Whitehall met aviation chiefs over Heathrow third runway
in advance of the decision to back a third runway at Heathrow, even though they
told environmental groups that there was a blanket ban on meetings with any external
nearly nine months of stonewalling by civil servants.
also disclose that the communications directorate at the department saw it as its job to “monitor protest groups continuously and brief staff and police accordingly”.
project, the likelihood of something going wrong and how much of a problem such
an event would be.
impact and “medium” likelihood, combining to give a “high” exposure to risk for
the government. The threat of disruption was seen as one of the highest risk threats to the third
only be able to meet the noise reduction demands by introducing a congestion charge
for the area.
with industry stakeholders, including at ministerial level, as necessary to keep
abreast of developments and strategies.
department civil servants: “In advance of the meeting I would like to make clear
that discussion of Heathrow expansion will not be possible. This is for reasons
of propriety as the consultation has now closed and ministers are considering
the submissions that have been made.
with external groups. Wider issues around aviation and the environment may, of
course, be discussed with the ministers.”
Commission so it did not create “uncertainty over BAA capacity/drive to take forward
for a third runway before the next general election – an admission that ensures
a Conservative government could block a new landing strip at the airport.
the airport group have conceded that it will be impossible to compile the plans
and data necessary by that date.
Posted by christian on 27 March 2009.
hugely unpopular and environmentally damaging project which would flatten a community,
significantly contribute to rising UK carbon emissions, and be campaigned against
project managing the task of getting it approved.
this before last week), is a document where you have to list everything that could
go wrong with the project, how likely it is to happen and how much of a problem
it would be. You also have to say what you’re going to do about it.
If you got your hands on the risk register written by the civil servant tasked
with getting approval for a third runway at Heathrow, it would probably contain
some interesting stuff. So we did.
arguments over Heathrow
the economic and CO2 arguments on LHR’. The coloured boxes from left to right
indicate this is listed as ‘high’ impact and ‘medium’ likelihood, combining to
give a ‘high’ exposure to risk for the government.
they might do something about it. But under ‘Measures in place to manage [risk]’
it just says ‘Mitigating actions to be identified over the summer’. The obvious
conclusion is that at the end of July last year (when the assessment dates from)
the government had no idea how to strengthen the economic or environmental arguments
for the runway convincingly – there was nothing they could do to prevent a ‘high’
exposure to the risk of failing to convince, either economically or environmentally.
runway as ‘green’ by banging on about vaguely defined ‘green planes’ or ‘green
landing slots’, or trying to argue that oversight from the Environment Agency
– (whose chairman Chris Smith
to be thrust into the role, and
and an economic white elephant.
about direct action – it’s one of the key things they list as a potential problem,
both because it could delay progress, and because it causes acute embarrassment.
From “Direct action by opponents of Heathrow expansion leads to short term disruption
at Heathrow and negative publicity” to “Strength of opposition to expansion at
Heathrow led to direct action during consultation period,” it’s clear that protests
around the issue, backed by the sheer scale of the opposition they face, has been
a real concern.
could be approved. But they already knew it was a wildly unpopular scheme.
goes against the runway they’ll spin the results, but one rather delicately worded
risk is “Strength of opposition from residents under flight path in relation to
noise and pollution undermines consultation.” – Which is listed as ‘high’ impact
and ‘high’ likelihood.
a planned DfT/BAA programme of trying to wow the locals into submissions with
events, meetings and ‘stakeholder engagement’ sessions would reduce the risk at
all. In other words, they had no confidence in their ability to change people’s
minds leading up to the consultation – presumably again because their arguments
naÃ¯ve) mind the point of a consultation is to find out what people think, not
to rubber stamp something that’s already been decided. Of course, at the time
The risk registers really only support the diagnosis that rigging the consultation
was a desperate effort to ‘manage the risk’ of the consultation being ‘undermined’
by actually being accurate.
consultation came back with only 11 per cent of local residents supporting a third
runway (and a significant chunk of those worked for BAA).
of leaving some massive dataset of taxpayer’s details in the back of a taxi, but
it’s not particularly reassuring to see “Loss of Heathrow consultation response
database” in there as a realistic risk. Although it has got a ‘low’ likelihood.
– ‘Geoff Hoon has a road to Damascus conversion and joins Greenpeace’ for example,