Evidence by Mayor of London to Env Audit Cttee on Heathrow expresses grave concerns on health impacts
The Mayor of London has submitted evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, on Heathrow’s environmental impacts. The Mayor believes Heathrow expansion could have a very detrimental impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. The submission says: “It is regrettable that Government has decided to take forward Heathrow expansion in spite of the clear evidence of its serious environmental impacts in terms of air quality and noise and, perhaps of greatest concern, what it would mean for public health.” … “It is yet to be demonstrated that an expanded Heathrow could operate without exceeding legal limits for NO2.” … “Delivering significant mode shift will be critical to limiting highway traffic and helping tackle air pollution; but no new rail infrastructure is deemed by Government or the Heathrow Airport Limited to be required for expansion, rendering such an aspiration simply not credible.’ … “Little consideration has been given to the impact expansion will have on the growth in highway trips associated with air freight and induced economic activity…” … “A three-runway Heathrow would result in an increase in the number of people exposed to significant aircraft noise (at 55dBLden) of over 200,000, compared to a two-runway Heathrow…” and “Even with the partial night flights bans being proposed, the proposals are likely to lead to a net increase in flights across the night period (11pm-7am) of at least 30%.” … and there is more …
Written evidence submitted by Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross CBE, on behalf of the Mayor of London
Evidence from the Mayor to the Environmental Audit Cttee, looking into the environmental impacts of a 3rd Heathrow runway.
Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission to inform your ongoing work in relation to airport expansion. I am responding on behalf of the Mayor.
It is regrettable that Government has decided to take forward Heathrow expansion in spite of the clear evidence of its serious environmental impacts in terms of air quality and noise and, perhaps of greatest concern, what it would mean for public health. The recent court judgment, which the Mayor participated in, quashing the Government’s current Air Quality Plan as inadequate and unduly optimistic, simply underscores the need to properly and robustly assess and address the consequences of this lamentable decision.
That is why the Mayor will be seeking to hold Government to account. To that end, he announced last week that he has directed Transport for London to provide advice and assistance to the group of boroughs preparing a legal challenge – and he has not ruled out joining any legal challenge as a full participant.
The Mayor believes these proposals could have a very detrimental impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. His fundamental concerns include:
- It is yet to be demonstrated that an expanded Heathrow could operate without exceeding legal limits for NO2.
- The requirement for Defra to draft a new Air Quality Action Plan incorporating more realistic emissions factors is likely to further complicate attempts to demonstrate the compliance of an expanded Heathrow.
- Delivering significant mode shift will be critical to limiting highway traffic and helping tackle air pollution; but no new rail infrastructure is deemed by Government or the Heathrow Airport Limited to be required for expansion, rendering such an aspiration simply not credible.
- Little consideration has been given to the impact expansion will have on the growth in highway trips associated with air freight and induced economic activity (attracted to the area as a result of an expanded airport, albeit not directly related to the airport); both could have a disproportionate impact on local roads.
- A three-runway Heathrow would result in an increase in the number of people exposed to significant aircraft noise (at 55dBLden) of over 200,000, compared to a two-runway Heathrow (applying similar assumptions); Heathrow Airport Limited claimed a new runway could lead to less noise, but only by not comparing like with like – it assumed measures, notably flight routing optimisation, in its expansion scenarios but excluded them from its non-expansion scenarios.
- Applying DfT WebTAG guidance indicates the monetised impact on public health from the noise of an expanded Heathrow to be £20-25bn over 60 years.
- Even with the partial night flights bans being proposed, the proposals are likely to lead to a net increase in flights across the night period (11pm-7am) of at least 30%.
- For most people living under the flightpaths in the vicinity of the airport, the respite from aircraft movements will be half of what is offered today – i.e. just a quarter of the traffic day.
Taken together, this presents a potentially serious challenge to the health of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. The Mayor believes it would be wholly unacceptable if potential gains in noise and air quality as a result of other measures, such as London’s action on vehicle emissions and aircraft operational changes unlocked by new technology – which could substantially benefit local communities – were instead banked by the airport to enable expansion.
The Mayor believes that such is the scale of the environmental impacts that would result from a third runway at Heathrow, it remains highly uncertain that these impacts are capable of being successfully addressed.
Sustainable Aviation submission
There is also a submission by “Sustainable Aviation”, an aviation industry group that hopes to persuade the world at large that aviation is a green industry, and really trying hard to be environmentally friendly. While growing the industry, and its carbon emissions, as fast as it can.
Heathrow is one of its members.
Their submission is here:
[Greenwash warning !]
It is full of worth aspirations, and every possible incentive to become wonderfully green, but with almost nothing to actually stop “business as usual” growth. It is written in the standard language of the industry, the DfT, Heathrow etc. (And it, of course, only mentions in-bound tourists, and outbound freight – and economic benefits to everyone …)
Below is one section of it, as an example” :
CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
3.1 UK aviation is able to accommodate significant growth to 2050 without a substantial increase in absolute CO2 emissions, through the deployment of more efficient air traffic management and operational practices, more efficient engines and aircraft, and the partial displacement of fossil-based kerosene with sustainable aviation fuels.
3.2 The global aviation sector aims to halve net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005, despite continuing growth in aviation connectivity. Sustainable Aviation’s CO2 Road-Map, published in 2012, set out that this could be achieved for UK aviation through:
- Changes in aircraft technology, such as improved fuel consumption, improved aerodynamics and reductions in the weight of aircraft engines
- Changes in operational techniques, such as continuous descent and climb operations and more direct routes being flown through improved air traffic management both in the UK and across Europe.
- The introduction of renewable aviation fuels – the technology is already proven for these but the challenge is the commercialisation of such fuels, which will require Government support similar to that provided to renewable road fuels.
- Market-based measures – although the aviation industry will continue to make significant reductions in its own CO2 intensity, a global CO2 trading scheme will be required to enable aviation to contribute to overall CO2 reductions beyond those achievable within the aviation sector.
3.3 In our progress report published last year, we noted that:
- 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved from UK airline flights in the last ten years. [That amounts to below 6% of the total. AW note]
- More than 470 new, cleaner and quieter, aircraft (costing $50bn) have been introduced by UK airlines since 2005, which are 20% more fuel efficient. [By cleaner and quieter, which is aviation greenwash terminology, they mean more fuel efficient and marginally less noisy. AW note]
- Since 2008, 400 procedural airspace changes and more efficient air traffic control has enabled savings of more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. [Some of those changes have caused real upset and misery to those finding themselves under newly concentrated flight paths. AW note]
The whole “Sustainable Aviation” submission is at