Government accused by Councils of ignoring Transport Select Committee recommendations in final Heathrow NPS
Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Windsor &Maidenhead, and Richmond Councils have accused the government of misleading MPs on the Heathrow runway plans (the Airports NPS). They say the government has only incorporated 3 out of 25 of the recommendations by the Transport Select Committee (TSC) recommendations into the final NPS, while trying to give the impression it has taken far more account of them. Chris Grayling told the Commons (5th June) that 24 of the 25 recommendations had been “acted upon” and that expansion at Heathrow had been agreed by the Cabinet. The 4 councils are calling on Mr Grayling to return to Parliament and explain to MPs why the TSC advice has been brushed aside. The Councils need to see a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to plane noise, by a 3rd runway. Among their demands, they want assurance that planning approval would only be granted if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met. Also a more stringent interpretation of air quality compliance including ‘headroom’ to manage future increases in pollution – and clarity on how the requirement for 15% of new slots will be secured for domestic connections, rather than just warm, woolly wording.
Government accused of ignoring select committee recommendations in final Heathrow expansion policy
Hillingdon Council, alongside Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Richmond have accused the government of misleading MPs
By Qasim Peracha (Get West London)
9 JUNE 2018
A coalition of anti- Heathrow expansion councils have accused the government of only incorporating three out of 25 select committee recommendations in its Heathrow plan.
Hillingdon Council , alongside Wandsworth, Richmond , and Windsor and Maidenhead have been opposed to the third runway being added to Heathrow Airport and have in the past launched legal challenges against expansion.
Following the publication of the National Policy Statement on Airports, the councils have accused the government of not including recommendations made by the Transport Select Committee (TSC).
The coalition of councils say that of the 25 recommendations, the government omitted 22 in its final report published on Tuesday (June 5).
After the report was published, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the Commons 24 of the 25 recommendations had been “acted upon” and that expansion at Heathrow had been agreed by the cabinet.
The coalition is now calling on Mr Grayling to return to parliament and explain to MPs why, after months of scrutiny by the select committee, its recommendations were not included in the final National Policy Statement (NPS).
According to the councils, recommendations asking for a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to noise and for planning approval to be granted only if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met are missing from the final statement.
A vote is due to be held in the coming days, where MPs will be given a final decision on expansion.
Transport Select Committee recommendations allegedly omitted by the government include:
- more detail on the evidence on environmental, health and community impacts on all three short-listed schemes
- updated population estimates to reflect the increased number of air traffic movements from a northwest runway scheme
- a more stringent interpretation of air quality compliance including ‘headroom’ to manage future increases in pollution
- planning approval to be granted only if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met
- a clear definition of how the requirement for 15 per cent of new slots will be secured for domestic connections
- updated noise modelling to reflect a range of flightpath scenarios
- a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to noise
a condition that planning consent would only be granted if the Secretary of State was satisfied that the scheme would avoid ‘significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life from air quality’.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot , leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “It is a disgrace that the government has failed to address the TSC’s significant concerns regarding exposure to noise and pollution in its final NPS report, showing little regard or protection for those people whose lives will affected by increased noise and air pollution from a third runway at Heathrow.
“There is not even any attempt to consider a range of different flight path options so that people could have some idea if they will be affected by Heathrow expansion, and for how long each day they will be subjected to aircraft noise.
“This once again demonstrates what a flawed and ill thought through project this is.”
The cabinet has given the go-ahead for a new third runway at Heathrow Airport (Image: PA)
However, the coalition has been attacked by pro-expansion group Back Heathrow, which said the councils were “disingenuous” and “at it again”.
Parmjit Dhanda, Back Heathrow executive director and former government minister under Gordon Brown, said: “The ink is barely dry on ballot papers and these four local councils are at it again.
“They have already wasted over a million pounds of tax-payers money over the last decade on legal challenges, when they could have spent it on local services.
“They are now shaping up to waste even more money on legal challenges if don’t get their own way when MPs vote on expansion in the coming days.
“We have now seen council leaders in Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Maidenhead & Windsor putting out press releases that appear to be part of a ‘softening up exercise’ to spend even more of your money opposing a democratic decision, if Parliament backs a new runway.”
Back Heathrow Executive Chairman Parmjit Dhanda (left) with Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma at a pro-Heathrow reception (Image: Back Heathrow)
The group says it has the support of more than 100,000 residents who believe the airport’s expansion will bring jobs and prosperity to west London and the Thames Valley.
Mr Dhanda added: “The councils have been disingenuous on this. The government says it has accepted 24 out of 25 recommendations, but many of these recommendations will be incorporated in to the planning stage of the process and that includes important measures on air quality and noise.
“The councils haven’t said that, and are only looking to delay and confuse, which will ultimately delay creation of 77,000 jobs for local people.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The committee was clear when they published their report that they accepted the need for airport expansion in the south east and that the Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme is the best option for delivering it. We have welcomed and have acted on 24 of their 25 recommendations.
“Where appropriate we have done this through amendments to the National Policy Statement. In other cases we have confirmed that these are issues best addressed later in the planning process, once detailed proposals are developed, or through the national Aviation Strategy, which we are taking forward this year.”
Comment by the AEF on the government’s attempt to ignore CO2 emissions due to Heathrow 3rd runway
In the final version of the NPS, together with updated versions of the draft of papers and analysis that accompany it, the DfT claims to have implemented 24 out of the 25 recommendations of the Transport Committee, which provided official parliamentary scrutiny of the proposals. But it is hard to spot much change in the final NPS than the earlier version – especially on the key environmental challenges to expansion. The AEF comments that the climate change impact of Heathrow expansion was not even mentioned in Grayling’s statement to the House of Commons. Yet the project is in fact no easier to reconcile with climate change targets now than it was in 2010, when a court ruled that it would be “untenable in law and common sense” for the Government to continue to uphold its policy to build a third runway without showing how this would be compatible with the climate change legislation passed in 2008. While current plans to achieve the Climate Change Act are built around an assumption that aviation emissions will be no higher than 37.5 Mt by 2050, with a 3rd Heathrow runway CO2 emissions nationally would be over 40 Mt, under the DfT’s policy of support for growth at other airports. The Government has just ignored the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.