Some of the innumerable comments and articles about the Heathrow runway decision
The government decision to give its backing to a 3rd Heathrow runway has been greeted by massive press coverage, and comments in their hundreds by commentators of all sorts. Below is just a small selection of some of the points that are of interest, taken as extracts from the coverage. There are some of the comments from a huge range of people and organisation. These include people in Harmondsworth, about the frightening prospect of having their homes compulsorily purchased, and being forced to move – to they know now where. And comments by Greenpeace, Client Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation and Friends of the Earth. And bits on the plan not to tunnel the M25, but build a bridge with a small hill for the runway, over the motorway. Also comments by Zac Goldsmith, on his resignation and imminent by-election; comments from Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, Tania Mathias, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Ruth Cadbury. And from Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Also from Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor Maidenhead councils, and WWF UK and Plane Stupid and Reclaim the Power. As well as some pro-runway comments by the CBI, and Willie Walsh, Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary. And a comment from Gatwick. With apologies for cutting short some of the comments, for the requirement of brevity ….
New Heathrow runway may be built above the M25
The third runway at Heathrow Airport could involve planes taking off from a “ramp” over the M25 motorway, the transport secretary says.
Chris Grayling said this would be “cheaper and quicker” than building a tunnel for the M25 under the new runway and would cause less disruption for drivers during construction.
He said many other airports around the world had built runways over motorways.
There would be “a very gentle hill up which the planes would take off”.
New Heathrow runway could be bridge over troubled traffic
26.10.2016 (Global Construction Review)
The plan had been to divert the busiest stretch of motorway in Britain and send it underground for 650m so that it went underneath the third runway, which would have been built at ground level.
But concerns have been raised by Highways England, a roads authority, that the new runway would cause gridlock on roads around the airport, already prone to jams.
In response, the airport’s chief executive John Holland Kaye told newspaper The Times that the tunnel plan might now be ditched in favour of building the runway on a man-made hill using spoil from the construction project.
This hill could slope upwards to a height of eight metres above the ground where it crosses the M25, making the runway a bridge over troubled traffic.
The approach has been used elsewhere, including at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (pictured), where engineer Atkins extended the runway to 2.4km out over roads and a railway.
There the new runway rose to an end height of just under 16m (52 feet) when it was finished in September 2014.
Heathrow conceded on Tuesday night that it may have to re-examine its plans for an extension under the M25, possibly replacing the tunnel with an elevated bridge, after it emerged that Highways England, the body in charge of Britain’s major roads, considered the scheme a major risk.
Highways England warned there was a “significant risk of cost overruns” in the M25 tunnel scheme, the bill for which it estimated would be between £476m and £1.1bn. Correspondence released by the Department for Transport showed that the roads authority described the scheme as “high risk”, warning of a “a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption”.
‘We feel betrayed’: Harmondsworth residents furious at Heathrow decision
By Esther Addley (Guardian)
Six years after Cameron vowed no third runway, people in village set for part-demolition angry government now backs airport’s expansion
In Harmondsworth, one of the villages scheduled to be partly or wholly demolished to make way for Heathrow’s third runway, there was little shock but considerable distress and anger when the government’s decision was confirmed.
Neil Keveren, whose house will face the boundary fence of the new runway, said residents felt “betrayed” six years after David Cameron’s “no ifs, no buts” commitment that there would be no third runway at Heathrow.
Keveren said: “We received a promise. We all made life choices based on that, which we believed. Some people decided to lay their loved ones to rest here because of it. I invested in my home. I thought we were safe and and we had a reasonable expectation that we were. I feel we have been have been betrayed by Theresa May.”
“I’m very disappointed, and I feel betrayed, and also worried,” said Lesley O’Brien, whose house in Cambridge Close – where she has lived for 46 years and raised her three children – is scheduled to be bulldozed.
“Where can I go? They keep on about the money, but it’s not about the money. They can keep their money. I want to stay here.”
Some wept, others were defiant. There were shouts of “liar” and “what about the residents?”, and when he mentioned the compensation packages that would be offered to those to lose their homes, one local shouted: “Not enough”.
Armelle Thomas has lived in Harmondsworth since the late 1960s, when she and her late husband, Tommy, met working at Heathrow and “fell in love” with the village. Her house is also marked for demolition, but Thomas said she would never agree to move. “My house is not for sale at any price,” she said. “I was with my husband here for 46 years and I have my memories.”
Fighting back tears, she said the stress of the fight against the runway – and particularly a letter sent by Heathrow authorities last year after a commission recommended it should expand – had contributed to her husband’s death. His six medals for wartime service in the RAF were in her hand, along with a large photograph of him.
….. and there is much, much more
The decision to back a third runway at Heathrow is a grotesque folly
25.10.2016 (By John Sauven, Director of Greenpeace UK)
The government’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow has been informed by a mishmash of misinformation and missing information. To take just one example, business flights are in decline. They’ve been in decline for years. And yet the debate is conducted as though they were not only increasing, but increasing at a rate that our current infrastructure is unable to cater for, and our economy is suffering as a result. But they’re not, they’re declining.
Here’s another. Heathrow can’t afford to expand with its own money. Surface access costs for Heathrow are only affordable with a huge subsidy from the taxpayer. Heathrow will only pay £1bn for the additional road and rail links required to get the extra passengers to and from Heathrow. Transport for London say it will cost £18bn. Anyone see a small discrepancy?
The media accepted the framing, and so despite extensive coverage, the biggest, most important flaw has been missing from the debate. The BBC has covered Heathrow on all of its flagship news and politics shows – Newsnight, the Daily Politics, the Today Programme – without even touching on the main issue.
It’s easy to miss something that’s invisible, silent, odourless and tasteless. Particularly when you have a strong financial incentive to do so. And the entire aviation industry has a very strong financial incentive to ignore CO2. They’ve been successfully ignoring it for decades, and last month’s UN-affiliatedinternational aviation conference made it abundantly clear that it is content to continue with its current approach.
…. and there is much, much more. John ends by saying:
“I’m not certain which is more cynical, the idea that the government is willing to spend taxpayers’ money to redistribute mobility from the poor to the rich, or the idea that Davies’ report is designed to be a black box that allows aviation to expand so long as no one looks inside, an invisible solution to an invisible problem. Unfortunately, the invisible problem is real.”
Friends of the Earth comment
HEATHROW EXPANSION MAKES MOCKERY OF GOVERNMENT COMMITMENTS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE
Andrew Pendleton – Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth – said:
“Expanding Heathrow would be a hugely damaging blow for local people, and makes a complete mockery of government commitments to tackle climate change. Local communities now face more noise, more air pollution and more misery from a quarter of a million extra flights each year.
“With the government poised to sign the Paris climate agreement, the decision to expand Heathrow – shortly after forcing fracking on the people of Lancashire – looks deeply cynical.
“However this is only the first step on a long journey that will see communities, councils and climate campaigners continue the battle to reverse this misjudged and damaging decision.”
ClientEarth comment. Heathrow: two obstacles to expansion
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “There are two potentially insurmountable obstacles to Heathrow’s expansion. Firstly, even without expansion, the area around Heathrow will continue to be in breach of legal air pollution limits until 2025 at least, under the government’s current projections.
“In April last year the Supreme Court ordered the government to produce new plans to achieve air quality limits. Those plans were so poor, that last week we took them back to the High Court to force action on air pollution. The government needs to produce an in-depth and credible plan to drastically cut air pollution to meet its legal obligations rather than digging an even deeper hole for itself.
“Secondly, from the perspective of climate change, it makes very little difference whether extra capacity is created in Hillingdon or West Sussex. Expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick would make meeting our 2050 carbon emissions target significantly more difficult than it already is.”
WWF UK comment
WWF UK’s director of advocacy, Trevor Hutchings, said:
Expanding airport capacity makes little business and no environmental sense. The government plans to ratify the Paris treaty, committing us to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint – and just weeks ago it helped to broker a deal that aims to reduce emissions from international aviation. Bringing more air traffic to London’s busy airports flies in the face of that objective.
Before any concrete is poured the government should publish a credible plan for driving down aviation emissions. And its industrial strategy must unequivocally commit to low-carbon growth, providing long-term clarity for investors in clean energy, infrastructure and transport.
Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) comment
What answers has the Government found to the environmental hurdles facing a third runway?
and also their initial comments at
The expansion of Heathrow is unforgivable – we will fight this decision – Green Party comment
By Caroline Lucas
This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year – this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly
We are living under a Government that says it wants to allow people to “take back control”, yet it is pressing ahead with a decision that will inflict more noise and pollution on a local community that’s already suffering – all for the benefit of aviation lobbyists and the business-class set.
The expansion announcement today comes days after leading scientists said that the world is entering a new “climate change reality”, as average carbon dioxide levels are now more than 400 parts per million. The effects of burning more and more dirty fossil fuels are well known, but worth reiterating. ….
…. and there is much more …. Caroline concludes
Ministers know very well that airport expansion, at Heathrow or anywhere else for that matter, will leave our climate change commitments in tatters – and we need to make sure they know that climate campaigners and local residents have absolutely no plans to give up this battle.
Sadiq Khan: Heathrow expansion is ‘wrong decision for London and Britain’
Mr Khan said the government’s announcement was “the wrong decision for London and the whole of Britain”.
He said ministers were “running roughshod over Londoners’ views”, and that the new runway would be “devastating for air quality across London”.
The increased number of flights would subject 200,000 extra people to an “unacceptable level” of airport noise, including 124 more schools and over 40,000 more schoolchildren.
Mr Khan stated his intention to challenge the decision in the coming months, adding a new runway at Gatwick would have boosted London’s economy without the problems an expanded Heathrow would create.
“The government are running roughshod over Londoners’ views – just five months ago I was elected as Mayor on a clear platform of opposing a new runway at Heathrow, a position that was shared by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates in that election.
“A new runway at Heathrow will be devastating for air quality across London – air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2……”
“I will continue to challenge this decision and I am exploring how I can best be involved in any legal process over the coming months.” ….
“They also need to guarantee that they will fully fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to Heathrow – Londoners cannot be expected to pick up the bill for this.”
Heathrow: Wales funding call after third runway decision
A decision to build a third runway at Heathrow has been welcomed by First Minister Carwyn Jones.
He said the announcement would “bring tourists to Wales, help our exporters reach new markets and create new jobs”.
Mr Jones added he would work to ensure Wales received consequential funding “to which it is entitled to under the Barnett formula” – the system which decides how much Wales is funded by the UK treasury – …
It is understood the Welsh Government would want a share of any UK government money spent on upgrading the rail network as a result of the third runway expansion.
[Grayling said in Parliament that the runway would not be Barnettable, as it would be private money. He deliberately ignored, several times, the issue of the public money that would be needed to be spent on improving surface access infrastructure. See Hansard 25.10.2016 on Airport Capacity].
Boris Johnson in Heathrow ‘city of planes’ warning
25 October 2016 (BBC)
Boris Johnson says that while New York is known as the “city of skyscrapers” and Paris the “city of light”, London risks becoming the “city of planes” if the third runway goes ahead.
Justine Greening, MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, said: “Along with many people in my local community, I am extremely disappointed with the decision to push ahead with a third runway at Heathrow.
“My views against expanding Heathrow, particularly on the impact of noise and air pollution on local residents and the weak economic case, are long-held and well-known.
“I will continue to represent the views of my constituents, not least during the forthcoming public consultation on the draft National Policy Statement announced by the Secretary of State for Transport today.”
If you would like to be kept updated on local issues affecting Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, email Justine firstname.lastname@example.org.
See Justine on Twitter
John McDonnell (MP for Hayes and Harlington) comment:
25.10.2016 (Hillingdon and Uxbridge Times)
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has vowed to continue campaigning against government plans for a third runway at Heathrow and labelled them as ‘devastating’.
The Hayes and Harlington MP has publicly campaigned against the runway and has vowed to persist ‘so it never sees the light of day’.
He highlighted that up to 10,000 people could be removed from their homes, as well as an increase in air pollution and noise levels.
Releasing a statement via his Twitter account today, Mr McDonnell said: “I’ve campaigned against this runway for over 30 years and in that time Heathrow have never managed to win the argument for expansion which still remains the case today
“Nothing has changed. Building a third runway would be devastating for local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life. It also remains a disaster for air pollution, noise levels and our effort to tackle climate change.
“4000 homes face the prospect of either being demolished or rendered unliveable by air pollution and noise. This means 8 to 10 thousand people being forcibly removed from their homes. We have not seen anything on this scale in our country’s history.
“I’ll continue to support my constituents in campaigning against this runway so it never sees the light of day.”
Mr McDonnell will host a public meeting on Heathrow’s third runway plan at 7.30pm on Monday 31st October at Heathrow Primary School.
Greg Hands disappointed at Government’s decision to proceed with third Heathrow runway
“I should like to echo the words of my ministerial colleagues in saying how grateful I am to the Prime Minister for allowing those of us who have longstanding concerns about expansion at Heathrow to take a different view about the future of our airports. Accordingly, I shall continue representing the concerns of my constituents in Chelsea & Fulham in opposing the third runway at Heathrow. This Heathrow expansion will have a negative impact on Chelsea & Fulham through increased aircraft noise and other degradations to our quality of life”.
Liberal Democrat comment:
Caroline Pidgeon: Case against Heathrow expansion as strong as ever
26th October 2016
After an incredibly expensive lobbying campaign the Government has foolishly accepted the myth that what is good for the overseas owners of Heathrow is also good for the UK economy.
The reality is that airports such as Luton and Stansted have spare capacity. And in time HS2 will also allow easy access to Birmingham airport for many Londoners.
We can improve the UK’s international links through better use of all our airports. It is the triumph of vested interests for this Government to claim that the environmental wreckage created by a third Heathrow runway is a price worth paying.
The case against a third Heathrow runway is as strong as when Theresa May actively opposed it and when David Cameron once promised ‘no ifs, no buts, no third runway’.
Lord True, Richmond council Leader, comment
Lord True says Heathrow is already breaking air quality rules and told BBC radio that: “The fact that the government has already delayed action for a year results from our reminding them that they hadn’t yet fulfilled things which they’re required to do under the existing law.”
The Heathrow decision is set to be challenged in the courts, including by Richmond Council.
The council’s leader Lord True told the Today programme the airport was responsible for 40% per cent of all noise pollution associated with airports and he is taking legal advice.
The Conservative peer said: “The fact that the government has already delayed action for a year results from our reminding them that they hadn’t yet fulfilled things which they’re required to do under the existing law.”
And he said he would be part of Goldsmith’s campaign team for the by-election. Link
Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, comment
25.10.2016 (South West Londoner)
Wandsworth council is one of the 4 preparing to fight the Heathrow decision.
“The airport boasts illegal levels of air pollution, woefully inadequate transport capacity and has Europe’s worst noise footprint, and that’s just with two runways,” he said.
“Expansion will make all of these severely damaging issues worse.
“It’s wrong on every level, legally undeliverable and will end in failure after years of wasted effort.”
Cllr Govindia also announced plans to try and overturn the decision in a move reminiscent of the appeal over Gordon Brown’s backing of the third runway earlier in the decade.
“This is deeply distressing news for the communities around this airport but this fight is far from over,” he added.
“Ultimately it will be for the courts to decide if this project goes ahead and the law is on our side.
“It looks like we’re heading back to the courts just as we did in 2010 after the Brown Government backed Heathrow’s third runway.
“We overturned that decision in the High Court and nothing has changed since then to make expanding this airport any less damaging.”
Windsor and Maidenhead council, Leader Simon Dudley comment
Conservative-led Windsor and Maidenhead Council will now find itself at loggerheads with its local MP, as it has pledged £50,000 towards legal action against Heathrow expansion.
Leader Simon Dudley has said councillors will do “everything we can do to stop Heathrow being expanded”, adding: “This is just the beginning.”
“This is extremely disappointing news which will have a huge impact on the daily lives of our residents.
“Our residents will suffer a substantial loss of quality of life, with many impacts, including additional intolerable noise affecting more people, increased number of planes flying over head, worse air quality, increased traffic, and likely housing and infrastructure problems.
“We acknowledge the important role Heathrow holds for us, but from the start we have said we want to see a better not bigger airport and today’s decision flies in the face of the concerns relayed to us by our residents.
“Our campaign against Heathrow expansion with councils in Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth and Greenpeace continues and we will take whatever action is necessary to stop this decision on behalf of the one million residents we represent.”
Slough Council “extremely pleased” with runway decision
25 OCTOBER, 2016
The Leader of Slough Borough Council, Councillor Sohail Munawar, says the Council is “extremely pleased” with the today’s announcement by the Government that it will support a Third Runway through Colnbrook with Poyle.
Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith) comment
There is a long comment from Andy’s website at
A 3rd will increase flight numbers by 50% and, importantly for Hammersmith residents who have previously escaped the worst noise, the alignment is directly above Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, and these will be some of the worst affected areas.
This is a bad decision. Most of the thinking about airport expansion in the south-east is out of date. Ten years ago hub airports were thought of as the future, and Heathrow was the only widely-touted option for expansion – unsurprisingly as Heathrow then owned Gatwick and Stansted and played down their potential.
This is a reversible decision. The risk of the 3rd runway not being built is great; and the risk of it not happening for many years is a certainty. The financing, complexity of construction, and above all the strength of opposition means this is a project going nowhere for the foreseeable future, with several years of legal action likely after two years of formal decision-making.
… and there is lots more ….
Comment from Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth
WHY HEATHROW IS NOT THE ANSWER
When the third runway is built at Heathrow, the half of my constituents not currently under the approach path to Heathrow will find themselves in the noisiest built-up area in Europe.
But I don’t oppose the expansion of Heathrow merely because of my constituency interest. I do so because it’s too costly, too risky, and there are better solutions to the UK’s aviation capacity problems.
…. there is a very long page of information ….. and it concludes:
The communities and local authorities around Heathrow have been let down time and time again by promises on mitigation and expansion being broken, from the 5th terminal to the third runway. The first Civil Aviation Bill nearly allowed the loss of the valued 8 hour respite and night flight regime. There is good reason not to trust the Government or the Airport on promises about night flight ban or a fourth runway.”
Jeremy Corbyn. No comment of any sort ….
In an August 2015 Financial Times interview, Mr Corbyn said: “I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across West London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London. “I’d vote against it in this parliament.”
Plane Stupid comment:
Shona Kealey spokesperson for Plane Stupid, said,
“Two weeks ago, enough countries agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement for it to come into force. Last week, the government’s climate advisers issued a report saying reducing aviation emissions should be a priority if we’re going to honour the Climate Change Act. And now, with today’s announcement, our government proclaims to the world that we’re a dishonest and unreliable nation who can’t be trusted to keep to our international agreements or even follow our own laws, just as we’re about to renegotiate trade agreements with the whole world.
“Obedience to this government is suicide. If they think we’re going to quietly follow them over the cliff, they’re dreaming.
Reclaim the Power comment:
Stephanie Nicholls said,
“We can honour our commitments to tackle climate change, or we can build new runways – we can’t do both. Aviation expansion anywhere is irresponsible, and globally will impact the most on the people who’ve done least to cause the problem. Climate change is already hitting poorer communities in the global south, who are the least likely to ever set foot on a plane.
“When the government won’t follow its own rules, it’s time for normal people to step up and take action. Following today’s announcement climate activists, council leaders and local residents will be standing together to make any new runways undeliverable. If the government thinks they can override local opinion, climate science and their own commitments they’ve got another thing coming.”
Heathrow gets a third runway but what about the North?
Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce chief Martin Hathaway said the Heathrow decision must not mean neglecting the regions
Mr Hathaway said: “Whilst connectivity into an expanded Heathrow is critical to business communities throughout the country, it is equally important that regional airports should be able to expand their own links to overseas business destinations – and this new runway must therefore be viewed as much about connecting the regions to the world as it is about capacity for London and the South East.”
Willie Walsh (IAG), Carolyn McCall (EasyJet) and Michael O’Leary (Ryanair) comment
25.10.2016 (Belfast Telegraph)
The boss of British Airways’ parent company expressed relief at the announcement, and that the Government has insisted the airport should aim to ” deliver a plan for expansion that keeps landing charges close to current levels”.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said: ” We’re pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it. The Government’s directive to cap customer charges at today’s level is fundamental.
Mr Walsh continued: ” We will be vigilant in ensuring that Heathrow does not raise charges to benefit its shareholders to the detriment of the travelling public.”
Dame Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, also welcomed the decision and confirmed that the Luton-based carrier intends to operate from an expanded Heathrow if the costs are acceptable.
She said: ” This is good news for UK consumers and businesses and will help ensure that the UK is better connected to the rest of the world.
“With the right charging structure and the right infrastructure for our efficient model, easyJet plans to operate from Heathrow, in addition to our existing London bases, providing new routes and lower fares to customers.”
Ryanair claimed that additional runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted would be the best way to boost airport capacity ” in a timely and cost efficient manner”.
He went on: ” The threat of additional runways at competitor airports will force Heathrow to keep its costs down while developing a third runway in the most timely and efficient manner.
“Today’s decision, which implies that Heathrow can build a third runway at the expense of Gatwick and Stansted, will simply encourage this Spanish-owned monopoly to yet again waste billions on gold-plated expensive facilities.”
Heathrow expansion ‘not enough’ claim, as MPs and Spelthorne council support decision
25.10.2016 (Get Surrey)
Surrey Chambers of Commerce CEO Louise Punter said she believed a third runway at Heathrow “must not be the only new runway built in Britain”
Airport expansion should not stop at a third runway for Heathrow , according to Surrey Chambers of Commerce, amid support from the county’s politicians for going ahead with the scheme.
“While many business communities will celebrate Heathrow expansion, this cannot and must not be the only new runway to be built in Britain over the coming decades,” she said.
“One new runway is not enough to give the UK the aviation capacity it requires to trade the world successfully.
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) comment:
Paul Drechsler CBE, CBI President, said:
“The Prime Minister’s green light to expand the UK’s aviation capacity comes as an enormous relief to firms in every corner of the country.
“A new runway at Heathrow is really fantastic news, especially as the country has waited nearly 50 years for this decision. It will create the air links that will do so much to drive jobs and unlock growth across the UK, allowing even more of our innovative, ambitious and internationally focussed firms, from Bristol to Belfast, to take off and break into new markets.
“With contracts to tender for, apprentices to recruit and supply chains to build, this decision must be taken forward swiftly, giving businesses the confidence to invest. Our aviation capacity is set to run out as early as 2025, so it’s crucial we get spades in the ground as soon as possible to reap the benefits for jobs and growth, precisely when the country needs them most.”
…. and it goes on ….
Gatwick Airport responds to Government decision on airport capacity
Gatwick notes the Government’s announcement that it favours expansion at Heathrow.
Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, said:
“We are disappointed as we do not believe this is the right answer for Britain. Gatwick has put forward a credible financeable and deliverable plan for expansion.
“It is a plan that can guarantee growth and guarantee certainty for Britain. We look forward to studying the full reasons behind the Government decision in detail.
“The challenges facing Heathrow have not changed. Our message today is that Gatwick stands ready to proceed when the time comes.”