Tel: 020 7248 2227 RSS FeedRSS feed

Retired pilot Jock Lowe devises £7.5bn plan to double length of Heathrow runways (and lose runway alternation)

A retired Concorde pilot called William “Jock” Lowe has been promoting his £7.5bn plan to extend  both Heathrow runways from 3,900 and 3,700 metres, up to 7,500 metres – approximately doubling them.  He has submitted his scheme to the Airports Commission (all expressions on intend on such projects had to be delivered to the Commission by 28th February).  In the Lowe scheme (if it was to be allowed) the number of flights could be doubled, from the current cap of 480,000 per year up to about a million. This scheme is cheaper than the Leunig scheme, proposed in October, for 4 Heathrow runways, a bit further west.  The rise in flight numbers could only be done by “mixed mode”, which means having planes both landing, and taking off, all day on both runways. So a plane would be landing on the eastern part of a runway, while another takes off on the west portion of it.  This would mean London residents over flown would get twice as many flights as they do now, and they would lose their half a day of peace, which they get from the current runway alternation. It would be deeply and passionately opposed by thousands of Londoners. 


Jock Lowe devises £7.5bn plan to extend runways at Heathrow

“The cheapest option to solve the capacity crunch in the south-east.”


11 MARCH 2013

William “Jock” Lowe (a retired Concorde pilot) has devised a £7.5bn plan to extend the existing northern and southern runways at the Heathrow airport from 3,900 and 3,700 metres to 7,500 metres.

As well as doubling the airport’s passenger capacity from 70m to 140m, the extension of runways will increase the number of flights from 480,000 per year to almost 1m. Heathrow currently uses only one runway at a time for jet take-offs or landings.

Lowe, a former executive director at British Airways who is currently in charge of Gatwick Airport, also proposed to move part of the M25 motorway in his plans, submitted to the Davies commission which is examining how to preserve the UK’s status as an international aviation hub.

John Stewart, head of HACAN (the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), told the Financial Times: “For people under the existing flight paths, there would be uproar. They would be getting a double whammy – more planes, and planes all day long. My sense is that it could be as unpopular in west London as a third runway.”

Lowe further said that aircraft noise could be reduced by flying jets higher over London, bringing them into Heathrow on steeper descents and flying in over less populated areas.

Lowe added: “The airlines and air traffic control have done very little on noise mitigation on arrival and even on take-off. When we started hearing about all these various ideas, I thought this is just getting really rather silly. Heathrow is in the ideal spot… For UK Ltd, why would you dream of putting it somewhere else?”

Lowe, who is working with Mark Bostock, a former director at engineers firm Arup, claims that his proposed plan is the cheapest option to solve the capacity crunch in the south east and would not put jobs and businesses at risk, compared to the £10bn proposal by economist Tim Leunig.

Lowe estimates that the full plan could be completed in phases within ten years and a limited extension of the airport’s northern runway could be completed within three years.

As part of the first phase, the airport will be connected to Crossrail and the Great Western rail line. In the subsequent phases, Heathrow will be linked to the High Speed 2 rail line connecting London with northern England, and the high-speed link to Europe, which is expected to take longer time.

Lowe and his team are working on the impact on greenhouse gas emissions due to extension of runways.





There is also a Financial Times article on this at

Pilot plots longer Heathrow runways

10.3.2013 (FT)
The Financial Times has a diagram of the proposed runway scheme, and two others (a northern 3rd runway, and the Tim Leunig scheme, for 4 runways, all a bit further to the west of the airport)
The Lowe scheme is:
Lowe scheme for longer Heathrow runways


by contrast, the plan by Tim Leunig, of Policy Exchange, below:

Policy Exchange produces report hoping to shift Heathrow a few km to the west, with 4 runways over the M25

5th October 2012The Policy Exchange,  which says it is a leading think tank to deliver a stronger society and a more dynamic economy (nothing about care of the environment) have put forward a proposal to expand Heathrow, by building 4 new runways. And moving the existing two a mile or two to the west, on top of the M25. Then there would be a two more runways, one parallel to each of the shifted runways.  The Policy Exchange then says that if this cannot be built, 4 runways could be be built at Luton instead. They claim around 700 properties (in Poyle) would need to be demolished compared to the 1,400 that would need to go to make way for the estuary airport, and its purpose would be to send a “much needed signal to people that Britain is open for business.” They dismiss the problem of carbon emissions by presuming that all homes in the UK will be insulated, so leaving fossil fuel for transport – and that travelling is much more appealing so we can “have the money and carbon allocation to see the world.” A very odd report, with some very dubious logic ….. and contorted arguments.   Click here to view full story ….
Policy Exchange map of their plans for Heathrow …..

Compared to the existing situation (and proposed location of a 3rd runway). The existing runways are about a mile apart. The Policy Exchange seems to be putting the runways in each pair very close together.

Read more »

Boris Johnson’s ‘Floating Village’ plans for homes slammed as a titanic mistake

Boris Johnson has announced that he is launching an international competition to find developers to design and deliver a scheme for a “floating village” at Royal Docks, Newham, close to London City Airport. Homes there would be in, or very close to, the Public Safety Zone (PSZ) for the airport, and would be subject to enormous amounts of aircraft noise.  It would not be a desirable place to live for anyone bothered by noise – or indeed the risk of wake turbulence.  Stop London City Masterplan, the local campaign group, have accused Boris of gross negligence because of these plans for housing close to the PSZ. The floating village would be under and close to Boris’s economically unsuccessful Cable Car. Safety concerns were raised during the building of the Cable Car which is in the Crash Zone with the Mayor of London being forced to launch a safety probe. A planning application will soon be submitted by London City Airport to increase the size of it’s stands so bigger jets can be used at the site.


Boris Johnson’s ‘Floating Village’ slammed as a titanic mistake

12.3.2013 (Stop City Airport Masterplan)

  • Homes would be built in the London City Airport Crash Zone.[1]
  • DfT Public Safety Zone Policy objective is that there should be no increase in the number of people living, working or congregating in Public Safety Zone. [2]


Mayor of London Boris Johnson been accused of gross negligence with the announcement that he plans to build a “Floating Village” in the London City Airport Crash Zone. [3]

The ‘floating village’ in Royal Docks Newham beside the London Cable Car will feature homes, hotels, offices, shops, bars and restaurants. The Royal Docks contains the London City Airport Public Safety Zone – also called a crash zone.The Department for Transport strictly forbids development in a Crash Zone that will see an increase in the number of people congregating there.

Safety concerns were raised during the building of the Cable Car which is in the Crash Zone with the Mayor of London being forced to launch a safety probe. [4]

Residents of the ‘floating village’ would also be at risk from aircraft noise and wake turbulence. Air Quality would also be a serious issue with the village being opposite the mouth the proposed new Silvertown tunnel.

A planning application will soon be submitted by London City Airport to increase the size of it’s stands so bigger jets can be used at the site.

London City Airport Campaigner Alan Haughton said

“This ‘floating village’ would be a village of the damned.Nobody wants to live with the risk of an aircraft coming down on their family, never mind all the other associated risks like noise. London City Airport will soon be coming up for sale. If Boris Johnson really thinks that the Royal Docks has the potential to become one of the most sought-after addresses in London he needs to use his powers to buy or shut the airport down and unlock the true value of the area.”



Map below shows position of the Cable Dar,


This map shows the position of the PSZ for London City Airport

London City Airport PSZ map

[1] Public Safety Zones (PSZ) / Crash Zones are areas of land at the ends of the runway within which development is restricted in order to control the number of people on the ground at risk of death or injury in the event of an aircraft accident on take-off or landing.


[3] Crash Zone Map





‘Boris Island 2’ plan for floating Docks village

Liquid postcode: how the floating village could look at Royal Victoria Dock

12 March 2013 (Evening Standard)

Britain’s largest floating village with homes, hotels and restaurants is to be created at the Royal Victoria Dock in east London.

The 15-acre development will be modelled on successful schemes at Ijbury near Amsterdam and Hafen City in Hamburg and others in Scandinavia. Sitting directly under the new Thames cable car, the capital’s first liquid postcode is part of Boris Johnson’s drive to transform the Royal Docks.

When complete it will be one-and-a-half times the size of Green Park and have a Crossrail station and transport links to Canary Wharf.

The Mayor today launched an international competition at MIPIM, a major property conference in Cannes, to find developers to design and deliver the scheme.

He said: “This site is unique. It has the potential to become one of the most sought after addresses in the capital while breathing new life back into London’s waterways. But it’s not alone.

“Right across London there are incredible investment opportunities that I’m determined to bring to market, creating more homes and jobs for Londoners.  My message to the developers gathering at MIPIM is that London is the best place to invest.”

Mr Johnson said the redevelopment of the Royal Docks area was one of his key priorities. He has already opened the Emirates cable car and the Siemens Crystal Centre and there are future developments at Silvertown Quays and Royal Albert Docks.  The Mayor was today meeting investors and property developers at the Cannes conference. City Hall is one of the largest owners of public land in London having inherited more than 600 hectares last year under the Localism Act.

The floating village scheme has cross-party support. Labour Newham’s mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “London is moving eastwards and the Royal Docks offer an investment opportunity in scale unmatched anywhere in Europe. This exciting development is a pivotal part of their reanimation.

“As today’s announcement shows, they have the capacity to attract modern sustainable businesses and deliver 21st century growth for the capital. It is essential that the transformation of the area translates into long-term prosperity, growth and jobs.”

The architect behind the 41-floor Gherkin is planning the Square Mile’s tallest tower. Ken Shuttleworth, a former partner of Lord Foster with whom he designed the Gherkin, wants to create a building 100 metres higher on the site of the stalled Pinnacle project. He is one of several architects and developers pitching proposals for a building in its pla


Read more »

Revised Public Safety Zone at Leeds Bradford airport – public consultation

In the UK there are 31 airports with Public Safety Zones. These are triagular shaped areas at the ends of runways, which show the areas where the risk of an aircraft crash is significant, and the risk contours. The area of a PSZ corresponds to the 1 in 100,000 individual risk contour, with additional lower risk contours. The CAA is now in charge of these PSZs, and reviews them every 7 years to take into account anticipated changes in air traffic over the next 15 years. The PSZ gets larger if there are more planes flown. There is a general presumption against new development within PSZs due to the safety risk, though existing activities are allowed to continue within a PSZ.  The PSZ for Leeds Bradford is now being reviewed and was out for public consultation until 4th April 2013. In the new revised PSZ 60 properties have been included in the new proposed PSZ area and a further 32 houses have been removed. The PSZ areas each end of the runway now cover a slightly larger area. Some residents have been shocked to find they are in the PSZ without being aware of it.




CAA document giving some information about the “proposal to Revise the Public Safety Zones at Leeds Bradford Airport ”  including a map to show the PSZ area  at


There is also “Leeds Bradford Airport Public Safety Zones - Frequently Asked Questions” at     which contains a lot of simple information (questions and answers) about what PSZs are.

These include:


Q: What is the basic policy objective in establishing the PSZs?

A: The objective is that there should be no increase in the number of people living, working or congregating in PSZs and that, over time, the number should be reduced as circumstances allow (e.g. when any redevelopment takes place).


Q:What is the level of risk associated with a PSZ?

A: The area of a PSZ corresponds to the 1 in 100,000 individual risk contour for that airport. What this means is that any person who lives within this risk contour for a period of a year, or has their normal place of work within this contour, has approximately a 1 in 100,000 chance per year of being killed as a result of an aircraft accident. Compared to other risks we take every day, this is very low.


Q: How does this risk compare to other risks in daily life?

A: The 1 in 100,000 individual risk associated with a PSZ is actually a low level of risk compared with many other risks that most people encounter in their daily lives. For example, the risk of being killed in a road accident is about 1 in 18,500 – equating to 2,946 deaths.2 The risk of being killed in the home is higher still, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) estimates that there are approximately 4,000 deaths as a result of an accident in the home.


Leeds Bradford PSZ April 2013

Larger version of the map at link (page 4)



By contrast, the maps of the two previous PSZs are below (slightly longer than the new one)



Leeds Bradford old PSZ maps

Leeds Bradford old PSZ north





House price fears over Leeds Bradford Airport ‘danger zone’

Sixty properties around Leeds Bradford Airport are included in a new Public Safety Zone.Sixty properties around Leeds Bradford Airport are included in a new Public Safety Zone.

By Laura Bowyer  (Yorkshire Evening Post)

6th April 2013 

Residents fear house prices will suffer after they discovered they were earmarked as living in a danger zone near the airport.

The Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal 60 properties around Leeds Bradford Airport have been included in a new Public Safety Zone (PSZ).

The zone, which has been drawn up by the Civil Aviation Authority, identifies space at the end of runways that could be at risk in the event of an aircraft accident.

They also carry certain planning restrictions and aim to control the number of people on the ground who are at risk if a plane crashes on take-off or landing.

Christine Bull, who has lived in her Horsforth home since 1997, was shocked to discover her home was included in a PSZ that was drawn up in 2002.

She was only made aware following a recent consultation about altering the zones, which ended earlier this week.

Her bungalow on Arran Drive has now been excluded from the new zone. She said: “We found it absolutely devastating. We had never been aware. All this time we have had no consultation. We were in a zone and they say you’re not now.”

She claims 12 homes on her estate have been included in the PSZ and there are fears it could impact house prices.

She added: “This will now have a major impact on the resale value of the properties and also any future building plans for the 12 properties.”

A spokesman from the Civil Aviation Authority said they started overseeing PSZ in 2010 and before that the Department of Transport was responsible for them.

He confirmed that 60 properties have been included in the new proposed area and a further 32 houses have been removed from the public safety zone.




Recent passenger numbers at Leeds Bradford over the past 10 years can be see at CAA airport data 2002 – 2012 


For more information about public safety around airports,  Public Safety Zones and Third Party risk, see the AirportWatch briefing on Third Party Risk  (March 2009)
 Also a briefing from the Aviation Environment Federation (Oct 2011) on  “Airports, risk and the public interest”

Details about PSZs on the CAA website  including list of the airports where the PSZ has been reviewed.



General information about airport Public Safety Zones

The Department for Transport is revising the existing contours to take account
of updated traffic forecasts and aircraft mix at the airport 15 years ahead, to make
sure that the contours are as robust as possible.  It is Government policy that PSZs should be updated approximately every seven years to ensure that the data underpinning the contours are reliable. It has not been prompted by any new proposals or plans at the Airport.. Currently 31 out of the 129 licensed airports in the UK have PSZs.

This update of the PSZs is standard DfT policy. Overall, the size and shape of
each PSZ will change very little. The risk to those living, working or congregating in
PSZs is still very low

The area of a PSZ corresponds to the 1 in 100,000 individual risk contour for that airport. What this means is that any person who lives within this risk contour for a period of a year, or has their normal place of work within this contour, has approximately a 1 in 100,000 chance per year of being killed as a result of an aircraft accident. Compared to other risks we take every day, this is very low.

When will the new PSZs take effect?
A: The contours have been issued in draft form to allow for a 6-week notification
period before they are finalised and put in place. However, given that this policy
relates to public safety, we would expect the Local Planning Authorities to take the
draft contours into account with immediate effect on receiving any planning
applications within the affected area.

In cases where there are residential, commercial or industrial properties within the higher risk contour (1 in 10,000 PSZ contour shown in blue in the maps within the notification document), close to the end of a runway, we would expect the airport operator to offer to buy and empty those properties. However, our current information is that there are no such properties in this case, either in the current or proposed new PSZ.
If you are aware of any inhabited properties in the inner contour, please let us know.

Public Safety Zones are produced by modelling work carried out using historic aircraft accident data from around the world, together with details of the traffic forecasts and particular aircraft mix at the Airport, to determine the level of risk to people on the ground. This modelling work determines the extent of the Public Safety Zone contours.

Within PSZs, establishment of all but the lowest occupancy land uses is to be discouraged and, over time, reduced. There is no requirement to remove existing development except from “inner” PSZs closer to the airport where the risk of a crash is much higher.

The PSZs correspond approximately to the areas where the annual risk of death to an
individual present constantly exceeds 1 in 100,000. The model of individual risk used to
define PSZs was developed by a team led by National Air Traffic Services (NATS) in the
1990s and has been updated by NATS since. The DfT finances the model development
and the production of PSZs but only the original model has been published. Although
AEF understands that the model is peer-reviewed, we believe that the model should be
in the public domain for reasons set out later.

Read more »

More Northern Ireland residents using Dublin Airport

New figures from the Dublin Airport Authority show more than 500,000 Northern Ireland residents used Dublin Airport last year, a 15% increase on 2011. The number of Northern Ireland-based passengers using Dublin Airport has almost doubled since 2010 – the vast majority (70%) for holidays or leisure trips – and only 20% for business. The effect of Air Passenger Duty is not mentioned, as it is only £13 for short haul journeys, and has been removed from longer journeys from Northern Ireland.  The Irish flight tax is only €3 per flight (it was higher till 2011). Dublin airport says the new road network has made travelling from Northern Ireland to Dublin faster and easier. In 2011 Dublin airport had around 18.7 million passengers, Belfast International had about 4.1 million and Belfast City airport around 2.4 million. 



11 March 2013 (BBC)

More Northern Ireland residents using Dublin Airport

Dublin airport
More than 500,000 Northern Ireland residents used Dublin Airport last year

More than 500,000 Northern Ireland residents used Dublin Airport last year, a 15% increase on 2011, according to new figures.

The statistics were released by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

The number of Northern Ireland-based passengers using Dublin Airport has almost doubled since 2010, the DAA said.

Just over 70% of Northern Ireland residents who used the airport in 2012 did so for holidays or leisure trips.

Almost 20% travelled for business reasons.

Three quarters of Northern Ireland passengers took a direct flight from Dublin to their final destination, while 25% transferred to a connecting flight.

The DAA put the 2012 rise in NI passengers down to a number of factors.

“Dublin Airport has an unrivalled route network with direct flights to 170 destinations, we have invested in new facilities in recent years to offer our passengers a much improved travel experience, and the new road network has made travelling from Northern Ireland to Dublin faster and more predictable,” the authority’s Paul O’Kane said.





The Irish Air Travel Tax:

The Air Travel Tax is an Irish tax flights departing from airports in Ireland. It was introduced in the 2009 Budget. Until 28 February 2011, there were 2 rates of tax, €10 for each passenger flying to an airport more than 300 km from Dublin Airport, and €2 per passenger flying to any other airport within 300 km.As the differential rate was considered by the EU to be an interference with the internal market, there has been a flat rate of €3 since 1 March 2011.  Transit passengers are excluded.




6 November 2012 (BBC)

Air passenger duty abolished on long haul flights

There will be no air passenger duty on long haul flights out of Northern Ireland from January 2013. The tax on long haul flights out of Northern Ireland has been abolished.

The Stormont assembly passed the final stage of the Air Passenger Duty Bill on Tuesday.

Duty on direct long haul flights departing from Northern Ireland airports will be reduced to zero from January 2013.

The abolition of the tax was welcomed by finance minister Sammy Wilson as a boost to the Northern Ireland economy.

“Direct air links facilitate local firms in doing business with customers outside the region,” he said.

“They are also vital for the local tourism industry and in attracting foreign direct investment to Northern Ireland, both key to growing and rebalancing our economy.

“Abolishing air passenger duty on long haul flights will help to protect and improve our international air access and ensure the competitiveness of our airports.”

John Doran, Belfast International Airport’s managing director said: “Given the increasing differential with regard to direct long haul air passenger duty levels between the UK and Republic of Ireland, and the very specific problems which this caused for Northern Ireland connectivity, we are grateful to the Northern Ireland Executive and HM Treasury that decisive action has been taken.

“We now look forward with renewed vigour to building upon the success of our direct US air links, as well as reaching out into key additional long haul markets in Canada and the eastern hemisphere, in partnership with the investment and tourism authorities.




Dublin Airport:


Dublin Airport handled 19.1 million passengers in 2012, which was a 2% increase in passengers over 2011. In 2012, 15 new services were launched from Dublin, of which 10 were to new airports on the network. Dublin Airport served 169 routes with 55 airlines for the year. Of this 150 were scheduled routes served by 31 airlines. The airport’s overall load factor has remained strong over the years. A total of 25.13 million seats were provided in the Dublin market last year with a 76% fill rate.


Dublin Airport handled over 18.7 million passengers in 2011, which was a 2% increase in passengers over 2010.   In 2011, 12 new services were launched from Dublin, of which 7 were to new airports on the network. Dublin Airport served 171 routes with 62 airlines for the year. Of this 152 were scheduled routes served by 32 airlines. The airport’s overall load factor has remained strong over the years. A total 24.5 million seats were provided in the Dublin market last year with a 76% fill rate.


Dublin Airport handled over 18.4 million passengers in 2010, which was a 10% decrease in passengers over 2009. The drop followed several years of significant passenger growth at the airport before the start of the global economic crisis in 2009.

In 2010, eight new services were launched from Dublin of which three were to new airports on the network. Dublin Airport served 177 routes with 63 airlines for the year. Of this 155 were scheduled routes served by 34 airlines. The airport’s overall load factor has remained strong over the years. A total 24.5 million seats were provided in the Dublin market last year with a 75% fill rate.




Belfast International Airport:

  • In 2011 Belfast International Airport carried over 4.1 million passengers.
  • 62% of passengers were on domestic flights and 38% on international flights.
  • 90% of passengers were on scheduled services and 10% on charter services.
  • Over 46,000 tonnes of cargo were handled.
  • 60% of all passengers travelling to and from Northern Ireland for business purposes use Belfast International Airport.  Business passengers account for 30% of the airports total passengers - (CAA Survey Statistics).



 Belfast City airport:

The airport handled over 2.7 million passengers in 2010, the highers number ever for the airport, though the total fell by -12.5% to 2.4 million in 2011.






Read more »

Heathrow airport passengers up 1% in February (cf. last February) due to larger planes

In February, Heathrow had 1% more passengers than it had in February 2012. For all the airports that Heathrow Ltd owns, the increase in passengers for February was only 0.6% above their level in Feb 2012.  Heathrow Ltd said the rise in passengers at Heathrow was due to the use of larger planes, after British Airways’ take over of BMI, and higher load factors. The average number of seats per aircraft rose to 198.4 seats, and the load factor rose by 2.4% to 69.6%.  That still means most flights are still almost a third empty. For the 1% increase in passengers, there was a – 4.2% reduction in air transport movements at Heathrow, and a fall of -5% for all its UK airports, which now no longer include Stansted or Edinburgh. The amount of traffic to and from  Europe was 4.4% higher, but Heathrow says the amount of traffic with China was up 29.8% in February.  The number of Heathrow passengers in February was only 0.42% more than in its earlier highest February, in  2008.


The full Heathrow Airports Ltd traffic figures are at

 February 2013 traffic figures table.pdf (22 KB)

Heathrow Ltd says BA’s acquisition of bmi contributed to the increase in passengers, which was driven by a 1.8% rise in the average number of seats per aircraft to 198.4 seats, and a 2.4% increase in load factor (how full the average flight is) to 69.6%.


Heathrow air traffic hits record high in February

Heathrow airport posted record passenger numbers in February, as traffic to Europe, the hub’s largest market, rose 4.4%

By Denise Roland, and agencies (Telegraph)

11 Mar 2013

Britain’s biggest airport served 4.85m passengers in February, up 1% year-on-year and its  highest ever for the month.  [It is actually only +0.42% higher than its level in February 2008, which was 4,828,048 passengers in Feb 2008.  See Heathrow's data

It said the rise, which continues an upward trend at the major hub, which posted record passenger numbers in 2012, was largely driven by a boost in the number of seats per aircraft following British Airways’ parent IAG’s takeover of BMI last year.

European traffic at Heathrow rose 4.4%, led by connections to Italy, Portugal and Germany.

Passengers to China were up 29.8%, the group said on Monday, but traffic to North America fell 1.9%, Latin America was down 4.6% and Africa declined 11.7%.

Heathrow, controlled by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, said its load factor – a measure of how full flights were – rose 2.4% points to 69.6%.

The company wants to increase capacity at Europe’s busiest hub by building a third runway, despite the coalition government overturning a decision to expand Heathrow after it came to power in 2010.

A controversial proposal to double the length of Heathrow’s two existing runways to allow take-offs and landings at the same time, reported in the Financial Times on Monday, is one of various ideas being mulled by a government commission set up to preserve Britain’s status as an international aviation hub.

Colin Matthews, chief executive, said: “This month’s figures reflect larger, fuller aircraft being used at Heathrow, not the addition of new routes to emerging economies which are so vital to UK trade, jobs and economic growth.”

Mr Matthews has previously warned that competition between Europe’s five major hub airports is set to intensify as rivals in Turkey and Dubai build up their aviation capacity.

Cargo was down 4.3% on last February, the group said, in line with EU-wide trends.


Europeans threaten Heathrow hub  17 Feb 2013




British Airways takeover of BMI sends Heathrow passengers flying to record 4.85 million in February

Flying high: fuller and larger planes keep the airport busy

by  Lucy Tobin

11 March 2013 (Evening Standard)

British Airways’ takeover of rival airline BMI led to fuller and larger planes taking off and landing at Heathrow last month, taking the airport’s passengers numbers up to a record 4.85 million.

That was 1% more than in February 2012, and adjusting for the fact that last year was a leap year, traffic rose 4.6% last month. European traffic was up 4.4%, particularly Italy, Portugal and Germany.

Passengers travelling to and from China rose 30%, and demand for Middle Eastern routes rose 6.2%. But the number of people flying to North America and Latin America fell and cargo was down 4.3% on last February, in line with global trends.

Heathrow is full to capacity so cannot receive more flights taking off or landing on its runways. It can only fill its arrivals and departure lounges more by hosting larger jets.

The airport’s chief executive Colin Matthews, who is campaigning for a third runway, warned: “This month’s figures reflect larger, fuller aircraft being used at Heathrow, not the addition of new routes to emerging economies which are so vital to UK trade, jobs and economic growth.”

At rival Gatwick, the number of fliers slipped 0.7% in the month to 2.1 million. It blamed that on a fall in European scheduled and chartered flights “as the challenging economic conditions continue in Europe”.

The airport has, however, won a string of new routes including Iraqi Airways resuming flights to Baghdad.




From Heathrow’s website:
Monthly traffic statistics up to January 2013, excluding Gatwick, Edinburgh and Naples

Passengers by Market – Heathrow
Total passengers excluding transits
2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
January 5,169,518 5,052,726 4,830,092 4,853,191 4,957,887 5,013,163 5,112,718 5,141,123
February 4,798,785 4,621,717 4,600,406 4,370,846 4,828,048 4,641,466 4,734,688 4,753,591
March 5,697,132 5,331,451 5,211,877 5,193,571 5,612,269 5,646,977 5,491,143 5,708,627
April 5,849,171 5,848,560 4,446,530 5,612,596 5,467,910 5,667,573 5,811,931 5,573,022
May 5,831,840 5,865,558 5,255,772 5,424,789 5,645,161 5,610,629 5,716,741 5,636,621
June 6,245,553 6,146,986 5,783,051 5,775,828 5,958,635 6,014,542 6,122,230 6,000,208
July 6,569,647 6,872,514 6,705,882 6,477,476 6,417,660 6,419,432 6,533,091 6,456,943
August 6,459,119 6,585,442 6,542,496 6,383,692 6,365,717 6,378,156 5,987,755 6,120,139
September 6,345,935 6,310,903 6,221,219 5,783,611 5,802,706 6,022,156 5,896,743 6,042,020
October 6,011,761 6,019,465 6,097,490 5,687,438 5,630,399 5,844,064 5,630,492 5,713,074
November 5,381,138 5,218,862 5,243,163 5,028,739 4,971,829 5,221,947 5,099,094 5,208,222
December 5,625,269 5,517,264 4,809,195 5,316,129 5,251,674 5,374,953 5,206,233 5,332,860

Read more »

Important economic information on Redhill aerodrome hard runway application kept secret

Redhill Aerodrome has been trying to get a hard surfaced runway to replace its current three grass runways for many years. It submitted an application in July 2011, which was refused by Tandridge District Council (TDC) and Reigate & Banstead Council (R&B).  Redhill Aerodrome then submitted a very slightly changed application in June 2012. The concrete runway would enable the aerodrome to increase flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year including larger planes. There are problems with the application in relation to drainage and a local brook, as well as traffic impacts. But the aerodrome was asked by the councils to supply more detailed information on future activities of the aerodrome. This information is being used to back up the aerodrome’s claim for special grounds for building in the Green Belt. The aerodrome asked both councils to sign a confidentiality agreement so that the economic information supplied (eg. employment) would not be published.   R&B signed the agreement, but after taking legal advice Tandridge refused to do so.  Local campaigners say the application cannot be assessed without access to the financial details including employment and impact on the economy.



Why was Redhill Aerodrome information kept secret?

March 05, 2013  (Surrey Mirror)

By Jenny Seymour  

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has come under fire for allowing information relating to a controversial proposal for a hard runway at Redhill Aerodrome to be hidden from the public.

Tandridge District Council refused the same request, on the grounds that the planning process should be transparent to all.

  1. STILL GREEN:   An application for a concrete runway at Redhill Aerodrome will be considered later this year

    An application for a concrete runway at Redhill Aerodrome will be considered later this year

Both councils are set to consider whether or not Redhill Aerodrome Ventures (RAV) should be allowed to construct a concrete runway later this year.

Jon Horne, chief executive of the aerodrome in Kings Mill Lane, South Nutfield, wrote to both councils in December requesting written confirmation that some information relating to the economic case for the development could remain confidential.

Reigate and Banstead agreed, but Tandridge refused.

In a letter to the aerodrome’s agent sent last month, Charlotte Hammerton, planning applications team leader for Tandridge council, wrote: “In order to respond to this request, I sought advice from the council’s principal solicitor. His advice was that we could not give such an undertaking, due to the basis of planning law being that all planning decisions should be made in an open, transparent and accountable basis and that as such any documentation made available to officers and members should also be made available to our objectors and members of the public.”

She advised: “Any information provided should be either in the public realm already, or aggregated in such a way that it was not commercially sensitive to individual businesses.”

However, Reigate and Banstead took a different legal stance. Major projects planning officer Andrew Benson told the Mirror: “Redhill Aerodrome Ventures submitted a business plan in relation to the planning application.

“This contained confidential and commercially-sensitive information, and therefore it was not made public.

“The Freedom of Information Act allows such information to be treated confidentially.”

Keep Redhill Airfield Green (Krag), which uncovered the anomaly between the two authorities, said it was “appalled” at Reigate and Banstead’s agreement to conceal the information.

Treasurer Stephen Hanks called on the council to make the information public.

He said: “There is clearly a transparency, even a fairness, issue. As the business plan is so fundamental to the application, regarding building in the green belt, it is very important that openness and transparency prevails. There is a moral issue here, as well as potentially a legal issue.”

The business case is central to the runway plans. Mr Horne argues the £6 million project will protect hundreds of existing jobs and create more than 100 new ones.

“Very special circumstances” need to be met for development of green belt land to be permitted.




Local Parish Council and others fiercely contested the action taken by R&B on the grounds that the economic plan was central to the applicant’s claims for a special case to build in the Green Belt – eg. job creation.  They wrote to the planners at R&B pointing out that this was undemocratic and asking to see the economic plan.  Andrew Benson (Major Development Performance Manager at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council) said “I’m very sorry but I cannot divulge commercially sensitive and confidential information.  I will contact the applicants to determine whether a doctored version of the information can be made publicly available with the commercially sensitive information removed but I am not sure that this will leave much of interest.”  KRAG wrote to the Surrey Mirror and they did an excellent quarter page article on 5th March (above)  that highlighted R&B’s action.

The possibility was mentioned of reminding R&B about the Environmental Information Regulations of 2004  link  by which local authories have a duty to make environmental information available on request, and within 20 working days.

Nutfield Parish Council wrote to Sam Gyimah, the Tandridge MP to object.  Salfords and Sidlow Parish Council also wrote to R&B Council to object.

SCC has not responded yet to the application. Redhill Aerodrome may have put in a proposal to the Airports Commission (the deadline for any expressions of intent was 28th February) for their airfield to become a second runway and satellite link for Gatwick, which as been raised in the past.







Redhill Aerodrome applies yet again for a hard runway to replace 3 grass runways

31 July 2012 (BBC)

Owners of Redhill airfield, RAVL, have submitted a revised application for a hard runway after their first bid failed.  They want to replace the 3 grass runways with a one concrete one, giving it potential to increase flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year and for larger planes. Tandridge and Reigate councils turned down the original bid last year. The airfield think their new application “addressed the reasons for refusal in 2011″. As usual, they exaggerate the  number of possible jobs that might be created – alleging it will increase the 450 jobs it supports today to some 590 in future – and attract investment to the area etc.  Over 1,000 people opposed the original plans which were rejected last year, realising the plans would create an unacceptable level of noise and pollution,  breach green belt restrictions, and destroy the landscape.

Details at



New Redhill Aerodrome hard runway application submitted in July

A hard runway at Redhill Aerodrome is back on the cards, after a new application was submitted to Tandridge District Council. The application is for one hard runway to replace the current 3 grass runways – which cannot be used in bad weather.  A  hard runway will attract bigger planes, give a more reliable service and allow more flights. This application follows similar proposals rejected by both Tandridge District Council and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council last year in the face of fierce public opposition. Redhill Aerodrome has slightly altered their previous proposals, in the hope that will overcome previous objections.  The plans are for movements to be at 85,000 per year, with a noise management plan in place, and the number of flights outside the stated operating hours of 7am to 10pm limited.  There are, as ever, the over-optimistic promises of hundreds of jobs.  Local protest group Keep Redhill Aerodrome Green (Krag) slammed the plans and said the latest application is very little different in substance from the one that was rejected last year.  Decision expected some time after November 2012.
and more earlier news about the runway issue at                                   Redhill Aerodrome news







Read more »

Possibility of more night flights to Heathrow over Windsor rather than West London

Plans drawn up by the DfT could see hundreds of night flights diverted away from the homes of 110,000 residents of the west London areas like Richmond, Kew and Hounslow, over the Windsor area. There could be an extra 1,500 – 1,700 night flights per year over Windsor, starting at 4am. About 90% of the flights at night are between 4.30am and 6.00am, waking people up and making it difficult to many to get back to sleep.  The local MP for Windsor,  Adam Afriyie, is concerned on the negative impact the change would have on the quality of life of his constituents. The Queen often spends weekends at Windsor, and also many weeks during the year.  Under existing rules Heathrow is allowed 5,256 incoming scheduled night flights a year, so Londoners have to put up with around 16 planes overhead every night. Due to the wind direction, about 72% of the time they come from the east over London. The DfT is now considering ordering pilots to approach from the west unless a tailwind of five knots or more makes this impractical. This is part of the current night flights consultation, which closes on 22nd April.


One will not be amused: Heathrow planning 1,700 extra night flights over Windsor Castle

  • Rude royal awakening from four o’clock in the morning as 110,000 sleepless residents in west London may see flights diverted over Berkshire
  • Windsor MP urges residents to fight the proposals

By NICK FAGGE (Daily Mail)

11 March 2013

As the home of the Royal Family for almost a thousand years Windsor Castle has become a symbol of peace and harmony.

But now the tranquility of the Queen’s Berkshire home is set to be shattered by sound of an extra 1,700 night flights which will give royal residents a rude awakening from four o’clock in the morning.

Plans drawn up by the Department of Transport could see hundreds of night flights diverted away from the homes of 110,000 residents of the west London.

Queen’s home: There could be an extra 1,700 night flights over Windsor Castle which will begin at 4am

But the price of quieter nights in Richmond, Kew and Hounslow will be more noise for the 15,000 people living in the Windsor area, including the Queen.

Disruption: The planes flying overhead are a 'private matter' for the Queen Disruption: The planes flying overhead are a ‘private matter’ for the Queen

And considering 90 per cent of arrivals land between 4.30am and 6.00am the plans look set to disrupt the Queen’s peace.

Windsor MP Adam Afriyie, has called on residents to resist.

The Conservative MP told the Sunday Times: ‘I am particularly concerned by this latest proposal, which could have a truly detrimental impact on the quality of life of Windsor residents, and I would urge residents to make their views known.’

The Queen spends most of her private weekends at Windsor Castle as well as taking up official residence there for a month over Easter.

She also spends a week there in June, when she attends Royal Ascot and the service of the Order of the Garter.

But a Royal spokesman told the Daily Mail the issue of night-time disruption at Windsor Castle was a ‘private matter for the Queen’.

The Department of Transport (DfT) hopes to divert 1,670 flights away from approaching over London and passing over Windsor Castle instead.

Under existing rules Heathrow is allowed 5,256 incoming scheduled night flights a year. There are also a small number of unscheduled departures which means Londoners have to put up with nearly 16 planes passing overhead every night.

The majority of incoming night flights – 72 per cent – approach Heathrow over the built-up boroughs of west London, with the remaining 28 per cent passing the Windsor area.

Night flights: More planes used by British Airways and other airlines will fly over Windsor under the proposals

But the (DfT) is now considering ordering pilots to approach from the west thereby avoiding the more heavily populated area, unless a tailwind of five knots or more makes this impractical.

This would increase the flights passing over Windsor from about 1,470 to about 3,150 every year.

The potential winners of this strategy are the 245,000 Londoners who claim they are affected by the noise.

John Stewart, chairman of the Hacan Clear-Skies group, which campaigns against aircraft noise, yesterday told the Daily Mail: ‘Many people in west London will clearly benefit if this change went ahead but it would be at the expense of many more sleepless nights for the people of Windsor.’

A (DfT) spokeswoman told the Daily Mail diverting the approach path for night flights was ‘just one option’ being examined.

She said: ‘The government recognises that noise disturbance from aircraft flying at night is the least acceptable impact of airport operation on local residents.

‘At this stage we are gathering evidence on what might be feasible and have taken no decisions yet on our preferences. We will be consulting on specific proposals later this year once we have assessed the evidence received from this consultation.’




Information on the Night Flights consultation, from HACAN


Government consultation released: still no night flight ban

HACAN has expressed disappointment that the Government has still not committed itself to a night flight ban in its consultation on a new night flight regime at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick, released on 22nd January.

Here is the full consultation document and how to respond

Read HACAN’S immediate press release

Read a four pager from HACAN that explains the consultation and helps you respond

Read a two pager which provides a bullet point summary





See also


The MP for Maidenhead has weighed into the dispute over night flights from Heathrow.

11.3.2013  (Royal Borough Observer, covering Windsor and Maidenhead)

Theresa May MP has joined up with fellow Royal Borough MP Adam Afriyie (Windsor) in raising concerns about a proposal from the Department for Transport (DfT) about more night flights arriving from the west of the airport over Windsor and Maidenhead.

The proposal is outlined in a consultation document published by the DfT which would result in the number of night flights arriving at Heathrow from the west rising from 30% to 60%.

Mrs May said: “I have campaigned against any increase in night flights, so I am concerned about this proposal. This would represent a major shift and would result in an increase in aircraft arriving at night from the west, over the Maidenhead area.

“I am concerned about the effect this will have on local residents, who could not have anticipated this change when they bought their houses.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Afriyie said: “It’s clear that we must seek a reduction in night flights – so I’m both surprised and concerned at the latest proposals which look to permanently change the direction of night-time flights arriving into Heathrow.

“I would urge everyone to make their voices heard during the public consultation period. We must make those at Heathrow listen to the concerns of the people.”

The proposal is one consideration up for discussion in the consultation document.

Comments can be made on the consultation until April 22.



Read more »

Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport decision delayed by at least several months

It is now certain that the construction of the new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes – if it starts at all – will at least several months delayed.  It should have started this spring.  A Committee on dialogue has been set up, and has been taking evidence from proponents and opponents of the airport scheme.  The Chairman of the commission is careful not to take sides, but has said that after going on for so many years since first proposed, the arguments for the airport have changed and other arguments now have greater priority.  More information is needed on the alleged economic and employment benefit of the scheme, and on the transport network. He says.”Our report will present the advantages and disadvantages of the new airport, and the government will decide.”  A prominent member of the National Assembly said it is necessary to continue dialogue but before starting any construction work a national plan of airport infrastructure.should be developed. 


Notre-Dame-des-Landes flight “delayed”

Le Monde

By Rémi Barroux

 [Apologies for imperfect translation into English - original French below]

It is now certain that the construction of the new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes – if it starts at all – will at least several months late. It should have started this spring. After three weeks of the submission of its findings to the prime minister and former mayor of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault , the chairman of the Committee on dialogue, Claude Chéreau, also chairman of the Audit Board of Agriculture of the nation, admits his skepticism.


Before operating Sylvain Fresneau on the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.


After more than seventy-five hearings of pro-and anti-airport, he ( Claude Chéreau) told Le Monde his doubts about the relevance of some of the arguments justifying the construction of the new airport intended to replace the current  Nantes Atlantique airport. “After waiting thirty years  the case has lost much of its ability to convince, Mr. Chéreau said. Arguments justifying its construction have varied greatly over time. Some remain but others have become less of a priority. “

He is careful, however, not to condemn the project, a prerogative that is not included in the engagement letter, he said smiling. Because he knows the political case. “:“Our report will present the advantages and disadvantages of the new airport, and the government will decide.”


Unconvinced by the figures given by both sides, the commission also includes ​​Brevan Claude, architect and former delegate to the city, and the lawyer Rouchdy Kbaier could suggest to the government supplements to the investigation . “We were told before that the current airport is full, but the problem is not so simple “, argues Mr. Chéreau. The President of the dialogue commission wants more information on the pattern of transport that will serve the future airport.  Its economic benefits and the key issue of the number of jobs do not seem to have convinced him.

However, the arguments of the opponents of the project have not persuaded him. “On the richness of biodiversity, I’m not sure Notre-Dame-des-Landes is a rarity compared to the nature reserve of Lake Grand-Place  ,  Mr. Chéreau argued.

Before the mayor of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.


Similarly, the level of noise exposure, made ten years ago, should be revised. Data as requested by the Committee on dialogue.

At Matignon, where the Prime Minister is a strong supporter of the project, it is argued that the numbers game is sterile. “The dialogue commission does not have the power and , it can only note that the divergent views on the evidence adduced, it says. Opponents make plans on the comet, those pro-airport make other assumptions on the demography of Nantes, the cost of oil , the traffic forecasts, growth, etc. “.

SOME CONCERN TO PS (the Socialists)

Environmentalists, given a hearing again by the commission on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday, March 6, emphasize the need to conduct an investigation – so far unrealized – on the possibilities of transformation of the existing airport. Other uncertainties remain, such as the request for information from the European Commission on possible breaches of EU rules.

The case is complicated, and some in the Socialist Party are concerned about the stubbornness of Jean-Marc Ayrault. ‘If this had not been the scheme of the Prime Minister, it  would have long ago been delayed till later: Notre-Dame-des-Landes is not a national priority ,” confided politicians who preferred to remain anonymous.  They do not want the case to show disagreement with environmentalist allies only a few months before difficult  municipal and regional elections.

“You can not take the risk of  long and violent fights on this issue , explains Jean-Paul Chanteguet, socialist president of the Committee on Sustainable Development of the National Assembly, which will receive Mr. Chéreau on  March 12.  It is necessary to continue dialogue and, prior to starting any construction site, develop a national plan of airport infrastructure. “

Matignon said wait till the end of March: “Either the work will begin , for example after the summer, or the report will tell us that the project is not ready and we will take the necessary time. “



and the original French:

Notre-Dame-des-Landes : vol “retardé”

C’est désormais une certitude : annoncé pour le printemps 2013, le chantier du futur aéroport nantais de Notre-Dame-des-Landes – s’il démarre – aura au minimum plusieurs mois de retard. A trois semaines de la remise de ses conclusions au premier ministre et ancien maire de Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, le président de la commission du dialogue, Claude Chéreau, par ailleurs président de la commission des comptes de l’agriculture de la nation, avoue son scepticisme.

Après plus de soixante-quinze auditions des pro et anti-aéroport, il a confié auMonde ses doutes sur la pertinence de certains arguments justifiant la construction de la nouvelle plate-forme destinée à remplacer l’actuel aéroport de Nantes-Atlantique. “Tout dossier qui attend une trentaine d’années perd beaucoup de ses possibilités de conviction, avance M. Chéreau. Les arguments justifiant sa construction ont beaucoup varié dans le temps. Certains datent, d’autres sont devenus moins prioritaires.”

Il se garde bien toutefois de condamner le projet, prérogative qui n’est pas comprise dans sa lettre de mission, dit-il en souriant. Car il sait le dossier “politique” : “Notre rapport présentera les inconvénients et les avantages du futur aéroport, et ce sera au gouvernement de décider.”


Peu convaincue par les chiffres avancés par les deux camps, la commission, composée aussi de Claude Brévan, architecte et ancienne déléguée à la ville, et du juriste Rouchdy Kbaier, pourrait suggérer au gouvernement des compléments d’enquête“On nous a mis en avant la saturation de l’aéroport actuel ; or le problème n’est pas aussi simple”, avance M. Chéreau. Le président de la commission du dialogue souhaite plus de précisions sur le schéma des transportsdevant desservir le futur aéroport. Ses bienfaits économiques et le nombre d’emplois à la clé ne semblent pas non plus avoir emporté sa conviction.

Pour autant, les arguments des opposants au projet ne l’ont pas tous séduit. “Sur la richesse de la biodiversité, je ne suis pas certain que Notre-Dame-des-Landes soit une rareté, comparée à la réserve naturelle du lac de Grand-Lieu , fait valoirM. Chéreau.

De même, le plan d’exposition au bruit, réalisé il y a dizaine d’années, doit être révisé. Autant de données réclamées par la commission du dialogue.

A Matignon, où le premier ministre est un ardent défenseur du projet, on fait valoirque la bataille de chiffres est stérile. “La commission du dialogue ne dispose pas de son bureau d’études, elle ne peut que constater que les parties divergent sur les éléments avancés, déclare-t-on. Les opposants font des plans sur la comète, les pro-aéroport font d’autres hypothèses, sur la démographie nantaise, le coût dupétrole, les prévisions de trafic aérien, la croissance, etc.”


Les écologistes, reçus de nouveau par la commission mardi 5 et mercredi 6 mars, insistent sur la nécessité de mener une enquête – non réalisée à ce jour – sur les possibilités de transformation de l’actuel aéroport. D’autres incertitudes demeurent, comme la demande d’informations de la Commission européenne sur d’éventuels manquements aux règles communautaires.

Le dossier se complique, et certains au Parti socialiste s’inquiètent de l’entêtement de Jean-Marc Ayrault. “Si ce n’était pas le dossier du premier ministre, cela fait longtemps qu’il aurait été renvoyé à plus tard : Notre-Dame-des-Landes n’est pas une priorité nationale”, confient des élus préférant garder l’anonymat. Ils ne veulent pas d’un dossier porteur de fractures avec leurs alliés écologistes, à quelques mois d’élections municipales et régionales difficiles.

“On ne peut pas prendre le risque d’affrontements longs et violents sur ce dossier, explique Jean-Paul Chanteguet, président socialiste de la commission dudéveloppement durable de l’Assemblée nationale, qui recevra M. Chéreau le 12 mars. Il faut poursuivre le dialogue et, avant tout démarrage du chantier, élaborer un schéma national des infrastructures aéroportuaires.”

Matignon dit attendre la fin mars : “Soit les travaux peuvent commencer après l’été par exemple, soit le rapport nous dit que le projet n’est pas prêt et nous prendrons le temps nécessaire.”

Read more »

Many MPs want Sir Howard Davies to name his favoured airport site by the end of 2013, rather than in 2015

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to produce its interim report by December. He is considering ways to improve the capacity at Heathrow, in the short term, and taking evidence on whether there is a need for more airport capacity, and if so, which schemes should be taken forward. MP Zac Goldsmith now says ministers are now considering asking Sir Howard to choose one airport option, when he makes his report at the end of the year, rather than deciding this two months after the 2015 election. Zac (who bitterly opposes Heathrow expansion) says this would enable Sir Howard and his Commission to spend the time in 2014 and 2015 in working out how to deliver the preferred option. Zac said: “I cannot think of a single MP who supports waiting until after the election before forming a policy.”  Any suggestion that a decision on airport expansion was being brought forward would anger the Lib Dems, who oppose any increase in runway capacity. There are so many complex arguments and so much detail to be digested that a measured and fully considered decision on a new runway/runways cannot sensibly be taken so fast. 


MPs urge action on airport expansion

A “preferred option” on whether to build a new airport or expand existing ones could be delivered by the end of this year, as ministers attempt to quell unrest among business leaders and Conservative backbenchers.

By Deputy Political Editor (Sunday Telegraph)

10 Mar 2013

Sir Howard Davies, who is leading the commission investigating airport capacity, is due to produce an interim report within the next nine months.

He is considering various options, including a third runway at Heathrow, a new airport in the Thames Estuary or finding another way to ease congestion in Britain’s skies.

David Cameron had previously said that no final decision would be made until after the next general election in 2015, when Sir Howard publishes his full report.

However, the Prime Minister has been stung by criticism that “dithering and indecision” over airports is undermining the economic recovery and jeopardising the Tories’ election prospects.

Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and formerly an adviser to Mr Cameron, said ministers were now considering asking Sir Howard to pick a favoured option when he makes his first report later this year.

Mr Goldsmith, who has vigorously campaigned against a third Heathrow runway, said: “The most obvious, and most elegant solution, is for the Government to ask Davies to identify a preferred option in his interim report and to spend the remaining time working out how to deliver it. I know the Government is now considering this. The dithering and indecision means that MPs representing the many areas that could be affected by airport expansion are feeling increased pressure and anxiety from voters.

“The delaying policy was supposed to minimise the political pain by kicking the issue into the long grass, but it’s becoming clear that it is having the opposite effect. I cannot think of a single MP who supports waiting until after the election before forming a policy.”

Bob Stewart, the Conservative MP for Beckenham, also called on Sir Howard to name a “preferred option” later this year.

“I want an airport built fast,” he said. “We’ve been talking about airport expansion since Noah was a lad. It’s time to get on with it.”

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that more than 20 Tory MPs — including Jonathan Djanogly, John Redwood, Mark Reckless, and Eleanor Laing – believe that a failure to reach a decision before the next election will represent a “severe handicap” to Tory MPs seeking re-election anywhere near an airport that could be expanded.

Tim Yeo and Bernard Jenkin, who both chair powerful Commons select committees, share these fears.

However, any suggestion that a decision on airport expansion was being brought forward would anger the Lib Dems, who oppose any increase in runway capacity.

Business groups have repeatedly warned that the “capacity crunch” in Britain’s skies is discouraging overseas investment and undermining the claim that the UK is “open for business”.




Unfortunately it seems a foregone conclusion that Sir Howard and his Commission will recommend some airport expansion, rather than realise there is no need for it.
The reason why the decision on which site or plan to proceed with has been delayed until summer 2015, after the next election, is that the Lib Dems are deeply opposed to any more runway building, so a decision to back this could not be made during the current coalition government.
In reality, though it would reduce uncertainty for many to have an earlier decision, or even one that said there is no need to build any new runways, the arguments are complex and to do a through job, the Commission would need many months to fully understand and digest all the facts and arguments.  Longer than just between now and December.
A rushed decision will, of its very nature, be at risk of being a bad decision  - and will be criticised as such.  And probably be legally challenged.
The Commission staff are not even working 5 day weeks, but only one or two days per week, so the actual time available to absorb and analyse all the detail – the background information on all the general issues, as well as all the site specific issues – is very limited.

Read more »

Heathrow night flights are “inhumane” and the airport is urged to stop them

There is pressure on the management of Heathrow  to justify the use of night flights.  This has been discussed at the London Assembly’s environment committee. There are some 15 flights that land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am every day and which activists say have an impact on 100,000 West Londoners. For many people the first plane coming in at 4.30am is their alarm clock. As well as campaigners against Heathrow’s expansion, senior local council executives say the flights are “inhuman” and there is an economic cost to sleep deprivation.  Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said “even a quiet airplane is very noisy. It will wake you up when it’s still dark, you might get back to sleep, you might not.” “I’d say it’s the equivalent of a lorry coming and revving its engine just outside your bedroom window several times a night,”  Heathrow say night flights boost the economy by £340m a year and by 6,600 jobs (evidence for that?)



“Inhuman”: Heathrow airport bosses urged to stop night flights

Night flights fury: Heathrow bosses are under pressure over the service
by Pippa Crerar, City Hall Editor (Evening Standard)
6 March 2013

Heathrow bosses today came under pressure to justify the use of night flights into the country’s biggest airport.

They were urged to stop the 15 flights that land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am every day and which activists say impact on 100,000 West Londoners.

Local council bosses and anti-expansion campaigners claimed the flights were “inhuman” and pointed out there was an economic cost to sleep deprivation.

Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said: “The only way you’re going to stop that annoyance is to stop the night flights. You’re not going to alleviate the nuisance if you’ve still got flights going over your head.”

John Stewart from HACAN added: “For many people the first plane coming in at 4.30am is their alarm clock.”

Heathrow chiefs told the London Assembly’s environment committee they accepted night flights had an impact but that they boosted the economy by £340m a year and by 6,600 jobs.

The airport’s sustainability director Matthew Gorman said: “We believe that night flights are an important part of the airport’s operation but equally we recognise they have an impact.

“We are committed to tackling these through introducing quieter technology and trialling new operational processes.”

Almost 6,000 of Heathrow’s 480,000 flights a year operate during the night, with 80 per cent landing between 4.30am and 6am, mostly from the Far East.

However, Mr Ellar, who lives under the flight path, said: “They’re very noisy, even a quiet airplane is very noisy. It will wake you up when it’s still dark, you might get back to sleep, you might not.”

Even though his house was soundproofed by Heathrow with roof insulation and triple-glazing, the noise still got through.

“I’d say it’s the equivalent of a lorry coming and revving its engine just outside your bedroom window several times a night,” he said.

“That experience is shared probably by 100,000 people and others will have it to a lesser degree. Let’s be honest, it’s inhuman to have planes land over you at 4.30 in the morning.”

The committee, which will submit evidence to the Department of Transport’s night flights consultation – which will in turn inform the Davies Commission into aviation – previously suggested there should be no night flights at all.

Committee chair Murad Qureshi said: “Londoners deserve a good night’s kip. Night flights are a key environmental concern. If you knock on doors in West London suburbs you won’t hear about carbon emissions or air quality, you’ll hear about aircraft noise.”


Read more »