Neil Spurrier, a resident in Teddington, a member of the Teddington Action Group (TAG) has given notice that he is seeking a Judicial Review, in the event of Parliament voting in favour of the Airports NPS, to give consent to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Teddington is already very badly affected by noise, when the airport is operating on easterlies. A 3rd runway would make the noise problem far worse. Neil’s letter to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, says: “I am intending to bring a claim for Judicial Review should the National Policy Statement be put before Parliament and subsequently designated as a National Policy Statement in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act 2008.” The Matter being challenged is: “The Designation of the National Policy Statement of new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England and in particular the choice of Heathrow airport for expansion with a third runway. I would intend to ask the Court for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and would ask for a prohibiting order prohibiting the continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement.”
The letter to the DfT says:
Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England
I am writing to you as a member of the public affected by the above National Policy Statement and the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport by the addition of a third runway. I am a member of a local residents’ group called the Teddington Action Group, formed in 2014 to afford people a voice in connection with the operations of Heathrow and opposing its proposed expansion.
This letter is written according to the provisions of the Civil Procedure Rules and the Pre Action Protocol for Judicial Review applications.
I am intending to bring a claim for Judicial Review should the National Policy Statement be put before Parliament and subsequently designated as a National Policy Statement in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act 2008.
Matter being challenged
The Designation of the National Policy Statement of new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England and in particular the choice of Heathrow airport for expansion with a third runway. I would intend to ask the Court for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and would ask for a prohibiting order prohibiting the continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement.
The Grounds for asking for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and asking for a prohibiting order prohibiting the 3 continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement are:
The National Policy Statement and Decision to recommend expansion of Heathrow:
1) Is biased, unjustifiably favours the Heathrow North West Runway, was presented to Parliament without disclosure of the full facts and does not contain the recommendations of Parliament through its Transport Committee
2) Will interfere with the use of our property as well as others their property through extra noise and pollution in breach of Article 1 of the First Protocol European Convention on Human Rights
3) Will interfere with our family and private life through unwarranted noise and pollution in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
4) Will breach the provisions of EU Regulation 2008/50 by increasing the concentration of NO2 and poisonous particulates
5) Will breach the treaty obligations of the Kyoto Protocol, the provisions of the Climate Change Act 2008, and the obligations of the Paris Agreement by increasing the emission of greenhouse gases so that our treaty obligations will not be met
6) Will place an unjustifiable burden upon the public purse by pursuing a scheme that will require public funding when it should not require public funding and where there has been a representation that there will be no public funding
Details that I am asking the Secretary of State to take
Not to put the proposed National Policy Statement before Parliament and not to designate it as a National Policy Statement
With the vote on a possible 3rd Heathrow runway expected on 25th June, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer write, in the Financial Times, of the very serious doubts over how the runway could be funded. They say: “Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the 3rd runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 -7%.” And …”investors have been pulling out more in dividends than Heathrow has been earning. Last year they received a payout of £847m even though post tax profits were just £516m, implying that the corporate debt was used, in part, to fund these returns.” … And “A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019.” … The Airports Commission said it could saddle Heathrow with up to £27 billion of debt. Ford also questions the opaque structure of Heathrow, with at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited ….and shareholders.”
Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn third runway?
Fears mount that taxpayers and passengers will be landed with big chunk of bill
22.6.2018 (Financial Times)
By Gill Plimmer and Jonathan Ford
– Leveraged structure seen as inappropriate for such a large project – London mayor Sadiq Khan joins legal action against expansion – Role of the regulator could be key
When Heathrow airport was originally proposed in wartime as “an airfield near London capable of accommodating heavy transport aircraft of the latest type”, the cabinet did not take long to reach its decision.
Notes of its meeting on November 12 1943 laconically authorise construction at the cost of 130 houses and some land “now used to grow vegetables”.
The main concern of ministers was the need to move a recently built sludge works belonging to Middlesex county council. This had taken “two years to complete and cost £500,000”.
MPs preparing to vote on Heathrow’s latest expansion plan on Monday must wish their only worries were a few lost market gardens and an inconveniently sited sewage plant.
Instead, they face many more contentious and costly hurdles. Finally proposed after a decade of wearisome debate, the contentious Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme is by a factor of 2 the most expensive option of the three considered.
It involves lavishing £14bn or more on a third runway that will have to bridge 12 lanes of the nation’s busiest motorway while keeping traffic flowing. It will also entail further billions in spending to upgrade train and road access links to what is already a highly-congested airport.
What puzzles onlookers is how these astronomical sums will be paid for.
Despite public recognition that more runway capacity is needed in south-east England, support for enlarging Heathrow has always been lukewarm. Propriety and EU law mean keeping public contributions to a minimum.
Fragile balance sheet
But there are doubts about Heathrow’s ability to raise the money given the fragile state of its balance sheet and the fear for MPs is that passengers and taxpayers might somehow get stuck with a big chunk of the bill.
Ever since Britain privatised its airports in 1986, infrastructure improvements have been the responsibility of private-sector owners. EU rules clarified in 2014 have further circumscribed the ability of governments to provide state aid to privately owned companies.
“If you have a lot of debt on your balance sheet you are less able to absorb any shocks.”
Martin Blaiklock, infrastructure consultant
Since 2006, when Heathrow’s then-listed owner BAA was removed from the stock market, the airport has been owned by a consortium led by the listed but family-controlled Spanish construction company Ferrovial. This has steadily expanded and now includes sovereign wealth funds from Singapore, Qatar and China, and the UK’s own Universities Superannuation Scheme Pension Fund.
The regulatory system surrounding airports allows owners to collect a return based on the regulatory value of their assets — inadvertently encouraging them to expand regardless of whether it makes sense.
This stable framework has allowed Heathrow to operate with almost no equity capital. According to Heathrow Airport Holdings’ 2017 accounts, borrowings stand at £13.4bn — not far shy of the £15bn value of its regulatory asset base. Equity stood at just £703m.
Problem with leveraged structure
Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the third runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 and 7 per cent.
There is scope to help bankroll the project by raising the charges Heathrow levies on airlines and passengers, a prospect that has prompted alarm from airlines.
Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, British Airways’ parent company, has fiercely opposed the runway and has said he has “zero confidence” that it will be built on time and on budget.
The government has not ruled out increases, pledging only “to keep airport charges as close as possible to current levels”. These are already high— some 40 per cent more than competing European hub airports. Further rises might encourage airlines to move, making it harder to fill the new capacity.
Martin Blaiklock, an infrastructure consultant and former project banker, believes that Heathrow needs substantially more equity capital. He accuses investors of “gradually stripping the company of assets, so that the company is close to being “bust”.
“The current (unsecured) creditors could bring LHR to its knees by demanding immediate repayment,” he said.
“If you have a lot of debt on your balance sheet you are less able to absorb any shocks such as cost overruns because you still have to keep paying the interest, whereas, if such costs are funded by shareholder equity, you can just stop paying distributions.”
Heathrow already needs to raise a lot of debt simply to stand still. Around a third of its borrowings — some £4.5bn — will fall due within the next five years. And while the rating agency Moody’s has given the company a stable rating, it noted that “this high level of maturities and the company’s high leverage limit its ability to withstand unexpected external shocks.”
A spokesperson for Heathrow said the airport is “backed by the biggest long-term investors in the world with over $1tn of funds under management”.
“We have an investment-grade credit rating and will maintain that position with new shareholder equity as we expand. Our shareholders have shown their commitment to Britain by making Heathrow a world-class airport, continuing to invest throughout the global financial crisis. They are exactly the people you want behind a £14bn investment in critical national infrastructure and will help us deliver it affordably.”
How much debt will the markets cover
Moody’s was sanguine about the airport’s ability to raise capital. Andrew Blease, associate managing director, argued that the airport’s large and powerful shareholders — particularly the cash-rich sovereign wealth funds — should be willing to inject more equity into what they see as a “trophy asset”.
But Ferrovial, which owns a 25 per cent stake, may be more reluctant — especially after its construction earnings almost halved last year following a £48m loss on the M8 upgrade in Scotland. Ferrovial declined to comment.
A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019.
According to the UK Airports Commission, an independent body set up in 2012 to consider how the UK can “maintain its status as an international hub for aviation”, the new runway could saddle Heathrow with as much as £27bn of debt.
Critics also question the propriety of Heathrow’s complex and opaque structure given its privileged status as an infrastructure asset of national importance, first built by the state. There are at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited — which is licensed by the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority — and shareholders.
Heathrow has yet to provide a breakdown of the cost of the runway though it has tried to address airlines’ concerns by cutting the cost of the project by £2.5bn to £14bn.
This excludes likely cost overruns, legal claims and a dispute with the state-funded Transport for London over who will foot the bill for at least an additional £10bn on delivering new public transport infrastructure to accommodate the 50 per cent increase in demand and secure a significant shift away from car journeys, as well as burying the M25 in a tunnel.
On Thursday, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said he would join legal action brought by local councils against Heathrow airport expansion if parliament votes in favour of a third runway next week.
Heathrow’s promised contribution of just £1bn towards the surrounding infrastructure could also be challenged under complex state aid rules.
Key role of the regulator
Much depends on decisions from the CAA, which has — like the water regulator Ofwat— largely been indifferent to the capital structure of its regulated providers. It has yet to set out the charges Heathrow will be allowed to levy to fund expansion.
“How the regulator manages the charges before and after construction will drive how much the company has to borrow to finance construction,” said one lawyer advising on the project who declined to be named.
“The regulator could construct a charging framework where the airport wouldn’t need to raise charges — by extending the capital expenditure over a much longer period than the construction itself, for example,” he said.
But he acknowledged that this raised ethical questions. “If you’ve stripped out all the profits and dividends, and then you get a regulatory settlement that supports your new capital structures that really is having your cake and eating it,” he said. “Taxpayers are not funding them directly, but ultimately we will end up paying whether it’s through the price of a beer in the airport or the cost of the ticket.”
The CAA said it continued to develop the regulatory framework and expects “capacity expansion at Heathrow to be delivered in a way that is timely, affordable, financeable and, critically, in the interest of consumers”.
FT’s Jonathan Ford on massive doubts over Heathrow’s ability to fund its runway – without huge subsidy from taxpayers
June 10, 2018
Jonathan Ford, the City Editor of the Financial Times (who knows a thing or two about finance) on the Heathrow runway scheme. It would cost at least £14 billion (probably more with inevitable over-spends), and as Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in Europe, its ability to claw back money is limited – anyway, it cannot get airlines and passengers to pay until the runway is built and operating. Despite sales of some of its airports, totalling more than £4bn, its debt was still £13.4 billion in 2017. And “Heathrow’s 2017 accounts record a dividend of £847m for shareholders last year on after-tax profits of just £516m, implying that dividends were partially funded by taking on yet more corporate debt.” Shareholders are not going to be happy to receive almost no dividend for several years. “Heathrow might try to ease the burden by discreetly pressing for public subsidy, figuring that once the state is committed to the 3rd runway it will not want to see the project come off the rails. The government should stand firm. Its decision to pick the most expensive of three runway options on the table was always predicated on the idea that all could be financed without state support.”
The No 3rd Runway Coalition will be at the Scottish Parliament on 21st June, to urge the SNP to change their position on supporting the Heathrow third runway proposal and to send the UK Government a message to ‘think again’. Campaigners will be joined by MSPs from Scottish Greens, Labour and Lib Dems, to highlight the environmental damage to Scotland and the rest of the UK that building a third runway would mean, as well as the fact that Scottish airports would suffer as a result. Campaigners also believe that the SNP appear to be too trusting of UK Government promises – particularly in relation to the impact on Climate Change commitments – as revealed by Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, in response to a question from Patrick Harvie MSP in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation seriously calls into question the economic case – using the Department for Transport’s own measures; and this is before taking into account the economic impact of Brexit. Expansion at Heathrow will negatively impact Scottish airports, as any growth will be routed through London and not direct to international markets that could instead be served.
Calls for Scotland to re-think support for Heathrow ahead of crunch vote on 25th
21.6.2018 (No 3rd Runway Coalition)
The No 3rd Runway Coalition will be at the Scottish Parliament today to urge the SNP to change their position on supporting the Heathrow third runway proposal and to send the UK Government a message to ‘think again’ (1).
Campaigners also believe that the SNP appear to be too trusting of UK Government promises – particularly in relation to the impact on Climate Change commitments – as revealed by Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, in response to a question from Patrick Harvie MSP in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday (3).
The Labour party announced their formal opposition to the proposal on Wednesday, on the basis that the UK Government’s Airports National Policy Statement failed all four of party’s tests on climate change, delivering extra capacity, air pollution and benefits to be felt outside of London (4).
Additionally, the long-awaited UK Government mitigation framework for international aviation emissions won’t be published for many months after MPs have been asked to support the Heathrow proposal.
Rob Barnstone of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:
“Plans to expand Heathrow will be to the detriment of Scotland. It puts at risk the Scottish Government’s own tough climate change targets, which would be impossible to achieve with Heathrow expansion. The Scottish government shouldn’t be so trusting of the Tory Government in Westminster.
“Expansion at Heathrow will also impact Scottish airports, as any growth will be routed through London and not direct to international markets that could instead be served.
“Promises about the number of jobs created are based on figures that were published well before Brexit.”
“Scottish politicians should not support this project and we urge MPs in the UK Parliament to vote down the proposals on Monday.”
In support of its airports national policy statement, the United Kingdom Government has analysed the impact on carbon emissions and other environmental factors from the proposed third runway at Heathrow. Alongside publication of the national policy statement on 5 June, the UK Government published an appraisal of sustainability, which estimates that emissions could increase significantly if no mitigating measures are taken. The Scottish Government has noted that analysis and the UK Government’s view that a new third runway is deliverable within its international carbon commitments. The UK Government has stated that it will not proceed with a third runway unless the delivery of such commitments is achievable.
I am astonished that the Scottish Government, which is apparently seeking to increase the scale of its ambition on climate change, is relying on the complacency that is being shown by the UK Government. The UK Government has clearly been told that pressing ahead with the project will make its own UK-wide climate targets unachievable. Building a third runway is the most environmentally destructive method of increasing aviation capacity, and the Scottish Government’s estimates suggest that it will increase the number of short-haul flights between Scotland and Heathrow. Is this not the most recklessly complacent infrastructure project in the UK? Is the Scottish Government not due genuine criticism for listening to its lobbyists at the Scottish National Party conference, who throw a free bar and expect the Scottish Government to fall in line behind this damaging, unnecessary and destructive project?
Junior trade minister Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham)has resigned from the Conservative government to oppose expansion of Heathrow. The vote in Parliament on whether to build the runway will be on Monday. Greg said he had pledged to his electorate to oppose a 3rd runway, at the 2017 election, and he would keep his word and honour his pledges. The borough would be badly over-flown if Heathrow was allowed to expand. It had been thought that ministers with constituencies directly affected could have been allowed to miss the vote. However, the Government will be whipping the vote. The highest profile opponent of Heathrow expansion in the cabinet is Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it happening. However, in a cowardly and discreditable manner, he is shirking his responsibilities to stand up to his claims, by engineering an overseas appointment on Monday, to be out of the country. [Snout too firmly in trough, and enjoying his important high kudos job ….] Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson suggested on Twitter that Mr Hands’ resignation should prompt the prime minister to allow her MPs a free vote. Greg has, in the past, held a range of other responsible ministerial roles.
Greg Hands quits as minister over Heathrow expansion
Image copyrightUK PARLIAMENT
Junior trade minister Greg Hands has resigned from the government to oppose expansion of Heathrow Airport.
The vote on whether to build a third runway at the airport west of London is due to be held on Monday.
Mr Hands, who represents the Chelsea and Fulham constituency in London, said he had pledged to oppose the new runway at the 2017 election.
It had been thought that ministers with constituencies directly affected could have been allowed to miss the vote.
As the Government will be whipping the vote on Monday, this means I am resigning from the Government. It has been an honour to serve the Prime Minister (and her predecessor) for the last 7 years and I wish the PM & the Government every continuing success.
I wrote to the PM earlier this week on how I will honour these 2017 General Election pledges to the people of Chelsea & Fulham and vote against the Heathrow 3rd runway on Monday.
End of Twitter post by @GregHands
The highest profile opponent of Heathrow expansion in the cabinet is Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it happening.
But Mr Johnson is scheduled to be out of the UK on Monday so will not be attending the vote in the House of Commons.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson suggested on Twitter that Mr Hands’ resignation should prompt the prime minister to allow her MPs a free vote: “It’s not too late for her to change whipping arrangements. This would also allow Boris Johnson to re-enter the country.”
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said the foreign secretary should quit too:
If Boris Johnson has a backbone, or a shred of credibility left, he will join Greg Hands in resigning. #Heathrow
As the Government will be whipping the vote on Monday, this means I am resigning from the Government. It has been an honour to serve the Prime Minister (and her predecessor) for the last 7 years and I wish the PM & the Government every continuing success. https://twitter.com/greghands/status/1009741396243353601 …
Labour is also divided on the controversial issue, with members of the party’s leadership, such as shadow chancellor John McDonnell, opposed to it, but high profile trade union backers in favour. The party’s MPs are being allowed to vote however they want to on the issue.
The SNP are in favour of Heathrow expansion, with the Lib Dems opposed and with the government deciding to whip (order) Conservative MPs to vote in favour, it is widely expected that the expansion plan will get Commons backing.
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Hands, who has held various ministerial roles and was chief secretary to the Treasury under David Cameron, had “served the government with great ability and distinction over several years, and we thank him for all of his work”.
He added: “This government is committed to expanding airport capacity at Heathrow – this is an important decision which will play a crucial role in securing the future of global Britain.”
The debate on expanding Heathrow has been going on for nearly 20 years.
The last Labour government backed the idea, and won a vote on it in 2009, but that plan was scrapped – and the idea of expansion put on hold for five years – by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition formed after the 2010 election.
But the idea of expansion was resurrected and has been subsequently backed by the Conservatives.
Ministers approved a draft national airports policy statement in October but Parliament has to give its approval for detailed planning to begin.
Campaigners argue that a new runway will breach the UK’s legal limits on air pollution and increase noise pollution with an extra 700 planes a day.
It will result in huge disruption to residents of nearby villages, such as Longford, Harmondsworth and Sipson, with hundreds of homes likely to be knocked down.
Robert Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, told the BBC the government was “failing people and failing the environment as well”.
Former Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who backs expanding Gatwick instead, suggested the idea of Heathrow as a national hub airport was outdated and the focus should be on improving regional capacity.
And Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who resigned his Richmond Park seat in 2016 over the issue and subsequently lost a by-election, said for many people “this doesn’t just look like a blank cheque being given by this government to a foreign-owned multinational, it looks like a whole book of cheques signed by our constituents”.
Commenting on the resignation from Government of Greg Hands MP, Paul McGuinness, Chair No 3rd runway Coalition, said:
“Greg Hands’ resignation is principled, and wholly enforced by the government’s decision not to allow a free vote, despite its earlier promises and u-turn from its previous position to oppose Heathrow expansion.”
A Downing Street source said: “He had been categoric to his constituents that he would vote against the third runway, so it is not a massive surprise that he has resigned. It is a three-line whip.”
Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, said: “Greg Hands’s resignation piles the pressure on Boris Johnson, who promised his constituents he would ‘lie down in front of the bulldozers’ to stop a third runway. Instead he is jetting off to Luxembourg on Monday to avoid the vote because he is too weak to stand by his promises.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Greg Hands has served the government with great ability and distinction over several years and we thank him for all his work. This government is committed to expanding airport capacity at Heathrow – this is an important decision which will play a crucial role in securing the future of [a] global Britain.”
The government’s plan to expand the west London airport is almost certain to get the green light in the Commons next week. Conservative MPs have been told there is a three-line whip to vote in favour of the proposed £14bn expansion. Labour MPs will get a free vote.
Johnson, the foreign secretary and one of the expansion’s most vocal opponents, is due to be abroad on the day of the vote, allowing him to escape having to choose between resignation and rebelling against Theresa May.
The former transport secretary Justine Greening, a fierce opponent of Heathrow, told the Guardian she was “very sad” Hands had been forced to quit. “It’s totally wrong that Conservative MPs are not allowed a free vote to represent their local longstanding concerns on Heathrow pollution,” she said.
“Other Conservative MPs have also voiced concerns to me about Heathrow expansion more broadly. If the secretary of state for transport was confident of his case he should allow a free vote. Because that’s not the case, the government has lost a very capable minister.”
Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham) urges DfT to ban Heathrow night flights from 11pm to 6am
March 10, 2017
Chelsea and Fulham MP (Cons) Greg Hands has urged DfT ministers to impose a ban on all night flights at Heathrow. Greg renewed calls for all planes to be grounded between 11pm and 6am, a period of 7 hours, and says he is frequently woken up at night by noise from aircraft passing over west London. In a letter to Lord Ahmed, the parliamentary under secretary of state for transport, Mr Hands argued that there should be a “comprehensive” ban on night flights at Heathrow. He said the lives of local people are being unfairly disrupted by the noise, and research from international health bodies, including the WHO and the BMJ, highlights the damaging impacts of sustained sleep deprivation on people’s wellbeing. “These Londoners have jobs to do and families to look after, for which they require a good night’s sleep.” A ban of flights for a 7 hour night period would “lessen the detrimental impact on hundreds of thousands of Londoners living beneath the flight path”. … “I find it unacceptable that the convenience, quality of sleep, and the health of millions of residents in London and the wider South East under the flight path is sacrificed for the sake of a few thousand inbound passengers per night”.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join the legal action brought by local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead)against Heathrow expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a 3rd runway on 25th June. (Hammersmith and Fulham Council has also recently indicated they would join.) Sadiq has reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and emphasised the significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils. The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, and TfL (Londoners) would have to find the money. The comprehensive recommendations on the NPS by the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.
Mayor ready to join legal action against third runway at Heathrow
21 June 2018
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join legal action brought by local councils against Heathrow Airport expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a third runway next week.
At Mayor’s Question Time this morning, Sadiq reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and highlighted the many obstacles in the way, including significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements.
Sadiq’s announcement builds on his previous support for the joint legal challenge by the affected borough councils – Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils, which Hammersmith and Fulham Council recently indicated they would join.
Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid airports combined. An expansion would mean the intolerable prospect of an extra 200,000 Londoners, including 124 schools and 43,200 schoolchildren, being exposed to an unacceptable level of noise every day.
This disturbs the everyday lives of Londoners, leading to health problems related to stress and sleep disturbance, with noise exposure for school children reducing reading levels and memory recall.
A third runway at Heathrow would also lead to even higher levels of toxic air in an area where pollution is already well above legal levels for NO2 emissions.
The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, compared to just £3bn more for Gatwick expansion.
The comprehensive recommendations of the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.
Alternatively, a second runway at Gatwick would require much less additional transport investment, and provide London and rest of the UK with all the economic benefits of expansion, while keeping air quality safe and within legal limits.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “While I believe in a better Heathrow, I do not believe a bigger Heathrow is the right answer for London and I remain committed to opposing such a short-sighted decision. There are no plans on how to deal with the valid concerns about Heathrow expansion.
“If the vote on Monday in Parliament goes in favour of a third runway, then it is my intention to join the legal action brought by the local authorities.
“This will be a critical moment, and for the sake of Londoners affected by poor air quality, disruption from noise and the costs needed to improve transport connections I will do what I can to stop these poor plans.
“The south east of England is in need of additional airport capacity, but I believe the Government is pressing ahead with the wrong decision to build a new runway at Heathrow. It is my view that a second runway at Gatwick is a better option.”
Sadiq has regularly made known his opposition to a third runway through formal consultations and correspondence to the Secretary of State. The Mayor will ensure that briefings will be provided to MPs to inform Monday’s debate and vote.
Commenting on London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement that City Hall will enjoin legal action against a third runway at Heathrow and the resignation from Government of Greg Hands MP, Paul McGuinness, Chair No 3rd runway Coalition, said:
“Last week it was Hammersmith and Fulham, this week it’s the Mayor of London, committing themselves to joining other councils in the legal challenge against a third runway.
The Government would be unwise to underestimate the determination of London’s authorities to defeat a third runway in the courts. Just as MPs would be foolish to allow this interminable process to drag on until it’s kiboshed there”.
“Greg Hands’ resignation is principled, and wholly enforced by the government’s decision not to allow a free vote, despite its earlier promises and u-turn from its previous position to oppose Heathrow expansion.”
Hammersmith & Fulham Council will join the 4 councils’ legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway
June 13, 2018
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Mayor criticises DfT’s lack of answers to fundamental questions on Heathrow
March 31, 2017
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has submitted evidence to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into the DfT’s draft NPS on a 3rd Heathrow runway. The Mayor said there would be unacceptable consequences for London; it would hamper efforts to improve London’s air quality; 200,000 more people would be exposed to noise while scheduled night flights could increase by at least a third; and there are no credible plans to maintain traffic levels or commitment for infrastructure to support 250% increase in public transport trips. He said ministers’ plans were based on the 3rd runway not being fully utilised – playing down the real impact. The government had ‘completely failed’, and was his duty to Londoners to oppose a third runway. He said: “The government has completely failed to demonstrate how Heathrow can be expanded without a severe noise, air quality and transport impact on London. The government’s position appears to be to simply hope for the best, with unproven plans that look to take advantage of unrelated improvements being made to air quality and public transport. It’s simply not good enough for one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, and it leaves me even more concerned about the prospect of Heathrow expansion on London and the UK.”
TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport
January 29, 2018
Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over the impact Heathrow expansion will have on the capital’s transport network, warning over significant crowding. In its surface access analysis (Jan 2018) TfL says a 3 runway Heathrow is expected to result in an extra 170,000 daily passenger and staff trips compared to now. While Heathrow has “pledged” that there would be no new airport related traffic on the roads compared to today, that can only mean a higher % of passengers using public transport. TfL has raised concerns over the feasibility of this – and what it will mean for London’s public transport. In order to achieve no rise in highway trips, TfL says around 65-70% of trips would need to be on public transport. That would work out as a 210% increase on journeys at present. TfL believes a 3-runway Heathrow would probably generate 90,000 extra vehicle trips along with another 100,000 extra public transport trips each day. That is likely to mean bad over-crowding of roads for non-airport users. In the morning peak for travel, there would be a 3 – 5% rise in average highway journey times across west London as far in as Westminster. For rail passengers it would mean “significant levels of crowding” on the Elizabeth Line, Piccadilly Line and Windsor lines.
The Labour Party has announced that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet Labour’s Four Tests for Heathrow expansion. Their support for a 3rd Heathrow runway has always been conditional on 4 well-established tests being met. These are (1). That increased capacity will be delivered. (2) That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments. (3) Minimise noise and local environmental impact. (4). Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of the UK, not just the South East and London. Labour’s analysis of the NPS finds that none of these tests have been met. Labour is therefore calling for a free vote for all parties on the issue (likely on 25th June). Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project.” Some Labour MPs back the runway, as do unions like Unite, that are always in hope of any prospect of jobs.
Today, Labour has announced that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement, laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet Labour’s Four Tests for Heathrow expansion.
Labour’s support for proposed Heathrow expansion has always been conditional on four well-established tests being met:
That increased capacity will be delivered
That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments
Minimise noise and local environmental impact
Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of theU.K., not just the South East and London
Labour’s analysis of the National Policy Statement finds that none of these tests have been met.
As a result of the government’s proposed Heathrow expansion failing to deliver on the Four Tests, Labour opposes this expansion plan and is calling for a free vote for all parties on the National Policy Statement (New Runway Capacity and Infrastructure At Airports in the South of England) when it comes to Parliament next week.
Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said:
“Labour has always argued that airport expansion must meet our four tests. After careful and rigorous consideration, we are clear that they have not been met.
“Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project.
“We support vital investment in our country’s transport infrastructure, but every investment must be tested on whether it provides real value for money and sustainability. A third runway at Heathrow fails this test.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Test 1: Is there robust and convincing evidence that the required increase in aviation capacity will be delivered?
The revised NPS does not provide sufficient guarantee that a third runway is in fact deliverable, which risks the entire economic benefit of the project.
Significant unanswered logistical questions remain, including problems associated with the M25 and the new rail scheme options and their funding, as well as the investments required to address concerns over local air pollution. The Government has acknowledged these issues in its revised NPS but has delegated responsibility for providing solutions to Heathrow itself, which it has so far failed to do so. Combined with the certainty of legal challenge through judicial review, these concerns amount to serious doubt as to whether this proposal will ever in fact deliver the required capacity.
Further, in 2015/16, a cost recovery clause was agreed with Heathrow in the Statement of Principles. Subparagraph 2.1.6 reserves Heathrow Airport Ltd.’s rights to pursue “legal and equitable remedies (including cost recovery)” in the event of “an alternative scheme being preferred by the Secretary of State or Government” and/or if Government withdraws its support “for aviation expansion for Heathrow Airport”. There appears to be no end date to this agreement. This means that taxpayers could be left picking up a multi-million pound bill, if the plan is approved and the Government does not proceed with developing the Heathrow North West runway scheme. The Government has tied itself into a considerable liability risk.
Test 2: Does the proposal support efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation and is it consistent with meeting our legally binding climate change obligations?
The Department for Transport’s projections show that a new runway at Heathrow will directly lead to at least a 3.3MtCO2 breach of the 37.5MtCO2 limit for 2050 set by the Civil Aviation Authority without new policies to mitigate emissions.
The revised NPS simply restates the Airport Commission’s report which concluded that expansion could take place without breaching the CAA’s commitments. The Heathrow third runway option gave rise to the highest level of additional carbon emissions of all the options considered by the Airports Commission, but Parliament is now being asked to support this expansion without any new emissions mitigation framework, nor corresponding strategy or policies. Without these, the proposal is simply not consistent with the obligations set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act.
The absence of a reasonable plan to mitigate the extra emissions arising from a new runway means that the revised NPS would be in breach of section 5(8) of the Planning Act 2008, which would invite legal challenge and further exacerbate the risks set out in relation to the first test.
Test 3: Have local noise and environmental impacts been adequately considered and will they be managed and minimised?
The Government has not proposed clear targets for noise mitigation, nor has it taken sufficient action to ensure enough cleaner cars, the principal source of local air pollution, will be introduced in time to mitigate the risks of Heathrow enlargement, nor is there sufficient clarity or assurance on the airport’s alternative transport access means.
The Government’s own figures indicate that 92,000 more people will be affected by noise in 2030 than if the third runway at Heathrow is not built. 700 extra planes a day would use Heathrow. Some of the associated noise could be mitigated through more respite mechanisms, like using and rotating multiple flight paths, and with a tougher night-flight regime. The Transport Select Committee called on the Government to set clear noise targets, in order that such mechanisms had to be considered, but in the revised NPS the Government is not proposing any new targets.
The NPS merely states that “the Secretary of State will consider air quality impacts over the wider area likely to be affected, as well as in the vicinity of the scheme. In order to grant development consent, the Secretary of State will need to be satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal obligations that provide for the protection of human health and the environment”. This provides no indication as to how the air pollution can be managed. Much of the risk of additional air pollution is largely outside of Heathrow’s control.Air pollution is an ongoing public health crisis that leads to approximately 50,000 premature deaths each year and has seen the government repeatedly taken to court over their failure to achieve legal levels of air quality. In the absence of a Government strategy to achieve legal levels of air quality across the country and lack of a plan for areas impacted by Heathrow expansion, we remain unconvinced that air quality impacts will be mitigated in the affected areas.
Test 4: Are the benefits of expansion to be shared in every corner of the country, not just in the South East of England, and will regional airports be supported too?
Test Not Yet Met
The revised NPS says that, if the third runway is built, up to 15% of all new routes will need to be reserved for the domestic market. The Government says that Public Service Obligations (PSO) will ensure compliance. Labour is concerned thatup to 15% could mean as little as 1%. In addition, PSOs apply to cities rather than airport specific locations. The Government’s stated case for expanding Heathrow is dependent on a number of other conditions being met, including measures to constrain growth at regional airports in order to ensure that Heathrow expansion can meet the UK’s climate change obligations. On the one hand, in the NPS the Secretary of State has relied on restricting other airports to claim that Heathrow’s expansion is compatible with our climate change obligations while on the other hand, in ‘Making the Best Use of Our Existing Runways’, he has asserted that airport capacity can be increased across the UK as a whole. The two outcomes are mutually incompatible.
In the absence of any mechanism to guarantee domestic slots, in addition to the potential restrictions on the use of regional airports that would be required to achieve the UK’s climate change obligations, Labour is not satisfied that Heathrow expansion is commensurate with expansion benefitting the whole of the UK.
Labour opposes Heathrow third runway over environmental, budget and local neighbourhood concerns
By Telegraph Reporters
20 JUNE 2018
Labour will oppose the Government’s plan for a third runway to be built at Heathrow after saying it fails to meet current environmental obligations and will have “unnaceptable impacts” on nearby residents.
Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, attacked the proposal saying there were also “unanswered questions” over the funding of the project, which is set to exceed £14bn.
The party said the Airports National Policy Statement, laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet all of Labour’s four tests.
These include targets such as promising that increased capacity will be delivered, that CO2 reduction commitments are met, that the project will minimise the noise and local environmental impact and ensuring the benefits of expansion are felt across all regions of the UK.
However, when the statement comes to parliament on Monday, Labour will not whip its MPs as it has instead called for a free vote for all parties.
Mr McDonald said: “Labour has always argued that airport expansion must meet our four tests. After careful and rigorous consideration, we are clear that they have not been met.
“Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project.
“We support vital investment in our country’s transport infrastructure, but every investment must be tested on whether it provides real value for money and sustainability. A third runway at Heathrow fails this test.”
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is hopeful the plan will get the parliamentary green light, particularly as key critic Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, is set to miss the vote.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has also always been a fierce critic of the plan.
The decision comes days before MPs are finally due to have a vote on the national policy statement in parliament next Monday.
Research by Heathrow has suggested that up to 75% of all MPs support a third runway, including the SNP, the DUP and a sizeable number of Tory and Labour MPs. A free vote for Labour means that the third runway is almost certain to pass a parliamentary vote. However, the decision to drop the party’s formal support for the runway will be seen as a significant step with the potential to sway some MPs. The party has formally backed a third runway for at least 15 years.
“Back Heathrow”, the lobby group that is (massively) funded and staffed by Heathrow Airport, while pretending it is a “grassroots” campaign, has again paid for expensive newspaper wraps for papers around Slough, Windsor etc. The wraps claim all the usual benefits of a 3rd runway, ignoring the huge public costs and environmental damage. Local resident Paul Groves has written to his local paper, in an attempt to get some balance – against the huge spending power of “Back Heathrow” – and give readers some more factual information. He explains the fallacy of the numbers of jobs Heathrow persists in claiming (based on the maximum “up to” figure from the Airports Commission) its runway would generate, and warns that despite a promise of 6,000 jobs from Terminal 5, in reality the total number employed at Heathrow has declined from around 79,000 in 2008 to around 76,000 by 2014, a reduction of around 3,000. As for the real economic benefit of the runway to the UK, the Net Present Value is now shown, by DfT data, to be around zero – even over 60 years. The DfT have progressively revised this downwards to now from “+£2.9bn to – £2.5bn” in their latest National Policy Statement. This compares with the UK national GDP of £1,700 billion per annum.
This is a critical and sensitive matter for residents throughout our area and they need to know the correct information. Back Heathrow are funded by Heathrow Airport Ltd from where they obtained the approx £700,000 shown in their accounts at Companies House, solely for campaigning for Heathrow. This gives a further indication of their financial and messaging bias.
Letter to the Slough Observer:
Subject: Who are “Back Heathrow” and their case for a 3rd Runway?
From Mr Paul Groves
Regarding the advertising Back Heathrow wrap-around in last week’s Maidenhead Advertiser, it is important for readers to know who they are. Heathrow Airport is owned mainly by foreign Chinese, Qatari, Singaporean, Spanish and Canadian investors, who last year were sent £800m in dividends, whilst over the previous 10 years Heathrow paid only £24m in corporation tax to HMRC.
They spend many millions promoting their case for a 3rd runway, in order to gain increased dividends, and Back Heathrow is an action group funded by Heathrow airport to promote Heathrow’s interests, rather than as they purport with real local interests at heart. Rob Gray their previous director now works directly for Heathrow Airport making the case for a 3rd runway.
In an article on 30th November 2014, The Sunday Times reported of Back Heathrow, “Critics claim the group is a version of an aggressive lobbying tactic called “astroturfing” – when a movement is portrayed as a grassroots initiative but is actually run on behalf of corporate interests.”
Also “Justine Greening, the Conservative MP for Putney and previous cabinet minister accused Back Heathrow of “making out that they are some sort of residents group”.”
The leaders of Wandsworth and Hillingdon councils also criticised Back Heathrow’s methods.
On 20th April 2016, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Back Heathrow’s ad “Rallying for the runway” breached the CAP Advertising code. The ASA also previously on 16th September 2015 ruled that Heathrow Airport’s own “Those around us are behind us” breeched the CAP Advertising code, and Back Heathrow’s current advertising is being reported to the ASA.
Whilst the Department for Transport and Government have progressively analysed and downgraded the expected economic benefit of a 3rd Runway by around 60% from that projected by the Howard Davies commission in 2015, Heathrow and Back Heathrow continue to claim an economic benefit for the country of more than 3 times the current DfT figure and even higher than that projected originally by Davies. Heathrow’s jobs promises for the country come from the flimsy 4 page Quod report that Heathrow commissioned in 2015, which was based on these Davies total economic projections which have since been downgraded by around 60% by the DfT.
Meanwhile in seeking approval to build Teminal 5, Heathrow promised 6,000 new jobs however, in the time since, the total number employed at Heathrow has declined from around 79,000 to around 76,000, a reduction of around 3,000. At the time of T5 approval Sir John Egan, Chairman of BAA, from whom the current foreign owners purchased Heathrow, stated twice boldly in writing that they “will never need a 3rd Runway” and that “local residents should be assured of this fact”.
They just cannot be believed.
Heathrow also have a secret agreement with Slough Council for their support. The Royal Borough’s own surveys have twice shown that a majority of local residents do not want a 3rd Runway.
Regarding economic benefit for the country, both the Davies Commission and DfT rightly talk of the Net Present Value for the country, i.e. after attributable costs.
From Davies’ £11.8bn NPV in 2015, in their “further review and sensitivities report” of 2017 the DfT have progressively revised this downwards to now from “+£2.9bn to – £2.5bn” in their latest National Policy Statement These figures are all over a 60 year period and are negligible compared with a UK national GDP of £1,700bn per annum.
So the economic case for a 3rd Runway has been significantly reduced to a negligible and possibly negative benefit and Heathrow’s jobs promises are similarly grossly exaggerated.Meanwhile the cost, disruption, additional noise, pollution and congestion for us in west London and the Thames Valley remain huge.
Also a letter, about the same misleading “Back Heathrow” newspaper wrap, from Cllr Malcolm Beer:
Letter to the Editor
Beware “Back Heathrow” Rubbish:
The public and business communities should be aware that the latest “news” from the fake Back Heathrow Campaign funded at huge expense by Heathrow is enormously distorted misinformation.
For a start its postal campaign of well over 400,000 reply paid questionnaires resulted in a “thank you for your support” letter to people who returned them even though they had stated their opposition to Heathrow expansion – so the number of supporters is false.
I have very recently personally heard a leading Union rep tell a meeting that the Unions are now leaning toward opposing expansion as it is very unlikely that the air pollution and other challenges to health could ever be resolved. Heathrow claims it will guarantee air quality, but expects the rail industry to pay for new services to replace car or taxi access – which will be deterred by widespread road charging within the M25.
Considerable off airport business and residents support was originally generated by a belief in the Campaign’s initial claim that Heathrow would be forced to close if it could not expand to match several rival European airports. Although unfortunately many still think that to be the gospel truth, many more now realise that the staggeringly enormous financial value of the whole complex and its assured earning power would ensure that it would NEVER close even if it did not expand. Don’t forget that 23% of its airline seats are still empty TODAY.
Few of the claimed improved transport links would be funded by Heathrow and most would not be feasible as bridges and platform lengths prevent use of more tracks or longer trains.
The promised 5,000 new apprenticeships over an undefined period is half of the Airports Commission recommendation adopted by Parliament. It appears to perpetuate the alarmingly low figure of only hundreds of workers receiving “training” each year in what should be a highly safety and security related industry.
The claimed increase in job numbers is likely to be a false guess similar to that relating to Terminal 5, which saw a job loss of 3,000 rather than a big increase, due to a greater use of technology. The last factor would limit the increase in on site employment related to another runway and as there is already a substantial spare passenger capacity it would not suddenly attract new local business employment.
However, if the current “all the eggs in one basket” approach continues some large companies would be attracted to the wider area around Heathrow. As there is a relatively high level of employment incoming employees would add to the dire housing crisis, overstressed services and congested roads which obviously would put up costs to everyone and ultimately make the whole area an uneconomic place to run a business and (MPs please note) a large airport.
Heathrow’s costings and disbenefits amazingly exclude most of the off airport activity and upgrading demanded by any expansion, which the airport claims should be nationally funded and has yet to be resolved. Transport for London put those costs around £15billion (which would be handy for the NHS which we ALL need) and is almost double Heathrow’s last claimed reduced R3 cost. All of this is very alarming as Heathrow is already deep in debt and hopes to repay loans out of future (increased?) charges. If it all goes pear shaped WE will have to bail it out just as we are still doing with the banks.
The huge economic benefits originally claimed are still being clung to by the Government despite only 30% of passenger flights being for business and the vast ever growing list of knock on problems and costs eroding its benefits.
All of that totally ignores the escalating national North / South Divide which is stoking up enormous social and economic problems. The commitment to ensure 15% of Heathrow flights will serve our Regions is likely to be shelved as Heathrow is one of the dearest in the world and the cost of such short flights would have to be heavily subsidised. Far better all round to promote the Regions with direct flights as their numbers grow.
It seems likely that Government will not keep up with changing circumstances and whip MPs to vote (without any debate!) to approve Runway 3 to proceed to a strategic planning application Development Control Order process in the coming weeks.
It may be our very last chance to get a common sense decision if the people power of the present day social media could be used by as many readers as possible to ask friends and relatives in the Regions (and closer to Heathrow) to support a better for all strategy by lobbying their MPs on these matters and maybe attaching a copy of this with their message.
Old Windsor Residents Association Cllr,
Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead,
Chairman Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council.
Old Windsor, Berks, SL4 2RZ.
Heathrow cutting 200 jobs (20% of total core staff) due to CAA restriction on landing charge rises
February 25, 2014
Heathrow Airport is planning to cut 20% of its core workforce despite turning its first profit since 2006 and said it is undergoing a “major” restructuring. Its full-year results statement showed it made a £426m pre-tax profit last year, up from a £33m loss previously, helped by the £1.5bn sale of Stansted in February 2013. Heathrow says it is making the staff cuts due to the CAA not allowing it to increase landing charges, though Heathrow can appeal till March 27th. These will be reduced in real terms by 1.5% below the rate of inflation every year until 2019. Colin Matthews said the cuts are likely to affect around 200 staff but no front-line roles, such as security, will be affected. Heathrow employs 7,000 people in total but 1,000 of those roles are part of its “central” head office structure, which is where the job losses are, partly due to having sold off its other airports. In 2013 Heathrow’s revenue rose 11.3%to £2.5bn, and it had 72.3 million passengers, though that is far below earlier forecasts for 2013 traffic. Excluding money from selling Stansted, Heathrow’s EBITDA rose 23.1% in 2013 to £1.4bn. The number employed by Heathrow Airport Ltd in 2012 was 5,278 (compared to 5,265 in 2011 and 5,148 in 2010).
A lot of different studies have shown there are negative health impacts on people exposed to aircraft noise at night, when people sleeping should be experiencing many hours of quiet. Now a study from Germany shows that this may be caused by an enzyme (phagocytic NADPH oxidase) they have identified. Aircraft noise during the hours people are trying to sleep leads to an increased development of cardiovascular diseases in the long term. Studies have shown that simulated nocturnal noise increases the stress hormone epinephrine, reduces sleep quality, and damages the vascular system, causing endothelial dysfunction. There is increased oxidative stress, and inflammatory processes in the vessels as well as a marked change in the expression of genes in the vessel wall. This damage is not seen in the absence of the enzyme. The scientists now also examined the effects of aircraft noise on the brain, looking at neuronal nitric oxide (NO) synthase, the function of which is impaired when there is aircraft noise during the night period that should be quiet. The study shows it is important to protect the night’s sleep from noise, with a period of 8 hours (10pm to 6am) protected from noise. Heathrow’s airlines do NOT want a proper ban on night flights even for six and a half hours, let alone more.
Scientists identify enzyme responsible for vascular damage caused by aircraft noise
Date: June 14, 2018
Source: Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
In a recent study, scientists have identified an enzyme responsible for aircraft-related vascular damage. The researchers were also able to show that night-time noise has a particularly harmful effect and thus demand that night-time sleep be protected from noise.
In a recent study, scientists at the Department of Cardiology at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have identified an enzyme responsible for aircraft-related vascular damage. The researchers were also able to show that night-time noise has a particularly harmful effect and thus demand that night-time sleep be protected from noise. With the current study, the scientists around Professor Thomas Münzel, Director of Cardiology I at the Department of Cardiology, and Professor Andreas Daiber, Head of Molecular Cardiology at the Department of Cardiology, consistently pursue the field of noise research and can announce another breakthrough.
Aircraft noise leads to an increased development of cardiovascular diseases in the long term, as a series of precursor studies has now shown unequivocally. In 2013, the research group of Professor Thomas Münzel succeeded in demonstrating that simulated nocturnal noise increases the stress hormone epinephrine, reduces sleep quality, and damages the vascular system, called endothelial dysfunction. Further studies on a newly developed animal model showed last year that aircraft noise leads to a significant increase in stress hormones, a vascular dysfunction, increased oxidative stress, and inflammatory processes in the vessels as well as a marked change in the expression of genes in the vessel wall.
“With this new study, we can demonstrate for the first time that ‘night-time noise’, i.e., noise during the sleep phase of the mice, and not the noise during the waking phase is responsible for vascular dysfunction,” stated Münzel and Daiber. “We can also show that the elimination of the enzyme phagocytic NADPH oxidase, which is located mainly in inflammatory cells, completely avoids aircraft noise-induced negative effects on vessels and brain.” This enzyme was also in the focus of the scientists in the last study. The current investigations finally prove its central role and provide also proof that the negative aircraft noise effects are mediated by this enzyme.
The scientists now also examined the effects of aircraft noise on the brain. The focus was on neuronal nitric oxide (NO) synthase, an important enzyme in the brain. Responsible for learning and memory, this enzyme is down-regulated by aircraft noise and its function is impaired. This new finding may explain the described cognitive developmental disorders in children after exposure to aircraft noise.
Another finding is that the transcription factor FoxO3 plays a central role in noise-induced vascular and brain damage. The consequence of the observed down-regulation of this transcription factor by night-time noise leads to a defective gene expression network that controls cellular events as a function of circadian rhythm. Disturbance of the circadian rhythm can lead to sleep disorders and subsequently to more cardiovascular, mental, and metabolic disorders. To this end, the scientists came to this recognition through extensive genetic analysis by means of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and by demonstrating a prevention of the aforementioned vascular damage by treatment with the FoxO3 activator Bepridil.
According to the study initiators, these results represent a further breakthrough in noise research. “With our findings, especially with regard to night-time noise, we can now explain clinical results, e.g., according to the so-called HYENA study, where night-time noise in particular can trigger high blood pressure. The finding that the elimination of the enzyme phagocytic NADPH oxidase completely prevents vascular damage may enable us to develop drug strategies to reduce the negative effects of aircraft noise for our body,” both scientists commented.
The authors conclude from their findings that it must be an important goal to protect the night’s sleep from noise and in particular to implement the legally defined night’s sleep from 10 o’clock at night to 6 o’clock in the morning.
German study shows link between aircraft noise (day or night) and atrial fibrillation
May 9, 2018
With an increasing level of noise, the incidence of atrial fibrillation also increases dramatically. From a study of 15,000 men and women aged 35 to 74 in Germany, scientists found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in subjects who reacted to noise with extreme annoyance increased to 23%, compared to 15% without the noise. Looking at the proportion of sources of extreme noise pollution, aircraft noise came first with 84% during the day and 69% during sleep. The results were published recently in the International Journal of Cardiology. Other studies have shown the link between noise (that may be causing anger, disturbed sleep, exhaustion or stress) that impairs wellbeing, health (including cardiovascular disease), and the quality of life. There is probably a link between cardiac impacts and noise, even when the person is not aware of being made irritated or angry by the noise. The increase in atrial fibrillation may be the reason why there is a connection between noise and strokes. The ban in night flights at Frankfurt from 11pm to 5am did not lead to less noise annoyance, but more – as the overall number of flights did not reduce. Noise was worse than before between 10-11pm and 5-6am.
Studies show that at least 7 hours of sleep are needed, each night, by adults
June 6, 2015
Living under a flight path, along which aircraft fly at below – say 7,000 feet – is noisy. It is all the more noisy now that the aviation industry is introducing narrow, concentrated flight paths. These are replacing the older more dispersed routes, as aircraft have new “PBN” technology (like car satnav) and can fly far more accurately than in the past. And it suits the air traffic controllers to keep flight paths narrow. But if airports allow flights at night, or if the “night” period when flights are not allowed is short, this has consequences for people living near, or under, routes. Studies carried out scientifically show adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, each night to be at their healthiest. Children and teenagers need more.There are some people who need more than 7 hours per night, and some need less. It is not good enough to get less one night, and more the next – the brain does not process the day’s memories adequately. Studies show adverse effects of not getting enough sleep, which are not only related to concentration, speed of thinking or reacting etc, but also medical effects. The concentrated flight paths, and airports allowed to have flights all night, are causing very real problems. A study into noise and sleep by the CAA in 2009 looked at the issue, and said a large and comprehensive study is needed, but it is “likely to be expensive.”
Night flight noise likely to increase risk of Type 2 diabetes for those living under flightpaths
April 3, 2017
Research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel has shown that people who live below an airport flightpath are more than 80% more likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who live in quieter areas. The findings have led scientists to suggest that aircraft noise, rather than air pollution, could be to blame. The noise of the planes overhead, when they are low and loud, is likely to have a devastating effect on the body’s metabolism, leading to increased blood sugar levels. The effect is largely from noise at night, confirming that night flights are damaging to health. The cost to the health of over-flown populations needs to be properly taken into account, and given enough significance against small economic benefits of night flights to airports and airlines (which is how the DfT assesses the issue at present). Heathrow already has – by an order of magnitude – the most people affected by night flights, with over 700,000 living within the 55 Lden noise average contours. The link to diabetes is through the body’s reaction to stress, raising blood pressure. Noise stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis, leading to increased blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, limb amputations and blindness. It affects over 3 million people in the UK.
Willie Walsh adamant Heathrow must have arrivals well before 5.30am – then full on for next 2 hours.
He won’t accept a six and a half hour ban on scheduled night flights, let alone unscheduled.
April 3, 2017
International Airlines Group (IAG), which is Heathrow’s biggest customer, has submitted its evidence to the Transport Committee, to its inquiry into the Airports NPS. IAG does not agree there should be a ban on night flights of six and a half hours, that the NPS and the DfT are proposing – hoping that would overcome local opposition to the runway. The WHO says for good health, people need 7 – 8 hours sleep, and more for some age groups. Therefore even six and a half hours is not enough. But IAG says …”the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.” … from small changes IAG has made “Local communities have therefore benefited … from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.” … if Heathrow opened at 7am, that would be 2 hours later than Frankfurt … to make the best use of the new runway, increase connectivity etc … “the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.”
In a recent interview with Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, she said she was incredulous that in Chris Grayling’s Commons speech – saying the government supported a 3rd Heathrow runway – he did not even mention climate change. This omission attracted negligible attention from most journalists till Caroline tweeted about it. She said: “We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers.” On the prediction that Boris Johnson, who is meant to be forcefully against the runway, conveniently absenting himself on the day of the NPS vote, she said: “I think it would be despicable. He’s promised to stand up for something; he’s gone to the polls and said: ‘This is what I stand for.’’ Does she think she can defeat the Heathrow runway? “I think there’s a perfectly good chance we’ll defeat it.” Would she bet £1,000 on it? “Bet £1K on it? Because I’m a bit of a risk-taker, I’ll put my thousand pounds on it not happening.”
Grayling’s Commons speech did not even mention climate change, yet this omission attracted negligible attention until Lucas tweeted her incredulous dismay – which, I suggest, tells us that most people now think one more runway will make no difference to climate change, but a massive difference to the UK economy.
Can’t quite believe Chris Grayling’s statement on #Heathrow didn’t mention climate change even once. The biggest crisis this planet faces – aviation one of fastest growing sources of emissions- yet not one word. Government claims to be ‘green’ increasingly look like a bad joke.
Might they be right? Lucas addresses her reply to the carpet between our chairs, like a pop star performing an old hit she can’t believe anyone could still need to hear again.
“If you measured impact on climate change by each individual action then you’d never be able to talk about the cumulative impact of a set of actions on the climate. We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers.”
But we keep being told we must not concede a competitive advantage to rival European airports. She counters wearily: “If you were talking to campaigners in Charles de Gaulle [airport in Paris], they’d tell you they’re told exactly the same thing: don’t concede defeat to London! We’re all being pitted against one another in this incredibly dangerous race to the bottom. If we were to follow the logic of those people who think every time we build a runway our economy miraculously benefits, then why would you not just cover the whole country in concrete? That’s the logic of that argument. The bottom lines is that aviation is a very good example of why you can’t say: ‘We’ll have a demand-led approach’ – because the demand will go on. I think there needs to be a mature conversation about limits to growth. I think we need to ask: growth for what?”
Growth for jobs? Growth for our kids to leave home and afford a mortgage and enjoy the living standards our parents took for granted? “Growth that is not tackling inequality,” she rejoins. “Growth that’s destroying the planet we depend on. Growth that we know, by simply measuring prosperity in terms of GDP growth, is an incredibly blunt instrument. GDP simply measures the circulation of money in the economy, not whether or not the outcome of using that money is positive or negative. A major pile up on the M5 is wonderful for growth, because it means people go out and buy more cars. But by any other measure of what’s useful or helpful, a pile up on the M5 is bad news.”
She does not blame MPs such as Johnson for objecting to the runway on local, self-interested grounds. But if, as is widely predicted, the foreign secretary absents himself from the parliamentary vote by contriving an excuse to be abroad, “I think it would be despicable. He’s promised to stand up for something; he’s gone to the polls and said: ‘This is what I stand for.’ And no one is going to believe that absence from the country was seriously unavoidable. I just think the cowardice of that is grotesque.”
For all Johnson’s ostentatiously theatrical opposition (he promised to “lie down in front of the bulldozers”), it is Jeremy Corbyn whom Lucas believes has the power to determine the third runway’s fate. With the support of Tory rebels, the Labour leader could defeat Grayling’s bill by imposing a three-line whip – and Lucas thinks he will. “There’s a good chance. What I’m hearing is that there’s a good chance Labour might come out against it.” As a long-time Corbyn enthusiast, could Lucas forgive him if he did not? “No. I think it would be unforgivable.”
Corbyn would make a convenient culprit, but should the blame not lie ultimately with her party? The Greens are forever predicting environmental catastrophe – if it is not Heathrow, it is plastic or diesel or eating meat – but when the world continues to turn, despite their apocalyptic warnings, does the environmental movement become a casualty of its own hyperbole?
“I don’t think so. I recognise the danger of crying wolf. But when you look at the data – or, indeed, just look around green spaces – the apocalypse is happening. You don’t hear the same birdsong any more. Not that long ago, if you drove at night through the countryside, your windscreen would become full of moths and now there are no moths any more.”
I wonder how she explains why this does not translate into votes for her party. Which half of her message does the public not buy – that we are heading for armageddon or that we still have time to save the planet? “I think for the past 10 years the public has been struggling just to get by. They’ve been hit by a wall of austerity: struggling to get their kids into school, to get a doctor’s appointment, to keep their job. So, the environment feels like a luxury to be discussed on another day. And I understand that. But, at the same time, we’re in danger of losing something incredibly precious and that ultimately all this other stuff is built on. If you don’t have an environment then you don’t have anything else.”
No one could doubt the sincerity of her commitment. The daughter of Tory-voting, small-business-owning parents, she was converted to environmental politics in adolescence and has devoted herself to the Green party for most of her adult life. And yet last month Lucas announced that she will not be standing for re-election this summer.
“Well, it’s not ‘And yet’,” she objects. Having dedicated her leadership energy to overdue structural reform, she insists she is standing aside in order to allow fresh talent to flourish. This will give her more time to “campaign around nature”, but she adds: “The overarching context right now is Brexit.”
Lucas is a passionate campaigner for what she calls a “people’s vote” – a referendum on the terms the government agrees with the EU for Brexit. Earlier this year, she put the odds of such a vote at 50/50 – and, to my surprise, she believes they have since shortened.
“I do. I think it’s very significant that Labour have refused to rule it out. They have been careful to leave the door open. I think they might well find it would be an elegant way for them to resolve the very uncomfortable position they’re in with so many of their constituencies, particularly in the north, being pro-leave while having a very strong remain support as well.” For the PM, too, “it’s one way of getting herself off a very awkward hook. And the number of people supporting a people’s poll is absolutely growing. It is.”
Her worry is that remain MPs are so focused on the parliamentary mechanics of securing such a vote that “they’re forgetting that, were we to get it, we’d still need to win it. Which is not a given.” Liberated from leadership, she plans to use her time to visit leave areas and “start listening to them, instead of telling them they’re wrong”.
The question this plan does not answer is why the electorate would decide a former leader of the Green party was right about anything. Ever since my childhood, the environmental movement has been celebrating alleged breakthrough victories, from the election of German Greens post-Chernobyl in the 80s, right up to Lucas’s electoral triumph in Brighton. As each has proved premature, is it time to conclude that the cause, no matter how right, is hopeless?
She shakes her head. “It is a long slog. But not hopeless. If we could change the electoral system …” Perhaps, I suggest, the problem is not our electoral system, but human nature. Turkeys don’t want to vote for Christmas.
“No. It’s not human nature. There are Greens in many other countries, in government.” But the US elected Donald Trump! “They’ve got a crap electoral system, too. And Trump didn’t win by the popular vote. So I never think the game is up. But I do think it’s a bloody long slog. And I certainly didn’t think, when I joined the party back in 1986, that by 2018 we’d have one MP. I didn’t think that. But I still passionately believe there’s a massively important role for the Green party. Even within our hopeless system.”
Lucas thinks a Corbyn-led Labour government might introduce a proportional representation system that would translate their 1.1m votes in 2015 into 20 MPs. And yet, I say again, she has chosen not to be their leader.
“I’m not going to be very far away. I’m still going to be sounding off, I hope.”
Does she think she can defeat the Heathrow runway? “I think there’s a perfectly good chance we’ll defeat it.” As I am not sure if this is a prediction or ambition, I ask which way she would bet if she had to gamble £1,000 of her own money.
“Bet £1K on it?” Lucas laughs nervously, buying time, but in the end her old optimism wins.
“Because I’m a bit of a risk-taker, I’ll put my thousand pounds on it not happening.”
A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) “sustainable” jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK. This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste – otherwise destined for landfill – and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of “sustainable” fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).
Preparing for take-off? Aviation biofuel research wins £5m boost
British Airways will use the waste-based aviation fuel to cut the carbon impact of flights
A project to turn landfill waste into sustainable jet fuel has received a major boost today, securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers.
The Department for Transport has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK.
The plant would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of post-recycled waste – otherwise destined for landfill – and convert it to fuel for aeroplanes.
The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development.
The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. The airline plans to use the waste-based fuel to help cut its greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft by up to 70 per cent, and particulate matter emissions by up to 90 per cent.
“We are very pleased that the government has recognised the importance of alternative fuels for aviation and has supported our joint project with Velocys which will help to reduce carbon emissions and create UK jobs and growth,” said Alex Cruz, CEO of British Airways.
The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of a new breed of sustainable fuels for aviation and freight transport. Some £2m was awarded to firms today for further research and scoping work, and recipients of this will be invited to bid for a share of £20m for construction work.
As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) – a shift that has further boosted the long term commercial viability of a waste jet fuel plant in the UK, Velocys said.
Waste-based jet fuel is widely regarded as a crucial tool for helping to decarbonise the aviation sector. But it is still an expensive alternative to traditional fuels, restricting its use primarily to test flights.
“The waste-to-jet fuel project has the potential to help transform the aviation industry by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality around our country’s airports,” Grayling said in a statement on today’s funding news.
“That is why we are providing support to this important technology as part of our £22m of funding for alternative fuels, which will pave the way for clean growth in the UK.”
Last week the government’s climate watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling reminding him the UK’s current legally binding pledge to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 means aviation emissions must be at 2005 levels by 2050.
This “relatively generous” aviation budget represents a doubling of 1990 emissions, but will still require the widespread use of sustainable biofuels by the airline industry and moves by other sectors of the economy to cut their emissions to almost zero, if UK climate targets are to be met the CCC said.
An expansion of airport capacity at Heathrow is likely to require further emissions cuts across aviation and the wider economy, the CCC warned.
The hopes are the latest funding boost for jet biofuels will help revive a fledgling sector that has faced a series of setbacks in recent years.
Solena, the company meant to be producing jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt
October 29, 2015
In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d domestic waste into aviation fuel. The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions. The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping. Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena.
Location just west of Canvey Island named as BA / Solena plant to make jet fuel from London urban waste
April 16, 2014
A site for the project, by BA and Solena, to convert landfill waste into jet fuel has finally been announced, after long delays. The site will be in the Thames Enterprise Park, a regeneration project just east of London on the Thames estuary (a few miles west of Canvey Island). The site includes the redundant former Coryton Oil Refinery. Work on building the GreenSky facility is expected to start in 2015 and be completed in 2017. BA is providing construction capital and has committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA is hoping that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption will give it green credibility, and it will claim it cuts its carbon emissions. In reality, if liquid fuels can be made from urban waste, there is no reason why aviation needs to be the user of them – especially as aviation intends to greatly increase its total fuel consumption in coming decades. Liquid fuels that can genuinely be considered “sustainable” could be used by any other consumer. If aviation appropriates these “sustainable” fuels, and uses increasing amounts of fuel, the net effect is that other users have to use high carbon fuels. No net benefit. Other than in (flimsy) green PR terms for BA.
British Airways + Solena plant to make jet fuel from London’s rubbish – announcement soon?
March 24, 2014
GreenAir online gives an update on the anticipated biofuel plant (costing around $500 million) to be built in east London, to produce diesel and jet fuel. GreenAir says that according to British Airways’ a 20-acre (8ha) site has been selected for its GreenSky project with Solena and an announcement is expected within weeks. Getting the required planning permission had proved “extremely challenging.” GreenSky will convert around 600,000 tonnes of London municipal waste into 50,000 tonnes of biojet and 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel annually, and will – they hope – meet BA’s total fuel needs at London City Airport. BA hope they can claim annual carbon savings of up to 145,000 tonnes of CO2. “It’s very much a demonstration plant for us. If we can prove this works commercially then we will build a number of them in the UK – potentially up to six – at this scale or even bigger.” “The economics is driven by a current UK landfill tax of about £80 per tonne, so the scheme hopes to get the rubbish cheaply – saving councils the landfill tax. Under its 10-year contract with Solena, BA will purchase all the fuel produced by the plant. They hope to start building in early 2015 and start producing fuel in 2017.