A deeply unpopular plan to change a flight path at Edinburgh Airport has been rejected by the CAA. The proposed changes would have seen aircraft flying to the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth. The CAA said it could not approve the proposal due to “significant” differences between the final plan and the version developed in consultation with local communities. Had the correct information been in the consultation, it could have made people respond differently to the questions asked. It was the second set of plans submitted to the CAA after the industry regulator told Edinburgh Airport to do more work on the original proposal. Helena Paul, of Edinburgh Airport Watch, said: “On behalf of communities affected by these damaging proposals we are highly relieved the CAA have looked carefully and agreed the process was fatally flawed and could not be allowed to stand. Our hope now is the regulator does not allow Edinburgh Airport to continue using an outdated set of rules for any future consultations and instead enforces the new set of rules brought in for any consultations on new flight paths.”  Further consultation would be necessary.  The airport said modernising the airspace was necessary for growth.

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Campaigners fighting Gatwick expansion issue “State of Emergency” for the Sussex countryside

CPRE Sussex has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “Countryside State of Emergency” in response to Gatwick Airport’s new expansion ‘Master Plan’, published on October 18th.  The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways. A 2nd runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway could result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex to/from the airport every year. A 3rd runway to the south – on the “safeguarded” land – would add millions more passengers and require “significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads”.  “This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Sussex Chair, David Johnson. “It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever – scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.” He commented: “It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans”. We need to give our National Parks and AONBs more, and better protection – not risk ruining them with the impacts of developing an airport about the size Heathrow is now.

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Gatwick opens 12 week consultation on using its emergency runway, for some take-offs, adding 30% + more flights

Gatwick has announced its draft “Master Plan” which (quote) “sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain.”  In order to cram more flights into a one-runway airport, they hope to make more use of their emergency runway, parallel but close to the main runway. It is too near to be used properly as a second runway, on safety grounds. There will now be a 12 week consultation period on the plans, and Gatwick hopes to finalise its plans some time into 2019. The plans also include how the airport hopes to “meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth” (sic) into the 2030s. Under its 40-year current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But Gatwick hopes it “could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.”  This could mean a maximum of 390,000 flights annually (P. 88) compared to 290,000 in 2016, (ie. about 34% more.). That could mean up to 70 million annual passengers, compared to 43 million now – and a current theoretical maximum of 61 million (ie. about 15% more). “We would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours.” (P.10)   Oh …. and  with no extra noise …. obviously….

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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of GIP’s 42% stake in Gatwick

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of a stake in Gatwick airport that could be worth more than 3 billion pounds $3.92 billion, Sky News on Friday. CPPIB is said to be part of a group of investors proposing to buy out Global Infrastructure Partner’s (GIP) 42% stake in the second-busiest airport in Britain, the Sky News report said.  The Canadian pension fund would invest “hundreds of millions of pounds” in the airport, if the deal gets finalised, insiders told Sky News.

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Teddington TAG shows London Assembly data proves Heathrow NOx travels far, far away from the airport (not just Grayling’s “2km”)

The Airports Commission had, as its study area for the effects of Heathrow expansion, an area of just 2 kilometres from the boundary of the expanded airport. Chris Grayling wrote to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the 23rd February 2018  letter saying that this area “captures over 98% of additional emissions that could occur from expansion”. Teddington TAG asks if this figure of 98% emissions captured within 2 km of the boundary is true. They located air pollution data from the London Assembly, available by Borough. It apportions how much of the NOx in different areas is from vehicles, aviation and other sources. This shows that in Richmond Old Deer Park, according to the Data Apportionment Tool, about 77% of the NOx is from aviation. In Kew / North Sheen, 11km from touch-down, about 57% is from aviation.  At Putney, which is under the flight path but is over 15 km from touch-down at Heathrow, about 33% of the NOx is from aviation. Putney is worse off than Kew as total emissions are greater. And all that is just from 2 runways! Aviation apportionment readings stretch back to Clapham Junction and beyond. So why did Grayling tell the Transport Committee that 98% was within 2km.  Ignorance of the facts? Failure to be properly informed?

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WHO Europe publishes tough guidelines & recommendations for policymakers to cut aircraft noise

WHO Europe has now published its long-awaited environmental noise guidelines, (for aviation, road, rail, wind turbine and leisure noise) the first complete update of the guidelines launched in 1999. For aircraft noise, the relevant guidelines strongly recommend reducing noise levels to below 45 dB Lden during the day, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects.  For night noise exposure, they recommend reducing noise levels to below 40 dB Lnight, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. They say that to reduce health effects, policy-makers should “implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from aircraft in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure.”  Groups concerned about aircraft noise have long asked that WHO health guidelines are included in UK aviation policy documents, but they are not. There is no mention of WHO in the Government’s Aviation Strategy documents so far. Tim Johnson, AEF Director, said:  “The Government has the perfect opportunity to respond positively in its draft Aviation Strategy due later this year. Rather than electing to ignore the WHO’s advice on the basis that it is too challenging, it should use set out appropriate measures to tackle this issue.” 

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NGOs urge EU to stand firm on aircraft emissions, keeping ETS and not letting ineffective CORSIA replace it

NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission (EC) to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that Corsia threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In 2016, ICAO’s general assembly agreed a Corsia to come into effect in 2021. Its aim is to stabilise net emissions from aviation at 2020 levels – a low level of ambition. It also relies on offsetting – a mechanism which is increasingly discredited. T&E said: “Corsia is essentially an attempt by industry to dismantle the only effective measure in place to address aviation emissions – the ETS – and replace it with a weak and uncertain Corsia. The motivation is clear: emissions trading is working, but as the rules for Corsia get close to finalisation they are being weakened to the point where Corsia will have next to no environmental benefit.”  That’s why industry is lobbying the EC to accept the Corsia rules without reservation.  Three NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact, T&E, AEF and Carbon Market Watch, have written to the EC, calling on it to keep aviation as part of the ETS, and object to Corsia’s draft rules, that prevent the EU being able to regulate its aviation emissions.

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UN climate science body’s (IPCC) report highlights that aviation must accelerate emissions reductions

The IPCC’s Special Report on trying to keep global warming to 1.5C highlights that we are not on target to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C much less 1.5C as countries agreed to in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Most notably, the report shows that progress in the transportation sector is lagging behind and needs to start its own transformation immediately This includes the global aviation sector. Some downplay the extent of aviation’s climate impact – some 5% of global warming when accounting for both CO2 and climate effects at altitude. The international portion of aviation’s emissions was “excluded” from the Paris Agreement and is being addressed entirely inadequately by the UN’s ICAO instead. But the IPCC report makes clear that cutting emissions from the fast growing aviation sector is essential. ICSA (the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation) says:  “The IPCC makes clear that, without action on this major and growing source of emissions, the goal of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C cannot be achieved. The report’s finding that efficiency improvements alone aren’t enough is a wake-up call to governments to put aviation on a flightpath to decarbonization to ensure the sector plays its part in delivering a zero-carbon future.”

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Launch of “Stay Grounded” network – organisations around the world opposing unsustainable aviation/airport expansion

The Stay Grounded network has been officially launched. It now has over 130 signatories, (including the No 3rd Runway Coalition, and others in the UK) and more than 80 member organisations. Stay Grounded aims to reduce the environmentally and socially damaging impact of aviation, by stopping its fast rate of expansion across the world. The industry has privileged status in many ways, including its out-of-control increasing carbon emissions. The Stay Grounded network has published a position paper outlining 13 steps for a transition towards a transport system that is more socially just and ecologically sustainable. Many non-violent actions took place in countries around the world, in a recent week of action. These were directed against airport infrastructure projects, many of them leading not only to rising CO2 emissions, but also noise and health issues, loss of homes, biodiversity and fertile lands.  Around the world there are about 1200 airports planned to be built or being expanded. Stay grounded will also highlight the industry’s inadequate “greenwashing” strategies, which will lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems, local farming communities, and indigenous peoples, particularly in the Global South.

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The 5 legal challenges against a 3rd Heathrow runway will be heard over 2 weeks in March 2019

Five legal challenges against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have reached the next legal hurdle and will proceed to a full judicial review in March 2019. Justice Holgate today (October 4th) confirmed, in a hearing at the High Court, that the cases lodged by five different parties would be heard over 10 days in March 2019.  Due to the size of the cases, amount of paperwork involved, and the public interest in the case, the hearings in March will be heard by two judges and will be heard in the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was also noted that a separate courtroom may have to be used as overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings, also due to level of interest. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These legal challenges are of the Government’s own making. It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review. In addition to the claim from several councils and the London Mayor, the four other claims raise some serious points of law. If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary.”

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Stansted Airport expansion decision delayed again, (from 17th October) – no date set

Plans to expand Stansted have been grounded, for now. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has postponed a meeting to determine the future of the plans, under pressure from expansion opposition. The airport wants to increase the annual passenger limit by 35 million, from 8 million now up to 43 million. Expansion plans include work to build new aircraft stands and taxiways for additional aircraft (not a runway). The meeting was originally due to be held in July, before being pushed back until October 17th. A rearranged date has yet to be set. Expansion opposition group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) successfully requested the latest delay so that technical issues can be discussed. Highways England also complicated matters with concerns about road traffic implications.  SSE said it is important that approval is not given before all the implications have been properly considered.  They say it is “astonishing” that UDC were preparing to approve the expansion “even when important issues were – and still are – unresolved.” UDC said:“As a consequence of accommodating this request, officers expect to need extra time to address any technical issues that may arise from these enhanced consultation arrangements”.

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Legal proceedings against Heathrow expansion begin – groups against the 3rd runway welcome “decisive action”

Plans for Heathrow expansion will meet their first legal test on Thursday 4th October, as claimants against the proposals seek to proceed their cases to full judicial review.  Five parties have lodged judicial review claims against the plans including a consortium of 5 local authorities with Greenpeace and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Also Heathrow Hub Limited (promoters of a rival scheme to expand Heathrow), and Friends of the Earth. Also Plan B and a Twickenham resident, Neil Spurrier. The claims are against the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) – which only included Heathrow expansion – which Parliament voted on in June 2018, despite many unanswered questions about the projects legality and wider environmental impact. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Having ignored evidence, such as the report of parliament’s Transport Select Committee, the decision to expand Heathrow was always going to end up in the courts, under judicial review …”  Government lawyers have conceded that all applicants are likely to get permission to proceed with their applications for JR, they are unlikely to oppose the granting of permissions at this pre-trial hearing.

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Environmental NGOs write to European Commission asking that they do not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation

AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established. The EU ETS covers only intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their CO2 emissions in the previous year.  CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level, for international flights globally. The aviation industry would like to see CORSIA take over from the ETS and replace it, as it is weaker and less effective in reducing CO2 emissions. The NGO’s letter asks that the European Commission should not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation, as CORSIA has many unresolved issues and well as “environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.

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AEF discusses how UK’s aviation strategy should effectively tackle climate change

The Government has promised that by the end of this year it will have laid out proposals to address one of the key policy gaps left by the Heathrow NPS, namely how UK plans to square its growth plans for aviation with its commitments on climate change.  In the second of their discussion papers on the key issues the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) want to see addressed by the Aviation Strategy Green Paper, and the AEF sets out – in some detail – why the current set of UK, regional and international policies fall short, why the Government’s carbon forecasts for aviation underplay the scale of the action needed, and just how big the challenge of fitting aviation into a net zero future is going to be.  AEF argues that the strategy should:  1. Show as much ambition on climate change as on safety, technology and customer service.  2. Make an unambiguous commitment to limit aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt by 2050 as a maximum level.  3. Map out a policy plan for ensuring that emissions do not exceed this level.  4. Consider the implications of the Paris Agreement for domestic aviation policy.  5. Set out a clear UK position in relation to international efforts. 6. Propose policies to address aviation’s non-CO2 emissions. Details

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Air pollution by NOx linked to much greater risk of dementia

Research published in the BMJ indicates there is an increase in the chance of developing dementia. About 131,000 patients in London aged between 50 and 79 were followed for 7 years, with air pollution exposure estimated by post code. People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to the data from London. The observational study cannot establish that air pollution was a direct cause of the dementia cases, but the link between higher pollution and higher levels of dementia diagnosis could not be explained by other factors known to raise risks of the disease.  Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness.  It is possible that perhaps 60,000 of the total 850,000 dementia cases in the UK may be made worse by air pollution.  This adds to the body of research on the wide-ranging effects of air pollution, including evidence that particles of pollutants can cross the placenta – an evidence from  China of a “huge” reduction in intelligence associated with breathing dirty air, equivalent to losing a year’s education.

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Heathrow pays towards peat bog restoration – but its contribution to offsetting Heathrow’s carbon is infinitesimal

Heathrow has invested in the restoration of UK peatlands, not just because it is a good thing to do, but to give the airport good PR, with an infinitesimal contribution to offsetting their CO2  emissions. Working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and DEFRA, Heathrow’s first restoration priority will be Little Woolden Moss, west of Manchester, which has been subject to commercial peat extraction for more than 15 years. Heathrow says [sic]: “The restoration of the UK’s peatland bogs forms part of Heathrow’s plans to be a carbon neutral airport by 2020. ” ….and, worryingly “Heathrow hopes to show that projects like this will make a good option for airlines’ CORSIA commitments.” Heathrow has (paid already probably?) about £94,000 towards the project. They omit to mention that Defra has already paid £334,000 for the project. Heathrow claims “the restoration of this project area could lead to savings of 22,427 tonnes of CO₂ over 30 years …” As Heathrow departing flights emit over 18 million tonnes CO2 per year, that comes to 540 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years (ignoring a possible 3rd runway, with emissions perhaps 50% higher). The 22,427 tonnes comes to all of 0.004% of that carbon. So in reality, irrelevant. But greenwash.

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Monbiot: “It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things” (eg. expanding aviation)

An excellent article by George Monbiot, includes these comments in relation to aviation: “There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things.“… “When a low-carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry. Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there.” …”Labour guarantees that any airport expansion must adhere to its tests on climate change. But airport expansion is incompatible with its climate commitments. Even if aircraft emissions are capped at 2005 levels, by 2050 they will account for half the nation’s carbon budget if the UK is not to contribute to more than 1.5C of global warming. If airports grow, they will swallow even more of the budget’ …Airport expansion is highly regressive, offending the principles of justice and equity that Labour exists to uphold. Regardless of the availability and cost of flights, they are used disproportionately by the rich…”

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Date set for Stansted Airport expansion planning decision by Uttlesford – 17th October

The passenger limit at Stansted could be lifted from 35 million a year to 43 million. Now the date of the special planning committee hearing at Uttlesford District Council, (UDC) to decide a planning application that would mean potentially millions more people going through Stansted, has been announced. UDC said the special planning committee is will be on October 17th, following 3 public speaking sessions the week before the decision will be made.  The decision on whether to allow the airport to increase its annual passenger numbers was due to be decided in July, but because of the lack of information on sections of the application the meeting was delayed.  There has been staunch opposition from residents fighting to stop any increase in passenger numbers. In August, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) filed legal papers to try and force the government to make the decision on the application, saying that UDC didn’t have the experience or expertise to handle such a complicated application.  Currently the airport is operating with around 27 million passengers per year, eight million fewer than its current passenger limit. SSE will continue  with legal action to make central government decide the plans, irrespective of the decision taken by UDC’s planning committee.

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Trade Unions sceptical about extravagant jobs claims for a Heathrow 3rd runway

The Trade Union movement appears split on the issue of Heathrow expansion, following a fringe meeting (organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition and the PCS) held at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester. Unions such as Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) spoke at a fringe meeting on the issue of transport, climate and jobs, highlighting their continued opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, despite other trade unions supporting the hugely environmentally damaging project. Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary, PCS), said though workers would not support the agenda to transition away from fossil fuels if their jobs were put in jeopardy, claims of large numbers of high quality jobs were hard to believe.  Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA), raised concerns that the transport sector was heading backwards in addressing the challenge posed by climate change, while the UK urgently needs to address the crisis of CO2 emissions. Paul Beckford of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said the role played by trade unions in helping the transition to a low carbon economy will be crucial.  Unions have to be clear about the reality of future jobs, generated by the runway.

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Heathrow airport is battling debt pile of £13bn – enough to build the third runway

Heathrow has blown more than £6bn in interest on its debts over the past 12 years, a Mail investigation has found.  It spends more than £500m a year on interest payments alone, accounts for Heathrow Airport Holdings show.  Meanwhile its debt pile has risen to £13.4 billion – about the cost of aa possible 3rd runway. Heathrow is planning to spend around £14 billion on the project, but its mammoth debts reveal just how stretched the airport has become. Airline bosses fear Heathrow may not be able deliver the runway on budget, and want Heathrow to guarantee not to increase these to pay for the runway.  While it has paid more than £6 billion in debt interest over 12 years, shareholders have extracted £3.6 billion in dividends.  Heathrow makes money by charging landing fees to airlines, which are passed on to passengers – around £22 for each fare.  The airport is planning to spend £33 billion on infrastructure in coming decades – including the runway and terminals to serve an extra 52m passengers a year. Most of the work is due to be completed by 2035, and there is growing concern that the airport will have to raise charges significantly to pay the bills.

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Data shows the NOx produced by Heathrow planes is over double that produced by road vehicles

There is a widely held belief that Heathrow’s NO2 air pollution is largely due to road vehicles, and as long as measures can be taken to reduce these a bit, then a 3rd runway could be allowed. However, research indicates that the aircraft are producing even more NOx than the road vehicles, and there is far less that can be done to cut these emissions. Indeed, if there were to be almost 50% more Heathrow flights, the amount of NOx generated by the aircraft alone would mean a massive increase locally. That is not taking into account all the extra road traffic that would inevitably be generated by a larger Heathrow, including businesses etc that locate near the airport and all their traffic. The 2013 figures from a study for Heathrow, by Ricardo-AEA Ltd show the amount of NOx emitted from planes up to 1000 metres altitude was 2761 tonnes NOx/ year, and 1524 tonnes from aircraft on the ground (ie a total of 4285 tonnes/ year). Also 274 tonnes/year from other airport sources. Then 350 tonnes/year from Heathrow associated trips on main roads in a 11km x 11km area, and 1661 tonnes/ year from non-Heathrow associated traffic in that 11x11km area. (ie. a total of 2011 for all road traffic). So the amount of NOx from planes is way over twice the amount from road vehicles. And that ignores the NOx from planes in the wider area, over 1000 metres altitude.

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Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS – on climate change

Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement, (NPS) which backs building a Heathrow 3rd runway, fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations. So they have started formal legal action at the High Court. The legal action challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the NPS, which gives the go-ahead to a 3rd runway.  Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of FoE, have filed papers with the High Court – asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. They argue the NPS  is illegal because  • it does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008; • it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C; • it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a 3rd runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions; and • it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations. A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this autumn.

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Climate Change charity Plan B begins legal action against Grayling over Government’s Heathrow expansion plans

Climate change campaign Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion.  Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change. Plan B join 4 other legal challenges against the runway plans (5 councils and Greenpeace UK, Heathrow Hub, a resident Neil Spurrier, and Friends of the Earth UK). Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens. Plan B says the NPS does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement. Plan B’s legal action focuses exclusively on climate change impact.

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Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have issued JR proceedings in the High Court re. Heathrow runway

Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.  The grounds of challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of the habitats directive and a flawed consultation process. Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “Once again we have a government that is trying to avoid applying both the correct legal process and common sense to the question of airport expansion. The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable.” The many flaws in the scheme need to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the legal process, and its serious failings exposed.

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Lillian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Committee, accuses Grayling of ignoring its Heathrow recommendations

The UK government has largely ignored recommendations from the Transport Select Committee, a key parliamentary body, about Heathrow’s 3rd runway scheme. The committee’s Chair, Lilian Greenwood, said this makes it more likely the courts will strike down the project. She said Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, “gave the impression that 24 of our 25 recommendations had been accepted”, but said his comments were just “rhetoric”. … “The reality was that only two or three of our recommendations were actually accepted. …“I suppose at best you could say that the government said they agreed with the spirit of our recommendations and would ensure those matters were dealt with in the [planning] process.” The committee’s recommendations, if the runway went ahead, included adopting stricter air-quality standards, setting a binding target to prevent more airport-related traffic and defining noise-pollution limits.  Now a Judicial Review of the government’s Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow runway) by 5 local councils and Greenpeace, with the backing of the Mayor of London, is starting. If the courts overturn the government’s decision, it will “make the economic case on which Heathrow expansion is predicated less favourable”.  ie. not good for investors.

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Stop Stansted Expansion wants Uttlesford District Council to allow more time (not 31st August deadline) for consultation on airport expansion plans

Campaigners against plans to expand passenger numbers and flights at Stansted  are calling for more time for the public to consider new information about the plans.  Airport owner MAG is seeking permission to raise the upper threshold for passenger numbers and flights.  Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) argues Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) August 31 deadline for comments on an extra 900 pages of information is not enough. SSE says the council and the airport owners were seeking to “rush through” the application, and corners were being cut.  SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “This is an impossible deadline to achieve, unless Uttlesford only wants to receive superficial responses. Parish and town councils don’t even meet during August, nor does UDC council or cabinet. August is a lost month so far as a public consultation is concerned.  It is especially galling because Uttlesford caused this problem in the first place. The council should not have accepted such a deficient planning application back in February. It is a case of more haste, less speed.” SSE is pursuing a high court challenge aimed at transferring responsibility for determining the planning application from UDC to the Secretary of State.

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Heathrow runway rival – “Heathrow Hub” – launches legal challenge to DfT on its 3rd runway decision

The sponsor of a rival project to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Heathrow Hub, has started its challenge against the DfT for its decision to back the airport’s north-west runway scheme. Sky News has obtained a letter sent on Friday 27th July by lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, ‎which paves the way for it to seek a full judicial review of the Government’s decision. They have engaged Martin Kingston QC, a planning expert at No5 Chambers, and Robert O’Donoghue, a prominent figure in cases of competition law from Brick Court, to fight its case. In the pre-action letter, the law firm DAC Beachcroft accused the DfT of failing to provide information about the Heathrow decision-making process sought under freedom of information (FoI) laws. It requested that the DfT’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS)  be quashed on 5 principal grounds. These include a flawed understanding by ministers of the capacity for new air traffic movements created by extending the airport’s northern runway, to the west. Heathrow Hub also believes it was unlawful for the DfT to “effectively [give Heathrow] a veto” over their proposal (the airport always favoured their own scheme).  Heathrow Hub is a privately owned company, funded by a hedge fund manager. There is also the challenge by 5 councils and the Mayor London, and one by a private citizen, Neil Spurrier.

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Heathrow 2.5% rise in pax in 1st half of 2018, 5% rise in retail, 7% more on car parking cf. 2017

Though Heathrow always says it is almost full, in reality it has terminal capacity for many more. Its latest half year results, to the end of June, show the number of passengers increased by 2.5% to 38.1 million (half year). There are more larger planes, and the load factors are higher, now up 1% to 76.9% on average. Revenues for the 6 months were up 2.3% to £1.4 billion. Retail profits were up 5% to £206 million, far outstripping many high streets. Income from bars, restaurants and cafés was up by 11.5%. While trying to persuade politicians etc that it is not going to worsen already very bad air pollution with a new runway, Heathrow made 7% more from car parking in this first half, at £62 million. Car parking is very lucrative to the airport, while passengers arriving by public transport are not. Income from the Heathrow Express (owned by Heathrow) rail link (very expensive) from Paddington, fell by £2 million to £61 million. Spending more on security and the “passenger experience” cut pre-tax profits from £102 million to £95 million now. The payroll bill rose by nearly 2% to £183 million; operational & maintenance costs rose by nearly 9% to £223 million.

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Heathrow increases its debt by almost £1 billion (total net debt £13.7 bn) to protect it from a worst-case scenario Brexit

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has raised nearly £1bn in debt to keep it going through a “worst-case scenario” following a hard Brexit. He said this was equivalent to 2 full years’ funding, to give the airport the level of financial resilience for a worst-case scenario. He said he expected “something close to continuity” through a Brexit agreement, but “our funding levels . . . mean we are protected. Even if we have no income for two months, we would be financially safe.”  The debt deals, primarily refinancing, total £981m and take Heathrow’s total net debt to £13.7bn. A financial commented that this was an attitude of “let’s raise it while we can”, and a hard Brexit might raise fears over access to financial markets. Heathrow’s first half financial results showed a 2.3% increase in total revenue to £1.4bn compared with the 2017, but a 7% fall in pre-tax profit to £289m. Heathrow had spent money on more  operational investment, such as in facilities for disabled passengers and in keeping the airport going during snows this winter. Passenger numbers rose 2.5% to 38.1m, its busiest ever first half, by use of higher load factors. Heathrow expects to spend £160m this year on the expansion project.

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Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals, or face proceedings in the High Court. This puts the Secretary of State for Transport on formal notice of a Judicial Review application if he fails to designate the airport’s planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within 14 days. Such a designation would mean the application would be considered nationally (a longer, more detailed, more thorough process) rather than by the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of the airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels. From the outset, SSE fiercely opposed the attempt to rush through the application and has argued that the scale of the application – the threshold is 10 million more annual passengers – meant that it had to be determined nationally rather than by the local Council. Stansted is trying to put the increase at 8 million (35m to 43m) to avoid the NSIP process.

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Hillingdon Council Leader writes to residents to ensure they know the 3rd runway is not at all certain – despite HAL propaganda

Heathrow has been telling local residents that the 3rd runway is definitely going ahead, and people should act accordingly. However, now Hillingdon Council’s Leader, Ray Puddifoot, has written to residents to let them know that is not at all true. He says: “I have been informed by a number of residents in the Heathrow Villages that Heathrow Airport Ltd. (HAL) are producing  highly misleading and disingenuous propaganda regarding airport expansion that is causing unnecessary distress and  anxiety.  HAL are unashamedly frightening residents by informing them that Heathrow expansion will definitely be taking place  now that the Secretary of State has taken the decision, on 26th June 2018, to designate the Airports National Policy  Statement (NPS). For the avoidance of doubt Heathrow expansion is very far from certain. The designation of the NPS is not in any way tantamount to the grant of planning permission for Heathrow expansion. Instead, it acts as an umbrella’ for an  application for a Development Consent Order to be made by HAL. I can confirm that no such application has been made. In the circumstances, I would urge you and your fellow residents not to believe anything that HAL is saying and  certainly, no steps should be taken to market any properties in Heathrow Villages.”  And it continues ….

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Councils notify Secretary of State that they will seek Judicial Review of Government’s decision to approve Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

A group of local authorities has formally notified the Secretary of State for Transport that it intends to seek judicial review of the Government’s decision to give policy support in the Airports National Policy Statement (‘NPS’) for a 3rd Heathrow runway. The councils are challenging the Government on the grounds of air quality, climate change, and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) including failing properly to deal with the noise consequences and surface access impacts. On air quality they say, amongst other things, that the Government has misunderstood and misapplied the law on air quality. On surface access the councils say, amongst other things, that the NPS fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and unacceptable effects from traffic pollution. The Government must now respond to the councils’ formal letter before action. If the Transport Secretary does not agree to quash the NPS, the local authorities will bring judicial review proceedings.The Boroughs taking the legal action are Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Windsor & Maidenhead Council, and Hammersmith & Fulham.The group has also been joined by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

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Legal challenges against Heathrow runway plans – first chance for proper assessment of the NPS details – plans delay inevitable

Although MPs voted to back the Heathrow 3rd runway, lawyers say legal challenges are likely to substantially delay – by at least a year – the start of construction, even if they cannot prevent it.  As well as the legal challenge by 5 London councils, and the Mayor of London, that has now started, there will be one by “Heathrow Hub”, the rival runway scheme. The challenges will go to the High Court and could take up to 6 months. The losing party could then appeal to the Court of Appeal, and even if they lose there, they could then appeal to the Supreme Court. The legal process is the first opportunity for Heathrow expansion opponents to take the proposal for a 3rd runway to the High Court, and have all the issues properly assessed – not merely depending on information provided by and for the Department for Transport. There will also be a second opportunity to challenge the plans after the development consent order (DCO) is completed. Under the current plans, Heathrow intends to lodge its development consent order with the secretary of state in 2021, ahead of a 2025 completion date – but that could be delayed due to the legal challenges. Then there must be a General Election by 2022, which Labour might win – with no guarantee they would not oppose the runway plans.

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Windsor & Maidenhead Council sets aside further £100,000 (adding to £50,000 already) for Heathrow legal battle

A further £100,000 will be set aside to fund the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s [the Prime Minister’s own constituency] legal challenge against a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Council Leader Cllr Simon Dudley said on Friday, following a meeting with legal counsel and a vote within the ruling Conservative Group, that councillors had overwhelmingly agreed to take a stand against the proposed expansion. The Royal Borough is taking part in the legal challenge, alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith & Fulham local authorities and the Mayor of London to challenge the Government’s decision. Cllr Dudley said: “We’re putting another £100,000 in which is right at the top end of what we’ll need. We don’t put spending taxpayer’s money lightly and I have been clear that we won’t be caught up in frivolous legal action.” The additional money will be taken from the council’s cash reserves and will be added on to the £50,000 that has already been set aside for a potential legal challenge. The Government has left itself ‘wide open’ over its air quality obligations, and there is no clarity how adding the runway would comply with air quality limits. The DCO to build the runway would be derailed if the pending judicial review succeeds.

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5 issues surrounding the expansion of Heathrow the Staines area still doesn’t have answers to

A local newspaper in the Staines area has set out 5 key areas on which there are no assurances that Heathrow expansion will not be bad for their area. Areas like Stanwell Moor and Stanwell would be seriously affected by the addition of a 3rd runway, and they are angry and frustrated at the lack of clarity on exactly what expansion will mean for them. One issue is the WPOZ (Wider Property Offer Zone) where people have the opportunity to sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Heathrow has remained tight lipped about the possible inclusion of the villages in the WPOZ, but has insisted all options remain on the table. On air and noise pollution, there is no clarity at all, and Heathrow continues (unsuccessfully) to try to give the impression there would be no increase to current amounts. On the Immigration Centre, the existing one in Harmondsworth would have to be demolished, but there is no indication where it might be relocated. Spelthorne Borough Council has insisted it is not built in the borough. There are also huge problems with the M25 and protection of the valuable Staines Moor SSSI area, which is home to endangered species of birds, and the possible diversion of the River Colne, which runs through the moor. Local MP Kwasi Kwateng, and Spelthorne Council still, despite all the negative impacts, back the runway …

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Heathrow trying to persuade doubters that it will not need public money to funds its plans and will not struggle to fund £14bn 3rd runway

Heathrow airport is denying it will struggle to fund its possible new £14bn runway, as there are concerns that taxpayers will have to help pay for one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects in decades. Paul Deighton, Heathrow’s chairman, has written to the CAA to “set the record straight” after noting “a continuing debate regarding the financials” of expansion. “We have an investment grade credit rating, and existing shareholders will invest equity to maintain this through the higher risk expansion period,” he said. “This is a very strong position from which to finance the expansion of Heathrow. There will be no cost to the taxpayer.”  [Don’t forget this comment!] However, it is likely to need higher landing charges and that taxpayers have to foot much of the bill. Heathrow is already £13.4bn in debt — not far shy of the £15bn value of its regulatory asset base. Equity was just £703m.  Much of the £14bn price of the runway would be borrowed money, and financing costs of that could be £2bn-£3bn over a 6-year construction period — might stretch the balance sheet to breaking point. These sums don’t include likely of cost overruns and legal claims. See here for Heathrow broken promise to never build a 3rd runway, made in 1999, and Heathrow saying (16.9.2014)  “The people who made those promises weren’t in a position to make these promises.”

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London City Airport may seek permission for more flights – up from its current cap of 111,000 per year

London City Airport is considering an application to raise limits on flights and passenger numbers, its boss has revealed. Chief executive Robert Sinclair believes the airport will approach existing caps on its operations in the next 3 – 4 years. London City Airport is trying to make out it is vital, in the years before Heathrow gets a 3rd runway (if it ever does, which is still fairly unlikely …) Sinclair said: “In the fullness of the next year or two we will be reflecting on the future and life beyond our current planning caps… We will be considering the potential options, which could include raising the caps.” The current limit is 6.5 million passengers and 111,000 flights per year. Annual passenger numbers have grown by 50% since 2012 and might be over 5 million next year. Annual air traffic movements currently stand at around 80,000.  Any bid to increase operational caps would be made to Newham Council. John Stewart, chairman of campaign group Hacan East, said: “Local residents would fight tooth and nail any attempt by London City to raise its limits on flights and passengers.  Many of them feel their lives are already blighted by planes from the airport.” The airport had no passenger increases in 2017 over 2016, and only 5% growth in 2016.

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Opinion: We need a responsible attitude to flying, not another Heathrow runway

Responsible Travel customer director Tim Williamson asks:  “Do we really need another runway at Heathrow? At Responsible Travel we don’t think so.”… “At some point we have to face the fact that the IATA predictions for the growth of air travel are not sustainable and will be very detrimental to the planet. The ability to jump on a plane at a very affordable price for most of the developed world and get to nearly all places on earth in less than a day is a wonderful privilege but it’s not a right and each flight has a consequence and that’s the increasing damage to our environment from aviation.” …”What we can start doing now is thinking about each flight we take and ask is it really necessary? We should all be thinking now about that short city break by air and looking at alternatives, especially if our choice is also fuelling the new concept of over-tourism where tourists and locals suffer as result of too many tourists. If we are travelling to a conference – is it really necessary that we are there in person?” …”If we are travelling for work do we need to be there in person? I’m sure most meetings that include air travel would be far less attractive if the company that paid for the ticket collected the air miles and points rather than the individual.”

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Committee on Climate Change says DfT must publish a plan, by summer 2019, to limit aviation CO2

The CCC’s report says a key action needed from the UK government by the first half of 2019 is to: “Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”. They say the UK’s 2050 target requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions including the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping (IAS) emissions. But if IAS is not included, all other sectors would have to cut their CO2 emissions by around 85% (cf. 1990)by 2050 – which the CCC do not believe is possible. The CCC say: “The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy in 2019. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the 5th carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”  UK aviation CO2 emissions were already at 35.5 Mt CO2 in 2016, having risen by 1.2% in that year over 2015. Aviation emissions will continue to rise, and rapidly exceed the 37.5MtCO2 cap. Around spring 2019 the CCC will set out its thinking on whether the CORSIA is an appropriate mechanism for formally including international aviation CO2 in carbon budgets.

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Explanation by Prof Alice Larkin of why UK aviation must fit within UK climate commitments – and Heathrow runway makes that hard

Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science and Energy Policy at The University of Manchester, and Dr John Broderick say the proposed 3rd Heathrow runway jeopardises the UK’s long term legal carbon commitments, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, given the absence of a policy framework for establishing long-term decarbonisation of the sector. They say rising aviation CO2 would need to be off-set by fuel-efficiency gains, the use of alternative carbon-neutral fuels or additional reductions in other sectors. But there are no mechanisms in place to guarantee this within the UK’s climate policy framework. For the UK to try to meet Paris targets, UK aviation emissions need to be greatly reduced, along with all other sectors. Even if there were effective carbon credits available for aviation, they would become scarce in coming decades as further CO2 cuts are ever more challenging for all sectors to achieve. There are substantial concerns about the wider effects of biofuel production  including their carbon balance; synthetic fuels are necessarily energetically costly to produce and requiring additional zero-carbon energy generation capacity – so neither can effectively cut aviation’s CO2 emissions. And there are no “negative emissions” technologies that work.

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IAG boss Willie Walsh says there is “zero” chance of Heathrow being able to build a 3rd runway by 2026 (or for £14bn)

Heathrow expects to have a 3rd runway built and operating by 2026 but the boss of IAG, Willie Walsh, believes there is “zero” chance of that happening.  He thinks there might be a 60% of it being built by 2028 – 2030.  He says the £14bn cost to build the runway is “perverse” and cast doubt on the airport’s ability to deliver the project. “I don’t believe that Heathrow Airport can build this in an efficient manner and a cost-effective manner. When you talk about an expected bill of £14bn sterling, it’s a perverse amount of money. It’s ridiculous. It’s outrageous. It has always been incentivised to spend money. The airport has a bizarre, perverse incentive to spend more money than it needs to because it gets remunerated based on the money they spend. …The airport hasn’t figured out how it will build over the top of the M25 and that is a challenge.” Mr Walsh, whose company holds the most coveted landing slots at Heathrow, wants a runway, but at a price that does not negatively impact his business. And he is not keen on a lot of new competition coming into Heathrow, to weaken his monopoly position.

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Heathrow runway after being voted for in Parliament. NEXT STOP: COURT, for the legal challenges …

Campaigners vow to stop plans to expand Heathrow airport once and for all in court, following a parliamentary vote in favour of a 3rd runway. The vote was 415 in favour, 119 against, with a majority of 296. Despite claims that over 75% of MPs support the plans, the actual number was much lower, at 63%, with 3 out of the 4 main political parties adopted a position against expansion. Labour, whilst offering a free vote, adopted a recommendation to vote against expansion, saying the plans failed to meet the party’s 4 tests. The SNP decided to abstain in the vote, stating they were ‘unconvinced’ by the government’s case for Heathrow expansion, whilst the Liberal Democrats remained strongly opposed to the plans. From the Government benches, Greg Hands, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers voted against their party whip for the first time in 13 years. The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe that large infrastructure projects, which stretch well beyond the lifetime of one parliament, require strong cross-party unity in order to actually be delivered. The runway does not have that, and Heathrow’s shareholders will have noticed. There’s a long way to go before Heathrow can start knocking down villages or putting spades in the ground – the legal challenges can now begin …

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The government has won the Heathrow vote (Airports National Policy Statement) by 415 votes to 119.      Majority of 296.

See how each MP voted here

Justine Greening MP asked the Speaker whether for such an important matter, a debate of just 4 hours was enough. Speaker said he expected there would be many more debates on the Heathrow issue…

No 10 ‘fixes’ Heathrow runway vote to deliberately get it before MPs can read damning report on CO2 by the CCC

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has scheduled the vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway just days before publication of a government report warning that surging aviation emissions would destroy Britain’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. It means MPs will have had no chance to read the report, from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on Thursday, before voting. The report will warn that aviation and other emissions are growing so fast that homeowners and businesses may have to sacrifice gas cookers, central heating boilers and petrol cars for Britain to meet its climate change targets. Andy McDonald, the Labour transport shadow secretary said this deliberately duplicitous timing was disgraceful.  Last year UK aviation emissions hit 37m tonnes, close to the pre-recession peak of 37.5m tonnes in 2005. The CCC says this must not be exceeded if the UK is to meet its 80% carbon reduction target. However, a report published on Grayling’s department website last week says aviation emissions will hit 43m tonnes of CO2 by 2030 if Heathrow expands. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, has written to Grayling, saying CO2 levels higher than 37.5MtCO2 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors.”

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Jonathan Ford (FT) on the serious financing doubts: “Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn 3rd runway?”

With the vote on a possible 3rd Heathrow runway expected on 25th June, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer write, in the Financial Times, of the very serious doubts over how the runway could be funded. They say: “Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the 3rd runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 -7%.” And …”investors have been pulling out more in dividends than Heathrow has been earning. Last year they received a payout of £847m even though post tax profits were just £516m, implying that the corporate debt was used, in part, to fund these returns.” … And “A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019.” … The Airports Commission said it could saddle Heathrow with up to £27 billion of debt.  Ford also questions the opaque structure of Heathrow, with at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited ….and shareholders.”

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Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham MP) quits government – on principle over May’s 3-line whip voting on Heathrow expansion

Junior trade minister Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham)has resigned from the Conservative government to oppose expansion of Heathrow. The vote in Parliament on whether to build the runway  will be on Monday. Greg said he had pledged to his electorate to oppose a 3rd runway, at the 2017 election, and he would keep his word and honour his pledges.  The borough would be badly over-flown if Heathrow was allowed to expand.  It had been thought that ministers with constituencies directly affected could have been allowed to miss the vote. However, the Government will be whipping the vote. The highest profile opponent of Heathrow expansion in the cabinet is Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it happening. However, in a cowardly and discreditable manner, he is shirking his responsibilities to stand up to his claims, by engineering an overseas appointment on Monday, to be out of the country. [Snout too firmly in trough, and enjoying his important high kudos job ….] Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson suggested on Twitter that Mr Hands’ resignation should prompt the prime minister to allow her MPs a free vote. Greg has, in the past, held a range of other responsible ministerial roles.

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Mayor, Sadiq Khan, ready to join legal action by Councils against 3rd runway at Heathrow

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join the legal action brought by local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead)against Heathrow expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a 3rd runway on 25th June. (Hammersmith and Fulham Council has also recently indicated they would join.)  Sadiq has reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and emphasised the significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils. The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, and TfL (Londoners) would have to find the money. The comprehensive recommendations on the NPS by the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.

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Labour says Heathrow runway does NOT meet the 4 vital tests – calls on all parties to have a free vote on the NPS

The Labour Party has announced that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet Labour’s Four Tests for Heathrow expansion.  Their support for a 3rd Heathrow runway has always been conditional on 4 well-established tests being met. The 4 tests are (1). That increased capacity will be delivered. (2) That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments. (3) Minimise noise and local environmental impact. (4). Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of the UK, not just the South East and London.  Labour’s analysis of the NPS finds that none of these tests have been met. Labour is therefore calling for a free vote for all parties on the issue (likely on 25th June).  Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project.” Some Labour MPs back the runway, as do unions like Unite, that are always in hope of any prospect of jobs.

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The DfT’s own figures show a Heathrow 3rd runway plan has no effective benefit to the UK. The benefit predicted has decreased each time it is re-calculated

This is taking the “Net Present Value” which is the correct measure to use, taking into account all benefits, and subtracting all costs (figures bandied about like £74 billion etc are benefits only – no costs deducted, so highly misleading).

The NPV was allegedly £+11.8 billion (for ALL the UK, over 60 years), in the Airports Commission’s Final Report assessment (Page 147) in July 2015.

It was down to £+0.2 to £+6.1 billion, in the Further Review and Sensitivities Report by the DfT (Page 39  Table 7.1) in October 2016.

It was then down again to between £-2.2 to £+3.3 billion in the DfT document of October 2017, the Updated Appraisal Report on the NPS (P.44 Table 9.2). 

And now in the final version of the NPS, that the government wants MPs to vote on shortly, the benefit (NPV) is just between £-2.5 to £+2.9 billion, in the DfT’s Addendum to the Updated Appraisal Report (Page 10  Table 3.1).

Justine Greening: Government must rethink Heathrow expansion plans, with a proper national aviation policy

Justine Greening, writing in the Yorkshire Post, says it is unacceptable for the government to be pressing ahead with the Heathrow runway, despite logic – and without a UK aviation policy. She says: “…there’s nothing national about the Airports “National Policy Statement” proposed by the DfT. The third runway proposal at Heathrow is a 20-year-old hub proposal that’s entirely unrelated to the world of direct, point to point flights we live in today.” … It’s bad for northerners. “Pay more to get to Heathrow, then pay more to get on a plane at an expensive expanded Heathrow. … It’s a triple whammy for the Northern Powerhouse and Yorkshire region, because a bigger Heathrow means smaller regional airports. …The DfT’s own analysis … shows that regional airports – Leeds Bradford, Doncaster and Manchester – will lose over 26,100 international flights every year by 2030 because of Heathrow expansion….And there’s a 4th whammy. Heathrow Airport will consume £10-15bn of transport spend” for surface transport for Heathrow.  She concludes: “MPs need to look at the detail locally and nationally, ask questions to Ministers as to why this proposal so badly undermines our crucial regional airports, vote against it and then demand a proper UK-wide airports strategy that works for all of us, wherever we live.”

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CCC writes to Grayling to remind him of UK’s climate commitments, expressing concern about NPS silence on allowing rising aviation CO2 emissions

The Committee on Climate Change have written to Chris Grayling to reiterate that the UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act, and the Paris Agreement. They say: “We were surprised that your statement to the House of Commons on the NPS on 5 June 2018 made no mention of either of these commitments. It is essential that aviation’s place in the overall strategy for UK emissions reduction is considered and planned fully by your Department.”  Under the CCC’s advice, the aviation sector would be allowed to keep its CO2 emissions at no more than their level in 2005, by 2050. That means aviation’s share of total UK CO2 emissions would already increase from about 2% to around 25%. Even that means “all other sectors must reduce emissions by more than 80%, and in many cases will likely need to reach zero….Higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors”. The CCC say: “We look forward to the Department’s new Aviation Strategy in 2019, which we expect will set out a plan for keeping UK aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels by 2050. To inform your work we are planning to provide further advice in spring 2019.”

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DfT’s own figures, (suitably hidden in an addendum, hard to find, not in the main NPS) shows effectively ZERO Net Present Value to the UK of a 3rd Heathrow runway

From this DfT document.  June 2018. Page 10.

The figure takes into account all the costs of the runway, in the proper government methodology, rather than just considering the benefits – ignoring costs (which is what the DfT does in its Heathrow promotional material, eg. the main NPS document).

DfT gives a figure of £74 billion benefit, knowing the NPV value is actually around ZERO

This kind of information is concealed, deliberately, by the DfT – as they know most politicians, business people, MPs etc will NOT have the time to read through all NPS associated documents. The figures the DfT want MPs to see are in the main June 2018 NPS document. That says (Page 23) …”total benefits (not including wider trade benefits) of up to £74 billion over 60 years for the Northwest Runway scheme.”

The details are always in subsidiary documents, that are very hard to locate, off the DfT website. Shocking.

The (June 2018)  -£2.5 bn up to a maximum +£2.9 bn is even lower than the figures of -£2.2bn up to +£3.3 bn from the equivalent  DfT document of October 2017. (P 44)

Government accused by Councils of ignoring Transport Select Committee recommendations in final Heathrow NPS

Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Windsor &Maidenhead, and Richmond Councils have accused the government of misleading MPs on the Heathrow runway plans (the Airports NPS). They say the government has only incorporated 3 out of 25 of the recommendations by the Transport Select Committee (TSC) recommendations into the final NPS, while trying to give the impression it has taken far more account of them. Chris Grayling told the Commons (5th June) that 24 of the 25 recommendations had been “acted upon” and that expansion at Heathrow had been agreed by the Cabinet. The 4 councils are calling on Mr Grayling to return to Parliament and explain to MPs why the TSC advice has been brushed aside. The Councils need to see a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to plane noise, by a 3rd runway. Among their demands, they want assurance that planning approval would only be granted if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met.  Also a more stringent interpretation of air quality compliance including ‘headroom’ to manage future increases in pollution – and clarity on how the requirement for 15% of new slots will be secured for domestic connections, rather than just warm, woolly wording.

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Hammersmith & Fulham Council will join the 4 councils’ legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has vowed to keep fighting plans for a third runway at Heathrow, even if Parliament votes in favour of it. The council has said it will seek to join any legal challenge against a decision in favour of expanding the west London airport – a move the council says would subject residents to a mire of misery and pollution. Council Leader Stephen Cowan said:  “We absolutely refuse to sit back and let such a potentially catastrophic decision be made without a fight, We’ve made our stance very clear; a third runway at Heathrow would mean more noise for residents already suffering noise disturbance, more pressure on our roads and an unacceptable increase in air pollution. If we need to take legal action, we will, as the environmental cost of meekly accepting a decision in favour of expansion, would be far worse.” In 2014, H&F Council set up a resident-led commission to investigate the potential effects of expansion on residents’ lives. It reported back that the overall impact of Heathrow expansion would be negative, with any benefits unlikely to be felt by those in H&F.

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Anti-Heathrow protesters stage hunger strike against Heathrow 3rd runway plans, asking people to lobby their MPs to vote against it

On Saturday 9th, campaigners from the Vote NO Heathrow campaign started a hunger strike, to draw attention to the huge risk that MPs might vote in favour of a 3rd Heathrow runway. The vote is likely in the next two weeks. Over 30 campaigners gathered outside the London HQ of the Labour party in Victoria Street, for the start of the hunger strike by 5 of them. They intend to continue not to eat for as long as their health permits, and if possible until the vote in Parliament.  Earlier in the week, 8 campaigners were arrested outside the building for using chalk spray on the pavement and the glass windows, to highlight their message. The vote of the Labour party is crucial, and it is hoped that MPs will appreciate that the runway fails the 4 tests Labour has set for it, and impose a 3-line whip. The Tories may impose a 3-line whip in favour of the runway. The Vote NO Heathrow campaign wants as many people as possible to write to their MP – of whichever party – to ask them to vote against the runway. There are many important arguments, why the runway should be opposed (more details below) but these could be summarised as economic problems, UK region problems, noise, air pollution and increased carbon emissions.

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FT’s Jonathan Ford on massive doubts over Heathrow’s ability to fund its runway – without huge subsidy from taxpayers

Jonathan Ford, the City Editor of the Financial Times (who knows a thing or two about finance) on the Heathrow runway scheme. It would cost at least £14 billion (probably more with inevitable over-spends), and as Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in Europe, its ability to claw back money is limited – anyway, it cannot get airlines and passengers to pay until the runway is built and operating. Despite sales of some of its airports, totalling more than £4bn, its debt was still £13.4 billion in 2017.  And “Heathrow’s 2017 accounts record a dividend of £847m for shareholders last year on after-tax profits of just £516m, implying that dividends were partially funded by taking on yet more corporate debt.” Shareholders are not going to be happy to receive almost no dividend for several years. “Heathrow might try to ease the burden by discreetly pressing for public subsidy, figuring that once the state is committed to the 3rd runway it will not want to see the project come off the rails. The government should stand firm. Its decision to pick the most expensive of three runway options on the table was always predicated on the idea that all could be financed without state support.”

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London Assembly reaffirms strong opposition to Heathrow 3rd runway

The London Assembly has reaffirmed its opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway. It has agreed unanimously on a motion asserting its opposition. Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) who proposed the motion said: “The case for a 3rd Heathrow runway is based on a number of false claims, … a 3rd runway will create noise disturbance for a further 300,000 people and add to higher levels of air pollution in parts of London where air pollution already exceeds illegal levels. We can ensure we retain international connections without following the foolish option of the incredibly expensive third Heathrow runway.  A third Heathrow runway comes at a huge price that is simply not worth paying for.” Léonie Cooper (Labour) said the runway would “have a far-reaching impact on almost a million London households within the next 30 years….the current plans to mitigate its adverse effects on the surrounding environment and the health and social wellbeing of local communities are inadequate. It is clear that the potential costs and risks to Londoners outweigh the projected economic benefits of the expansion … the Government’s decision should be robustly opposed”. The Assembly “asks the Mayor to join with us to ensure that this threat to the health and environment of Londoners does not materialise.”

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Political fight over Heathrow brewing for the SNP (35 MPs in Parliament) in Scotland

With the final vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway expected within about 2 weeks, the political fight is intensifying, as the SNP have their conference on 8th and 9th June. It is important for the Heathrow vote, as the SNP (with 35 MPs) hold a potentially critical role – if they were to vote against the runway, it might be stopped – or only won by a tiny margin. Heathrow continues to throw money and the weight of its corporate lobbying at the SNP, schmoozing them at the conference, with an invitation-only event – as it has done at the other political conferences, trying to buy support and persuade MPs. By contrast with the hospitality and honey-tongued words by Heathrow in the conference, 3 residents who would lose their homes if the expansion goes ahead, drove for 13 hours overnight from Harmondsworth – to focus on engaging with SNP party members and politicians going into the conference. They spoke to several hundred, putting the case that the SNP should not be led astray by the promises of Heathrow – and many expressed concern at the party’s position of support for the runway,  due to environmental concerns and a preference to see the development of further direct air links from Scottish airports, and a dedicated air freight hub in Scotland.

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Simon Jenkins on Heathrow: Government support for this polluting 3rd runway is macho folly

Characteristically brilliant and incisive article by Simon Jenkins. Well worth reading it all. Just a few snippets here:  “The building of a third runway at Heathrow must be the worst decision taken by a British government in modern times. There is nothing in it but private profit for a Spanish company that appears to have the British cabinet in thrall. That a rich European city should expand rather than contract a major airport in a built-up area defies belief. … The project will further congest and pollute what is already one of the most choking parts of the capital. Its air quality is illegal. The runway will suck economic activity into London, and away from the provinces. It will cost billions in public money. It is so expensive that even Heathrow’s old ally, British Airways, now opposes it. … Air travel is overwhelmingly for leisure. Airports talk of “business use” because they are ashamed being part of the tourism industry, which Grayling never once mentioned. …Grayling promises that the new runway will not go ahead if Heathrow does not “meet the UK’s air quality commitment”. But he knows it won’t. He knows neither his department nor Heathrow has ever kept a promise of this sort. … [runway decision] resting not on its merits, but on whether Theresa May had the guts to push it through.”

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Labour knows the Heathrow 3rd runway plans fail their 4 tests – so may vote against the NPS

Theresa May’s plans for Heathrow expansion are facing an unpredictable Commons vote after Labour indicated that the runway plans do not pass its four key tests. These require (1). noise issues to be addressed, (2). air quality to be protected, (3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and (4). growth across the country supported.  Labour may refuse to vote for the plans when they come before MPs for a vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) – ie. the runway  – in the next 3-4 weeks. With Boris Johnson expected to be (so convenient …) “out of the country” and several Tory MPs voting against it, the government needs Labour and the SNP to vote in favour. However, Jeremy Corbyn’s office said the issues of air pollution, noise for residents, regional connections and greater capacity were crucial. The revised NPS, published on 5th June, is barely changed from the draft and does not include measures that convincingly pass the 4 tests. This suggests that Labour could either whip a vote against the 3rd runway plans or at least order its MPs not to back the Government. The SNP has not so far indicated if it will vote in favour, though they have become aware that the Heathrow runway is likely to damage Scotland and its airports. Labour and SNP MPs are concerned about yet more money being spent on London, rather than in the regions, and on the possible vast cost to taxpayers.

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Heathrow expansion will mean less direct international flights for Yorkshire, analysis shows

The Government faces considerable uncertainties in trying to push through the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, and get enough MPs to vote for it. Labour may oppose the plans, and  analysis showed northern airports will lose out on thousands of international flights if Heathrow got a 3rd runway. The government hopes they can mislead the SNP with pledges of huge benefits from the runway, based on out-of-date figures for possible economic benefit from the runway, and crazily calculated (back of envelope, starting with the wrong number) calculations about possible future jobs. It is likely that Leeds Bradford Airport would see 4,449 fewer international flights a year by 2030 if the 3rd runway went ahead. Doncaster Sheffield Airport would lose 1,413 while the North’s major hub – Manchester – would lose 20,258.  Keighley MP John Grogan, who requested the figures from the Commons Transport Committee, said Heathrow expansion would mean Britain’s regions losing out. The Labour MP also questioned the Government’s pledge to ring-fence 15% per cent of slots on the new runway for domestic connections to the rest of the UK. This can only happen if they are subsidised, and these flights almost always run at a loss.

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SNP “promised” 16,000 new jobs if it backs 3rd runway – but that figure is crazily inflated – as Heathrow & DfT well know

The Conservative government may need the SNP’s support if some of its MPs rebel against the new Heathrow runway – which is likely. The SNP will demand guaranteed extra slots for Scottish flights into London in return for the party’s support for the 3rd runway.  Ian Blackford, the head of the SNP’s parliamentary group in London, said the party had not taken a decision on runway yet – and would only do so if Scotland stood to benefit. Their backing may not be guaranteed, though that had been assumed – particularly after Keith Brown, Scotland’s infrastructure secretary, believed there might be 16,000 Scottish jobs, created by the project. That figure of 16,000 jobs is what Heathrow has, for several years, been peddling. Along with similarly inflated claims for all the regions. The number was derived by a consultancy called Quod, in a flimsy little 4 page paper, with no methodology, no date, no author etc. It is based on the assumption that Heathrow would provide an economic benefit (NPV) to the UK, over 60 years, of £147 billion. That number is now known to actually be about £3.3 billion, at best (if not a negative number). The SNP would be very ill-advised to believe Scotland will benefit; in reality its airports would be damaged by allowing the runway. Tragic if they vote in favour of it, because they have not checked out the facts properly.

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Government deal to bail out Heathrow if runway plan fails – possible massive cost to taxpayers

Back in October 2016, the government did a deal (The Statement of Principles) with Heathrow (HAL), in which there are clauses implying the government would bail out any costs to the airport, if it does not finally get government approval to expand. There is no end date for the agreement. Though the document states it is non-binding, the wording is ambiguous – a gold-mine for lawyers? Justine Greening revealed this massive risk to taxpayers in Parliament, saying Heathrow “have somehow managed to get a poisoned pill agreed by DfT that means the taxpayer has to cover all their costs if things go wrong.  Isn’t this the worst kind of nationalisation? The public sector and taxpayers bearing all the Heathrow downsides and risks but the private sector owning all of the upside and financial returns.” The Statement of Principles says:  “HAL reserves its rights (including but not limited to its rights to pursue any and all legal and equitable remedies (including cost recovery) available to it under law) in the event of: …. The withdrawal of the Government’s support for aviation expansion for Heathrow Airport only after the Secretary of State has stated that HAL’s Scheme is the scheme it prefers in accordance with paragraph 1 of Part 1.”  This was only mentioned in passing in the NPS and Justine is seek urgent clarity of the clause, in order to give an opportunity for the issue to be discussed in the House of Commons before MPs vote on the NPS proposal – within 3 weeks. 

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As expected, Government approves outline plan for a 3rd Heathrow runway – which will then face legal challenge

Cabinet ministers have today given the official go-ahead for Heathrow expansion. This was never in doubt, as it is government policy. The NPS (now no longer a draft) was “laid before” Parliament, so now MPs will have to vote on them within 21 Parliamentary sitting days. ie.  before Monday 9th July. Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor and Maidenhead borough council, said a coalition of four local authorities and Greenpeace would seek a legal review of the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, if MPs vote for the plans, as they are. approve unchanged plans. The councils (Windsor & Maidenhead, Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon – some of the boroughs worst affected by Heathrow noise and other impacts) want the government to “satisfactorily address concerns” over noise and air pollution. Mr Dudley said the councils will look at the proposals to see whether their significant concerns on flight paths, “respite”,  night flights and air pollution have been addressed. If they have not, there will be a legal challenge. Greenpeace and the authorities contend new evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution makes the expansion of Heathrow far less likely to pass a review.

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Do listen to this remarkable bit of video – a caller to LBC Radio, from Windsor.

There is plane coming in to Heathrow, over her house, about one per minute. The call to the radio station very clearly shows just what level of noise people living there have to put up with.   The UK government is not bothered by the impact of a larger Heathrow on hundreds of thousands of people, who live under its flight path. It is unconcerned about quality of life of those residents whole lives are blighted, and whose health is at risk, from a larger airport.
But in its blind Brexit panic, the government hopes building another Heathrow runway will somehow – not clear how – sort out the post-Brexit problems for the UK.   Bonkers.

Cabinet economic committee set for Heathrow 3rd runway decision, followed by Cabinet decision, followed by vote in Parliament within 21 working days


Controversial plans (the draft Airports NPS) for a 3rd Heathrow runway are set to be approved by ministers today, with the Cabinet’s economic sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May, signing off the plans. These would then be approved by the full Cabinet. Then the NPS is laid before Parliament, with a vote on it within 21 working day.  The timing is awkward, with Brexit issues dominant and divisions in government already, without adding this extra, deeply contentious, issue. Boris Johnson is the only Cabinet minister who is deeply opposed. But many Tory backbenchers are against it, and it is anticipated they will be complaining loudly in the coming weeks. Labour is divided on the issue, with many blindly accepting the myths of jobs and economic growth the runway (allegedly) might produce. Labour know the runway plans cannot pass the 4 tests they set for it.  The government doesn’t have a majority and remember, and wants to get this plan through the Commons by the end of June. If they can, it will be a demonstration of “look, we are getting on with things, it’s not just Brexit!”

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Call for the Competition & Markets Authority to investigate Heathrow, and its market power

The No 3rd Runway Coalition has written to Lord Andrew Tyrie, the new chair of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), asking why the proposed expansion of Heathrow has not been scrutinised by the competition authorities. Heathrow is, by far, already the largest and busiest airport in the country. And with even proponents of the scheme accepting that Heathrow expansion would impact significantly on the smaller regional airports in the market, the letter suggests that competition authorities have been inactive. This is particularly surprising because the Competition Commission (the antecedent authority of the CMA) had stated that Heathrow already enjoyed such “substantial market power” that it would require further review and regulation, in future – even without a third runway. That situation would be far worse with a 50% larger Heathrow.  Back in 2008, the then BAA had to sell off airports because it was seen to have too much market power – it sold Gatwick in October 2009, Edinburgh April 2012 and Stansted in January 2013 . The current government proposal to expand Heathrow would simply recreate that monopoly position, perhaps in an even worse form.

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Airlines do not want Heathrow to have control of building a 3rd runway – perhaps a “Buildco” instead?

British Airways and other airlines are hoping to take over building the possible 3rd Heathrow runway from the airport’s owner, because they do not want costs to escalate.  They do not think the government or CAA has enough control over Heathrow to ensure it controls the costs of the massive expansion project. Passenger charges and investor returns are based on the total value of Heathrow’s assets, (RAB) and this gives the perverse incentive for the airport not to keep its spending low.  The more it spends, the more its owners can earn. An investigation by The Sunday Times in March highlighted widespread concerns over Heathrow’s bloated spending. Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) told the Transport Committee’s inquiry in February that he had “zero” confidence that Heathrow’s operating company would deliver the project on time and on budget. He said it would be foolish to sign a “blank cheque”. To try to calm the airlines’ fears, and get them behind the runway plans, the airlines are proposing a special-purpose company, known as a “Buildco”, to deliver the project; Heathrow and the airlines would buy stakes in it. The government is trying to reassure the airlines by slightly increasing the CAA’s remit and powers.

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Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG (the main airlines using Heathrow) giving evidence at the Transport Select Committee, on the draft Airports NPS (National Policy Statement).  He and his airlines have NO confidence in the plans for a 3rd Heathrow, or the costs.  Details here

Heathrow expansion will increase landing charges. See these short video clip extracts from evidence given to the Commons Transport Committee on the draft Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow 3rd runway plans). Heathrow admits it is likely to put up costs.

More details of the evidence session at 

Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson & Justine Greening are threatening to rebel over Heathrow 3rd runway – with draft NPS laid before Parliament by mid-June

The Times has published a list, by Justine Greening MP, of 8 key reasons why there should NOT be a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Times journalists also comment that it is likely the government will present the revised draft Airports NPS  (ie. Heathrow runway proposal) to Parliament within two weeks.  MPs then have to vote on the NPS within 21 sitting days – so in order to get all this through Parliament before the summer recess (starts 20th July) they have to start soon…  Once the NPS has been approved, and adopted, the legal challenges against it can start. Only if Heathrow wins those can it start on details of planning its expansion. Justine Greening has been a long-term vociferous opponent of the runway. Boris Johnson has also been deeply opposed to it, but has not dared say anything publicly since being elevated to being Foreign Secretary.  When there is a vote, Theresa May might be forced to rely on opposition parties to pass the runway plan, though Labour is also threatening to withhold support. The vote will come soon after a series of bruising debates over the EU Withdrawal Bill, with Downing Street reluctant to expend political capital on anything other than Brexit.

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A 3rd Heathrow runway would benefit the few, not the many: Labour should oppose it

The government has apparently committed itself to backing the Heathrow 3rd runway, which will destroy local communities and make Heathrow far and away the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Labour has prevaricated and not yet taken a position on the runway issue. But it is now high time Labour took a stand against it. A hangover from the New Labour era is that there remain a number of Labour MPs who see backing a third runway as party policy. They support the runway for historic reasons and are reluctant to listen to the increasingly disparaging analysis of the project. Due to the huge rise in UK aviation CO2 emissions the runway would help generate, and its disproportionate social impacts, Labour should be opposing it. The runway cannot satisfy Labour’s four tests which the party has stipulated as the necessary basis for any support – so Labour should be obliged to oppose Heathrow expansion. The party should stick by its values, looking after citizens, rather than being driven by financial profit and more holidays for a privileged few.

People are encouraged to write to their MP and ask them to oppose Heathrow expansion at the vote in June. Everyone is welcome to the Vote No Heathrow open meeting on 12 June in London to learn more.

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Heathrow expansion under more scrutiny as Grayling broadens CAA’s oversight, trying to reassure airlines on runway costs

The Government has put more pressure on Heathrow to limit its expansion costs after broadening powers which enable the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the aviation industry regulator, to more closely scrutinise the airport’s plans. The airlines, and IAG in particular, are deeply sceptical about the cost of the 3rd runway, and how expensive it will be for them. They have no faith in Heathrow to be able to build its runway etc, for a reasonable price. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the CAA would now be able to seek views on the expansion of Heathrow from a wider range of stakeholders, and would also be able to benchmark the price of the project against international comparisons. The CAA’s oversight powers will see the regulator able to get the views of airlines which don’t yet operate from Heathrow, but hope to do so in future. Heathrow has already tried to make £2.5 billion savings in its plans, as the airlines refuse to stomach the £17 billion price. Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) said: “Heathrow is a monopoly with a history of gold-plating facilities and very high airport charges …. Benchmarking its cost proposals against similar schemes is critical and very welcome. It is imperative that Heathrow provides a full, detailed cost breakdown for expansion before Parliament votes on it this summer.”

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Heathrow and Grayling get business to lobby Theresa May (yet again) for fast decision in favour of 3rd runway

A number of business lobby groups have signed a letter to Theresa May, saying the government needs to “get on with expanding the UK’s airport capacity”. The letter has only been sent, due to Heathrow – and Chris Grayling – lobbying the companies to send it.  The same business groups have lobbied many times before, in favour of the 3rd runway. The claim is that, (despite all the financial uncertainties, the fact Heathrow is in the wrong location, and its immensely damaging environmental impacts) the runway will somehow help Britain cope with the problems Brexit will cause. The groups that put their name to the letter were the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, the EEF – The Manufacturers’ Organisation, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and airport expansion lobby group London First. The timing of the letter, which has been published by Heathrow, is particularly important, because Heathrow wants the required vote to approve the draft Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow 3rd runway) to go ahead as planned before September because then MPs will be more pre-occupied with Brexit. .

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Consultancy AvGen finds, yet again, Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet & Green” programme comes up with weird, incorrect, results

Heathrow has published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for 2018 Quarter1.  Unfortunately it seems determined to persist with the flaky arithmetic and absence of logic and common sense that characterised the results for previous quarters (which remain unaltered). For Q1, as with previous quarters, league table scores have again been inflated, this time by an average of around 44% compared to the results that are produced when Heathrow’s own published methodology and performance rankings are used.  Once again that increase has not been applied uniformly across all 50 airlines (a number of them have been awarded more than double the number of points that they merit), with the result that the relative league table positions are significantly altered. Below are some examples, from consultancy, AvGen, showing the arbitrary results – which do not appear to be based on much logic – of airlines being put into higher and lower rankings, based on their noise and emissions. By contrast with the Heathrow figures, those from AvGen show the greenest airline is Aer Lingus – not Scandinavian. The second greenest is Finnair, not LOT Polish Airlines. Curious that Heathrow does such odd things with the data ….

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Stansted long-haul flights could quadruple as airlines decide against waiting for slots at Heathrow

Stansted is planning to quadruple the number of long-haul flights it offers, as delays and uncertainty continue on whether there will be a Heathrow’s 3rd runway. Stansted, as London’s 3rd largest airport, is already expanding the number of long-haul services it offers, as it begins to shift away from being a traditional hub for short-haul tourist flights. Fly Emirates will start a daily service from the airport to Dubai next week, and Primera air has also announced four new transatlantic routes from Stansted to New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington that will start this year. Stansted wants others too and its Chief Executive Ken O’Toole said that up to 25 long-haul routes had been earmarked that eventually might take the total to 33 direct long-haul destinations.  It is building a new £130 million arrivals terminal, which will be complete in 2021. It is also applying to Uttlesford district council to lift the existing cap on passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million per year – about the same size as Gatwick. Stansted airport, owned by Manchester Airports Group, believes that airlines were being attracted to Stansted due to becoming frustrated with constraints at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

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Ofsted monitoring report highly critical of apprenticeship provider, Mooreskills, at Heathrow and apprenticeship quality

Heathrow has tried hard to persuade MPs that its 3rd runway would almost eradicate youth unemployment, and its scheme for more apprenticeships would be fantastically effective. One of Heathrow’s most often repeated claims as benefits for a 3rd runway is taking on 5,000 more apprentices, taking the number up to 10,000, by 2030. Now an assessment of its apprenticeship programme by Ofsted shows that  its apprenticeships were “not fit for purpose”. Inspectors found “insufficient progress” had been made in establishing and maintaining high-quality apprenticeship provision.  The report said progress of the vast majority of current apprentices is slow, and many who should have started in February had still not begun. Leaders had failed to ensure “they have sufficient training staff” with the “required competencies and skills to deliver the programmes”….“Far too many of the apprentices” at Heathrow were adversely affected by this shortage of qualified training staff. Many apprenticeships were in retailing and wholesaling.  Many were found to be “not fit for purpose”, and most received “a poor standard of training”.

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Beyond ICAO’s CORSIA: It will NOT deliver the necessary aviation CO2 cuts, and more ambition is needed for it to be effective

In a useful paper, Chris Lyle (with a long, impressive academic and industry pedigree) writes of how the ICAO’S CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) – that rather implausibly aims for “carbon-neutral growth” from 2020 onward – cannot produce a reduction in global aviation CO2 emissions. He instead suggests ways in which CORSIA needs to be modified, in order to more more ambitious – and achieve carbon reduction cuts from the sector. He suggests that the legal and governance framework and the implementation process of CORSIA should require the aviation CO2 emissions of each country to be part of their obligations under the Paris Agreement, and there should be a more a direct role for the UNFCCC in determining eligibility of emission units and alternative fuels. Much more ambition is needed, and even if the aviation industry manages to find “alternative” fuels that are genuinely environmentally sustainable (doubtful at any scale ….) they will not provide the carbon emission cuts required. Aviation should not be one of the only industries allowed to continue to increase its CO2 emissions, year after year. [Unfortunately, the UK is trying to claim it need not be concerned about aviation CO2, as it is all being adequately dealt with by the CORSIA scheme. It is not.]

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Heathrow Hub wants Grayling to make changes to Airports NPS to include their extended north runway scheme

Heathrow Hub is not giving up, and keeps pressing for the government to approve its concept of an “Extended Northern Runway” (ENR).  It has now submitted amended draft legislation to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, so that its ENR proposal can be implemented instead of Heathrow Airport’s north-west runway (NWR).  The backers of the Hub (who stand to make a lot of money, if their scheme was chosen) say the ENR scheme would be cheaper, simpler and “quieter” than the NWR. And they say it can be built in phases. Phase 1, costing £3.9bn and delivering 70,000 additional aircraft movements annually, would begin operations as soon as 2026, possibly 4 years ahead of the NWR scheme. There are differences in the numbers of homes needing to be demolished, and the number of people who would be forced to leave their homes. The amount of plane noise would be much worse for those currently under flight paths, but there would probably be fewer people newly exposed to aircraft noise.  Heathrow Hub’s lawyers have drafted suggested amendments to the National Policy Statement (NPS), due to be considered by Parliament in the summer.

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Guardian letter on costs of Heathrow runway to taxpayer

21st May 2018

Letter in today’s Guardian from Christina Smyth, of Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway group Government is about to pour maybe £10 billion into the south east if Parliament supports Heathrow expansion, whilst projects in the north of England are cancelled.

European Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution – referring UK to the European Court of Justice

The European Commission is stepping up its enforcement against 7 Member States who have breached agreed EU rules on air pollution limits.  It has now referred France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the UK to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to respect agreed air quality limit values and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The Commission is also issuing additional letters of formal notice to Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom on the grounds that they have disregarded EU vehicle type approval rules.  On NO2 pollution the UK, in 16 air quality zones, among them London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow air pollution limits were exceeded (with annual concentrations reported in 2016 as high as 102 µg/m3 in London).  In total, there are 13 NO2 level infringement cases pending against Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and the UK.  Today’s decision on Germany, France and the UK are the first ones to be referred to the Court. Suggestions to improve air quality are air quality standards, national emission reduction targets, and emission standards for key sources of pollution such as vehicles and industry.  Heathrow’s expansion would inevitably lead to worsened air pollution for miles around …

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Edinburgh airport overtakes Heathrow on number of domestic air passengers, though numbers falling overall for both

Heathrow has been trying to curry favour with regional airports, implying that they will get links to Heathrow if there is a 3rd runway. The reality is that many domestic flights are not profitable, and can only be maintained if subsidised by the industry or by government. Now figures show that Heathrow no longer has the largest number of domestic air passengers, having fallen behind Edinburgh. In the past 12 years the number of passengers on domestic flights, to or from Heathrow, has fallen by 28% – while overall passenger numbers rose by 26% (Heathrow and the airlines prefer to use the slots for more profitable flights). In 2017 it handled just over 13,000 domestic passengers per day, compared with over 18,000 in 2005. It now subsidises domestic passengers by £15 per trip. There has been a fall in domestic passengers using Edinburgh too, but only of 14% – so it has overtaken Heathrow.  Eight domestic airports are currently served from Heathrow. The only route to have been lost since 2005 is Durham Tees Valley, though frequency has dropped on many routes. Edinburgh airport says with its 12 direct long haul destinations, more passengers can avoid having to travel via Heathrow. Edinburgh airport (owned by GIP) is opposed to a Heathrow 3rd runway.

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Sonia Sodha: A radical way to cut aviation CO2 emissions – ration everyone’s flights, and if people want more they have to buy an allocation not being used by someone else

As people get richer, and the pull of cheap flights and increasing numbers of holidays and short breaks gets ever stronger, we need some way to curb the growth in demand for air travel. People will never voluntarily cut their trips. Sonia Sodha, knowing she and others need to be forced to do so, suggests an individual flights limit, that people can trade with others – along the lines of trading carbon allowances. She says “‘We’re only going to make a dent in climate change by doing something pretty radical.” … “Everyone could be given an air mile allowance – say enough for one long-haul return flight a year, or three short-haul flights, so people with families on the other side of the world could see them once a year. If you don’t want to use your allowance, you could sell it off in a government-regulated online marketplace. If you’re keen to do a holiday a month, you’ll have to buy your allowance from someone else.” Mind you, the amount she suggests per person is very high (far beyond what the climate could tolerate, and far beyond the ambition of keeping global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees C. But at least it is getting this concept discussed ….

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Gordon Dewar (CEO of Edinburgh airport): MSPs mistaken to back Heathrow ‘monopoly’ that harms Scottish airports

Gordon Dewar (CEO of Edinburgh airport, with same owners – GIP – as Gatwick, so not a fan of Heathrow expansion) says the Scottish Government made a mistake when it supported Heathrow’s third runway, which will create a “huge monopoly” in the South East and undermine Scotland’s airports. He says while Heathrow is spending a lot of time and money trying to get Scottish backing for its 3rd runway, the reality is that allowing Heathrow to become bigger would be “to the detriment of Scotland’s airports and Scottish travellers, and those around the UK for that matter.” He says while – in order to secure the Scottish Government’s support – Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye made a number of promises “about the appointment of Scottish suppliers and the use of Prestwick Airport as a logistics hub. He also promised 16,000 jobs, £200m of construction spend and £10m of cash to support route development in and out of Scotland.” ….Dewar says those backing Heathrow’s runway should “ask how those promises are being delivered and what safeguards are in place to ensure that they are.” (None?)

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Boss of Dubai Airports shows just how callous his industry is: wants Heathrow open 24/7 regardless of noise…

Heathrow and its airlines are extremely unwilling to get rid of night flights, regardless of how much health damage (and reduction in quality of life) they cause to people overflown. Now Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, shows clearly just how little the industry cares about the welfare of residents, or the opinions of those negatively affected by his industry. Talking to the Independent, he asked: “Why is the UK persisting with all these restrictions on operating hours? …. imagine all that investment, all that amazing infrastructure sitting idle for a third of the day [which, of course, it is not – flights operate till after 11pm and start at 4.30am…] “ He seems to want people to believe that new “quieter” aircraft (only marginally less noisy than those now) will make all the difference …  He also wants Heathrow to work in “mixed mode” for both runways, to get the maximum number of flights.  The naked, uncaring, unreconstructed capitalism is stark.  MPs take note – this is the sort of man who runs airlines, and wants Heathrow to do their bidding, at the expense of Londoners etc. [Akbar Al Baker, Heathrow board member and CEO of Qatar Airways, did the same in 2014 – to Heathrow’s embarrassment…]

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German study shows link between aircraft noise (day or night) and atrial fibrillation

With an increasing level of noise, the incidence of atrial fibrillation also increases dramatically. From a study of 15,000 men and women aged 35 to 74 in Germany, scientists found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in subjects who reacted to noise with extreme annoyance increased to 23%, compared to 15% without the noise. Looking at the proportion of sources of extreme noise pollution, aircraft noise came first with 84% during the day and 69% during sleep. The results were published recently in the International Journal of Cardiology. Other studies have shown the link between noise (that may be causing anger, disturbed sleep, exhaustion or stress) that impairs wellbeing, health (including cardiovascular disease), and the quality of life. There is probably a link between cardiac impacts and noise, even when the person is not aware of being made irritated or angry by the noise. The increase in atrial fibrillation may be the reason why there is a connection between noise and strokes. The ban in night flights at Frankfurt from 11pm to 5am did not lead to less noise annoyance, but more – as the overall number of flights did not reduce. Noise was worse than before between 10-11pm and 5-6am.

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Election candidates line up to support campaign against Heathrow expansion

150 candidates standing for the local elections on Thursday 3 May have lined up to back the campaign opposing expansion Heathrow. The election pledge issued by No 3rd Runway Coalition, to candidates, called for their support for the campaign against Heathrow expansion – if they are elected later this week.  81 candidates from Hillingdon and 65 candidates from Hounslow have had their pictures taken with the anti-expansion pledge. Support is strong across all the political parties, including the Conservatives and Labour in both boroughs. The Liberal Democrats and Green parties are national, long-standing opponents of the expansion plans. According to campaigners, the keenness of the large number of election candidates to have their picture taken with the pledge echoes the recent referendum on Heathrow expansion held in Richmond and Hillingdon, which saw voters reject the plans by 72%, with just 28% in favour. Election candidates realise there is low support for a 3rd runway in their boroughs, and not only in Hillingdon and Hounslow but far more widely – in boroughs such as Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kingston and well beyond.

Hillingdon Conservative candidates photographed with the pledge.

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Heathrow now claiming (!!?) its 3rd runway would cut number of suicides in the regions, (due to a few short term jobs…)

Heathrow somewhat “scraping the bottom of the barrel” here.  Heathrow is trying to make out that providing a little work for people, currently with insecure jobs, in the regions, will reduce the suicide risk. Heathrow says components will (sic) be assembled off-site at one of the hubs before being transported in consolidated loads to Heathrow as they are needed. Heathrow Airport expansion delivery director Rob Ewen told the New Civil Engineer Airport’s conference that rebalancing workers’ quality of life could address the industry’s suicide rates, which are higher than any other trade…. Bit of a long shot ….. ?  Heathrow has dangled the carrot of four “manufacturing hubs” in the regions, where some materials for the expansion of the airport, would be made or assembled etc.  To do this, the regions trying to be chosen for the hub sites have to support Heathrow expansion, be uncritical of it etc.  Out of all the dozens of applicants, probably only four will be chosen – with no decision made any time soon. Fair enough, a few short term jobs would be created. But does this really justify a claim about suicides?   Would the jobs be secure, long-term, well paid, with a career structure?  Time will tell.  Just another of the claims made about jobs …. which often fall far short of what is anticipated …

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Drivers for miles around Heathrow could face £15 congestion charge, to TRY and keep to legal air pollution limits

Holidaymakers who drive to Heathrow could soon be hit with a congestion charge, as the airport needs to try to persuade tourists – those going on holiday or visiting friends and family – to leave their cars at home, in order not to make local air pollution any worse. Critics have said the proposed move is unfair because as much as 80 miles of roads, in the Heathrow vicinity, could be impacted. This would inevitably have a very negative impact on road users who are not associated with the airport, going about their usual activities. The level of the proposed charge is unknown – it would have to be quite high in order to sufficiently deter travellers, (up to £15 perhaps?) for whom air travel demand is “inelastic” ie. not much affected by price.  Reacting to this proposal, Robert Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “This latest additional Heathrow charge simply highlights a critical problem with expanding Heathrow: air pollution targets would be so difficult to meet that the airport will have to whack travellers and families with a £15 charge for accessing the airport by car.”  Without drastic measures to restrict road traffic in the  areas, significantly worsened air pollution is likely – where limits are already regularly beached.

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The true aircraft noise impacts of an expanded Heathrow means at least 973,000 households, or 2.2million people, would be impacted.

Chris Grayling dodged these facts presented by @RuthCadbury & @AdamAfriyie at transport questions in Parliament on 19th April.…/32239dd3-409c-4e11-a7f2-4e7…… (9.47 mins in till 9.51 )

Grayling merely gave a response, written for him ?? by the DfT, with the usual stuff. He admits there will be more noise “for a few years” after the 3rd runway would open, before a new generation of “quieter” planes come into service. He seems to believe they will all be new “quiet” planes by the early 2030s. (But new planes take years to come into service, and older planes have at least a 30 year lifespan …)_

And these new “quieter” planes are only a few decibels less noisy than older generation ones. To the person hearing them, living below flight paths, it is still a very noisy plane going overhead (even if a fraction less than planes a decade or more earlier). Grayling, Sugg etc really seem not to understand the issues. They badly want NOT to understand the problem!

Stop Stansted Expansion raises night flights and ‘noise nightmare’ concerns over airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says the airport wants to change conditions which have prevented it from lobbying government for more night flights. The plans were “buried” within its planning application to expand its annual throughput of passengers from 35 million to up to 43m. It claimed it was “a clandestine attempt to betray the community”, as it raised concerns about sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights. “For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region,” said SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey. “Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next 10 years as a condition of expansion.” The airport says it is not seeking any change to current night flight limits, [as the limit is already set above current usage.]  SSE are also concerned that the long haul and freight aircraft which airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is hoping to attract to Stansted are “typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there” and with less stringent night noise controls, these could become a serious noise problem for local residents.

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Spelthorne sets out list of demands for Heathrow to protect its residents – if there was a 3rd runway

Spelthorne Council has been a backer of Heathrow expansion for some time, as has its MP, Kwasi Kwateng. Now the council has set out a list of 10 demands from Heathrow, if there is a 3rd runway, n its response to its recent consultation.  These include a  requirement that residents in Stanwell Moor and Stanwell join the Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) and that no immigration centre is built in the borough. They want to “secure the best possible outcomes for our residents and businesses, in particular those most affected in Stanwell Moor and Stanwell.” Some of the demands are that residents will be able to either stay in the area or sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Also that Heathrow will pay for the introduction of a Controlled Parking Zone across Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, so residents would not have to pay for a fee for their annual parking permit. The Council wants community legacy benefits so Heathrow will “fully mitigate and compensate for the disruption, loss of open space, additional traffic, air quality and noise impacts, and removal of community buildings.” They want Heathrow to build an “enhanced multi-purpose community hall” and a new leisure centre for the community. And demands on surface access, noise, air quality, Staines Moor and much else besides.

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AEF comment on the DfT’s Aviation Strategy – environmental impacts must be central to policy, not an add-on

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has commented on the Government’s Aviation Strategy, produced on 7th. They say that while the UK aspires “to be a world leader in aviation when it comes to facilities and services, the same cannot be said for environmental protection, at least when it comes to climate change. A world-class package of environmental protection doesn’t currently seem to be on the agenda.” They say “The Aviation Strategy objectives should include an environmental objective that is not wrapped up in a commitment to growth, and the implications of this objective should be considered from the start.” AEF reiterate that aviation’s “unlimited growth is incompatible with achieving environmental commitments” and the DfT is not even questioning whether aviation growth was a positive outcome to aim for. Instead of the 3 separate consultations on aspects of UK aviation policy over the next 18 months, (with environment at the end) there will be a single Green Paper this autumn. The AEF hopes this allows for environmental impacts to be considered throughout the period of policy development and not as an afterthought (as it originally appeared). The DfT policy is focused on airline passengers and improving the service to them, but it should instead be in the interest of the whole population, including those affected by airports and aircraft.

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IMO: Shipping sector agrees to tackle its CO2 but faster action needed to meet Paris climate goals (aviation still avoiding real CO2 cuts)

International shipping and international aviation are the two sectors omitted from the Paris Agreement. But now the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has agreed on an initial strategy to decarbonise international shipping and reduce CO2 emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050. The agreement keeps a window open for the sector to help meet the Paris climate goals. Though a welcome first step, the IMO must now build on the agreed minimum target of 50% reductions in subsequent reviews to comply with its fair share of emissions under the Paris Agreement. Aviation still only intends to offset the carbon emissions from its anticipated fast future growth, rather than actually reduce them. Kelsey Perlman, speaking for the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) said:  “Today’s outcome puts international shipping ahead of aviation … [it] should light a fire under ICAO, which has been dragging its feet for over a decade on a vision for long-term decarbonization, arriving only at the mid-term emissions target of carbon neutral growth from 2020 levels. The agreement on shipping emissions today should make people question whether aviation’s emissions should be allowed to grow with no concrete plan to decarbonize.”

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CAA data, only obtained through FoI request, shows about 2.2 million people would be affected by noise from a 3 runway Heathrow

Over 2 million people could be affected by noise from an expanded Heathrow according to secret documents obtained by campaigners. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had previously claimed in October 2016 that an expanded Heathrow (up to 50% more flights) would be quieter in 2030 than today. This claim (obviously ludicrous) was not repeated in the revised draft consultation on the Airports National Policy statement (NPS) published in October 2017. This predicted that 92,700 additional people in the area around Heathrow would be exposed to noise by 2030 as a consequence of the 3rd runway. Now, following an FOI request for the noise data contained in the CAA’s economic analysis, a new figure emerges of 972,957 households who would experience greater noise by 2060. This is the time frame for the full introduction of ‘quieter’ (= slightly less noisy) planes. Based on CAA assumptions on household size this figure is equivalent to 2.2 million people. The third runway, if approved, is expected to be fully open by 2028. At this point it is claimed that a maximum of 90% of the aircraft fleet would have been updated.  This excludes many of the noisier four-engine planes. It is likely therefore that at this point the numbers of people experiencing increased noise would be significantly higher.

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Reality Check: Why politicians should reject the Heathrow 3rd runway. Excellent 2 page summary by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson

For a masterful summary (2 pages with all references) of the reasons why the UK government should not be persuaded into allowing a 3rd Heathrow runway, see this briefing by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson, from Transport for Quality of Life. They sum up all the ways in which the business case for the runway is flawed and the environmental case rests on hugely optimistic assumptions. They list these as: “planes will get cleaner and quieter at a faster rate than has previously been expected; cars and vans will also get dramatically cleaner; freight movements will somehow be optimised; the latest National Air Quality Plan will deliver all anticipated air quality improvements; the fledgling international aviation carbon offsetting scheme will generate a high enough carbon price; the national Aviation Strategy (not yet written) will come up with cost-effective mechanisms for constraining aviation emissions further; the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise will prove effective; a review of airspace (that has not taken place for over 40 years, as it is so controversial) will take place soon; HS2, Crossrail and the Piccadilly line upgrades will attract air passengers and airport staff in sufficiently large numbers; funding will be found for Western and Southern rail access; etc. It seems very unlikely that all of these will fall into place.” 

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Government Aviation Strategy put back from “end of 2018” to “first half of 2019”

The Government’s Aviation Strategy will now not be presented to Parliament until summer 2019 despite the initial consultation in July 2017 promising the full strategy to be presented to Parliament “before the end of 2018”.  The reason for the delay is unclear but campaigners say the strategy could in fact be put in jeopardy because of its reliance on Heathrow expansion – a project which has major parliamentary and legal hurdles to overcome. Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:  “This strategy is written on the basis that Heathrow expansion is a done deal. It is in fact very uncertain with parliamentary and legal hurdles which it will struggle to overcome. The Government seems hell-bent on expanding Heathrow, despite evidence that alternative options for growth in the sector would bring a greater benefit to regions across the UK and not just in the south east, as usual.”  It has always been profoundly unsatisfactory, and illogical, for a key part of the UK aviation sector – Heathrow airport – being decided upon BEFORE the UK aviation policy for the whole sector.  Rationally, it would be the other way round – aviation policy first, and then decide on whether Heathrow should expand.

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DfT publishes Aviation Strategy, with focus on growth and helping passengers – little on environmental impacts

The government has published its Aviation Strategy, which the DfT says “will set out the longterm direction for aviation policy to 2050 and beyond.” The first phase of its development was the publication of a call for evidence in July 2017. The Aviation Strategy says it will now “pursue 6 objectives, which are unchanged following the consultation.” It is very much focused on the passenger, the passenger experience, helping the aviation industry, expanding aviation and “building a global and connected Britain.”  The Strategy “sets out further detail on the challenges associated with these objectives and some of the action that the government is considering and which will form part of further consultation later in the year.” The DfT says:  “The government will continue the dialogue that has already begun on these issues. The next step will be the publication of detailed policy proposals in a green paper in the autumn of 2018. This will be followed by the final Aviation Strategy document in early 2019.” There is mention of the environmental problems (carbon, noise, air pollution) but they are given scant attention, and it is presumed they can all be reduced – even while the sector has huge growth. A new runway at Heathrow is assumed to happen.

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New study shows dramatic increase in Heathrow flight numbers (= noise) over parts of SE London

A new study Corridors of Concentration, published by HACAN and Plane Hell Action,  reveals a dramatic increase in the number of flights over many areas of South East London in recent years. It also found that flight paths have become more concentrated. The study was carried out to highlight the current impact of aircraft noise on south east London and to influence the policy debate by feeding into Heathrow’s recent consultation on future flight path design. Over a dozen areas from Clapham Common to Greenwich were surveyed, and the number of aircraft audible from each location recorded. The study found that the area is heavily overflown, with typically 38 planes an hour audible to many communities.  This could rise to over 40 during busy periods. Due to increasing concentration, some communities are especially badly hit. The study concluded many more planes are joining their final approach corridors further east than before and are more concentrated within those corridors.  People living south of the Thames are experiencing an increased density of turning aircraft over their homes. The study recommends that flight paths need to be varied more, and the practice of concentrating night flights over particular communities should be avoided. See the whole study for details.

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Andy Slaughter: The case against Heathrow expansion keeps getting stronger – but will the government listen?

The publication of the Transport Select Committee (TSC) report into the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) has been interpreted by the government and Heathrow as a green light for expansion to proceed. Whilst the TSC recognised the strategic case for a third runway, the real story is the significant shift in position from a select committee that has long been supportive of a expansion to one that is highly critical of the lack of detail in the plans. The robust list of recommendations in the TSC report highlights areas where significant work is still required before the government bring the final NPS to parliament for a vote. The TSC report also includes several additional conditions of approval to be included in the final version of the NPS on air quality, surface access, connectivity, costs and charges, noise, community impacts, resource and waste management. The NPS is the document against which the Heathrow planning application will be judged, and if it lacks sufficient detail on these key issues then it will not be strong enough to hold the airport to account. There is little evidence to suggest that parliament can have confidence in simply trusting Heathrow.  I “urge my parliamentary colleagues to read the TSC report. Those who do will understand why they should vote against the NPS when it is brought to parliament.”

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CAGNE writes to Chief Medical officer on health dangers of approx 14,000 annual Gatwick night flights

CAGNE, (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions), has written to the Chief Medical Officer Health of the Department of Health and Social Care, Professor Dame Sally Davies, asking for research to be undertaken to the true cost to health of night flights on communities surrounding Gatwick.  Gatwick currently has permission to fly 14,250 flights at night per year with no restrictions on the number of arrivals and departures they are permitted to fly over sleeping rural communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent during the hours of 11.30pm and 6am. CAGNE said: “There has been international research into the health impacts of night flights and the conclusions have shown that aircraft night movements have serious ramifications on the wellbeing of communities.  And yet Gatwick is allowed to fly the most night flights of any airport in the UK today with no cost evaluation to the NHS budgets or wellbeing of people who suffer sleep deprivation due to aircraft movements at night.” Gatwick has the most night flights of any UK airport. It has only made token gestures to reduce the night noise over rural communities that surround it.  Residents have a normal expectation of having a full night’s sleep of 8 hours sleep as recommended by Sleep Foundation, but for too many this is not possible.

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“Deliberately misleading” on Heathrow economics. It’s not NEF but the Dept for Transport…

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has published a report on the economics of the Heathrow 3rd runway. They looked at the DfT’s figures (all publicly available material) and have concluded that the runway is a very bad bet economically for the UK. Using the Government’s own formula for assessing transport schemes, Heathrow expansion along proposed lines would be rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value for money.  At best, in net present value (NPV) terms, building the North West Runway (NWR) at Heathrow would yield an economic benefit of £3.3 billion. At worst, in net terms there would not only be no economic benefit whatsoever, but a significant financial cost of up to £2.2 billion, to be borne either by the airport, its investors, airlines, passengers or perhaps even government (ie. then taxpayers). Andrew Pendleton, one of the authors of the report, commented: “it is not us that now forecast a worst-case scenario for Heathrow expansion of £2.2 billion of net costs, but the DfT. Similarly, it isn’t NEF that has thrown out a whole set of models produced for the 2015 Airports Commission, but the Government’s own analysts at the DfT.” If Heathrow has to satisfy the caveats required in the Transport Committee report, the costs of the runway would be even higher (and net  benefit even lower). The DfT and the government continue to push for the runway – but NEF says they should think again. 

The report – “Flying Low – the true costs of Heathrow’s runway” 

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Negative impacts of Heathrow expansion to economy and the regions highlighted in new report

A report on Heathrow’s third runway plans has revealed that the impact on the economy is likely to be negative with significant concerns about potential costs falling on taxpayers. Indeed, using the Government’s own methodology the scheme would be rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value. The report “Flying Low: The True Cost of Heathrow’s Third Runway”, by the New Economics Foundation, was commissioned by the No Third Runway Coalition to examine the Government’s own data and analysis that has been used to justify their position of support for the north west runway at Heathrow. It found that airports outside London would experience a reduction in aviation traffic which would, in turn, at the very least lead to “grow more slowly” and could in fact lead to lead to a reduction in jobs at airports in regions across the UK, through displacing of jobs from other (regional) airports, as well as from other sectors. The report also identified that a ‘more targeted’ approach was needed to support a UK-wide air freight strategy. Chair of the Coalition, Paul McGuinness commented: “Further, it must be unacceptable for Heathrow to claim their proposals will be privately financed whilst seeking protections from the public purse for potential delays in construction and inaccuracies in passenger demand forecasts.”

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Heathrow 3rd runway: CO2 emissions still the elephant in the room, which MPs should not ignore

The Transport Select Committee (TSC) recently released their report on the government’s plans to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow. It shows how the plan is completely incompatible with the UK’s climate obligations. Yet the carbon emissions from a 50% larger Heathrow were given the briefest of mentions in the summary, and crucial issues are tucked away in the final annex of the TSC report. The Campaign Against Climate Change has explained some of the dubious assumptions being made by the DfT, in order to imply carbon is not a key limiter of the scheme. One assumption is that CO2 emissions from air travel can be excluded from calculations of economic impact – but the CO2 from flights is over 96% of emissions resulting from aviation. Then there is the assumption that carbon trading is an effective way of compensating for the increase in aviation emissions. The DfT hopes – unjustifiably – that aviation CO2 can be ignored, since they will be completely removed through carbon trading. The Committee on Climate Change has consistently warned against relying on carbon trading. And there is the assumption that biofuels could be used to reduce aviation CO2. The only economically viable fuel would be palm oil, with devastating environmental impacts. MPs voting on the NPS need to be aware of these facts.

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How Heathrow is happy to pay way over the odds, to increase its RAB, allowing more revenue

The City Editor of the Financial Times, Jonathan Ford, has written about how the reasons for Heathrow’s anticipated costs for its possible 3rd runway.  The cost of £17 billion, or now £15 billion are exceptional. But Jonathan explains how Heathrow’s investors seem happy to spend so much. It is because of the curious incentives that operate in the topsy-turvy world of utility financing. As with most ventures that have monopolistic aspects, Heathrow is not subject to ordinary restraints on capital expenditure. The principal check is the willingness of the airport’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to sign off on the mechanism by which these costs can be recovered from captive airline customers through passenger charges. Heathrow often pays far above the going rate for building, new technology etc, because this adds to the airport’s regulated asset base (RAB) on which it gets an allowed return, and thus permits it predictably to expand its own revenues. Since taking over BAA in 2006, Ferrovial has been extremely active, tripling Heathrow’s RAB to £15bn. It is a system that has allowed the airport’s owners to finance these expansions with vanishingly little equity capital. Heathrow is encouraged to fund everything with debt by a regulatory system that allows it to keep the gains from financial engineering. Heathrow’s owners hope to shrug off the risks of completion, but transfer them on to customers.

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Transport Committee demands serious changes to Government’s Heathrow case before any vote in Parliament

The Commons Transport Committee has produced the report on its inquiry into the Draft Airports NPS (ie. on the proposal for a 3rd Heathrow runway). The report states: “Once costs are considered, the net economic benefits for the NWR [North West Runway] scheme are relatively small at a maximum of £3.3 billion over 60 years and in fact, may be negative if future demand falls.”  It highlights the absence of a large amount of necessary material from the Government’s draft NPS; it demands that evidence must be presented to show that the scheme is both affordable and deliverable – before any vote is put to MPs. The report contains a highly critical assessment of the cost to the taxpayers, passengers and airlines of expansion.  There was also expression of major concerns about the lack of clarity on surface access proposals and costs on the rerouting of the M25, the methodology of calculating air pollution impacts and a considerably more radical approach on noise impacts. Though a NPS was expected to be put to Parliament before the summer recess in July, there must be evidence clarifying the number of areas of concern before MPs should be asked to vote. It is unlikely the necessary information could be obtained in time for an early summer vote – or even one in 2018.

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Mayor of London Transport Strategy opposes Heathrow runway, unless there are firm assurances on air pollution, noise and surface access

The Mayor of London has published the Transport Strategy for London, which sets out the Mayor’s policies and proposals to reshape transport in London over the next two decades. The Strategy is firmly opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Its section on Heathrow states:  “The demand generated by the current airport combined with local traffic already place considerable strain on the roads and railways serving the airport and contribute to levels of NO2 that are well in exceedance of legal limits. The Mayor considers that, as a result of the additional flights and associated traffic, any expansion at Heathrow would significantly impair London’s ability to meet international air quality obligations in the shortest possible timescale and would contribute to an overall worsening of air quality relative to the situation without expansion. Heathrow already exposes more people to significant aircraft noise than its five main European rivals combined, and the proposed increase in flights cannot avoid many people being newly exposed to significant noise. Moreover, it would be unacceptable if the air quality gains secured by the Mayor and the potential noise improvements as a result of new technologies were not allowed to accrue to local communities to improve public health, but were instead used to enable expansion of Heathrow airport.”

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Stop Stansted Expansion asks Government to call in the airport’s expansion plans, or face a JR

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) have written a 36-page letter to the Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajiv Javid MP, asking formally for call-in of the application by Stansted for expansion.  They include District Council incompetence, bias and a series of statutory planning grounds, as reasons why the airport’s expansion plans should be determined nationally – rather than locally by Uttlesford District Council (UDC).  SSE has also made clear that refusal by the Secretary of State to call-in the application will trigger an application for Judicial Review in the High Court.  SSE is concerned that UDC has taken a blinkered approach to the rules for considering the application in its desire to do the airport’s bidding. UDC sees potential gain for itself, even though the planned expansion would be at the expense of not only the Uttlesford villages and market towns it is meant to serve, but communities further afield in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. SSE’s barrister, a planning expert  Paul Stinchcombe QC of 39 Essex Chambers has identified that UDC has erred in law in its interpretation of the rules by not recognising the application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. If the Stansted  application was approved, it would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to 2017.

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“If the government wishes to get serious on clean air, by adopting stronger measures … a 3rd Heathrow runway simply can’t proceed”

The Cross-Parliamentary EFRA Committee report on Improving Air Quality, released on 15th March, calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals on clean air that unify and update existing laws in a new Clean Air Act. This includes whether to adopt WHO air quality guidelines for all pollutants. The report also states that the latest air quality plan will not “deliver improvements at a pace and scale proportionate to the size of the challenge.” The High Court agrees. Significant improvements to the plan, and to the Government’s wider approach to air quality, are needed to protect the public from toxic air and that the Government’s forthcoming action plan “must ensure air quality policies are properly aligned with public health and climate change goals.” Reacting, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said:  “If the government wishes to get serious on clean air, by adopting stronger measures … a 3rd runway at Heathrow simply can’t proceed. As it is, Heathrow already regularly exceeds Nox and particulates targets. And even the government’s best-case scenario for an expanded Heathrow expects there to be a “high risk” that air quality targets will be breached. If the government wishes to signal a purer intent on air quality, abandonment of this project would at least represent a meaningful start.”

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Heathrow owners urged to stop huge payouts to investors – and strengthen its own finances instead

The Sunday Times says in 2017 Heathrow’s debt totalled £13.7 billion, and it is under pressure to cut its huge dividends for its shareholders, if it was allowed to build a £14bn? (£17bn?) 3rd runway. Ministers and airlines are demanding that Heathrow keeps landing charges down, which would mean the regulator, the CAA, capping dividends. Instead the airport would have to use spare funds for the runway project, and to strengthen its finances. Heathrow paid over £3bn in dividends since its buyout in 2006. Combined with a huge building projects, including two terminals, this has increased its debt to £13.7bn. Last year Heathrow paid more than £560m in interest, plus £525m in dividends, and it approved another £114m payout to shareholders last month. The Sunday Times says that could leave its balance sheet vulnerable if the runway project hits difficulties or the aviation industry suffers a downturn. The runway would almost double the size of Heathrow’s £15.8bn asset base. The shareholders gain from take-off and landing charges, which add about £20 to each passenger’s ticket.  A cap by the CAA on Heathrow’s gearing (a measure of debt as a proportion of the value of assets) would ban dividends if borrowings went above a certain level. Heathrow’s gearing is now 87% (far higher than similar businesses) and it wants to increase this ratio up to 93%.

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Sunday Times commentary on Heathrow: the cash machine with an airport attached

The Sunday Times reports that under a complex (perverse) incentive system, Heathrow is encouraged to spend as much as it can on developing the site. Heathrow’s investors earn returns based on the size of its “regulatory asset base” (RAB), under a formula set by the CAA.  So the more the airport spends, the more its owners can earn. It gives an example of £74,000 to cut down 3 trees, which is at least 20 times the normal price. These costs of developing the airport are recouped through passenger charges, and also set off against UK tax. The Sunday Times questions the efficiency, governance and transparency of the management of Heathrow.  It says the airport is demanding an insurance policy against the risk that the project goes wrong, and wants the CAA to ensure it will be compensated by airlines and passengers if there are unanticipated difficulties (eg. construction delays, or lower than anticipated passenger numbers or revenue). Scrutiny of Heathrow’s spending has been inadequate, there is no audit of the RAB, to show how the figure of £15.8bn for the expansion project is calculated, and Heathrow has not provided a detailed cost breakdown for the runway plans. There are past examples of excessive costs eg. the T2 car park at £61,000 per place, or a smoking shelter at T2 that which was priced at £450,000, but finally cost £1m.

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True cost of Heathrow 3rd runway to the public purse must be revealed, say MPs

The true cost to the taxpayer of building a 3rd Heathrow runway at Heathrow has not been spelled out to the public, according to a cross-party group of MPs, who warn that domestic flight connections and other transport spending will be jeopardised. Justine Greening and Vince Cable are among those saying the plan would jeopardise spending elsewhere, who are calling on the government to clarify the costs to the public purse.  They also want clarity on what benefits the runway would actually bring. In a letter to the Guardian, MPs and councils around Heathrow warn that promised unprofitable domestic flight connections to an  expanded Heathrow would only work with state subsidies, that could not be guaranteed in perpetuity. Additionally, more than £10 billion in additional rail and road spending to support a bigger airport would have to be funded by taxpayers, not Heathrow. Having muted her opposition to Heathrow while in the cabinet, Greening, the MP for Putney and a former transport secretary, told the Guardian that Scottish support for the third runway was misplaced. “The SNP need to wake up to the threat that an expanded Heathrow poses to Scotland … A more expensive Heathrow means fewer connections. People in Scotland won’t understand why the Scottish government think that’s a good idea to support.”

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Letter from MPs & Council Leaders: 3rd Heathrow runway would be bad for the UK

A long list of MPs, Council leaders and senior political figures have an open letter, published in the Guardian, on how taxpayers right across the UK, including those living hundreds of miles away from the south-east, would pay for the expansion of Heathrow. They say lots of promises have been made to lots of people in different parts of the country about the extra domestic routes they can expect if a third Heathrow runway is built. It’s all part of a divide-and-rule strategy which glosses over the health impacts of worsening noise and air pollution in south and west London while cheerily talking up the prospects of improved internal connections from an expanded hub airport. They say the Transport Secretary has a duty to spell out the true costs for taxpayers – and to be realistic about the benefits. On more regional flights, the letter points out that it is airlines, not airports, which decide which routes to fly, and no minister can guarantee in perpetuity the taxpayer subsidies that would be needed to keep “unprofitable” routes open. If the airport is “full” within a few years, it is likely the unprofitable domestic routes would be the first to be cut, so airlines can focus on more profitable point-to-point operations. None of today’s “promises” or assurances can be relied on.

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Chris Grayling challenged by 4 Councils to spell out Heathrow 3rd runway noise impacts

Leaders of some of the Councils worse affected by Heathrow have now called on the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to say how many years of extra noise he expects local communities to suffer, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. The Government has so far refused to release updated noise assessments for the 4 years following the new runway’s expected opening in 2026, to 2030. These were prepared for the revised draft National Planning Statement (NPS) but not included as part of the October 2017 consultation.  Chris Grayling told the Transport Select Committee in February that there would be a “short period of time” when the airport would have an expanded noise footprint. If less noisy planes come into service, to help Heathrow deal with its massive noise problem, that will not be until 2030.  The Government has previously stated that a 3 runway Heathrow would (implausibly) be “quieter than today.” People who will be overflown have a right to know what these increased noise levels would be, how long they would last and how many people’s lives would be affected. The councils have highlighted the lack of detail on noise in a further submission to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into Heathrow expansion. The Committee’s report to Parliament is expected shortly.

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Hounslow reiterates its belief that Heathrow needs to be better (noise, air pollution, traffic) – not bigger

Hounslow Council submitted its response to the two current Heathrow consultations (they are just by the airport, not official). Hounslow insists that it wants a better, not a bigger, Heathrow – and it is concerned about the noise, air quality and transport access issues.  Hounslow say that while they want the airport to be successful, as it is important to the borough, they are opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by additional flights, addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights. The Council would like to see a complete ban on night flights across an 8-hour period between 11pm and 7am. Heathrow is only willing to accept a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights (so unscheduled flights could continue).  Hounslow have called into question the credibility of the surface access strategy put forward by Heathrow and in particular to its ‘no more traffic pledge’, given that no additional public transport is proposed to achieve this. They say this raises important questions about whether air quality can be improved to meet legal limits if expansion happens. The council say they are also extremely disappointed that its proposal for a link to the South Western Railway network from Feltham station, including the addition of a new station at Bedfont is not alluded to in any way in the proposals.

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Company has plan for high speed rail, linking HS1 with HS2, via Gatwick and Heathrow

An engineering consultancy, called Expedition, has proposed a new high-speed railway passing both Gatwick and Heathrow, starting at the HS2 line near Denham north of Heathrow, and ending at Ashford in Kent.  Expedition says it is called HS4Air and  the plan has been developed to enhance other major infrastructure projects for the south east. It would cost £10 billion and would connect the existing HS1 rail line with the planned HS2 along a route that passes via London’s biggest airports. Alistair Lenczner, director at Expedition leading the development of the HS4Air proposal, said discussions are currently ongoing with a number of interested parties, spanning both national and regional bodies. The line would be 140km long, and about 20% of it would run in tunnels – to avoid too big an environmental impact. Around 40% of the route re-uses the existing Network Rail railway between Tonbridge and Ashford.  Expedition hopes that HS4Air would allow rail and aviation infrastructure projects in south east England that are currently unconnected to become joined-up, and mean rail passengers would be able to travel to both airports on “fast regular services” from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without needing to switch trains.

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No 3rd Runway Coalition evidence to Transport Committee on hugely underestimated noise impacts in NPS

The No 3rd Runway Coalition gave oral and written evidence to the Commons Transport Committee. The written submission, with all the details, is published on the Committee’s website. The Coalition has explained to the MPs that, contrary to the Government’s claim in the National Policy Statement (NPS), but taking the Government’s own figures, if the NPS was approved and there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, some 2.2 million people – and possibly up to 3 million people – would experience more plane noise.  Over half a million people would receive double the number of overflights. The NPS says no more than an extra 92,700  people will be significantly affected by noise (i.e. falling within the 54 dBLAeq contour) in 2030 if the Heathrow NWR scheme is developed. However, the NPS does not represent the CAA’s economic analysis, which uses the DfT’s webTAG appraisal model (which was made available on 31.1.2018 following a FoI request). This shows that more than 420,000 people, who are already impacted over the 54 dB LAeq ‘significance threshold’, will receive 3 dB of extra noise – equivalent to doubling of the number of flights experienced daily. In addition, there is no detail on flight paths or the strategies under which they will be decided, so there is no clarity or certainty on how much people will be affected.  Parliament should not vote for a development where such key details are unknown.  The Coalition says: “Against this background the NPS should be withdrawn pending comprehensive independent review  or alternatively rejected entirely.”

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Grayling emissions omission admission: Heathrow air quality costs 2-4 times higher than previously thought

The Commons Transport Committee is currently assessing the Heathrow proposals for a 3rd runway. One of the issues in which they have taken a particular interest is whether the right numbers have been used for the cost to human health of air pollution, and if the costs of pollution beyond a 2km band around the airport have been properly considered. Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, has now written to the Committee to clarify the government position, and has confirmed that the DfT omitted (in error) to consider the emissions beyond 2km. By contrast the DfT’s own impact appraisal had noted impacts well beyond this 2km boundary, in terms of additional vehicle traffic.  The total figure for the extra cost to health, from Grayling’s admission, is now thought to be 2 to 4 times higher than the one published in the official appraisal document.  That means the “net present value” of the scheme, previously assessed as minus £-2.2 to plus £3.3 billion over 60 years (so already potentially negative) could drop to as low as minus £-2.6 to plus £2.9 billion under the new estimate.  The cost of the damage to human health from additional air pollution, associated with a new runway, is one of the two ways the DfT assesses the cost-benefit analysis of the proposal.

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Heathrow Villages residents shocked by details of number of local sites to be destroyed for 3rd runway plans

Two public meetings (one in Harmondsworth, the other in Yiewsley) held in the Heathrow villages raised concerns about the number and location of sites that could be destroyed for the 3rd runway development. Until now, many residents in surrounding areas have not realised just how damaging another runway would be to their lives. Despite awful weather, snow and intense cold, the meetings were packed and constituency MP, John McDonnell, and Hillingdon leader, Ray Puddifoot, managed to attend. Last month Ray announced that Hillingdon Council has budgeted £200,000 for the fund to launch a legal challenge against the runway. Justine Bayley of SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) gave a presentation with local maps from Heathrow’s consultation documents. These show the huge number of development sites that Heathrow have their eye on. She explained the individual parcels of land under threat, and their possible intended purpose. Many at the meetings had not know about these threats. There is real concern that most residents who will not be forced to leave their homes (as they are not due for demolition) have no idea that they will have to suffer severe negative impacts from a third runway, due to their proximity to it – and associated building. John McDonnell MP said it was vital to ensure that the information is spread as widely as possible.

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John McDonnell: Heathrow expansion will never happen – it cannot meet 4 vital tests

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell believes a 3rd runway at Heathrow will never get built because of the serious environmental issues the expansion would cause. McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding campaigner against the runway, due to the devastating impact it would have on his constituency. He does not believe Heathrow can get round the problem of air pollution from the runway and associated road traffic.  At a local meeting about Heathrow’s expansion plans, John said: “As soon as any decision is made, Hillingdon and the other boroughs will be straight back in court again”. …“I just don’t think Heathrow is the runner that it might have been with the governments in the past.” There is due to be a vote in Parliament in the summer on the runway; as things stand, the government would win backing for the runway. However, though many Labour MPs are keen supporters, there is a real possibility that Labour may be able to block it – especially if it won a general election. Labour set out 4 tests the runway would have to meet, and currently it cannot pass them. The tests require (1). noise issues to be addressed, (2). air quality to be protected, (3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and (4). growth across the country supported.


Residents at the meeting, seriously determined to fight the 3rd runway proposals

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UK Chief Medical Officer says people’s health is being damaged by exposure to too much air, noise and light pollution

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has said people in the UK are being exposed to a daily cocktail of pollution – from noise pollution, air pollution and light pollution) that may be having a significant impact on their health, and on the NHS. Dame Sally said major industries should take more responsibility for the pollution they cause, and that there was enough evidence to suggest action had to be taken. Her report “Health Impacts of All Pollution – what do we know?” says: “Major infrastructure projects are making construction noise a semi-permanent feature of the urban sound environment” … “Noise acts as a psychosocial stressor, and the psychological reaction to it is influenced strongly by a number of personal, situational and environmental factors.” The section by Professor Stephen Stansfield says:  “In 2012, 83% of a survey sample in the UK reported they heard road traffic noise, 72% aircraft noise and 48% noise from building, construction and road works at home in the last 12 months.  48% reported that their home life was “spoiled to some extent” by environmental noise.” …”Short term effects of noise on sleep include impaired mood, increased daytime sleepiness, and impaired cognitive performance.”

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Heathrow retail is 23% of total revenue, up 7.7% in 2017 (cf. 2016) – car parking is 18% of retail income

Heathrow has reported a retail revenue increase of 7.7% to £659 million in the year ended 31 November 2017 compared to a year earlier. (Aeronautical revenue rose by just 1%. Total revenue in the period rose 2.7% to £2.9 billion. Retail is almost 23% of that. It was 22% in 2016). Retail revenue per passenger grew 4.5% to £8.45 in 2017 compared to £8.09 in 2016. Heathrow says growth in retail income was due to increased passenger traffic in the period to 78 million (+3.1%) combined with more spending airside (up 2% compared to 2016.) Retail concessions grew 10.5%, with growth in business by duty and tax free and airside speciality shops. This reflects the depreciation of Sterling since June 2016, making products cheaper for foreigners. The redevelopment of Terminal Four’s luxury retail offering completed in late 2016, also contributed to this growth. There is also a new Gucci store.Retail concessions made up 46% of retail income, at £304 million in 2017. The amount of income from car parking, which is included in retail, was £120 million in 2017 (up 5.3% and making up 18% of total retail income), £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015. Heathrow says: “Car parking rose 5.3% driven by increased passenger numbers and a more 12 dynamic pricing strategy.  Higher car rental revenue from a change in arriving passenger mix and increased volumes in VIP services drove other services income up 9.4%.” 

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Stansted applies to UDC to raise the current passenger number cap from 35 mppa to 43 mppa

Stansted airport has submitted a planning application to Uttlesford District Council to raise the current cap on the number of passengers it is permitted to handle from 35 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 43mppa, while committing to remain within current approved limits on aircraft noise and flight numbers. This is to make best use of the airport’s existing single runway over the next decade (with the usual claims of economic benefits, jobs etc etc).  Stansted say their expansion, from 35 mppa, would ease pressure on the London airport system when Heathrow and Gatwick are capacity constrained. However, local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says the airport handled about 25 mppa in 2017, and has permission to grow to 35 mppa, granted after a 5-month public inquiry in 2007. Despite this, in summer 2017 the airport’s owners, MAG, said they “urgently” needed permission to expand to a massive 44.5 million passenger airport over the next 12 years. They claim there will be no more noise, but in practice the gap between planes on average would reduce from about 135 seconds now, to about 85 seconds. SSE says the changes in the current application are “almost entirely presentational.”

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UK Government loses 3rd air pollution case brought by ClientEarth, as judge rules air pollution plans ‘unlawful’

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have won a 3rd case against the UK government over the country’s illegal and harmful levels of air pollution. In a ruling handed down at the High Court in London, Judge Mr Justice Garnham declared the government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area is unlawful.  He ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible – as 12 of the 45 are projected to have legal levels by the end of 2018. He said: “The Environment Secretary must ensure that, in each of the 45 areas, steps are taken to achieve compliance as soon as possible, by the quickest route possible and by a means that makes that outcome likely.”  This will be of great embarrassment to ministers, as it is the third time that they have lost an air pollution court battle. ClientEarth commented:  “The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over 8 years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough … government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.”  The area around Heathrow has high NO2 pollution levels, often over the legal limit,  and it is unlikely that there could be a 3rd runway without a serious risk of air quality deteriorating.

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Airlines tell Transport Committee of their alarm over ‘blank cheque’ for Heathrow 3rd runway

At the final oral evidence session by the Commons Transport Committee, looking at the Airports NPS (ie. plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway) airline representatives and the CAA were questioned.  Key people from British Airways, Virgin and easyJet urged MPs to secure details from Heathrow on costs before voting to approve a runway.  Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, told MPs that the true cost of Heathrow expansion is likely to be “grossly” higher than the £14.3bn the airport has cited, and there is no clarity or transparency on the plans. Airlines do not want higher landing charges, and it is unclear how Heathrow could pay for its expansion without higher charges. The airlines want guarantees on costs. MPs commented that it was hard for MPs to vote for (or against) the runway, when vital details on costs and financing are not available – and even the main airlines don’t know if they back the scheme. Willie Walsh said parliament should not trust Heathrow; he had “zero confidence” that a third runway would be delivered on time and within budget – there were not even any clear plans for what is to be built yet, nor for the M25.  Walsh added: “When we’ve asked for disclosure … what they are saying is ‘trust us. Give us your approval and support’. I don’t trust them and you shouldn’t, either.” And higher charges risked making an expanded Heathrow too expensive and a “white elephant”.

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Heathrow study on “respite” shows there is no clear definition, and no clarity on what it means, or whether it helps

Heathrow, and the supporters of its plans for a 3rd runway (increasing the number of planes using the airport by up to 50%) has been enthusiastic about the concept of “respite” from plane noise. This is the idea that people will be less unhappy about the amount of plane noise, if they get some predictable times when they are spared the noise.  During those times, the noise is over other people (and vice versa). Heathrow has a Respite Working Group (RWG), set up in October 2014,  and it commissioned research to show if respite would be effective. The long awaited report has been published (though it was finished in May 2017 …) and it merely confirms the vagueness of the concept, and therefore how little confidence anyone has in it reducing the upset, distress and annoyance caused by unwanted plane noise.  The study might have been expected to a). define what respite actually is (in terms of amount of noise, duration, time of day).  b). what amount of respite is actually valued by overflown communities. Instead we have no certainty of when someone is getting “respite.” Does it mean no plane noise at all?  Or a bit less plane noise than usual, if the plane is a mile or two away rather than overhead? Does it mean half an hour without planes, or 8 hours without planes? And so on.  The RWG just wants more research ….

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“If we’re going to offset airplanes’ CO2 emissions, we should at least do it right” – blog by Andrew Murphy (from T&E)

The global aviation industry hopes to be able to be able to continue growing, fast, and emitting ever more carbon – while claiming this is all “offset” by carbon credits from elsewhere. In an excellent article, Andrew Murphy from T&E explains some of the problems, and why what is currently on offer is not even near to being effective.  The UN scheme for aviation CO2 is called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is already very weak, as it only aims to offset CO2 above 2020 levels . That is far short of what the Paris agreement requires. And because participation in CORSIA is voluntary, the scheme will fall short of this 2020 target. Offsets are so cheap and the target is so weak that the resulting cost will also do nothing to incentivise greater efficiencies from within the aviation sector.  But offsetting itself has huge problems: 1). There is no proper way ICAO can enforce CORSIA and ensure airlines and states abide by the rules.        2).  There is little guarantee with many sorts of offsets, the cheapest in particular, that they deliver any real CO2 reductions. And 3).  There are serious questions about the use of alternative fuels, as if airlines are allowed to count the use them against any offsetting obligation. So the sustainability rules for alternative fuels need to be as tight as they are for offsets.  ICAO is consulting on its standards till the 5th March.

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Transport for London may join legal challenge against Heathrow runway, due to lack of clarity on surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) are the expert body on transport issues for London. They have long been very concerned about the surface access problems a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause. They now say the government could face a legal challenge, if there is no better clarity on the matter.  TfL would join the legal challenge of the 4 councils. TfL director of city planning, Alex Williams, said he had not seen evidence from the DfT or Heathrow to support the airport’s claim that the public transport mode share of its passengers of 50% by 2030 would be achieved, or how airport traffic could be kept at current levels. By contrast, the analysis by TfL on the matter is completely transparent. Alex said: “If no-one’s prepared to share information or substantiate their case about how you can deliver those mode share targets…then you’re just heading straight for a court hearing, because we’re at loggerheads and no-one’s prepared to share that information or have that technical discussion about the merits of the case.” About 40% of Heathrow passenger trips are now on public transport, and TfL estimates this number would need to rise to 69% by 2030, for Heathrow to meet its pledge of no extra traffic on roads near the airport. TfL says the Southern and Western Rail Access schemes rail schemes are “essential” if there is a 3rd runway.

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Extra costs to local authorities, and huge doubt about chance of relocating Lakeside incinerator, if 3rd runway went ahead

If the 3rd Heathrow runway was to go ahead, the Lakeside incinerator would have to be demolished. The Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW), a joint venture between Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, processes non-recyclable waste from more than 12 local authorities including Kingston, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Richmond. It produces 37MW of low carbon energy, which is enough to provide power for around 56,000 homes, a town roughly the size of Slough. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith said the cost of moving the incinerator “would be many hundreds of millions of pounds. No one will want it in their backyard so the planning process will be complex and lengthy, and in the absence of a replacement, local authorities will be forking out around £50m a year in extra landfill taxes. This is yet another huge and unplanned cost associated with Heathrow expansion, a project that is already deeply uneconomic and anticompetitive.”  On February 5, before the Commons Transport Committee, Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said it needed to be dealt with “sooner rather than later” but gave no further information. It has no plans, and no alternative site has been found. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said the estimated cost of relocation is £500million or more than £700million should the plant be forced to close.

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Non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation mean it is 2 – 3 times more damaging than the industry claims

While IATA considers global aviation accounts for about 2% of man-made CO2 emissions, this is a serious underestimate of the sector’s impact on climate change. According to Professor Dr Volker Grewe, a researcher on atmospheric physics at Delft in Holland, air transport’s contribution to climate change is roughly 5%. This is because in addition to emitting CO2, aircraft flying at altitude impact the atmosphere in various ways which have a large, albeit transient, additional warming effect. The main contributors of aviation-induced radiative forcing are: CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and contrail/cirrus cloud formation. As are the contrails and resultant cloud formation which trap radiation escaping from the Earth, and the effect is very significant.  However, the effect is smaller in some parts of the globe than others, so small reductions in the non-CO2 impact could be achieved from a bit of re-routing. Optimising the speed and cruise altitude also help a bit. However, the EU emissions trading system for aviation ignores non-CO2 impacts. Brussels NGO T&E says the non-CO2 impacts should be included. “When aviation was included in the ETS in 2008 the directive in fact called on the European Commission to assess the non-CO2 impacts and propose action. Nothing transpired but this call was renewed in the revisions to the directive agreed last year requesting the Commission to assess and propose by 2020. The time to act is well overdue.”

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Economic advisors, Prof Peter Mackie & Brian Pearce respond to Heathrow questions by Transport Select Cttee

As part of their inquiry into the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, in the Airports NPS, the Transport Select Committee wrote on 16th January – with a list of questions – to two economic experts, Professor Peter Mackie, (Institute for Transport Studies, Leeds University) and Brian Pearce (Chief Economist, IATA UK) who advised the Airports Commission (and who were critical of the way the Commission worked out alleged future economic benefits of a Heathrow runway). Mackie & Price have replied in some detail, and some of their comments can be seen below. Asked about the economic impact of the airport not being full in 2 -3 years, but (as John Holland-Kaye has said) over 10 – 15 years, they say: “…that ought to be reflected in the capacity model and profile of shadow costs over time.”  Asked about carbon costs, they say: “… we cannot comment either on the probability of a fully effective international carbon trading scheme being in place in the timeframe, nor on the striking price of carbon and its trend over time.”  And on Heathrow landing charges they say the DfT’s main case assumes “the benefit of the reduced shadow cost will be fully passed through to travellers while increases in landing charges to fund the infrastructure will be absorbed by airlines. This particular combination seems a bit unlikely.”

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Grayling makes key admissions on serious problems with a 3rd Heathrow runway, at Transport Committee hearing

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, made several assertions when he appeared before the inquiry on the Airports National Policy Statement, held by the Transport Select Committee on 7th February.  When questioned about Heathrow’s regional connectivity, he confirmed that many of the domestic routes, promised by Heathrow, would not be commercially viable and would require taxpayer funded Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy orders, if they were to ever materialise.  Grayling also confirmed that, although up to 121,000 residents around the airport would be expected to suffer the impact of the further air pollution concentrations, likely to flow from the extra flights required to meet the DfT’s own recently updated passenger demand forecasts, the government was yet to undertake any work to assess those impactsMr Grayling also confirmed that there would be a ‘real risk’ of non-compliance on air quality, were Heathrow to expand, and that the Government’s own analysis expects that risk to be heightened in the years 2026 – 2030.  He also confirmed that the 3rd runway would mean a reduction in respite from noise, for adversely impacted residents. Details with extracts on these points from transcripts at the link below.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway coalition commented on the NPS that “To proceed on the basis of evidence that unravels, on scrutiny, would simply be unacceptable”.

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Manchester airport infuriated by Holland-Kaye claim that Manchester area “needs” Heathrow for business

Giving evidence to MPs at the Transport Select Committee, on the proposed  3rd runway, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye claimed those living in areas like Greater Manchester ‘needed Heathrow’ to sustain business links with the world. But Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, has accused him of making ‘misleading claims’ about its importance to Manchester passengers – and the UK economy. Holland-Kaye also claimed that the services Manchester had won – like Cathay Pacific’s direct route to Hong Kong – were thanks to Heathrow trail-blazing the route first. He tried to make out that Heathrow has a ‘unique’ position in providing long haul routes to countries like China, despite Manchester’s existing Beijing route along with Guangzhou and Shanghai services in the pipeline. Heathrow clams these are vital for business, despite admitting most passengers are not on business – they just facilitate more flights to destinations where business might be done. Heathrow always says, as its mantra, that “only” Heathrow can provide “connectivity” to world destinations. Andrew Cowan said Heathrow continues to make misleading claims about its benefit to the UK economy, and Heathrow “is far from being unique in connecting UK businesses to global markets.” Manchester is important for the Northern Powerhouse, jobs in the north and rebalancing UK economic growth.

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John Holland-Kaye appears before Commons Transport Committee for grilling on 3rd runway problems

Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, appeared before the Commons Transport Select Committee to give evidence for their inquiry into the proposed 3rd runway (the Airports NPS inquiry). He tried to defend claims that the runway, and 50% more flights, would result in a cut in road traffic connected with the airport. He tried to insist the airport’s pedges on air quality levels would be met if a 3rd runway went ahead.  The comments came after Tory MP and committee member Huw Merriman said that a number of airport commitments had “somewhat unravelled”.  Heathrow are trying to persuade MPs etc that they have a “triple lock” on the problem of air pollution, and it had a “strong plan” to deal with traffic levels. He blames road vehicles, nothing to do with Heathrow, for local air pollution – and gave confusing evidence about whether Heathrow could, or could not, count the number of vehicle journeys associated with the airport.  (If they cannot count them, then cannot confirm they have not increased …).  Asked if he could make a “firm commitment” that landing charges would not increase, Mr Holland-Kaye told MPs: “At this stage I couldn’t….” And he blathered when asked by Lilian Greenwood about the financial benefits of Heathrow, if it only reached a 50% increase in flights over 10 – 15 years, not just a few.

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British Airways owner IAG wants break up of Heathrow monopoly, with separate companies managing terminals

British Airways’ owner IAG (Willie Walsh) has called on government to break up Heathrow’s “monopoly” of infrastructure, suggesting to the CAA that other companies could run the different terminals to create competition and cheaper flights for consumers.  IAG, which is Heathrow’s largest customer, said the airport’s planned expansion could allow independent firms to create and run new terminals more effectively than Heathrow’s current owners, with lower costs to airlines – and better cost control. IAG is desperate for charges by Heathrow not to rise, to pay for its runway etc.  Walsh said: “Heathrow’s had it too good for too long and the government must confirm the CAA’s powers to introduce this type of competition. … This would cut costs, diversify funding and ensure developments are completed on time, leading to a win-win for customers.”  BA runs a terminal at JFK airport in New York and there are European examples at Frankfurt and Munich airports. Heathrow has a real problem, becoming ever more clear, with funding for its expansion plans. Chris Grayling has said Heathrow landing charges (already some of the world’s highest) “should be kept as close as possible to current levels.”  A vote is due to be held this summer in the Commons on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS).

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European Environment Agency: Reducing CO2 emissions from aviation ‘requires systemic change’ to cut demand

The EEA (European Environment Agency) says reducing CO2 emissions from Europe’s aviation and shipping industries requires systemic change, rather than simply improving efficiency. In a new report they say a massive shift in innovation, consumer behaviour and the take up of more ambitious green technologies to power aircraft and cargo ships are crucial. Both aviation and shipping have grown fast in recent years, and by 2050, the two are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global CO2 emissions unless further mitigation is taken. Incremental small improvements in fuel efficiency will not be enough. For air travel, changes in lifestyle and culture are needed eg. more shift to rail and less demand for material imported material goods. Governments have a key role to play. The role of continuing subsidies to the aviation industry is important in maintaining high demand for air travel. There needs to be a change to the “attitude-action gap” whereby expressed “environmental  awareness by individuals does not translate into reductions in flight demand.” … “there will be a need for wider conversations around the types of lifestyle that will help enable sustainable mobility”. They are not convinced aviation biofuels will be anything more than minimal.  Not just expanding the sector with new runways etc.

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PCS union reiterates its view that Heathrow job claims cannot be trusted, and 3rd runway would be too damaging

Tahir Latif, of the PCS (Commercial and Public Services Union) had a letter in the Evening Standard, reiterating his union’s view on Heathrow. Responding to a letter from Sam Gurney, of the TUC, backing the runway because of potential job gains, Tahir said: “Sam Gurney’s support of a 3rd runway at Heathrow glosses over many issues. There are serious doubts over the jobs claims in terms of the number, quality, duration and conditions, and similar concerns about where and to whom the economic benefits would accrue. Unions that oppose the runway are as keen to protect their members’ jobs as the TUC but recognise the massive environmental impact that will result from 250,000-plus additional flights per year. Instead of inflicting large-scale environmental damage, we need to demand job creation that retrieves the UK and London from its wretched environmental performance — not worsens it.”  In the past the PCS has said they oppose the 3rd runway as there is little real evidence supporting the extravagant promises made about jobs. Although the PCS wants to “protect Heathrow jobs whether or not the airport expands, the environmental impact of a 3rd runway would be too serious. PCS advocates sustainable transport and the creation of new jobs in that growing sector.”

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Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) has problems and may go over-budget, not helped by Heathrow only paying £70m (not £230m)

The management of Crossrail have issued a major alert that the £14.8 billion line (the Elizabeth Line) might not open on time and is at risk of blowing its budget. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said problems with software on new trains and an electrical explosion in east London, when engineers tried to switch on the high-voltage power, have caused “real, serious challenges.”  Stations such as Bond Street, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Woolwich and Whitechapel — where there have been major construction problems — are behind schedule. Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan admitted the line was “very close” to exceeding its budget. Costs are increasing rapidly in the rush to try and open on time. The line will link Reading and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood once fully opened by the end of 2019.  The central section of the line, between Paddington and Abbey Wood via two new tunnels under central London, is due to open in December 2018. Heathrow was initially asked to contribute £230 million. But it managed to argue that it would only derive small additional benefit as it was “full” so is only paying £70 million. In reality, Heathrow has a lot of extra terminal capacity and its number of passengers rises annually, even with no 3rd runway. Heathrow had 75.7m passengers in 2017 compared to 72.3m in 2013.). So the taxpayer is having to shoulder the financial costs, which Heathrow should have paid.

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TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over the impact Heathrow expansion will have on the capital’s transport network, warning over significant crowding. In its surface access analysis (Jan 2018) TfL says a 3 runway Heathrow is expected to result in an extra 170,000 daily passenger and staff trips compared to now. While Heathrow has “pledged” that there would be no new airport related traffic on the roads compared to today, that can only mean a higher % of passengers using public transport. TfL has raised concerns over the feasibility of this – and what it will mean for London’s public transport. In order to achieve no rise in highway trips, TfL says around 65-70% of trips would need to be on public transport. That would work out as a 210% increase on journeys at present.  TfL believes a 3-runway Heathrow would probably generate 90,000 extra vehicle trips along with another 100,000 extra public transport trips each day. That is likely to mean bad over-crowding of roads for non-airport users. In the morning peak for travel, there would be a 3 – 5% rise in average highway journey times across west London as far in as Westminster. For rail passengers it would mean “significant levels of crowding” on the Elizabeth Line, Piccadilly Line and Windsor lines.

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Heathrow criticised by key London councils for jumping the gun, with its inadequate consultation, on Government 3rd runway decision

The latest consultation from Heathrow is ‘jumping the gun’ – according to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils.  The Leaders of 3 councils have slammed Heathrow for holding a consultation when the Government are yet to make a decision on whether or not the airport should be expanded at all.  Parliamentary scrutiny on the Governments proposals is still underway, with a vote by MPs due later this year. As part of this process, tens of thousands of people have already had their say, making it clear that expansion at Heathrow is not deliverable. The Leaders argue that any expansion of the airport would have a devastating impact on West London  – causing immense damage to the environment and people’s health, tear communities apart, see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, and potentially cost taxpayers £15bn.  The latest Heathrow consultation fails to recognise any of this well documented feedback. Confusingly, this latest consultation is also seeking residents’ initial views on how airspace and flight paths should be designed in the future (concentrated or less concentrated…)  The councils view is that the noise burden is too high now and all efforts should be made to minimise the number of people impacted by noise. Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling.”

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Important points demonstrating how the Heathrow 3rd runway is far from certain, at Westminster Hall debate

On Wednesday 24th January, Vince Cable MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall, on the issue of the 3rd Heathrow runway plans and Heathrow’s current consultation on their expansion hopes. Some of the MPs who spoke were Ruth Cadbury, Zac Goldsmith, Andy Slaughter, Karl Turner and Stephen Pound. They expressed serious reservations on issues of cost to the taxpayer, cost of surface access transport improvements, increased noise, uncertain air pollution, uncertain CO2 emissions, uncertain economic benefits and uncertain links to regional airports. Quotes from the MP contributions are shown below. Just a couple include: Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con) – “one problem with the consultation is that we know that hundreds of thousands of new people will be affected by noise, but we do not know which hundreds of thousands, because the Government and Heathrow have yet to tell us where the new flight paths will be, which renders the entire consultation process entirely disingenuous, if not dishonest? It is a bit like saying, “We’re going to put a new incinerator in your constituency, and we’d like to ask people their opinion, but we’re not going to say where it’ll be put.” Surely the entire basis of the consultation’s legitimacy has a question mark hanging over it.”  And Andy Slaughter – “Getting these glossy pamphlets through the door, as one does on a regular basis from Heathrow, sends the subliminal message, “This is a done deal. Get used to it. Get what you can out of it by way of mitigation.” It simply is not good enough.”

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Heathrow premature “consultation” demonstrates NOT how inevitable the 3rd runway is, but just how absent any details are

The Heathrow consultation (17th January to 28th March) is vague in the extreme. It purports to be a consultation about how the airport should expand with a 3rd runway. But no government permissions for this has even been given yet, with a vote in Parliament and several legal challenges to be undergone before there is any certainty there will be any 3rd Heathrow runway. The consultation’s main purpose appears to be to give the impression to politicians, business people, the public, the affected communities etc that the runway is a “done deal” and is definitely going ahead; Heathrow is just sorting out some details. That is NOT the case. As the consultation makes manifestly clear, rather than sticking to details of the recommendations of the Airports Commission (on noise increases, night flight curfew periods, location of runway, means of getting over the M25 and so much else) Heathrow is not sticking to this, but trying out other options – which were never part of the Commission’s scrutiny.  Far from making the runway look inevitable, the numerous areas in which there is no certainty of Heathrow’s plans demonstrate immense weaknesses. The consultation is aimed at trying to make the runway planning appear sensitive to public opinion. It is in fact far more underhand than that, and highly unlikely that consultation responses – other than endorsing what Heathrow wants – would even be given more than passing consideration.

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Glasgow airport consultation on flight path changes, modernising for satellite navigation

Glasgow airport has a consultation currently (ends on Friday 13th April) on changes in future to its flight paths.  The airport says: “… it is our intention to request permission from the CAA to implement these new procedures which will minimise the amount of time aircraft queue, both in the air and on the ground,” and make some minimal fuel (CO2) savings. It is claimed changes are needed to cope with increased passenger numbers and airspace congestion, and are part of the UK Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) driven by the CAA, due to the change to satellite based navigation.  Ground navigation aids currently used by Glasgow Airport will be decommissioned in 2019. There will be a number of drop-in sessions for the public. Feedback will be presented to the CAA before the necessary approval can be granted. The Scottish Green Party commented that the proposals would see an increase in flights over areas including parts of Kilbarchan, resulting in more noise pollution for local residents. They are urging people to respond. “The projections show that parts of Renfrewshire will see the biggest increase in noise. Edinburgh Airport’s recent attempt to ignore the views of communities backfired spectacularly, so Glasgow Airport would be wise to listen to the concerns of those living in Renfrewshire carefully.” New flight paths were strenuously opposed at Edinburgh airport.

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Heathrow consultation: their suggestions of how to deal with M25, tunnel, bridge, altered junctions etc

As part of its consultation on its proposed 3rd runway, Heathrow has a section on what it hopes is done with the M25, so the runway can go over it.  This is a very expensive and complicate operation, and Heathrow is keen to cut the cost. The proposed runway will cross the M25 between Junctions 14 and 15 (J14 and J15) and will affect the operation of J14 and J14a, but not J15.  Other than moving the motorway a long way west, the options are tunnelling or bridging. Heathrow says: “Our current thinking is to re-position the M25 carriageway approximately 150 metres to the west, lower it by approximately 7 metres into a tunnel and raise the runway height by 3 to 5 metres so that it passes over the M25 between J14a and J15. The motorway will then re-join its current route. ...We believe this approach is the most deliverable as it would allow construction to proceed while the existing M25 motorway remains in operation. This minimises impacts to road users and has the least overall impacts on communities during construction and long-term operation.”  And they say the 3rd runway will mean more traffic will want to pass through junctions 14 and 14A, so they will need to be expanded. Illustrations show some different options.

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Rival “Heathrow Hub” expansion scheme considers legal action against Government, on altered Heathrow airport plans

The backers of the “Heathrow Hub” rival Heathrow expansion scheme are considering legal action against the Government in the wake of the airport’s move to propose potential revisions to its plans. Heathrow Hub, fronted by former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe, has criticised the Government for allowing Heathrow to now consult on new ideas for its 3re runway because this could change the eventual scheme from what was originally submitted and considered by the Airports Commission. Heathrow’s consultation (started 17th Jan, ends 28th March) is considering 3 different runway options, two of them for a 3,200 metres and one at 3,500 metres, slightly differently sited. This is in spite of the Government’s own documents on the expansion stipulating the need for a runway of “at least 3,500 metres”. Heathrow has to try to keep costs down, as its airlines are bitterly opposed to the cost of its proposals. The consultation also outlined potential plans for how to deal with the runway crossing the M25 motorway. Heathrow Hub said if it did launch legal proceedings, it would aim to get the money it spent submitting its proposals for expansion to the Government refunded. Heathrow airport said it thought that “providing some flexibility on the specification of the precise runway length would not undermine the NPS and its objectives”.

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After 50 year battle, French government abandons plans for new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Victory!

It has finally been announced, by Edouard Philippe (Prime Minister of France) that the proposed new airport for Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), has been abandoned.  President Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe have buried the project, which has been seriously criticised for its cost and its environmental consequences. The leaders see the airport as impossible to build because of the fierce opposition by around half the population, so it just a constant source of division. Instead the executive backs re-development of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport, south of the city of Nantes, which will be modernised and have its runway lengthened. That would help a bit to lessen the noise from the flight path that goes over part of the city. The Prime Minister has also announced an expansion of the airport of Rennes-Saint-Jacques and a development of high-speed rail lines between the West and Paris airports. Opponents of the NDDL scheme are jubilant – the battle has lasted almost 50 years, and they almost lost on several occasions. But Edouard Philippe said the “zone to defend” (ZAD) will be cleared, so it is no longer a lawless area with blocked roads etc.  Those occupying it will have to leave this spring, and the land be returned to agricultural use

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Heathrow begins public consultation on general topics relating to its 3rd runway plans

Heathrow has launched its public consultation on some aspects of its hoped-for 3rd runway.  It runs till the 28th March, and the airport will be putting on a number of public information events. Details of those are at  The consultation is very vague and general, and is looking initially at a range of topics, on which is has produced “information papers”. These topics are:  Airspace Principles the Development Consent Order  process the Environmental Impact Assessment  Property Policies and generally their Emerging Plans   

There is little to reassure those horrified by the implications of a 3rd runway, whether in terms of its social, economic or environmental impact. There is nothing, for example, to give any certainty on air pollution.  AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt commented: “The key environmental barriers to expansion will need to be addressed by Government. On air quality, the scale of the problem means that any measures that Heathrow may be proposing will be pretty much irrelevant.”

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Committee on Climate Change – reiterates its need for aviation demand increase to be 60% at most (cf. 2005 level)

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its assessment of the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy.  Its key findings are that thought the Government has made a strong commitment to achieving the UK’s climate change targets, policies and proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy will need to be firmed up, and gaps to meeting the 4th and 5th carbon budgets must be closed. The CCC says, on aviation: “The government should plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050), supported by strong international policies. Emissions at this level could be achieved through a combination of fuel and operational efficiency improvement, use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to around 60% above 2005 levels by 2050.” And while their recommendation was “A plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set: around 2005 levels by 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand, supported by strong international policies” there has been NO progress made.  They also say: The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy by the end of 2018. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”

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Evidence of falling numbers of Heathrow passengers on domestic flights casts further doubt on 3rd runway promises

The case for expanding Heathrow was dealt yet another blow this week as figures reveal the number of domestic passengers using the airport falling by 9% – almost half a million. Data from the CAA shows 471,000 fewer domestic passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport in 2016 compared to 2015. This compares to growth in domestic passenger at every other London airport, including 272,000 (8%) at Gatwick in the same period. The Government’s backing for plans to expand Heathrow was given on the basis of “support new connections to the UK’s regions, as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes”.  The 8 existing domestic routes offered by Heathrow now are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. Heathrow proposed a further 6 new routes to Belfast, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added – but only if it gets a 3rd runway.  It is likely that the survival of so many new domestic routes, despite a marginal decrease in passenger charge which the airport announced recently, would be put into serious doubt without a form of Government subsidy. No proposals to provide financial assistance to these routes currently exist.

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BEIS minister admits UK aviation CO2 emissions will not be kept below necessary 37.5MtCO2 level

Replying to a parliamentary question from Zac Goldsmith, BEIS minister Claire Perry revealed that there is no government intention to stick to the limit of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, as recommended by the government’s advisors, the Committee on Climate Change. Zac Goldsmith’s question:  “To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to page 85 of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, what estimate he has made of the actual and projected emissions for the aviation sector for (a) 2030, (b) 2040 and (c) 2050; and what estimate he has made of the required level of aviation emissions if emissions from transport need to be as low as 3 Mt by 2050.”  Claire Perry’s reply: “Latest BEIS data shows that carbon dioxide emissions from UK departing flights in 2015 were 34.5 Mt.  DfT’s October 2017 aviation forecasts give CO2 emissions from UK departing flights of between 36.6 and 45.7Mt in 2030; between 36.3 and 45.1Mt in 2040; and between 35.0 and 44.3Mt in 2050, depending on demand scenario and airport capacity options. The Government will set out its strategic approach to the aviation sector in a series of consultations leading to the publication of a new Aviation Strategy for the UK. The Strategy will consider what the best approach and combination of policy measures are to ensure we effectively address carbon emissions from aviation.”

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Jo Johnson (Boris’ brother) moved to DfT as Transport Minister – role re. Heathrow not yet clear

Jo Johnson (MP for Orpington) has been moved from his job as universities minister following a row over the appointment of Toby Young to the new universities regulator. Theresa May’s decision to appoint Jo Johnson as a transport minister  at the DfT also sets up a potential conflict between him and his brother, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, over the expansion of Heathrow. Jo Johnson has replaced John Hayes as Transport Minister, so it is possible he will have responsibility for expanding Heathrow.  Jo Johnson expressed his opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway in 2011. John Hayes was expert in avoiding giving answers to any question on Heathrow.  The DfT website just says:  “Jo Johnson was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Transport and Minister for London on 9 January 2018. Jo was Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation from July 2016 to January 2018. He was elected Conservative MP for Orpington in May 2010 and re-elected in May 2015.”  Boris Johnson has been a longtime vocal critic of a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Jo Johnson has also been appointed minister for London ahead of what could be tough local elections in the capital in May this year for the Tories.

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BA to cut flights between Heathrow and Leeds Bradford from 20 to 10 per week – they are not profitable. …

So much for “carrot” of increasing domestic air links …. to get 3rd runway support …

British Airways says its flights from Leeds Bradford Airport to Heathrow are being cut by 50% “to match demand”. The changes are due to start in summer 2018.  BA has not been making money on these flights. A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport said the cut in BA flights from 20 to 10 per week was a blow to their hopes that Heathrow’s ongoing runway expansion plans would have attracted more people to Yorkshire. “As the international gateway for Yorkshire and given our continued support for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, this news is disappointing for the largest region in the UK.  …. “We hope the people of Yorkshire will still fully support the route, enabling us to prove to British Airways that the largest region in the UK can support a viable and profitable service going forward.”  The Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness commented that the pledges Heathrow had made to increase its number of domestic links are not credible. It is not in the gift of an airport to determine which air links exist – that is up to airlines, which will only fly routes that are profitable, unless they receive continuing subsidies to run routes at a loss. “It also reminds us of the short-sightedness of those who have been lulled into supporting Heathrow’s campaign to concentrate (yet again) all the best tax payer funded infrastructure in the already, disproportionately well endowed South East of the country.”

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Letter to the newspapers, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, on the news of the cuts to flights between Heathrow and Leeds Bradford airport:


Dear Sirs,

Amongst other unrealistic pledges to win backing for their third
runway campaign, Heathrow’s “promise” to increase the number of
domestic routes, from 6 to 14, has been primarily designed to win the
support of regional airports, businesses and politicians.

And although some of these regional figures do appear to have fallen
for it, the snag is that such a promise can never be in Heathrow’s
gift. Because – as has been amply demonstrated by BA’s announcement
that it will reduce its Leeds Bradford to Heathrow connection by 10
flights a week – regional connectivity can only be determined by
airlines, and not by the airports which they use.

Regional businesses which contributed to the CBI’s 2016 report
“Unlocking Regional Growth” would seem to understand this. For, while
recognising the need for better links to international markets, they
also stated that flights need to fly directly to centres of trade and
commerce (rather than relying on a transfer at a hub, such as
Heathrow, before reaching their destination).

BA’s decision on its Leeds Bradford/Heathrow service doesn’t only
demonstrate this truth. It also reminds us of the short-sightedness of
those who have been lulled into supporting Heathrow’s campaign to
concentrate (yet again) all the best tax payer funded infrastructure in
the already, disproportionately well endowed South East of the country.

Paul McGuinness
Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition

Luton airport now hoping not only for 18 million annual passengers, but up to 38 million

Luton airport is planning to increase its annual number of passengers to 18 million, from around 15 million at present. Work is under way to achieve this, with new buildings, new taxiways etc. However, the airport is now saying it plans to take advantage of an apparent shortage of runway capacity in the south east, in the coming decade, to try to grow to 36 – 38 million annual passengers.  This has come as a surprise to many. Only two weeks earlier an airport senior manager was asked what happens when Luton reaches 18mppa, and he said they would flat-line as the terminal could not cope with any more people. The Chairman of LLACC (the Consultative Committee) did not about it either. Also, LLAL (the arm of Luton BC that owns the airport) recently purchased a huge tract of land nearby (Wigmore Park) and said it would not be used to expand the airport but to diversify business-land investment. However it appears that the airport may be planning a new terminal on the land, as the only way to achieve new growth aspirations.  Hertfordshire County Council are doubtful about the expansion, raising many possible negative impacts for the area, including surface access traffic.

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Speculation grows that GIP and the consortium of Gatwick owners will sell the airport soon

Gatwick’s private equity owners have had a £175 million dividend as speculation mounts over a sale of the airport. The dividend, paid in October 2017, was up from £125m a year earlier and followed 6 months of rising passenger numbers and profits.  Gatwick is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and a consortium of investors, who bought it for £1.5 billion in 2009 from the former airports monopoly BAA.  They have improved the airport, attracting more airlines, and now have 44 million annual air passengers. That has increased the value of the airport to an estimated £6 – £8 billion. GIP also owned London City airport, which they sold almost 2 years ago for over £2 billion, making a huge profit. City experts believe GIP is now looking to sell one or both of its 2 remaining UK airports, Gatwick and Edinburgh – or at least reduce its stake.  A sale of Gatwick would be a vast profit. There is speculation that GIP would have sold Edinburgh earlier, but held back due to the German election and complications of Brexit. Gatwick is still keen to build a 2nd runway, but the government prefers a 3rd Heathrow runway. Consultations on that will continue in 2018, and Gatwick continues to press for its runway – as that would raise the selling price.

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Four important councils say DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway inquiry “illegal because ministers are biased”

Four Conservative-run councils (Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon, Richmond & Wandsworth) say pro-Heathrow statements made by Conservative ministers including Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) could mean that the current DfT consultation on adding a 3rd Heathrow runway is unlawful. They say that “A consultation, to be lawful, must be approached with an open mind”. The intervention by the councils will increase and prolong uncertainty over the expansion of Heathrow – or any other new runway. The second consultation by the DfT (itself highly biased in favour of adding a 3rd Heathrow runway) on the expansion of Heathrow (the Airports National Policy Statement consultation) ended before Christmas. The four boroughs questioned the legality of the inquiry in their responses. Their submissions cite pro-Heathrow comments from Mr Grayling and Lord Callanan, the former aviation minister. The transport secretary said in October that the government was “aiming to give [the third runway] the formal go-ahead in the first half of next year” and that the expansion would “make a difference right across this country”.  The boroughs are members of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, which has long argued that expansion should be stopped.

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Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, gets home visit from carolling anti-3rd-runway campaigners

A group of residents facing the misery that would result from a 3rd Heathrow runway made a light-hearted festive protest outside the home of the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling by singing re-worded Christmas carols  -on the last night of the government Draft Airports NPS consultation. Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance so it wasn’t until leaving Harmondsworth that everyone discovered they would be singing outside Grayling’s house, his retreat from the daily grind of plotting the destruction of other people’s homes.  Grayling himself was in Parliament at the time, and no family members appeared to be at home. The protesters drank mulled wine and festive drinks, and sang their own renditions of well-known carols, with suitably altered, anti-runway, words. A Stop Heathrow Expansion spokesperson commented “Looking down the drive from the road and seeing the sprawling detached house with it’s huge Christmas tree displayed in the un-curtained front window, it is easy to see why our Secretary State has no comprehension of the misery he will inflict on others with a third runway.” And they hoped Grayling would “spare a thought for people who face another Christmas under threat and reflect on their situation.”

One carol adaption went (to the tune of Ding-Dong Merrily on High): “Sir Howard Davies [Airports Commission] was a lie/And no way independent/Fingers in the Heathrow pie/And property development/No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo/ Ifs and buts/There will be no third runway.”

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Heathrow says it will cut costs of 3rd runway by £2.5 bn – not adding a new terminal

Heathrow has said it has identified options which could reduce overall cost of its 3rd runway  expansion plans by £2.5 billion, so the overall cost would be £14 billion. The reduced cost options, developed with input from airlines which want a lower overall cost, will be consulted on in January 2018. Savings would be by three things:  (1). Repositioning new buildings over existing public transport and baggage infrastructure. This includes building additional capacity at both Terminals 2 and 5 rather than a dedicated terminal or satellite building between today’s northern runway and the new northwest runway. (2). Technological advancements which reduce the amount of terminal space required to process passengers “without compromising” the passenger experience.  (3). More efficient phasing of capacity construction – incrementally increasing terminal capacity in blocks to better match growing demand. That means more planes would have to cross the northern runway, to get to the new runway.  Heathrow will be launching a 10-week public planning consultation which will run from 17th January to 28th March 2018. The consultation will be in 2 parts – the first on infrastructure design options, and the second on the future design principles for airspace around Heathrow.

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Heathrow seeks Chair for new “independent Community Engagement Board” – applications till 14th January

Heathrow and the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee (HACC), have launched a campaign to recruit a high-profile Chair to head a new “independent Community Engagement Board (CEB).” Heathrow says the “CEB will take on the role of the current consultative committee and was a recommendation by the Airports Commission, drawing on best practice from European hub airports. … The influential Chair will lead the CEB which will play an important role in building trust between the airport and its communities making sure that Heathrow delivers its commitments today and in the future. It will also play a crucial role during the planning process for the proposed expansion of Heathrow to check that communities are meaningfully engaged in Heathrow’s public consultations over the coming months and years.”  The CEB is not only for local communities – it is to “play a key role in ensuring airport stakeholders, local authorities, communities, passengers and interest groups.” Applications for the role are through Gatenby Sanderson, with the deadline for applications the 14th January 2018. “The Chair will be appointed by a panel representative of the existing HACC, government, Heathrow and a nominated community representative” … The job of Chair will be two days per week, working for and paid by Heathrow, salary to be agreed. The Chair will lead the “CEB through its formative stages, setting strategic direction and overseeing the delivery of a work programme as well as creating a diverse board.” Details at link below.

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10 years after Heathrow 3rd runway was built  …..              all great !   (watch the film ..)

Don’t miss it ! Fabulous new mini video from No 3rd Runway Coalition @NoR3Coalition about the …. benefits … of Heathrow to local people.
[ The vision 10 years after the 3rd runway opened …. ]
Enjoy it.   Share it. Far and wide.   It’s far too good to keep to yourself !
#no3rdrunway #stopheathrowexpansion

Guidance from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on how to respond to the DfT 2nd Heathrow NPS consultation. Ends Tues 19th Dec.

The DfT is consulting on its revised draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS). This second consultation comes after an earlier one in February.  The deadline for the revised draft NPS consultation is Tuesday 19th December. The No 3rd Runway Coalition (NoR3Coalition) has put together some simple guidance for people trying to respond. There are dozens of documents in the consultation, most hard to locate, making responses very hard indeed for non-expert laypeople.  The consultation only in fact asks one question: “Do you have any comments on the revised draft Airports NPS or any of the documents set out in the table on pages 7 and 8?”  In reality, there is a great deal more that people should respond to. The NoR3Coalition has set out some key points on the issues of air quality, noise, economics, surface access, regional connectivity, health and climate change. People are encouraged to submit a response, in their own words. This need not be long or complicated, but just express key concerns.  Responses can be by the online form at   or by email to

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Heathrow have announced two ‘consultations’ starting 17th January 2018, which they label as the ‘next step in delivering expansion.’

Heathrow have announced two ‘consultations’ which they labelled as the ‘next step in delivering expansion.’ These will be launched on 17th January 2018, and will run for 10 weeks until 28th March.This is a separate consultation to the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement consultation, the second part of which closes on 19th December. The consultation will have two parts: the first will be on “infrastructure design options” and mitigation measures, while the second will focus on the future design principles for airspace around Heathrow.  There will be around 35 consultation events – details of these will be published after 17th January.  Paul McGuinness, chair of the No Third Runway Coalition, said the announcement was “disingenuous” and “To claim that the public are being consulted, when the only subjects up for discussion exclude the matters on which the public is most concerned, is little more than a charade.” Mr McGuinness added that locals want to be consulted on “the flight paths for the extra 250,000 extra flights each year, and to learn which communities will start to be adversely impacted by aircraft noise for the very first time”. Heathrow is trying to find ways to build the 3rd runway scheme, but at lower cost. It says part of the consultation will be about options like the “reconfiguration of the M25”.

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Huge cost to many local authorities if Heathrow does not relocate Lakeside waste incinerator

The proposed Heathrow 3rd runway would require the demolition of the Lakeside waste incinerator. Heathrow has made no effort so far to ensure this is relocated. If there is a period without an incinerator, local authorities would have to spend many millions of £s on landfill tax (£86.10 per tonne) to dispose of waste that the Lakeside plant would have dealt with. In their submission to the Transport Committee, Grundon and Viridor say: “The revised draft NPS fails to address the planning policy vacuum that businesses like Lakeside face in trying to relocate in advance of Heathrow securing consent. This vacuum needs to be filled for the benefit of all of those businesses threatened by the new runway … the draft NPS still fails to provide any explicit support for the relocation of the Lakeside EfW or the associated complex.  Indeed, if the Lakeside EfW and the waste complex as a whole were not replaced, given the lack of acceptable alternatives, the direct consequences would be disruptive and financially harmful to the local authorities that rely upon the services provided.  … the revised NPS should state: The Government recognises the role of the Lakeside Energy from Waste plant in local waste management plans. The applicant should make all reasonable endeavours to replace the Lakeside Energy from Waste plant.”

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Labour Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald: “Heathrow is not a silver bullet for solving our air capacity constraints”

Andy McDonald said:  “Following the decision to leave the EU, supporting UK aviation has become more, not less, critical if the UK is to remain a global, outward-looking trading nation. A third runway at Heathrow remains subject to a Commons vote and, even if given the final go-ahead, it will not be completed for at least another 10-15 years.  Heathrow is not a silver bullet for solving our air capacity constraints.  We face capacity challenges here and now. That’s why more needs to be done to support connectivity into and out of other airports across the UK to unlock existing unused capacity, and develop the huge potential they have.” Airports like Luton are keen to capitalise on the years before any new runway was built, if it ever happens. The CEO of Luton hopes of fast rising air passenger demand for years, and that the aviation industry “must be granted the conditions to help it capitalise on this growth potential … If the UK is to fully realise the economic potential of the aviation industry, airports must be supported by better transport links.” The East of England CBI says the “re-letting of the new East Midlands Rail franchise offers the opportunity to deliver more fast trains to Luton Airport by simply stopping trains that already pass through the station every day”, which would help Luton serve more passengers.

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Heathrow may back 3rd runway play by Arora, destroying even more homes than NW runway scheme

Heathrow have backed a new plan for a 3rd runway, which appears to cut construction costs for the scheme at the expense of the loss of even more homes and communities, in an attempt to persuade politicians to vote through the scheme in 2018. The scheme, proposed by the Arora Group is for a 500 metre shorter runway, a bit further east. It might cost £6.7 billion less than Heathrow Airport’s own North West Runway plan. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, said : “it would not surprise us if we do something with him [Arora] as we expand the airport.” The Arora plan would bring parts of Harlington inside the new airport boundary, along with the whole of Sipson. It would also leave Longford village boxed in and sandwiched metres between two runways. The total number of homes that would be set for demolition would be much closer to a thousand, even higher than Heathrow’s own proposal of 783 homes lost. The plan would bring the new airport boundary closer to the original scheme put forward by BAA in 2009, which was successfully defeated in the High Court. That plan proposed a 2,200-metre runway across Sipson and Harlington. Residents in the Heathrow villages are upset, as this causes yet more uncertainty, worry and fear about their future.

Arora scheme below:

Heathrow NW runway scheme below:

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Holland-Kaye not ruling out Heathrow working with rival bid, by Arora, on building 3rd runway scheme

Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye has said he is not ruling out some form of collaboration with the team behind the Arora group bid to build a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Surinder Arora, a rich businessman who owns 16 hotels, a golf course and his own private airfield, is the largest single landowner on the site marked for Heathrow expansion. In July he put forward a plan, with US engineering firm Bechtel, in which he claimed the expansion could be done for £12.4 billion (shorter runway, bit further east) – roughly £5 billion cheaper than Heathrow’s initial estimate. Heathrow has since altered its plans to bring down construction costs, as airlines and investors are opposed to the sky-high costs.  Now Heathrow may also try to work with Mr Arora’s company in some way. Holland-Kaye said: “It would not surprise us if we do something with him …” but would not speculate on what. Heathrow and the Arora Group are currently working on two  Heathrow hotels. The 2nd DfT consultation on the Airports NPS (for the 3rd Heathrow runway) welcomed competing bids for the work and stated the Government did not have a preference for who constructed the 3rd runway as long as it met the specifications outlined by the Airports Commission.  Jock Lowe is still promoting his “Heathrow Hub” scheme, for an extended northern runway, which is claimed to cost around £10 billion.

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Safety report by consultants Ebeni says Heathrow 3rd runway could only be used part of the time, due to taxiway location

A report from engineering safety consultants, Ebeni, says Heathrow will not be able to expand to its promised 740,000 flights a year because of safety flaws involving its proposed 3rd runway. Heathrow needs to get the number of flights up, to pay for the massive cost of the runway and associated building, but Ebeni believes there could not be more than 700,000 flights per year, because the new taxiway (linking the 3rd runway to the terminals) at the end of the northern runway could interfere with departures. Ebeni’s aviation experts think the tail fins of large planes like the A380 or 747 are so high that they would infringe on the clearance space needed by planes taking off over them. Therefore that taxiway could be used only between departures on the northern runway, reducing the number of flights by 15 per hour. The Ebeni report was commissioned by Heathrow Hub, that wants to build a 3rd runway, but as a western extension of the current northern runway.  Ebeni also expect the Heathrow north-west runway scheme would would have a much worse noise impact on homes than Heathrow has suggested.  The full report is not available to the public, but Heathrow Hub’s Jack Lowe is giving oral evidence to the Transport Committee on 4th December.

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Moody’s expects a slowdown in traffic growth at UK airports as airlines move capacity elsewhere

Moody’s report on European airports in 2018 expects “strong” growth at most, though “significant event risks around Brexit could slow the pace of growth in passenger numbers in the UK.”   This is the first time Moody’s has assigned a separate outlook to the European airport sector. Previously, the rating agency had assigned an outlook to the overall European transport infrastructure sector, comprising the toll road, airport and sea port sectors. For air travel Moody’s sees an improved economic environment, continued low fuel costs, relatively contained airfare inflation and growing airline capacity – so increasing the demand. They expect traffic growth of 5%-7% for continental airports but 3%-6% at UK airports. “This reflects the UK’s more subdued macro prospects, as well as the decision by some airlines to move some capacity away from the UK to more profitable markets, such as Germany, resulting in lower capacity increases than those experienced in recent years.”  While Moody’s base case is for new aviation agreements to be put in place post-Brexit, in the most extreme case, if no new aviation agreements are reached, UK airports would be exposed to a sudden loss of air traffic rights covering around 80% of current passenger traffic volumes. [But the DfT is anticipating rapidly rising air travel demand, to justify building a new runway at Heathrow … now in question?]

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Mayor’s Draft London Plan, out to consultation, adamant that aviation’s noise, CO2 and air pollution stay within limits

The Mayor of London has put out for consultation the New Draft London Plan (ends 2 March 2018). There is an extensive section on aviation, with the Mayor adamant that the aviation sector, and any airport expansion, must stay within environmental limits. The Policy T8 Aviation (P 433 of the consultation document) sets out core principles. These include:

D. The Mayor will oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport unless it can be shown that no additional noise or air quality harm would result, and that the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities.

E. All airport expansion proposals should demonstrate how public transport and other surface access networks would accommodate resulting increases in demand alongside forecast background growth; this should include credible plans by the airport for funding and delivery of the required infrastructure.

F. Proposals that would lead to changes in airport operations or air traffic movements must take full account of their environmental impacts and the views of affected communities. Any changes to London’s airspace must treat London’s major airports equitably when airspace is allocated.

And C – the environmental impacts of aviation must be fully acknowledged and the aviation industry should fully meet its external and environmental costs particularly in respect of noise, air quality and climate change …

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CAA invite anyone affected by aircraft noise to complete their survey – ends 5th January 2018

The CAA has a current consultation on aircraft noise, for those affected by it. The consultation started on 6th July and ends on 5th January. It is a short survey that is easy for individuals to complete on the basis of their own personal noise experience. The CAA says  it is “looking at how we can influence the aviation industry’s noise performance, and we would like to hear from people impacted by aviation noise to get a better understanding of what you would like us to do about noise.” (Anything other than not allow more and more flights ….) The CAA says: “Answering these questions will help us to understand which areas people who are affected by aviation noise would like us to focus on, and therefore help to define our work programme. However, we will not always be able to act, and at the moment we are looking at how we use our existing powers to improve noise.” … “We intend to use this information to inform how we use our existing powers to improve noise performance in the coming years. If we believe that we, or another organisation, need more powers to influence the things that matter most to people, we will explain why this is the case when we publish a response.”

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No 3rd Runway Coalition letter in Yorkshire Post: “Few benefits for regions if Heathrow is allowed to expand”

In a letter by the No 3rd Runway Coalition (NoR3)  in the Yorkshire Post, they explain how Heathrow has been conducting a variety of lavishly funded public relations exercises to counter the widely held perception that its expansion would be yet another South-East-centric project, which can only further entrench the UK’s economic divisions. So Heathrow has claimed that a number of regions will become “logistic” hubs for the 3rd runway’s construction. Just 4 of these “hubs” will be chosen, but 65 regions are invited to bid – building up their hopes (and driving support for the runway). The NoR3 coalition say “By the time the 61 losers learn who they are, it is hoped that their regional leaders will have sold their souls, speaking up Heathrow expansion, to curry favour with the airport. Clever. But cynical. Equally contemptuous is the way in which Heathrow is using this stunt to claim economic benefits for the country, which is knows is not supported by the latest figures.” The correct figures for economic benefits for the UK from the runway are tiny (NPV – when costs are taken into account – of just £3.3 billion, for all the UK over 60 years, or even a negative figure…) and it is likely any possible benefits will be for the South East. Not the regions. Regional business people need to ask serious questions of Heathrow (and the DfT) on the reality of purported jobs and investment.

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Autumn Budget: short haul APD unchanged. Slight rises for long haul from April 2018, especially premium classes + private jets

APD since 1st April 2017 for standard class tickets to destinations under 2,000 miles away is just £13. It will stay at £13 for any return flight (adults over the age of 18 only) of under 2,000 miles, (ie. all Europe etc) for the foreseeable future. The rate of APD for trips under 2,000 miles now is £26 for premium classes, and £78 for private jet. These rates for short haul trips will all remain unchanged.  For almost four in five air passengers, APD will have increased by just £3 between 1997 and 2020 – a period of 23 years. There will be very slight increases in APD, after 1st April 2018, for trips of over 2,000 miles. The increase for standard class will go from £75 now to £78.  The rate for premium class tickets will go from £150 now to £156 from April 2018, up to £172 from April 2019. The APD for business jets, for trips over 2,000 miles, will go from £450 now, to £468 from April 2018 and to £515 from April 2019.  So while Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement on 7th March 2017 said: “Air Passenger Duty for 2018-19 will be uprated in line with RPI” there has been no change on flights to Europe. There are instead to be rises of about 10% in the APD for premium and private jet flights over 2,000 miles after April 2019. Overall the amount of APD expected to be raised by the Treasury are slightly higher than earlier estimates, with the amount being 3.3 billion in 2017-18; 3.5 bn in 2018-19; 3.6 bn in 2019-20; 3.8 bn in 2020-21;3.9 bn in 2021-22; and 4.0 bn in 2022-23.

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Heathrow promises it makes at its “Business Summits” – next in East Midlands
 – exaggerated & based on flawed projections

Heathrow is holding another of its “Business Summits” on 23rd November, in Derby. The aim of these is to excite regional businesses about how much they could benefit from the building of a 3rd runway. However, while Heathrow claims there would be huge financial benefits for the whole country – using wildly exaggerated figures, the reality is very different. Heathrow persists in using a crazy figure of “up to £211 billion” economic benefits, even the DfT’s own reports indicate at most about £3.3 billion. That would be the “Net Present Value” over 60 years, for the whole of the UK, after taking off costs. The figure could be as low as minus (yes, a negative number) 2.2 billion. These are government figures, not numbers from anti-Heathrow campaigners.  The 3.3 bn figure translates to under 50p UK resident per year. (ie. £3.3 bn divided by 70 million).  It is difficult to see how such paltry benefits could “play a major role in boosting jobs and growth in the regions” outside of the South East, as Heathrow claims.  The CBI’s 2016 report “Unlocking Regional Growth” identified that businesses want direct flights to centres of trade and commerce (i.e. without transfer before reaching their destination); in other words, that it will be through direct flights to the closest airports that the Midlands will become better connected. Not via Heathrow.

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From DfT data (Oct 2017) showing minimal Heathrow economic benefits to the UK, over 60 years   ( P 44 of DfT Updated Appraisal Report) 

Judge rejects 3 legal challenges against proposed new 2nd runway at Dublin Airport

The High Court in Ireland has thrown out three challenges against plans for a 3,100 metre 2nd runway at Dublin airport. Mr Justice Max Barrett dismissed actions that arose over the runway plans, which Dublin Airport (DAA) wants so it can become an international hub, rivalling Heathrow. The judge dismissed an action by Friends of the Irish Environment, which claimed that the decision to grant planning permission was not in compliance with EU directives or the 2000 Planning and Development Act. The group also argued that the proposed runway would result in additional greenhouse gas emissions, which will increase the pace of climate change.  He also dismissed another claim on certain pre-construction works.  The judge’s ruling said “laws matter, rules matter but mistakes happen” and in this case he was not exercising the court’s discretion to find in favour of the residents. The judge also dismissed an action brought by 22 residents, who said local Fingal council failed to consider or address their concerns about the 2nd runway’s effect on their homes and land – though he said he respected the fighting spirit of the residents and “sympathised” with them in the predicament they found themselves in. The cases have been adjourned for a week to allow the various parties to consider the rulings, or if any will appeal.

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Rival Heathrow expansion consortium, Arora, upbeat as Government opens door to competition on building 3rd runway etc

The Telegraph reports that the government has said it welcomes competition in the construction of the nation’s airports. Hotel owner Surinder Arora had earlier this year proposed a cheaper way to build a Heathrow 3rd runway, cutting about £5 billion off the price. Government documents related to the expansion had previously assumed Heathrow would be in charge of the construction project and choose which contractors it wanted to help it fulfil the scheme. But the DfT says in the revised consultation on its Airports NPS (National Policy Statement) that it would welcome competing bids for the work. The NPS consultation (p7)  says: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Airports NPS does not identify any statutory undertaker as the appropriate person or appropriate persons to carry out the preferred scheme.” And there could be “more than one application for development consent, dealing with different components individually”. The Telegraph believes a key difference, if a body other than Heathrow did the building, would be that the party behind the construction would receive the associated income it generates from passenger and airline charges, as well as retail rental payments. But there could be more risks, more costs etc.

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Blog by Canadian IRPP political studies academic: Rising air travel emissions “the policy options are limited”

“Unlike the shift towards electrification of automobiles and the growth of renewables, there are no good policy options on the table for adequately reducing emissions from aviation.  Sadly, the only genuine way to reduce our collective carbon footprint from long-distance transport – given available technologies – is to significantly cut down on passenger and cargo flights. … Cut out air travel or continue contributing to the ongoing climate emergency faced by our home planet — this is the inconvenient juncture at which we have arrived. … The number of air travellers globally has more than doubled in the last two decades, and forecasts expect demand for air travel to double again in the next two decades. The same story is true of world air cargo …  Not only are global regulatory “solutions” like CORSIA a non-starter, but new technologies are also impractical or unlikely to work at the level of the jumbo plane. …In the end, the only practical way to reduce our society’s emissions from long-distance air transport (while admittedly giving rise to social costs elsewhere) is to restrict the growth in demand for air transport. … It’s going to take some political guts” [with any effective measure – like higher tax or capping growth in flight numbers- unpopular] so politicians are unlikely to try.  But “Relying on technological innovation, other market forces, and a global system of carbon offsets will not solve the serious problem of growing GHG emissions from aviation” 

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Clear message from residents at the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) AGM: NO 3rd Runway

At a packed meeting in Harmondsworth, there were great contributions by local MP John McDonnell and Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation). John reiterated his certainty that the runway will not go ahead. He went through the many reasons, including air pollution, noise, carbon emissions and economics. And he emphasised the difficulties the government has with the politics, as so many constituencies are now marginal and so local issues (such as Heathrow airport impacts) would be key in a future election. John McDonnell said: “I’m into Parliamentary democracy, but I cannot allow this to happen to this area. The Government has responsibility to protect people and this project cannot happen”.  Cait Hewitt spoke about the insuperable problem of air pollution that a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause: “Government’s own recent forecasts show there is a high risk of a breach to air quality targets” … “The Government is prepared to gamble on air quality to build a third runway.” The AGM also heard about  problems of Heathrow withholding payments to those who have already sold up, and not paying all estate agent and moving costs. Residents do not trust Heathrow’s pledges on compensation payments, in the event that they were forced from their homes.

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Obscure aviation climate deal – ICAO’s CORSIA – could undermine the Paris Agreement

A new Columbia Law School report reveals major shortcomings in how the UN aviation agency (ICAO) interprets transparency and public participation requirements. The 36 member countries of ICAO met for closed talks in Montreal to discuss rules on its carbon offsetting scheme – known as CORSIA. Established in October 2016, the new carbon market is intended to compensate for the industry’s emissions growth above 2020 levels. But in addition tot he Columbia Law School report, new Carbon Market Watch analysis warns that a careful design of the rules is necessary to avoid undermining the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ICAO process needs to allow proper public scrutiny, to avoid being of low quality and trying to use illegitimate offsets. So far a lack of public scrutiny has allowed ICAO to develop climate policy in isolation, and this has serious and direct implications for the Paris Agreement.  Unless there are clear rules for how CO2 reductions purchased by airline operators are accounted for, it is likely that there will be double counting of these  cuts – risking the Paris goals. So far ICAO has kept the outcome of political meetings and important documents relating to the development of the CORSIA locked away from the public domain. By contrast, the IMP and UNFCCC generally provide engagement opportunities to the public

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No 3rd Runway Coalition letter to Chris Grayling, asking him to ensure adherence to Civil Service Code, correcting Heathrow factual errors

The No 3rd Runway Coalition have written the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to point out that civil servants and Ministers need to adhere to the Civil Service and Ministerial Codes of behaviour.  These require correction of factual errors. The Coalition understand that, at Heathrow’s recent Business Summits, the airport’s publicity material about the estimated economic benefits of a 3rd runway has been misleading, claiming benefits far higher than the official Government figures published by the DfT.  Heathrow claims benefits, generated by the runway, of £211 billion for the UK over 60 years. However, the figures from the DfT indicated that the maximum gross benefit could be £74 billion, over 60 years, with a Net Present Valuation (i.e. after all costs have been accounted for) of somewhere between £3 bn and a LOSS of £2.2bn, over 60 years. The Coalition understands that civil servants have attended the Heathrow summits, and failed to point out this inaccuracy.  Also that DfT civil servants (and possibly Ministers) will be attending the Heathrow Business Summits of 8th November (at Heathrow) and 23rd November (in Derby). The Coalition is asking for assurance from Mr Grayling that any civil servants and Ministers attending will identify Heathrow’s erroneous claims and correct them, by spelling out to summit attendees the Government’s own figures.

Click here to view full story…                 Civil Service Code

Stop Stansted Expansion say Government’s Aviation Forecast figures undermine Stansted’s claims on need for expansion

Claims by Stansted’s management that the airport’s growth potential over the next decade is being severely limited by the present cap on numbers at 35 mppa are being called into question by local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) following the publication of new Government figures. These numbers are in the DfT’s forecasts, published as part of the 2nd consultation on the Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow runway). Stansted’s owners, MAG, predict that it will be completely full by 2023 – and it therefore needs an increase in permitted numbers to be able to accommodate 43 million passengers in 2028. But SSE show that in the new DfT UK Aviation Forecasts, reveal this is wrong. The DfT central forecast for Stansted is that it should expect to handle just 31 million passengers annually by 2030, and 35 million by 2033.  Not by 2023. Stansted airport has been talking up the need for further growth – in anticipation of its application for planning permission from Uttlesford District Council in early 2018. And if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the DfT projects a decline in the number of Stansted passengers – from 24mppa in 2016 to 22mppa in 2030, and just 32 mppa by 2040. SSE say: “MAG’s overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy.”

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Andy McDonald (Shadow Transport Sec) speech – more clarity needed from government on aviation policy

Some comments by Andy McDonnell, to the AOA conference:  “None of the Brexit policy papers covered transport – which doesn’t reflect well on the government’s priorities. … Labour’s view is that any new agreements for aviation following Brexit should replicate the status quo as far as possible including retention of access to the Single European Skies system and full membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency. … Last month’s revised public consultation into proposals for a third runway at Heathrow once again highlighted the urgent need for clarity on the future of airport capacity. … Labour supports expansion provided our tests on capacity, emissions and regional benefits are met. In addition, expansion must be premised upon making better use of our existing capacity and developing a strategy to support smaller airports. … we regret that aviation is not more prominent in either the air quality plan or clean growth strategy. Labour believes the Department for Transport needs to set out in more detail how it will deliver the provisions of the Climate Change Act within aviation. … We believe that any changes [to airspace] should be made on the basis of noise impact and in full consultation with affected communities.”

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Blast from the past … January 2009 …                            from Theresa May’s own website

“Theresa speaks out against government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow

16 January 2009

Theresa May has spoken out against the Government’s plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which were approved by the Transport Secretary yesterday. The plans will result in an increase in flights over the local area, affecting thousands of people in Maidenhead and the surrounding area.

The Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, has stated that an additional 125,000 flights would be allowed each year but failed to rule out even bigger increases. Speaking in the House of Commons, Theresa questioned Mr Hoon, saying:

“As a result of today’s announcements, my constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service in Crossrail. I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that as a result of today’s announcement, nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again. On a very specific point, when terminal 5 was announced, the then Secretary of State promised us a cap on the number of flights a year of 480,000. The Government have now broken their word, and this Secretary of State is playing the same game. In today’s statement he says: ‘I want there to be a limit on the initial use of the third runway so that the increase in aircraft movements does not exceed 125,000 a year’. That is an aspiration, not a commitment. Will he now say that it is a commitment, how it will be put in place and why my constituents should believe him today any more than they believed the previous Transport Secretary who put a cap on flights?”

Commenting afterwards, Theresa said: “I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets.”

“As I suspected all along, the Government paid no attention to the opinions expressed by members of the public and have decided to push ahead with expansion despite all the environmental warnings. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.”

Theresa welcomed the Government’s decision not to proceed with ‘mixed mode’ operations at Heathrow, which would have increased the number of flights even before a third runway is built. She said, “Although this decision is welcome there are no guarantees as to how long the Government’s commitment will last, particularly given the way in which previous promises have been broken.” ”  

Click here for link to article on Theresa May’s website …

EAC REPORT   Environmental Audit Committee says government should not permit Heathrow runway without strict conditions

The EAC report’s conclusions say: “The Government should not approve Heathrow expansion until Heathrow Ltd. can demonstrate that it accepts and will comply with the Airports Commission conditions, including a night flight ban, that it is committed to covering the costs of surface transport improvements; that it is possible to reconcile Heathrow expansion with legal air pollution limits, and that an expanded Heathrow would be less noisy than a two runway Heathrow. In each case – climate change, air quality and noise – it needs to set out concrete proposals for mitigation alongside clear responsibilities and milestones against which performance can be measured. It should report regularly to Parliament, through this Committee and others, on progress. The Government should not avoid or defer these issues. To do so would increase the risks of the project: delay through legal challenge, unquantifiable costs resulting from unclear responsibilities, economic risks through constraint of other sectors to meet increased aviation emissions and longterm costs to public health from the impact of air pollution and noise.”

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EAC on PAYING FOR SURFACE ACCESS  Environmental Audit Committee says Heathrow must fund the infrastructure improvements necessary

One of the conditions that the Airports Commission suggested should imposed on a Heathrow runway was that the airport should pay most of the cost of the additional surface transport infrastructure. Heathrow has repeatedly said it is not willing to pay more than about £1 billion, though the costs are estimated by Transport for London to be £15 – 20 billion. The Environmental Audit Committee report says: “Before the Government decides to go ahead with Heathrow expansion it should set out its assessment of what would be required in terms of infrastructure improvements, agreed responsibilities for funding and milestones for completion. This should be part of a wider transport strategy for West London to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. The Government must make a binding commitment that Heathrow will fund the infrastructure improvements necessary to accommodate an expanded Heathrow.” The government has said it will not pay, with Richard Goodwill stating in October that: “…. the Government has been clear that it expects the scheme promoter to meet the costs of any surface access proposals that are required as a direct result of airport expansion and from which they will directly benefit.”

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EAC on NOISE Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure a 3-runway Heathrow is genuinely no noisier than with 2 runways

The Environmental Audit Committee report looked at noise, as one of the issues that need to be revolved, if the Government wants to approve a Heathrow runway. The EAC says the current metrics that average noise are inadequate. They do not account for peak noise events, and may “ignore a swathe of people who are overflown infrequently but loudly.” “These metrics need to be measured against international standards such as WHO recommendations and inform a change in Government policy on aviation noise.” A new Independent Aviation Noise Authority will “need a more up to date understanding of people’s attitudes to noise if it is to be credible. One of the first tasks of such a body should be to undertake a survey of people’s attitudes to aviation noise.” The EAC says the government has to show “whether an expanded Heathrow would be noisier or less noisy than a two runway Heathrow at the same point in time.” On night flights the EAC says: “The Government should publish a plan, including a series of binding milestones, to deliver the proposed ban as part of any announcement to proceed with expansion at Heathrow…” And even if there is no 3rd runway, an Independent Aviation Noise Authority and a Community Engagement Board should be set up, to address the rock-bottom level of trust local people have in the airport.

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EAC on AIR QUALITY Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained

The Environmental Audit Committee report on a Heathrow runway, says in relation to air pollution: “Before the Government makes its decision, it should make its own assessment of the likely costs of preventing an adverse impact on health from expansion at Heathrow and publish it.” Also that the government should not consider a new runway merely if air quality could be worse elsewhere in London than in the Heathrow area. The government will need to demonstrate that legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained “even when the expanded airport is operating at full capacity. Heathrow’s existing air quality strategy should also be revised to meet the new targets. Failing this, Heathrow should not be allowed to expand.” As for not using the new runway if air quality is too poor: “The Government should not approve expansion at Heathrow until it has developed a robust framework for delivery and accountability. This should have binding, real-world milestones and balance the need for investor certainty with assurances that a successor Government cannot set the conditions aside if they become inconvenient.” In distinguishing pollution from the airport, or from other sources: “The Government must establish clearly delineated responsibilities for meeting air quality limits before deciding to go ahead with the scheme” to avoid future legal and commercial risks.

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EAC on CARBON  Environmental Audit Committee says Government must act by 2016 to ensure aviation carbon cap is met

The Environmental Audit Committee report says the Airports Commission said the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) was the expert in this area, not it. Therefore the EAC says: “The Government cannot credibly rely on the Commission’s analysis as evidence that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within the limits set by the 2008 Act …..We recommend that the Government give the CCC the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s forecasting of aviation emissions and the feasibility of its possible carbon policy scenarios. The Government should act on any recommendations they make. … Before making any decision on Heathrow expansion, the Government should publish an assessment of the likely impact on the aviation industry – particularly regional airports – and wider economy of measures to mitigate the likely level of additional emissions from Heathrow. …any Government decision on airport expansion should be accompanied by a package of measures to demonstrate a commitment to bringing emissions from international aviation within the economy-wide target set by the 2008 Act. They should also, as a minimum, commit to accepting the CCC’s advice on aviation in relation to the 5th carbon budget, introducing an effective policy framework to bring aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 no later than autumn 2016….”

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TfL confirms extent to which Airports Commission underestimated Heathrow runway impact on surface access

TfL Heathrow fully utilised road trips

On 10th November, the GLA Transport Committee had a session looking at the implications for surface access – road, rail and Tube – if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway. There was a presentation by Richard De Cani (Transport for London’s Managing Director – Planning). The meeting was described as a “well mannered mugging” of the Airports Commission’s (AC) analysis of the situation. The AC did not assess the impact of a fully utilised 3rd runway, with 148 mppa; instead they only looked at the situation in 2030 with 125mppa. That might mean 70,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC.They also did not take into account how recent employment forecasts will increase demand even further, or increased vehicles needed for expanded air freight capacity. TfL estimates it would cost between £15 and £20 billion to improve the transport infrastructure needed to get all passengers to and from Heathrow, with a 3rd runway. Unless this is spent, the road congestion and the rail congestion even by 2030 would be “some of the worst that we currently see in London.” It would “impact quite significantly on the whole performance of the transport network across west and south west London.” If there was a congestion charge, the impact on public transport would be even higher (perhaps 90,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC).  See the full presentation. 

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Forget “vital business connectivity” – Air travel makes you happy, says the Airports Commission. That’s why we need another runway

The Airport Commission (AC) changed its arguments sharply between its 2013 interim report and the final document. Initially the idea was that there was a need for a runway because of a rising need for business air travel, and vital business routes. Interestingly, in its final report, the AC – realising that the demand for business flights is not growing – has switched to saying it is good for leisure travellers. At Heathrow only at most 30% of passengers are on business, the majority are on holiday, and the rest visiting friends and relatives (VFR). The AC says because air travel and holidays make people happy, put them in a better of mind and give a feeling of well-being, a runway is needed so we can fly even more than we already do. This runway if ever built would, unavoidably, be mainly used for ever more leisure trips. Nothing to do with emerging economies or connectivity, unless the business people help make fares cheaper for the tourists, and vice versa. Having an annual holiday is associated with greater happiness. Whether taken by plane or other modes of travel. Nobody will be surprised. People who are able to take holidays tend to be happier than those that do not. (People involuntarily living with the adverse impacts of an airport may have lower well-being and be less happy).

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Supreme irony of the hottest July day on record at Heathrow


Hottest July day on record as temperatures reach 36.7C at Heathrow. The previous record was 36.5 °C on 19th July 2006 in Wisley, Surrey. Roads melted and trains were cancelled. Urgent health warnings were issued and paramedics dealt with a surge in calls amid fears the hot weather could result in deaths. Wimbledon recorded the hottest day in its history as players sweltered in the searing heat of Centre Court. The London Ambulance Service said it had seen call-outs to people fainting increase by more than a third (35%) compared to the same day last week. Britain’s trains were blighted by delays and cancellations as Network Rail imposed speed restrictions on some lines amid fears the metal tracks could buckle under the searing heat.

And yet, as a supreme irony, this was the day the Airports Commission advocated building a 3rd runway at Heathrow, knowing the extra carbon emissions this will generate will mean putting the UK’s climate targets at risk. The heat wave is the sort of weather that scientists expect would be come increasingly common, as global CO2 levels rise.


CCC confirm UK air passenger rise of 60% by 2050 only possible if carbon intensify of flying improves by one third

The Committee on Climate Change has reported to Parliament on progress on the UK’s carbon budgets. They say: “Under the current rate of progress future budgets will not all be met.” Carbon budgets do not currently include emissions from international aviation and shipping, but these are included in the 2050 carbon target. The government will review aviation’s inclusion in carbon budgets in 2016. In 2012 the UK’s international aviation emitted 32 MtCO2, and domestic aviation 1.6 MtCO2. The CCC and the Airports Commission say a new runway can fit within climate targets, but their own figures show aviation growth exceeding the target for decades. Growth in passengers of “around” 60% above 2005 levels could only fit within the carbon target if there is an improvement in the carbon intensity of aviation of around one-third by 2050. The Airports Commission’s own interim report says there can only be 36% growth in flights by 2050, to stay within targets. They say any more growth than that should not happen, “unless and until” there are the necessary technology improvements, cutting aviation emissions. But neither the government, nor the CCC, nor the Airports Commission can pin down what these will be, or when they will happen. UK aviation emissions remain the highest in Europe.

Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

Work by the IPCC now estimates that aviation accounted for 4.9% of man-made climate impacts in 2005. This contrasts with the 2% figure that is constantly quoted by aviation lobbyists, and 3% which the same authors quoted two years ago. They have now revised their estimates with 2 important changes: including for the first time estimates of cirrus cloud formation and allowing for aviation growth between 2000 and 2005. The effect of these is to increase aviation’s impacts to 3.5% without cirrus and 4.9% including cirrus. 23.5.2009  More  …

Committee on Climate Change.

4th Carbon Budget UK should commit to a 60% cut in emissions by 2030 as a contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

Aviation emissions must be no higher in 2050 than in 2005, and to do this, all other sectors must cut by 85% by 2050 to allow aviation to grow by 60%

The Committee on Climate Change today recommended a Carbon Budget for 2023-27 and a target for emissions reductions in 2030 – halfway between now and 2050. The recommended target for 2030, to cut emissions by 60% relative to 1990 levels (46% relative to current levels), would then require a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act. The Carbon Budget says international aviation and shipping should be included, and it is vital that UK aviation emissions in 2050 are no higher than in 2005.  Also that, as technologies to cut aviation emissions are not readily available, other sectors of the economy will need to cut by 85% in 2050 in order to let aviation grow by 60%.  7.12.2010  More ….. . . .