Howard Davies makes more dodgy claims about necessity of building a 3rd Heathrow runway, regardless of Brexit
After the Brexit vote, there are very real uncertainties about the demand for air travel in future decades. Agreements need to be worked out between the UK and Europe, and this includes the Open Skies agreement between the UK and the US. These could take several years to work out. The Airports Commission gave absolutely no consideration to the possibility of Brexit. However, instead of sensibly deciding to delay a runway decision, Sir Howard Davies (as ever appearing oblivious of the many and serious deficiencies of his Commission’s report) is pushing hard, in the media, for a Heathrow runway. These claims are dangerous. Howard Davies says the economic case for a 3rd runway has been strengthened by the Brexit vote; “there are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset.” .. The UK “needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry….will soon need the work.” Some businesses see not building the runway as “a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world.” He says a Brexit choice is “presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible… ” … “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”
London airport expansion: Britain risks becoming ‘a joke if we keep dithering’ over Heathrow and Gatwick
By JOE MURPHY (Evening Standard)
Friday 1 July 2016
Airports Commission chief Sir Howard Davies today warned that Britain risks becoming “a joke” if it fails to push ahead with extra runway capacity for London and the South East. [Might be a laughing stock if it makes a really bad, unsound decision that ends up needlessly costing the taxpayer a great deal of money, and makes large areas of West London unpleasant to live in. AW comment]
In an Evening Standard interview, he said it was more important than ever following the Brexit referendum to show that Britain was open to business with growing markets like China and India. [Might that be because the Brexit vote means the Airports Commission’s report is no longer of much use, as it failed completely to consider Brexit? And Howard Davies is keen that his work is not shelved – thus reducing his reputation? AW note]
He warned: “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke. [There is plenty of UK airport capacity for links to the far east etc. If fewer flights from Heathrow were going to European destinations, there is ample space at Heathrow for as many long haul business destinations as there is demand for. Brexit may mean – nobody knows yet – fewer flights to and from some European airports. AW note]
“Internationally there’s a risk that the Brexit decision is seen as a kind of inward-looking choice. It’s crucial, I think, that we try as a country to offset that – and here is a good way of doing that. So I think it has much more significance now that it had before.” [There is also the case to be made that links to distant parts of the world can easily be organised, without building a new Heathrow runway. That is just the option that suits Heathrow, and its shareholders, best. Howard Davies, till September 2012, advised the GIC (Singapore), which owns 11.2% of Heathrow. He is still a board member of Prudential, details, an insurance group which invested in property near Heathrow, just months before the Commission recommended a 3rd runway. Also involved in Chinese banking. Details. AW note].
Urging David Cameron’s successor to “be bold” he said the country’s governance would look “threadbare” and “daft” if there was further indecision. [No, it would not. Making a very wrong decision, for very bad reasons, would look “daft.” AW note ]
The interview marks exactly a year since the commission headed by Sir Howard recommended Heathrow expansion after three years of research and studies.
He expressed frustration at the repeated delays announced by Mr Cameron and said: “They needed to be bold. Just waiting for something to turn up in a Mr Micawber-like way, hoping that suddenly everybody will agree, it isn’t going to happen, actually.
“The French say ‘gouverner c’est choisir’ – to govern is to choose. But it has just been put off further and further.”
The senior businessman urged the next Prime Minister to “screw his courage to the sticking point” and endorse Heathrow’s third runway. “Heathrow have made the concessions we asked for, more or less,” he said. [More of less pretty much sums it up. Heathrow has not given proper assurances about a real ban on night flights. The aspirations about making less noise with 50% more flights are largely wishful thinking. The promises on air quality are not for Heathrow to achieve, so are largely meaningless. And they are not prepared to pay the costs of surface infrastructure. Let alone on carbon emissions. If anyone believes that means meeting the conditions, their perspective seems to be very biased – or their understanding incomplete. AW note ].
He also revealed that he did not think Tory frontrunner Theresa May was a diehard Heathrow opponent, contrary to the view of some MPs.
Intriguingly, Sir Howard did not think Theresa May would be influenced against Heathrow on the grounds of local noise nuisance for her Maidenhead constituents. “I’ve met her and talked about it and she asks good questions but she has never said ‘over my dead body’,” he said.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin yesterday told MPs it would now be October at the earliest before a decision could be taken because of Mr Cameron’s resignation. The further delay was strongly criticised by business leaders.
Sir Howard said business would not accept endless delays. “I would be very disappointed if nothing happened – and I would not be the only one. [It is not for “business” (meaning here, some businesses and not by any means all ) to decide on a matter like the devastation of a huge area of West London or of Surrey and Sussex. If the right decision has to be made, then business just has to accept it, like everyone else. The UK should not be run merely for the whims of big business. AW note] .
“They are going to have to do it pretty soon after a new prime minister is appointed because I just think the credibility of the governing process in this country is now rather threadbare on this. Internationally it looks pretty daft.”
Britain needs new Heathrow runway more than ever
By Sir Howard Davies (Chairman of the, now closed, Airports Commission that recommended a 3rd Heathrow runway on 1.7.2015)
1.7.2016 (In the Financial Times)
[ Caution – read this with great caution. It is written from the perspective of someone very keen to have his work taken seriously and acted upon. Its arguments, such as they are, are as full of holes as a Swiss cheese. AW note ]
There are already signs of an inward investment slowdown this would offset, writes Howard Davies
“It is now exactly a year since the Airports Commission, which I chaired, published its final report, recommending a third runway at Heathrow. The government had planned to make an early decision, but announced yesterday that this will not happen until October at the earliest. It is perhaps not surprising, as there are one or two other things going on, but it underlines the unwisdom of a year’s procrastination, in the hope that a more propitious moment would arrive.
Since a decision on runway capacity in south-east England has already been put off for several decades, a further delay while the Conservative party elects a new leader seemed an attractive option. But it is arguable that the cost of delay is rising and has escalated since last Thursday’s vote to leave the EU.
Most of the leadership candidates have not been closely involved in the runway debate. The non-appearance of Boris Johnson as a candidate will simplify the choice. He continued to hanker after a new airport in the Thames Estuary. But there is no enthusiasm for that highly costly and environmentally challenged project elsewhere in government. So the options are those we set out last year: two different schemes at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.
In the year since our report was published, the public debate on the merits of the three options has continued. Gatwick has spent a lot of money on advertisements, some of which the Advertising Standards Authority forced it to withdraw, but no material new points have emerged to invalidate the Airports Commission analysis.
The air pollution problem, which is serious for all cities, is becoming more salient, partly as a result of the VW affair. But at the airport it can be resolved and will be alleviated by London-wide measures that are necessary anyway. The noise increase, while obviously unwelcome to those close to the airfield, we believe to be manageable. A three-runway configuration allows respite for affected communities, and aircraft are getting quieter year by year.
Our support for Heathrow expansion was, however, conditional on some important and costly concessions by the airport and the airlines, notably a ban on early morning arrivals, which cause particular concern; a noise levy to fund insulation schemes; and tough actions to reduce car traffic to the airport. In particular, the “kiss and fly” habit of driving right up to the airport to drop off passengers is one we need to break: kissing should be reserved for rail and bus stations, not Heathrow set-down zones.
The airport has now accepted almost all those recommendations, which was an important step forward.
The economic case for the project has in my view been strengthened by the events of the past few days. There are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset. It is likely that the greater part of the nearly £20bn investment would come from overseas investors, who remain keen to participate. The business case for Heathrow expansion remains strong.
The narrative of those arguing for Brexit included the point that the UK should be focusing more attention on fast-growing non-EU markets in the Far East and elsewhere. Stronger air links will be essential if that aspiration is to become a reality. Heathrow already offers far more non-European destinations partly because it has a supporting air freight infrastructure vastly greater than Gatwick. Expanding Gatwick, which is dominated by short-haul European leisure services, does not offer anything like the same advantages. Heathrow benefits from the network effects that come from a huge spread of long and short-haul routes, built up over half a century, which help to incubate new routes and make them viable. That cannot be quickly replicated elsewhere.
More broadly, the country needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry — whose stocks have suffered badly since the referendum — will soon need the work.
So the political case for delay is not as strong as the economic case for a decision. We talked to overseas investors and businesses, many of whom saw the lack of a decision on airport capacity as a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world. The Brexit choice is similarly presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible after their bucket and spade break. The waverers could take our compelling report to the beach. It is a page-turner, right up there with The Girl on the Train.”
The writer is a professor at Sciences-Po, Paris and chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland
That then prompted a letter from Sir Roy McNulty, of Gatwick:
[Also with some very dodgy and selfl serving logic].
July 3, 2016
Gatwick expansion is now more important than ever
Howard Davies is wrong to assert that no material new points have emerged in the long period since the publication of his report commissioned by David Cameron (“Heathrow needs its third runway to take off without delay”, July 1).
One reason for that delay was that the report itself failed adequately to address the issue of air quality, a matter of increasing national concern; it is now clear that air quality issues around Heathrow are a much more significant impediment to expansion than Sir Howard recognises.
The report’s conclusions have also shown to be wrong in other respects. In the past year, Gatwick has served more than 40m passengers (a number the report suggested would not be reached until 2024) and has announced 20 new long-haul routes, including routes to second cities in China, giving the lie to the idea that only “hub” airports can open new routes to emerging markets. Indeed, a freedom of information act request has revealed that the commission’s own data show that long haul traffic for the UK will be the same under expansion at Gatwick as at Heathrow.
Further assessment of the risks of the two schemes, an area that the Treasury select committee identified as lacking in the analysis, has shown clearly that Gatwick’s scheme is low risk whereas the risks associated with Heathrow’s scheme are an order of magnitude greater. And a new report by the Competition and Markets Authority has identified the very considerable benefits of competition between airports, an issue largely dismissed by Sir Howard.
In the new environment in which the UK finds itself, our ability to act with agility and efficiency, to deploy our national resources judiciously, is more important than ever to demonstrate that we are open for business. The commission concluded that expansion at Gatwick was credible, financeable and deliverable. Gatwick has recently confirmed its ability to deliver a new runway by 2025, at no expense to the taxpayer and at a cost that will maintain our competitive position in the world market. That would be a better outcome than seeking to perpetuate an old orthodoxy which has so evidently failed time and again.
Sir Roy McNulty
Gatwick Airport Ltd
Airports Commission chairman warns Government over Heathrow delay
By Ben Martin
1 JULY 2016 (Telegraph)
It would be “a joke” if the Government sets out to boost trade with emerging markets following Brexit without building more runway capacity in the south east of England, the City grandee who led the Airports Commission has said.
Sir Howard Davies chaired the Government-appointed Commission that exactly a year ago told ministers the best way to tackle the looming aviation capacity crisis is to build a £17.6bn third runway at Heathrow.
The Government delayed a decision on the Commission’s findings in the 12 months since. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, then provoked fury among businesses on Thursday when he said the post-Brexit political chaos would result in another delay and a decision should not be expected until “at least October”.
Sir Howard, who is now chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, said in an interview with the Evening Standard: “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”
He continued: “Internationally there’s a risk that the Brexit decision is seen as a kind of inward-looking choice. It’s crucial, I think, that we try as a country to offset that – and here is a good way of doing that.”
Expanding Heathrow is controversial because of worries it will increase air and noise pollution.
Instead of backing the Commission, the Government in December said it would carry out more environmental work on a third runway and two rival projects – a second landing strip at Gatwick, and a plan to lengthen an existing Heathrow runway proposed by a group that is independent of the airport. It will now be left to David Cameron’s successor as prime minister to choose which scheme goes ahead.
Heathrow is almost full and Gatwick is also approaching its limits. The commission spent almost three years and £20m examining how to expand capacity before deciding another Heathrow runway would be the best way to solve the problem.
Heathrow’s third runway – 15 years of dithering
Department for Transport says more airport capacity is needed to cope with doubling in passenger numbers
Government White Paper published on third runway at Heathrow
Government says it backs Heathrow’s third runway
Public consultation launched
Conservatives come out against the plans for third runway
Third runway is approved by the Labour Government
Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition rules out third runway
Coalition asks Airports Commission to review options for air capacity in south east
Commission says it backs third runway at Heathrow
Government delays decision until Summer 2016 – at the earliest
Heathrow offers to ban night flights in a bid to win approval for a third runway. The measure had been a sticking point.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin says the decision will now be made in the autumn when a new prime minister has been chosen.