400 mile walk Harmondsworth to Holyrood: Neil takes his anti-Heathrow runway message to the SNP

Neil Keveren, a builder who lives in one of the villages that would be partially destroyed by the construction of Heathrow’s proposed 3rd runway, has completed a 400-mile walk from Heathrow to Edinburgh, in protest at the SNP’s backing for the plans. Neil arrived at the Scottish Parliament  23 days after leaving his home in Harmondsworth on 4th April, having covered about 20 miles every day.  Neil was born in the village of Sipson, which is also facing partial demolition if the expansion goes ahead. For Keveren, the expansion of Heathrow is deeply personal. His house in nearby Harmondsworth is located only 54 paces from the enlarged airport’s boundary fence, while his 82-year-old uncle Ray (his support driver on the   walk) also stands to lose his home. The SNP block of 54 MPs formally backed the Heathrow bid, in the probably mistaken belief it would bring significant strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, including the very dubious indeed figure of “up to 16,000 new jobs” – over many years. Neil had appointments with a number of SNP MPs during the day, and had the opportunity to give them more information about the runway. So far most of them have only received very biased information from Heathrow, and they were interested to learn some of the inaccuracies and exaggerations in what they have been led to believe. Neil’s amazing walk proved the opportunity to talk to the SNP and correct misapprehensions.
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From Harmondsworth to Holyrood: man walks 400 miles to protest Heathrow expansion

27.4.2017

Neil Keveren at the Scottish Parliament protesting against the expansion of Heathrow

By Chris Green (The i)

Wednesday April 26th 2017

A man who lives in one of the villages that stands to be partially destroyed by the construction of Heathrow’s proposed third runway has completed a 400-mile walk from London to Edinburgh in protest at the SNP’s backing for the plans.

Neil Keveren, 55, arrived at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday after leaving his home in Harmondsworth earlier this month  (4th April) and undertaking a three-week odyssey across Britain, covering up to 20 miles a day.

“I don’t see why people’s quality of life should be affected so drastically due to people wanting a gin and tonic on a beach” Neil Keveren.

The builder was born in Sipson, which is also facing partial demolition when the expansion finally goes ahead.

The choice of a third runway was officially supported by the Government last October.

For Keveren, the expansion of Heathrow is deeply personal. His house in nearby Harmondsworth is located only 54 paces from the enlarged airport’s boundary fence, while his 82-year-old uncle Ray also stands to lose his home.

“Expanding Heathrow is like throwing a rock into a pond,” he told i shortly after completing the final leg of his journey, which took him to the main entrance of the Scottish Parliament.

“You’ve got the devastation of 850 homes in the middle, the biggest clearance of a population since the Second World War.

“As the ripples move out, you’ve got 1.2 million Londoners who will suffer from noise detrimental to their health.”

SNP’s backing

The SNP formally backed the Heathrow bid shortly before it was given the provisional green light, arguing that the plans carried significant strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, including up to 16,000 new jobs.

Mr Keveren said he hoped to meet several senior SNP politicians while he was in Edinburgh with the aim of persuading them to withdraw their support for the expansion, explaining how it will impact local people.

He also claimed that the main beneficiaries of the increase in flights in and out of the UK would be a “frequent flier elite” rather than the general public. “I don’t see why people’s quality of life should be affected so drastically due to people wanting a gin and tonic on a beach four or five times a year,” he added.

As his walk took him down many busy roads, Mr Keveren was unable to listen to music and had to be alert and aware of his surroundings. His only distraction was the occasional toot of support from a passing motorist, who spotted his distinctive aeroplane hat and bright red tabard.

His uncle Ray drove his support van, which also provided their accommodation for most nights of the trip. “I’m no athlete – I’m a builder,” he added. “But for anyone who is reasonably fit, in small bites, it’s do-able.”

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/uk/harmondsworth-holyrood-man-walks-400-miles-protest-heathrow-expansion/

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Neil and Harmondsworth residents, who had come up to Edinburgh by train to meet Neil, with members of the local Edinburgh Airport Watch group outside the Parliament

Neil with members of Friends of the Earth Scotland outside the Scottish Parliament

and Neil met lots of SNP MSPs as well as Green Party MSPs inside Parliament, where he had time to talk to them and explain the reasons for his walk, and why the runway is both devastating for the area where he lives – and also that the benefits Heathrow has said would come to Scotland from the runway have been highly exaggerated.

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/uk/harmondsworth-holyrood-man-walks-400-miles-protest-heathrow-expansion/

 

From Harmondsworth to Holyrood: man walks 400 miles to protest Heathrow expansion

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Heathrow plans 4 regional construction hubs for proposed runway, to give the impression of spreading jobs around UK

Four UK construction hubs are being sought by Heathrow to allow components of its £16bn expansion project to be built away from the airport. The logistics hubs will pre-assemble components for the proposed 3rd runway before transporting them to the airport. Heathrow claims this will make the project cheaper, and provide some jobs to other parts of the country. This form of construction may have been used in the housebuilding sector but had only had a “limited” role in major British infrastructure projects. The areas to have these construction hubs need to have good connectivity (road, rail?), have “a relevant supply chain and strong local skills”.  Areas need to apply by July 31st, with a list of potential sites expected to be announced later this year.  The airport can only start submitting its development consent order if the NPS is voted for in Parliament, and if the government wins the legal challenges. That could not be before spring 2018. Heathrow hopes, perhaps unrealistically, to have its runway built and working by 2025. Heathrow says it has used off-site locations before, with large parts of the structural steelwork for Terminal 2 building constructed in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In October 2016 the Scottish government said: “Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway.”  No mention of that now?
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Heathrow starts search for four regional construction hubs

By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)

26 APRIL 2017

Four UK construction hubs are being sought by Heathrow to allow components of its £16bn expansion project to be built away from the airport.

The logistics hubs will pre-assemble components linked to projects related to the proposed third runway before transporting them to the airport. Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said this method would make the project more affordable and mean jobs linked to the investment would be spread more broadly across the country.

The airport claimed this method of construction had gained traction in the housebuilding sector but had only had a “limited” role in major British infrastructure projects.

Mr Holland-Kaye said suitable locations would have good connectivity, access to a relevant supply chain and strong local skills. Interested applicants need to apply by July 31, and all applications will be considered by Heathrow.

A list of potential sites is expected to be announced later this year, he said.

The Government decided to back Heathrow’s expansion last summer and MPs are expected to vote on the project by the end of this year, at which stage legal challenges can be lodged.

Four councils and Greenpeace are already working on a challenge to the third runway.

If the legal challenges are unsuccessful, a planning process will follow which will involve Heathrow submitting what is called a development consent order. It will have to act on complaints from interested parties, or explain why it has been unable to do so.

Heathrow hopes to have full approval to proceed by the end of 2020 and begin construction rapidly after that, completing the third runway in 2025.

The airport has used off-site locations before for other projects. It said large parts of the structural steelwork for its Terminal 2 building were constructed in Yorkshire and Lancashire before being transported to Heathrow.

When it built its car park at Terminal 2, the £2.5bn project employed businesses around the country.

Heathrow said Bison Manufacturing, based in Uddingston in Lanarkshire, were contracted to provide 40,000 square metres of pre-stressed flooring slabs for the terminal’s new 1,300 space car park.

It said the £1.5m contract accounted for 50pc of the factory’s output for eight months, with 20 staff from the local area retained to help meet the increased workload.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/04/25/heathrow-starts-search-four-regional-construction-hubs/

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Heathrow CEO: Expansion will make UK a world leader in offsite

26 APRIL, 2017
BY JACK SIMPSON (Construction News)

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has announced plans that will see a significant slice of the airport’s £16bn expansion produced using offsite manufacture.

Mr Holland-Kaye announced today that the airport would be pushing an offsite agenda to help the country “lead the pack in global construction”.

He said: “The global construction industry is set to be worth £15tn by 2025 – that’s a huge prize that Britain deserves a bigger share of and Heathrow can help.

“We want to use Heathrow expansion to not only upgrade Britain’s infrastructure, but cultivate a new world-leading sector and drive growth across the whole country.”

Mr Holland-Kaye added that expansion could be a starting point for this revolution and would provide a lasting legacy that would allow the UK to sell its expertise across the world.

The comments came as the airport launched a prior information notice (PIN) seeking potential sites that would be suitable for the four logistic hubs it plans to build across the UK.

Earlier this month, Construction News revealed Heathrow would begin its hunt at the end of April for firms and local authorities to support the delivery of the planned hubs.

The airport said the locations will have good connectivity, access to a relevant supply chain and strong local skills.

The hubs are aimed at aiding the project’s efficient delivery, reducing costs, reducing emissions and spreading jobs across the country.

Interested applicants will have until the end of June to submit expressions of interest in hosting one of the four hubs.

https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/markets/sectors/airports/heathrow-ceo-expansion-will-make-uk-a-world-leader-in-offsite/10019412.article#.WQCSmgHkRjM.twitter

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SNP misled by Heathrow inflated claims of number of jobs for Scotland due to a 3rd runway

The SNP decided to give its backing to a Heathrow runway, rather than one at Gatwick – having been led to believe that the only choice on offer was between these two. They were led, by Heathrow PR, to believe there would be greater benefits for Scotland. The SNP hoped to get exports from Scotland (salmon and razor clams) shipped through Heathrow. The Airports Commission came up with a figure of economic benefit from a Heathrow runway of UP TO £147 billion to all the UK over 60 years. Heathrow got a consultancy called Quod to work out the number of jobs. They came up with the figure of 16,100 jobs for Scotland (over 60 years) from the runway. The DfT has now downgraded the £147 billion figure, as it included various speculative elements, and double counted benefits. The new figure (also still far higher than the reality) from the DfT is UP TO £61 billion for the UK over 60 years. That, pro rata, would mean up to about 9,300 jobs for Scotland – not 16,100. It is unfortunate that the SNP were misinformed, as were other MPs, Chambers of Commerce etc across the regions.  Heathrow also pledged benefits for Scotland such as using its steel for construction, and using Prestwick as a base. The Scottish Green party see the SNP backing of a Heathrow runway as a betrayal of those badly affected by it, and of Scotland’s climate commitments.   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/11/snp-misled-by-heathrow-inflated-claims-of-number-of-jobs-for-scotland-due-to-a-3rd-runway/

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The expansion plans offer the greatest strategic and economic benefits to Scotland, creating thousands of jobs and providing a significant boost to the country’s connectivity. The airport’s commitments include:

• The creation of up to 16,000 new jobs across Scotland from the new capacity.
• Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway.
• £200m of construction-related spend in Scotland during planning and construction. 

Heathrow manages to persuade SNP to back its runway, with hopes of 16,000 jobs (?)

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Government cannot delay air pollution plan – must be published by 8th May

The UK Government has lost a court bid to delay publication of its air pollution strategy, and must now release it before the 8th June election. Courts had given the government until Monday 24th April to set out draft guidelines to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. Late last week, ministers lodged an application to delay their release until after the general election saying publication would fall foul of election “purdah” rules.  But now the High Court ordered the draft plans to be published on 9th May, five days after the local elections, but long before the general election on 8th June. The date for publication of the final air pollution strategy document remains unchanged on 31st July.  The government’s lawyers said publication now would drop a “controversial bomb” into the mix of local and national elections. But the High Court said purdah was a convention only and did not override legal obligations to clean up the air.  Additionally, the impact on public health would exempt it from the purdah rules anyway. This is the latest development in a long-running legal action brought against the government by environmental lawyers, ClientEarth. This at least means that there will be some idea of the air pollution proposals before the end of the draft Heathrow NPS consultation.  Had they been delayed, there would not have been.

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Government bid to delay air pollution plan fails

The UK Government has lost a court bid to delay publication of its air pollution strategy, and must now release it before the June election.

Courts had given the government until Monday 24 April to set out draft guidelines to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution.

But late last week, ministers lodged an application to delay their release until after the general election.

They argued that publication would fall foul of election “purdah” rules.

These limit government announcements with political implications during the election period.

But on Thursday, the High Court ordered the draft plans to be published on 9 May, five days after the local elections, but long before the general election on 8 June.

The date for publication of the final document remains unchanged on 31 July.

Reality Check: Does pollution cut short 40,000 lives a year?

Green group wins air pollution court battle

During the hearing, government barrister James Eadie QC told Mr Justice Garnham that publication would drop a “controversial bomb” into the mix of local and national elections.

The new strategy was requested last year, after a court ruled that existing measures to tackle air pollution proposed by the government did not meet the requirements of law.

But the High Court decided that purdah was a convention only and did not override legal obligations to clean up the air.  Additionally, the impact on public health would exempt it from the purdah rules anyway.

Legal battle

Thursday’s decision is the latest development in a long-running legal action brought against the government by a group of environmental lawyers, ClientEarth. The campaigners began proceedings after the UK breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air.

These limits were introduced by EU law in 1999 and were to have been achieved by 2010. Some 37 out of 43 regions in the UK have been in breach over levels of NO2, one of several nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollutants.

Diesel vehicles are a key source of NOx emissions, and NO2 has been linked to a range of respiratory illnesses. Around 40,000 people are estimated to die prematurely every year in the UK because of poor air quality.

Reacting to the ruling on Thursday, James Thornton, ClientEarth’s chief executive, said: “ClientEarth is delighted with Justice Garnham’s decision.

“The judge listened to the government’s claims that it needed to delay taking care of public health, but he rejected them vigorously and is keeping the government to the deadline of releasing the final plan on 31 July.”

The government could yet appeal the ruling, which might effectively delay the process anyway.

Mr Thornton said: “I would urge them not to appeal. I would say: ‘get to work’. Enough dither, enough delay, clean up the air.”

Reluctant decision

Representing the government, Mr Eadie QC said the application had been brought with considerable reluctance and was not “some sort of guise or demonstration of lack of commitment to improving air quality”.

In April 2015, ClientEarth won a Supreme Court ruling against the government over air pollution levels.

That judgment ordered ministers to come up with a plan to bring down air pollution to within legal limits as soon as possible.

But ClientEarth was dissatisfied with those proposals, and took the government to the High Court in a judicial review, which it won.

London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am pleased that the government will now have to face its responsibilities sooner rather than later.

“Ministers were dragged kicking and screaming to face the huge scale of this health crisis, but rather than take immediate action to protect the public they deliberately used the election as a smokescreen to hold back their plan.”

He added: “I hope that after this appalling delay, this Government delivers a strong plan to finally get a grip on this issue and urgently introduces a diesel scrappage fund to rid our streets of the dirtiest cars.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39737981

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T&E and CAN write to AirlinesforEurope (A4E) to ask where they stand on Ryanair’s climate denial

Following remarks by Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary rejecting the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, T&E and Climate Action Network Europe have written to the European airlines’ lobbying group, AirlinesforEurope (A4E), and A4E’s other member airlines – asking them to state publicly whether they side with O’Leary’s climate denial or whether they accept the proven link between human activity and a warming planet. With aviation emissions continuing to soar – up 8% in Europe alone in 2016 – and governments struggling to introduce effective measures to rein them in, there is a strong public and consumer interest in knowing whether European airlines accept the need to take action on climate change or are intent on identifying with the diminishing band of climate deniers. National and European decision makers should also know where airlines stand on the issue of climate change when they are being intensively lobbied by airlines on the issue. The letter ends:  “We therefore call on your airlines, and A4E, to state publicly whether you accept the over-whelming evidence of climate change, and the resulting need to take ambitious action, or whether you are partners in Mr O’Leary’s reckless climate denialism.”
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Where do other airlines stand on Ryanair’s climate denial?

April 26, 2017 (Transport & Environment)

Following remarks by Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary rejecting the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, T&E and Climate Action Network Europe call on Ryanair’s European lobbying group, AirlinesforEurope (A4E), and A4E’s other member airlines to state publicly whether they side with O’Leary’s climate denial or whether they accept the proven link between human activity and a warming planet.

With aviation emissions continuing to soar – up 8% in Europe alone in 2016 – and governments struggling to introduce effective measures to rein them in, there is a strong public and consumer interest in knowing whether European airlines accept the need to take action on climate change or are intent on identifying with the diminishing band of climate deniers. National and European decision makers should also know where airlines stand on the issue of climate change when they are being intensively lobbied by airlines on the issue.

https://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/where-do-other-airlines-stand-ryanairs-climate-denial

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The letter:

Dear Airlines4Europe and its member airlines,

Earlier this month, Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary commented on Irish radio that he does not “accept the connection between carbon consumption and climate change1.”  (1 Irish Times, 08/04/2017 “Michael O’Leary says he ‘does not accept climate change is real’)

In doing so, he puts himself in conflict with the 97% of peer-reviewed climate scientists who believe that human activity has a direct link with rising global temperatures.

He also puts himself in conflict with the scores of governments which have ratified the Paris
Agreement and which have pledged to take ambitious climate action. Incredibly, he has even put himself in conflict with CEOs of oil majors such as ExxonMobil and Shell who, while not exactly championing action on climate change, at least accept the principles of climate science.

In the coming months, the EU will decide on the future terms for aviation’s inclusion in its Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Work will also continue on developing the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s global market-based measure (known as CORSIA). Much of the lobbying on these issues will be conducted by your association, AirlinesforEurope (A4E).

Not only is Ryanair a member of your association, but it is the largest member.

In the interests of transparency, we believe European Union institutions, member states and
stakeholders should know whether the climate denialism of Mr O’Leary is also shared by your
airlines and A4E. When you engage in lobbying, we believe everyone should know whether they are working with an honest partner, or someone who flatly rejects the overwhelming consensus of climate science. We also believe your customers would appreciate knowing where you stand on this critical issue.

We therefore call on your airlines, and A4E, to state publicly whether you accept the overwhelming evidence of climate change, and the resulting need to take ambitious action, or whether you are partners in Mr O’Leary’s reckless climate denialism.

We look forward to your response.
On behalf of Climate Action Network Europe and Transport & Environment,
Yours sincerely,
William Todts
Executive Director, Transport & Environment
william.todts@transportenvironment.org

 

https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/Letter_Where_do_other_airlines_stand_on_Ryanair%27s_climate_denial.pdf

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See earlier

Ryanair denies climate change because it doesn’t like CO2 solutions that would cramp its growth

Recently Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary dismissed evidence of climate change as “rubbish”. Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, says this is hardly surprising. CO2 emissions from all sectors in the EU’s emissions trading system decreased in 2016 with one exception: aviation: CO2 from flights within Europe grew 8%, according to figures released last week by the European Commission. Low-fares airlines drove this growth, with Ryanair, Wizz Air, Eurowings and Norwegian all registering double-digit increases in emissions. Ryanair is the biggest aviation emitter in Europe. These airlines are now huge emitters with carbon footprints exceeding those of some small countries. Ryanair’s growth is thanks, in part, to a business model reliant on taxpayer handouts. It will face the biggest challenge if governments take serious action against aviation’s growing emissions. World CO2 emissions need to almost cease by 2050, so an increase of 8% in European aviation emissions in one year alone is of serious concern. It is allowed because all levels of government – regional, national and European – policies do nothing to curb its emissions. The sector receives €40 billion annual subsidy from its fuel tax and VAT exemptions. Luckily, the aviation EU ETS provisions are currently under revision, and MEPs and member states have an opportunity to fix some of the major flaws.

Click here to view full story…

 

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Tainted pro-runway “Back Heathrow” director gets top job in Heathrow community relations team

Residents are dumbfounded and angry after learning that Rob Gray has been appointed as the new Director of Community and Stakeholder Relations at Heathrow. Until recently, Gray had been the Director of Back Heathrow Ltd., a company set up by Heathrow Airport Ltd., to promote a third runway.  Under his leadership, Back Heathrow was found by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to have produced misleading adverts aimed at politicians, where they overstated support for their campaign. On a different occasion, Gray oversaw a mismanagement whereby people replying to their campaign materials were automatically registered as supporters. Gray also led the campaign using scare tactics, designed to make local residents fear that if they didn’t back a third runway, Heathrow would decline and close, causing mass unemployment across west London. Rob Gray’s new role requires him to foster good relationships with the local community and strive to make Heathrow the better neighbour it should be. Opponents of the runway believe this is an appointment that can only cause further deterioration in relations between the airport and local communities. It would especially be the case for those that would be destroyed to make way for the runway or because living in such close proximity to it would be impossible. 
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TAINTED PRO-RUNWAY CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR GETS HEATHROW JOB IN COMMUNITY RELATIONS TEAM

25 April 2017 (SHE – Stop Heathrow Expansion – press release)

 

Residents were left dumbfounded and angered on Tuesday as individuals were being contacted regarding the appointment of Rob Gray as the new Director of Community and Stakeholder Relations at Heathrow Airport. Until recently, Gray had been the Director of Back Heathrow Ltd., a company set up by Heathrow Airport Ltd., to promote a third runway at Heathrow.

Under Gray’s leadership, Back Heathrow was found by the Advertising Standards Agency to have produced misleading adverts aimed at politicians, where they overstated support for their campaign (1). On a different occasion, Gray oversaw a mismanagement whereby people replying to their campaign materials were automatically registered as supporters (2).

Gray also led the campaign into scare tactics, designed at making local residents fear that if they didn’t back a third runway, Heathrow would decline and close, causing mass unemployment across west London (3).

Gray’s new role requires him to foster good relationships with the local community and strive to make Heathrow the better neighbour it should be.

Rob Barnstone, Campaign Coordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “Heathrow are taking a backward step in community engagement with this appointment.

“Many people are sceptical enough about engaging with the community relations team already. The fact that somebody who headed up such a controversial and tainted company, masquerading as a grassroots residents group, is now to be dealing with the very people whose homes he has spent four years trying to destroy.

“Is it April Fool’s Day again?”

Harlington resident Christine Taylor, whose home will be severely impacted by a third runway, said: “I can’t imagine a worse appointment than Rob Gray who has spent the past four years working hard to destroy our homes, our health and our livelihoods. I’m shocked.”

Stop Heathrow Expansion is a local resident-led group based in the villages around Heathrow: Harmondsworth, Longford, Sipson and Harlington. IT campaigns to protect the local area from a bigger Heathrow.

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Notes

1 – http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/back-heathrow-advert-banned-false-11213129

2 http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/local/11776685.Back_Heathrow_campaign_number_doubts_as_opponents_sent_supporter_emails/

3 – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/scare-tactics-land-heathrow-in-trouble-zns99cn8c62

For more information

Rob Barnstone;  robertbarnstone@outlook.com

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Back Heathrow complains Hillingdon has to spend money fighting runway – refuses to say how much funding it gets from Heathrow

The “astroturf” group (not actually a real community group) Back Heathrow gets its funding from Heathrow.  It refuses to say how much money it gets from the airport. John Holland-Kaye has in the past also refused to say how much it contributes.  Back Heathrow is complaining that Hillingdon borough has spent a lot of money on its campaigns against the 3rd runway. This is money that the borough is being forced to spend, because of the activities of Heathrow, against which it has to defend its residents. The account for Back Heathrow show it has around £154,000 in the bank; it has assets of around £653,000; it gives its net worth as about £482,000; its current liabilities are shown as – £171,000; and it only has one employee, Rob Gray.  No activity is reported, and no turnover is reported. Back in December 2014 the  Sunday Times revealed that Back Heathrow had had at least £100,000 from the airport, but no details are ever given.  Back Heathrow says, rather bizarrely, that ‘It would not be fair to publish the amounts given’.  Their next accounts will be published on 31st March 2017. Being private companies, the sums cannot be extracted through FoI.  Hillingdon Council makes its figures public, and has defended its campaigning, saying it is representing the views of residents.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/01/back-heathrow-complains-hillingdon-has-to-spend-money-fighting-runway-refuses-to-say-how-much-funding-it-gets-from-heathrow/

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Extent to which “Back Heathrow” is funded by Heathrow, and is not a true community campaign, revealed

“Back Heathrow” is an industry funded pressure group, the aim of which is to drum up support for a 3rd Heathrow runway. It was set up with at least £100,000 from Heathrow airport – maybe more.  Its website just says  that it had money from Heathrow to set up. Matt Gorman from Heathrow admitted at a public meeting in Putney on 27th November than Heathrow continues to fund it, but nobody will give any figures. “Back Heathrow” is a classic astroturfing campaign (ie. making out that it is community led, when it is not). Its co-ordinator is Rob Gray, was previously a director of the Aviation Foundation, another lobbying group established by the industry. Other staff working for Back Heathrow are current or former Heathrow employees. They have recently distributed hundreds of thousands of glossy newspapers to households across west London, with no mention anywhere on these that they are paid for (at least in part) by Heathrow. They try to give the impression of being independent information.  Back Heathrow claim to have 50,000 people signed up, but this is largely due to scare tactics, implying Heathrow workers  will lose their jobs without a 3rd runway.  This has now been revealed by the Sunday Times.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/12/extent-to-which-back-heathrow-is-funded-by-heathrow-and-is-not-a-true-community-campaign-revealed/

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“BackHeathrow” (paid for by airport – not a grass roots campaign), send biased scare-mongering survey to half a million

A lobbying group – called BackHeathrow – funded by Heathrow Airport is to distribute a survey to half a million homes, to try and get some favourable views on a new Heathrow runway.They are using fear as a tactic, to get local people worried that they might lose their jobs if the airport was not allowed to expand. There is, of course, no prospect of Heathrow being closed – the BackHeathrow tactic is irresponsible and ill-advised. John McDonnell, the MP for Hayes and Harlington, bordering Heathrow to the north and  under threat from a northern runway, said it was just another front organisation funded by the airport and another cynical spurious public relations exercise. John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said BackHeathrow claims it is a grass roots campaign but no grass roots campaign has the sort of funding to send out half a million surveys. This is astoturfing, not a real citizens’ initiative. BackHeathrow survey results must be treated with great scepticism, when/if they come out. It’s so badly worded & biased as to be valueless.  The “Have you stopped beating your wife?” type questions in the BackHeathrow survey are so loaded they’d make you laugh if they didn’t make you angry.   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2013/10/backheathrow-paid-for-by-airport-not-a-grass-roots-campaign-send-biased-scare-mongering-survey-to-half-a-million/

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More intelligent approaches, understanding bird psychology, help cut risk of bird strikes

Safety fears have led to mass culls of birds near airports. But are such drastic measures necessary?  It appears that about 70,000 gulls, starlings, geese and other birds have been killed around New York airports since since 2009. They have been killed by shooting, trapping, and sometimes gassing.  The CAA say that the number of confirmed bird strikes rose from 1,496 to 1,665 between 2011 and 2015. Only in 6% of cases did it have some kind of operational effect on an aircraft.  In many of these incidents, planes aborted take-off, returned to the airport, or diverted to another. According to Natural England, 12,956 birds were culled in 2015-16. Rooks, crows and pigeons made up the largest number. Bird conservation organisations wan airports to use less barbaric ways of reduce the risk of bird strikes. There are various technological solutions that may be effective. One bird ecology professor at Exeter university said that it is necessary to understanding of the birds’ point of view.  A “sonic net” can be used, which is a noise played across areas to be protected. It needs to be at the same pitch as the alarm calls of birds, or predator noises that they are listening out for.  “When birds experience this they either leave the area or their vigilance goes up because they can’t hear each other’s alert calls or a predator coming.” So the birds move away, as it is too risky to stay.
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Bird strikes can down airliners but are mass culls the answer?

By Mark Piesing (The i)

Tuesday April 18th 2017

Safety fears have led to mass culls of birds near airports. But are such drastic measures necessary?

In January 2009, in a “miracle” on the Hudson river, a stricken airliner ditched on the water with no loss of human life.

But it was no miracle for the birds of New York, which were blamed for the accident. Research has suggested that nearly 70,000 gulls, starlings, geese and other birds have been killed since then, mostly by shooting, trapping, and in some cases, such as Prospect Park, gassing.

Some campaigners have accused airports worldwide of a “post-Hudson panic” leading to the deaths of millions of birds.

“We were all very used to the geese in Prospect Park,” says Jeffrey Kramer, a volunteer for GooseWatchNYC. This group of wildlife “vigilantes” was founded in 2010 to encourage alternatives to the ineffective and inhumane culling of geese in New York City’s parks.

“Then we woke up one morning with a lake covered in feathers where there used to be hundreds of geese.”

Wildlife officials had taken the geese to a hangar at Kennedy Airport, where they were gassed.

In the UK, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the number of confirmed bird strikes rose from 1,496 to 1,665 between 2011 and 2015.

Only in 6% of cases did it have some kind of operational effect on an aircraft.  In many of these incidents, planes aborted take-off, returned to the airport, or diverted to another.

According to Nature England, 12,956 birds were culled in 2015-16. Rooks, crows and pigeons made up the largest number.

With numbers of bird strikes rising despite culls, protesters are demanding that the authorities use less barbaric ways of keeping the skies safe. While the technology to do this regularly hits the headlines, it rarely seems to reach the tarmac.

Avian radar is a case in point. It can track flocks of birds and has been used by the military for decades. It has helped the Israeli air force to reduce bird strikes by two-thirds. Why isn’t technology like this more widely used at commercial airports?

A bird’s eye view “Everyone knows that bird strikes are a problem that is not going away,” says Kramer. “The protesters and the cullers all acknowledge that killing isn’t the answer. Technology caused the problem, so technology will have to solve it.”

Professor John Swaddle, a bird ecologist, says: “It’s not a lack of technology that has prevented the problems of bird strikes being solved, it’s a lack of science. It’s a lack of basic understanding of the birds’ point of view.”

Swaddle, a visiting research associate at Exeter University, has developed the sonic net, a technology by which noise is played at the same pitch as the alarm calls of birds or predator noises they are listening out for – and, as a result, it becomes a lot riskier for them to hang around.

According to some, the problem is already being managed. “Airports in general are doing a good job. The problem with birds is that they adapt very quickly,” says Stephen Landells, a safety specialist at the British Airline Pilots’ Association.

“Airports are realising that you have to have a load of measures in place, and I think they are doing that quite successfully, because you don’t see many planes crashing.”

A spokesman for the CAA says: “The CAA considers airport habitat management practices across the UK to be effective at managing the bird strike hazard, and as a result the number of serious bird strike incidents that occur in the UK is relatively low.”

Others think the issue is more profound. “There is a human-wildlife conflict here,” says Jess Chappell, a policy officer at the RSPB. “We are encroaching on more and more wildlife habitats. It is a case of learning to live with wildlife rather than killing everything.”

Why bird strikes have become a big problem

Bird strikes are as old as aviation itself. One of the first recorded collisions between a bird and an aircraft was in 1908. The first human death occurred in 1912, when a gull collided with a wooden Wright Flyer. In those days, aeroplanes flew at much slower speeds and birds, by and large, had time to get out of their way. The invention of the jet engine changed all that. Today, a bird may hit a commercial airliner’s cockpit window, dent its fuselage or be sucked into its engine – causing expensive ground checks and delays.

If a plane collides with a whole flock of birds, then the damage can be a great deal more severe. They may take out an engine or more – and then, as in the landing on the Hudson it will come down to the skill of the pilot and the cleverness of the computers to prevent disaster.

For the bird, the collision is usually fatal; its DNA may be all that is left to identify what species it was.

For humans, it is less dangerous, with 25 deaths attributed to bird strikes in the US between 1990 and 2013.

The solutions attempted so far…

One of the first attempts at scaring birds away from runways was the humble scarecrow. Today, while all airports have a bird management plan, their techniques don’t seem to be very different. These can include playing bird calls, killing individual birds, playing loud noises and flashing lights, and even live-capture and relocation.

This is often accompanied by “habitat management”.   Cruder versions of this include netting over ponds and even, in China, training monkeys to destroy nests. Some airports grow long grass that is unattractive to birds. The failure of such techniques has been used to justify the continuation of culling – even though culls, many critics suggest, merely help the airports look as if they are doing something.

Now, inspired by nature, a new generation of solutions is being proposed, from drones that look like birds of prey through to low-level laser beams that the birds see as a physical object that they want to stay away from and don’t get used to, and Swaddle’s sonic net.

Yet even these are not without problems – real or imagined. The birds may quickly learn that a drone isn’t actually a hawk, while the lasers could blind a bird as they could an airline pilot; and it’s difficult to develop a sonic device that works with all bird species at the same time.

Despite its use by the military, avian radar has been criticised for requiring specialist staff and for not identifying specific species – although some types of avian radar can. “There is lots of work going into novel ways of dealing with this problem.

Lasers seem to be effective,” says Chappell. After successful trials at a small airport in the US, where there was an 80% reduction in the numbers of birds, Swaddle’s sonic net is set for a trial at a large airport in Singapore later this year. “When birds experience this they either leave the area or their vigilance goes up because they can’t hear each other’s alert calls or a predator coming,” says Swaddle.

“Unlike with other technologies, its effectiveness didn’t diminish over time. This is because not being able to hear predators is a real threat.

“In the end, to really manage these bird issues the technologies used are going to have to be complementary, like avian radar and the sonic net. I doubt that there will ever be a ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all the problems.”

https://inews.co.uk/explainers/iq/airports-bird-strikes-cull-technology/

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See also

‘Miracle on the Hudson’ 2009 legacy: 70,000 birds killed around New York airports since then

On 15th January 2009 a US Airways Flight took off from New York’s LaGuardia, soon hit a flock of big Canada geese, lost both engines – but almost miraculously landed safely on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board survived. Birds took the blame for the incident, and have been paying for it with their lives ever since. An Associated Press analysis of bird-killing programs at the New York City area’s 3 major airports found that nearly 70,000 gulls, starling, geese and other birds have been slaughtered, mostly by shooting and trapping, since the 2009 accident, and it is not clear whether those killings have made the skies safer. Advocates for the birds say officials should find other, more effective ways to protect aircraft. Between January 2009 and October 2016, of the 70,000 birds killed, there were 28,000 seagulls, followed by about 16,800 European starlings, nearly 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds and about 4,500 mourning doves, and 1,830 Canada geese.  The FAA say of the known birds that caused damage to planes, in 249 incidents, 2009 – 2016, 54 were seagulls, 12 were osprey, 11 were double-crested cormorants and 30 were geese; 69 unknown. Airport officials try to keep birds out of a 5-mile radius around the airports’ runways.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/01/miracle-on-the-hudson-2009-legacy-70000-birds-killed-around-new-york-airports-since-then/

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Global bird culls by airports, to deter bird strike. Hundreds of thousands gassed, shot and poisoned

The issue of bird strikes for planes is an emotive one.  Some collisions do little damage to planes, but hitting a large bird can disable an engine, or worse.  While birds and planes co-exist, some strikes are inevitable. Rose Bridger has been looking into this subject for years. She says shortly after the Hudson incident in 2009, New York’s 3 main airports began culling Canada geese. This escaped public attention until June 2010, when wildlife officials rounded up nearly 400 birds and gassed with CO2 in a nearby buiding.  In fact, the geese that downed the plane were not locals, but migrants from northern Canada. By autumn 2013 geese were being rounded up from municipal properties within a 160 square kilometre area. After a non-fatal (for the plane) collision with a flock of geese at Schiphol in 2010, 5,000 were gassed in 2012. The area where geese are deemed a hazard to aircraft was extended to cover a 20 kilometre radius around the airport, and a further 10,000 geese were gassed between January and July 2013. In January, the New York Port Authority announced plans to eliminate the entire population of 2,200 wild mute swans. And there are many, many other examples. Airports should not be built in or near important bird habitats and migratory flightpaths.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/08/global-bird-culls-by-airports-to-deter-bird-strike-hundreds-of-thousands-gassed-shot-and-poisoned/

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And some earlier stories:

Gatwick objects to new hospice due to increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’ – as within 13 km radius of airport

Under guidance from the DfT, airports have to be statutory consultees for any planning application within a radius of 13 km of the airport, that might have an impact on it, for a variety of reasons. One of these is the risk of bird strike, and so new developments that might attract birds are opposed. Now Gatwick Airport has objected to plans for a new hospice and homes in Pease Pottage [south of Crawley, and about 6km south of Gatwick airport] due to an increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’. St Catherine’s Hospice would provide a 48-bed care facility, and there would also be up to 600 new homes, cafe, a community building, retail units, and a new primary school. The current hospice has only 18 beds, and is not able to cater for the number of people needing palliative support in the area  nor has sufficient family areas. Gatwick says the areas of open water in the application would attract birds large enough to endanger planes, including  feral geese, duck, grey heron and cormorants – especially if the public feed them. Gatwick also fear the mown grassland would provide a grazing habitat for birds. Gatwick wants minimal water. Airports keep their grassed areas as unappealing to bird life as possible. Gatwick set out, for the Airports Commission, what it would do to “control and where possible reduce bird hazard.”

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/12/gatwick-objects-to-new-hospice-due-to-increase-in-bird-strike-risk-hazard-as-within-13-km-radius-of-airport/


 

Daily Mail claim of sharp rise in birdstrikes not borne out by the facts from CAA

The Daily Mail, it being the “silly season” with no news, had done an article on an alleged increase in the number air birdstrikes by aircraft between 2009 and 2012. However, the data published by the CAA up to March 2013 do not bear out the Mail’s claims of a doubling in three years. The CAA produces data on reported birdstrikes, and on confirmed strikes – the latter being a much lower number than the former. For instance, in 2012 there were 2215 reported birdstrikes, and 1404 confirmed strikes. Some of the increase in reporting may be due to changed reporting requirements of incidents to the CAA. The species hit most often in recent years have been various species of gulls (together the largest group), then swallows, skylarks, swifts and woodpigeons, then pigeons and kestrels. The number of birdstrikes rose significantly after 2008, when the CAA introduced a new system through which all strikes can easily be reported online. It has been mandatory for all strikes to be reported since 2004.

Click here to view full story…

Airports using a biotech high alkaloid endophytic form of grass to deter insects and birds

A form of grass – with the trade name Avanex – has been developed by a firm in New Zealand, Grasslanz Technology and commercialised by PGG Wrightson Turf. It has been designed to be endophytic, which means it incorporates a form of fungus that produces a high amount of alkaloids. This makes the grass distasteful to insects, and so the areas sown with this grass have no or few insects, and consequently few birds. The grass can be toxic to animals and comes with health warnings about livestock eating it. However, airports are enthusiastic to use the grass in order to deter birds and hence the risk of bird strike. The grass has so far been trialled in New Zealand airports since 2010 and found to cut bird numbers by large amounts, making airports very sterile areas, which is what the airport operators want. However, the blurb says “The grass could also be used at sports stadiums, golf courses and even domestic lawns,” so the company wants to use its biodiversity-destroying product even more widely.

Click here to view full story…

CAA data shows 1529 birdstrikes in 2011, up from 1278 in 2009

The CAA reports that bird strikes are on the increase throughout the UK, with 1529 reported last year – up from 1278 in 2009. For Scotland the CAA has said bird strikes have risen at Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness airports over the past 2 years, with an increase in wild flocks and air traffic blamed. Bird strikes have been blamed for bringing down huge aircraft in the past, including the incident in 2009 where an Airbus A320 was forced to ditch in the Hudson river in New York. Glasgow Airport reported 8 strikes this year involving large birds, up from the usual annual average of 3. The Herald Scotland gives information about increases at Scottish airports.

Click here to view full story…

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CAGNE dismayed there will be no Gatwick departures review, and CAA Route 4 approval

Local Gatwick group, CAGNE, are very disappointed that Gatwick airport will not be holding a full review of departures – in the way there was a review of arrivals. One key reason for this is that one airspace change has impacts on others. At the Gatwick Noise Management Board meeting (5th April) community groups learned of Gatwick’s decision not to hold a full Departure Review, contrary to earlier indications.Sally Pavey, Chair CAGNE, commented:  “CAGNE always seeks a fair and equitable distribution of arrivals and departures to the east and west of the airport for West Sussex and Surrey residents. We know that many communities that suffer the concentrated flight paths of departures (PRNAV) will now be very dissatisfied.”  The CAA approved the introduction of concentrated flight paths on all departure routes from Gatwick in May 2014 with seemingly little consultation. The CAA then reviewed these, (CAA PIR Review), and only found some routes needed re-addressing to comply with the current Government airspace policy and CAA guidelines, one of which was Route 4.  The CAA has now approved the changes to the Surrey Route 4, which departs west from Gatwick and then turns east, to the intense disappointment of many now intensely overflown.  The noise metrics the CAA uses do not properly the impacts, with averaging conveniently concealing intense periods of noise.
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CAGNE dismayed there will be no departures review, and CAA Route 4 approval

22.4.2017  (CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions)
CAGNE expresses dismay at:

· Gatwick’s decision not to hold a full departure review

· The CAA’s approval of the Surrey departure Route 4

From the outset of the Gatwick Arrival Review CAGNE, Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, has campaigned to have a Departure Review and that departures be considered alongside Gatwick scrutinising the issues of arrival noise; changing one airspace has implications for another.

At the Gatwick Noise Management Board meeting (5th April) community groups were dismayed at Gatwick’s decision not to hold a full Departure Review contrary to earlier indications.

“Gatwick gave residents who suffer arrivals a review and communities had been led to believe the review of departures would be forthcoming once the arrival review had been concluded but it would seem this is no longer the case,” said Sally Pavey Chair of CAGNE.

“CAGNE always seeks a fair and equitable distribution of arrivals and departures to the east and west of the airport for West Sussex and Surrey residents. We know that many communities that suffer the concentrated flight paths of departures (PRNAV) will now be very dissatisfied.”

The CAA approved the introduction of concentrated flight paths on all departure routes out of Gatwick in May 2014 with seemingly little consultation. The CAA then reviewed these, (CAA PIR Review), and only found some routes needed re-addressing to comply with the current Government airspace policy and CAA guidelines, one of which was Route 4.

The CAA uses old noise metrics to judge noise, which do not take into account the number of planes Gatwick seeks to fly during hourly bursts early in the morning, late evening and during the night as these are averaged out and so the percentage increase in the impact is seen as insignificant.

The CAA has now approved the changes to the Surrey Route 4, which departs west of Gatwick and then turns east. For many this will be disappointing but there is still hope as CAGNE will be party to the NMB departure workshop (1st June) and has requested that a working party now look at each route to address the specific community issues if we are to be denied a full review of departures.

Gatwick details:
Residents are advised to complain to Gatwick over aircraft noise, as this is how Gatwick judges aircraft impact.

http://gatwickairport.com/business-community/aircraft-noise-airspace/noise-enquiries/

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Councils are encouraged to join other council by joining the CAGNE Council Aviation Forum www.cagnepcforum.org.uk

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The Government’s current airspace consultation can be found at

Current consultations – deadline 25th May 11.45pm.

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CAA Consultation – deadline 30th June.

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See also

CAA confirm Route 4 changes to be permanent – local group calls it the “Route to Misery”

Early in April the CAA approved the current P-RNAV design of Gatwick’s Route 4 (the take off route towards the west, that turns north and heads east). This was altered in 2016 in response to the complaints about the way it has recently been altered. Now, dismissing the outpouring of complaints to the current route as “as expected”, the CAA says the route will continue. The CAA has concluded that modified Route 4 “has delivered the aim of the airspace change to an acceptable standard and this change will now be made permanent.” They recognise that this has an impact on communities and has asked Gatwick to “investigate the potential of meaningful respite” by “alternating or switching a proportion of Route 4 departures onto another route.” Local group, deeply opposed to the current Route 4, Plane Justice, comments that the CAA appears indifferent to the misery of the people who wrote in complaining about the Route. They are angry that the complaints are considered just “AS EXPECTED” rather than real expressions of genuine concern and annoyance. The group has a Route 4 Legacy Pledge, which calls on the CAA to revisit its decision and return Route 4 to the geographical position and dispersion pattern it occupied before 2013 (the ‘legacy Route’). They are asking people to sign up to this.

Click here to view full story…

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Launch of new group “Plane Justice” for those newly affected by Gatwick Route 4 since May 2016

Residents north of Gatwick, from Newdigate through to Salfords, have launched “Plane Justice”, a collective of communities which seeks to support (whether through campaigning, communications, discussion, negotiation or legal process) those who are, or would be, newly affected by aircraft in airport ‘catchment areas’. Formed in response to changes made to Gatwick departure Route 4 in May 2016, the founders of Plane Justice have experienced on a personal level the stress, anxiety and sense of hopelessness and financial insecurity that changing flight paths causes to communities. The group describes the current iteration of Route 4 as the “Route to Misery”, with a noisy turn and a more southern trajectory after the turn, which overflies more than 7,000 new residents. They want to bring an evidence-based and ethical dimension into decision making about the management of airspace, which in their experience to date of Gatwick and its associated aircraft noise, has been surprisingly lacking. Many people feel there has been a serious injustice in the way areas have been targeted by unacceptable levels of aircraft noise. Plane Justice wants Gatwick’s hated “Route 4” to be returned to its pre-2013 “legacy” position, which was flown for decades with negligible complaints.

Click here to view full story…

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Sweden should face down industry myths about the impact of an air travel tax, and impose it

There is a great interest in Sweden on which decisions will be taken regarding aviation tax. For European airlines, resistance to air taxes is a top priority. Andrew Murphy, Manager at Aviation at Transport & Environment (T&E) believes Sweden must resist industry pressure and intimidation, and not cut the taxes.  In every country, in Europe the airline industry lobbies in the same way: say the tax threaten job losses, say it’ll destroy the economy, and threaten to shut down routes if governments don’t drop attempts to tax. The UK’s air passenger duty (APD), first introduced in 1994, has withstood all onslaughts while its airline sector has thrived. Now it’s Sweden’s turn to be subject to this economic scaremongering. For airlines, low taxes  mean slightly cheaper tickets, so more passengers and more money for the industry. And more CO2 of course. industry arguments have very little basis in reality, and are rarely backed up with any credible evidence. In the UK a tax of £13 per return flight for an adult really is not enough to stop anyone travelling to Europe. Nor will a tax of £7 – 37 in Sweden. The industry likes to make out that the tax is wicked and damaging, and everyone deserves a tax break at the expense of all the others who don’t fly. The industry already pays no VAT, no fuel duty and only the most minimal charges for carbon under the EU ETS.
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Sweden should face down industry myths

This blog post was originally published on SvD.

There is a great interest in Sweden on which decisions will be taken regarding aviation tax. For European airlines, the resistance to air taxes is a top priority. But Sweden must resist industry pressure and intimidation, writes Andrew Murphy, Manager at Aviation at Transport & Environment (T&E).

Whichever the country, the industry formula is the same: threaten job losses, say it’ll destroy the economy, and claim it’s not worth the hassle.
Even better if an airline can threaten to shut down routes if governments don’t back off. The aviation industry’s opposition to ticket taxes, no matter how modest they might be, is the same across Europe.

As a pan-European NGO, we’ve seen this tactic played out across the continent;  always the same themes, often the same tired analysis but fortunately with only patchy success. The UK’s air passenger duty, first introduced in 1994, has withstood all onslaughts while its airline sector has thrived. Now it’s Sweden’s turn to be subject to this economic scaremongering. We hope you’ll face it down.

We are not surprised by these tactics. After all less tax means cheaper tickets, more passengers, more flights and more money for the industry. And more CO2 of course. The problem is that the industry arguments have very little basis in reality, and are rarely backed up with any credible evidence. They also rest on the assumption that somehow the aviation sector is special and that people who fly (predominantly the relatively well off) deserve a tax break at the expense of all the others who don’t fly.

A debate on climate and tax policy will always contain a lot of competing claims relating to numbers and impact. So let’s start with a little common sense. A tax of between 80 krona (about £6.90) and 430 krona (about £37)  will have only a modest impact on someone’s decision to travel. This is especially the case for business travellers, who are rarely price sensitive. This is confirmed by research from Scotland, where there is growing opposition to its government’s proposal to reduce the UK air passenger duty. One report found that an estimated one-third of flyers are business travellers and so won’t be influenced by a minimal increase in ticket prices.

Further international experience backs this up. Germany introduced a similar tax in 2011 and research conducted by its parliament found only minimal impact on passenger numbers – in fact, passenger numbers continued to grow in the years after the tax’s introduction. It shouldn’t be forgotten that both the UK and Germany are among Europe’s wealthiest and fastest growing economies. And together they cover half the EU’s aviation market. Industry may want to explain why their predictions of economic demise haven’t occurred in these countries.

The other frequently cited example is Ireland with claims that its tax, introduced in 2008, precipitated an enormous decline in passenger numbers. As someone who lived in Ireland at the time, I’m fairly confident when I say that the historic economic collapse, including a trebling in the unemployment rate, probably had more to do with a falloff in passenger numbers than the €2 and €10 tax.

As an environmental NGO, you may then ask why do we support a ticket tax that has only a minimal impact on flying? The two answers to this are urgency and equity.

The urgency of addressing climate change is clear to all rational policy makers, and Sweden’s recent climate bill is evidence of Swedish policy makers taking this seriously. But such urgency needs to be especially focused on the aviation sector, which despite being the most carbon-intensive mode of transport, continues its rapid growth. In fact its emissions have soared 40% in Sweden since 1990 – and have almost doubled as a share of Swedish emissions from 2.8% to 5.2%. Any policies which can arrest even a portion of this growth, while having minimal economic impact, should be pursued.

The equity argument is a powerful one. Aviation enjoys exemptions from both fuel duty and VAT, an exemption not enjoyed by other transport modes. VAT exemptions are meant for social necessities like baby nappies and school books. Not flights. Airlines also pay only minimal sums under the EU emissions trading system (as little as 25 euro cent for some flights), and in fact most of its emissions are exempt from this policy. Industry has resisted change to this status quo, using every means available, right up to court challenges, to protect their special treatment.

Not only is this favourable tax treatment directed at the most carbon-intensive industry, but it also happens to be an industry used disproportionately by the well-off. One study in the UK found that 70% of flights are taken by the same 15% of the population. In fact only an estimated 5% of the world’s population have ever flown. These tax exemptions are counterproductive – they incentivise flying which is the quickest and cheapest way anyone can warm the planet. They also disproportionately pamper the well off at the expense of all others. Any organisations or individuals concerned with the equity of climate change should champion Sweden’s decision to introduce a ticket tax.

There is a huge focus on what Sweden decides to do. One major European airline association has listed opposing ticket taxes as one of its highest priorities. But Sweden should face down this industry pressure and scaremongering. Adding ticket taxes to its list of impressive policies, such as its recent climate bill, will ensure Sweden remains a world leader in taking practical action to address climate change.

https://www.transportenvironment.org/newsroom/blog/sweden-should-face-down-industry-myths

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See earlier:

Swedish government commission proposes climate tax (about £6.50 – £29) on air fares

A commission appointed by the Swedish has recommended that airlines operating in Sweden should pay a tax of between 80 and 430 Swedish crowns ($9-47 or £6.80 to £29) per passenger per flight to compensate for carbon emissions. One the levy is instituted, the cost of a domestic flight would rise by 80 crowns and an international flight by 280 to 430 crowns (£24 – 29), depending on the distance of the flight.  Currently in Sweden airlines pay VAT of 6% on domestic flights while international flights are exempt from VAT.  Predictably, the centre-left government’s plans for an airline tax have been criticised by opposition parties who say it would do little to reduce CO2 and would harm the airline industry, by very slightly reducing demand.  The government is expected to incorporate a form of the proposal, possibly amended, within their next autumn budget in October 2017. The Swedish commission proposed that the tax come into force on January 1, 2018 and it would be expected to raise around 1.75 billion Swedish crowns  (about £150 million) per year.  Many other countries have charges for flights, at different levels, and for different reasons. These include Australia, Norway, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Hong Kong.  Details at link below.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/12/swedish-government-commission-proposes-climate-tax-about-6-50-29-on-air-fares/

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Councils that have spent £350k fighting Heathrow expansion plans ‘doing taxpayers a favour’

Local authorities that are badly affected already by Heathrow are having to spend large amounts of money, in trying to oppose a 3rd runway. The cost to the boroughs if the runway was in operation could be huge (road costs, housing, health, noise, congestion, social impacts etc etc). The councils may have to spend £350,000 on a joint legal challenge against the government’s plans for the runway.  Though this may sound a lot, it is probably dong taxpayers a favour, in trying to save massive future costs. A FoI request revealed Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon councils spent £300,000 from their general funds, and Windsor and Maidenhead Council spent £50,000 from its development fund. Hillingdon Council has also earmarked a contingency budget of £200,000 in case of future legal action regarding the expansion, and Wandsworth Council has set aside £25,000.  The government spent £3.8 million over 18 months on consultants, working on 3rd runway plans. The anticipated cost of necessary surface access infrastructure for the runway could be £15 billion, and that is likely to have to be paid by taxpayers (across the UK, not merely in London or the south east). Robert Barnstone, co-ordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “These 4 local authorities are in fact doing British taxpayers a favour trying to stop this overwhelmingly burdensome amount of money being spent.”
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Councils who have spent £350k fighting Heathrow expansion plans ‘doing taxpayers a favour’

Councils’ £350k spend fighting Heathrow expansion ‘doing taxpayers a favour’

21.4.2017
By Calum Rutter (Richmond and Twickenham Times)

Local authorities spending £350,000 fighting Heathrow’s planned third runway are ‘doing taxpayers a favour’, according to an anti-expansion campaigner.

A freedom of information request first reported by the BBC revealed Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon councils spent £300,000 from their general funds, and Windsor and Maidenhead Council spent £50,000 from its development fund.

Hillingdon Council has also earmarked a contingency budget of £200,000 in case of future legal action regarding the expansion, and Wandsworth Council has set aside £25,000.
Robert Barnstone, coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, responded to the report, saying: “Heathrow expansion will cost British taxpayers up to £18 billion in order to pay for infrastructure upgrades that would be required to deliver the project.”

Estimates of the cost of the road and rail infrastructure needed to accommodate the runway vary – the Airports Commission has put it at £5-6bn and Transport for London has put it at £18bn.

Mr Barnstone said, referring to information revealed by a freedom of information request by the Press Association in January: “We know the Government has already spent more than £10,000 per day in 2015 and 2016 on assessing Heathrow expansion, not to mention the cost of the glamourous consultation that has been running for the past two months.

“These four local authorities are in fact doing British taxpayers a favour trying to stop this overwhelmingly burdensome amount of money being spent.

“There are 470,000 households across the four boroughs – that’s just 75p per household. It is a small price to pay to fight plans that would devastate many people’s lives, not least those thousands of people that would lose their homes, but also the hundreds of thousands of people that would become exposed to Heathrow aircraft noise and the reduction in air pollution that the extra 250,000 planes per year would bring.

“Many thousands of residents are pleased that their local council is standing up for them whilst the Government is spending many millions pushing forward a project that cannot be delivered.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Delivering new runway capacity in the south east is vital to the future of the UK, helping boost our economy and our position on the world stage.

“We want to hear everyone’s views on the consultation currently underway, which will close as planned on 25th May.

“The consultation sets out the benefits and potential impacts of expansion, and is accompanied by a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures to support local communities.”

http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/15238808.Councils____350k_spend_fighting_Heathrow_expansion__doing_taxpayers_a_favour_/

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See earlier:

Government spent ‘eye-watering’ £10k a day (£3.8m so far…) on legal etc consultants over 3rd runway

The Government has been criticised for the DfT spending an average of £10,000 per day on consultants and law firms to decide if a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. The DfT is reported to have spent more than £3.8million on external firms since the Airport Commission published a report in July 2015, saying Heathrow was the best location for a new runway. A FoI request by the Press Association showed that the lion’s share of the money has gone to financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, who filed 4 invoices totalling £1.46 million, which were paid between July last year and October 2016.  Law firm DLA Piper UK was also paid £1.09 million between August 2015 and October 2016, while Allen & Overy received £152,955.60 between January and September this year.  Professional services firm Ernst & Young filed 2 invoices worth £138,765 for consultancy work, paid between March and August 2016.  New MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, said: “These are eye-watering sums, over £10,000 a day, to pay consultants for an airport people don’t want.” For this runway “the people lose out and the only gainers are highly paid consultants.” Taxpayers’ money has been wasted by the DfT despite deciding “long before it was going to be Heathrow whatever the evidence”. Far, far more public money will also be spent, if the runway went ahead.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/01/government-spent-eye-watering-10k-a-day-3-8m-so-far-on-legal-etc-consultants-over-3rd-runway/

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Back Heathrow complains Hillingdon has to spend money fighting runway – refuses to say how much funding it gets from Heathrow

The “astroturf” group (not actually a real community group) Back Heathrow gets its funding from Heathrow.  It refuses to say how much money it gets from the airport. John Holland-Kaye has in the past also refused to say how much it contributes.  Back Heathrow is complaining that Hillingdon borough has spent a lot of money on its campaigns against the 3rd runway. This is money that the borough is being forced to spend, because of the activities of Heathrow, against which it has to defend its residents. The account for Back Heathrow show it has around £154,000 in the bank; it has assets of around £653,000; it gives its net worth as about £482,000; its current liabilities are shown as – £171,000; and it only has one employee, Rob Gray.  No activity is reported, and no turnover is reported. Back in December 2014 the  Sunday Times revealed that Back Heathrow had had at least £100,000 from the airport, but no details are ever given.  Back Heathrow says, rather bizarrely, that ‘It would not be fair to publish the amounts given’.  Their next accounts will be published on 31st March 2017. Being private companies, the sums cannot be extracted through FoI.  Hillingdon Council makes its figures public, and has defended its campaigning, saying it is representing the views of residents.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/01/back-heathrow-complains-hillingdon-has-to-spend-money-fighting-runway-refuses-to-say-how-much-funding-it-gets-from-heathrow/

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Greenpeace to join with 4 councils in legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a joint legal challenge against Heathrow expansion.  More claimants could join the alliance in the coming days as media reports have suggested a final decision has now been delayed until 25th October.  Greenpeace and the four local authorities say both Heathrow expansion schemes would be unlawful due to their unrivalled environmental impacts, which include exacerbating illegal levels of air pollution, increasing Europe’s worst aircraft noise footprint and stretching the local transport network beyond breaking point. The councils jointly instructed Harrison Grant Solicitors to prepare their legal strategy last year and Greenpeace will now share costs and bring new environmental expertise to the partnership. The campaigners also worked together back in 2010 to successfully overturn the Brown Government’s backing for a 3rd runway in the High Court. Later that year the scheme was emphatically ruled out by the incoming Cameron Government.  Heathrow current expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. New evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/10/greenpeace-to-join-with-4-councils-in-legal-challenge-against-heathrow-3rd-runway/

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Theresa May’s local council, Windsor & Maidenhead, vows court fight if she backs Heathrow runway

The Tory leader of Theresa May’s own local council, Windsor and Maidenhead, has vowed to use “all necessary financial resources” for a High Court battle to block a third runway at Heathrow.  Councillor Simon Dudley, Leader of the council, pledged the legal action to protect residents “irrespective of who the Prime Minister is”.  He has joined forces with Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Hillingdon councils for the looming court battle if the Government backs Heathrow expansion. “We have very significant financial resources,” he said. “We will put all the necessary financial resources behind a vigorous legal action.”  The Council’s lawyers, Harrison Grant, wrote to David Cameron this year warning him that his “no ifs, no buts” promise before the 2010 general election to oppose a third runway had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that the project would not go ahead. So if it were given the green light, they argued, it would be an “abuse of power correctable by the courts”.  Mr Dudley said Windsor and Maidenhead had allocated £30,000 for the legal battle and signalled that this could rise to hundreds of thousands.  The council’s concerns include more pollution, noise and traffic as well as extra housing needs created by a larger Heathrow.  A recent poll in the areas suggested around 38% opposed the runway, with 34% in favour of it.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/09/theresa-mays-local-council-windsor-maidenhead-vows-court-fight-if-she-backs-heathrow-runway/

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Day 17 of Neil’s walk to Scotland – through the Northumberland National Park

21st April: Day 17 of Neil Keveren’s 400 mile walk from Harmondsworth to Edinburgh. Neil is less than a week away from his destination, Edinburgh. His body is holding up but he is facing the toughest part of his walk, with the weather forecast next week talking about Arctic winds (headwinds) and thunderstorms! Neil has blogged about what it has been like walking through the Northumberland National Park. “Strong winds today and I have my waterproofs on. It’s so hilly! I’ve been on this same road now for days and it takes some getting used to. When I look at the road ahead I’m aware that I have to walk as far as the eye can see. When I look behind me I see a vast stretch of road that I’ve walked. …The landscape is stunning. A bonus on this walk has been absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. … It’s also been good to have so much support on the road – not just from Ray in the van. Drivers beep me and people on the street stop to wish me well. A few people have walked along for a while to keep me company and have chat. Perhaps the most unusual though was a flock of sheep who walked their boundary with me – I think they liked my hi-vis. … Today was a tough walking day, with serious hills on one long, mostly Roman, route.”
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Day 17 – The long and not winding road – Neil’s walk to Scotland

21.4.2017  (Stop Heathrow Expansion SHE blog on Neil’s Walk to Scotland)

It’s Day 17, 21st April, and Neil is less than a week away from his destination, Edinburgh. His body is holding up but he is facing the toughest part of his walk. He may not realise it but the weather forecast for next week talks about Arctic winds and thunderstorms! Here he tells us what it’s been like walking through the Northumberland National Park.


If you look closely you can see the No Third Runway van (and Ray waiting patiently inside)

“Strong winds today and I have my waterproofs on. It’s so hilly! I’ve been on this same road now for days and it takes some getting used to. When I look at the road ahead I’m aware that I have to walk as far as the eye can see. When I look behind me I see a vast stretch of road that I’ve walked.

“The landscape is stunning. A bonus on this walk has been absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. I’ve also been blessed with some decent weather for the walk through England.

“It’s also been good to have so much support on the road – not just from Ray in the van. Drivers beep me and people on the street stop to wish me well. A few people have walked along for a while to keep me company and have chat. Perhaps the most unusual though was a flock of sheep who walked their boundary with me – I think they liked my hi-vis.”


Ray filling his lungs with some clean air – something denied to people living near Heathrow

“I usually take a ‘shut-down’ photo at the end of the day, but not tonight. We did the full 20-mile route today and booked into a campsite. As soon as we arrived I got straight into the sock washing and showering routine to get it out of the way. So I’ll send a picture of the camp in the morning. I’ve no internet on the tablet right now.

“We are 7 miles short of the Scottish border, that’s seventy-ish miles short of Edinburgh. Today was a tough walking day, with serious hills on one long, mostly Roman, route. Feet and legs are good though.

“Each day I’ve been adding a few miles to the original schedule as I know the terrain in Scotland is going to be tougher. I’m now about 25 miles ahead of where I’d expected to be at this stage. I might have to cut the mileage a bit as I don’t want to arrive in Edinburgh too early. Let me see what tomorrow’s hills are like.”


On the A68 – Camien Cafe, Rochester, Northumberland National Park

By CHRISTINE TAYLOR and Neil Keveren
APRIL 21, 2017

http://stopheathrowexpansion.co.uk/scotlandwalk/april2017/2017/4/21/day-17

and other blogs along the walk at

http://stopheathrowexpansion.co.uk/scotlandwalk/april2017/

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