Difficult to see how Heathrow could prevent rise in staff road trips to/from airport with 3rd runway

Heathrow has told the DfT that there would be no higher a number of car trips to and from the airport with a 3rd runway than now. But is that actually credible? Neither the DfT nor Heathrow produce easy-to-find figures, but they be located with a bit of digging. There are probably about 76,000 staff at the airport at present. The October 2014 Jacobs report done for the Airports Commission said:  “Headline employee commuting mode share was assumed to be 43% public transport and 47% private vehicles (ie. about 35,700 came by car, and Jacobs states: “with the vast majority of those undertaken as single occupancy car trips.”) … Elsewhere the same document says “with the 47% public transport mode share split between 35% using bus and 12% using rail.” There are various estimates of how many on-airport staff there might be with a new runway. The Commission’s Carbon Traded Assessment of Need scenario anticipated the number of staff to be around 90,000, and their highest growth scenario about 115,000 staff. Heathrow said by 2030 trips by both staff and passengers to the airport will be 53% by public transport, and still 47% by car.  Nowhere is there anything to indicate that below 47% of airport employees would get to and from work by car. With 90,000 staff at Heathrow, if 47% travelled by car that would be 42,300 people, (or if 43% came by car it would be 38,700). If there were 100,000 on-airport staff, and 47% came by car, that would be 47,000 people (and if 43% came by car, 43,000). Those numbers are higher than today. This is not including people travelling to newly increased numbers of jobs in the area.


Surface transport access to Heathrow Airport Presentation to the Assembly Transport Committee

There are a lot of useful figures, graphs, etc in a presentation by Transport for London (TfL) to the GLA’s Transport Committee, on 10th November 2015  here   The document shows how much surface access stress a Heathrow 3rd runway would cause to all the local infrastructure.


Heathrow says as well as new rail routes such as  London’s east-west Crossrail line, bus routes will be extended, more electric charging points will be created for electric vehicles and car-sharing clubs for airport staff will be promoted.

The worst air quality is near junctions three and four of the M4, where the airport accounts for up to 16% of traffic.

Some of the measures Heathrow hopes will deal with the air pollution problem are:

• Direct rail links from Reading and Waterloo station will improve access by public transport.
• A new station for London’s east-west Crossrail line will be opened at Heathrow.
• Bus routes to the airport will be extended.
• More electric charging points will be created for electric vehicles.
• Car-sharing clubs for airport staff will be promoted.


Staff transport to and from Heathrow

It is worth mentioning that after the main consultation and the subsidiary extra consultation on local air quality, the Airports Commission released the Jacobs report on Surface Access: Dynamic Modelling  (dated May 2015). This is at

This analysis, by Jacobs, took the highest case for the numbers of passengers – the Airports Commission’s “carbon traded, global growth” (CT GG) scenario. (The figures are a bit higher than the “carbon traded, assessment of need” (CT AoN) scenario).   For 2030, with a 3rd runway, the CT GG figure of annual passengers is about 125 million, while the CT AoN is about 109 million.
The numbers of passengers using public transport to get to and from Heathrow in 2030 are about 73 million in the  CT AoN scenario, and about 83.9 million in the CT GG scenario.
This document also has the number on on-airport staff as about (see Tables 2.2 and 2.3 on page 8) as about 90,000 by 2030 in the CT AoN scenario, and about 115,000 [114,999]  in the CT GG scenario.  (There are perhaps – at a guess – around 67,000 on-airport staff now, but it is difficult to get a figure. It might have been about 76,000 in 2010 – but numbers fall due to greater productivity per worker year by year.  Heathrow’s own forecasts suggested about 72,100 on-airport employees with 82.5 million annual passengers, compared to about 73 million passengers now).
The 2014 Jacobs report said:  “Headline employee commuting mode share was assumed to be 43% public transport and 47% private vehicles in both options, compared to 43% public transport and 47% private transport observed in 2013.” (sic). (Page 15 )   And (Page 74) “Similarly, around 43% of employees at Heathrow currently commute to the airport by car/taxi, with the 47% public transport mode share split between 35% using bus and 12% using rail.”
A chart on Page 11 shows where Heathrow staff lived in 2013 /14.
(Page 17)  2.3.28. As shown in Figure 9, the updated Heathrow staff travel survey in 2013/4 indicates that car (including motorcycle and taxi) remains the main mode of transport for employees to the airport, accounting for 50% of all surface access trips, with the vast majority of those undertaken as single occupancy car trips. Bus (including work bus/company transport) accounted for a further 35% with rail accounting for 12% (10% by tube, 1% by Heathrow Express and 1% by Heathrow Connect).
A pie chart on Page 18 shows the various ways in which staff reached the airport, in 2013 / 2014.
If there are currently around  (very approximately)  76,000 on-airport staff ( link ) and 47% of them come by car, that is around 35,700 per year.
“Employee mode share for future years was assessed within the Heathrow surface access model whereby the current public transport mode share of 43% was incrementally increased up to a maximum of 60% to assess the impact on the road and public transport network.”
(P 59)
There is a chart on Page 62 indicating how many employee car trips there would be with different numbers of staff in each car. For example with just one person in each car, the number of car trips might be 48,000 – but with 1.2 passengers on average, it would be 40,000 (using the 2012 data).
“As the demand model for employees does not include a main mode choice element, the application of car occupancy has a linear impact on the number of car trips, with a 10% increase in employee occupancy reducing employee car trips by 10%.”
Jacobs looked at the peak number of staff movements, to assess how many of the staff would travel at the same times.  Naturally not all staff travel to or from work at the same time. However, there is no reason to anticipate a large difference in times of day with a 3rd runway, than now.
If the number of on-airport staff rose to 90,000, and 43% of them came by car, that is about 38,700 per year.   Or if 47% came by car, that would be  42.3 million.
And if the number was as many as 100,000 (let alone 115,000 staff) the number would be 43,000 per year (or  if 47% came by car, that would be 54 million). Compared to about 36 million now.
[Heathrow said in  Feb 2014  that “fewer than 65% of staff commute in single-occupancy vehicles.”  !?  Link  ]
But Heathrow says:  “A key undertaking in this is that there will be no growth in airport-related traffic on the nearby road and motorway network, facilitated by enhanced public transport as part of the Airport Surface Access Strategy (ASAS).”  Link 
Heathrow says that as a condition of the Terminal 5 Inquiry: “A limit on the number of car parking spaces for both passengers and staff to 42,000”.  [ link ]
A Heathrow presentation dated 10.11.2015  says that by 2030 trips by both staff and passengers to the airport will be 53% by public transport.  [ Link ]  ie. still 47% by car.
The Heathrow claim of no more cars is based on assuming a big switch in employee transport from private cars to public transport/cycling and car sharing and on that basis Heathrow have told the Commission that they do not see any need for widening the M4 and many other road schemes. The dynamic modelling report above led to another report
which answered comments made about the need for additional road infrastructure and showed the pressures they expected the road network to come under both with general development in the area and that caused by an expanded airport.


FoI request in 2014 on number of on-airport parking spaces at Heathrow

A Freedom of Information request in 2014 elicited this response from Heathrow to Hillingdon Borough Council:


This said:

“As you will no doubt be aware, the number of HAL controlled car parking spaces that can be provided on airport land is limited to 42,000. This figure applies to public and staff but excludes construction worker parking (however this has also been provided for your reference). Additionally, within the total parking cap no more than 17,500 car parking spaces can be available to staff.

The latest figures are summarised below:

Public Parking


Staff Parking


Total HAL Controlled Parking


Total Capacity within Cap


Total Capacity within Staff Parking Cap


Construction Parking


Since the submission last year, the total number of HAL parking spaces has increased from 37,649 spaces to 38,448, which represents a 2% increase.  This increase can primarily be attributed to the opening of MSCP2.

Some additional capacity at T1 Business Car Park and Click Park on Sanctuary Road also contribute to the increase. Staff parking has seen a reduction in parking from 15,605 last year to 13,496 this year, representing a 14% decrease. This drop in parking is mainly due to the change in the Parking Express (PEx) site switching from staff to public parking.




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Ealing Council, that has avoided opposing Heathrow runway, wants £150 million to compensate residents

Last time round when there was nearly a 3rd Heathrow runway, in 2008- 2009, Ealing Council was part of the 2M group of councils opposing it.  In the intervening years, there are only 4 councils really taking forward the opposition. Ealing has increasingly been seen as changing its stance, to luke-warm support for the runway.  In July 2015, rather than restate its anti-runway stance the Labour group passed a motion “demanding answers” from the Conservative government on what it intended to do at Heathrow, if expansion is permitted. Its MP, Virendra Sharma, who had been against the runway, announced in August that he now supported it. Now the council leader (Labour) Julian Bell says he wants demanding £150 million, so Ealing can cope with the environmental impact of the runway at Heathrow.  “”While we welcome the jobs and economic benefits of Heathrow, a 3rd runway will inevitably cause more noise, pollution and traffic that will damage the quality of life of local people. …Straight talking and tough negotiating is what is needed if this goes ahead and I will continue to demand Heathrow Airport provides the best compensation deal for the people of Ealing.”  Slough Council got a deal with Heathrow early on in 2015, to try to get financial benefits from the airport, in exchange for not opposing it.



Ealing needs £150m in compensation to cope with Heathrow expansion, council leader says

Council leader Julian Bell said he is demanding £150m so that Ealing can cope with the environmental impact of a third runway at Heathrow
BY DAVID RIVERS (Get West London)
27 OCT 2016

It will take a compensation package of £150million for residents in Ealing to cope with the impact of a new runway at Heathrow Airport, council leader Julian Bell has warned.

On Tuesday (October 25) government gave its backing for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which sparked a wave of criticism from campaigners .

Reacting to the announcement, Labour Councillor Bell said he is demanding a compensation package of £150million from Heathrow Airport to deal with the environmental impact.

Cllr Bell said: “When you already live next door to a notoriously loud party house the last thing you want to see is a van delivering gigantic speakers.

“While we welcome the jobs and economic benefits of Heathrow, a third runway will inevitably cause more noise, pollution and traffic that will damage the quality of life of local people.

“This news will cause serious anxiety for my residents which is why I am demanding a £150million package of measures to mitigate the environmental impacts of a third runway and compensate those affected if the Government is determined to press ahead with this.

“Straight talking and tough negotiating is what is needed if this goes ahead and I will continue to demand Heathrow Airport provides the best compensation deal for the people of Ealing.”

His comments were condemned by opposition leader, Conservative Councillor Greg Stafford, who criticised Cllr Bell for not joining other councils in taking legal action against the Governments’ proposal.

[The councils that say they will be taking legal action are:  Windsor & Maidenhead, Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon].



How Ealing could be affected by Heathrow noise

In January 2008, when Ealing was part of the 2M (standing for 2 million residents) group of councils, the group put out this document on how increased flights from a new Heathrow runway would affect the borough:




• South Acton is under the flightpath to the third runway so aircraft coming in overhead throughout the day when the airport is operating on westerlies – up to one every 90 seconds. • Noise from take-offs when the airport is operating on easterlies – many more than now.


• Noise from take-offs when airport is operating on easterlies. • Aircraft coming in for the first time over south Ealing.


• Close to the third runway flightpath so noise from arriving aircraft throughout the day when airport is operating on westerlies – up to one every 90 seconds during peak periods. • Take-offs from third runway when the airport is operating on easterlies – one every 90 seconds during peak periods. • Noise from take-offs from the existing north runway when the airport is operating on easterlies – as a result of ending the Cranford agreement restricting departures from this runway.




Ealing Council leader challenged to ‘sit on fence’ under flightpath

Opposition councillors have accused Ealing’s Labour leader of backtracking on his commitment to oppose a third Heathrow runway

BY STEVE BAX (Get West London)
30 JUL 2015

Ealing Council leader Julian Bell has denied claims that his Labour administration is backtracking in its opposition to Heathrow expansion.

Rather than restate its anti-third runway stance at last Monday’s (July 27) full council, the Labour group passed a motion “demanding answers” from the Conservative government on what it intends to do at Heathrow, if expansion is permitted.

The motion was supported by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, while the Ealing Conservative group abstained.

Afterwards, Lib Dem leader Cllr Gary Malcolm rounded on the Labour group and Cllr Bell for not taking a tougher line.

He said: “It is a shame that the Labour party are sitting on the fence, dancing to the tune of David Cameron. Liberal Democrats reaffirmed our opposition to Heathrow expansion as we do not want to see more noise and air pollution.

“Why doesn’t the council leader sit on his fence at a school in Hounslow – then he will appreciate the noise children suffer, day in and day out!”

Cllr Gregory Stafford, leader of Tory opposition, said the Ealing Labour leadership had “refused to confirm” they intend to stick to their 2014 manifesto commitment to campaign against expansion at Heathrow Airport.  [They are no longer part of the 2M group of councils, against a larger Heathrow]. 

Pointing out that Labour councillors had refused a Conservative amendment reaffirming the council’s commitment to campaigning against further expansion, Cllr Stafford claimed: “Nationally, Labour has changed their minds on Heathrow expansion.

“It should therefore come as no surprise that the Ealing Labour are trying to quietly back away from their 2014 Manifesto pledge to on this issue as well. Given that they are also reneging from their pledge of a weekly waste and recycling service, it is clear that their Manifesto has been a waste of a good tree.”

But Labour said residents would remember that it was the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in coalition government who had set up the Davies Commission in 2012 which last month recommended a third Heathrow runway.

Denying he was on the fence over the issue, Cllr Bell said: “The council will continue to fight any environmental impacts of current airport operations and if the government go ahead with expansion we will fight against the impacts of expansion.

“We will also fight the dangerous proposals of Boris Johnson to close down Heathrow airport that would lead to a catastrophic loss of local jobs.”

He added: “Indecision and uncertainty are the worst possible outcome for local people. We need to know what the Government intends to do.”

The motion passed by the council calls on David Cameron’s government to clarify what noise performance targets there will be and how a ban on night flights will be enforced.

It also seeks answers on respite periods, compensation packages and commitments on local jobs.



The local MP, Virendra Sharma, was opposed to a Heathrow runway in 2009, but has now changed his mind and backs the runway.

He wrote

Virendra Sharma: This is why I changed my mind [on Heathrow]


Extract below

Expansion won’t just continue to provide the jobs that we currently have, but it guarantees up to 40,000 new jobs and £35bn of economic growth in London alone. Heathrow will also double the number of apprentices from 5,000 to 10,000. That could mean the almost total eradication of youth unemployment across communities next to the airport, and thousands of newly-skilled young people throughout the capital. It is why I was so proud to join Lord Blunkett at the announcement of Heathrow’s Skills Taskforce, which he will chair. His history of delivering as secretary of state for education and employment, and then as home secretary, means he brings an unrivalled level of experience to the important task of teaching and training across our region.

But it isn’t only those directly employed by Heathrow who stand to gain from expansion. With thousands more employed in my borough, Ealing, and across London, there will be many more people spending money in the local economy, meaning more jobs locally and success for local small businesses.

The newest plans from Heathrow are a significantly enhanced offer for international trade, with twice as much freight capacity, allowing exporters in my constituency to take advantage of the airport on their doorstep. And with 40 new long-haul destinations, as well as up to 16 domestic routes, it will keep London in its rightful place as a world city at the centre of global commerce, where it has been for centuries.

We will soon have the first Crossrail trains running through Ealing and Southall and, by the time Heathrow expansion is completed, upgraded Piccadilly line trains will also run through the south of the borough. Not only will the issue of overcrowding at our local stations have been resolved, but Heathrow will then be the world’s best connected airport, with quick access for us, rapid links to East London through Crossrail, and to Manchester and Leeds through HS2. We will be ideally placed to benefit from increased trade and inward investment.

One of my most important reasons for formally opposing Heathrow expansion was the risk of increased noise and pollution. We have taken part in a public consultation on Heathrow’s noise and property compensation plans. Heathrow listened to local residents and now we will benefit from a night flight ban, runway alternations which ensure guaranteed periods of noise respite, and innovative procedures like steeper approaches which are already being trialled. Heathrow has also offered £610m more than the previous third runway proposal did for noise insulation.

No airport will be without an environmental impact, and Heathrow’s poor record on emissions was the other major source of concern I had regarding expansion. Heathrow has, however, introduced higher landing costs for the loudest and most polluting aircraft and no additional capacity will be released until the airport guarantees it is on course to comply with EU emission limits. The push to encourage as many passengers to travel by public transport as possible will also reduce emissions from private vehicles, one of the largest contributors to pollution.

The Environment Agency has been invited to take up the role of an independent aviation air quality authority, to provide transparent scrutiny of the plans. It will ensure that Heathrow delivers what it has promised as an increasingly green and quiet source of employment and skills for a successful West London.

Heathrow’s new expansion plan is one that works for everyone in West London and across the capital. It is one which I now support, and according to new Populus polling this week, a strong majority, 64 per cent, of my constituents do as well.

There have been many developments since the 2009 proposals, and with all of the changes made to the plans, I know an expanded Heathrow would represent a world-beating offer for Ealing, Southall, West London and the entire country.



Slough Council hoped to do a special deal with Heathrow, to get benefits if a 3rd runway was allowed. Other councils have hoped that by not opposing the runway, they could get benefits.

Slough Council secret deal with Heathrow includes gagging order, making it impotent in fighting for a better deal from Heathrow for 3 – 4 years

Residents of Colnbrook, close to Heathrow and due to be badly affected by a 3rd runway, submitted a FoI request to get the details for the secret, but legally binding, deal done between Slough Borough Council and Heathrow airport. The details of the deal are worrying. As well as finding out that Colnbrook, and help for the residents, do not feature in the deal, it has emerged that  Slough Council has accepted what amounts to a self-imposed gagging order, unable to criticise Heathrow for the next 3 to 4 years,until Heathrow is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO).  As well as a boost for investment in the town and improved access from central Slough to the airport, the secret agreement sees Heathrow commit to supporting the Council’s representations to Government to seek compensation for lost business rates, put by the council itself at up to £10 million earlier this year.  In return, however, Cabinet is legally bound to giving public support for the airport until final permission, is granted.  A Development Consent Order is at least three years away, possibly four.  Residents expected that their council would have argued for “world class” compensation and mitigation.  Read the Agreement for yourself in full.



Slough’s £1.5 million deal with Heathrow “unlocked funding denied to other councils” like Hillingdon

Slough Council has backed Heathrow’s runway plans, and entered into a deal with Heathrow to try and get the maximum benefits.  Slough Council says its deal will “unlock £1.5 million in direct financial support denied to neighbouring councils.”  Slough’s Deputy Leader James Swindlehurst has refuted suggestions that its partnership with Heathrow is anything less than the strong package he promised in January to mitigate the worst impact of airport expansion for communities closest to Heathrow. This has meant that Slough has secured funds for mitigation while neighbouring councils have been left with nothing. “Councils like Hillingdon, who have not negotiated with the airport, have no funds being allocated to them.” Cllr Swindlehurst says the agreement provides a guaranteed minimum of £100,000 per year for 15 years where Heathrow and the Council will allocate the money to fund specific improvement projects in selected wards. That would only follow approval of the Development Consent Order for a 3rd runway, but  Cllr Swindelhurst says additional funding pledges specifically mentioned in the agreement are in addition. Hounslow is now in talks with Heathrow, to get a financial deal. Hilliingdon has refused to enter into financial negotiations.









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DfT states alleged £147 billion economic benefit to UK (over 60 years) of Heathrow runway more like “up to £61 billion”

It appears the economic benefits of a Heathrow runway have been exaggerated wildly.  [We have been saying that for a year and a quarter …. as have numerous critics of the runway – but the media and the government preferred to believe the exaggerated numbers]. The government announcement on 25th October only says the benefit of the Heathrow runway would be £61 billion, for the whole of the UK, over 60 years. The earlier figure had been “up to £147 billion” (both for a carbon-traded scenario). The Airports Commission used economic modelling for its projections, which was criticised as being unreliable, by its own economic advisors, Professor Peter Mackie and Mr Brian Pearce (May 2015) which warned of double counting, and questioned the “robustness and reliability” of the method. Heathrow then took an even higher figure, of £211 billion (UK benefit, over 60 years) from part of the Commission’s analysis, and promoted this widely.  Many, unfortunately, were misled. One of the ways the AC forecasts were to high is including benefits to non-UK residents. Another is double counting all sorts of spin-off activities, that are already accounted for in other sectors. DfT says given the uncertainties, “various calculation approaches have been proposed over time. Ongoing engagement with external experts means that the preferred methodology continues to evolve, and is likely to continue doing so after the publication of this report.”  ie. these figures may change again (downwards??) 


Benefits compared  – Airports Commission (July 2015) and DfT (Oct 2016)

Below are the Heathrow North West runway sections of both the Airports Commission Final Report (on the left) and the new DfT sensitivities report, (on the right) comparing their assessments of Heathrow’s benefits to all of the UK over 60 years. The AC looked at both carbon traded (CT) and carbon capped (CC).  The DfT has now abandoned carbon capped, and looks only at carbon traded (hoping the ICAO deal will be enough to take account of CO2).



Airports Commission Final report.  P 147


DfT sensitivities report P 39 of



Heathrow overvalued by £86 bn

27 Oct 2016 (The Times)

By Graeme Paton (Transport Correspondent) , Alistair Osborne

The economic benefits of expanding Heathrow airport were overstated by up to £86 billion, buried government figures reveal.

Building an extra runway at Gatwick airport would bring virtually the same benefits to the nation as expanding Heathrow, the figures suggest.

Questions were raised over Theresa May’s endorsement of Heathrow after a Department for Transport report more than halved previous estimates for the size of the economic boost to be provided by Heathrow over 60 years.

….. and it continues ….

Full Times article at



Official reports cast doubt on claims that pointed to Heathrow

27.10.2016  (The Times)


However, a series of reports published by the Department for Transport (DfT) appeared to cast doubt on some of the commission’s findings.

However, a DfT report said the government “identified a number of concerns, which cast further doubt on these estimates” and it “does not recommend using these figures to inform a decision on preferred location”.

In its own statements, the government said that a third runway would be worth up to £61 billion to the economy, £86 billion less than the commission’s highest forecast.

Furthermore, it said that Gatwick was now worth up to £54 billion to the country, just £7 billion less than Heathrow.

…. and it continues …..

Full Times article at



It has also emerged that the case for Heathrow may have been inflated by the inclusion of transfer passengers in the final economic assessment. Passengers who pass through the hub en route to other countries but never leave the airport are likely to have a lower impact on the economy than those who actually spend time in Britain. Stripping out these passengers — about a third of the total at Heathrow — would put it on practically an equal footing with Gatwick, it is believed. Last night the government denied that its own figures represented a downgrading of the benefits of Heathrow, saying that it was impossible to compare the higher and lower assessments as they were calculated in different ways.”


Airports Commission’s own economic advisors warned economic claims were inflated

The Airports Commission based its decision to advocate a Heathrow runway in part on economic models that its own advisory panel believed were questionable. Economic experts Professor Peter Mackie and Mr Brian Pearce had advising the Commission that the forecast the runway would deliver a £147 billion boost to Britain should be treated with “caution”.

This is what they said, on 5th May 2015 (over a month before the Commission made its recommendation on 1st July 2015, and their concluding remarks copied below:


“This is one of the most ambitious attempts to prepare a quantified Economic Impact Assessment. There are few comparators available. While the content of the model itself has been well-tested, the same cannot be said of the front end, where an increase in capacity is converted into an increase in trip-making, trade, tourism and finally productivity. Furthermore the interpretation of the result— what exactly do they mean and is their basis transparent— is an issue. Overall, therefore, we counsel caution in attaching significant weight either to the absolute or relative results of the GDP/GVA SCGE approach (PwC report) within the Economic Case. We would accept that there is some useful indicative material for the Strategic Case but care is required in assessing its robustness and reliability.”



The short 1 page DfT document on the Heathrow runway says it would benefit the UK by up to £61 over 60 years.

It states:

Economy • Based on the Airports Commission’s analysis, the Government estimates that the benefits to passengers and the wider economy would be up to £61 billion over 60 years.



The DfT document assessing the validity of the Airports Commission analysis is at

Further Review and Sensitivities Report.
Airport Capacity in the South East

Moving Britain Ahead


October 2016

81 pages


The “sensitivities” document contains the £61.1 billion figure, in Table 7.1 on Page 39.


Below are some extracts, but there is a lot of it and it is not that easy for anyone not well informed on economics to follow :

The Wider Economic Impacts section starts on P. 30

This looks at the the two approaches undertaken by the Airports Commission (AC) to estimate the wider economic effects:

i. conventional appraisal

ii. S-CGE modelling of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).   [ie. Spatial Computable General Equilibrium (S-CGE) modelling of the GDP impacts of airport expansion.]

It then summarises the DfT’s assessment of these 2 approaches.


5.6 While the department fully recognises the existence of wider economic benefits, and supports the framework of impacts set out by the AC in Figure 5.1, the exact magnitude of these benefits is inherently uncertain. In the department’s review of the AC’s evidence base, some potential issues were found with the approaches taken.

5.7 The rarity of airport expansion appraisals limits the extent to which relevant best practice can be established. Departmental guidance does provide a robust starting point, but it has been generated largely for surface modes of transport, so careful consideration must be given to its application in the case of airport development.

5.8 The impacts from increased output and tax take made use of the department’s appraisal guidance, while the agglomeration impacts were based on a similar but not identical method. There is currently no guidance on appraising the trade impacts of expansion – although the department agrees that such benefits might exist – and as a result the AC developed its own approach.

5.9 The department’s review of the calculated agglomeration benefits found issues relating to the underlying evidence and implementation of the chosen methodology.


5.13 The AC presented estimates for wider economic impacts that included productivity benefits arising from additional trade. Some of these benefits may however already be captured in the estimates of other economic impacts. This is discussed in more detail in  Box 5.1. To avoid counting these benefits twice, trade benefits have not been included in the total reported wider economic impacts, but are reported separately.

5.14 Given the uncertainty associated with estimating wider economic impacts, various calculation approaches have been proposed over time. Ongoing engagement with external experts means that the preferred methodology continues to evolve, and is likely to continue doing so after the publication of this report.

5.15 Because of this, and in an approach consistent with the AC and best practice, the overall impact of the capacity options has been presented both including and excluding estimates of wider economic impacts. Wider economic impacts, where appropriate, are presented as a range to reflect the inherent uncertainty underlying their calculation. Estimates of wider economic impacts included within the NPV are shown in Figure 5.2.  [The table has the Heathrow North West runway giving a total of “Wider economic impacts (present value, £bn, 2014 prices) of £2 – 3.9 billion] 


Box 5.1

Trade While trade impacts have not been included in the estimates of NPVs, this is not to suggest that the department no longer considers them likely. Rather, an assessment of the approach taken by the AC found that the inclusion of trade impacts risked the double-counting of benefits.

This double-counting is thought to largely occur in two ways. Firstly, where trade induced productivity benefits accrue to a business passenger’s firm, these impacts can be expected to be incorporated into purchasing decisions and thus be reflected in direct business passenger impacts. Secondly, because trade studies do not separate out the two effects, the estimated trade impacts will include some impacts already attributed to agglomeration effects.

…. and there is a lot more in Box 5.1



5.22  The S-CGE model created for the AC by PwC modelled four distinct effects of airport expansion:

• changes in passenger flows

• productivity effects (captured through international trade)

• frequency benefits to airport users • transport economic efficiency effects

5.24 The use of S-CGE modelling, while increasingly common in the appraisal of improvements to surface modes of transport, is highly innovative when applied to a project of this scope. The addition of international relationships inherently complicates attempts to model changes in the UK economy. And, as in conventional appraisal, the transmission mechanisms for air travel may be significantly different to those observed in other modes of transport.


5.26 At present, it is the view of both the expert panellists and the department that given this lack of consensus, it is highly challenging to produce a single central estimate of the GDP impact of airport expansion using the S-CGE approach with the evidence currently available. The existence of the relationships within the modelling, however, is accepted (such as an increase in airport capacity leading to greater levels of productivity).


7.3 After the department’s changes, the revised central case suggests that, in line with the AC, the LHR Northwest Runway scheme delivers the greatest benefits to passengers, government and the wider economy, net of environmental disbenefits. It would also lead to the most jobs created locally. The revised net benefits, disbenefits to private business from reduced profits (due to lower fares), and the costs of construction are shown in Table 7.1.



Gatwick airport complained earlier:

Most of the rest of the difference in economic impacts derives from PwC’s estimates of productivity impacts, using a new and untested approach that leads to estimates of the relationship between passengers and productivity that are over ten times larger than has been found in other studies, and almost twice as high for Heathrow as for Gatwick, for comparable inputs. This is the element of the model that is most heavily criticised by the Commission’s expert advisors.


The economic benefit (net present value) generated by Heathrow expansion would more than halve if the direct benefits enjoyed by international transfer passengers who never set foot in the UK – or generate a penny for the economy – are removed from the calculations, according to separate reports commissioned by Gatwick Airport from Deloitte and Oxera.  Link    Oct 2015

On adding in the benefits to non-UK residents

The DfT now says (Oct 2015)  Link P 15

65. A considerable proportion of the stated benefits in the Final Report, particularly for Heathrow, accrue to foreign residents, and to International-to-International (I-to-I) passenger transfers. WebTAG suggests that benefits accruing to UK and foreign passengers should be included, and that I-to-I should be excluded. There are reasons however why including I-to-I makes sense, particularly because there is no robust way to separate out completely all impacts – costs and benefits – for each group, including passengers. Whereas it may be possible to do so in relation to benefits, it would be very difficult to do so for costs. This would lead to an unbalanced representation of the costs and benefits which would be misleading. In the Department’s view therefore, the Commission’s approach to I-to-I transfers is appropriate.


Letter in the Times from Howard Davies, on 30.10.2016:
Airport estimates

Sir, You have commented on the apparent discrepancies between the airports commission’s estimates of the economic benefits of expanding Heathrow and the figures quoted by the government when endorsing our recommendations (report, Oct 27, leader, Oct 28). It is true that there was a difference: the government’s estimate is £61 billion, while the commission’s estimate was £68 billion.
The basis for our calculation was explained in our report last July. We thought it reasonable to assess the second-order economic impacts, on trade intensity, productivity and employment, something which the government does not normally do in assessing infrastructure projects.
On the basis of a study by PWC, we estimated that the impact on GDP of Heathrow expansion would be in the range of £131-147 billion. The analysis for Gatwick also showed GDP impacts that were higher than the standard economic benefits alone. Our expert panel said this approach was legitimate, but that it should be part of the strategic case for airport expansion, rather than being used in the economic assessment. So that is what we did, and we continue to believe that is a more sensible approach to assessing the overall impacts of airport expansion.

Sir Howard Davies Chairman, Airports Commission





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New DfT report indicates number of local jobs from Heathrow 3rd runway about 37,700 by 2030 – not “up to 77,000”

The Airports Commission’s Final Report said the Heathrow NW runway would lead to an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [direct, indirect and induced jobs – ie. supply chain etc] in 2030 for local people. Indeed, Heathrow “astroturf” lobby group got membership partly on the strength of the jobs claims. But now, having looked at the details, the DfT has come up with much lower figures. While the statement on the DfT website on 25th October still says “up to 77,000” local jobs, its more considered assessment “review and sensitivities” document accepted these figures were exaggerated. Instead they now say, using a more accurate method, the number of local jobs might be 37,740 by 2030, not 77,000. By 2050, the DfT now estimate the number of jobs might be 39,100 – while the Commission expected 78,360.  The DfT say the 2050 figure is the cumulative total, and cannot be added to the number of jobs created by 2030.  The DfT “assessment and sensitivities” report states that it had “identified a number of uncertainties with the approach taken” to assessing jobs by the Commission, which used job multipliers from the airports. These “could lead to significantly different results”. The new DfT figures use Berkeley Hanover Consulting Ltd (BHC) and Optimal Economics Ltd survey data rather than airport assumptions to generate estimates of the indirect job multipliers, which are likely to be more robust.


The Airports Commission’s Final Report said:

“Expansion at Heathrow would drive a substantial increase in employment at and around the airport, generating an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [ie. additional direct, indirect and induced jobs] in 2030 for local people and for the fast-growing wider population in London and the South East, including for black and minority ethnic communities for whom Heathrow is an important employer.”



The new DfT document assessing the validity of the Airports Commission analysis is at

Further Review and Sensitivities Report.
Airport Capacity in the South East

Moving Britain Ahead


October 2016

81 pages


Below are most of the extracts that relate to jobs:

Purpose of this Report

7. The main purpose of this report is to set out the monetised costs and benefits of
the three shortlisted options for airport expansion in the UK to the economy, the
environment, and society, as well as the impacts on local jobs.

18. The department engaged with external experts to further refine the AC’s
methodology for estimating the wider economic impacts and the number of local
jobs created that could follow expansion. Although it is recognised that there will
be wider economic benefits from trade, these are no longer included in the central
NPV, due to the risks of double-counting. These benefits are closely related to
business passenger benefits as well as wider economic benefits from increased
agglomeration, and further review has suggested that these cannot be deemed as
additive to one another. Given the significant uncertainties that remain around the
estimates of wider economic impacts, a range is now presented. The department
also developed a revised methodology for estimating the number of new local jobs
that may be delivered by expansion, which are now also presented as a range
(see chapter 6).


…..The AC did not monetise the impacts on the local economy, but undertook a literature review of the local economic impacts of expansion and estimated the impact on the number of local jobs. This local impact is not necessarily additional at the national level, as the local jobs may be displaced from elsewhere in the country due to passengers switching from other airports, or displaced from other employment sectors altogether.


6.4 The department agrees with the AC’s overall framework for analysing local jobs
impacts, but identified a number of uncertainties with the approach taken. These
uncertainties mean that varying the assumptions in the analysis could lead to
significantly different results. The department has therefore undertaken work to
further review the evidence and generate a range of estimates for the number of
local jobs created. In addition, inconsistencies were identified between the AC’s
stated method and the actual calculation of these impacts, so some further
revisions were made to the estimates for LGW Second Runway scheme.

6.5 The department’s alternative approach uses the same data as the AC (on-airport
employee surveys) for the projections of the number of direct jobs. For the
estimates of indirect and induced jobs the AC relied on multipliers provided by the
scheme promoters. The department has considered an alternative approach which
uses data on current employment at Gatwick 31 and Heathrow 32  [31 ’Gatwick Airport Employment Generation to 2020 in the Context of the Local Labour Market’, Report to West Sussex County Council, Berkeley Hanover Consulting, 2011. 32 http://www.heathrow.com/file_source/Company/Static/PDF/Communityandenvironment/Heathrow-Related-Employment-Report.pdf ]

from Berkeley Hanover Consulting Ltd (BHC) and Optimal Economics Ltd respectively in order to re-estimate these impacts. These studies use survey data rather than assumptions
to generate estimates of the indirect job multipliers, providing additional assurance
around their robustness. Estimates of the number of induced jobs supported are
however calculated using multipliers assumed by BHC and Optimal. A further
difference arises as the size of the Heathrow local catchment area used in the
department’s approach is smaller than that used by the AC. Indicative analysis
suggests this only accounts for a small proportion of the difference between the
two figures.


6.6 The number of local jobs supported by the presence of an airport depends on
many factors including the type of airport, size of the airport passenger and
employment catchment areas, and even the size of these areas compared to the
size of the country as a whole. Reflecting these uncertainties, Table 6.1 displays a
range based on the revised AC estimates and the alternative approach considered
by the department. It should be noted that the local jobs created by 2050 are the
cumulative total, and cannot be added to the number of jobs created by 2030.


Heathrow jobs by 2030 – 37,740 not 76,650




While the DfT puts out the assessment of 37,740 Heathrow local jobs by 2030, it also puts out on the same day (and Grayling tells the House of Commons) the old 77,000 figure

Meanwhile, on the DfT website another document blithely states, as did Chris Grayling in the House of Commons, that the total was 77.000 jobs.

This document, entitled “Heathrow North West Runway Economic Benefits” from the DfT.    25.10.2016 says:

• Separate analysis by the Department for Transport and the Airports Commission suggests that an additional runway at Heathrow could deliver up to 77,000 additional local jobs
by 2030.
• This will help the airport to deliver its promise of creating 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2030, doubling the current total to 10,000.
• Heathrow has pledged that these new opportunities would have the potential to drive down youth unemployment in the five boroughs nearest to the airport – Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne.




Why can’t the DfT’s runway announcement give the same figure, as is written in the report on the same day, from the same department?

Did the writer of the press release not know the right figure?  Was it done by mistake?






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Berwin Leighton Paisner and Pinsents advise Heathrow on planning stages and process to get a 3rd runway

Pinsent Masons and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) have advised Heathrow Airport on the planning process up to the government’s decision on 25 October to approve a third runway, with more legal advisers likely to be appointed. Pinsents, which has a place on Heathrow’s panel, advised the airport on its plans. BLP confirmed it has also advised the airport’s in-house team. Meanwhile the government has appointed former senior president of tribunals Sir Jeremy Sullivan to oversee the process of the NPS on aviation, covering the Heathrow runway.  In addition, there are likely to be several legal challenges to the decision, including a joint legal action already mounted by Greenpeace UK alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. Greenpeace UK and the councils are jointly instructing Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors, specialists in public, environmental and planning law and human rights. In 2010, the campaigners worked together to successfully overturn the Labour governments backing for a third runway in the High Court.  Heathrow has a team of around 30 in-house lawyers and typically instructs Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for finance and corporate, Allen & Overy (A&O) on financing for lenders, Herbert Smith Freehills for litigation, Eversheds for employment and Berwin Leighton Paisner for planning.



Berwin Leighton Paisner and Pinsents advise Heathrow as government approves plans for third runway

26 October 2016

by Kathryn McCann  (Legal Business)

Pinsent Masons and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) have advised Heathrow Airport on the planning process up to the government’s decision yesterday (25 October) to approve a third runway, with more legal advisers likely to be appointed as the scheme is taken forward in the form of a national policy statement (NPS) for consultation.

Pinsents, which has a place on Heathrow’s panel, advised the airport on its plans with a team led by head of infrastructure planning and government affairs Robbie Owen. BLP confirmed it has also advised the airport’s in-house team.

Meanwhile the government has appointed former senior president of tribunals Sir Jeremy Sullivan to oversee the process of the NPS on aviation, covering the Heathrow runway. The process will take one year and will be subject to a vote of parliament.

In addition, there are likely to be several legal challenges to the decision, including a joint legal action already mounted by Greenpeace UK alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Winsor and Maidenhead councils.

Greenpeace UK and the councils are jointly instructing Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors, specialists in public, environmental and planning law and human rights. In 2010, the campaigners worked together to successfully overturn the Labour governments backing for a third runway in the High Court.

Commenting on the government’s decision, Liz Jenkins, an infrastructure partner at Clyde & Co said the announcement was a ‘false dawn.’

‘Even if the House of Commons does back [Heathrow] then there will still be a number of legal hurdles to overcome before any shovels can break ground. Apart from the political opposition, there will be opposition from activist local residents, local authorities and environmentalists on a host of legal, planning and regulatory issues, such as noise and emissions.’

Speaking to Legal Business in 2014, Heathrow’s legal chief Carol Hui said: ‘The political aspects of this involve local community engagement, master planning, designing and environmental issues. It also concerns local residents if there are issues of noise and blight. We listen to people.’

‘We always have to work to make our case and help people see expanding Heathrow is the answer to connecting the UK to growth so we don’t fall behind our competitors in Europe and increasingly emerging airports like Dubai and Doha. We have to make our case effectively.’

Heathrow has a team of around 30 in-house lawyers and typically instructs Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for finance and corporate, Allen & Overy (A&O) on financing for lenders, Herbert Smith Freehills for litigation, Eversheds for employment and Berwin Leighton Paisner for planning.

A&O, Hogan Lovells and Freshfields led on Heathrow’s final airport disposal in 2014 as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports were sold to a consortium formed by Ferrovial and Macquarie for £1.05bn.









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Possible plan to put runway and taxiways on a bridge over M25 (not a tunnel) to save money

The Airports Commission (that cost almost £20 million) looked -in theory – at everything in great detail, and its (allegedly) incontrovertible recommendations have now been followed by government. It talked about the M25 needing to be tunnelled under the runway. It did not mention any sort of bridge.  But Heathrow was asked by government to cut the cost of its scheme (in order not to raise costs to passengers, to keep demand for flights high) so it came up recently with the idea of a bridge over the motorway. There is a bridge for one of the runways (+ taxiways) at Schiphol, so it is possible. However, there are enormous questions, not the least of which being that nobody has seen any details (cost, practicality, level of disruption, safety, terrorism danger etc) let alone been consulted. The section of motorway that might be bridged is the busiest on the M25, one of the busiest (it might be the busiest) in Europe, and the busiest in the UK. DfT figures show around 263,000 vehicles per day on the Junction 14-15 stretch in 2014. The runway would need to be raised about 8 metres in order to get over the motorway. Heathrow has only said it would spend a total of £1.1 billion for surface access infrastructure. The cost of tunnelling was estimated by the Airports Commission at £3.2 billion. Chris Grayling said absolutely nothing in his announcement, or in Parliament, about how much of the TfL estimate of £18 bn for surface access work the taxpayer would have to fund.


How do you build a runway over a motorway?

There’s an obstacle in the way of the proposed runway – the M25. An initial idea of constructing a road tunnel beneath the runway has been put aside. Building a “ramp” instead would be “a cheaper and quicker way of doing it”, said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Heathrow is situated near the the M25’s busiest section, between junctions 14 and 15. Nearly 100 million vehicles flow through this stretch each year, according to Department for Transport figures.

Some on Twitter have joked that this ramp might resemble the front of some aircraft carriers that have a steep incline, known as a ski jump. “I can assure you it’s nothing like that,” says Chris Chalk, who’s on the transport expert panel for the Institution of Civil Engineers.

“In fact, you wouldn’t actually be able to see it with your eye. If you were on an aircraft you wouldn’t know about it.” [Note – this comment is only from the perspective of air passengers, not motorway users underneath.  AW note].

The gradient would be less than 1%, as required by the European Aviation Safety Agency. What impact would this have on a plane? “It doesn’t affect the performance of an aircraft or provide any problems whatsoever,” says Chalk.

“When an aircraft comes in to land, it’s coming in at a gradient of about 5% so less than 1% is a very small difference. In fact, it’s quite normal to have a runway with some gradient on.” [That is incorrect. Planes approach Heathrow, and almost all other airports, at 3 degrees. Link  Heathrow said:  “The international standard approach for most airports in the world is set at 3 degrees,” AW note].

Other UK airports that would have a greater gradient than that proposed at Heathrow include Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham.

Runway bridges have been built over busy roads including at Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Fort Lauderdale in the US state of Florida. Planes taxi along a bridge over a motorway at Leipzig-Halle airport in Germany and at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.


Google map

Designers are required to allow a large amount of space either side of the runway in case there is an incident on the airfield. Strategically placed slats and the right lighting will be factors in preventing drivers from losing concentration due to planes overhead, explains Chalk, who works for the civil engineering firm Mott McDonald.

“You tend to have a number of visual buffers because you don’t want to distract the drivers. At that distance you won’t actually be seeing the aircraft that easily. It hasn’t created any issues elsewhere at other busy airports.”

So those thinking the boredom of being stuck in traffic on Britain’s busiest motorway might be relieved by the sight of a large aeroplane crossing the road will be disappointed.



The Airports Commission only ever mentioned tunnelling the M25

Its Final Report said:

“8.18 In addition, a range of works would be needed on the road network to accommodate the expanded airfield site including, for both schemes, the tunnelling of a section of the M25 to the west of the airport.”



PLANE CRAZY  – Heathrow Airport’s third runway could see jumbo jets taking off from a ‘ramp’ over the M25

The Government’s decision to choose Heathrow for expansion has caused deep rifts in the Tory Party

Times said  27.10.2016 : 

Heathrow confirmed yesterday that it would sign initial contracts with engineers, architects and planning consultants “within days” to start the third runway after being given the government’s approval, insisting that 95 per cent of spending would go to British suppliers.  Link 

BALPA say the slope of the runway – even 1 degree, affects how planes land and take off


The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said that other runways around the world operated on gradients, usually as a result of being built on sloping ground. However, it said there was a chance that an aircraft’s autolanding system — usually used to bring the plane down in fog — may not work on some slopes.

At least one other runway — at Fort Lauderdale in Florida — is built on a man-made slope. It is almost 16m higher at one end to accommodate a goods railway underneath.

Stephen Landells, Balpa’s flight safety specialist, said: “Putting a slope on a runway isn’t a problem. But any change to the runway has a significant impact on the performance of the aircraft. So before take-off or landing, one of the things you have to consider is the slope of the runway.

“On take-off, you will work out the power you need. If you have got quite a steep slope it is going to take longer to accelerate and more power. On landing, it has an effect if you land downhill because it is going to increase your landing roll.”

He added that there was a risk the autolanding feature may not work.

“The use of autoland is also limited,” he said. “The limit on most aircraft will be around two degrees, and if it is greater than a two degree slope you can’t use the autoland. Not having autoland at Heathrow would not be a good situation to be in because any fog would cause problems. You can’t just close a major international airport.”

See full article in the Times at



Putting Heathrow runway over M25 will be ‘cheaper and quicker’ Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says

The plan is for the runway to span the 12-lane highway

By Jon Stone, Political Correspondent (Independent)

The Transport Secretary has defended the Government’s plan for Heathrow’s new runway to span the M25 using a ramp, arguing that the solution will be “cheaper and quicker” than alternatives.

Chris Grayling said that the new runway had to be “affordable for passengers” and that the ramp over the 12-lane motorway would only be a “gentle slope”.

Ministers yesterday gave their backing for the new runway, the design of which suggests using an 8m ramp to span Britain’s widest motorway at its widest point.

Mr Grayling said the proposal was “sensible”, seeking to assuage safety and security concerns of having sensitive infrastructure just metres in the air over a busy road.

“We’ve been very clear not just to [Heathrow] but to the other promoters of the schemes is that what they do has to be affordable for passengers as well. It’s not simply about landing extra costs on the shoulders of passengers,” Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

“One of the things that Heathrow has been looking at is doing what many airports have done around the world and building their runway over the top of the road rather than tunnelling the road underneath it.

“It’s a cheaper and quicker way of doing it and I’m of course very concerned to make sure that whilst this runway is built it doesn’t cause massive disruption on the M25.

“I think this is a sensible way, it’s a gentle slope. It’s a hill, a very gentle hill upwards that the planes would take off rather than a flat service and it’s what happens at very many other airports around the world.”

Other proposals considered include putting the M25 into a tunnel, building the runway at a different alignment, or building it elsewhere.

MPs will vote on the new runway in 2017-18 following a public consultation.

The third runway is expected to be operational not before 2025, with construction slated for 2020-2021, barring any further roadblocks.




Heathrow conceded on Tuesday night that it may have to re-examine its plans for an extension under the M25, possibly replacing the tunnel with an elevated bridge, after it emerged that Highways England, the body in charge of Britain’s major roads, considered the scheme a major risk.

Highways England warned there was a “significant risk of cost overruns” in the M25 tunnel scheme, the bill for which it estimated would be between £476m and £1.1bn. Correspondence released by the Department for Transport showed that the roads authority described the scheme as “high risk”, warning of a “a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption”.






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CAA writes to Heathrow setting out its expectations, including preventing airline cost rises

Andrew Haines, the CEO of the CAA, has written to John Holland-Kaye to tell him that airport charges should be kept down, despite the huge costs of the runway and terminal etc. The CAA is the body that controls Heathrow’s charges to airlines. Mr Haines said the CAA “expects to see constructive engagement between the airport and its airline customers to drive value for money and efficiency.”  The CAA will soon publish (November) their proposals on how Heathrow can recover planning and construction costs.  The letter to Heathrow says: “But a new runway project cannot simply be treated as ‘business as usual’ and it will require airport-airline engagement to be taken to a deeper and much more productive level by both sides.”  And “You will have seen the Government’s aspiration that airport charges should remain close to current levels, indeed the Secretary of State was clear on this being a goal inches announcement.” And the CAA is keen to work with Heathrow, the airlines and other interested parties on the appropriate framework for the recovery of future construction costs, and their immediate priority is a clear timetable for this. There will also be a CAA consultation on key options for the economic regulation framework, to be published by the end of June 2017. There will also be a series of consultation documents through 2017 in which the CAA “will seek to build and expand on its regulatory principles.”


CAA sets out expectations to Heathrow Airport for delivering a new runway

Following the Government’s announcement of Heathrow as its preferred location for a new runway, the CAA has today written to John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, setting out its expectations for the efficient delivery of this new infrastructure.
25.10.2016   (CAA press release)
– Regulator writes to chief executive of Heathrow Airport setting out clear expectations for delivery of the new runway, following Government announcement
– Value for money and cost efficiency will be crucial to the process
– Airport must manage the legitimate concerns of local communities
Following the Government’s announcement of Heathrow as its preferred location for a new runway, the CAA has today written to John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, setting out its expectations for the efficient delivery of this new infrastructure. The letter itself is at  http://www.caa.co.uk/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=4294981598
As the UK’s independent aviation regulator, the CAA has consistently made the case for additional aviation capacity to prevent consumers facing less choice, lower service quality and higher airfares in the future. The regulator has also been clear that any new capacity must consider the legitimate needs and concerns of affected local communities.  The CAA now has a role to play in determining how much Heathrow can charge airlines, and ultimately consumers, for the building and financing of the project.
The regulator has emphasised to Heathrow the importance of the airport making it clear how it will deliver on its recent promises not to increase prices as the runway development progresses.  The CAA expects to see effective engagement between the airport and its airline customers to drive value for money and efficiency.  The regulator has also told the airport to set out clear plans for engaging with local communities and addressing their legitimate concerns around issues such as compensation, operational procedures and participation in the airspace change process.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said:
“The need for additional aviation capacity is clear and we welcome the Government’s announcement.  We now expect Heathrow to set out how it will meet its promise not to increase prices and deliver a cost efficient programme in conjunction with its airline customers.  We also expect the airport to ensure the legitimate concerns of communities near the airport are properly and fully considered and that a credible package of measures to manage those concerns is in place.”
As well as setting the maximum amount the airport can charge airlines and also establishing minimum service standards for the airport, the CAA also has other roles to play.  These include implementing Government policy on airspace changes to ensure the best balance is reached between safety, efficiency and community impact; and that the design and operation of the new runway meets the required safety standards.
The CAA has published a number of policy documents relating to the principles it has established for its approach to the required economic regulation. This includes a consultation on how the chosen scheme can recover planning and construction costs and we expect to publish our final proposals for this shortly.  Further consultation documents will be published in the coming months.
For media enquiries contact the CAA Press Office on 00 44 (0)207 453 6030 or press.office@caa.co.uk. You can follow the CAA on Twitter @UK_CAA.
Notes to editors
The letter sent by the CAA to Heathrow Airport is available here  http://www.caa.co.uk/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=4294981598
More information on the CAA’s economic regulation role in new airport capacity is available in this In Focus document.  [This page says:  “On 25 October, the Government announced its proposal to allow additional runway capacity to be developed at Heathrow Airport, subject to a consultation and going through parliamentary process.
Here we explain the CAA’s role in the process going forwards.” The document is at http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP%201466%20Heathrow.pdf
The CAA is the UK’s aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.

“What is the CAA’s economic regulation role in new airport capacity?”

The CAA’s document  (25th October 2016) says:
On 25 October, the Government announced its proposal to allow additional runway capacity to be developed at Heathrow Airport, subject to a consultation and going through parliamentary process. Here we explain the CAA’s role in the process going forwards
The CAA is the UK’s independent aviation regulator, with responsibility for economic regulation, airspace policy, safety regulation and consumer protection. We will lead the economic regulation of new airport capacity.
We understand the vital importance of our role and will, along with others, aim to ensure that the airport delivers any new runway in an economic, efficient and timely manner.
Our duties are set out in the Civil Aviation Act 2012 (the “Act”). Our primary duty is to further the interests of users of air transport services regarding the range, availability, continuity, cost and quality of airport operation services. Passengers and air cargo owners are therefore at the heart of our decisions.

The role of economic regulation

Under the Act, in 2014 we granted Heathrow Airport Ltd (Heathrow) a licence which allows them to levy charges for their services up to certain limits and subject to service quality standards, also set by us. We have strong powers to compel compliance with the licence through enforcement orders and to exact penalties for breaches. The principal purpose of this economic regulation is to protect consumers from the adverse effects of companies with substantial market power.
The legislation defining the breadth of our powers and responsibilities is similar to that governing other UK independent economic regulators. Over the past 30 years, independent economic regulation has provided a stable and consistent framework which has encouraged new businesses to enter markets, compete and invest billions of pounds in new infrastructure. This has encouraged Heathrow to invest around £11 billion in infrastructure projects since 2003/4, improving the quality of service and facilities offered to passengers.

The CAA’s economic regulation of new airport capacity

We currently set a price cap on Heathrow’s airport charges under a traditional Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) model on a 5-year cycle. Broadly speaking, the cap on airport charges is calculated with reference to the amount of investment, an estimated fair return on that investment (based on the risks involved) and the level of efficiently incurred operating expenses. A single till approach is used, where the commercial and other revenues are then deducted from the total revenue requirement.
With a new runway under design and construction, we will continue to regulate the existing operations at the airport. This will be done through periodic reviews of its licence, monitoring the effective operation of the airport, as well as regulating the costs and delivery of the new runway.
Any new runway will be privately financed by the airport’s investors and paid for by airlines through airport charges which then has a knock-on impact on the ticket prices of consumers flying with those airlines. As with our work on existing operations, we will regulate the construction of the new runway in the interest of passengers and cargo owners and in accordance with all our statutory duties. We will expect Heathrow and the airlines operating at the airport to encourage productive engagement and discussions which support the ongoing development of the scheme.
The nature of this project, however, is unprecedented in terms of its economic regulation. The expansion of Heathrow will be a global first: no other major airport expansion of such scale and complexity has been financed by private capital. We are giving very careful consideration to how we will regulate the airport to ensure that the new runway is delivered efficiently, with regard to both financing and construction costs.

Scrutiny of the cost and design of new airport capacity

Expansion must deliver good value for money for the consumers who will pay for it and we note the aim of Government to see airport charges at Heathrow maintained as close as possible to their current level.
It is therefore crucial that the aviation community scrutinise the design of the runway, to help us ensure that it is cost efficient. In the normal course of Heathrow’s 5-year regulatory cycle, we undertake a process called constructive engagement, where we harness the unique and strong position of the airlines to help drive efficient airport design and delivery. In the period following the Government announcement, we will facilitate intensive discussions between the airport and airlines on the cost and design of the scheme.

Consultation(s) on economic regulation

We have already published a number of policy documents identifying distinct categories of cost and broad principles for how Heathrow can recover its planning and construction costs. Our current plans are to publish a series of consultation documents through 2017 in which we will seek to build and expand on our regulatory principles.
We recognise the need for certainty and progress, but we must be diligent in our approach. We recently ran an initial consultation on the regulatory treatment of planning costs. We intend to publish our final proposals in November 2016. This will reduce the uncertainty faced by Heathrow and its investors and encourage investment to proceed in a timely way. Securing planning permission is a sizeable and complex task, and Heathrow is likely to incur a significant amount of expenditure years before additional capacity becomes operational.
Subsequent consultations will set out our views on other elements of the economic regulation framework, including:
■ the overall timetable for the regulatory process;
■ the long-term nature of capacity expansion and any implications for the length and structure of the regulatory price control cycle;
■ risk allocation and the implications for the allowed return on capital;
■ views on pre-funding;
■ the treatment of surface access costs; and
■ compensation to local communities (e.g. in relation to noise and blight)
Many of our decisions on these issues will require changes to the licence when implemented. These changes are subject to appeal, permitting Heathrow and the airlines an opportunity to challenge our decision making within the framework.
The settlement for expansion will be subject to equal rights of appeal from airlines and the airport. We will therefore fulfil our obligation to act in a balanced way and be scrutinised accordingly.
This document focusses on the economic regulation of new capacity. We will also publish further information on airspace and environmental factors in which we have a role to play.

And the FT said:
Robert Wright, Transport Correspondent
Plans for a new, third runway at Heathrow airport look set to become embroiled in deeper controversy over costs after the airports regulator said it expected charges to customers to hold steady during construction work.
A statement from the Civil Aviation Authority appears to rule out any increases in charges while the runway is built. Heathrow has said only that it will hold prices steady “on average” up until 2048, but that they will rise in some years and fall in others.
Airlines pay Heathrow £19.33 per departing passenger, which adds to the price of tickets. International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, which is the biggest user of Heathrow, has warned that if the charge rises further, it will be uneconomic for many passengers.
Airlines have demanded that Heathrow’s shareholders finance the £16.5bn cost of building a third runway and that charges to users should not rise.
The CAA told the Financial Times: “We expect Heathrow to set out how it will meet its promise not to increase prices and deliver a cost-efficient programme in conjunction with its airline customers.”
The battle over who pays to expand Europe’s busiest airport by passenger numbers is likely to be prolonged.

Read more »

Some of the innumerable comments and articles about the Heathrow runway decision

The government decision to give its backing to a 3rd Heathrow runway has been greeted by massive press coverage, and comments in their hundreds by commentators of all sorts. Below is just a small selection of some of the points that are of interest, taken as extracts from the coverage.  There are some of the comments from a huge range of people and organisation.  These include people in Harmondsworth, about the frightening prospect of having their homes compulsorily purchased, and being forced to move –  to they know now where. And comments by Greenpeace, Client Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation and Friends of the Earth.  And bits on the plan not to tunnel the M25, but build a bridge with a small hill for the runway, over the motorway. Also comments by Zac Goldsmith, on his resignation and imminent by-election; comments from Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, Tania Mathias, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Ruth Cadbury. And from Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.  Also from Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor Maidenhead councils, and WWF UK and Plane Stupid and Reclaim the Power.  As well as some pro-runway comments by the CBI, and Willie Walsh, Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary.  And a comment from Gatwick. With apologies for cutting short some of the comments, for the requirement of brevity ….



New Heathrow runway may be built above the M25

26.10.2016  (BBC)



The third runway at Heathrow Airport could involve planes taking off from a “ramp” over the M25 motorway, the transport secretary says.

Chris Grayling said this would be “cheaper and quicker” than building a tunnel for the M25 under the new runway and would cause less disruption for drivers during construction.

He said many other airports around the world had built runways over motorways.

There would be “a very gentle hill up which the planes would take off”.


New Heathrow runway could be bridge over troubled traffic

26.10.2016 (Global Construction Review)


The plan had been to divert the busiest stretch of motorway in Britain and send it underground for 650m so that it went underneath the third runway, which would have been built at ground level.

But concerns have been raised by Highways England, a roads authority, that the new runway would cause gridlock on roads around the airport, already prone to jams.

In response, the airport’s chief executive John Holland Kaye told newspaper The Times that the tunnel plan might now be ditched in favour of building the runway on a man-made hill using spoil from the construction project.

This hill could slope upwards to a height of eight metres above the ground where it crosses the M25, making the runway a bridge over troubled traffic.

The approach has been used elsewhere, including at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (pictured), where engineer Atkins extended the runway to 2.4km out over roads and a railway.

There the new runway rose to an end height of just under 16m (52 feet) when it was finished in September 2014.



Heathrow conceded on Tuesday night that it may have to re-examine its plans for an extension under the M25, possibly replacing the tunnel with an elevated bridge, after it emerged that Highways England, the body in charge of Britain’s major roads, considered the scheme a major risk.

Highways England warned there was a “significant risk of cost overruns” in the M25 tunnel scheme, the bill for which it estimated would be between £476m and £1.1bn. Correspondence released by the Department for Transport showed that the roads authority described the scheme as “high risk”, warning of a “a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption”.


‘We feel betrayed’: Harmondsworth residents furious at Heathrow decision


By Esther Addley (Guardian)


Six years after Cameron vowed no third runway, people in village set for part-demolition angry government now backs airport’s expansion

In Harmondsworth, one of the villages scheduled to be partly or wholly demolished to make way for Heathrow’s third runway, there was little shock but considerable distress and anger when the government’s decision was confirmed.

Neil Keveren, whose house will face the boundary fence of the new runway, said residents felt “betrayed” six years after David Cameron’s “no ifs, no buts” commitment that there would be no third runway at Heathrow.

Keveren said: “We received a promise. We all made life choices based on that, which we believed. Some people decided to lay their loved ones to rest here because of it. I invested in my home. I thought we were safe and and we had a reasonable expectation that we were. I feel we have been have been betrayed by Theresa May.”


“I’m very disappointed, and I feel betrayed, and also worried,” said Lesley O’Brien, whose house in Cambridge Close – where she has lived for 46 years and raised her three children – is scheduled to be bulldozed.

“Where can I go? They keep on about the money, but it’s not about the money. They can keep their money. I want to stay here.”


Some wept, others were defiant. There were shouts of “liar” and “what about the residents?”, and when he mentioned the compensation packages that would be offered to those to lose their homes, one local shouted: “Not enough”.

Armelle Thomas has lived in Harmondsworth since the late 1960s, when she and her late husband, Tommy, met working at Heathrow and “fell in love” with the village. Her house is also marked for demolition, but Thomas said she would never agree to move. “My house is not for sale at any price,” she said. “I was with my husband here for 46 years and I have my memories.”

Fighting back tears, she said the stress of the fight against the runway – and particularly a letter sent by Heathrow authorities last year after a commission recommended it should expand – had contributed to her husband’s death. His six medals for wartime service in the RAF were in her hand, along with a large photograph of him.

….. and there is much, much more



The decision to back a third runway at Heathrow is a grotesque folly

25.10.2016  (By John Sauven, Director of Greenpeace UK)


The government’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow has been informed by a mishmash of misinformation and missing information. To take just one example, business flights are in decline. They’ve been in decline for years. And yet the debate is conducted as though they were not only increasing, but increasing at a rate that our current infrastructure is unable to cater for, and our economy is suffering as a result. But they’re not, they’re declining.

Here’s another. Heathrow can’t afford to expand with its own money. Surface access costs for Heathrow are only affordable with a huge subsidy from the taxpayer. Heathrow will only pay £1bn for the additional road and rail links required to get the extra passengers to and from Heathrow. Transport for London say it will cost £18bn. Anyone see a small discrepancy?


The media accepted the framing, and so despite extensive coverage, the biggest, most important flaw has been missing from the debate. The BBC has covered Heathrow on all of its flagship news and politics shows – Newsnight, the Daily Politics, the Today Programme – without even touching on the main issue.

It’s easy to miss something that’s invisible, silent, odourless and tasteless. Particularly when you have a strong financial incentive to do so. And the entire aviation industry has a very strong financial incentive to ignore CO2. They’ve been successfully ignoring it for decades, and last month’s UN-affiliatedinternational aviation conference made it abundantly clear that it is content to continue with its current approach.

…. and there is much, much more.   John ends by saying: 

“I’m not certain which is more cynical, the idea that the government is willing to spend taxpayers’ money to redistribute mobility from the poor to the rich, or the idea that Davies’ report is designed to be a black box that allows aviation to expand so long as no one looks inside, an invisible solution to an invisible problem. Unfortunately, the invisible problem is real.”



Friends of the Earth comment


Andrew Pendleton – Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth – said:

“Expanding Heathrow would be a hugely damaging blow for local people, and makes a complete mockery of government commitments to tackle climate change.  Local communities now face more noise, more air pollution and more misery from a quarter of a million extra flights each year.

“With the government poised to sign the Paris climate agreement, the decision to expand Heathrow – shortly after forcing fracking on the people of Lancashire – looks deeply cynical.
“However this is only the first step on a long journey that will see communities, councils and climate campaigners continue the battle to reverse this misjudged and damaging decision.”



ClientEarth comment.  Heathrow: two obstacles to expansion


ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “There are two potentially insurmountable obstacles to Heathrow’s expansion. Firstly, even without expansion, the area around Heathrow will continue to be in breach of legal air pollution limits until 2025 at least, under the government’s current projections.

“In April last year the Supreme Court ordered the government to produce new plans to achieve air quality limits. Those plans were so poor, that last week we took them back to the High Court to force action on air pollution. The government needs to produce an in-depth and credible plan to drastically cut air pollution to meet its legal obligations rather than digging an even deeper hole for itself.

“Secondly, from the perspective of climate change, it makes very little difference whether extra capacity is created in Hillingdon or West Sussex. Expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick would make meeting our 2050 carbon emissions target significantly more difficult than it already is.”



WWF UK comment


WWF UK’s director of advocacy, Trevor Hutchings, said:

Expanding airport capacity makes little business and no environmental sense. The government plans to ratify the Paris treaty, committing us to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint – and just weeks ago it helped to broker a deal that aims to reduce emissions from international aviation. Bringing more air traffic to London’s busy airports flies in the face of that objective.

Before any concrete is poured the government should publish a credible plan for driving down aviation emissions. And its industrial strategy must unequivocally commit to low-carbon growth, providing long-term clarity for investors in clean energy, infrastructure and transport.



Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) comment

What answers has the Government found to the environmental hurdles facing a third runway?

and also their initial comments at



The expansion of Heathrow is unforgivable – we will fight this decision – Green Party comment

By Caroline Lucas


This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year – this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly


We are living under a Government that says it wants to allow people to “take back control”, yet it is pressing ahead with a decision that will inflict more noise and pollution on a local community that’s already suffering – all for the benefit of aviation lobbyists and the business-class set.

The expansion announcement today comes days after leading scientists said that the world is entering a new “climate change reality”, as average carbon dioxide levels are now more than 400 parts per million. The effects of burning more and more dirty fossil fuels are well known, but worth reiterating. ….

…. and there is much more ….  Caroline concludes

Ministers know very well that airport expansion, at Heathrow or anywhere else for that matter, will leave our climate change commitments in tatters – and we need to make sure they know that climate campaigners and local residents have absolutely no plans to give up this battle.



Sadiq Khan: Heathrow expansion is ‘wrong decision for London and Britain’



Mr Khan said the government’s announcement was “the wrong decision for London and the whole of Britain”.

He said ministers were “running roughshod over Londoners’ views”, and that the new runway would be “devastating for air quality across London”.

The increased number of flights would subject 200,000 extra people to an “unacceptable level” of airport noise, including 124 more schools and over 40,000 more schoolchildren.

Mr Khan stated his intention to challenge the decision in the coming months, adding a new runway at Gatwick would have boosted London’s economy without the problems an expanded Heathrow would create.

“The government are running roughshod over Londoners’ views – just five months ago I was elected as Mayor on a clear platform of opposing a new runway at Heathrow, a position that was shared by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates in that election.

“A new runway at Heathrow will be devastating for air quality across London – air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2……”

“I will continue to challenge this decision and I am exploring how I can best be involved in any legal process over the coming months.” ….

“They also need to guarantee that they will fully fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to Heathrow – Londoners cannot be expected to pick up the bill for this.”



Heathrow: Wales funding call after third runway decision

26.10.2016 (BBC)



A decision to build a third runway at Heathrow has been welcomed by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

He said the announcement would “bring tourists to Wales, help our exporters reach new markets and create new jobs”.


Mr Jones added he would work to ensure Wales received consequential funding “to which it is entitled to under the Barnett formula” – the system which decides how much Wales is funded by the UK treasury – …

It is understood the Welsh Government would want a share of any UK government money spent on upgrading the rail network as a result of the third runway expansion.

[Grayling said in Parliament that the runway would not be Barnettable, as it would be private money. He deliberately ignored, several times, the issue of the public money that would be needed to be spent on improving surface access infrastructure. See Hansard  25.10.2016 on Airport Capacity].


Boris Johnson in Heathrow ‘city of planes’ warning

25 October 2016 (BBC)

 Boris Johnson says that while New York is known as the “city of skyscrapers” and Paris the “city of light”, London risks becoming the “city of planes” if the third runway goes ahead.

Mr Johnson, who campaigned against the proposal while running for mayor of London, said there could eventually be a “clamour” for a fourth runway.

But he predicted that there was little chance of the third runway being built in the first place.

The government has given Mr Johnson permission to campaign against its stance on Heathrow.


and from the Guardian: 

Johnson suggested …. that the legal problems facing a third runway could prove insurmountable. “I think the day when the bulldozers actually appear is a long way off, if indeed they ever materialise to build that third runway,” he said.

“My view is the whole proceeding will be snarled up in legal objections of one kind or another and I just really repeat my point: do we want the greatest city on Earth, parts of it, to be transformed into a hell of airport noise? I don’t think we do. I think there are far better solutions. As long as I am able to, I am respectfully going to make that point.”



Zac Goldsmith quits as MP over ‘doomed’ Heathrow expansion decision

By Rowena Mason and Gwyn Topham (Guardian)



Zac Goldsmith has resigned as a Conservative MP over the government’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow airport, describing it as the “most polluting, most disruptive, most expensive option”.

The Conservatives said they would not run against Goldsmith, who will stand as an independent in the byelection. But he will have to defend his seat against the Liberal Democrats, who will be eager for the chance to regain a foothold in south-west London.

In his resignation statement, Goldsmith said he had carried out his threat to cause a byelection because David Cameron had promised seven years ago to scrap the Conservative party’s support for further development of Heathrow with a “no ifs, no buts” pledge.

Speaking in his Richmond Park constituency, Goldsmith said: “My party’s promise mattered. It’s why my promise mattered. And it’s why so many people in our community feel so let down.


Goldsmith had a 28,000 majority at the last election and is popular locally. But the seat was held by the Lib Dems before 2010 ….

Earlier, Goldsmith told the House of Commons that Heathrow was “doomed” and would be a “millstone around the neck of the government”


Tania Mathias (MP for Twickenham) statement:



Today’s announcement that the Government wishes to expand Heathrow is a terrible one, but it does not mean expansion at Heathrow can or will take place.

I will continue to fight against Heathrow expansion and I agree with many experts today who are certain that expansion will not happen. The scrutiny and consultation over the next year will, I am sure, show that a third runway is simply not possible for economic, legal and environmental reasons.

I will also continue to fight for a ‘better not bigger’ Heathrow as the current level of noise, pollution and night flights over residents’ homes in our area is not medically safe.

I will continue to work with residents, brilliant resident groups like Teddington Action Group (TAG), national groups including HACAN, and Richmond Borough Council to ensure the next few months of consultation and scrutiny finally end Heathrow’s expansion plans now and for good.

I invite constituency residents to a public meeting on November 3rd I am hosting (details on website) …..

See Tania on Twitter   @tania_mathias


Justine Greening (MP for Putney) comments:

[As a long time opponent of Heathrow, Theresa May will allow her only minimal opposition to the runway, but she may not speak out too openly about it. Part of the necessary muzzling of the Cabinet …. Boris Johnson likewise.  AW note].


Justine Greening, MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, said: “Along with many people in my local community, I am extremely disappointed with the decision to push ahead with a third runway at Heathrow.

“My views against expanding Heathrow, particularly on the impact of noise and air pollution on local residents and the weak economic case, are long-held and well-known.

“I will continue to represent the views of my constituents, not least during the forthcoming public consultation on the draft National Policy Statement announced by the Secretary of State for Transport today.”

If you would like to be kept updated on local issues affecting Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, email Justine atgreeningj@parliament.uk.

See Justine on Twitter  @JustineGreening


John McDonnell (MP for Hayes and Harlington) comment:

25.10.2016  (Hillingdon and Uxbridge Times)


Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has vowed to continue campaigning against government plans for a third runway at Heathrow and labelled them as ‘devastating’.

The Hayes and Harlington MP has publicly campaigned against the runway and has vowed to persist ‘so it never sees the light of day’.

He highlighted that up to 10,000 people could be removed from their homes, as well as an increase in air pollution and noise levels.

Releasing a statement via his Twitter account today, Mr McDonnell said: “I’ve campaigned against this runway for over 30 years and in that time Heathrow have never managed to win the argument for expansion which still remains the case today

“Nothing has changed. Building a third runway would be devastating for local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life. It also remains a disaster for air pollution, noise levels and our effort to tackle climate change.

“4000 homes face the prospect of either being demolished or rendered unliveable by air pollution and noise. This means 8 to 10 thousand people being forcibly removed from their homes. We have not seen anything on this scale in our country’s history.

“I’ll continue to support my constituents in campaigning against this runway so it never sees the light of day.”

Mr McDonnell will host a public meeting on Heathrow’s third runway plan at 7.30pm on Monday 31st October at Heathrow Primary School.


Greg Hands disappointed at Government’s decision to proceed with third Heathrow runway


“I should like to echo the words of my ministerial colleagues in saying how grateful I am to the Prime Minister for allowing those of us who have longstanding concerns about expansion at Heathrow to take a different view about the future of our airports. Accordingly, I shall continue representing the concerns of my constituents in Chelsea & Fulham in opposing the third runway at Heathrow. This Heathrow expansion will have a negative impact on Chelsea & Fulham through increased aircraft noise and other degradations to our quality of life”.


Liberal Democrat comment:

Caroline Pidgeon: Case against Heathrow expansion as strong as ever
26th October 2016

After an incredibly expensive lobbying campaign the Government has ‎foolishly accepted the myth that what is good for the overseas owners of Heathrow is also good for the UK economy.

The reality is that airports such as Luton and Stansted have spare capacity.   And in time HS2 will also allow easy access ‎to Birmingham airport for many Londoners.

We can improve the UK’s international links through better use of all our airports.  It is the triumph of vested interests for this Government to claim that the environmental wreckage created by a third Heathrow runway‎ is a price worth paying.

The case against a third Heathrow runway is as strong as when Theresa May actively opposed it and when David Cameron once promised ‘no ifs, no buts, no third runway’.



Lord True, Richmond council Leader, comment

Lord True says Heathrow is already breaking air quality rules and told BBC radio that: “The fact that the government has already delayed action for a year results from our reminding them that they hadn’t yet fulfilled things which they’re required to do under the existing law.”
The Heathrow decision is set to be challenged in the courts, including by Richmond Council.

The council’s leader Lord True told the Today programme the airport was responsible for 40% per cent of all noise pollution associated with airports and he is taking legal advice.

The Conservative peer said: “The fact that the government has already delayed action for a year results from our reminding them that they hadn’t yet fulfilled things which they’re required to do under the existing law.”

And he said he would be part of Goldsmith’s campaign team for the by-election. Link


Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, comment

25.10.2016  (South West Londoner)
Wandsworth council is one of the 4 preparing to fight the Heathrow decision.

“The airport boasts illegal levels of air pollution, woefully inadequate transport capacity and has Europe’s worst noise footprint, and that’s just with two runways,” he said.

“Expansion will make all of these severely damaging issues worse.

“It’s wrong on every level, legally undeliverable and will end in failure after years of wasted effort.”

Cllr Govindia also announced plans to try and overturn the decision in a move reminiscent of the appeal over Gordon Brown’s backing of the third runway earlier in the decade.

“This is deeply distressing news for the communities around this airport but this fight is far from over,” he added.

“Ultimately it will be for the courts to decide if this project goes ahead and the law is on our side.

“It looks like we’re heading back to the courts just as we did in 2010 after the Brown Government backed Heathrow’s third runway.

“We overturned that decision in the High Court and nothing has changed since then to make expanding this airport any less damaging.”



Windsor and Maidenhead council, Leader Simon Dudley comment

Conservative-led Windsor and Maidenhead Council will now find itself at loggerheads with its local MP, as it has pledged £50,000 towards legal action against Heathrow expansion.

Leader Simon Dudley has said councillors will do “everything we can do to stop Heathrow being expanded”, adding: “This is just the beginning.”

“This is extremely disappointing news which will have a huge impact on the daily lives of our residents.

“Our residents will suffer a substantial loss of quality of life, with many impacts, including additional intolerable noise affecting more people, increased number of planes flying over head, worse air quality, increased traffic, and likely housing and infrastructure problems.

“We acknowledge the important role Heathrow holds for us, but from the start we have said we want to see a better not bigger airport and today’s decision flies in the face of the concerns relayed to us by our residents.

“Our campaign against Heathrow expansion with councils in Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth and Greenpeace continues and we will take whatever action is necessary to stop this decision on behalf of the one million residents we represent.”



Slough Council “extremely pleased” with runway decision

25 OCTOBER, 2016

The Leader of Slough Borough Council, Councillor Sohail Munawar, says the Council is “extremely pleased” with the today’s announcement by the Government that it will support a Third Runway through Colnbrook with Poyle.



Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith) comment

There is a long comment from Andy’s website at


this includes:

A 3rd will increase flight numbers by 50% and, importantly for Hammersmith residents who have previously escaped the worst noise, the alignment is directly above Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, and these will be some of the worst affected areas.

This is a bad decision. Most of the thinking about airport expansion in the south-east is out of date. Ten years ago hub airports were thought of as the future, and Heathrow was the only widely-touted option for expansion – unsurprisingly as Heathrow then owned Gatwick and Stansted and played down their potential.

This is a reversible decision. The risk of the 3rd runway not being built is great; and the risk of it not happening for many years is a certainty. The financing, complexity of construction, and above all the strength of opposition means this is a project going nowhere for the foreseeable future, with several years of legal action likely after two years of formal decision-making.

… and there is lots more ….




Comment from Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth



When the third runway is built at Heathrow, the half of my constituents not currently under the approach path to Heathrow will find themselves in the noisiest built-up area in Europe.

But I don’t oppose the expansion of Heathrow merely because of my constituency interest. I do so because it’s too costly, too risky, and there are better solutions to the UK’s aviation capacity problems.

…. there is a very long page of information ….. and it concludes:

“Broken Promises:
The communities and local authorities around Heathrow have been let down time and time again by promises on mitigation and expansion being broken, from the 5th terminal to the third runway. The first Civil Aviation Bill nearly allowed the loss of the valued 8 hour respite and night flight regime. There is good reason not to trust the Government or the Airport on promises about night flight ban or a fourth runway.”



Jeremy Corbyn.  No comment of any sort ….


In an August 2015 Financial Times interview, Mr Corbyn said: “I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across West London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London.  “I’d vote against it in this parliament.”



Plane Stupid comment:

Shona Kealey spokesperson for Plane Stupid, said,

“Two weeks ago, enough countries agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement for it to come into force. Last week, the government’s climate advisers issued a report saying reducing aviation emissions should be a priority if we’re going to honour the Climate Change Act. And now, with today’s announcement, our government proclaims to the world that we’re a dishonest and unreliable nation who can’t be trusted to keep to our international agreements or even follow our own laws, just as we’re about to renegotiate trade agreements with the whole world.

“Obedience to this government is suicide. If they think we’re going to quietly follow them over the cliff, they’re dreaming.



Reclaim the Power comment:

Stephanie Nicholls said,

“We can honour our commitments to tackle climate change, or we can build new runways – we can’t do both. Aviation expansion anywhere is irresponsible, and globally will impact the most on the people who’ve done least to cause the problem. Climate change is already hitting poorer communities in the global south, who are the least likely to ever set foot on a plane.

“When the government won’t follow its own rules, it’s time for normal people to step up and take action. Following today’s announcement climate activists, council leaders and local residents will be standing together to make any new runways undeliverable. If the government thinks they can override local opinion, climate science and their own commitments they’ve got another thing coming.”



Heathrow gets a third runway but what about the North?


Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce chief Martin Hathaway said the Heathrow decision must not mean neglecting the regions

Mr Hathaway said: “Whilst connectivity into an expanded Heathrow is critical to business communities throughout the country, it is equally important that regional airports should be able to expand their own links to overseas business destinations – and this new runway must therefore be viewed as much about connecting the regions to the world as it is about capacity for London and the South East.”



Willie Walsh (IAG), Carolyn McCall (EasyJet) and Michael O’Leary (Ryanair) comment

25.10.2016  (Belfast Telegraph)

The boss of British Airways’ parent company expressed relief at the announcement, and that the Government has insisted the airport should aim to ” deliver a plan for expansion that keeps landing charges close to current levels”.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said: ” We’re pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it. The Government’s directive to cap customer charges at today’s level is fundamental.

Mr Walsh continued: ” We will be vigilant in ensuring that Heathrow does not raise charges to benefit its shareholders to the detriment of the travelling public.”


Dame Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, also welcomed the decision and confirmed that the Luton-based carrier intends to operate from an expanded Heathrow if the costs are acceptable.

She said: ” This is good news for UK consumers and businesses and will help ensure that the UK is better connected to the rest of the world.

“With the right charging structure and the right infrastructure for our efficient model, easyJet plans to operate from Heathrow, in addition to our existing London bases, providing new routes and lower fares to customers.”


Ryanair claimed that additional runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted would be the best way to boost airport capacity ” in a timely and cost efficient manner”.

He went on: ” The threat of additional runways at competitor airports will force Heathrow to keep its costs down while developing a third runway in the most timely and efficient manner.

“Today’s decision, which implies that Heathrow can build a third runway at the expense of Gatwick and Stansted, will simply encourage this Spanish-owned monopoly to yet again waste billions on gold-plated expensive facilities.”



Heathrow expansion ‘not enough’ claim, as MPs and Spelthorne council support decision

25.10.2016 (Get Surrey)


Surrey Chambers of Commerce CEO Louise Punter said she believed a third runway at Heathrow “must not be the only new runway built in Britain”

Airport expansion should not stop at a third runway for Heathrow , according to Surrey Chambers of Commerce, amid support from the county’s politicians for going ahead with the scheme.

“While many business communities will celebrate Heathrow expansion, this cannot and must not be the only new runway to be built in Britain over the coming decades,” she said.

“One new runway is not enough to give the UK the aviation capacity it requires to trade the world successfully.


Confederation of British Industry (CBI) comment:


Paul Drechsler CBE, CBI President, said:

“The Prime Minister’s green light to expand the UK’s aviation capacity comes as an enormous relief to firms in every corner of the country.

“A new runway at Heathrow is really fantastic news, especially as the country has waited nearly 50 years for this decision. It will create the air links that will do so much to drive jobs and unlock growth across the UK, allowing even more of our innovative, ambitious and internationally focussed firms, from Bristol to Belfast, to take off and break into new markets.

“With contracts to tender for, apprentices to recruit and supply chains to build, this decision must be taken forward swiftly, giving businesses the confidence to invest. Our aviation capacity is set to run out as early as 2025, so it’s crucial we get spades in the ground as soon as possible to reap the benefits for jobs and growth, precisely when the country needs them most.”

…. and it goes on ….



Gatwick Airport responds to Government decision on airport capacity


Gatwick notes the Government’s announcement that it favours expansion at Heathrow.

Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, said:

“We are disappointed as we do not believe this is the right answer for Britain. Gatwick has put forward a credible financeable and deliverable plan for expansion.

“It is a plan that can guarantee growth and guarantee certainty for Britain. We look forward to studying the full reasons behind the Government decision in detail. 

“The challenges facing Heathrow have not changed.  Our message today is that Gatwick stands ready to proceed when the time comes.”










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BA scraps service to Chengdu, cited by airport expansionists as key, because not enough demand

Heathrow is keen on emphasising the importance of routes to countries like China, or the emerging markets.  It likes to give the impression that there is huge pent up demand for these services, and if only Heathrow could be much bigger, there would be numerous flights to all these places. It is just the absence of a 3rd runway holding them back ….. But now the service by BA to Chengdu, about which Heathrow was very proud, is to be cut after just over three years, in January. There is just not enough demand to make it pay.  It is not commercially viable, even with smaller planes. So nothing to do with a runway then. Chengdu was where British business would fly to and build trade links if only Heathrow was big enough, according to prominent backers of airport expansion.  From September 2013 there were 5 return flights per week, but that was later trimmed down to fewer.  BA’s 787 plane and Heathrow slot will be used to fly to New Orleans instead – spare slots are always used for the more lucrative leisure market destinations. The links to China were a key part of Heathrow’s submission to the Airports commission in November 2012. Heathrow led the Commission to believe in the need for such links.  Time after time, when slots become available at Heathrow, they are used to add capacity on profitable North American or European routes. 


BA scraps service to Chinese city cited by airport expansionists

Heathrow service to megacity Chengdu is not commercially viable, says airline on eve of decision about new runway

By  Transport correspondent (Guardian)

But less than three years after British Airways found a Heathrow slot to fly to the Chinese megacity, and on the eve of a decision to build a new runway, the airline has dropped the route because it is not commercially viable.

BA launched direct flights to Chengdu, its fourth Chinese destination, in late 2013, and ran return flights five times a week. Even after having trimmed down the frequency and switched to a smaller, Boeing 787 plane, BA has confirmed that the service will end this January.

Launching Heathrow’s first submission to the Airports Commission in November 2012, the airport’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said a lack of capacity was limiting Britain’s ability to connect to growing cities in emerging markets, such as Chengdu in China.

Two months earlier, the lack of direct flights to Chengdu was highlighted in an intervention from senior Conservatives that prompted the then prime minister, David Cameron, to set up Sir Howard Davies’s commission and pave the way for expansion.

In the opening line of an article demanding whether Cameron was “man or mouse”, MP Tim Yeo wrote: “What better way to kickstart Britain’s sluggish economy than by boosting trade with China? Perhaps with Chongqing, with 28 million consumers, many enjoying rising incomes. Or Chengdu, with 14 million.”

A year before that, the then mayor of London, Boris Johnson, lamented the Chengdu-goer’s plight as he again argued for more runway capacity. “We are making it harder for British business people to get to the future megacities from London than from our competitor airports. If you want to fly to Chengdu … you can get there direct from one of London’s Continental rivals – but you can’t get there from Heathrow,” he said in a comment piece.

In a statement, BA said on Monday: “We regret that we have decided to suspend the Heathrow to Chengdu route. We have a proud tradition of flying to China but despite operating this route for three years it is not commercially viable.”

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, has previously blamed the British visa regime for the disappointing traffic on the route.

A spokeswoman for the airport said a “degree of ebb and flow on demand on specific routes” was normal, adding: “The record shows Heathrow overall has gained and maintained new long-haul routes that are so critical for the British economy.” Destinations in emerging markets such as Vietnam and Indonesia were among the six long-haul routes added since 2010, she said.

A spokesperson for Gatwick, which still hopes to beat Heathrow in building London’s next runway, said: “Lack of current connectivity to some markets – in China for instance – is less to do with capacity and more to do with lack of demand. When slots have become available, airlines at Heathrow have been consistently adding capacity on these profitable routes – such as North America and Europe – rather than use them for emerging markets.”

BA’s 787 plane and Heathrow slot will be used to fly to New Orleans instead.




The UK and China recently raised the number of flights allowed between the two countries to 40 returns each per week. But the UK only uses 29 of them (even fewer without Chengdu).


See earlier:


UK and China renew bilateral deal so each could have 100 return flights (up from 40) per week

The DfT has renewed the bilateral aviation agreement with China, to allow more weekly flights between the two countries. Until now, the limit had been 40 flights by UK airlines to China per week, and 40 flights by Chinese airlines to the UK. This has been raised to 100 flights each. There will be no limit on the number of all-cargo services (but most Heathrow freight goes as belly hold, not separate freighter). Currently Chinese airlines operate 38 flights a week between the two countries, and UK airlines operate 29. The only UK airports that have flights to China are Heathrow and Manchester. The earlier deal was that any UK airline could serve a maximum of 6 separate airports in China. Now UK airlines can operate to anywhere in mainland China. Laying on the hype, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said the deal was a “big moment for the UK”. However, airlines will have to decide whether it makes sense to use the extra capacity to offer new Chinese flights to and from China, with doubtful demand, when transatlantic routes are more profitable. The hope is probably for more UK business and UK exports. The DfT ignores the problem that the UK imports from China more than twice as much as it exports to China. More flights may exacerbate that. House of Commons Library data says that: “In 2014, UK exports to China were worth £18.7 billion. Imports from China were £38.3 billion. The UK had a trade deficit of £19.6 billion with China.” Flights to and from Hong Kong are in a separate bilateral deal.

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More BA routes from Heathrow …. to key business destinations …. Palma and Ibiza

Anyone reading the statements from Heathrow about the capacity crisis and how there is a need for more flights to the emerging markets might be puzzled by recent news from British Airways. Back in February 2012 Willie Walsh said he planned to expand IAG  into lucrative emerging markets, such as Latin America and he hoped to use the extra Heathrow take-off and landing-slots from BMI to accelerate growth into emerging markets. But BA has now announced that it is putting on new flights from Heathrow to Palma (Majorca) from March, and to Ibiza. These are in addition to Mexico and Alicante, as well as  Bologna and Marseilles announced earlier.  There are also new flights to Leeds Bradford (and a mention of links for business connnections) and a new flight to Chengdu in China, announced earlier, as well as Almaty (Kazakhstan), Dublin, and Seoul among others, where there is likely to be a business component.  It is hard to believe there is much business benefit from weekend flights to Alicante or Palma or Ibiza.



Heathrow finds space for new flights to Mexico – and Alicante

October 19, 2012

The Telegraph writes that it has taken Aeromexico four years to get some slots at Heathrow, and makes out that this is because Heathrow is full etc etc. There are already 4 flights per week to Mexico, and these new flights will bring the total number to 7 per week. The Telegraph compares this to Paris with 14 and Madrid with 19. In reality, due to the BA link with Iberia, there are relatively few flights from Heathrow to south America, as they go via Madrid. Looking at Heathrow’s website, and its new destinations, one could be forgiven for thinking the airport is only looking to attract tourists, as all its publicity about new destinations is about their tourism potential, and delightful things to go and see and experience. Not one word about their business potential, or the chances for business to drive UK exports. And Heathrow has found room for as many new flights per week to Alicante as there will be to Mexico. Driving UK exports via Alicante ? Really?

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Comment from an AirportWatch member:

It is not that airlines cannot get slots at Heathrow.  It may be the case that they cannot get slots at the time they want, but they could have other slots, when the airport is less busy. This is, however, not the way this issue is either described by the industry, or reported in the media.  The journalists probably don’t know the details.




BA uses its new BMI slots at Heathrow, not for emerging economies, but largely leisure destinations. As usual.

June 27, 2012

BA got 42 daily Heathrow slots from taking over BMI. And it said very publicly, in March, that it would be using these to fly to the emerging economies – Asia, Africa and Latin America – which is part of the myth that the aviation industry is peddling at present. So what are the slots actually being used for? One flight per day to Seoul. The rest are domestic UK (Aberdeen Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester), or Zagreb, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Bologna, Marseilles, Phoenix, Zurich and Bologna. So that is where the money is. So much for the desperate need for slots to fly to second tier Chinese cities. This really proves what a lot of misleading PR is being put out by BAA and the airlines at Heathrow.

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“If you think climate change activists like me will take the decision over airport expansion lying down, you’ve got another thing coming”

Leo Murray, who was one of the founders of the activist group, Plane Stupid, has written eloquently in the Independent, about the opposition – for climate change reasons – to a Heathrow 3rd runway. Leo himself took part in numerous actions, against aviation expansion because the UK government had no effective way of limiting the sector’s CO2 growth.  Now he says, “Here we go again.”  Heathrow expansion is back, “rising remorselessly like a zombie from the grave. …Why won’t it stay buried?”  Heathrow and Gatwick have reportedly spent over £30m each on PR and lobbying, to conjure up an “airport capacity crisis” for London, for their own ends – making out that a new runway is in the national interest.  To meet carbon targets, UK aviation cannot increase its CO2 to more than its 37.5MtCO2 cap. Leo says: “The solution is clear, but horrifies politicians: we will have to have policy to manage the growth in demand. There is simply no other way.” Government will have to grasp the nettle of demand management for air travel.  In the meantime, people will just have to rise up once more against the green light – if that is given next week. “Heathrow is set to become a lightning rod for radical climate activists all over the country and the old networks from the former alliance are starting to light up again for the first time in years. Once more, dear friends, once more – but let’s make sure it’s really dead this time.”


If you think climate change activists like me will take the decision over airport expansion lying down, you’ve got another thing coming

Stansted’s runway slots are half empty. The direct contribution of the aviation sector to the British economy is less than the combined value of the annual tax subsidy it enjoys and the UK’s gaping tourism deficit 

by Leo Murray    @crisortunity  (Independent – Voices)



Here we go again.

Ten years ago last month, I joined 24 other brave souls and a Baptist Minister to cut through the fence at Nottingham East Midlands airport, where we held a sermon on the runway. This was Plane Stupid’s first ever runway occupation, in defiance of government policy backing a trebling of passenger numbers and massive expansion at dozens of British airports. The UK did not yet have a Climate Change Act, but it was already clear that aviation was now the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and that government policy pushing this could not be squared with effective action on global warming.

I went on to be taken to the High Court by BAA, scale the House of Commons, take part in a mass occupation of the runway at Stansted and help my comrades to superglue themselves to Gordon Brown and slime Peter Mandelson. But all these (and many more) direct actions were themselves just one small part of an unprecedentedly broad and diverse movement that mobilised against a third runway at Heathrow. Environmental NGOs and development charities, local MPs and councils of every hue, grassroots noise campaigners and the Mayor of London all took up the cause. At the centre of everything were the members of the communities that would disappear beneath the tarmac if the third runway went ahead.

The sheer force of our collective will eventually brought the weight of public opinion behind us, and the fate of the third runway was sealed – “no ifs, no buts”. David Cameron even planted a tree on the site to commemorate its passing.

The tree died. But the third runway lived on, in the hopes and dreams of Britain’s aviation lobby. Today, it is rising remorselessly like a zombie from the grave, clawing its way to the top of the political agenda once again. Why won’t it stay buried?

Former MP Chris Mullin gives some clues in his account of his time as Aviation Minister: “I learnt two things. First, that the demands of the aviation industry are insatiable. Second, that successive governments have usually given way to them.” The excessively cosy relationship between the Department for Transport and the aviation industry was laid bare in 2008, when officials were reported found to have been colluding with Heathrow to engineer the outcome of air quality assessments needed to approve expansion.

Heathrow and Gatwick have reportedly spent over £30m each on PR and lobbying since the elaborate political long-grassing exercise that was the Airports Commission began its deliberations over where to put new airport capacity in the South East. This was the wrong question (of which, more in a moment) but the framing of the Commission has conspired with the huge marketing budgets of the rival airports to conjure up an “airport capacity crisis” for London.

This is now the new common sense – our airports are full, and delaying new runways is doing irreparable harm to the British economy. This hysteria climaxed in the summer with the comical claim that these delays are costing us £6m a day. But it seems to have worked. Labour’s Shadow Aviation Minister Andy MacDonald sums up the new paradigm thus: “It is beyond doubt that additional capacity is needed. The imperative is overwhelming.”

Neither is true. Stansted’s runway slots are half empty. The direct contribution of the aviation sector to the British economy (£18bn) is less than the combined value of the annual tax subsidy it enjoys (£11bn) and the UK’s gaping tourism deficit (£17bn and rising). Only one in ten international flights by UK residents are now business flights, and the proportion goes down a little more every year. The latest incarnation of the runways debate has been almost magically effective at conflating the financial interests of the big airport owners with the national economic interest.

Airport capacity, it faces a profound challenge in the shape of climate change. Aviation has a uniquely generous target under the Climate Change Act: absolutely no reduction in emissions, while the rest of the economy must make up the shortfall with extra cuts. Yet the aviation sector is still set to break the budget. The problem is that annual growth in demand for flights greatly outstrips efficiency improvements – by a rate of about five to one, globally.

Heathrow third runway decision needed ‘as soon as possible’ after Brexit says Simon Calder

In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change have advised that for aviation to comply with the Act, demand growth must be limited to around 60% per cent to 2050. But the Department for Transport expects demand to grow over this period by 93 per cent; this is the extra demand which a new runway is clamouring to cater for. The solution is clear, but horrifies politicians: we will have to have policy to manage the growth in demand. There is simply no other way.

Eventually, if the UK stands by its commitment to tackle climate change, some government must grasp the nettle of demand management. When they do, we will be ready. Demand growth for air travel is driven by lavish tax breaks on fuel duty and VAT which keep air fares artificially low. A frequent flyer levy that shifts tax off ordinary holidaymakers and on to frequent flyers would benefit the large majority of UK residents. Those who would have to pay more are those who can most afford to. Modelling shows that it could keep aviation emissions within safe limits at the same time as distributing flights more evenly across the income spectrum, and raising more money to support alternatives.

In the meantime, people will just have to rise up once more against the green light next week. Heathrow is set to become a lightning rod for radical climate activists all over the country, and the old networks from the former alliance are starting to light up again for the first time in years.

Once more, dear friends, once more – but let’s make sure it’s really dead this time.  

Leo Murray is a co-founder and former activist with Plane Stupid. He is currently campaigning for a fairer tax on air travel at afreeride.org.




See earlier:

Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary

Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts. These include the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others.  In a letter to the Observer – in order to remove the alleged “need” for a new south east runway – they put forward the concept of allowing each person one tax-free flight per year, but increasing the rate of tax for people who fly frequently. The levy would rise with each successive flight. This would mean that instead of APD (£13 per return flight to Europe) there would be a higher rate of tax for frequent fliers. Their analysis shows that 15% of the UK population take 70% of all the flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year. Rather than a new runway being vital for business, the reality is that it would be used for the better off to take more leisure flights (holidays or visiting friends and family).  The proposed levy would mean the number of flights would be cut to a level that would make a new runway unnecessary. The authors of the scheme have also shown that this change to the taxation of air travel would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.









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