Guardian reports Patrick McLoughlin saying Government statement on runway likely to be delayed – even past May 2016

An article in the Guardian, interviewing Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, says that because of the well known “deep and unresolved cabinet splits over whether to expand Heathrow to provide more airport capacity for the south-east, the statement by the government about the runway issue may be delayed. It has been expected that some sort of statement would be made, before Christmas. This might be in favour of Heathrow, or it might be a holding response to give government more time.  The Guardian states: “McLoughlin said an announcement would “hopefully” be made [before Christmas], but he could not promise it would, or indeed that it would be made before next May’s London and council elections. It was simply the firm intention, but that was as much as he could say.”  At least five cabinet ministers, as well as Boris Johnson, a likely candidate to succeed Cameron after he steps down in 2020, are against, while Osborne, probably now the favourite to step into Cameron’s shoes, is in favour.  Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Mayoral candidate, deeply opposed to the runway, is a huge complication for the government on the issue.



From Guardian article  at

…..”There are also deep and unresolved cabinet splits over whether to expand Heathrow to provide more airport capacity for the south-east. At least five cabinet ministers, as well as Boris Johnson, a likely candidate to succeed Cameron after he steps down in 2020, are against, while Osborne, probably now the favourite to step into Cameron’s shoes, is in favour.

Jostling over the succession is already beginning. A decision on Heathrow was expected by Christmas but now that appears to be in some doubt. McLoughlin said an announcement would “hopefully” be made by then, but he could not promise it would, or indeed that it would be made before next May’s London and council elections.

It was simply the firm intention, but that was as much as he could say.”

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CPRE raises concerns about government plans to raise cost of legal challenges, on projects like a new runway

The CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) fears proposals to expose claimants in environmental cases, such as big infrastructure projects, to higher financial liabilities if they lose their cases could deter people from bringing actions. Green organisations could face steep rises in the cost of legal challenges to Heathrow’s expansion, or air quality policies, under reforms that the government is contemplating. But the Ministry of Justice denies proposals for higher cost caps are timed to coincide with HS2 and Heathrow.   Campaigners fear government plans will deter people from bringing actions.  There is a current consultation to update the UK’s responsibilities under the Aarhus convention, which guarantees public participation in decision-making as well as access to information and justice in environmental matters. The Prime Minister has been critical of delays to building projects, due to lengthy judicial review cases. This is claimed to delay economic development. Ralph Smyth, a barrister and the transport campaign manager at CPRE, said the planned changes could make it harder to challenge environmental decisions in the courts, and get justice for individuals, community groups and charities seeking to protect air quality, green belt, tranquillity and the climate.




Green activists worry about government plans to raise cost of legal challenges

Ministry of Justice denies proposals for higher cost caps are timed to coincide with HS2 and Heathrow expansion.   Campaigners fear government plans will deter people from bringing actions over upcoming infrastructure projects. 

By Owen Bowcott – Legal affairs correspondent

Monday 28 September 2015 (Guardian)

Green organisations could face steep rises in the cost of legal challenges to Heathrow’s expansion, or air quality policies, under reforms the government is contemplating.

Proposals to expose claimants in environmental cases to higher financial liabilities if they lose their cases could deter people from bringing actions, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The consultation has been launched to update the UK’s responsibilities under the Aarhus convention, which guarantees public participation in decision-making as well as access to information and justice in environmental matters.

But green activists fear the plans, which introduce higher cost caps, coincide with the next stage of major infrastructure projects such as expanding Heathrow to a third runway and the HS2 rail lines linking the north of England and London.

In the past, the prime minister has blamed judicial review cases for delaying economic development. In 2012, David Cameron told the CBI: “We urgently need to get a grip on this. So here’s what we’re going to do: reduce the time limit when people can bring cases, charge more for [judicial] reviews so people think twice about time-wasting, and instead of giving hopeless cases up to four bites of the cherry to appeal, we will halve that to two.”

Ralph Smyth, a barrister and the transport campaign manager at the CPRE, said: “In the run-up to its decision on Heathrow expansion, the government is cynically seeking to make it harder to challenge environmental decisions in the courts.

“What it is spinning as merely ‘measured adjustments’ would in fact impact hugely on the affordability of British justice for individuals, community groups and charities seeking to protect air quality, green belt, tranquillity and the climate.

“With legal costs in England among the highest in Europe, the current system of costs protection brings much needed certainty for those bringing environmental cases.

“Because of the complexity of judicial review, few cases are brought. While the proposals would save negligible costs, they would introduce significant uncertainty about how much a losing party would have to pay, putting the public off seeking justice in the first place.”

Campaigners are worried about consultation proposals to double the caps from £5,000 to £10,000 for individuals and from £10,000 to £20,000 for organisations such as environmental groups – exposing them to higher costs if they lost their cases.

They also allege the MoJ plans contemplate making the higher liabilities apply to each claimant rather than each case, potentially multiplying costs in challenges brought by multiple parties. The department says this is a misunderstanding of the proposals and the cap will still apply to each overall case if bought collectively rather than being applied to every claimant.

It also denies the timing of the consultation has anything to do with Heathrow or other imminent infrastructure projects. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The proposed changes to the rules around legal costs in environmental cases are designed to make sure challenges can be still be brought without encouraging meritless claims, which cause unreasonable costs and delays.”


The consultation ends on 10th December 2015

It can be found at

Costs Protection in Environmental Claims Proposals to revise the costs capping scheme for eligible environmental challenges

It is somewhat legalistic document, and not easy reading for the layperson.

The questions the consultation asks are:

Q1. Do you agree with the revised definition proposed for an ‘Aarhus Convention claim’. If not how do you think it should be defined? Please give your reasons.

Q2. Do you agree with the proposed changes to the wording of the rules and Practice Directions regarding eligibility for costs protection? If not, please give your reasons.

Q3. Should claimants only be granted costs protection under the Environmental Costs Protection Regime once permission to apply for judicial review or statutory review (where relevant) has been given? If not, then please give your reasons.

Q4. Do you agree with the proposal to introduce a ‘hybrid’ approach to govern the level of the costs caps? If not, please give your reasons.

Q5. Do you agree that the criteria set out at proposed rule 45.44(4) at Annex A properly reflect the principles from the Edwards cases? If not, please give your reasons.

Q6. Do you agree that it is appropriate for the courts to apply the Edwards principles (proposed rule 45.44 at Annex A) to decide whether to vary costs caps? If not, please give your reasons.

Q7. Should all claimants be required to file at court and serve on the defendant a schedule of their financial resources at the commencement of proceedings? If not, please give your reasons.

Q8. Do you agree with the proposed approach to the application of costs caps in claims involving multiple claimants or defendants? If not please give your reasons.

Q9. At what level should the default costs caps be set? Please give your reasons.

Q10. What are your views on the introduction of a range of default costs caps in the future?

Q11. Do you agree that where a defendant unsuccessfully challenges whether a claim is an Aarhus Convention claim, costs of that challenge should normally be ordered on the standard basis? If not please give your reasons.

Q12. Do you think the Environmental Costs Protection Regime should make specific provision for how the courts should normally deal with the costs of applications to vary costs caps? If so, what approach should the rules take?

Q13. Do you have any comments on the proposed revisions to Practice Direction 25A?

Q14. Are there other types of challenge to which the Environmental Costs Protection Regime should be extended and if so what are they and why?

Q15. From your experience are there any groups of individuals with protected characteristics who may be particularly affected, either positively or negatively, by the proposals to revise the Environmental Costs Protection Regime?



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Leaked documents reveal secret plans for West Midlands Combined Authority to have control over APD at Birmingham airport

The Draft West Midlands Agreement, which was set to be used as a negotiation tool with Government, details what powers the new authority (the West Midlands Combined Authority, WMCA) – formed of Solihull, Coventry, Birmingham and Black Country local authorities – would seek to wrestle from Westminster. There would also be an elected metro mayor in order to qualify for the ‘full suite of powers’ offered by George Osborne. The mayor would chair the WMCA and have the ability to affect local council taxes and grant tax exemptions and discounts in order to support development. The mayor would also be granted powers to levy a Supplementary Business Rate on businesses – without the requirement for a referendum. And among other powers the WMCA could be given control over Birmingham Airport’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the ability to invest in growth of the local economy, and air connections with overseas markets.  The WMCA will campaign for the Government to devolve more powers to the country’s regions in its upcoming Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. In return for these devolved powers, the CA would look to form an £8 billion West Midlands Investment Programme to deliver specific housing and business funds.


LEAKED documents reveal secret plans for Solihull’s future in the West Midlands Combined Authority

By Lauren Clarke  (Solihull Observer)

CONFIDENTIAL plans for the future of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have been leaked.

The Draft West Midlands Agreement, which was set to be used as a negotiation tool with Government, details what powers the new authority – formed of Solihull, Coventry, Birmingham and Black Country local authorities – would seek to wrestle from Westminster.

But, the plans also reveal the Authority Shadow Board, which drew up the document, is envisioning the WMCA to be run by an elected metro mayor in order to qualify for the ‘full suite of powers’ offered by Chancellor George Osborne.

The revelation has caused uproar in Coventry, whose residents voted against an elected mayor in a 2012 referendum and now feel ‘railroaded’ into accepting one.

The draft also states that this elected mayor – who would most-likely be from Birmingham or Solihull given their strength and position in the proposed new authority – would have the ability to affect local council taxes by imposing precepts to raise money for services in the new region, and be able to grant tax exemptions and discounts in order to support millions of pounds worth of development.

The mayor would also be granted powers to levy a Supplementary Business Rate on businesses – without the requirement for a referendum.

Talks would table plans for smart ticketing and technology, akin to London’s Oyster Cards, across the region, and would grant the Combined Authority (CA) control over Birmingham Airport’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the ability to invest it in growth of local economy and connections with overseas markets.

The document also reveals the WMCA will campaign for the Government to devolve more powers to the country’s regions in its upcoming Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill – proposing amendments to grant greater ‘fiscal flexibility to individual councils’.

Other plans which could be up for consideration include scrapping the M6 toll and establishing a new employment service to improve the skills of local people and support them into local jobs.

In return for these devolved powers from Westminster, the CA would look to form an £8 billion West Midlands Investment Programme to deliver specific housing and business funds.

The document also details plans for a new National Innovation Centre and potential for the National Art Collection to be relocated to the region.

There is also the suggestion that the Government could support a city in the region’s bid to host the World Expo 2015 – which could attract 25 million visitors spending and estimated £5.6 billion to local communities.

Unable to discuss the leaked confidential plans in detail, Leader of Solihull Council and Chair of the WMCA Shadow Board, Coun Bob Sleigh, said they followed on from the plans for the CA which were laid out in July’s Statement of Intent.

He added: “Our leaked devolution submission bid reflects those ambitions as a starting point for negotiations with government.

“We are working collaboratively and across the three LEP geography to draw down powers from Whitehall to the West Midlands, so that we can get the best deal that will see an increase in income and productivity for the region and benefit businesses and households throughout the CA area.”


Below is a list of powers which the WMCA and its potential future metro mayor will seek to wrestle from Government.

Powers to be devolved directly to the elected mayor:

  • To be chair of the WMCA
  • Powers over a ten year Transport Investment Fund to control strategy and investment in the area’s transport – including highways, rail and bus networks and smart ticketing.
  • To be able to set a precepts and discounts on local residents’ council tax bills
  • The ability to set a Supplementary Business Rate levy on local businesses.

Powers devolved to the WMCA with elected mayor as chair:

  • Freedom to control Youth Offending Services.
  • Access to national data to develop ‘Troubled Individuals’ programme.
  • Control of Air Passenger Duty (APD) at Birmingham Airport.

Powers devolved to the WMCA without elected mayor, but exercised with Joint Committee of district councils:

  • Control over HS2 Growth Strategy.
  • Power to retain all business rate growth to distribute locally.
  • Ability to control land development funding, create local enterprise zones, and prioritise business rate investment.
  • Control over £500 million housing fund.
  • Devolved Adult Skills and Careers budgets
  • Control over business support and inward investment.
  • Ability to commission support to arts, culture and visitor economy.

Extra topics the WMCA will discuss with Government:

  • A World Expo bid for 2025.
  • Establishment of a National Innovation Centre.
  • Relocating National Art Collections to the region.
  • Control over police, fire and rescue services.
  • Reforms to criminal justice and offender management systems.
  • Amendments to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill – allowing greater flexibility in setting council tax.
  • Potential for EU funding.


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Berlin Brandenburg airport problem of terminal ceiling being too heavy ….. already years late, hugely over budget

Berlin’s long-delayed Brandenburg airport has suffered another setback after structural flaws were found in the terminal roof.  It appears that the ceiling in the terminal building is too heavy. The airport, which was originally due to open in 2010, is still under construction and has run billions of Euros over budget. It was expected to open in 2017 but that could be postponed even further. The local building authority said it had told the construction firm to “immediately stop building works for the area underneath the entire terminal roof of the BER airport” until security checks could be carried out by engineers. The airport’s CEO has left the company. Earlier this year Air Berlin, which is currently running at a loss, reached a settlement with the airport over the delays as it had planned on making BER its main hub airport. The first problems noted were to do with the smoke and fire detection problem. The proposed solution, (which was not surprisingly rejected) was (paraphrased) for 800 low-paid workers armed with cell phones, sitting on camping stools, armed with thermos flasks, who would take up positions throughout the terminal. If anyone smelled smoke or saw a fire, they would alert the airport fire station and direct passengers toward the exits” The airport’s cost, borne by taxpayers, has tripled to €5.4 billion.


Berlin Brandenburg airport suffers further setback

By Alex McWhirter (Buying Business Travel)

28 Sep 2015

Berlin’s long-delayed Brandenburg airport has suffered another setback after structural flaws were found in the terminal roof.

According to the ceiling within the terminal building has been found to be too heavy.

The airport, which was originally due to open in 2010, is still under construction and has run billions of Euros over budget. It was expected to open in 2017 but that could be postponed even further.

The building authority for the Dahme-Spreewald locality said it had told the construction firm to “immediately stop building works for the area underneath the entire terminal roof of the BER airport” until security checks could be carried out by engineers.

German aviation magazine, reports that the latest problem has led to Brandenburg’s CEO Karsten Muhlenfeld leaving the company.

In a statement, the airport authority said, “There is no question we are currently in a difficult phase of the project. However we will proceed without compromise.”

Earlier this year Air Berlin, which is currently running at a loss, reached a settlement with the airport over the delays as it had planned on making BER its main hub airport.



Air Berlin reaches settlement over airport delay

By Tom Newcombe  (Buying Business Travel)
4th Jun 2014

German carrier Air Berlin has agreed an out-of-court settlement with airport operators in its dispute over the delayed opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg airport (BER).

The airport, which was originally due to open in 2010, is still under construction and has run billions of Euros over budget.

Originally planned to be opened in 2010, BER has encountered a series of delays due to poor construction planning, management, execution and corruption

Air Berlin, which is currently running at a loss, had planned on making BER its main hub airport.

“Air Berlin and Berlin Brandenburg GmbH airport operators have agreed an out-of-court settlement in the compensation claim based on the postponement of the opening of Berlin Brandenburg airport BER in 2012,” the airline said in a statement.

“Air Berlin has therefore withdrawn its claim before the regional court of Potsdam. Both parties have agreed not to disclose details of the settlement.”

The planned June 3, 2012 inauguration of the new hub was to replace two smaller airports, Tegel and Schoenefeld.




How Berlin’s Futuristic Airport Became a $6 Billion Embarrassment

Inside Germany’s profligate (Greek-like!) fiasco called Berlin Brandenburg
July 23, 2015 (Bloomberg)

by Joshua Hammer

Full article contains lots of pictures too   – see link

The inspectors could hardly believe what they were seeing. Summoned from their headquarters near Munich, the team of logistics, safety, and aviation experts had arrived at newly constructed Berlin Brandenburg International Willy Brandt Airport in the fall of 2011 to begin a lengthy series of checks and approvals for the €600 million ($656 million) terminal on the outskirts of the German capital. Expected to open the following June, the airport, billed as Europe’s “most modern,” was intended to handle 27 million passengers a year and crown Berlin as the continent’s 21st century crossroads.

The team of inspectors, known as ORAT, for Operations Readiness and Airport Transfer, brought in a dummy plane and volunteers as test passengers. They examined everything from baggage carousels and security gates to the fire protection system. The last was an especially high priority: None could forget the 1996 fire that roared through Düsseldorf Airport’s passenger terminal, killing 17.

When they simulated a fire, though, the system went haywire. Some alarms failed to activate. Others indicated a fire, but in the wrong part of the terminal. The explanation was buried in the 55-mile tangle of wiring that had been laid, hastily, beneath the floors of the building where ORAT technicians soon discovered high-voltage power lines alongside data and heating cables—a fire hazard in its own right.

That wasn’t all. Smoke evacuation canals designed to suck out smoke and replace it with fresh air failed to do either. In an actual fire, the inspectors determined, the main smoke vent might well implode.

Confronted with the fire system fiasco, Rainer Schwarz, chief executive officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB), the airport company owned by the city of Berlin, the state of Brandenburg, and the federal government, downplayed it. Schwarz and his staff told the airport’s board of oversight, as well as Stephan Loge, the commissioner of Dahme-Spreewald County, who had the final authority to issue the airport an operating license, that they were working through some issues, but that the situation was under control.

Schwarz also appointed an emergency task force to propose solutions that would allow the airport to open on time. In March 2012 the group submitted its stopgap: Eight hundred low-paid workers armed with cell phones would take up positions throughout the terminal. If anyone smelled smoke or saw a fire, he would alert the airport fire station and direct passengers toward the exits. Never mind that the region’s cell phone networks were notoriously unreliable, or that some students would be stationed near the smoke evacuation channels, where in a fire temperatures could reach 1,000F.

It was, says Martin Delius, “an idiotic plan.” Delius is a physicist and member of Berlin’s parliament who has conducted an extensive investigation of the airport’s troubled infrastructure. “They thought that this would at least eliminate the need for wiring,” he says, “because [the spotters] could see with their own eyes if there is a mass of smoke lower than 6 feet above the ground.”

Schwarz continued to prepare for the opening, and the German public remained oblivious. By April 2012, airport fever was consuming Berlin. Mayor Klaus Wowereit sent out 3,000 invitations for the Hoffest, the annual mayoral ball at the 19th century City Hall, printing the entry tickets on mock boarding cards. Billboards went up, showing a photomontage of the airport’s namesake and famous Cold War leader embracing passengers, with the legend, “Willy Brandt greets the world!”

Preparations continued for an extravagant inaugural. Angela Merkel, the chancellor, was to disembark from a government jet and stroll down a red carpet to the glass-walled terminal, which would have been filled with expensive food and drink. On the night of June 2, in a stunt-like mobilization, thousands of workers would shuttle 600 truckloads of equipment and a fleet of 60-ton aircraft tugs 19 miles down a sealed-off expressway from Berlin-Tegel, Berlin’s main airport, in the northwest corner of the city, and Tegel would shut down forever the same day the new airport came online.

But in the town of Lübben, in what used to be East Germany, Commissioner Loge had his doubts. He and his own staff of building inspectors had spent many hours examining the fire protection system at the Tropical Islands Resort, an indoor paradise set in a former airship hangar in Brandenburg. One of the world’s largest freestanding structures, it draws up to 6,000 warmth-and-beach-deprived Germans a day. “It was far more complicated than the one at Berlin Brandenburg airport, and it worked,” Loge says.On May 7, less than four weeks before the scheduled opening, Loge met with Schwarz for the first time. The airport, Schwarz conceded, would have to open using the army of human fire detectors.

“Professor, let me understand this,” Loge said. “You are talking about having 800 people wearing orange vests, sitting on camping stools, holding thermoses filled with coffee, and shouting into their cell phones, ‘Open the fire door’?” Loge refused the airport an operating license. Schwarz stood up and walked out without another word.The next day, in a hall packed with government officials and journalists, Schwarz sat grimly behind a table with four other officials, including Mayor Wowereit, and announced the unthinkable: The airport wouldn’t open as scheduled. The inaugural bash and overnight move from Tegel were scuttled.

It was merely a prelude to a debacle that is still unfolding. Three years later, Berlin Brandenburg has wrecked careers and joined two other bloated projects—Stuttgart 21, a years-late railway station €2 billion over budget, and an €865 million concert hall in Hamburg—in tarnishing Germany’s reputation for order, efficiency, and engineering mastery.

At the very moment Merkel and her allies are hectoring the Greeks about their profligacy, the airport’s cost, borne by taxpayers, has tripled to €5.4 billion. Two airport company directors (including Schwarz), three technical chiefs, the architects, and dozens if not hundreds of others have been fired or forced to quit, or have left in disgust.

The government spends €16 million per month just to prevent the huge facility from falling into disrepair. According to the most optimistic scenarios, it won’t check in its first passengers until 2017, and sunny pronouncements have long since given way to “catastrophe,” “farce,” and “the building site of horror.” There is a noted German word for the delight some took in the mess, too. [schadenfreude].

In the beginning, Berlin Brandenburg airport was at best an economically unnecessary symbol of unity and growth. In October 1990, when politicians and planners began a search for ways of bridging the city’s long East-West divide, Berlin had three modest-size airports: Tempelhof, famed as the site of the 1948 Berlin Airlift; Schönefeld, opened in 1946, which later became the main airport serving Communist East Germany; and Tegel, a gem of efficiency that opened in 1948. By 1995 about 12 million people flew in and out of the city each year. After years of languishing as a Cold War backwater, Berlin was on the rise. By 2020, passenger totals were projected to reach 22 million.

In 2001, Wowereit sensed an opportunity. A gray-haired extrovert who bears a certain resemblance to the actor Alec Baldwin, “Wowi,” as he’s known, had earned a reputation as both a party animal and a rainmaker. He attracted free-spirited events to the city, such as an international S&M fetish street party, and proudly proclaimed, “I’m gay, and that’s a good thing.” “Is Germany Ready for a Gay Chancellor?” Der Spiegel asked after the Social Democrat’s landslide reelection in 2006. The Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport was to be his legacy in the city, while possibly paving the way for national office. (Wowereit declined to be interviewed for this article.)

To design the airport, FBB landed Meinhard von Gerkan, Germany’s most famous architect, a septuagenarian with a mane of white hair who’d made his name at age 30 with the Tegel Airport. The founding partner of Hamburg-based firm von Gerkan, Marg, & Partners, he’s known to squabble publicly with project managers when he feels that his artistic vision has been compromised.

The third key player was Schwarz, who was appointed CEO of the airport management company in 2006. A U.S.-trained economist who’d run Düsseldorf Airport, Schwarz had a reputation as a cost-cutting technocrat—just the man for the job. After considering a half-dozen sites, including a former Russian army base, the airport management team from FBB broke ground in 2006 on a vast plot just a couple of miles from the existing runways at Schönefeld.

The project’s first complications stemmed from Schwarz and Wowereit’s ever-changing ambitions. With construction under way, Schwarz, seizing on increasing forecasts for air traffic (up to 27 million passengers at that point), had von Gerkan add north and south “piers” to the main terminal, turning it from a rectangle into a “U” and dramatically enlarging the floor space. Schwarz also dreamed of making the airport a Dubai-like luxury mall. Airports earn significant money from nonaviation businesses, the FBB boss noted, so why not insert a second level, jammed with shops, boutiques, and food courts? Von Gerkan derided what he called the Vermallung of the airport—its “mallification”—but he capitulated to Schwarz’s demands.

According to Boris Hermel, a TV and radio correspondent who has covered the airport saga from the beginning, and other sources, Wowereit and Schwarz fell hard for an airplane: the Airbus A380, the double-decker, widebody, four-engine jetliner capable of seating 853 people. While no airline indicated it wanted to fly this monstrosity to Berlin, the men called for the walls at one end of the terminal to be ripped out so that an extra-wide gate could be built to accommodate it. “The clients were tripping over each other with requests for changes,” von Gerkan later said.

In his investigation, Delius examined tens of thousands of internal FBB e-mails. “The people responsible for technical oversight were saying, ‘We cannot do this within this amount of time,’ and Schwarz would answer, ‘I don’t care,’ ” he says.

The architecture and engineering teams fought to keep up. As the terminal ballooned from 200,000 to 340,000 square meters (dwarfing Frankfurt’s 240,000 and just shy of Heathrow Terminal 5’s 353,000), they parcelled out the work to seven contractors. That soon grew to 35, and they brought in hundreds of subcontractors, says Delius. Several engineering and electronics companies, led by the German giants Siemens and Bosch, struggled to retain control over the complex fire protection system that included 3,000 fire doors, 65,000 sprinklers, thousands of smoke detectors, a labyrinth of smoke evacuation ducts, and the equivalent of 55 miles of cables.

“Our part, the detection of hot air or smoke … is functioning,” says Thilo Resenhoeft, a Bosch spokesman. “The responsibility for the dysfunction lies with somebody else.” Siemens spokesman Oliver Santen confirms that the company was originally responsible for building the “automated fire protection facility” and “the control unit for fresh-air circulation.” Testing in 2013 “showed the need for reworking part of the system,” he says. Santen declines to attribute responsibility other than to say that Siemens is “responsible for the reconstruction of the fresh-air circulation system.”

Each addition ordered up by Schwarz required shifting passenger flows through the terminal. That meant rebuilding walls, exits, emergency lights, ventilation systems, windows, elevators, and staircases. At one point, in 2009, outside controllers urged Schwarz and his engineering chief to shut down construction for half a year to give the architects and contractors time to coordinate efforts.

Schwarz, Delius says, ignored them. Just months before the scheduled June 2012 opening, the terminal was a mess. Careless workers stepped on and shattered glass being installed by other companies. Heavy equipment rolled across the terminal floor, scratching expensive tiles. Tempers flared; small contractors complained they weren’t getting paid and threatened to walk off the job.

“The number of defects that they’ve found has grown to 150,000”

Following the humiliating announcement in May 2012 that the grand opening was off, the theater of the absurd escalated as executives, board members, and contractors turned on one another. Schwarz presented the board with a list of accusations against von Gerkan and his firm, charging that the architects had misled management with overoptimistic reports on their progress. The architects were fired, along with dozens of other key planners, slowing the project further. “Schwarz lost all their know-how,” says Hermel, the radio journalist. “They were back at Square One.”

Von Gerkan shot back. In a 2013 tell-all book, Black Box BER, he accused Schwarz of resisting all attempts at dialogue. Schwarz “had no concept, only insatiable demands,” von Gerkan wrote, and lived inside “a fairy tale.” That same year, after it became clear that Wowereit’s repeated predictions of an imminent opening were unrealistic, the mayor stepped down as chairman of the board of oversight. (He later resigned as mayor.)

Schwarz was fired days after Wowereit left the board of oversight. He sued for wrongful termination, and in late 2014 a Berlin court ordered the airport owners to pay Schwarz €1.14 million in damages for his dismissal, saying the board of oversight shared responsibility for the fiasco. In an e-mail to Bloomberg Businessweek, Schwarz said he felt vindicated by the court’s decision, concluding, “There is nothing to add.”

In the two years since Schwarz and Wowereit’s dual exit, the owners of the airport have reshuffled the board of oversight and burned through another management team. Schwarz’s successor, a short, stocky official named Hartmut Mehdorn, 72, is a close friend of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. While head of Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway, Mehdorn supervised the construction of Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, the central train station, in a contentious collaboration with von Gerkan. Hauptbahnhof is considered a German triumph: “If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City,” Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times in 2008, “they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.”

Mehdorn came into the Berlin Brandenburg job determined to turn it around. “He is a whirlwind,” says Axel Vogel of the Green Party. After a year of paralysis on the building site, one of Mehdorn’s early moves was to turn on the fountain in front of the deserted terminal to signal that he would get things done. But almost as a mocking counterpoint, the lights in the terminal couldn’t be turned off because of a computer glitch no one could fix, and the electricity bill soared.

Mehdorn squabbled with his engineering chief and antagonized the board of oversight with his ill-conceived schemes to get the airport up and running. At one point he proposed opening just the northern pier. A terrible idea, says Delius: “It was never meant to be opened separately from the rest of the terminal. There were no luggage carousels, no check-in counters, and the only way to reach it would have been to walk across the runway.”

By December 2014 relations between Mehdorn and the board had gotten so bad that the board considered hiring a headhunter to find his replacement, according to Delius and others. Hearing about the plan, Mehdorn quit. After his exit, nobody wanted the job. Mehdorn could not be reached for comment.

In February 2015 the board managed to lure Karsten Mühlenfeld, the well-regarded 51-year-old former chief of engineering at Rolls-Royce Germany. It also hired a former Siemens manager as his technical director. One of the first moves the two made was to yank out and reinstall the miles of cables. Then they turned to the fire prevention system. Smoke now channels upward through chimneys, in accordance with the laws of physics.

The board says construction should be completed by the middle of 2016, to be followed by fresh rounds of testing by ORAT crews. If all goes according to plan, says Mühlenfeld, the airport should begin operations in 2017. Berliners are trying to remain patient as tourism is booming and growth is limited by a lack of flights. “The number of defects that they’ve found has grown to 150,000, including 85,000 serious ones,” says Vogel.

On a Saturday afternoon in July, I board a bus in the Schönefeld parking lot for a two-hour public tour of the deserted airport. The tour leader seems almost to revel in the airport’s cursed history. The project had been a disaster, he says. Still, the terminal building is impressive. We enter the giant structure and walk across floors of light-gray tile, past check-in counters made of artificial walnut. The infamous second level looms above, filled with restaurants and duty-free shops, all done in the same tasteful faux wood. Twin pairs of stainless-steel chimneys rise out of the ceiling. An express train rumbles into the station directly beneath the terminal. Eventually, four trains an hour will whisk passengers to and from central Berlin in 20 minutes. The terminal has a light, spacious feeling, with panoramic sightlines reminiscent of the aesthetics at Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

“You have to say that it is a really cool airport,” Delius says. “The architecture is good. The concept is good. It is very easygoing, easy to navigate. It should please a lot of people—if it ever gets finished.”





Troubled Berlin Brandenburg Airport, due to open in June 2012, Could be shut down in late summer unless € 1.1 billion is raised

Berlin Brandenburg (BER) Airport What Intended to be a huge new airport for Berlin, as Berlin-Schönefeld and Tegel airports Could close. The BER what INITIALLY due to open in June 2012. It had a catalog of problems with fire safety, smoke extraction system, and fresh air supply in the event of fire. The launch has been delayed and delayed …. Last year it photoshoped what it might open this year. Now the airport’s CEO has announced it is Possible That the construction of the airport may need to be shut down this summer, if A Further € 1.1 billion can not be raised. Some € 4.3 trillion has already been spent, but did only lasts till this summer. Extra costs incurred due to the havebeen late opening, as well as the extra construction costs. A decision on how € 1.1 billion can be raised is needed urgently, Perhaps through bank loans, government grants or from Investor. The money has to not only be agreed by Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal government, so but needs approval from the EU Commission. Current total costs amount to € 5.4 billion.  Additional plans suggest additional costs amounting to € 2.19 billion at Extra. Although the airport has yet to open, Officials are planning a possible third runway for Approximately € 1 trillion and other new projects: such as on additional terminal, expanded baggage system and another freight facility.The total additional spending would amount to € 3.2 billion.



Berlin’s Schönefeld airport ‘to stay open’ as Brandenburg airport (at huge expense) not ready till 2015 at the earliest

Berlin’s old Schönefeld airport is likely to remain open as a destination for budget airlines despite a multi-billion airport being built next to it, at Berlin Brandenburg (BER), as the new international hub is too small.  It is the latest in a long line of setbacks to hit the BER, which is over budget and behind time. It will have two runways.  It is expected to open in 2015 at the earliest.  Officially the cost of the airport is €4.3 billion, though initial cost estimates were €1.2 and it could cost up to €6 billion. Despite the huge cost, the airport will only have a capacity of 27 million passengers a year, so its ageing neighbour, Schönefeld, will need to stay open.  The original plan had been for Schönefeld, which caters for budget airlines, to merge with BER.  Keeping Schönefeld in operation would increase capacity by 7.5 million passengers a year and avoid further costs of building a new terminal. Earlier it had been expected that BER  could be partly in use in 2014, with 10 planes per day, but that will not happen.  The airport was initially intended to open in 2010 but the multiple delays have been due to difficulties concerning fire safety, the smoke exhaust systems and construction errors.  Air Berlin is suing BER for damages due to the much delayed opening.



Further fire safety problems at Berlin Brandenburg Airport mean it cannot open in October, so delayed till unknown date in 2014

January 8, 2013

Berlin’s Brandenburg airport was initially due to open in June 2012. It has problems with fire safety, smoke extraction system, and fresh air supply in the event of fire. Therefore the opening was put off till October 2013. It has now been announced that the airport will now open on an unknown date in 2014. Based on the previous timetable, construction work was due to be completed by May 2013 to allow a 5-month period for trial operations before the official opening. There may be other technical problems as well, such as on baggage handling. When completed, the airport will take over from the ageing Tegel and Schoenefeld airports. It is expected to be able to eventually handle up to 27 million passengers a year, but this figure has been reduced from the initial figure of 45 million. The cost of the project has risen, from an estimated £1.6 billion to more than £3.2 billion and the latest delays are likely to increase the costs further. A growing chorus of critics is calling for the city’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, to step down over the matter.

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Catalogue of delays and problems for the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (Willy-Brandt)

Brandenburg (Willy Brandt) airport has become a symbol of how, even for the remarkably technologically successful Germans, things can go horribly wrong. There is currently no opening date set. It has a range of problems, many caused by such complicated and advanced computer systems and technologies, that engineers cannot work out how to fix them. Thousands of light bulbs illuminate the gigantic main terminal and the car park 24 hours per day, which is a massive cost and waste of energy; officials cannot work out how to turn them off as the computer system that’s so sophisticated it’s almost impossible to operate. Every day, an empty commuter train rolls to the unfinished airport over an 8 km stretch to keep the newly-laid tracks from getting rusty – more waste. Several escalators need to be rebuilt because they were too short; and dozen of tiles were already broken before a single airport passenger ever stepped on them. Then there are the fire system problems – with some technology that is so advanced that technicians can’t work out what’s wrong with it.




Berlin Brandenburg Airport opening date postponed – till March 2013

The new Berlin Brandenburg (Willie Brandt) airport will not now open till March 2013.  It had been due to open in June 2012, and was postponed recently until August 2012.  The problem appears be the fire safety system. The airport can only commence operations with a fully automated fire safety and control system as originally planned, and the interim solution of a partly automated system will not be allowed. This will take until December 2012. In addition, the risk would be too high to move the airport in winter due to adverse weather leading to operational restrictions.  The Managing Director Operations, responsible for the construction of the airport, will have to leave the company. Keeping open the two older Berlin airports that this one will replace will cost about €15 million a month.





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Careful analysis by Richmond campaign shows up weaknesses in Airports Commission economic arguments

The Airports Commission, in recommending Heathrow as the location for a new runway, has given the impression that it would benefit the regions and create more connectivity for regional airports. An analysis of the Commission’s many papers, by the Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC), has unearthed very different data.  These indicate that the Heathrow north west runway would mean an extra 41 million annual passengers at Heathrow, but a loss of 58 million passengers per year from other UK airports, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. The RHC does not consider this to be compatible with the “Northern Powerhouse.” They also believe that over 50% of the new runway capacity would be used for an extra 22 million International to International transfers, providing little economic value to the UK as these passengers don’t step outside the airport. The RHC comments that the Commission’s data shows the investment of £17.6 billion to build the runway would result in a net benefit of £1.4 billion (present value over 60 years) when other costs are taken into account. This is negligible in macro-economic terms. The RHC says the Commission’s own reports show “there is no need for this costly new investment in one airport at the expense of others. Allowing the market to grow where it is needed is the right answer – no new runways.”



Let’s Face the Facts on Heathrow

27th September 2015

Worried about escalating house prices and rents in the south-east?

Agree with the need to re-balance the UK economy through a Northern Powerhouse?

What would you think about a Government decision that increased the over-heating in the southeast and worked against a re-balancing of the economy? You’d think it was nuts, wouldn’t you?

Let’s look at some surprising facts:

1. Heathrow’s third runway would support an extra 41 million passengers a year. But this growth is concentrated at a single airport in the over-heated south-east, and results in a loss of 58 million passengers a year from other UK airports, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Compatible with the Northern Powerhouse? Surely not.

2. Want to increase the UK’s aviation capacity and international competitiveness? The Airports Commission’s own data show a reduction of 17 million passengers for the UK as a whole, including business passengers and domestic passengers, as well as a reduction in flights and connectivity if the Heathrow option is chosen.

3. Want the passengers using the airspace to benefit the UK economy? Over 50% of the new runway capacity would be used for an extra 22 million International to International transfers, providing little economic value to the UK as these passengers don’t step outside the airport.

4. And for those of you who are into macro-economic data, a final astonishing fact: The Commission says the investment of £17.6 billion [runway building costs. Page  271. Point 13.80 of Airports Commission final report ]  would result in a net benefit of £1.4 billion (present value over 60 years).  [This figure is from Page 89  point 3.148 of the commission’s report Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway ]  This sounds a decent sum but it is negligible in macro-economic terms and within the margin for statistical error. And that’s ignoring the fact that the figure may be even smaller if full calculations for noise and air pollution and investment in transport to and from the airport, were to be included.

Don’t believe it? We were astonished too. But let’s face the facts before investing £17 billion on Heathrow Airport plus a further £20 billion required to improve surface transport access: the evidence shows it will not deliver what we and the Government want. And we haven’t even mentioned all the problems of compliance with CO2, air pollution and noise targets.

These facts are all in the Airport’s Commission final report. Good stuff. But the conclusion reached is not supported by the facts.

The fact is that there is already significant spare capacity at almost all UK’s airports including
Heathrow itself, which the Commission says has capacity to add another 34 million terminating passengers without any additional flights by using larger planes. Heathrow is far from full. There is no need for this costly new investment in one airport at the expense of others. Allowing the market to grow where it is needed is the right answer – no new runways.
We challenge the supporters of Heathrow expansion to debate the facts with us before it is too late.

Take a look It’s astonishing.

Contact details: Richmond Heathrow Campaign.



The report from the Richmond Heathrow Campaign

Heathrow recommendation for Heathrow Expansion The Aviation Market and Economics – Key Facts




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Sir Howard Davies writes to Patrick McLoughlin and the GLA to dismiss Gatwick’s claims

The Airports Commission, now almost closed down, has published on its website a letter to the GLA from Sir Howard Davies, setting out why they believe strongly that their analysis is robust to the arguments that Gatwick airport have made (recently repeated). The Commission also published a letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, dated the 7th September, and now copied to the GLA, countering all Gatwick’s arguments why it should be the site for a new runway. The Commission’s letter to Patrick McLoughlin deal with Regional Connectivity, on which they dismiss Gatwick’s claims; Economic Benefits, on which the Commission says the benefits to the UK from a Heathrow runway are substantially greater than a Gatwick runway; on Costs and Charges; Deliverability and Financing; Air Quality; and Noise. The Commission says, quote: “GAL accuse the Airports Commission of having ‘largely ignore[d]’ Gatwick’s lower noise impacts compared to those of Heathrow. That is nonsense.”  Sir Howard Davies’ letter to the GLA covers the issues of capacity and resilience, connectivity, noise mitigation, surface access and finance. Criticising the session at the GLA where Sir Howard was interviewed, he says there was no “serious consideration of the role of aviation, and the benefits of expansion, in supporting the capital’s long term prosperity.”

There are links to both letters on the Airports Commission website at

The letter to Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly


The letter to Transport Minister, Patrick McLoughlin

The Rt. Hon. Patrick McLoughlinMP
Secretary of State
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR

Sir Howard Davies
Chair Airports Commission
Sanctuary Buildings
20 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT


Date: 7 September 2015

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing in response to recent media coverage of the criticisms made by Gatwick
Airport Ltd (GAL) of the analysis and recommendations in the Airports Commission’s
Final Report. The majority of the points made by GAL in the media were in reality
also made to the Commission in the course of its work and we considered them
carefully before we reached our conclusions. I thought it may therefore be helpful to
provide an overview of this and to explain why we believe strongly that our work is
robust to these criticisms.

GAL’s criticisms fall into seven broad categories, with which this letter deals in turn.

Traffic Forecasts

The reliability of the Airports Commission’s forecasts, which were derived using an
enhanced version of the DfT aviation model, wasregularly questioned by GAL
throughout the Commission process and therefore commanded our close attention.
This included commissioning additional advice from the OECD and from a leading
academic expert, Professor Andreas Schaefer,as tothe robustness of both our
forecasting approach and the criticisms and alternative forecasts put forward by
GAL. Their conclusions were unequivocal:

  • In respect of the Commission’s forecasts, the OECD found that: the various
    trends in the Commission’s traffic forecasts … are plausible, and that the
    various points raised by the consultees do not provide persuasive evidence
    that the airport allocation model is biased. The forecasts provide, in our view,
    a valid basis for the Commission to compare the impacts and relative merits
    of different options for investment in additional capacity at London’s airports.
  • In respect of the DfT aviation model, Professor Schaefer found that: “The
    scale, capability, and level of detail of the DfT aviation model system is
    impressive. I am not aware of … any other country having such kind of
    apparatus available … In addition, I found the overall modelling approach to
    be coherent and the model specifications to follow good practice.”
  • In respect of GAL’s forecasting model, Professor Schaefer found that: “it is not
    clear how the results were produced and what specific assumptions they are
    based on. Without more detail … it is not possible to disprove that the ICF
    Model is based on a set of assumptions rather than rigorous quantitative
    relationships. Therefore it is my recommendation that the ICF Report results
    should not be used for decision making.”


We strongly disagree with the Gatwick’s view that the Commission’s forecasts underestimate the level of passenger growth that would be seen at an expanded
Gatwick and overestimate growth at an expanded Heathrow. Even so, we have
always acknowledged the risks associated with longterm forecasting. That is why
we developed a scenariobased methodology, which enabled us to understand the
implications for our analysis of different views of the future. In some circumstances
an expanded Gatwick wouldperform more stronglythan in our assessment of need
forecasts, but these required extreme assumptions about economic growth or
industry development. Heathrow expansion saw rapid increases in passenger
numbers and services across the full range of scenarios tested.

In making its case, GAL also focuses on individual figures rather than looking at
longterm trends. For example, it refers to the 2.7 million increase in passenger
numbers seen in 2014 to support its argumentthat an expanded Gatwick would grow
faster than we have forecast. In fact, the 2014 increaseat Gatwick was unusual. The
previous year, for example, passenger numbers increased by just 1.2 million and
average growth between 2004 and 2014, even with spare capacity available, was
less than 0.7 million a year.Similarly, the differences between the Commission’s and
GAL’s shortterm estimates of passenger numbers are of limited relevance, as we
both see the airport’s single runway reaching capacity before 2020.

GAL’s final point is that the difference in forecast growth between an expanded
Gatwick and an expanded Heathrow ( m vs 3 m passengers over the 5 yearsto
2030) is inexplicable.We do not consider that this is the case. As set out above, with
spare capacity available, Gatwick has grown at less than 1m passengers per year
over the past ten years. The provision of significant new capacity, particularly in the
morning and evening peak periods, ould accelerate this, as our forecasts show, but
would not fundamentally alter the underlying demand without broader changes in the
economy or aviation industry. In contrast, Heathrow is one of the world’s most
profitable airports from which to operate and has been capacity constrained for many
years. As a result, it is reasonable to assume a high level of suppressed demand for
runway slots. The willingness of airlines, most recently Vietnam Airways, to switch
from Gatwick to Heathrow as soon as slots become available bears this out. The
construction of a new runway would allow this suppressed demand to be met,
leading to rapid growth in passenger numbers and services.

Regional connectivity

GAL has argued that an expanded Gatwick Airport would be better for regional
connectivity than expansion at Heathrow, but their argument misunderstands and
misrepresents the Commission’s analysis. They state that Gatwick is preferable
because an expanded Heathrow – according to the Commission’s forecasts – would
serve only fourdomestic routes compared to the seven served currently and
compared to eight at an expanded Gatwick.

There are three flaws in this argument. The first is that, without any additional
measures to safeguard domestic connectivity, an unexpanded Heathrow would see
domestic routes decline even further to just three. In contrast, expansion at Gatwick
makes no difference to the number of domestic routes forecast at the airport, which
would be eight with or without expansion.

The second flaw is that the argument assumes that a link to one London airport is
the same as a link to another. Our discussions with stakeholders in the nations and
regions revealed very clearly the importance that they attach to direct links to
Heathrow because of the access provided to its substantial longhaul route network.
A third runway at Heathrow would allow further expansion in that network as well as
more than trebling the number of domestic passengers able to access it.

The third flaw is that the Commission’s forecasts do not assume any additional
measures are taken to promote domestic connectivity to the expanded airport. A
number of such measures are, however, feasible and are recommended in our Final
report. These include reduced passenger charges on domestic services and the use
of Public Service Obligations to support a broad route network. Therefore, we
believe that the level of domestic connectivity could be greater than that indicated by
our forecastsalone. EasyJet’s submission to our consultation indicated thatitwould
consider serving around seven domestic destinations from an expanded Heathrow.

Economic Benefits

Contrary to GAL’s assertions, the direct economic benefits of expansion at Gatwick
and Heathrow are not ‘virtually the same’. In both the‘carbon traded’ and ‘carbon
capped’ forecasts, the net social benefits of a new north west runway at Heathrow
are roughly two thirds higher than those of a second runway at Gatwick.

The Commission has acknowledged that if the costs of the schemes are
incorporated into the calculation, the gap may be narrowed or reversed. But this is
not primarily a public investment decision, but rather a decision as to which of a
number of private sector schemes, in each case likely to be funded significantly by
international investors, should be facilitated through the planning system. The
Commission’s view is that this should be the scheme which delivers the greatest
benefits for the UK.

We have also been careful in our use of the more innovative modelling of wider
economic impacts carried out by PWC. In particular, we have been clear that these
results are based (for both Gatwick and Heathrow) on an assumption that investment
in aviation capacity is likely to stimulate knockon investment elsewhere in the
economy, and for that reason have considered them as part of the strategic case
and not as part of our cost-benefit analysis.

In doing so, and bearing in mind our expert advisers’ notes of caution, the
Commission considered carefully whether the monetised outputs of this modelling
were consistent with its broader strategic analysis of the schemes’ benefits and
impacts. Our conclusion was that they were. Expansion at Heathrow delivered
greater benefits for the UK’s long haul network, enabled more rapid growth in
inbound and business travel and in the air freight sector and enhanced competition
to a greater degree than expansion at Gatwick. Heathrow expansion also had a
stronger impact on the surrounding local economies, generating more jobs more
quickly than expansion at Gatwick. This overall analysis aligned well with the PWC
results, which showed much stronger impacts across the UK economy from
expansion at Heathrow – more than £140 billion over 60 years compared to c. £90
with a second runway at Gatwick.

Costs and Charges

GAL’s argument that the lower costs of expansion at Gatwick should inevitably mean
lower per passenger charges is entirely misguided. The level of charge is a function
not only of the cost of the scheme, but also of the number of passengers paying for
it. The higher levels of demand seen at Heathrow significantly reduce the charge
required on a per passenger basis. GAL’s proposed ‘contract’ to limit charges to £15
could at best be considered the starting point for a negotiationgiven its significant
reas of omission (including any information on penalties should GAL fail to comply
with the contract’s provisions),and would in any case do nothing toalter the
underlying commercial fundamentals of the project.

Deliverability and Financing

A range of issues, including the need to tunnel and widen the M25 and to deliver
other transport improvements, as well as to relocate an existing EnergytoWaste
plant, are highlighted by GAL as indicating that the Commission must have
underestimated the delivery challenges associated with the north west runway
proposal at Heathrow. In fact, each of these was identified and considered by the
Commission, as was the additional evidence on this topic submitted by GAL to our
consultation,before we reached ourview that itwould be feasible for the scheme to
be delivered by 2026. It is important to note, however, that this is not a prediction;
any scheme of this kind is subject to a range of delivery risks and uncertainties.
While earlier delivery would undoubtedly be of benefit, the Commission’s
assessment of need was for new capacity to be available by 2030. Our deliverability
analysis gives us confidence that this would be the case.

GAL’s comparison of the level of spend required to construct Terminal 5 with that to
deliver a new runway is oversimplistic. Alongside constructing T5, Heathrow Airport
Ltd had to continue to invest in and operate its existing infrastructure. These
additional costs are taken into account in our assessment of commercial
deliverability. Furthermore, GAL provides no evidence for why a higher rate of
expenditure would not be feasible. Heathrow Airport Ltd have significant experience
in managing major development projects on an operational airfield which would be of
direct relevance to the construction of a new runway and it supporting infrastructure.

Air Quality

GAL argue that our analysis of the air quality issues around Heathrow is based on an
incorrect interpretation of the law. We do not agree. We considered carefullythe
legal arguments put forward by GAL in their submissions to our consultations, before
reaching a view that thosearguments were themselves unsoundand, if we had
accepted them, would have left us open to challenge.

Our air quality analysis was carried out by one of the UK’s leading consultants in this
fieldwith oversight and quality control offered by another, and withthe support of
Helen ApSimon, Professor of Air Pollution Studies at Imperial College and a member
of DEFRA’s Air Quality Expert Group. The allegations of incompleteness and
inconsistency made by GAL were dealt with in full in the report on the responses to
our air quality consultation.

In our Final Report, we acknowledge the air quality challenges facing the UK, includingthe requirement on the Government to achieve the EU limit values in London. Our analysis demonstrates, however,that the impacts of expansion at Heathrow would be a manageable part of this broader issue, which we believe the Government can feasibly devise and implement appropriate measures to address. In our view, therefore, limited weight should be placed on the suggestion that air quality represents a significant obstacle to expansion.


GAL accuse the Airports Commission of having ‘largely ignore[d]’ Gatwick’s lower
noise impacts compared to those ofHeathrow. That is nonsense. We have been
aware from an early stage of our work of Gatwick’s relative advantage in respect of
noise impacts, and this is brought out clearly, for example, in the Executive
Summary of our Final Report:

Although an expanded Gatwick would see more people affected by noise than today,
its overall noise impacts would still be much less significant than those around
Heathrow.In terms of the total number of people affected, an expanded Heathrow
would see more than 550,000 people within the 24hour 55 LDEN contour in 2030
compared to just over 22,000 at Gatwick. That reflects Gatwick’s more rural location,
which presents challenges in respect of the airport’s effects on tranquility, but does
not outweigh its overall noise advantage.

Similarly, GAL has accused us of failing to properly assess the number of people
who might be newly affected by noise as a result of expansion at Heathrow. In fact,
we have carried out such an assessment (and, perversely, it is our own figures that
GAL has quoted in in its advertisements on this point). What is important, however,
is the overall noise impact – including those who experience an improvement in the
noise environment as a result of expansion as well as those who experience a
worsening. For the Heathrow scheme, the population for whom noise levels would
reduce as a result of the redesigned flightpaths made possible by expansion could
be very substantial – well over 200,000 people. Therefore, it is these net figures that
we concentrate on in our analysis and reports.

I hope this is helpful in providing reassurance that our analysis is robust to the
arguments made by GAL in their recent releases to the press.

I am copying this letter to Philip Rutnam and Sir Jeremy Heywood. I would be
grateful if it could be circulated to the membersof the Economic Affairs (Airports)

Yours Sincerely
Sir Howard Davies, Chair

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Revolving door revolves again: Vickie Sheriff (used to work at 10 Downing Street) to be Heathrow head of comms

There have for a long time been concerns about the “revolving door”, by which people switch between working high up in the aviation industry, and working high up in Government. The concern is that they may bring too much influence, from their earlier employer. Now it is announced that Vickie Sheriff it to become head of communications for Heathrow airport. Earlier she had worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. She went to the DfT and then Diageo in 2014.  Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left earlier this year to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications. This is the job that was previously held by Vickie Sheriff. (Simon Baugh was not actually meant to be advising ministers on the new runway issue till 1st September, when he had been at the DfT for 6 months).  Heathrow also appointed a new consumer PR agency in the summer. There have been several other high profile examples of the “revolving door” in the past, including Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair and then went to BAA as head of comms.

Former Number 10 head of news Vickie Sheriff becomes Heathrow comms chief

22.9.2015 (PR Week)

Vickie Sheriff has taken up the role of director of communications at Heathrow Airport, leaving her role at drinks giant Diageo.

Sheriff, who is overseeing media, strategy and PR, and is reporting to corporate affairs director Clare Harbord, said: “It’s a really exciting time to join the team at Heathrow. We have an important agenda to make Heathrow the best passenger airport service in the world as well as be good neighbours to the communities around us.

“Heathrow is a national asset, a major export hub and employer. So there’s lots to do and I’m rolling my sleeves up with the team already.”

In June last year she was appointed by Diageo as global comms director – a role she took up in September.

Prior to Diageo she had held a number of jobs in central government comms.

In 2013, she moved from her dual role as official deputy spokeperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10 to take up the top comms job at the Department for Transport. Previous to this she had worked at the Ministry of Justice.

Sheriff joins the organisation two months after the Airports Commission recommended a third runway be built at what is one the world’s busiest airports by passenger numbers. Heathrow faced – and in spite of the recommendations – continues to face stiff opposition to the plan with Gatwick Airport also wanting to expand.

The airport lost its director of PR Simon Baugh earlier this year after he headed to the Department for Transport to take the role previously held by Sheriff. Heathrow also appointed a new consumer PR agency in the summer.

Sheriff is also a judge for the PRWeek Awards 2015.



DfT hires Heathrow PR director Simon Baugh – to start briefing ministers etc on runways after 30th September

Simon Baugh, who is currently director of PR at Heathrow Airport, is moving to the DfT to take up the role of group director of comms. He takes up the new job on 30th March.  Baugh said: “I can’t think of a more exciting time to be joining the team or to be promoting the role that transport plays in driving UK economic growth.” He has been overseeing PR at Heathrow, which included the launch in late 2013 of Back Heathrow, a ‘grassroots’ (astoturfing – deeply controversial) campaign.  On 20th February Zac Goldsmith put a written question in Parliament: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recruitment process was used when hiring Simon Baugh, Group Director of Communications for his Department; and what role Mr Baugh will have in his Department after the Airports Commission has made its recommendation on airport expansion in the South East.”   Reply by DfT spokesperson:  “As Mr Baugh was previously employed by Heathrow Airport Ltd, he will not be involved in advising Ministers on issues relating to the work of the Airports Commission for the 6 months following his appointment, which starts on 30 March 2015.” ie. the Commission may report at the end of June, and Simon Baugh can start briefing etc by 30th September.

See also

London City Airport gets new PR manager – fresh from 10 months as press officer at the DfT

London City Airport has strengthened its comms team with the appointment of the Department for Transport’s Andrew Scott as PR Manager, “as the airport develops plans for expansion and prepares to mark its 30th anniversary in 2017.” Andrew Scott joins City Airport’s four-strong comms team and will be responsible for campaigns “which promote the airport’s time saving and convenience proposition to customers.” His role will also include oversight of the UK and 6 key European markets, which are supported by PR agency Grayling. Scott was a press officer at the DfT for 9 -10 months since July 2015, before that a media officer at the Museum of London, and before that at WPP (a huge advertising and PR company). Barclaycard’s Kimberley Hayden has also joined City Airport’s comms team as internal comms executive, and will be “responsible for employee engagement, including production of Airport Life magazine, 500 free copies of which are circulated internally each month.” The head of comms has been Charlotte Beeching, since December 2014. The airport now has new owners – Canadian pension funds – and is hoping to be allowed expansion “which would enable up to 6.5 million passengers by 2025.”

Click here to view full story…



Diageo appoints Vickie Sheriff as global communications director

Diageo has announced the appointment of Vickie Sheriff, currently director of group communications at the department for transport for the UK Government, to its team.

Joining as global communications director, Sheriff will look to join together the drink company’s employee engagement and external communications teams.

Of her appointment, she said: “I am thrilled to be joining Diageo in a great new role. After a long career enjoying communications in government, I’m looking forward to bringing my skills and experience to the commercial sector. Diageo is a company that people want to work for and I am excited to be leading a team to help shape Diageo’s global communications to support its ambition.”

Sheriff’s former roles include being the UK prime minister’s deputy official spokesman and head of news for both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development.

Her new position will see Sheriff report into Charlotte Lambkin, global corporate relations director, who said: “I am really pleased that Vickie has chosen to join our team at Diageo. She has great experience in running and developing large teams covering a wide range of disciplines, managing complex and fast moving issues and positioning senior individuals and organisations.”

Sheriff will join Diageo on 1 September 2014.



Other examples of the “revolving door” between government and the aviation industry:

February 2008.  Plane Stupid wrote:

“Labour/industry revolving door: Trade minister Sir Digby Jones is the former
CBI boss who became chair of the new aviation industry lobby group, Flying Matters.
The group was recently formed to take on environmentalists over airport expansion.
Gordon Brown also appointed Joe Irvin, formerly a director of the aviation lobby
group Freedom to Fly, to become one of his inner circle of advisors too. Freedom
to Fly was the brainchild of Steve Hardwick – another of Labour’s key Millbank
apparatchiks – while the organisation was previously chaired by Labour peer Brenda
Dean and directed by Dan Hodges, the son of Glenda Jackson who was Labour’s first
aviation minister. Dan Hodge’s wife, Michelle De Leo, is the new director of Flying

“The chancellor, Alistair Darling, the bete noir of climate campaigners, is far
from a stranger to BAA either. In fact, he was the guest of honour who officially
launched a group called Future Heathrow, who are lobbying for a third runway and
a sixth terminal at the airport. Future Heathrow, is headed up by another Labour
peer, Lord Soley, who works out of a BAA office in West London. BAA’s new communications chief is former Downing Street spin doctor Tom Kelly.”  Link



Fury at airport lobby links to No 10

MPs suggest go-ahead for a third runway is down to influence of former Labour officials now working for BAA

By Toby Helm, Whitehall editor (Guardian)

Sunday 18 January 2009

Senior MPs are demanding a Commons investigation into evidence of a “revolving door” policy between Downing Street, Whitehall and airport operator BAA, following last week’s decision by ministers to approve a third runway at Heathrow. MPs believe that BAA and British Airways were able to crush the environment lobby thanks to an intricate network of contacts with the government and the Labour party.

Concerns over their influence have been heightened by the presence of Tom Kelly, formerly the official spokesman for Tony Blair when he was prime minister, who has taken charge of “all aspects of BAA’s communication activity” since being appointed as group director of corporate and public affairs for the company in late 2007, when the campaign for a third runway was in full swing. Kelly heads a network that plugs BAA directly into government and Labour, several of whose senior figures are involved in the pro-runway campaign. Julia Simpson, another former adviser to Blair, left Downing Street in 2007 for BA.

On the other side of the fence is Joe Irvin, former head of corporate affairs at BAA, who has switched to Number 10 to be a key adviser to Gordon Brown. Irvin was also involved with one of the main aviation lobby groups, Freedom to Fly, which was funded by BAA and BA – as was Stephen Hardwick, a former adviser to John Prescott and ex-head of public affairs at BAA. BAA also employs financial PR company Finsbury, which is headed by Roland Rudd, a close friend of business secretary Peter Mandelson, who was in favour of the third runway.

BA has fostered close links with government for years through PR firms Brunswick, headed by Gordon Brown’s friend Alan Parker, and Lexington Communications, run by Mike Craven, a former Labour press chief. Senior Labour figures, paid to help the runway lobby funded by BAA, include Lord Soley, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who has appeared in the media to promote the runway for Future Heathrow, one of the BAA-backed successors to Freedom to Fly.

The issue of Heathrow was tackled in a recent report on lobbying by the public administration select committee. After the inquiry, MPs concluded that lobbying needed to be open to public scrutiny. The report said: “There has also been widespread public concern that some areas of government policy have effectively been captured at an early stage by interest groups, usually within industry, and that public consultations have been unbalanced in the favour of these interests.” It named Heathrow as an example of this.

Labour MP John Grogan last night called for the government to implement the proposed new rules. He believed that cabinet ministers who had opposed the third runway – including climate change secretary Ed Miliband and environment secretary Hilary Benn – might have won the day if they had not been fighting the “intricate web” linking BAA, BA and Whitehall. Susan Kramer, a Liberal Democrat MP, said a Commons investigation was essential. “It is a matter of public interest and is imperative.”

BAA said: “It is entirely appropriate that BAA holds discussions with government, as we do with politicians of all parties, in the interest of Britain’s airports. As was clearly demonstrated with a decision last week, government and government alone makes the critical judgements that affect airport growth.”

• Hundreds of anti-runway activists yesterday staged a “flash mob” protest at Heathrow’s terminal five. Campaigners were ready to move into homes facing destruction in the village of Sipson and vowed that they would win “the political war”.


The aviation sector has close links with political decision makers which many players moving between roles through the controversialrevolving door‘. For example: Joe Irvin was advisor to John Prescott from 1996 and 2001 (Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions as well as Deputy Prime Minister) before working for various element of the aviation lobby and becoming head of corporate affairs at BAA in 2006 before he became ‘Special Advisor’ to Gordon Brown in 2007 when he became prime minister.[32][33] He was succeeded at BAA by Tom Kelly who took the title ‘group director of corporate and public affairs’; Kelly had previously been the official spokesman for Tony Blair when he was prime minister.[32]

Freedom to Fly was formed during the preparation phase of the “Future of Aviation white paper 2003” by BAA and others[34] It was ‘fronted’ by Joe Irvin, a former political adviser to John Prescott[35] who subsequently became Director of Public Affairs at BAA Limited[36] Their director, Dan Hodges, is the son ofGlenda Jackson, Labour MP and former Aviation Minister.[37] 



Sir Roy McNulty is now non-executive director of Gatwick airport, but he has been Chairman of NATS and Chairman of the CAA in the past.



The revolving door: how big business has colonised UK politics

The increasing number of ministers and senior civil servants recruited from the private sector to government ensures that policy favours big business

Our new report highlights the way business ideas have become entrenched in the UK political process.

The report warns against the ‘corporate colonisation’ of Government, citing a number of different ways through which figures from business have entered into Government, including:

  • Business leaders appointed to Ministerial office via the House of Lords, such as former HSBC CEO Lord Green and former Goldman Sachs banker and Chief Executive of the London Olympics Organising Committee, Lord Deighton
  • Private sector appointments to the civil service, with 30% of current senior civil servants recruited in this way
  • The extensive use of private sector consultants at a cost of around £800m according to the Public Accounts Committee
  • Non-executive ‘departmental boards’ of Government departments, chaired by leading industry figures, such as Lord Browne, former CEO of BP and Chair of the Cabinet Office, or Sam Laidlaw, outgoing CEO of Centrica (parent company of British Gas) and Chair of the Department for Transport.

The report also highlights the 1,000 business appointments taken up by outgoing Ministers and civil servants between 2000 and 2014 and their potential to use their knowledge of Government to exert undue influence on behalf of their new employers.

High Pay Centre director, Deborah Hargreaves said: It is useful for politicians and Government officials to be able to draw on experience of working in the private sector. At the same time, a balance has to be struck. Private companies exist to make money, first and foremost. They have different values to the public service ethic we expect of Ministers and civil servants.

The interests of big business and the interests of society are already too easily confused in public debate. They are not synonymous, but a Government dominated by former business leaders risks governing as if they are.

It is only natural that those with long professional careers working to maximise the profits of major corporations will favour policies that help big business  when in Government, even at the expense of employee welfare or the environment, for example.

The report





Read more »

West Country MP says “London mustn’t have a veto on Heathrow” – led to believe a runway would benefit his region

An MP from the South West, Dr Liam Fox (MP for North Somerset) has said that a decision on a runway for the south east should not be made by people in London alone. Though he does graciously concede that: “Residents of west London who live beneath the flightpath do have legitimate concerns” he says “the capital must not be allowed to dominate a debate that is about the future of the whole UK.” And he produces the figures of benefit of a 3rd Heathrow runway to the South West of “a £10 billion increase in economic activity, as well as 12,300 new jobs.” Unfortunately these figures are actually up to 2050. They also come from a (4 page) paper from consultants employed by Heathrow airport, long before the Airports Commission’s final report.  Dr Fox believes there will be a big expansion in business air travel, and that there will be many more flights to regional airports, like those in the SW. He does not seem to have read the Commission’s comments about there being regional flights to only 4 domestic airports (from 7 now) by 2050, or Howard Davies’ comments to the London Assembly about regional airports being likely to close. Dr Fox – and other MPs in the regions – would perhaps do well to understand the limitations and failings of the Commission’s work on wider UK economic impacts of a SE runway.



Liam Fox (Tory MP in the west country) says “London mustn’t have a veto on Heathrow”

Liam says :*The expansion of the hub airport is in the national interest – it will boost the economy by billions*

By Liam Fox (Conservative MP for North Somerset)


As we approach the London Mayoral election in 2016 there will be an increasing tendency for London-based media and politicians to see issues even more in terms of the capital than is usual. For those of us outside the M25, it will be an opportunity to show how “London” issues can have a huge impact on the rest of us. A prime example is the need for greater runway capacity.

Three years have passed since the Coalition asked Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission to identify the most effective option for expanding the UK’s airport capacity. The commission has now provided a “clear and unanimous’’ recommendation that a third runway at Heathrow would provide “more substantial economic and strategic benefits’’ to Britain than any other option.

The Davies commission was endorsed by the Conservatives and Labour. Its recommendations enjoy wide cross-party support. Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, suggests that up to 600 MPs would support the findings if it came to a vote in the Commons.  [The 1922 Committee is a group of back bench, right leaning MPs. Link ]

Yet the airport question is still considered a purely London issue. [Not clear why he says that?].  While MPs whose constituencies lie closest to Heathrow have certainly been the most vocal in their opposition, the capital must not be allowed to dominate a debate that is about the future of the whole UK.

Residents of west London who live beneath the flightpath do have legitimate concerns. One of the great benefits of the commission’s recommendation is that it includes measures to reduce drastically noise pollution from the airport. [Really? The measures proposed seem to make little difference and end up with much more noise overall].

As a Somerset MP, though, my first question for any proposal must always be: “How does this benefit the South West?’’ A third runway at Heathrow offers my region a £10 billion increase in economic activity, as well as 12,300 new jobs. [That is up to 2050. The origin of this claim is not given by Liam Fox, but comes from a 4-page document, undated, with no authorship, or contact details, produced for Heathrow by Quod.   Link  Details below.]

This is partially facilitated by the Government’s pledge to construct a £500 million rail link connecting the Great Western mainline directly to Heathrow Terminal 5. This link, which includes a tunnel under the M25, will reduce journey times to London by half an hour and allow passengers to board a train at Bristol and travel directly to their terminal. It will put one in four people in the UK within one change of the airport.

The Great Western Mainline link will carry its first passengers in 2021, well before any runway will be finished. Yet it will have the effect of making Heathrow a “local airport’’ for South West England, creating jobs and allowing the region to share in the prosperity as Heathrow connects Britain to the global economy.

National business groups such as the Institute of Directors and CBI agree with regional bodies such as Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, the Dorset Chamber of Commerce, Newquay Cornwall Airport and the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce that Heathrow should expand as soon as possible.

The airport debate cannot be allowed to become London-centric. While the benefits to the South West are significant, they merely reflect of the benefits that expanding our best-connected airport will bring to the entire country.

The commission, moreover, is clear in its recommendation of Heathrow over Gatwick. True, both airports are equally convenient from the capital, but London is not a city-state. We must ensure that all corners of Britain are included in this decision.

“The capital must not be allowed to dominate a debate that is about the economic future of the entire UK”

The Government and those in the capital must unite behind Heathrow, and move towards a prosperous vision of the future for the entire United Kingdom. The London mayoral candidates will have their own views for those they represent, but they must remember there is a bigger constituency outside the capital.

Dr Liam Fox MP is chairman of the South West Conservative MPs Group

The evidence that Liam Fox takes for his hopes of economic benefit for Somerset, and the South West, is from some research by an independent consultancy called “Quod.”

The document is only 4 pages long, has no date, no identity or contact address, no named authors, and gives no references for any of its numbers (many come from Airports Commission documents, but there are no links to them).

Quod say:

“The majority of the catalytic jobs identified by Heathrow were as a result of trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Both trade and FDI are forecast to increase as a result of productivity gains and increased business travel that will arise at an expanded Heathrow, as a result of lower fares and greater connectivity and therefore an increase in face to face business meetings. The distribution of benefits is therefore partially related to the origin of business passengers in the UK. [There has been a decline in the amount of business air travel, and no indication that this will necessarily reverse.  Link    AW comment].

“10. The current pattern of business travel is not the sole determinant of the spatial distribution of trade and investment impacts. The future pattern of business travel is likely to be very different at an expanded Heathrow with a greater number of regional connections within the UK. [The report presumes that there will be more flights between a 3 runway Heathrow, and regional airports. The Airports Commission final report says there will actually be fewer.  Link   AW comment]  It will also reflect existing patterns of employment in trade and FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] which is not be the same as the origins of business travel. Links into Heathrow are important, but not the only factor that determines how regions will benefit.”

The figures it gives are up to 2050.



Comment by AirportWatch members:

This really makes one wonder about the ability of politicians to understand  numbers or misrepresent them. Does Liam appreciate that the alleged  £200bn is over 60 years, rather than per year? Does he explain that it is a guesswork number with all the faults on multipliers, outbound tourism spends, transfer passengers, additionality, and plain wishful thinking)?  And how he expects 5% of this to end up in Somerset is another undocumented leap of faith. If 600 MPs believe this sort of economic cloud cuckoo land, then UK is in real trouble.


Virtually no-one is strongly and systematically rebutting claims by the Airports Commission of economic benefit, whether of aviation or anything else. We need to have these issues of “misleading economics” addressed specifically.


A runway should not be supported by MPs from the regions, who have been given the mistaken impression by Heathrow (for its own purposes) that they will gain huge future benefits. The reality is that a new SE runway would remove any chance for the regional airports to provide profitable long-haul links in future. The vast subsidies from the tax payer, to fund all the associated infrastructure for a SE airport, would need to be paid out of the taxes of people across the country. Yet another example of money being channelled, yet again, into the south east. So much for the Northern Powerhouse idea, and spreading growth out across the regions.




Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd Heathrow runway

The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves. It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….” The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law.

Click here to view full story…


Read more »

Advertising Standards Agency rules Heathrow ads claiming “Those living around us are behind us” are misleading

Heathrow Airport has been told by the ASA that its adverts claiming that “Those living around us are behind us”.  Eight people had challenged whether the adverts were misleading and if they could be substantiated.  The ASA concluded that the claim exaggerated the level of support for expansion, had not been substantiated and was misleading. They noted that the claims “Those living around us are behind us” and “Locals support it” were not qualified.  The ASA considered that most readers would interpret the claims to mean that a clear majority of those living in close proximity to Heathrow Airport supported expansion. The evidence provided, however, showed that only 50% of those surveyed from ten constituencies close to the airport supported expansion. The ASA say the ads must not appear in their current form again. They told Heathrow Airport Ltd to ensure they held sufficient evidence to substantiate their objective marketing claims in future, and to ensure their claims were adequately qualified, without contradiction. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, said: “This judgement is not good news for Heathrow. It undermines a key plank of their campaign that they have strong local support for a third runway.” The ASA ruled against other Heathrow ads in February 2015.


Those living around us

ASA Ruling on Heathrow Airport Ltd

Heathrow Airport Ltd

The Compass Centre
Nelson Road


16 September 2015


Transport, Digital outdoor, Internet (social networking)


Holidays and travel

Number of complaints:


Complaint Ref:



Summary of Council decision:

Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.


A billboard poster, digital poster and sponsored ad on a social media site promoted the expansion of Heathrow airport:

a. The billboard poster stated, “Those around us are behind us. More local people support than oppose Heathrow expansion. In a recent poll, 50% of those living around the airport were in favour of expansion and 33% opposed”. Small print at the bottom of the ad stated, “Populus interviewed at least 1000 adult residents (18+) in ten constituencies local to Heathrow Airport by telephone between 19 Nov and 21 Dec 2014. In total 10,006 residents were interviewed. Results were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in each constituency, and were also weighted by past vote to be politically representative of all adults”.

b. The digital billboard poster stated, “Heathrow expansion Those living around us are behind us”.

c. The sponsored ad stated, “Expansion will add up to £211bn to the UK economy. Locals support it. Britain needs it”. Below there was an image of the United Kingdom, alongside the text “Heathrow Taking Britain further”.


The ASA received eight complaints.

1. Two of the complainants challenged whether the claim “Those around us are behind us” in ad (a) was misleading and could be substantiated.

2. Six of the complainants challenged whether the same claim in ad (b) was misleading and could be substantiated.

3. One the complainants challenged whether the claim “Locals support it” in ad (c) was misleading and could be substantiated.

CAP Code (Edition 12)


1., 2. & 3. Heathrow Airport Ltd said the ads were part of a wider campaign to show that there was a lot of support for the expansion of Heathrow, including from the councils and boroughs that relied on Heathrow for jobs and growth. They said contrary to some people’s perceptions, Chiswick and Richmond were not the only areas affected by Heathrow, but they were the most against expansion and individuals from those communities often believed that their views represented the majority. They said they had commissioned Populus to conduct independent polling, which showed that this perception was incorrect. They provided the poll results and a press release which summarised the key findings. They highlighted that the results showed that 50.46%, a majority of those surveyed, supported expansion, while 33% and 17% opposed expansion, or were unsure, respectively.

Heathrow Airport explained that the poll was limited to ten constituencies for budgetary reasons, and that they had ensured those included were representative of local views. In particular they had focused on those areas that were most impacted by the airport, in terms of noise, and those that were most vocal about the airport’s operations, or had MPs who strongly opposed expansion. They had actively tried to include local constituencies with the highest profile opposition to Heathrow, at the expense of those with lower noise complaints or MPs who endorsed expansion. For example, they had chosen to include Ealing Central and Acton because the local MP at the time was an active opponent of expansion and they received relatively a high number of noise complaints from individuals in the constituency. Further, they had included Uxbridge and South Ruislip after discovering that Boris Johnson had been selected to stand, as he was their highest profile and most vocal opponent. Working with Populus, they had also checked to ensure that the ten constituencies reflected the diverse political, socio-economic, ethnic and geographical nature of the region around Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport also highlighted that, although not referenced in the ad, they had support from the “Back Heathrow” group. They acknowledged that the airport had helped to setup the group, but that its aim was to give a voice to local people who wanted to have their views heard. The group was voluntary, but they were passionate supporters of expansion from the local community, and numbered nearly 80,000.


1. Upheld

The ASA noted that the headline claim stated “Those around us are behind us”. We considered that most consumers would understand the headline claim to mean that a clear majority of those surveyed were pro-expansion. While we acknowledged that the survey showed that 50% of respondents were pro-expansion and 50% were against, or neither supported nor opposed, expansion, when rounded to the nearest whole number, we considered that the ad implied that the proportion of locals in favour of support was greater than 50%. Therefore, we considered that the headline claim misleadingly exaggerated the level of support for expansion. Further, while we acknowledged that the body copy explained that 50% of those polled supported expansion and 33% opposed it, we considered that this text contradicted rather than clarified the headline claim.

We noted Heathrow Airport’s comments that they had chosen the ten constituencies that were most negatively impacted by noise, those with the most vocal complainants in terms of noise and those with high profile opponents to expansion. We also noted that the small print at the bottom of the ad provided additional information regarding how, and when, the survey had been carried out, and referred to “ten constituencies local to Heathrow Airport”. In combination with the other references to “local people” and “those around the airport”, we considered that, although they would not know exactly which constituencies the survey related to, in the absence of any additional qualification, most readers would believe they were selected based on their proximity to the airport and included those most directly adjacent to it. Therefore, we considered consumers would interpret the claims to mean that a representative sample of individuals from the ten constituencies closest to Heathrow Airport, in terms of proximity, were pro-expansion. We understood from the data provided, however, that three constituencies that bordered Heathrow’s constituency, Hayes and Harlington, had not been included in the survey and their views not taken into account. Because we had concerns that most readers would interpret the ad to mean that individuals living in the ten constituencies closest to Heathrow Airport, in terms of proximity, were in favour of expansion, and Heathrow had not provided evidence to confirm that that was the case, we considered that the claim had not been substantiated.

For those reasons, we concluded that the claim exaggerated the level of support for expansion, had not been substantiated and was misleading.

Ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), and 3.9 (Qualification).

2. & 3. Upheld

We noted that the claims “Those living around us are behind us” and “Locals support it” were not qualified. We considered that most readers would interpret the claims to mean that a clear majority of those living in close proximity to Heathrow Airport supported expansion. The evidence provided, however, showed that only 50% of those surveyed from ten constituencies close to the airport supported expansion. In addition, as noted in point 1. above, three constituencies that were adjacent to Heathrow’s constituency, and therefore “local” to the airport, had not been included in the survey. Therefore, we concluded that the claims exaggerated the level of support for expansion, that they had not been substantiated and were misleading.

Ads (b) and (c) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.9 (Qualification).


The ads must not appear in their current form again. We told Heathrow Airport Ltd to ensure they held sufficient evidence to substantiate their objective marketing claims in future, and to ensure their claims were adequately qualified, without contradiction.



Heathrow’s advertising agency seems to be Saachi Masius



Advertising Standards Authority finds Heathrow advert about increased trade breaches their code and is ‘misleading’

In October 2014 about 13 people send in official complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, on claims being made by Heathrow in its adverts. The ASA looked at 7 different complaints, and considered that 6 passed their standards. However, on the claim by Heathrow in its ads headed:”Expand Heathrow and its’s the economy that takes off” the statement “Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights” was found to breach the ASA code. The ASA say the claim was not adequately substantiated and that the ad therefore breached the Code, both by being misleading and by not having proper substantiation. The ASA say the advert “must not appear again in its current form.” They have told Heathrow “to ensure that they held robust substantiation for absolute claims made in their future advertising.”  The ASA ruling also says the claim was presented as objective facts rather than an educated assumption and that Heathrow’s own report “One Hub or None”itself cautioned that direct flights would not automatically lead to more trade and that multiple factors could influence the amount of bilateral trade.


And another set of adverts was considered by the ASA,but they did not rule against them:

Does Heathrow advert implying a small girl needs a 3rd runway, for her future, meet Advertising Standards?

The ASA now say:

“….the investigation had been delayed due to some new points being raised by additional complainants.  Since then another couple of issues have been added to the investigation, meaning that we have had to again engage in further discussion with the advertiser.

“However, we have now received Heathrow’s response on all points, including the newest ones.  We are currently in the process of drawing up the documents for the next stage of the case, and hope that we may be able to send these out [to those who submitted complaints] by the end of the month.”

…. and they say “… the issues around advertising claims of this nature are complex and our investigation will necessarily take some time”   …. and they are working to address the concerns of the many people who complained as promptly as they are able.

The Heathrow advert


Earlier this week, Heathrow put out full page advertisements for their 3rd runway. This is part of an on-going, and expensive media campaign. However, they may have mis-judged the tone of this one. It features a small girl, aged about 5, with her hand up – and the text makes out that her future well being will depend upon ….. guess what?? …. a new Heathrow runway. The advert says the 3rd runway will deliver “… at least£100 billion of economic benefits [no timescale given] the length and breadth of the country.  …. So, even if our little girl never leaves home, she’ll still feel the benefit.”  People may have been inspired to write to the Advertising Standards Authority, to complain about this rather dubious text, with unsubstantiated claims, making use of a small child, to try to make a PR point. One such letter to the ASA has been copied to AirportWatch, in which the writer clearly puts the case that what this child needs is a stable climate for her future, not accelerating carbon emissions. The writer believes the advert to be misleading, and asks the ASA to have it withdrawn. There is now an Avaaz petition to the ASA on this ad.

Read more »

Airports Commission figures show Heathrow runway to provide, at the most, just 12 more long haul destinations

The Airports Commission said that a very important reason for building a new runway, and Heathrow in particular, was to increase the connectivity with “long-haul destinations in new markets.” And so it would be logical to believe their analysis would show that a new runway at Heathrow, (or Gatwick) would show a large increase in these routes. The Commission’s own work [using their Assessment of Need scenario, carbon capped] forecasts that while Heathrow (2011) had 57 destinations with at least a daily flight, this would only rise to 63 without a new runway. It would only rise to 73 with a 3rd runway.  That is just 10 more. For the UK as a whole, including all airports, the Commission forecasts that the number of long haul destinations in 2011 was 61, and this would rise to 82 even without a new runway. The total number would only rise to 87 with a new Heathrow runway.  That is just 5 more.  And their figures indicate that the number of long haul destinations from regional airports would fall from 23 to 21 by 2050 and be slightly lower than they would have been without a new runway. So much for boosting the “Northern Powerhouse.” The Commission said a Heathrow runway could provide “up to 12 additional long-haul destinations.”


The Airports Commission considers that only a very tiny number of extra long haul destinations would actually be added by a Heathrow runway.
There is a lot of detail about this in the  “Strategic Fit” document, from the Commission.
[The Airports Commission has used a number of scenarios, in its attempt to forecast future demand – the one it uses most often is “Assessment of Need” (AON). They also model their forecasts using either a “Carbon Capped”  or “Carbon Traded” version.   Under carbon capped, it is presumed that UK aviation does not exceed a total of 37.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2050.  Under the carbon traded scenario, it is presumed that there will be a very high carbon price (£300 – £600 per tonne of carbon) agreed at some future date, and aviation carbon emissions will be controlled by the higher price of air travel in future.  AirportWatch note]
For convenience, we have chosen to look at the “Assessment of Need” scenario, and the Carbon Capped version 
If you look at Table 5.10 on page 87.  Link
Just taking a little portion of it – below – looking only at their “Assessment of Need” scenario and the “carbon capped” version
Table 5.10: Baseline, (ie. no new runway) destinations served with daily scheduled services, carbon capped
Inline image 5
Inline image 4
and then by contrast with the Heathrow NW runway
Table 6.28,   Option Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway, destinations served with daily scheduled services, carbon capped
Inline image 3
And by contrast with a 2nd Gatwick runway:
Page 158    Table 6.26: Option Gatwick Airport Second Runway, destinations served with daily scheduled services, carbon capped (revised)
Inline image 6
Inline image 7

Long haul routes (at least one scheduled flight per day)

This shows that for the UK as a whole, the number of routes to long haul destinations,          if there is no new runway, might be (61 in 2011); 74 in 2030; 79 in 2040; and 82 in 2050.
With a Heathrow north west runway, for the UK as a whole, the number of routes to long haul destinations, might be (61 in 2011); 74 in 2030; 84 in 2040; and 87 in 2050.
With a Gatwick 2nd runway, for the UK as a whole, the number of routes to long haul destinations, might be (61 in 2011); 75 in 2030; 81 in 2040; and 85 in 2050.
That means an increase of only 5 more long haul routes, with at least one flight per day, by building a new Heathrow runway.  Or 3 more long haul routes with a 2nd Gatwick runway.

International routes in total (including lots of European leisure destinations) with at least one flight per day

Without any new runways, the number of routes to international destinations from regional airports (“Other modelled airports”) would be (46 in 2011), 88 in 2030;  99 in 2040;  and 109 in 2050.
With a Heathrow NW runway, the number of routes to international destinations from regional airports would be  (46 in 2011), 77 in 2030, 87 in 2040 and 95 in 2050.
With a Gatwick 2nd runway, the number of routes to international destinations from regional airports would be 88 in 2030, 105 in 2040, and 102 in 2050.
That indicates there are likely to be 14 fewer routes to international destinations from regional airports by 2050 if there is a Heathrow runway (and also by 2050 with a Gatwick runway). So the runways are not benefiting the regional airports.

That means an increase of only 11 more international routes, with at least one flight per day, by building a new Heathrow runway.  Or 9 more international routes with a 2nd Gatwick runway. It also means no increase in international routes from regional airports, if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway.

The Airports Commission‘s final report document (P 248) … saying a 3rd Heathrow runway would only provide “up to 12 additional long-haul destinations”
It states:
Para 13.10  “While expansion at Gatwick would also deliver improvements in the UK’s aviation capacity and connectivity, these would be more likely to be focused on short-haul and European links. The number of long-haul destinations at an expanded Gatwick would be at most 4 higher in 2030 than it would be if no new capacity is added and by 2050 only 1 higher, and at national level long-haul capacity would only increase by up to 5 million seats; this compares to up to 12 additional long-haul destinations at an expanded Heathrow and up to 16 million extra seats nationally. The degree of global connectivity and the wider impacts on the UK economy created by expansion at Heathrow could not be delivered by a second runway at Gatwick.”
The Commission also says: (Page 4 – Link)
“We have concluded that the best answer is to expand Heathrow’s runway capacity. A brand new airport in the Thames Estuary, while appealing in theory, is unfeasibly expensive, highly problematic in environmental terms and would be hugely disruptive for many businesses and communities. Gatwick, by contrast, has presented a plausible case for expansion. It is well placed to cater for growth in intra-European leisure flying, but is unlikely to provide as much of the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long-haul destinations in new markets.”
The figures from the Strategic Fit document appear to be saying, at least looking at the AON case (Assessment of Need) and carbon capped,  that there would be an increase of long-haul destinations with a daily scheduled service, up from 61 now to 82 by 2050 – with no new runways added. With a Heathrow NW runway that 82 rises to 87. With a Gatwick runway, it rises to 85.
So much for the vital links to emerging economies etc. But if you trawl through the figures, it does seem that the Commission is predicting a higher proportion of business passengers travelling by air by 2050 than in 2011.

25.39 % business Heathrow in 2011 Table 5.5 (nationally 14.00% business) and with no runways (base case, AON, carbon traded) in 2030 35.5% business Heathrow (nationally 21.8% business in 2030) AON.





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