Val Shawcross, once a fierce critic of Heathrow expansion, now chair of “Heathrow Area Transport Forum” (paid by Heathrow)
Val Shawcross worked as deputy mayor of London for transport, and was vehemently against the expansion of Heathrow, last week took up a job as chair of the “Heathrow Area Transport Forum”. The Forum is an (allegedly) “independent” statutory body whose chair’s salary is paid by Heathrow airport. It does not have powers to penalise Heathrow if it misses its targets. Part of Ms Shawcross’s role will be to develop Heathrow’s transport access strategy, and monitoring the airport’s performance against the strategy’s targets. If they miss targets, then in theory the DfT (a huge supporter of Heathrow expansion) and the regulator, the CAA, are meant to “hold it to account.” She knows well that “If Heathrow expanded without tackling issues like air quality, public transport growth, active transport . . . it would be a disaster for London.” In January 2018, Ms Shawcross told parliament’s Transport Select Committee that the NPS, “completely fails to show how you could expand Heathrow without worsening air quality, not just locally but with an impact across central London as well”. She says now she will “walk my talk” by challenging the airport from a statutory role. Time will tell …
Heathrow must curb pollution to avoid airport expansion ‘disaster’
Head of advisory body urges airport to address environmental impact of a third runway
By Josh Spero (Financial Times)
It would be a “disaster for London” if Heathrow built a third runway without properly addressing its environmental impact, according to the new head of the independent body that advises the UK’s busiest airport on its public transport strategy.
“If Heathrow expanded without tackling issues like air quality, public transport growth, active transport . . . it would be a disaster for London,” Val Shawcross, who became chair of the “Heathrow Area Transport Forum” last week, told the Financial Times.
The former deputy mayor of London for transport, who helped to develop Mayor Sadiq Khan’s 2018 transport strategy, added: “The modelling [showed] there would be immense congestion, pollution and some very real issues.”
Heathrow is in the planning process for a third runway, which would allow it to grow from 480,000 flights a year to 740,000. But the airport has faced concerns that the sharp increase in passengers travelling to and from it will have negative environmental consequences.
In January 2018, Ms Shawcross — in her deputy mayoral role — told parliament’s transport select committee that the National Policy Statement, which contained the government’s approval of the expansion, “completely fails to show how you could expand Heathrow without worsening air quality, not just locally but with an impact across central London as well”.
Ms Shawcross said in her new role she could “walk my talk” by challenging the airport at closer quarters from a statutory role.
Heathrow airport itself is entirely powered by renewable electricity and aims to be carbon neutral by 2020. But aircraft taking off and landing produced 1.3m tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2017, up 4.6 per cent on 2015. [That is just the planes up to, and below, 1000 metres. It ignores the carbon from the rest of the flights. That is of the order of 18 Million tonnes of CO2 per year. AW note]
Ms Shawcross said Heathrow was “beginning to understand the intense pressure it’s going to be under to clean up its act”.
Heathrow said: “Failing to assess and mitigate the environmental impacts expansion will have is not an option . . . We will be held to account by legally binding obligations that will ensure we grow sustainably.”
Part of Ms Shawcross’s role will be to develop Heathrow’s transport access strategy, and monitoring the airport’s performance against the strategy’s targets.
The “Heathrow Area Transport Forum” is an independent statutory body whose chair’s salary is paid by the airport. It does not have powers to penalise Heathrow if it misses the targets. Ms Shawcross said the Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority would have to hold Heathrow to account.
… and it continues … full article at
Piece of Heathrow’s website about Val Shawcross in her new role:
Curious that she now works to help get the Heathrow runway approved, when she was so much against it before….
Depressing … unless she really manages to stop the worst problems. But she is paid by the airport itself ….
With Heathrow consultations starting soon, critics warn of insurmountable flaws in its runway plans
Heathrow will publish its public consultations, on its hopes for a 3rd runway, on Wednesday 17th January. It says this is to gather public feedback on its proposals, to help refine its plans further (ie. see what tweaks it needs to make, to try and get round the most serious criticisms). The consultations will include options for how to get the runway to cross Britain’s busiest motorway, the M25, and provide detail on the cost-cutting it has envisaged to trim £2.5bn off expansion costs. Meanwhile London’s deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, has said that she and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are in “no doubt that the government is pushing ahead with the wrong option.” She said there are currently “no significant plans for investment in public transport access to the airport.” This would come at an immense cost to Londoners, and Val said it was “a disastrous failing and it’s vital that the government acknowledges these insurmountable flaws and changes course now”. Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald said: ‘Heathrow’s planning consultation must provide firm commitments on noise, air pollution, climate change and wider UK airport growth to ensure support from Labour MPs, the public and the aviation industry.”
Heathrow critics say it should face sanctions on broken promises if it tries to raise landing charges with a 3rd runway
Critics of Heathrow are calling for formal sanctions to be imposed on the airport if it fails to meet promises linked to its third runway expansion scheme. Heathrow’s boss John Holland Kaye has claimed the amount airlines pay for each of their passengers to land at the airport will remain “close to current levels” once the new runway is built. But evidence provided to the influential Transport Committee of MPs in Parliament claimed there are “weak incentives placed on Heathrow to tackle costs aggressively”. Heathrow’s landing charge per passenger now is about £22, but less for domestic flights. Heathrow also makes over £8 per passenger through retail and car parking. London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport Valerie Shawcross has called for there to be a ‘clear enforcement mechanism’ against Heathrow if it breaks expansion pledges, including its hope of half its passengers to use public transport by 2030, (without any formal mechanism for enforcing this). … “There is precedent [for a major infrastructure project] to be refused where particular thresholds or goals are not met and I believe this should be systematically applied to pledges made by both Heathrow and the Secretary of State [Chris Grayling],” … “A clear enforcement mechanism should also be included for imposing a cap on flights when such pledges are breached.”