Resident affected by Heathrow noise has given notice to seek Judicial Review against DfT re. runway

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.” 
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The letter to the DfT says:

Dear Sir,

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 Issue

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

and the full letter can be seen here

PAP Letter (address redacted) 22.6.2018

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Jonathan Ford (FT) on the serious financing doubts: “Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn 3rd runway?”

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.”
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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.

Recommended
Inside Business Jonathan Ford  – “Hole at the heart of Heathrow’s third runway”

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”.

https://www.ft.com/content/98e6b128-7533-11e8-aa31-31da4279a601

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See earlier: 

 

FT’s Jonathan Ford on massive doubts over Heathrow’s ability to fund its runway – without huge subsidy from taxpayers

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.”

Click here to view full story…     

 

 

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Calls for SNP to re-think support for Heathrow runway, ahead of crunch vote on 25th

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.
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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 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 (2). And see Coalition briefing for Scottish politicians. Heathrow expansion Scotland briefing 

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.

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 (5).

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.”

 

ENDS.

Notes:

  1. www.no3rdrunwaycoalition.co.uk
  2. Our recent briefing Heathrow expansion Scotland briefing  issued to MSPs and Scottish MPs based on the lack of UK Government strategy or proposal for environmental mitigations, and new and recent analysis which calls into question the economic case for the current NPS proposal.  Also see http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/05/gordon-dewar-9ceo-of-edinburgh-airport-msps-mistaken-to-back-heathrow-monopoly-that-harms-scottish-airports/ 
  3. http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11601&i=105148#ScotParlOR
  4. https://labour.org.uk/press/labour-four-tests-heathrow-expansion-not-met/
  5. http://neweconomics.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NEF-Flying-Low.pdf

 

For more information, contact: Rob Barnstone, 07806 947050, Robert.barnstone@outlook.com

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In the Scottish Parliament, Patrick Harvie asked about Heathrow carbon emissions:

Heathrow Airport (Carbon Emissions)
  • 1. Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): 

    To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update regarding its position on how the proposed third runway at Heathrow could impact on carbon emissions. (S5O-02227)

  • The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work (Keith Brown): 

    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.

  • Patrick Harvie: 

    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?

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Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham MP) quits government – on principle over May’s 3-line whip voting on Heathrow expansion

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.
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Greg Hands quits as minister over Heathrow expansion

21.6.2018 (BBC)

Greg Hands

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.

Presentational white space

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:

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”.

[Then there is then pro- Heathrow blurb …..]

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See full article at   https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44561170

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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.”

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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.”

Full article at

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/21/greg-hands-quits-as-minister-to-vote-against-heathrow-third-runway

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See earlier:

Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham) urges DfT to ban Heathrow night flights from 11pm to 6am

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”.    

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/03/greg-hands-mp-for-chelsea-fulham-urges-dft-to-ban-heathrow-night-flights-from-11pm-to-6am/

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Mayor, Sadiq Khan, ready to join legal action by Councils against 3rd runway at Heathrow

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.

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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.

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-ready-to-join-action-against-third-runway

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Comment from the No 3rd Runway Coalition:

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.”


See earlier:

Hammersmith & Fulham Council will join the 4 councils’ legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has vowed to keep fighting plans for a third runway at Heathrow, even if Parliament votes in favour of it. The council has said it will seek to join any legal challenge against a decision in favour of expanding the west London airport – a move the council says would subject residents to a mire of misery and pollution. Council Leader Stephen Cowan said:  “We absolutely refuse to sit back and let such a potentially catastrophic decision be made without a fight, We’ve made our stance very clear; a third runway at Heathrow would mean more noise for residents already suffering noise disturbance, more pressure on our roads and an unacceptable increase in air pollution. If we need to take legal action, we will, as the environmental cost of meekly accepting a decision in favour of expansion, would be far worse.” In 2014, H&F Council set up a resident-led commission to investigate the potential effects of expansion on residents’ lives. It reported back that the overall impact of Heathrow expansion would be negative, with any benefits unlikely to be felt by those in H&F.    
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London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Mayor criticises DfT’s lack of answers to fundamental questions on Heathrow

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.”    

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/03/london-mayor-sadiq-khan-mayor-criticises-dfts-lack-of-answers-to-fundamental-questions-on-heathrow/

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TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport

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.     

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/01/tfl-surface-access-analysis-of-heathrow-possible-3rd-runway-warns-of-congestion-and-over-crowding-that-would-be-caused-on-surface-transport/
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Labour says Heathrow runway does NOT meet the 4 vital tests – calls on all parties to have a free vote on the NPS

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.

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Labour: Four Tests on Heathrow expansion not met

20.6.2018

Labour Party press release

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:

  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 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.”

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

Test 1: Is there robust and convincing evidence that the required increase in aviation capacity will be delivered?

Test Failed

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?

Test Failed

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?

Test Failed

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.

https://labour.org.uk/category/latest/press-release/

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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.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/20/labour-opposes-heathrow-third-runway-environmental-budget-local/

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The Times says:

The decision comes days before MPs are finally due to have a vote on the national policy statement in parliament next Monday.

However, in a sign of the split in the party on Heathrow, Labour confirmed that it would give its MPs a free vote. There is strong support for a third runway from Jeremy Corbyn’s union allies, including Len McCluskey’s Unite.

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.

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Heathrow’s lobby group “Back Heathrow” PR material in local papers criticised – putting some facts straight

“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.
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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
Maidenhead
18.6.2018
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.

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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.

Malcolm Beer,

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

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).   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/02/heathrow-cutting-200-jobs-20-of-total-core-staff-due-to-caa-restriction-on-landing-charge-rises/


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On what we are doing to the environment (eg. planning a Heathrow runway) Caroline Lucas says the apocalypse is happening already

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.”
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Caroline Lucas on Heathrow and climate change: ‘The apocalypse is happening’

The Brighton MP may be stepping down as co-leader of the Green party, but she is doing so to step up her fight against a third runway and to secure a ‘people’s vote’ on the EU

by . (Guardian)

The last time I met Caroline Lucas, she was about to stand trial.The Green party co-leader was prosecuted in 2014 following an anti-fracking protest in Balcombe, West Sussex, and was due in court the week after we met, yet her spirits that day were remarkably high. If optimism has been the defining quality of Lucas’s political career, one might say it has served her well: in 2010, she became the first – and remains the only – Green politician elected to parliament and in 2014 she was cleared of all charges.

The member for Brighton Pavilion had until recently thought the campaign against a third Heathrow runway had been won. “We’d been lulled into a bit of a false sense of security, thinking the government would do – or in this case, not do – what it said it wouldn’t do.” In 2009, the then prime minister, David Cameron, had promised: “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead – no ifs, no buts” – but in the Commons last week the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, announced it would be built after all and could be open by 2026. Tory MPs representing constituencies that will be ravaged by the new runway are up in arms; Boris Johnson and Justine Greening and others may yet thwart Grayling’s plan. But, for Lucas, the fight goes way beyond defending villages from bulldozers.

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.

Her tweet

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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/16/caroline-lucas-on-heathrow-and-climate-change-the-apocalypse-is-happening

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FT reports apparent DfT claims that Heathrow MIGHT face criminal charges if it fails on environmental targets while building runway

The Financial Times reports that it believes the DfT (Aviation Minister Baroness Liz Sugg) is saying that Heathrow could face criminal charges if it does not meet environmental targets when building its 3rd runway.  [This is NOT any DfT press release]  These might relate to noise, air pollution and compensation to local homeowners. The FT believes Liz Sugg is expected to say:  “Important measures to protect local people and comply with the legal requirements set by the government will be written into the development consent order, and Heathrow would face serious penalties if they do not stand by these commitments.”  She wants MPs to vote in favour of the runway (ie. the Airports NPS) without it containing the proper safeguards and details on these matters. The alleged promise to hit Heathrow hard on these is very flimsy indeed – few would want to place their trust in it. Anti-expansion campaigners are very critical of the announcement, saying penalties for Heathrow were yet to be decided. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said it seemed to be a panicked attempt by the DfT to shore up parliamentary support for the vote. He added: “If they were so keen to ensure these environmental commitments were met, why were legally binding measures [not] put forward in the National Policy Statement when it was published earlier this month?”
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Comment from Justine Greening MP on Twitter:

Local communities remember a strict planning condition of the fifth terminal go ahead years ago…..there’d be no third runway. So this is a meaningless promise from increasingly desperate DfT


UK government talks tough on Heathrow third runway

Department for Transport flags potential criminal penalties ahead of Commons vote

Bu Josh Spero (Financial Times)
17.6.2018

The government will announce on Sunday that Heathrow airport could face criminal charges if it does not meet environmental targets when building its third runway.   [It is NOT a DfT press release]   [This presumably just means during the building stage, and not during the operation of the larger airport?   AW comment]

Aviation minister Liz Sugg will say: “Important measures to protect local people and comply with the legal requirements set by the government will be written into the development consent order, and Heathrow would face serious penalties if they do not stand by these commitments.”

The legal requirements relate to factors such as noise, air quality and compensation for local homeowners, and the penalties could include criminal proceedings, an unlimited fine or a court injunction to limit the airport’s operations.

MPs will vote on the National Policy Statement, which contains principles for the airport’s proposed £14bn expansion, within two weeks. If the MPs approve the statement, there will be a public consultation and judicial review, and then the government can give planning permission, known as a development consent order.

The plans are supported by the Conservative government, the Democratic Unionist party, the Scottish National party and many Labour MPs. However, Labour’s leadership objects to the plans, saying they do not meet four tests the party has imposed.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson also opposes the plans.

Anti-expansion campaigners derided the announcement, saying penalties were yet to be decided.

Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said he thought it was a panicked attempt by the government to shore up parliamentary support for the vote. He added: “If they were so keen to ensure these environmental commitments were met, why were legally binding measures [not] put forward in the National Policy Statement when it was published earlier this month?”

Powers already exist to punish breaches of development consent orders, which are normally issued to simplify the planning process for major infrastructure projects. It is the particular terms which need to be set.

Heathrow airport has said: “We’re looking forward to the promised parliamentary vote on the final National Policy Statement before the summer recess, enabling us to get on with delivering this critical project.”

https://www.ft.com/content/ff72d6e0-71ac-11e8-aa31-31da4279a601

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Uttlesford District Council to delay decision on Stansted’s expansion application – details needed on noise, air pollution & surface access

Plans to increase the number of passengers Stansted Airport handles, along with other infrastructure, have been delayed after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) asked for more information.  Stansted’s application to expand the number of passengers allowed per year from 35 million to 43 million was due to be heard by UDC on July 18th.  But it is unlikely to be heard before at least one more consultation and one more public meeting.  A spokesperson from the council said: “The council has been examining the robustness of the evidence supplied within the application, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality.  Ongoing discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders including Highways England, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Natural England and engaged consultants, and further work is being undertaken.”  Additional information is needed from the airport to ensure that the Planning Committee has all it needs in order to make an informed decision on the application.  UDC has also announced that the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), an agreement that fast tracks the application in return for monetary payments to UDC’s planning officers to cover the costs of processing the applications, will be re-negotiated.
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Uttlesford District Council announces decision to delay London Stansted Airport expansion application as additional evidence is required

The airport wants to increase the number of passengers going through it from 35 million to 43 million a year

By Huw Wales (Hertfordshire Mercury)
15 JUN 2018

Plans to increase the number of passengers allowed through Stansted Airport, along with other infrastructure, have been delayed after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) asked for more information.

The application to expand the number of passengers allowed through the airport in a year from 35 million to 43 million was due to be heard by UDC on July 18.

However the application is unlikely to be heard for months after the announcement from the council, with another consultation and at least one public meeting to be held on the proposals, as well the revised description of the planning application.

A spokesperson from the council said: “The council has been examining the robustness of the evidence supplied within the application, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality.

“Ongoing discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders including Highways England, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Natural England and engaged consultants, and further work is being undertaken.

“This is expected to lead to additional information being submitted by the applicant to ensure that the Planning Committee is provided with all the information it needs to make an informed decision on the application.

“Until this information is provided, and consulted upon, the council is unable to propose an alternative date for determination.”

The application aims to build two new taxiway links to the existing runway, six additional remote aircraft stands, three additional stands to enable a combined airfield operations of 274,000 planes, and of these no more than 16,000 would be cargo planes.

Uttlesford District Council criticised by Stop Stansted Expansion as group claims Stansted Airport helped write its Local Plan policy

UDC has also announced that the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), an agreement that fast tracks the application in return for monetary payments to UDC’s planning officers to cover the costs of processing the applications, will be re-negotiated.

In the statement it says: “In the meantime, the council will continue to meet with the applicant and other relevant consultees to discuss the progress of the application, whilst the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) for this application will be re-negotiated in order to cover the extra work required.

“The council would like to reiterate that the use of PPAs follows best practice and does not in any way impact on the outcome – it is not a guarantee of planning permission.

“The Planning Committee judge every application on its merits, taking into account the relevant issues as well as comments made by the public and statutory agencies.”

These payments had been labelled as ‘cash for favour’ agreements by campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion, something that was denied by UDC.

It could be months before the application is heard

A London Stansted Airport spokesman said: “Our application to make best use of our existing runway is vitally important for the future success of London Stansted Airport and the wider region and it is only right that the council carefully considers all the relevant evidence and responses from statutory consultees.

“To assist this process, and in response to requests from the council and stakeholders, we will provide additional information to support our application.

Stansted Airport payments to Uttlesford Council labelled ‘cash for favours’

“Last week we welcomed the Government’s confirmation that it supports airports looking to make best use of their existing capacity and we are delighted that the amount of support pledged by local people and businesses for our application has doubled over the last month.

“It is vital for the UK economy that we have the best possible aviation connections to compete in a global marketplace.

“Growing support for our plans is clear recognition that by unlocking the airport’s potential to serve up to 43 million passengers and extend the choice of airlines and destinations we serve, Stansted can deliver that access now.”

https://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/news/hertfordshire-news/uttlesford-district-council-announces-decision-1681871

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