planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION

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Changes brought in by NATS on February 4th mean new noise ghettos in east London due to London City flights

On 4th February, NATS implemented the first phase of its LAMP (London Airspace Management Programme). It says this was approved by the CAA in November 2015. It means that routes into and out of London City airport will be altered, and routes will be concentrated – using PR-NAV (precision navigation). The changes involve use of a “point merge” system for arrivals, with the joining points to the ILS out at sea. They will mean all the planes from Westerly departures will be routed over for Bow, Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Redbridge, Barkingside, Collier Row and Harold Hill. For Easterly departures, all the planes will be routed over Barking Riverside, Dagenham, Elm park and Hornchurch. And for Easterly arrivals, all the planes will be routed over Bexley, Sidcup, New Eltham, Mottingham, Catford, Dulwich Village, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall. The changes are described by NATS in glowing terms – about “more efficient flights, saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions, reducing noise, keeping aircraft higher for longer and minimising areas regularly overflown.” And, of course, enabling more flights to be crammed into crowded airspace – to enable the aviation industry to increase the number of flights. HACAN East is talking to its lawyers about a JR against the CAA for failure to consult.

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Andrew Tyrie, Chair of Treasury Select Committee, says economic case for a new runway unclear and based on “opaque” information

Proper research may show  the UK does not need a runway at all.   The letter                 Andrew Tyrie, is the chairman of the influential Commons Treasury select committee. He has now said parliament and the public had been left partly in the dark on the case for a new runway, because the Airports Commission’s analysis is not good enough. He said the decision on airport expansion is being taken on the basis of information that was “opaque in a number of important respects.” Mr Tyrie said the robustness of the Airports commission’s conclusions could not be determined from the information in its report. “Parliament has demanded more transparency over the environmental case. At least as important is the economic case.” Mr Tyrie said it was impossible to tell if the potential economic benefits for the UK of the proposals by Heathrow or Gatwick differed significantly from one another, or even if the benefits of building either are significantly different from not building any new runways. “A decision as controversial as this — one that has bedevilled past governments for decades — requires as much transparency as reasonably possible.” Andrew Tyrie has written to George Osborne calling for more details of the calculations that led to the Commission recommending a Heathrow runway. He also also called for the process to be moved from the DfT to the Treasury.

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Arrivals Review for Gatwick suggests a range of measures to slightly reduce the noise problem

The Arrivals Review, by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake, has now been published. It has made a series of recommendations for ways in which the aircraft noise problem might be slightly reduced – without limiting the capacity of the airport at all. These recommendations are copied below. The report is wide-ranging, with a lot of issues covered. Below just what is says on four topics (chosen arbitrarily by AirportWatch, to give a taster of the report) is included. These are 1). The decision to move the joining point onto the ILS to be a minimum of 8nm from touchdown, rather than the 10nm used at present. 2). Changing the way Gatwick uses its runway in nil or low wind. 3). Deterring flights being delayed to take-offs occur during the night period, as a Key Performance Indicator. 4). The noise complaints policy needs to be improved. (The review comments: “the current limit of one noise complaint per day per household is considered wholly unacceptable by those residents addressing this issue with the review. It is easy to understand their point of view.”) They propose: “that Gatwick should establish an enhanced complaints policy with no daily limit and a fully transparent procedure, as soon as possible, using an on-line form as the sole electronic complaint registration medium.” The Review also recommends the establishment of a Noise Management Board (NMB) by summer 2016.

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“Heathrow13” climate protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass – sentencing 24th February, possibly for prison

Thirteen members of the Plane Stupid campaign group who occupied the eastern end of Heathrow’s northern runway on 13th July 2015 have been found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome. They have been told it is almost inevitable they will face a prison term. Their defence had been that their actions were intended to prevent death or serous illness to people. However, district judge Deborah Wright (who sat alone) said the cost of the disruption at Heathrow was “absolutely astronomical”. Those convicted were clapped and cheered as they left the court. They have been bailed to appear for sentencing on 24 February. A statement released by the #Heathrow13 following their convictions read: “Today’s judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.” They say instead of the government taking action to cut carbon emissions, it is intending to spend millions making the problem bigger, if another runway is allowed. Though the judge recognised “They are all principled people” she considered what the protesters did was “symbolic and designed to make a point, not to save lives”.

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Patrick McLoughlin hints that EU referendum could delay runway decision, even beyond this summer

One of the many omissions by the Airports Commission, in its analysis of whether a runway should be built, and its recommendation, is the impact of the UK leaving the EU. It was not considered. Clearly, if the UK did leave Europe after a referendum, there would be complicated economic impacts – which would take years to work through. Now the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, speaking in an interview on LBC, has said there could indeed be a delay in the government making a decision due to the referendum and the uncertainty about that. Asked when there would be a decision, he replied: “I hope later this year. We have said we would hope to move some way by the summer of this year.” And he went on: “There’s lots of other things which are going on in the political spectrum – if there’s a referendum this summer, and the like. But I would hope by the summer of this year we will be able to make progress.” There is no mention at all of the issue in the Airports Commission’s final report in July 2015 nor in the many supporting documents, nor in its interim report, in December 2013. David Cameron has said the EU referendum will happen by the end of 2017. It may happen as early as June or July 2016.

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Supportive protest outside start of Plane Stupid’s #Heathrow13 trial for Heathrow incursion in July

The trial of the 13 members of Plane Stupid, who broke into Heathrow airport on 13th July, started at Willesden Magistrates Court on 18th. They are charged with Aggravated Trespass and entering a security restricted area. Their protest caused the cancellation of some 25 flights, which saved an estimated 250 tonnes of CO2. In doing so, they argue that helped to save lives in the Global South, by making a small cut in the emissions that fuel climate chaos. All 13 are pleading not guilty, and say their action was reasonable and justified in the climate context. They say “Climate defence is not an offence!” The judge hearing the case, by herself, is Judge Wright. The prosecution has been brought by the CPS. There was a large gathering outside the court, for the start of the trial, with many groups expressing their solidarity. This started with a short statement by the #Heathrow13 on their defence, before they entered the court to repeated chants of “No ifs, No Buts, No new runways!” Judge Wright declared that the fact that aviation fuel is linked to climate change is indisputable. The judge is looking at two issues: 1. Did the 13 genuinely believe their actions were necessary to prevent death or serious illness? And 2. Whether objectively their actions were reasonable and proportionate in order to prevent death or serious illness.

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Green Party argue that site of London City Airport should become a multi-use development, for homes and businesses

The idea of closing London City Airport and using the huge amount of land it takes up for more intensive, and useful, purposes is not new. A report was produced in April 2014 by NEF, setting out very persuasive reasons why this is not a crazy idea. Now Sian Berry, the Green Party Mayoral Candidate, has again suggested this. The plan she proposes is for the site, which is currently up for sale, into a new quarter for homes, businesses and innovative industries. The Greens propose a consortium with City Hall, councils, business and academia to buy the airport. They are urging potential purchasers to look seriously at the compelling business case for changing the use of the site. The land taken up by the airport, and land around it which is in the Public Safety Zone (for crash risk) and so cannot be used, could create far more economic activity, and far more jobs. This might amount to some 16,000 more jobs than the airport provides and add an additional £400 million to the UK’s economy. The land is in a key geographical location, and would be easy to link to transport networks. It could create thousands of new homes within easy reach of central London, helping to ease the housing crisis. As a writer from Estates Gazette says: “London is crying out for more big sites like this where mixed-use schemes can be built.” The site is wasted as a small airport – especially when Crossrail makes the trip from the Docklands area to Heathrow easy and fast.

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AEF report finds UK’s out-of-date aircraft noise policies putting the health of over one million people at risk

A new report by the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has identified that the Government’s aircraft noise policies are risking the health of over one million people and an urgent policy rethink is needed ahead of runway decisions in 2016. Aircraft noise is associated with increased risk of increased blood pressure, and higher risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke. Health is also detrimentally affected through sleep disturbance and annoyance. Aircraft noise impedes the memory and learning ability of school children. The UK’s aircraft noise policy has not been updated in line with this mounting evidence base, with some noise policies based on studies dating back to the early 1980s. The Government’s lack of response to emerging evidence on noise may be costing the UK £540 million each year.The noise problem is particularly acute at Heathrow, including many affected schools, but there are serious problems at many other airports too. The health burden is not just experienced close to airports, with high levels of noise miles from the runway. The current policy on flight paths does not consider the impact of sudden changes, or the health impacts of newly affected communities. The report calls for the Government to act now to reduce the health burden from aircraft noise. Long-term noise targets are needed to protect health, and all noise policies should be reviewed in the light of these targets. A new runway should only be permitted if the noise burdens are reduced.

The report: “Aircraft Noise and Public Health: the evidence is loud and clear”

Estimated 20,000 protesters from across France demonstrate massive opposition to proposed Nantes airport

Organisers of the massive peaceful protest on the 9th January, against the proposed new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes estimated there were 20,000 people at the demonstration. The aim was to show the massive opposition there is to the airport, and especially to the forced eviction of the 11 families and 4 farmers from land on the planned construction site. At the protest, traffic was halted on the Nantes ring road, using dozens of tractors and blocking access to the city’s airport, Nantes Atlantique. Protesters say that the €580 million project is not necessary,will be detrimental to the environment and is a wasteful use of government funds.The battle against this development has been going on for 15 years, and has become a focal issue across France, against unnecessary high carbon projects that damage the environment or uproot people. There are over 100 support committees in places across France. The airport would require the loss of valuable marshy habitat, home to important wildlife, and good agricultural land. Some agricultural organizations threatened to maintain an indefinite blockade of one of the main river crossings, the Chevire Bridge over the Loire. Clashes between protesters and the authorities in 2012 resulted in a temporary halt to construction. The last major protest resulted in clashes with police in February 2014. There was a legal hearing in Nantes about the evictions on Tuesday 13th January – with again a huge crowd outside – the outcome is expected to be known on 25th January.

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Sunday Times reports how Heathrow has paid its owners dividends of £2.1 billion since 2012 – but just £24 million in Corporation Tax

The Sunday Times reports that Heathrow has paid its owners back £2.1 billion in dividends, starting in 2012. But it has only paid a total of £24 million in corporation tax since 2006, with that payment being last year. Heathrow’s owners are rewarded whenever the value of the airport increases. If new airport infrastructure is built, the passengers pay for it through the £20 cost on their ticket (and other spending), and the owners benefit.. The CAA calculates how much is spent on investment, and allows Heathrow’s investors to earn a return on the total. The more Heathrow spends, the more its backers can earn. If Heathrow was to spend £17.6 billion on its expansion, the value of the airport would be considered to have increased that much. Due to the huge debts Heathrow has (£12.5 billion out of the £16 billion Ferrovial paid in 2006) the airport’s banks prevented dividends to owners, until 2012. They got £240 million in 2012, which has risen to £2.1 billion. Some of the proceeds of the sale of Gatwick, Edinburgh etc has been used for dividends. The Sunday Times says: …”with a debt-to-assets ratio of about 85% is one of the most heavily indebted airports in the world.” Heathrow will have to recoup the money by high passenger charges, years before the runway is built and open, as otherwise Heathrow’s massive investors are not prepared to take the financial risk. Heathrow is no longer a company quoted on the stock exchange, but that could happen in future.

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“Gatwick Obviously NOT” given permission to take their JR of the CAA  (for changing flight paths without consultation) to the Appeal Court

The group, “Gatwick Obviously NOT” (GON) has received the welcome news that their appeal to be allowed to make a Judicial Review (JR) against the CAA has been successful. They have now won Permission to go to a Full Hearing in the Appeal Court. In March 2015, Martin Baraud, the Chair of GON, served a JR upon the CAA, with Gatwick Airport Ltd and the Secretary of State for Transport as an ‘Interested Party’. The “Ground of Claim” is that there has indeed been a change in the use of airspace and that the CAA should first have consulted on such change before it was put into effect by GAL and NATS. In August, they were refused permission to proceed with the JR. Taking advice from their QC, John Steel, they appealed. GON say the judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, while refusing the Permission, added a postscript, seeming to suggest that there may be an issue about the need for consultation for ‘seismic’ events (such as the flight path changes introduced without notice) that is more a matter for the law-makers, not the lawyers. Now GON are pleased that the Judge The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Burnett has stated that the case – very significantly – must be held in the Appeal Court rather than the High Court. This is in order to “‘obtain an authoritative ruling on the meaning of relevant provisions, which govern similar arrangements at airports other than Gatwick”.

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2,000 small “No 3rd runway” planes planted near Parliament (one for each plane using Heathrow per day with a new runway)

A large group of Heathrow anti-runway campaigners gathered near Parliament, in Victoria Gardens, to plant rows of small black planes, each with the message “No 3rd Runway.” The number planted – 2,000 – is the number of aircraft that would used Heathrow per day, with a fully used 3rd runway. That is a total of 730,000 flights per year, up from the total cap at present of 480,000 per year. Heathrow says it could be 740,000 flights …. The event, timed to coincide with the first day Parliament resumes this year, was to highlight the fact that 2016 will be a grim year for residents if a 3rd runway is given the go-ahead. Of the 2,000 planes, about 500 were planted by HACAN; about 400 by CHATR (the group in Chiswick); about 300 by Friends of the Earth; and about 800 by SHE – Stop Heathrow Expansion – to symbolise that around 800 homes would be demolished for the runway. After the government delayed its decision on a runway, expected in December, until some time in summer 2016, or shortly after the summer, the anguish and uncertainty for all those facing the threat of a new runway continue. There are yet more stressful and worrying months ahead – but the campaign against the Heathrow 3rd runway is in fighting form, and ever more determined.

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Prof David Metz: “The solution to London’s airport capacity crisis? Do nothing”

David Metz is an Honorary professor of transport studies at UCL. He has written a sensible assessment of what should be done with the alleged “crisis” of London’s airport capacity. He says for “road travel, “predict and provide” has been largely abandoned by developed economies. These days the favoured approach is called “managing demand”. This method works on the basis that attempting to meet an ever-growing demand is impractical…” “what would happen if we didn’t build another runway at all? For air travel, the answer lies within the market. Three–quarters of passengers are on leisure trips…”… “The case for more airport capacity to support inbound tourism is weak. While London’s hospitality, entertainment and retail sectors would welcome more visitors, Britain has a negative balance of trade in tourism: that is, British people abroad spend a lot more each year than overseas visitors to the UK.”…”If we decided not to build a further runway at Heathrow, the market would respond to this capacity constraint by accommodating the most valuable passengers through price increases.”…”The growth of business travel would displace leisure travel, both within aircraft on existing routes and between routes, where time is traded against money.”… “Managing the demand for air travel though market mechanisms is a viable alternative to building more airport capacity”

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Lilian Greenwood displays the confused thinking of Labour in its enthusiasm for a runway

The Labour party remains in a mess on what to do on runways. They have a position of stating that “Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, alongside any additional material that is commissioned, and we will respond on the basis of our four tests for aviation expansion. These are: 1.That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity. 2. That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met. 3. That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimised. 4. That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East.” But, though Lilian Greenwood, the Shadow Transport Secretary herself bought up a bit of Airplot in 2009 to prevent a Heathrow runway, she now says: “There is no doubt … that we need a new runway.” And “Aviation expansion is a matter of national significance and, having committed to addressing the problem head on, David Cameron faces a loss of credibility if he ducks the issue now. The UK needs additional capacity, but the prospect of any expansion is now in doubt.” But Labour itself says the runway has to meet the 4 conditions. And in reality that is not possible. So Labour’s position?

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DEFRA produces plan to improve air quality – Client Earth regards it as inadequate

A ruling by the Supreme Court in April 2015 required the government to produce a comprehensive plan to meet air pollution limits by December. The government has now produced this. The intention is that it has to include low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives. It is thought that due to the failure to meet European limits of harmful NOx gases, which are mostly caused by diesel traffic, there are up to 9,500 premature deaths each year in London alone. Under the government’s plan, “Clean Air Zones” will be introduced – by 2020 – in areas of Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton where pollution is most serious. However, though vehicles like old buses, taxis, coaches and lorries have to pay a charge to enter these zones – private passenger cars will not be charged. Also newer vehicles that meet the latest emission standards will not need to pay. Client Earth, the lawyers who brought the legal case against the UK government, for breaching the EU’s Air Quality Directive, said the plan falls far short of the action necessary to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and they will make a legal challenge to force the government to take faster action to achieve legal pollution limits. “As soon as possible,” or by 2020, is not soon enough.

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Gatwick re-hashes its plans to add runway capacity in 4 phases, rather than all at the start

Gatwick are hoping they can get some advantage over Heathrow, by making much of their plans to develop the extra runway capacity in phases – not building all the ancillary infrastructure at the start. This in fact has been their plan for a long time – it is nothing new. The Airports Commission assessed it in 2014. Gatwick may not be able to secure the necessary funding to build everything at once, and only be able to pay for it over many decades. Gatwick hope to build the runway and basic third terminal in the first phase, costing about £3 billion, by 2025. This would increase capacity to about 63 million passengers, from a maximum now of 45 million. The 2nd and 3rd phases would expand the terminal, build new aircraft gates and fully divert the A23 around the airport. The 4th phase would be the completion of the terminal and piers, while finishing off taxiways for passenger jets by 2040. The aim would be to add more as passenger numbers build up. The Airports Commission always saw the numbers of passengers rising only slowly at Gatwick, and taking a long time to double (not even taking account of the higher costs to pay for the runway etc, that would be passed to passengers, reducing demand).That does indicate that there is no great pent up demand for a huge number more flights. Let alone business flights to emerging economies.

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Long awaited Government statement on runways – decision will be delayed till summer 2016 – more work needed

After a meeting of the Cabinet Airports Sub-Committee, a statement was finally put out by Patrick Mcloughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, at 7pm. It said that the government confirms it supports the building of a new runway in the south east, to add capacity by 2030 (earlier airports claimed they could have a runway built by 2025). The decision on location is “subject to further consideration on environmental impacts and the best possible mitigation measures.” All three short listed schemes will continue to be considered – so Gatwick is still included. “The government will undertake a package of further work and we anticipate that it will conclude over the summer.” On air pollution and carbon emissions “The government faces a complex and challenging decision on delivering this capacity.” More work is needed on NO2. “The government expects the airports to put forward ambitious solutions. …The mechanism for delivering planning consents for airport expansion will be an ‘Airports national policy statement’ (NPS), following which a scheme promoter would need to apply for a development consent order.”… “At the first opportunity I will make a statement to the House to make clear our plans.”

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The exclusion of international aviation & shipping CO2 from Paris COP21 deal makes 2°C limit close to impossible

The Paris climate agreement text has now dropped mention of international aviation and shipping. The weak statement that has been removed only said that parties might “pursue the limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” through ICAO “with a view to agreeing concrete measures addressing these emissions, including developing procedures for incorporating emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels into low-emission development strategies.” Even that has gone, so there is no ambition for CO2 regulation. Transport & Environment (T&E) says this has fatally undermined the prospects of keeping global warming below 2°C. The CO2 emissions of these two sectors amount to about 8% of emissions globally. In recent years their emissions have grown twice as fast as the those of the global economy – an 80% rise in CO2 output from aviation and shipping between 1990 and 2010, versus 40% growth in CO2 emissions from global economic activity – and they are projected to grow by up to 270% in 2050. They could be 39% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 if left unregulated. After 18 years of being supposed to come up with measures to tackle aviation emissions, ICAO has done almost nothing – and little is expected of it.

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Airports Commission not only downplayed crash risk of new runway, but got the word “crash” removed from report title

Many people are very concerned about the safety implications of adding another runway, especially at Heathrow, where hundreds of thousands of people are over flown. It has now been shown that though the Airports Commission (AC) did have a study done by the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL), in May 2015, it downplayed its findings. The Standard says that confidential documents and emails it obtained showed the AC, which backed a third runway, got the title of an independent study on aircraft crashes changed to remove the word “crash”. Unsurprisingly and obviously, adding another 50% more planes at Heathrow, or 100% more at Gatwick would increase the risk of a crash. The Standard says the AC rejected “risk maps” showing the increased likelihood of an aircraft crash around London airports if expansion went ahead. Instead the AC’s Final Report said “ the changes to the background crash rate are minimal, regardless of whether or not expansion takes place at the airports.” It failed to mention the HSL conclusions that the likelihood of a crash on take-off or landing increased by up to 60% with a 3-runway Heathrow and doubled under one scenario with a 2-runway Gatwick. Daniel Moylan said the cover-up was “truly shocking.” People living under approach routes (higher risk than take-offs) should know their risks. The future flight paths are not yet know, so those living under them are unaware of the risk. The dangers of drones, laser beams and terrorism are not included – nor the risk to those on the ground.

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Government likely to delay any runway announcement till well after Mayoral election in May 2016

The BBC reports that “senior sources very close to the process” have said that the decision by the government on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is going to be delayed for at least six months. That means after the Mayoral elections in London, in early May – and would make it less difficult and awkward for the government, with Zac Goldsmith (vehemently against a Heathrow runway) standing as Tory candidate. The source said the government needs to have more “confidence building” about the environmental impact of a new runway at Heathrow. That is largely about local air quality, but also noise and carbon emissions. The BBC believes that means yet another review, and it does not rule out a runway at Gatwick. Both Heathrow and Gatwick are going to have to come up with convincing proposals, over coming months, about how they will deal with the environmental problems. They are not going to find it easy. The BBC says government also wants to get more money out of the “chosen” airport, for local compensation schemes. It is expected that the runway decision will be taken by the Economic and Domestic Cabinet sub-committee,which Cameron chairs, on Thursday 10th, the prime minister chairs. The outcome is likely to be announced on the same day (probably in Parliament by Patrick McLouglin?

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“No 3rd Runway” Protest Advan tours areas of London and the Home Counties – for 3 days, along potential new flight path routes

An Advan, with a “No third runway” message plastered on its side, will be touring a range of areas, in London and in the Home Counties, that will be affected if there was to be a new runway. In some areas it is being met by local residents, or councillors or MPs. The van will be inaction for three days, Thursday 3rd, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th December. A coalition of groups has come together to sponsor the van. On Friday a car playing aircraft noise, illustrating how it would be like under a flight path, will follow the van along the route of the 3rd runway arrival flight path across London. All the local groups along the Advan’s route, and many others, know a 3rd runway would mean intense plane noise and being under a flight path for the first time. They are working together to put out a strong message that they will fight any new runway, tooth and nail. The Government is expected to decide before Christmas whether it is minded to give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick.

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Stansted airport slowly starting to make up passenger losses from 8 years ago, wants raised passenger cap + wants another runway in 10 years

The owners of Stansted Airport, MAG, are continuing to say they will be wanting a new runway in the next 10 years or so. The numbers of passengers using Stansted fell every year between a peak in 2007 of 23.7 million passengers, to a low of 17.5 million in 2012, and almost 20 million in 2014. The number of flights was about 192,000 in 2007 and only about 163,000 in 2014. So the current growth is just starting to catch up, and get back to the numbers 8 years ago. However, Stansted is using the current increase in passengers to say it will be needing to increase the planning cap on the number of passengers (currently 35 million per year) as was suggested in the Airports Commission’s interim report. It will start to consult locally about doing this. Stansted hopes to get more passengers, if it could have improved rail connections to London, for as long as Heathrow and Gatwick are full – unless one gets a new runway. Stansted says it could handle another 7 million passengers per year with its current infrastructure. It did not submit a proposal to the Airports Commission for a runway scheme, so it was not considered. But now it wants another runway, in addition to one at Gatwick or Heathrow – ignoring the uncomfortable fact that even the Commission said only one new runway could be added within the UK aviation carbon cap (even one runway would mean UK aviation exceeding its annual 37.5MtCO2 cap).

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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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Meeting of Cabinet’s runway sub-committee expected to decide on Tuesday 1st December which to back – before full Cabinet decision. Then announcement in next 2 weeks?

The Sunday Times reports that there will be a meeting on 1st December of the Cabinet sub-committee (the Economic Affairs (Airports) Sub-Committee) working to push through a new runway. David Cameron will then consider the decision of the sub-committee before is it considered by the full Cabinet. An announcement will be made next week, or the week after. The Times believes the sub-committee backs a Heathrow runway. There are 10 members of the sub-committee, and it does not include any of the vociferous opponents of Heathrow, such as Boris Johnson, Justine Greening or Theresa Villiers – or even Philip Hammond or Theresa May. It is likely that Zac Goldsmith would resign as MP for Richmond Park, requiring a by-election. There will be fury – especially in the Heathrow Villages and those living near Heathrow – that Cameron had gone back on his word. He specifically promised at the 2010 election that: “No Ifs. No Buts. No 3rd Runway.” Going back on a promise is bad enough, but people believed him, and made life-decisions about their homes etc on the strength of it. They have been betrayed, and this betrayal could be Cameron’s legacy. The Conservative Party also said in May 2010 that there would be no new runways at Gatwick or Stansted. That was just as much a promise as no Heathrow runway.

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Heathrow not willing to accept a ban on night flights, saying it constrains links to regional airports

John Holland-Kaye is hugely confident that he will get a new runway, saying he was now “80%” sure that David Cameron’s decision would be for Heathrow. The Airports Commission suggested a condition that there would be a complete ban on flights between 11.30pm and 6am due to the unacceptable noise of night flights.Mr Holland-Kaye says night flights were not something to “throw away lightly”. Heathrow currently is allowed 5,800 night flights per year, meaning an average of 16 arriving each morning, typically between 4.30am and 6am. British Airways wants to keep night flights, and is Heathrow’s largest airline. Last week Mr Holland-Kaye said shifting night flights to later slots would damage connections to the rest of the UK. “If I talk to regional airports, they all want to see early morning arrivals into Heathrow. They want a flight that comes in from their airport before 8 o’clock in the morning so people can do a full day’s work, can do business in London or can connect to the first wave of long-haul flights going out. You are very quickly going to use up all of the first two hours of the morning if we have a curfew before 6 o’clock, particularly as we then have to move the 16 flights. That really constrains the ability of UK regions to get the benefits from an expanded hub. So it is not something we should throw away lightly.

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“The Elephants in the Room” at the Paris talks: international aviation & shipping, with no proper CO2 reduction targets or plan

Transport & Environment (T&E), a Brussels NGO, is calling on countries participating in COP21 to insist that the UN organisations responsible for international aviation and shipping set realistic reduction targets consistent with 2°C objective and adopt measures to implement them. Though these two sectors are crucial to our global economy, they must grow in a way that does not come at the expense of the planet. Aviation is responsible for almost 5% of all global warming and its emissions are predicted to grow by up to 300% in 2050. Such a growth rate would make the target of keeping the global temperature increase to under 2°C almost impossible to achieve. Further ambition is required, including cooperation between the UNFCCC and the ICAO. T&E have put together a briefing debunking the myths about the carbon emissions of aviation (and of shipping). Well worth reading. The industry claims that “aviation accounts for 2% of global emissions”; it claims “aviation is delivering increased efficiency gains”; that “thousands of flights already with alternative fuel, more expected”. It claims the industry “has a target of Carbon Neutral Growth from 2020”; and that it should not be a source of climate finance. Each in turn refuted by T&E.

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1273 = The number of mega tonnes of CO2 emitted by aviation and shipping in 2012

250 = The % projected increase in shipping emissions by 2050 if no action is taken

300 = The % projected increase in aviation emissions by 2050 if no action is taken

40   = The % of CO2 emitted by aviation and shipping in 2050 if nothing is done

Despair in East London as CAA approves new concentrated flight paths – there may be a legal challenge

Many residents in East London are in despair following the CAA announcement that it will allow London City Airport to concentrate its flight paths. Campaign group HACAN East is considering legal action against the CAA. Departure routes will be concentrated over places like Bow, parts of Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Dagenham and parts of Havering. Areas of South London will also experience more concentrated routes. The decision follows uproar at the lack of consultation on the proposals last year. City Airport just put a technical document on its website and informed the Consultative Committee. It was left to HACAN East to hold public meetings in the areas which would be affected. The airport argued it only had to carry out a minimal consultation. Local people, backed by many local authorities, MPs and members of the GLA, said that a full consultation should have been carried out as some areas would get 30% more planes than now. The CAA was inundated with letters calling for a fresh consultation, but the new announcement means it has ruled this out. For those who barely had planes over them in recent years, facing living under a concentrated flight path indefinitely is a miserable prospect. The CAA is not fit for purpose, and being funded largely by the airlines, it should not make these decisions.

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5 arrests after Plane Stupid block Heathrow tunnel for 3 hours using a van + activists locked onto it

The main road entrance tunnel to Heathrow’s Terminals 1 and 2 was blocked by climate change activists from Plane Stupid, for about 3 hours, from 7.40 this morning. Three activists parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked themselves to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron’s election promise in 2010: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”. Five people were arrested, and the tunnel was finally cleared and the road re-opened by 1.30pm Some travellers may have been delayed or could have missed flights. Local resident Neil Keveren, a builder from Harmondsworth, whose house would be bulldozed for the 3rd runway, was fined after blocking the same tunnel with his van for half an hour on 2nd July, the day after the Airports Commission announcement. Neil said: “No one wants to do this. They feel they have to. People feel they have no choice. After we campaigned for years, David Cameron was elected promising ‘no ifs, no buts: no third runway’. …. We have tried every other option. We have been forced to be disobedient just to be heard. To save our homes and our planet.” There is already airport capacity for families taking a couple of trips per year, or wealthy foreign visitors to the UK, but a new runway would be for the most wealthy to take multiple leisure trips each year. Plane Stupid apologised for causing inconvenience, but believe the strong arguments against a Heathrow runway must be heard.

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Willie Walsh tells AOA conference Heathrow’s runway is too expensive, and at that price, would fail

The Airport Operators Association is holding a two day conference on the runway issue, and Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) was its key speaker. He said Heathrow should not get a 3rd runway, if the Airport Commission’s calculation of the cost of building it is correct. He said: “The Commission got its figures wrong – they are over-inflated. If that is the cost [of a new runway], it won’t be a successful project.” He described the assumption that airlines would pay for the new runway through increases in fares as “outrageous”. British Airways is by far the biggest airline at Heathrow, with 55% of the slots. He said of the Commission’s report: ” … I have concerns about the level of cost associated with the main recommendation and the expectation that the industry can afford to pay for Heathrow’s expansion.” He does not believe the cost is justified, and “If the cost of using an expanded airport significantly exceeds the costs of competitor airports, people won’t use it.” It was not realistic for airlines: “You have to see it in terms of return on capital. ….Either the figures are inflated or you are building inefficient infrastructure. I do not endorse the findings. I definitely don’t support the costs of building a runway. If those costs are real, we should not build it.” On the cost of £8 billion to build a 6th terminal he commented: “How many chandeliers can you have in an airport terminal?

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“No 3rd Runway” flashmob at Heathrow Terminal 2

Around 60 protesters staged a flashmob in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, expressing their opposition to plans for a 3rd runway. With red “No 3rd runway” T-shirts and chanting “No ifs, no buts, no third runway!” There are already hugely more people affected by disturbing levels of plane noise at Heathrow than at any other airport in Europe. People who suffer from plane noise do not want more of it, and those who get some periods of “respite” during the day do not want to see this decrease. If there was a new runway there would be around 250,000 more flights per year using Heathrow – making a 50% increase compared with the existing number now. The level of noise, the new areas affected, and the hundreds of thousands more people to be newly affected would make the addition of a new runway unacceptable. And that is not to mention the increase in air pollution, the road congestion, the rail congestion, the huge cost to the taxpayer over many years. There is also the not inconsiderable matter of the demolition of 780 homes, making their occupants homeless. For all these reasons, a large number of groups and organisations from a wide area oppose the runway. People at the flashmob came from Hammersmith, Ealing, Chiswick, the Heathrow villages, and areas west of Heathrow affected by flight paths. They are adamant that protest at a runway will not go away.

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Though Gatwick number of passengers is up 5.7% this year on 2014, the number of flights only up by 2.6%

Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) says that use of larger planes, and with fewer empty seats, explained how Gatwick has a record-breaking 40 million passengers per year. Gatwick has been expanding its passenger numbers as fast as possible, in its bid to get another runway. The Airports Commission estimated, based on past trends, that it would not reach 40 million passengers per year for many more years. But Gatwick has not increased the number of air transport movements (flights) by much. While the number of passengers link in the 12 months to October 2015 is 5.7% higher than the previous 12 months, the number of flights was only 2.6% more. GACC said it is the number of landings and take-offs (air transport movements – ATMs) which create a need for a new runway, not just the number of passengers. The load factor (how full the plane is) is higher, with the figure in October 2015 being 85.3% compared to 82.2% in October 2012 or 81.7% in October 2013. GACC chairman Brendon Sewill said: “At this rate of growth Gatwick and Stansted and Luton won’t be full for at least fifty years!” In fact, Gatwick had more flights in 2007 than in 2014. There were about 256,000 ATMs in 2008, 259,000 in 2007 and 255,000 in 2014. The average number of seats per plane was about 180 in 2014 and about 174 in 2013. The average number of passengers per plane was about 151 in 2014 and about 145 in 2013.

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Stewart Wingate says Gatwick won’t give up on its 2nd runway – whatever the government says

Stewart Wingate says Gatwick will continue to push for a 2nd runway even if Heathrow gets Government backing for a runway, when (if?) the announcement is made in December. he Prime Minister has said there will be a formal response to the Airports Commission’s findings by the end of the year, though it may be by George Osborne or Patrick McLoughlin, to save Cameron having to admit his “no ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway” promise. Gatwick has spent the past four months attempting to pick holes in Sir Howard Davies’ work, trying – not very successfully – convince the Government to back Gatwick instead of Heathrow. Stewart Wingate has said he thinks a Heathrow runway is undeliverable, and he will not lose his appetite to get his runway. “This is going to be a multi-year event.” He refuses to rule out legal action to block Heathrow expansion if it gets government backing. Gatwick has already examined the legality of the air quality issue, but Wingate adds: “I think there’d be other people in the queue well ahead of us” who would challenge the Goverment in the courts. Wingate also insists that he will “absolutely not” resign if the Government supports Heathrow, because he believes Heathrow will ultimately be refused on environmental grounds. He continues to deny the environmental problems of a Gatwick runway, which are nearly as bad as one at Heathrow.

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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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Telegraph reports Whitehall sources saying Cameron ‘preparing to drop opposition to Heathrow 3rd runway’

The Telegraph reports (Whitehall sources say) that David Cameron is believed to have decided it would not be too politically damaging to back a Heathrow runway. David Cameron personally pledged in 2009 that there would be no Heathrow runway (No ifs, No buts) but soon changed his mind. The government insists it will make an announcement on the next phase of the runway process before Christmas, but how firmly it will be backing one runway option is not yet clear. It may be Osborne who takes control over the issue, keen to be seen as building infrastructure..There is then to be a new public consultation on this in early 2016. David Cameron apparently hopes – as was always the intention of setting up the Commission, during the coalition government – that the Commission’s recommendation would remove responsibility for the decision from himself. It would cover him from blame for breaking a pledge, and make that “politically acceptable.” The problem is that the Airports Commission has produced vast reams of material in its reports. Few – including few politicians – have read much of it. Its recommendation is not in fact reflected in the details of the reports. The economic benefit of “up to £147 billion over 60 years” to the UK economy may really be as little as £1.4 billion. The regional airports would suffer, as would UK carbon targets. The noise and air pollution issues are not resolved, as the Commission’s work shows.

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John Holland-Kaye again will not commit to no Heathrow night flights (11.30pm to 6am) at Environmental Audit Committee hearing

When the Airports Commission final report was published on 1st July, one of the conditions of a 3rd Heathrow was that there should be no night flights. The report stated: “Following construction of a third runway at the airport there should be a ban on all scheduled night flights in the period 11:30pm to 6:00am” and “the additional capacity from a third runway would enable airlines to re-time very early morning arrivals.” Already by its statement on 6th July, Heathrow was trying to cast doubt on the conditions, with John Holland-Kaye saying: “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Asked directly again, at the Environmental Audit Committee session on 4th November, if Heathrow would accept no night flights, he said Heathrow “we are not in a position to do that yet.”  It had not yet accepted a ban on night flights, and the airport was “confident we will be able to find a way forward”  in discussions with airlines and government, and it could “significantly reduce” night flights.  Mr Holland-Kaye instead talked of the alleged economic benefit to the UK of flights between 4.30 and 6am. He was asked by Committee members whether the government should agree to a Heathrow runway, (perhaps by December) before Heathrow firmly committed to the no night flights condition. Mr Holland-Kaye could not give an answer.

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John Holland-Kaye and Sir Howard Davies give evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee

The Environmental Audit Committee is holding an inquiry into the implications for Government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted. It is holding its second evidence session, hearing from John Holland-Kaye and Matt Gorman, of Heathrow – and Sir Howard Davies and Phil Graham, from the (now closed) Airports Commission. They will be asked questions on noise, air pollution and CO2. The Airports Commission, in their final report on 1st July and in supporting documents, gave unsatisfactory answers on all these. There are no details of flight paths from a new runway, with no information on which areas would be newly overflown. There is no certainty that levels of NO2 around the airport, already sometimes over EU legal limits, would not rise with a 50% increase in the size of the airport, and massive increase in road traffic. There is no satisfactory answer on how the UK could meet its aviation carbon target, while building a new runway. Heathrow has put forward various ideas on how it might slightly reduce its noise and NO2 impacts, many speculative (eg. marginally less noisy planes). The airport is not keen on ceasing night flights (11pm to 6am) though that was one of the Commission’s suggested conditions for a runway.

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Massive 170 acre business park planned outside Horley to produce a Gatwick airport city

Residents and businesses are shocked and appalled at news that Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has agreed in principle to use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for a business park on 172 acres of land off Balcombe Road, in Horley. That’s equivalent to 85 football pitches. The council says major international businesses want to move to the area. Residents who would be affected say they knew nothing about the plan in advance. Green Party Surrey County Councillor Jonathan Essex said the development would use up green space, which separated homes in Horley, from nearby Gatwick airporta and “Horley should be a separate town, not just part of the urban sprawl of Gatwick.” A local Conservative councillor said information about the plans could not be made public previously because it was “commercially confidential” andt that “Now we have made the decision we will be talking to and consulting with residents, employers and landowners who could potentially be affected.” There is now a campaign called Keep Horley Green, to oppose the plans. They have a Facebook page and a petition to local MP Sam Giymah. People want green countryside preserved, rather then being covered in concrete. One of the properties under threat of compulsory purchase is Bayhorne Farm, 72 acres. 172 acres is a vast area for a business park – far larger than average. It would become an “aerotropolis” project.

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Solena, the company meant to be producing “sustainable” jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt

In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d domestic waste into aviation fuel. The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions. The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping. Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena.

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Teddington Action Group show – from Heathrow report – that they are now suffering more aircraft noise

Residents in Twickenham and Teddington have been aware of greatly increased aircraft noise from Heathrow, over the past year. However, Heathrow have for months insisted that the noise has not increased. Now an independent report commissioned and paid for by Heathrow, by PA Consultants has shown that the residents are right. Examining data between November 2011 and May 2015, the report confirms that planes – especially the heavier, noisier types – are flying lower than previously over the area, in greater numbers and concentrated within flight paths. Also that the periods of greatest disruption are increasingly late at night and early in the morning. Rather than being associated with the 2014 Flight Path Trials, which saw record numbers of noise complaints from residents, the report states that these developments merely reflect the general trend of fleet development and air traffic movements. TAG say they have more of the noisiest long haul planes flying over lower than before, sometimes at little more than 2,000 feet in Teddington and 1,400 feet in Twickenham. Worryingly, if this disruption stems from new flight trends, it is only likely to get worse, and for many other areas overflown by Heathrow planes.

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GACC warns Patrick McLoughlin of the future costs to the Exchequer of infrastructure needed for Gatwick runway

GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has written to Patrick McLoughlin, to remind him about the comparative costs of infrastructure relating to a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. Robert Goodwill recently indicated that whichever airport was selected would be expected to pay for the necessary infrastructure – a policy GACC fully supports. GACC point out that the calculation of the surface access costs, by the Airports Commission, is distorted. While it considers the requirements for both airports at 2030, it estimates that by then there would be 35 million extra passengers at Heathrow (due to pent up demand), but only 8 million more at Gatwick(struggling against Stansted and Luton). So the extra road and rail traffic generated at Heathrow by 2030 would be far greater than that at Gatwick, and (when adding tunnelling the M25 at Heathrow) accounts for the difference in infrastructure costs – £5.7 billion compared to under £1 billion. But with the runways working at full capacity by around 2040, the surface access infrastructure costs of a new Gatwick runway would fall on the Exchequer. These would include widening of the M23 or M25, and improvements to the Brighton main line. With Gatwick then bigger than Heathrow today, there might be a need of of a hugely expensive extension of the M23 into central London. And so on …

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Top Civil Servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, ‘warned ministers not to comment’ on Heathrow runway issue before conference

It appears that the whole issue of building a new runway is so fraught that the UK’s most senior civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, wrote to government ministers in the run up to the party conference season, warning them against speaking out about it. Sir Jeremy’s email said Ministers could repeat statements they had made before the report was published on 1st July, but urged them to keep quiet now. It was received by some with deep irritation. Laura Kuenssberg (BBC) said a cabinet minister told her it was “unprecedented”. The Cabinet Office said they would not comment on leaked documents, but the anxieties in government are real and are twofold. (1). There are concerns over any comments making the final decision more vulnerable to a legal challenge – tying up the decision in the courts for years to come. (2).There is significant political opposition around the cabinet table, including from Boris Johnson. Theresa May would not comment on the leak, but told the BBC that the story was a “mountain out of a molehill”. The PM and the chancellor have promised to make a decision by Christmas, but that promise won’t be easy to keep. Though AirportWatch and the Aviation Environment Federation did have a stall at the Conservative conference, there were difficulties in getting it approved.

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Heathrow send survey to Heathrow villagers facing potential compulsory purchase – to soften people up?

Heathrow has sent out a survey to (it appears) all the houses that would be under threat of compulsory purchase if there was a north west runway, seeming to ask about their homes etc. It could be considered hugely presumptuous for Heathrow to be mailing residents before there is even an indication from Government that there might be agreement for a runway. The very existence of the survey undermines affected Heathrow villagers, giving the impression that the runway is a done deal. The survey asks a lot of questions, as well as wanting address and email details, like: how many people live at the house, how long have you lived there; do you own or rent, and if so, from a private landlord or a local authority; and do you have other residential properties or commercial properties in an area that could be affected by the expansion of Heathrow. The intention of this survey appears to try to pick off the residents who would be keen to throw in the towel, take the money and get out. The more people sell up, take Heathrow’s offer and leave the area, the more the soul and spirit of the community is lost. Divide and rule. To help win people over, Heathrow is offering, for those whose houses could be demolished, one to one sessions with Heathrow staff to talk about it. (ie. be persuaded to take the money). The sessions can be booked by phone or email.

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Alex Salmond says SNP will not back a SE runway unless they are paid huge sums under the Barnett Formula

Alex Salmond, previous First Minister of Scotland,says the SNP will not back a new runway in south-east England unless David Cameron gives millions of ££ to Scotland. He says that to get backing for a runway from the 55 SNP MPs in Parliament, they would need to have agreement of huge funding for Scotland through the Barnett Formula. Alex Salmond said the Airports Commission report was “shoddy”, the “work on the cost/benefit analysis was pretty ropey”, and Sir Howard Davies was “blinkered”. Salmond wants guarantees of extra Scottish flights from an expanded SE airport. Under the Barnett Formula, for every £ spent in England, a proportion must be spent in Scotland, based on its population compared to that of England. It is know that at the very least, a Heathrow runway would cost the public £5 billion for tunnelling the M25. Under the Barnett formula of about 10% of the cost being given to Scotland, that would mean paying about £500 million. (And would the other regions also need their separate payments?) Salmond: “What we’d want to know is that if it were to be a development which depended on infrastructure spending, is that spending going to be properly Barnetted? Or is it going to be another fiddle like the Olympics?” He commented Heathrow and Gatwick had been “desperate” to speak to the SNP, with both sending lobbyists to the party’s conference.

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2M group boroughs produce highly critical report of Airports Commission’s Heathrow runway recommendation

The four boroughs that have worked hardest to oppose a Heathrow runway, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead, have produced a damning report on the Airports Commission’s recommendation. They have called on MPs to carefully consider their in-depth assessment of the Commission’s claims, which they have say put together an inflated and distorted case for expanding Heathrow. The councils’ report challenges the recommendation on environmental, health, and community impact grounds, and highlights the environmental, transport, social and political factors that make the 3rd runway undeliverable. They point out how little extra connectivity a new runway would provide; they show claims regarding EU air quality legislation have been misunderstood by the Commission and that it has deliberately recommended adding a large source of pollution in an area that is already under severe strain. Critical factors presenting the biggest challenge to a runway “have been either avoided, or worse, misinterpreted by the Commission.” The councils conclude that a 3rd runway “would significantly reduce regional connectivity and economic competiveness. It would be severely damaging for the millions of people who neighbour the airport and live below its new flightpaths. It is the wrong choice at every level.”

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Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill says Heathrow has to pay for surface access work resulting from a 3rd runway

Adam Afriyie has reported that, in response to a question he asked the government’s aviation minister, Robert Goodwill, the Government ruled out spending public money for the related surface access costs of a Heathrow 3rd runway. If correct, this is a huge blow to Heathrow, as their surface access costs could be £5 billion just to tunnel the M25 and perhaps up to £10 -15 billion more, for other road and rail improvements, according to Transport for London. In response to the parliamentary question Robert Goodwill said: “In terms of surface access proposals, 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.” Adam Afriyie said: “It is welcome news that the Government has ruled out paying the costs of upgrading the railways and local roads or moving or tunnelling the M25. If Heathrow won’t pay and the Government won’t pay, then the 3rd runway is already dead in the water …It is quite right that the public should not be made to fork out up to £20 billion of subsidies to a private company which refuses to pay its own costs of expansion.” In July John Holland-Kaye said Heathrow would not pay.

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Leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils tell PM that flight path consultation must precede Government’s runway support

The leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond & Wandsworth councils have written to the Prime Minister to warn that signalling Government support for a 3rd Heathrow runway would be unlawful unless the new flight paths needed re first subject to public consultation. The leaders also highlight a series of flaws and omissions in the Airports Commission’s final report, that recommends a Heathrow runway. They point out that by law, changes to London’s airspace require open consultation. Therefore a decision to expand Heathrow would pre-empt this statutory process. Approving a runway clearly infers the associated flight paths will also be approved. The Airports Commission, though working on Heathrow’s plans for 2 years, failed to identify the location of its new flight paths, let alone consult on them. Instead the Commission’s final report, which costs tax payers in the region of £25m, asks ministers to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway with no details at all on where flight paths would be. That is key information, needed to assess the areas to be worst affected. The local councils have now pointed out that the Commission’s recommendation is directing the Government down a legal cul-de-sac and has urged the PM to dismiss the report.

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Corbyn said to be ready to oppose Heathrow runway, partly due to air pollution

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to make air pollution a key campaign issue over the next year which could have “significant implications” for expansion at Heathrow. Writing to senior Labour members, he warned that a 3rd Heathrow runway could worsen the government’s “dreadful record on air quality”. He said “more than 50,000 premature deaths a year” are estimated to be caused by air pollution, and this has been brought into sharp relief by the VW diesel deceit story. A party source said: “Jeremy is clear that he expects Labour to now oppose a third runway at Heathrow. It is now up to the Government to decide what to do.” The decision by Labour to officially come out against a third runway will be a major stumbling block for Heathrow expansion. Jeremy Corbyn campaigned against Heathrow expansion during the Labour leadership contest. However, when the Airports Commission recommendation of a Heathrow runway was announced on 1st June, Labour’s then shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher suggested Labour would back this, as did Harriet Harman.

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Huge rally against Heathrow 3rd runway demonstrates intense cross-party opposition in London

All the speakers on stage at the end of the event

A huge rally against a 3rd Heathrow runway, attended by one to two thousand activists who are determined not to let it ever be built, They heard impassioned speeches from all the main London mayoral candidates, who reiterated the extent of the environmental impacts – noise and air pollution in particular. The rally sent a clear message to government that a runway is deeply opposed, and would be fought strenuously. The repeated chant at the rally was: “No ifs, no buts. No 3rd runway.” Zac said: “We know that our air pollution problems in London would be unsolvable if we expand Heathrow. And we know it requires the demolition of more than 1,000 homes. It is a catastrophic price to pay. I think we have won the arguments, I think we are winning the campaign. The environmental case against a third runway is devastating and makes expansion both legally and morally impossible. The economic case has completely disintegrated.” Sadiq said: “It would be madness to build a new runway. People who care about London and the health of London, who worry about the noise, who worry about the infrastructure, are united against it.” John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said: “In my constituency at the moment, people are literally dying. They’re dying because the air has already been poisoned by the aviation industry.”

The crowd

Part of the crowd in Parliament Square

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Party Conference season!  Short briefings on:

Economics  …  Noise …  Air pollution …  Carbon emissions

These issues need to be resolved properly before any new runway could be built.

Protesters blast aircraft noise outside hotel of Conservative Party conference at 4.30am

Though not permitted into the Conservative Party conference, Plane Stupid campaigners have held a number of eye-catching (or ear blasting) protests outside. They played full volume sound of landing aircraft outside the Midland Hotel, where conference delegates were staying, at 4.30am – which is the time when the first flight arrives into Heathrow. The sound system was concealed in a wheelie bin. Plane Stupid campaigners wanted to give politicians a taste of daily life for those living under Heathrow’s (or other) flight paths. They also show that a decision for a 3rd runway will be met with fierce resistance to save the future of homes and communities in the Heathrow villages. As well as the 4.30am noise, protesters from Plane Stupid and the Heathrow villages paraded a giant model plane outside the conference, emblazoned with the words: “No third runway. No ifs, no buts” – a reminder of David Cameron’s pledge before the 2010 election. They also hung up a giant banner from a building opposite, saying “2015. No ifs, no buts. No new runways.” To rub salt into the wounds for the Heathrow villages residents, Heathrow has also revealed new images of their dreamed of new NW runway, showing how it erases hundreds of homes and makes other communities too noisy and polluted to realistically be habitable.

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Evening Standard believes Ministers likely to make runway decision by end of year

The Evening Standard reports that Ministers are determined to make a firm decision on building a new runway by the end of the year, and Heathrow is considered to be the most likely location. Runway proponents fear the Government would put off a runway rather than risk a huge battle against environmentalists and local residents blighted by more flights. There has also been talk of a delay on the airports announcement until after the London mayoral election in May 2016, due to Zac Goldsmith. Though Patrick McLoughlin has intimated that the decision could be postponed, the Standard understands that ministers are determined to make a firm decision by the end of the year. A special Cabinet committee on airport expansion, chaired by David Cameron, is to meet for the first time within weeks (its first meeting is meant to have happened already). George Osborne is setting up a new National Infrastructure Commission, and wants to be seen to be getting things built fast – a runway would be a key project. The government knows it has to get the Heathrow plan done correctly, to avoid judicial reviews causing delays.It would be easier for the government to choose a Heathrow runway, because if they choose Gatwick they would need strong arguments and fresh evidence, to override the Commission’s conclusions.

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Labour peer Lord Adonis to head Osborne infrastructure body – to get things like a new runway built fast

A new body to plan infrastructure projects, the “independent” National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will be chaired by the former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis. The government is expected to announce it will pledge an extra £5 billion in this Parliament for major schemes, which he hopes will boost the UK economy. Osborne says he plans to “shake Britain out of its inertia” and Lord Adonis thinks that without “big improvements” in transport and energy “Britain will grind to a halt”. The NIC will initially focus on London’s transport system, connections between cities in the north of England, and updating the energy network – funded by selling off land, buildings and other government assets. Lord Adonis has resigned the Labour whip and will sit as a crossbencher in the Lords as he starts work in his new role immediately. The NIC will produce a report at the start of each five-year Parliament containing recommendations of infrastructure building over the next 20 to 30 years. Osborne: “I’m not prepared to turn round to my children – or indeed anyone else’s child – and say ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t build for you.’ John Cridland, director-general of the CBI business lobby said: ” ….we must not duck the important infrastructure decisions that need taking now, particularly on expanding aviation capacity in the South East.”

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Sir Howard Davies writes to Patrick McLoughlin and the GLA to dismiss Gatwick’s claims

The Airports Commission, now almost closed down, has published on its website a letter to the GLA from Sir Howard Davies, setting out why they believe strongly that their analysis is robust to the arguments that Gatwick airport have made (recently repeated). The Commission also published a letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, dated the 7th September, and now copied to the GLA, countering all Gatwick’s arguments why it should be the site for a new runway. The Commission’s letter to Patrick McLoughlin deal with Regional Connectivity, on which they dismiss Gatwick’s claims; Economic Benefits, on which the Commission says the benefits to the UK from a Heathrow runway are substantially greater than a Gatwick runway; on Costs and Charges; Deliverability and Financing; Air Quality; and Noise. The Commission says, quote: “GAL accuse the Airports Commission of having ‘largely ignore[d]’ Gatwick’s lower noise impacts compared to those of Heathrow. That is nonsense.” Sir Howard Davies’ letter to the GLA covers the issues of capacity and resilience, connectivity, noise mitigation, surface access and finance. Criticising the session at the GLA where Sir Howard was interviewed, he says there was no “serious consideration of the role of aviation, and the benefits of expansion, in supporting the capital’s long term prosperity.”

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Chairman of Commons Environmental Audit Committee says Cameron must answer questions on Heathrow expansion. Air quality a KEY problem (also CO2 & noise)

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recently set up an Inquiry on the “Airports Commission report: Carbon emissions, air quality and noise.” It closed on 3rd September. A considerable number of submissions have been made, from councils, organisations, individuals (and a few from the aviation industry or its consultants). The Chairman of the Committee, Hugh Irranca-Davies, has said that the Government has “big questions to answer” over how it could meet the legally binding EU air quality rules while backing a 3rd Heathrow runway. The submissions, including the one from Transport for London (Boris Johnson) raised a series of objections to a bigger Heathrow. Boris said: “The Commission has failed to demonstrate that a three-runway Heathrow, even with mitigation, will not have the worst NO2 concentration in Greater London, so risking the compliance of the entire zone and EU fines on the UK.” He said the Commission failed to recognise the impact of increased road traffic. Clean Air in London said: “If the Commission is suggesting that the only relevant requirement is that additional runway capacity should not delay in time average compliance throughout the London zone, then it has misdirected itself on the law.” Sections on air quality from a number of submissions are shown in this article.

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BALPA questions effectiveness of Heathrow 3.2 degree approach trial – noise might even increase?

Heathrow has started a 6 month trial of some aircraft approaching the airport at a 3.2 degree angle, rather than the usual 3 degrees. Its intention is to make a small reduction in aircraft noise. But BALPA, the pilots union, has commented that this may actually be more noise, not less. The steeper angle means pilots will need to be aware of how this will affect the handling of the aircraft and will have to adapt their flying accordingly. Though modern planes are quite capable of landing at 3.2 degrees, the plane must be at a specific height and speed and configured correctly when it reaches 1,000ft above the airport. If it does not meet the criteria the landing must be aborted. It is possible the 3.2 degree approach could result in more go-arounds. That would cause more noise, more pollution and an increase in workload for both air traffic controllers and pilots. Planes would also need to slow down earlier in their preparation for landing. Using speed brakes, lowering the undercarriage and using flaps to reduce speed could possibly increase the noise levels further out on the approach to the airport. Some aircraft may have to use full flaps for landings, which will increase noise due to higher power settings required to counter the extra drag.

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Edinburgh trial (no prior consultation) of new narrow route to be ended 2 months early, due to opposition

Edinburgh Airport is to halt its controversial trial of a new flight path two months early (28th October). The trial of the concentrated route resulted in unacceptable levels of noise for those below the new route. The airport’s Chief executive Gordon Dewar admitted the airport had been overwhelmed with complaints about the trial route over areas which were not previously over flown. He said a letter from Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, asking if the trial could be shortened had also influenced the decision. The announcement was made at a packed public meeting in Broxburn. Like all other new routes that have been introduced through the CAA, there was no consultation. Mr Dewar said on the consultation: “…I do apologise. We have learned a lesson on that one.” The CAA has been taken aback by the extent of opposition to every new concentrated flight path it has introduced, and appears unable to work out how to implement the European SESAR changes to airspace on an articulate and determined population, against their will. Someone at the meeting commented that Gordon Dewar’s presentation was met with silence from the audience. But a short video by Sally Pavey, an experienced noise campaigner from Gatwick, received enthusiastic applause. Campaigners from affected airports are linking up to oppose unsuitable airspace changes.

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Commons Transport Committee start short inquiry into surface access for larger UK airports

The House of Commons Transport Committee has invited submissions for a short inquiry (ends 12th October) on surface transport at airports. “The inquiry will examine whether strategic connections to airports fulfil current and future requirements in terms of range and capacity. The Committee is interested to assess the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to planning surface access to airports, as well as understanding whether the Government is making full use of its powers to influence the selection of infrastructure and accompanying modes of transport to and from airports.” The inquiry is only for airports with over 1 million passengers per year, and it is not looking at air quality issues of surface transport (which is regrettable, for Heathrow and Gatwick). The Committee want submissions on how increased numbers of passengers and air freight in future are being planned for; whether better surface access could free up existing spare capacity in airports (Luton and Stansted perhaps); the Government’s role in planning surface access to airports in conjunction with airport owners, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. They also want submissions on the funding and the DfT’s role in ensuring planning is joined-up.

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Airports Commission figures show Heathrow runway to provide, at the most, just 12 more long haul destinations

The Airports Commission said that a very important reason for building a new runway, and Heathrow in particular, was to increase the connectivity with “long-haul destinations in new markets.” And so it would be logical to believe their analysis would show that a new runway at Heathrow, (or Gatwick) would show a large increase in these routes. The Commission’s own work [using their Assessment of Need scenario, carbon capped] forecasts that while Heathrow (2011) had 57 destinations with at least a daily flight, this would only rise to 63 without a new runway. It would only rise to 73 with a 3rd runway. That is just 10 more. For the UK as a whole, including all airports, the Commission forecasts that the number of long haul destinations in 2011 was 61, and this would rise to 82 even without a new runway. The total number would only rise to 87 with a new Heathrow runway. That is just 5 more. And their figures indicate that the number of long haul destinations from regional airports would fall from 23 to 21 by 2050 and be slightly lower than they would have been without a new runway. So much for boosting the “Northern Powerhouse.” The Commission said a Heathrow runway could provide “up to 12 additional long-haul destinations.”

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Heathrow trial of some planes using 3.2 degree approach (not 3 degrees) starts 14th September

Heathrow airport knows it has a massive problem in trying to persuade people that adding a new runway would not greatly increase the amount of noise that residents around the London area are exposed to. So it has various ideas about how it might manage this. It is starting a trial 14th September (ending on 16th March 2016) for planes to approach the airport at an angle of 3.2 degrees, rather than the normal 3 degrees. Heathrow says this is optional and airlines can take part if they like. They say this will only affect planes on the final approach into Heathrow (approx. 10 nautical miles from touchdown), and will be trialled on westerly and easterly arrivals. The claim is that a plane 10 miles away from touchdown would be 215 feet higher. So around Clapham a plane might be at 3,400 feet rather than at 3,185 feet. With less height difference near the runway. That really does not make a huge amount of difference to the noise perceived. Heathrow says planes will continue at 3.2 degrees right up to landing, though not in bad weather. However another possibility is a “2 segment” approach, where the plane levels off to 3 degrees for landing. “Even 3.2 degrees could interfere with the ability to use low power/low drag and reduced landing flap techniques.” The 3.2 degree approaches have been used at Frankfurt and residents do not report any significant benefits.

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Scottish MSPs call for the Edinburgh flight path trial, that is reducing people to tears, to be ended early

Edinburgh Airport started a trial of a new flight path in June, due to continue till 24th December. The purpose of the route is to enable the airport to have take-offs every minute, rather than every two minutes. It has resulted in a narrow, concentrated flight path over areas that did not have much plane noise before, and this has caused real distress. People are especially infuriated because the CAA allows NATS to run trials with no consultation of the public. This consultation is currently only needed once the trial has been done (and it pretty much a fait accompli). Campaigners of SEAT (Stop Edinburgh Airspace Trial) launched a petition against the trial and have won the support of cross-party Lothian MSPs, including Labour’s Neil Findlay who yesterday led the debate. Four MSPs spoke up in a debate at Hollyrood, saying it is not acceptable that people now badly affected by noise were not consulted, and they want the trial ended early. Alison Johnstone (Green Party Scotland) said the relentless noise, often from 5am all day through till midnight, had reduced people to tears due to stress and sleep deprivation. She added, re. the CAA: “Just because you don’t have to consult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”

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London Assembly votes decisively that “there is no circumstance under which Heathrow expansion would be acceptable”

Sir Howard Davies and Phil Graham, from the (now closed) Airports Commission, attended a Question and Answer session at the London Assembly. It is fully recorded and can be seen here. Over the two hour session, they answered questions on a range of issues including economics, reasons for rejecting Gatwick, noise, night flights, conditions imposed on Heathrow, air pollution, adequacy of surface access, amount of money needed to be paid by the taxpayer for surface access improvements, carbon emissions, impact on regional airports etc. Assembly members did not appear particularly persuaded by the replies they received. After the Q&A session, a motion was voted on. It was passed unanimously (13:0). The full text of the amended Motion is: “That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked and reiterates its belief that there is no circumstance under which Heathrow expansion would be acceptable.” The motion was proposed by Richard Tracey, and seconded by Darren Johnson. The Assembly say this is an absolute NO to Heathrow.

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Boris writes to all MPs and Peers to say 3rd runway at Heathrow ‘will fail on every level’

London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, a potential successor to PM David Cameron, said a 3rd Heathrow runway was doomed to fail, complicating an already fraught issue for the government. The Airports Commission said the runway would offer Britain the best way of adding long-haul routes to new markets that it said were “urgently required”. But Boris said the report itself showed a Heathrow runway would not solve capacity issues, and its own figures indicate it would lead to fewer domestic routes and very little increase in new long haul routes. “Their report very clearly shows that a third runway will fail both London and the UK on every level.” Boris and Justine Greening have sent a dossier to about 1,500 MPs and peers setting out the flaws in the Commission’s report. They say the runway would harm attempts by George Osborne, Johnson’s leadership rival, to build a “northern powerhouse”. Boris still wants a new airport in the Thames estuary, that was rejected by the Commission. He said: “The Airports Commission has spent several years in the production of a gigantic ball of wool that they are now attempting to pull over the eyes of the nation.”

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Analysis by AEF shows economic impact of Heathrow runway likely to be minimal, or negative. Not £147 billion (over 60 years)

The Airports Commission has claimed,in its final report (1st July) and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new north-west runway at Heathrow would deliver up to £147 billion benefit for the UK (over 60 years). Now the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has done some critical analysis of the Commission’s various documents and figures, to elucidate what the actual economic impact on the UK economy might be. This is complex stuff, and making sense of the various facts (often in different documents at different dates) is not for the faint hearted. However, AEF shows that claims of £147 billion do not take into account the environmental or surface access costs associated with a new runway. The Commission’s own economic advisers have criticised the analysis (not done with the usual “WebTAG” model used by government) for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity. Using WebTAG, it appears – using the Commission’s own data – that there could be a net cost to the UK economy of – £9 billion over 60 years. Not a benefit at all, once all environmental and surface access costs are factored in. With some ‘wider economic benefits’ included, the benefit over 60 years would still be only £1.4 billion (not £147 billion), as quoted in the Commission’s own final report.

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Around 900 people stage protest over Gatwick flight paths

Gatwick Obviously NOT photo 16 Aug 2015

About 900 people, many from Sussex and Kent, gathered in a field at Penshurst, Kent, to protest against changes to flight paths. Campaigners unveiled a huge sign, 100 metres across [the width of the new, narrowed and concentrated flight paths being introduced by NATS and the CAA] consisting of people with hay bales, and that can be read by aircraft passengers (and pilots) landing at Gatwick. Martin Barraud, chairman of the group “Gatwick Obviously NOT”, commented that this is about sending a message to the airport from the people on the ground, making it clear there are a massive number who are affected by aircraft noise from Gatwick airport. Flight paths are now lower over their area, and concentrated – so people suffer from intense aircraft noise, often every two minutes or so, for most of the day. Planes also fly over them at night, though less often than in the daytime. Someone who attended commented that is was not only people over “a certain age” who took part in the protest, but also a large number of younger people, who are also concerned about the noise.  More details here


Gatwick adverts banned by ASA for ‘misleading public’ on comparing numbers affected by noise of new runways

Misleading adverts produced by Gatwick Airport about the noise from a new Heathrow runway have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA received five complaints about the ads. It upheld two complaints about the posters, which compared the number of people affected by a new runway being built at Heathrow or Gatwick. It said the basis for the airport’s comparisons was unclear. The banned posters stated that “320,000 additional people will be affected by noise from a new runway at Heathrow. Compared to 18,000 at Gatwick”. The ASA said the use of the word “additional” could be misinterpreted to mean the number of people newly affected by expansion, on top of those currently affected. Two of the complainants challenged whether the comparison was verifiable, while another two challenged whether the adverts omitted material information about the flight paths. The ASA said the comparison the airport made was unclear. Gatwick said it disagreed with the decision and may appeal, but the advert in question will not be used again and Gatwick will take on board the ASA’s comments if it uses the Commission’s figures in a different advert

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Airport shops cheating passengers out of £ millions in VAT fiddle

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke said he was concerned and disappointed that airport retailers were pocketing millions of pounds in VAT discounts without passing the savings to customers. And that this should stop. Stores at airports demand that passengers present their boarding cards at checkouts before paying for any goods,in order to avoid paying 20% VAT on everything they sell to customers who are travelling outside the EU. Most of these stores, including Boots and W H Smith, do not pass on the savings to passengers. The Independent says this ruse is also used by so-called “duty-free” shops to boost their profits on alcohol sales, thereby making profits of up to 100% on each alcohol sale they make to travellers leaving Europe. UKinbound chief executive said visitors to the UK already have the impression that the UK is an expensive destination – and this is not helping. The airports charge retailers huge rent, to have the privilege of a store in the captive market that is the airport departure lounge. Exact figures are hard to come by and not publicly available, but Heathrow alone last year made around £400m in rental income from its airport 345 concessions and stores. Unlike on the high street Heathrow does not charge its stores a set flat rent – but rather a % of their net sales. On average each retailer is paying over £1m a year in rent.

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GIP to put London City airport up for sale this year – might raise £2 billion?

London City airport is to be put up for sale by GIP by the end of the year, who want to capitalise on the rising global demand for air travel. GIP owns 75%, with Oaktree Capital owning the remainder, but both have agreed to the sale. GIP also has the main stake in Gatwick airport, and Edinburgh but say they are not selling these now. It is thought the airport might fetch as much as £2bn, which the FT says would be a multiple of over 60 times the company’s EBITDA in 2014. GIP bought the airport for about £750m in 2006 from Dermot Desmond; he had paid £23.5m for it in 1995 from Mowlem. The airport is trying to get planning consent for work to increase the annual number of passengers to 6 million per year by 2023, (4.1 million in 2014) but this has been blocked by Boris, due to noise. London City is appealing against this and may hear the outcome next year. City airport has already been granted permission to increase ATMs from 70,000 to 120,000 per year. It is widely believed that GIP would sell Gatwick soon, after the government makes a decision on if/where there might be a new runway. Last month, GIP said it would be prepared to give a legally binding promise that it will not sell out for a quick profit if the government decides to opt for a runway at Gatwick.

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Independence of Airports Commission questioned over Howard Davies’ role in Prudential, which recently bought more Heathrow property

Campaigners against a 3rd Heathrow runway have questioned the independence of the Airports Commission and its chairman, Howard Davies. It has been revealed that he is a board member of Prudential, an insurance group which invested in property near Heathrow, just months before the Commission recommended a 3rd runway. He chairs its risk committee, which reviews and approves group investment policies as well as advising the board on risks in the company’s “strategic transactions and business plans”. The Guardian reports that Prudential embarked on a £300m spending spree on properties around Heathrow, just as the commission prepared to deliver its final report, on 1st July. Prudential has an asset management business, M&G. In 2013 it bought the Hilton hotel at Terminal 5 for £21m and an earlier investment with planning permission for a large hotel close to where the proposed 3rd runway would be built. In May and June 2015 M&G bought more property including cargo depots and a business park a short distance from Terminal 4. Howard Davies also, till September 2012, advised the GIC (Singapore), which owns 11.2% of Heathrow. The Teddington Action Group say Davies’ links with Prudential undermines the impartiality and credibility of the Commission’s recommendations.

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Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd Heathrow runway

The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves. It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….” The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law.

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British Airways-owner CEO, Willie Walsh, opposes new Heathrow runway as too expensive to airlines

British Airways-owner IAG does not support the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway, its chief executive said, because the costs of the project does not make sense for the airline. Willie Walsh said: “We think the costs associated with the third runway are outrageous and certainly from an IAG point of view we will not be supporting it and we will not be paying for it. …We’re not going to support something that increases our costs.” British Airways is the biggest airline at Heathrow [it has around 50% of the slots]. An expanded Heathrow with a new runway would be partly paid for by higher charges to airlines. In May this year he had said “the cost of all three [runway] options are excessive and would translate into an unacceptable increase in charges at the airports.” Not to mention the problems of politics and unacceptability to the public. The Airports Commission’s final report says, with a new runway at Heathrow, “The resulting impact on passenger aeronautical charges across the Commission’s four demand scenarios for Heathrow is an increase from c. £20 per passenger to a weighted average charge of c. £28-30 per passenger and a potential peak of up to c. £31.”

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Ipsos Mori poll across UK shows 33% don’t want airport capacity increased (60% do). Only 13.2% want Heathrow runway.

The Evening Standard commissioned a poll by Ipsos Mori, of attitudes to a new runway – or a new airport. It was a telephone poll, of 1,026 adults across the UK, between 18th and 20th July. It found that 60% thought there should be some airport capacity expansion. 33% though there should be no expansion (and 7% did not know). Of the 60% in favour, 44% (ie. 26% of the total) either wanted a new airport or expansion of an airport other than Heathrow or Gatwick. Only 22% of those wanting expansion wanted a Heathrow runway (ie. 13.2% of the total sample) and only 24% (ie. 14.4% of the total sample) wanted a Gatwick runway. Those figures really are very small. Asking the whole sample, including those who did not think airport expansion was needed, what were the most important issues the Government should consider on where a runway should be built, the very highest number said “impact on the natural environment” (39%) and the second highest was “noise created for local residents” (30%). Other issues like total costs, support of local residents, local air quality and traffic congestion were all important (about 11 – 15%). The message being taken from the poll is not only that backing for a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is very small, and there is no consensus, but also that there is more backing for a new airport elsewhere – or expanding another airport (regional?)

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David Cameron urged to reopen consultation on air quality at Heathrow

More than 30 west London politicians and anti-airport expansion group leaders have signed a letter to the PM over air pollution following Airports Commission recommendation to allow a 3rd Heathrow runway. Serious concerns exist about the level of air pollution around Heathrow, where it is already above the legal limit. The group of organisations signing the letter to David Cameron include the leaders of two councils, and 5 MPs, 3 Assembly members and environmental groups, say this problem has not been taken seriously by the Commission. There either needs to be a new consultation, or the government should rule out a Heathrow runway. The Commission’s conclusions are based on a highly flawed and very short consultation. The letter states: “Given the Commission timetable and the fact their main 350-page report was published just a month after the air quality consultation ended, it is clear that the Commission effectively regarded it as a tick box exercise and one that was immaterial to the overall report. It is hard to see how a third runway with millions more car and lorry journeys to the airport will improve air quality around west London. It will obviously make it worse. In doing so it will also raise the legal bar for expansion ever getting the green light.”

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Heathrow may oppose ban on night flights, and ban on 4th runway, as price for 3rd runway

Heathrow is to press the government to loosen the conditions attached to a 3rd runway going ahead, unwilling to agree either to a ban on night flights or on a 4th runway. These were two important conditions suggested by the Airports Commission, to make a 3rd runway acceptable to its neighbours. However, Heathrow sees the conditions as negotiable, and John Holland-Kaye brazenly said he was confident Heathrow would be given the green light to expand and that “it wouldn’t make sense” for the prime minister to oppose a new runway now. Even if Heathrow does not agree to important conditions. Holland-Kaye wants to have a “conversation” about conditions with government. It is used to trying to have “conversations” with local residents, in which the airport generally manages to get its way, with only minimal concessions. Heathrow does not want lose lucrative night flights: “We have a significant number of routes to Hong Kong and Singapore. That’s getting key trading partners into the UK to start their business. It’s very popular because it’s an important route.” Holland-Kaye said the airport would “comment later on the package of conditions as a whole”, but he noted that “we do have the ability, physically” to build a 4th runway.

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Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay

The Airports Commission left the matter of who would pay for the approximately £5 billion needed to tunnel a section of the M25, and other surface access improvements, vague. The assumption has been made that the taxpayer would have to fund this, though the Airports Commission suggested that Heathrow would be able to find the funding from its investors for this. Now the CEO of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a 3rd runway is built. Huge motorway engineering would be needed, to have the runway going over the motorway. John Holland-Kaye has ruled out paying for the surface access work. Though the government funds road and rail improvements under normal circumstances, tunnelling the M25 and dealing with hugely increased road traffic using an airport 50% larger than at present are not normal circumstances. Especially in times of huge economic savings being necessary in public finances. The Commission’s final report said it considered the runway was commercially viable “without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs.” This would be by Heathrow “raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator.”

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MP’s Environmental Audit Committee launch inquiry into Heathrow 3rd runway impacts

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched an inquiry into the implications for government commitments on air quality, noise and CO2 of a Heathrow 3rd runway. The Airports Commission, in recommending a Heathrow runway, said this should be subject to environmental and quality mitigation measures. This includes binding air quality commitments so that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed any further, at risk from increased road traffic for a larger Heathrow. EU limits for NO2 around Heathrow are already being exceeded. On increased aircraft noise, which would be unavoidable from a 3rd runway, the Commission proposed an aviation noise levy to fund mitigation measures, an independent aviation noise authority and a legally binding “noise envelope.” None of which really address the problem of up to 50% more flights, with the inevitable noise. The EAC inquiry is requesting submissions (deadline 3rd September) on whether proposed mitigations set out in the Airports Commission’s are realistic and achievable, and wider government policy. The new Chairman of the EAC is Huw Irranca-Davies, since Joan Walley stepped down. Other EAC members are Rory Stewart and Caroline Lucas.

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Slough Council secret deal with Heathrow includes gagging order, so it couldn’t fight for a better deal from Heathrow for 3 – 4 years, and only 5 hours free of night flights

“Colnbrook Views” reports that residents of Colnbook, close to Heathrow and due to be badly affected by a 3rd runway, submitted a FoI request to get the details for the secret, but legally binding, deal done between Slough Borough Council and Heathrow airport. The details of the deal are worrying. As well as finding out that Colnbrook, and help for the residents, do not feature in the deal, it has emerged that Slough Council has accepted what amounts to a self-imposed gagging order, unable to criticise Heathrow for the next 3 to 4 years,until Heathrow is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO). As well as a boost for investment in the town and improved access from central Slough to the airport, the secret agreement sees Heathrow commit to supporting the Council’s representations to Government to seek compensation for lost business rates, put by the council itself at up to £10 million earlier this year. In return, however, Cabinet is legally bound to giving public support for the airport until final permission, is granted. A Development Consent Order is at least three years away, possibly four. Residents expected that their council would have argued for “world class” compensation and mitigation.

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Cabinet ‘stitch-up’ on Heathrow: Cameron chairing runway sub-Committee, locking out ministers who oppose 3rd runway

On the say MPs left for their summer break on 21st July, the Cabinet Office slipped out the names of 10 senior Tories on the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This committee will consider what to do about a new runway. Chaired by David Cameron it includes vocal supporters of a 3rd Heathrow runway including Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. There are concerns that the committee’s membership deliberately excludes the Cabinet members (Justine Greening, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Theresa Villiers – and even Boris). Also on the Committee are: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Environment Secretary Liz Truss, Scotland Secretary David Mundell, Communities Secretary Greg Clark, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin and Chief Whip Mark Harper. The make up of the Committee is seen as indicating that David Cameron is ready to over-rule concerns from ministers who oppose the runway, and suggests the final decision will not be made by the Cabinet as a whole. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said: ‘It certainly looks like a stitch-up. It could be Cameron is going for a solution he believes will work ion the short-term but could backfire in the medium term because some of the Cabinet ministers who are against a third runway feel so strongly that it could be a resigning issue.’

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SNP, which won just 1.45 million votes in the election, says it will decide the vote on a SE runway

The SNP have 56 MPs, and each was only voted by an average of about 23,000 voters, which is a much smaller number than even Conservative MPs, and massively less than LibDems, UKIP or the Greens. Nevertheless. Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will decide on whether a runway is built at Heathrow or Gatwick (they are not wise enough to appreciate no runway is needed). The SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry said the party was “neutral” between Heathrow and Gatwick, while earlier it had been thought they favoured Heathrow. The SNP will “negotiate” with both airports, to see which gives them a better deal and they will vote for whichever gives Scottish people the cheapest flights, and “guaranteed connections with international flights” which Scotland has not been able to provide for itself. The SNP is aware that people in England, especially those to be adversely affected (or evicted from their homes) by a runway did not get the chance to vote for or against the SNP. The runway is largely an English matter. But Zac Goldsmith warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes.  Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, argued that the SNP should abstain on a Westminster vote on locating a new runway in the South-East.  (Combined anti-Heathrow party votes of LibDems, UKIP and Greens were 7.45 million. SNP votes were 1.45 million).

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Heathrow campaigners provide the (suit)case against the runway, in holiday reading material for David Cameron

On 20th July, the day before Parliament broke for its summer recess, campaigners from national organizations and local groups opposed to expansion at Heathrow packed a holiday suitcase for David Cameron’s summer holiday – with material they believe he should read and view on his holiday before he makes up his mind on a 3rd runway. They were joined by the new Twickenham MP Tania Mathias and the veteran opponent of Heathrow expansion, Baroness Jenny Tonge. Organised by HACAN, some of those at the event were campaigners from Greenpeace, FoE, CBT, AEF, SHE , RHC and CAIAN. Items packed into the suitcase included “Heat,” a climate change book by George Monbiot; a video showing Harmondsworth; the most recent IPCC report; AirportWatch briefings on economics, noise, carbon emissions, and air quality; maps showing areas of London to be impacted by flight paths from a 3rd runway; a “No Ifs, No Buts, No third runway” beach towel; and John Stewart’s book “Why Noise Matters.” The case was then wheeled off in the direction of Downing Street. HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This diverse range of groups gives a flavour of the formidable opposition David Cameron will face if he gives the green light to a third runway.”

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Ciudad Real airport, cost €1.1 billion to build, sold for €10,000 to Chinese group, perhaps for cargo airport

An abandoned Spanish airport which cost about €1.1bn to build has been sold for €10,000 (about £7,000) in a bankruptcy auction. The deal includes the runway, hangars, the control tower and other buildings. However, the terminal and parking facilities were not part of the sale. Ciudad Real’s Central airport, located about 235km south of Madrid, became a symbol of the country’s wasteful spending during a construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008, the year the airport opened. It was meant to be an alternative to Madrid’s Barajas airport. The operator of the airport went bankrupt in 2012 after it failed to draw enough traffic. Ryanair used it briefly. A group of British and Asian international investors, Chinese group Tzaneen International, tabled the single bid in Friday’s auction. There was no other interest. The receiver had set a minimum price of €28 million. If no better bid is received by September, the sale will go through. Tzaneen reportedly plans to invest €60 – €100 million in the airport and make it a cargo hub. The offer is for the airport infrastructure only, not adjacent land. It has a long runway and was designed to handle 2.5 million passengers per year. It is thought that Chinese companies want to make it their “main point of entry into Europe”.

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Heathrow gets 270 businesses to ask David Cameron to support building 3rd runway

Heathrow has got some 270 business people, many from companies with a clear direct financial interest, to write an open letter to David Cameron to ask him to get on quickly with building a Heathrow runway. They make the usual claims about the lack of a runway holding back the growth of UK business across the UK, and of limiting future investment in the UK. The actual connection between the runway, and all these good things, is never clearly set out, and the runway would in reality largely be used for holidays or visiting friends and family. The business people say in their letter that the runway would ” improve connectivity both within and outside the UK, driving exports and stimulating growth across the country.” Curiously, they never mention stimulating imports. They want the UK to be macho and show it is willing and able to “take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the 21st century” and “doing nothing will put Britain’s economy in a perilous position.” It claims “a majority of people in Heathrow’s local communities” back the runway. No evidence for that is given. Meanwhile Heathrow is encouraging passengers to send an easy-to-fill-in-with-no-effort postcards, to David Cameron, asking him to expand Heathrow immediately. Daniel Moylan tweeted: “Move fast on Heathrow? Before we work out the cost to taxpayer and passenger and the harm to residents? Got it.”

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Many thousands of determined opponents of new Nantes airport gather for mobilisation weekend before final court decision

Over the weekend of 11th and 12th July there was a massive gathering at Notre Dame des Landes, in western France, to show the strong opposition to the building of a new runway there, to replace the current Nantes airport. This “mobilisation” is the 15th that the organisers, ACIPA, have put on over the years. It was estimated that perhaps 15,000 people attended over the two days. People at Nantes are very aware of the carbon and climate implications of a new airport, as well as serious local environmental destruction. They also link the Nantes campaign with other huge infrastructure projects across Europe, that would be damaging in terms of carbon emissions – such as a new runway in the UK. There is a desire to link up campaigns against such developments. The gathering combined a lot of workshops and education sessions with fun, with music, dancing and food -but with a very serious message. On Friday 17th July the Nantes Administrative Court will rule on the last 17 appeals by opponents of the airport project, on several environmental issues in contention with EU law, such as on water law and destruction of protected species. It is thought the court will rule against the opponents,but they will appeal. These legal issues are all that is holding up building of the airport.

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Plane Stupid activists set up protest, locking themselves together, on Heathrow northern runway

At around 3.30am a group of 12 climate change activists from the group Plane Stupid cut a hole in the perimeter fence at Heathrow, and set up a protest on the northern runway. They set up a tripod of metal poles, and metal fencing panels, and locked themselves onto these. Some were attached by D locks around their necks, onto the fence. Others used arm locks (two people link arms, handcuffed together, inside a hard tube) to make it difficult for police to remove them. Police arrived on the scene shortly after the protest was set up. The first flights arrive at Heathrow from around 4.30am. Flights were delayed while the airport needed to shift runways. Six protesters were removed quite quickly. The protest was due to the recommendation of the Airports Commission that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. Besides the serious negative impacts of the runway on noise, air pollution, destruction of Harmondsworth, huge costs to the taxpayer and considerable social disruption for miles around, the issue which has been glossed over is the CO2 emissions that the runway would create from greatly increased flights, many long-haul. The Commission itself was aware that a new runway would mean the UK could not achieve its aviation carbon cap, and make it less likely the UK could meet its legally binding carbon target for 2050.

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FT says after government statement on runway in late autumn, there will be a public consultation

It seems likely that the government will indicate its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be in November). A Whitehall source has indicated to the Financial Times that Patrick McLoughlin is then expected to set out a “clear direction” — rather than a hard and fast decision. That will then require a public consultation by the DfT. The DfT said: “The government is now carefully considering the evidence before making a decision and the secretary of state for transport plans to make a statement in the autumn to provide clear direction on the government’s plans ….Further consultation will be required as part of any decision-making process and to secure planning consents.” George Osborne indicated recently that there would be a consultation before the government made any final decision. He said: “Now we’ve got to consult people, let Londoners have their say as well and not prejudge that.” Maybe that’s a way for the Cabinet to try to resolve their internal split on Heathrow. A Treasury spokesperson later said consulting widely with residents would be expected: “You would criticise us if we didn’t consult on a decision this big.”

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Heathrow wants “discussions with government” to negotiate runway conditions set by Airports Commission

The Airports Commission recommended a 3rd runway at Heathrow, subject to a number of conditions (noise, compensation, local consultation, air quality etc). But Heathrow is not keen on these conditions, and now says it is “seeking discussions with government ” on them. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said Heathrow “would have to consider” the demand from the Commission that there should not be night flights, and that there should be a legal prohibition on a 4th runway. The point of conditions is that they are, well as they say, conditions. But Heathrow says: “We will work with the government to make sure we have a solution that can be delivered. I am not saying today that we will accept all the conditions that have been put down.” Airlines would not like night flights, as they make long haul routes less profitable and problematic. Heathrow’s hope of getting conditions, all recommended for good reasons, removed or reduced will only increase the level of hostility towards the airport by its opponents. Whitehall sources say the government will state its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be November?) — but will then launch a fresh consultation.

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Surrey County Council leader says Heathrow runway would require 70,800 new homes and 56 new schools

Surrey County Council leader, David Hodge, says Surrey will require investment in infrastructure if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway. Speaking at the RunwaysUK conference David Hodge said that before a new runway is built 70,800 new homes need to be built in the local area surrounding Heathrow over the next 15 years. This area includes 14 boroughs surrounding Heathrow, including Spelthorne and Runnymede. This would also mean an additional 50 new primary schools and 6 secondary schools would be essential. He said: “We are not against expansion of either Gatwick or Heathrow… but we can only support expansion if the necessary investment in local infrastructure is put in place first.” There need to be significant transport improvements in the area for a Heathrow runway, including adding a 4th lane to the M25 between junctions 10 to 16. Also a new rail service to Waterloo from Heathrow, and more coach and bus links to Camberley, Woking and Guildford would be needed. He added that is not the only priority if there is expansion: “investment will need to go well beyond improving transport links.” [All this comes at a cost to the taxpayer – and would not be paid for by Heathrow.]

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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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Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour

A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow. This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”. The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic. Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell.

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Airports Commission recommends a 3rd Heathrow runway, but leaving door open for Gatwick runway if Government find Heathrow too difficult to force through

The Commission has recommended the Heathrow north-west runway proposal, and is adamant that option has the most benefits for the UK. It has left the option of Gatwick open, but says the arguments are very, very much stronger for Heathrow. Having delivered its report, the Commission is now standing down.

Airports Commission’s Final Report

Airports Commission’s “Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway”

Sir Howard Davies’ letter to Patrick McLoughlin 

Some reaction to the Airports Commission announcement below

The Guardian view on expanding Heathrow: just say no. Guardian Editorial

The Guardian writes that the Airports Commission and most of the reporting of the Heathrow runway recommendation looked only at issues like economic growth, the alleged urgency of more links to emerging markets, and the UK keeping its place as top dog on aviation in Europe. A few voices were raised about the local “environmental” effect, noise, air pollution etc. But these “pale besides aviation’s contribution to the planet’s slow cooking. If there is a difficult question that has been ducked for too long, then that is the one about decarbonising the economy.” Though the Commission looked at carbon, their “emphasis … and the basis for arguing that increased capacity was not merely desirable but imperative, was on a …fairytale future, in which passengers double, under the auspices of comprehensive and globally enforced carbon trading.” This requires an effective global system in which the price of carbon rises from around £5 to several hundred £s which would greatly increase the price of air tickets. That is not likely to happen. The aim of the runway is to make flying cheaper, not more expensive, so people take even more flights. ” The infrastructure we have now is enough to speed climate change. “Transport networks need to be re-engineered for decarbonisation. But that would require some real blue-sky thinking, and of that there is no sign.”

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Richmond Heathrow Campaign response to the Airports Commission choice of Heathrow

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign is wholly against a new third runway at Heathrow. There is unlikely to be any net benefit to the UK aviation market or to the UK economy. Why? According to the Airports Commission’s own figures, a new Heathrow runway results in no overall increase in the number of UK passengers, business passengers, flights or connectivity because it would be fed by re-distributing growth from other UK airports – in particular from airports outside the southeast. Heathrow expansion would result in cuts to flights at airports outside the southeast: as much as 45% at Birmingham, 30% at Bristol, 15% at Manchester and 10% at Edinburgh. It would stifle growth around the UK and concentrate it at a single airport in the economically overheated southeast. This would be contrary to the government’s aim of re-balancing the UK economy. And the RHC makes also sets out its other key reasons for opposing a new Heathrow runway.

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Heathrow third runway unanimously recommended by Airports Commission, but with conditions

The Airports Commission has recommended that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow, but only if it can meet stringent conditions on noise and air pollution. Those conditions should include a ban on night flights, legally binding caps on noise and air quality – and legislation to rule out ever building a 4th runway [unlikely to be effective?] .The Commission has said their view was “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow’s plan was the strongest case for a runway, delivering the greatest strategic and economic benefits, and they hoped the conditions would make the airport a “better neighbour” than today.

The conditions are:

– A ban on all scheduled night flights from 11.30pm to 6am….- No fourth runway – the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand further. Davies states: “There is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway.”….- A legally binding “noise envelope”…..- A noise levy on airport users to compensate local communities…. – A legal commitment on air quality (details to be announced, compliant with EU limits)…. – A community engagement board to let local people have a say…. – An independent aviation noise authority to be consulted on flight paths and operating procedures at airports….- Training and apprenticeships for local people.

The government must now decide whether to act on the recommendation – by autumn, or before Christmas.

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Campaigners against a Gatwick runway relieved by Airports Commission decision, but aware Gatwick may still ultimately be selected by government.

Thousands of people across Surrey, Sussex and Kent will be relieved that the threat of an environmental disaster has been lifted – though this reprieve may only be very temporary. The Commission appears to leave the door open for a Gatwick runway, while hugely favouring Heathrow, considering the Gatwick option could be pushed through by the Government with less difficulty. There will, however, be no rejoicing from the Gatwick area: campaigners there are only too aware of the misery which will be created for those living near Heathrow. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) commented: “We do not want this for our area, and equally we do not wish it onto others, for whom it would be just as bad. We will continue to make the case that no new runway is needed, neither at Heathrow, nor at Gatwick, nor anywhere else.” GACC, and all the protest groups around Gatwick, will be studying the report carefully and will remain on guard in case there is pressure to reverse the recommendation. A Gatwick runway would be an environmental disaster for the south east.

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Caroline Lucas blog: “Heathrow might have been his answer, but Davies was asking the wrong question”

The Airports Commission (AC) has finally recommended that Heathrow, Europe’s biggest noise polluter, should expand. The decision has been framed simply: Gatwick or Heathrow? Either new runway would cost billions of pounds and cause thousands more people’s lives to be blighted by more aircraft flying low over homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Caroline Lucas considers the AC’s failure to properly consider the option of “no new runway” is indefensible. The proposed new runway isn’t just bad news for people living nearby – it’s extremely damaging to our efforts to meet our climate change targets. The AC knows the CO2 emission from UK aviation would breach the sector’s generous targets – even without a new runway. There are other questions that should e asked, not just if a runway should be at Heathrow or Gatwick. Should frequent flyers pay more, the more they fly? The runway is not “needed” for the average family taking one, or even two annual trips. Should public investment, which would be needed to assist a new Heathrow runway, be better spent elsewhere – on local transport? With different questions asked, there are different answers – not involving another runway.

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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.


Gatwick, Heathrow and London City Airport campaigns come together to oppose airspace change – joint letter to Patrick McLoughlin, Sec of State for Transport

Over the past year or more, changes to flight paths and airspace being introduced in the UK, and these have caused considerable anger and upset among the many communities – and tens of thousands of people – now affected. Many new groups sprang up, in response to the greatly increased levels of aircraft noise people were being exposed to. Now these flight path groups at Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airports have joined forces and got together, to show the DfT, the Government, the CAA and NATS the anger of residents across the UK to these airspace changes. They have signed a joint letter, being delivered to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, demanding that Government policy should be changed to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on residents. They also demand that the right of people to health, well-being and family life should be prioritised by Ministers over the drive of airlines, airports and aviation industry for greater profits. They are asking that Government should instigate legislation that governs and controls NATS usage of airspace, and that the CAA gives true consideration to residents who are affected, which is not the current situation.

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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. CCC and AC aviation CO2 projections to 2050

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Green organisations tell Sir Howard Davies that allowing another runway jeopardises UK climate goals 

8 NGO logos for Airports Commission letter

November 1, 2013      

Eight of the key environmental organisations in the UK have written an open letter to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, to express their concern about the Commission’s “emerging thinking” that more runway capacity is needed for the south east, as expressed in Sir Howard’s speech on 7th October. They have serious concerns about how adding a new runway could be compatible with UK climate targets, and they call on the Commission to demonstrate how its recommendations will avoid gambling on our future ability to meet the UK climate target. The NGOs say the Committee on Climate Change’s analysis concluded that stabilising UK aviation’s emissions at their 2005 level could translate to a maximum 60% growth in the number of passengers at UK airports. They set out 4 key arguments why no new runway capacity is needed even if passenger numbers are permitted to grow by up to 60%. They also urge the Commission to retain a “no new runways” option in its deliberations as the best way of achieving the targets set in the UK Climate Change Act. The eight green NGOs which have signed the letter are: Aviation Environment Federation; Campaign for Better Transport; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; RSPB; Stop Climate Chaos; The Woodland Trust; WWF-UK. Click here to view full story…

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 ….. . . .