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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it April Fool’s Day again?”

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

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

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Notes

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

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

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

For more information

Rob Barnstone;  robertbarnstone@outlook.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Mark Piesing (The i)

Tuesday April 18th 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why bird strikes have become a big problem

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

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

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

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

The solutions attempted so far…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See also

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And some earlier stories:

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

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

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


 

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

This blog post was originally published on SvD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See earlier:

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

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

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

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

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

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

21.4.2017
By Calum Rutter (Richmond and Twickenham Times)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See earlier:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Voters in Maidenhead need proper representation in opposing the negative effects of 3rd runway

With an unexpected election, residents in the Prime Minister’s constituency – Maidenhead – have the chance to elect an MP who opposes the Heathrow 3rd runway. Back in 2009 Theresa May on numerous occasions voiced her avid concerns about its impact on her constituency. In May 2010, when the runway was stopped by the coalition government, she said: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow……and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.” But that was all reversed, and Mrs May U-turned on the issue. Two letters in the local paper express the frustration and disappointment of constituents.  One writes: “… since her elevation to Prime Minister, Maidenhead residents no longer have a voice for their views.” … Maidenhead needs an MP who opposes the necessity for the local council to spend tens of thousands of £s on legal action against the proposed runway. …  “Also the Department for Transport in their “Sensitivities” report outline that the Net Benefit to the country, after construction costs etc is only from £0.2bn to £6.1bn over 60 years, i.e. divide this by 60, so a miniscule percentage of the UK Economy” ….We need an MP who “properly represents the interests of Maidenhead constituents.”
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Letters to local papers in the Prime Minister’s constituency – Maidenhead

18.4.2017

Dear Sir

A chance again for proper representation.

I am surprised to again be contemplating a general election. However it a welcome opportunity to re-state the need for our MP – the Prime Minister, Theresa May – to properly represent the interests of her Maidenhead constituents.

In 2008 to 2010 our MP, Theresa May strongly opposed the previous plan for a Heathrow third runway, making numerous statements, which included the following:

December 2008: “I hope …… that the Government will recognise the widespread hostility to Heathrow expansion and say no to a third runway.”

January 2009:  “I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that … nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again. When Terminal 5 was announced, the then Secretary of State promised us a cap on the number of flights a year of 480,000. The Government have now broken their word, and this Secretary of State is playing the same game. In today’s statement he says: ‘I want there to be a limit on the initial use of the third runway so that the increase in aircraft movements does not exceed 125,000 a year’.”
However current plans for a third allow for more than twice the number, 260,000 additional flights per annum.

June 2009:  “Noise from Heathrow Airport is a big concern for local residents. I know from the letters and emails that I receive that people have strong views about this.”

May 2010, after cancellation of the previous plan: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow……and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”

[These are statements from Theresa May’s own website].

MPs including Dr Tania Mathias, John McDonnell, Adam Afriyie, Ruth Cadbury and Sarah Olney continue to represent their constituents in Parliament on the matter, however since her elevation to Prime Minister, Maidenhead residents no longer have a voice for their views.  Zac Goldsmith also strongly opposed a third runway, as did Boris Johnson and Justine Greening until the Prime Minister curtailed their ability to do so. 

We need to elect an MP who properly represents the interests of Maidenhead constituents.  In doing so they will also avoid the need for RBWM and the London Councils of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and maybe others, supported by Greenpeace and the London Mayor, from having to spend £300k opposing the Government’s decision for a third runway and in turn avoid the cost of around £500 for every household across the country for supporting infrastructure (moving the M25, A4/Bath Road etc, etc) for a runway that we neither want or need.  This is money much better spent on priorities of NHS, social care, schools etc.

Heathrow themselves say that there are enough runways in the UK to serve us for 100 years.  Also the Department for Transport in their “Sensitivities” report outline that the Net Benefit to the country, after construction costs etc is only from £0.2bn to £6.1bn over 60 years, i.e. divide this by 60, so a miniscule percentage of the UK Economy.  
We need an MP who will represent these views.
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From a resident of Maidenhead constituency (name and address supplied)

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From the DfT Further Review and Sensitivities Report  Page 72  (October 2016)


And:

Dear Sir

We hope that the Maidenhead Conservative Party will choose a parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming election that will always put the constituency first in their House of Commons representation.

Given that Mrs May previously stated that Heathrow expansion would undoubtedly harm the constituency with ever more pollution, noise, congestion & infrastructure overload, it is important to have a candidate that will irrevocably put the constituency first in Parliament, and will be irrevocably against expansion of this adversely life-altering metropolis.

Mrs. May will clearly not fit the bill, and therefore another more suitable candidate MUST be considered. One whose credentials will pass this simple loyalty test.

Murray Barter

Residents Against Aircraft Noise

@RAAN@BERKS

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IAG complains paying unblighted price + 25% + costs is too generous for those forced to leave their homes

IAG claims Heathrow’s proposed compensation package for residents being compulsorily purchased for the runway is too generous. For homes to be bulldozed, and for up to 3,500 that Heathrow admits would be too unpleasant to comfortably live in, Heathrow says it will pay “un-blighted” market price + 25% + legal costs and stamp duty. That amount would scarcely buy those forced to move an equivalent home, in a suitable area – let alone compensate for loss of community, home, local attachment etc.  IAG made its complaints in its response to the Transport Committee call for evidence on the draft Airports NPS. IAG says “While IAG wants to see people properly compensated, [Heathrow] has gone far beyond the usual amounts offered for public compensation. … In doing so, it has no regard for its airline customers who are paying for this as for all elements of the development and has not consulted IAG or others on the topic.”   This has angered local councils which have collaborated to launch a legal fight against the proposed 3rd runway once a plan is confirmed. IAG is using the threat of raising air ticket prices against the government. Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said the Government was now “left trying to sell a scheme which the local community detests and the airlines refuse to mitigate”.
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Full submission by IAG to Transport Committee can be seen at 

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/transport-committee/airports-national-policy-statement/written/49347.html

 

British Airways owner complains Heathrow residents’ compensation ‘far beyond’ level required

By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)

14 APRIL 2017

A war of words has broken out between the owner of British Airways and Heathrow after the airline company claimed the airport’s proposed compensation package for residents affected by the planned expansion is too generous.

The airport has pledged to pay what its chief executive John Holland-Kaye called the “unblighted” market price for properties set to be compulsorily purchased plus 25pc, as well as legal and moving fees including stamp duty.

But International Airlines Group, which also owns Aer Lingus and Iberia, has written to the Government as part of its response to the consultation on the Heathrow expansion proposal and claimed the pledged compensation scheme is too generous.

“While IAG wants to see people properly compensated, [Heathrow] has gone far beyond the usual amounts offered for public compensation,” it said.

“In doing so, it has no regard for its airline customers who are paying for this as for all elements of the development and has not consulted IAG or others on the topic.”

The comments from the airline group have angered local councils which have collaborated to launch a legal fight against the proposed third runway once a plan is confirmed.

Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said he thought the airline was now “clearly threatening to raise ticket prices” and suggested the Government was now “left trying to sell a scheme which the local community detests and the airlines refuse to mitigate”.

Richmond Council is working alongside Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead local authorities – the latter being Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency. Greenpeace and one resident are also working with the councils.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The Government and Airports Commission have been clear that expansion should only be allowed on the basis of a world-class compensation package.

“We look forward to meeting this test and will continue to work with our stakeholders to develop an affordable and financeable package that strikes the right balance for local communities and airport users.”

IAG also said it thought it was “unlikely” airlines would be able to operate domestic services on a commercial basis based on the current costs for the new runway.

A DfT spokesperson said the consultation sets out the benefits and potential impacts of expansion and it welcomed all views. It added the plan came with a “world-class package of compensation” to support local communities.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/04/14/british-airways-owner-complains-heathrow-residents-compensation/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_tw

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See also, from the IAG response to the Transport Committee:

Willie Walsh adamant Heathrow must have arrivals well before 5.30am – then full on for next 2 hours

International Airlines Group (IAG), which is Heathrow’s biggest customer, has submitted its evidence to the Transport Committee, to its inquiry into the Airports NPS. IAG does not agree there should be a ban on night flights of six and a half hours, that the NPS and the DfT are proposing – hoping that would overcome local opposition to the runway. The WHO says for good health, people need 7 – 8 hours sleep, and more for some age groups. Therefore even six and a half hours is not enough. But IAG says …”the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.” … from small changes IAG has made “Local communities have therefore benefited … from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.” … if Heathrow opened at 7am, that would be 2 hours later than Frankfurt … to make the best use of the new runway, increase connectivity etc … “the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.”

Click here to view full story…

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Builders Balfour Beatty want expansion of regional airports – as well as Heathrow – and Gatwick

Balfour Beatty claims that a 3rd runway at Heathrow will not be enough to address overcapacity at UK airports and that other airports around the country should also be allowed to expand.  In a report, “Getting off the ground – an aviation policy for a post-Brexit Britain”, they say there is no clear airports strategy from the government and outline a series of conclusions to address key issues, including relaxing planning legislation to help expand regional airports. None of that is surprising, as they are a building company, wanting lucrative building work.  Balfour Beatty report is sceptical about whether the 3rd runway at Heathrow will ever be built, as legal and political obstacles will mean the planning process is likely to be delayed “well into the 2020s”.  Their report wants airports elsewhere, especially in Scotland, Birmingham and Manchester, to be allowed to expand. They also want Crossrail to be extended to Stansted – as well as a 2nd Gatwick runway.  ie. build baby, build …. pour concrete and make us rich …. They are quite right that the government does not have a proper aviation policy for the whole UK, preferring instead to force through the Heathrow runway, and only then think about the wider picture.
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Expand regional airports not just Heathrow, says new report

18…4.2017 (ACE)

Balfour Beatty claims that a third runway at Heathrow will not be enough to address overcapacity at UK airports and that other airports around the country should also be allowed to expand.

In a report, Getting off the ground – an aviation policy for a post-Brexit Britain, the infrastructure firm highlights the lack of a clear airports strategy from the government and outlines a series of conclusions to address key issues, including relaxing planning legislation to give regional hubs a boost.

The government chose Heathrow over Gatwick as its preferred site for a new runway at the end of 2016 but the Balfour Beatty report is sceptical about whether the third runway at Heathrow will ever be built, claiming that legal and political obstacles will mean the planning process is likely to be delayed “well into the 2020s”.

As a result, the report recommends that airports elsewhere, especially in Scotland, Birmingham and Manchester, should be allowed to expand. The report also calls for the extending of Crossrail to Stansted and for a further runway to be built at Gatwick.

Leo Quinn, chief executive at Balfour Beatty, said: “Consideration of where to add capacity must be given not just to London and the South-East but all regions. Failure to take this UK-wide approach could see our trade with international markets and potential economic growth fail to get off the ground.”

The report’s ten key conclusions are: –

  1. The vote to leave the EU must be taken into account in considering aviation capacity requirements.
  2. A lack of runway capacity has an impact on the trade negotiations the government will conduct post-Brexit, with many countries likely to require access to Heathrow for their national carrier as part of any deal. Nor does the UK have direct flights to some of the countries it will wish to target as key trade partners.
  3. Balfour Beatty supports a third runway at Heathrow. However, one additional runway will not be enough to provide sufficient capacity to meet increasing demand over the long-term, given that international connectivity will be more important than ever post-Brexit.
  4. Post-Brexit, it is even more important that all parts of the UK are well-connected; the Northern Powerhouse for example, needs direct routes to global markets, as do manufacturing industries in the Midlands, and Cambridge and its growing IT hub. We urge the government to begin work now to identify where further runways are required to best benefit a post-Brexit UK.
  5. The growth in demand for air travel demands expansion not just at Heathrow and Gatwick, but at other airports across the country, including for example, Scotland, Birmingham and Manchester.
  6. A plan should be developed to address the growing demand for air services during the 10 to 15 years it will take to deliver any new runway. This plan should include measures to better use existing runway capacity at other airports – particularly the five other London airports – and to improve surface access to those airports.
  7. The piecemeal approach to aviation policy-making must end. As recommended by the Airports Commission, the government should now develop a national aviation strategy, which considers the country’s future aviation needs holistically and addresses the contribution all the UK’s airports can make to improving the UK’s global connectivity, driving growth across the country.
  8. A national aviation strategy should include a national strategy for improving road and rail links to UK airports both in the short-term, future proofed to ensure that we have the infrastructure we need for the long-term.
  9. A national aviation strategy should also include an assessment of ways in which smaller airports might be supported and given the opportunity to thrive.
  10. While we must limit the environmental impact of airport expansion these issues should not stand in the way of ensuring that the UK economy is in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities Brexit offers.

Click here to download Getting off the ground – an aviation policy for a post-Brexit Britain.

https://www.acenet.co.uk/expand-regional-airports-not-just-heathrow-says-new-report/3981/2/1/610/3

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Growing threat of wake turbulence, with larger, heavier planes – and more crowded airspace

Wake turbulence may be a growing problem that needs more investigation and reassurance for air passengers.  There were  34 serious wake turbulence incidents in the past 10 years but 11 of those have been in the past two years. The most serious was the encounter between an Emirates A380 and a corporate jet in March 2017. The A380 was on flight EK412 from Dubai to Sydney and was at FL350 (ie. 35,000 ft)  about 630nm south-east of Muscat when the business jet passed 1,000 ft underneath in the opposite direction. The corporate jet, an MHS Aviation Challenger 604 was flying from the Maldives to Abu Dhabi with 9 people on board and was en route at FL340 (34,000 ft). After the A380 passed the crew lost control of their jet and were only able to regain control of the aircraft only after losing about 10,000 feet. A number of the passengers sustained injuries. With more larger planes in global fleets, the problem may increase. The strength of the wake turbulence is governed by the weight, speed and wingspan of the generating aircraft.  The greatest strength occurs when the generating aircraft is heavy, at slow speed with a clean wing configuration. It is an industry-wide problem that is increasing mainly because air traffic is doubling every 15 years – so there is more air traffic congestion and more stacking or holding of aircraft prior to landing.
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The growing threat of wake turbulence

By Geoffrey Thomas – Editor-in-Chief (Airline Ratings)

15 Apr 2017

Wake turbulence is a deadly and invisible killer and needs another look

 

FAA illustration of wake turbulence

Wake turbulence from a Boeing C-17 creates spirals in the clouds below.

 

Wake turbulence that is suspected of causing the upset that injured 15 on a Qantas 747, south of Hong Kong, on April 7 is a growing problem that needs another look.

According to Aviation Herald reports,  there have been 34 wake turbulence incidents in the past 10 years but 11 of those have been in the past two years.

The most serious was the apparent encounter between an Emirates A380 and a corporate jet. The A380 was performing flight EK412 from Dubai to Sydney and was at FL350 about 630nm south-east of Muscat when the business jet passed underneath in the opposite direction.

The corporate jet, an MHS Aviation Challenger 604 was operating flight MHV-604 from Male to Abu Dhabi with 9 people on board and was en route at FL340.

After the A380 passed the crew lost control of their jet and were only able to regain control of the aircraft only after losing about 10,000 feet. A number of the passengers sustained injuries.

Wake turbulence is a natural by-product of powered flight but was not generally regarded as a serious flight hazard until the late 1960s, says the US FAA.

Interest – and concern – in this phenomenon greatly increased with the introduction of large wide-body turbofan aircraft during the late 1960s and a concern about the impact of greater wake turbulence.

The FAA said that “this was the impetus to conduct research to gain additional information and determine what safety considerations were necessary as more and more large aircraft entered the industry fleets.”

According to the FAA “an investigation of the wake-turbulence phenomenon, conducted by Boeing in mid-1969 as part of the FAA test program, included both analysis and limited flight test and produced more detailed information on wake vortices. The flight tests provided a direct comparison between the 747 and representative from the then current jet fleet, a 707-320C.

Those tests that were later extended made several observations;

1.    The strength of the wake turbulence is governed by the weight, speed and wingspan of the generating aircraft.

2.    The greatest strength occurs when the generating aircraft is heavy, at slow speed with a clean wing configuration.

3.    The wake was observed to move down initially and then level off and it was never encountered at the same flight level as the generating aircraft or more than 900 feet below the generating aircraft.

Minimum radar-controlled wake turbulence separation distances were established for the following aircraft with the separation distances depending on the weight of both the leading and following aircraft.

Adjustments in separation distances were made as more information on the wake-turbulence phenomenon was gained during the 1960s, 1980s and 1990s, but the basic concept of using aircraft weights remained constant.

The US National Transportation Safety Board data show that between 1983 and 1993, there were at least 51 accidents and incidents in the United States that resulted from probable encounters with wake turbulence.

In these 51 encounters, 27 occupants were killed, 8 were seriously injured, and 40 aircraft were substantially damaged or destroyed.

But by far the worst encounter was the November 12, 2001 , loss of an American Airlines A300, Flight AA587, in New York with 265 lives lost.

The A300 took off after a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747, flight JL047, bound for Tokyo-Narita. While JL047 was preparing for takeoff, the tower controller called AA587, cautioned the flight crew about wake turbulence.

While in a climbing left turn, the crew of AA587 heard a rattling sound, possibly caused by wake turbulence and then fifteen seconds later the Airbus began to yaw to the right.

The first officer, who was the flying pilot, applied full right and left rudder and called for max power.

He then again full right and left rudder and the tail of the A300 snapped off and the plane crashed into the Queens area killing 5 on the ground as well as all on board.

According to Aviation-safety.net the probable cause was: “The in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program. ”

While the Airbus A380 has been singled out of attention, wake turbulence is an industry-wide problem that is increasing mainly because air traffic is doubling every 15 years.

And with that increase in air traffic comes congestion and more stacking or holding of aircraft prior to landing.

With more larger aircraft such as the A380, 747 and 777 and increasing traffic perhaps the time has come to revisit strategies to avoid wake turbulence.

http://www.airlineratings.com//news/1170/the-growing-threat-of-wake-turbulence-

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See earlier:

Qantas 747 was struck by wake turbulence

By Geoffrey Thomas & Steve Creedy (Airline Ratings)

13th Apr 2017

Wake turbulence is believed responsible for the severe turbulence that injured 15 passengers

The Qantas 747 that suffered severe buffeting 110km south of Hong Kong on April 7 apparently encountered wake turbulence from another aircraft flying just above it.

The incident, which the Australian Transport Safety Bureau termed as serious, injured 15 passengers.

The area just south of Hong Kong is very congested often with aircraft in various holding patterns as air traffic control manages the traffic flow.

Wake turbulence is turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. This turbulence includes various components, the most important of which are wingtip vortices and jetwash.

Qantas Flt QF29 was operating from Melbourne to Hong Kong.

According to the ATSB, the 747 was about to enter a holding pattern at Flight Level 220 (22,000ft) about 110km (60nm) south-east of Hong Kong at a waypoint called BETTY when the aircraft’s stick shaker activated.

The stick shaker is a mechanical device that noisily vibrates the pilot’s control column or yoke (the stick) to warn of an imminent aerodynamic stall.

(An aerodynamic stall occurs when the angle of attack of the wing causes the air moving over the upper surface to separate from the wing, causing a loss of lift and control.)

However, Boeing warns that “a stall must not be confused with the stall warning that alerts the pilot to an approaching stall. Recovery from an approach to stall is not the same as a recovery from an actual stall. An approach to stall is a controlled flight manoeuvre; a stall is an out-of-control, but recoverable, condition.”

The Qantas crew immediately disconnected the aircraft’s autopilot and recovered the aircraft manually,  the ATSB said.

“While holding at flight level 220, the flight crew received a stick shaker activation and detected airframe buffeting,” it said. ” The flight crew disconnected the autopilot and manoeuvred the aircraft in response.”

One of the passengers, teacher Jemma Gendall, told 9news.com.au that the pilot made a PA to the passengers telling them that “another aircraft flying overhead had become too close and caused the altitude drop”.

Wake turbulence incidents involving A380s, 747s and 757s are a serious issue and have caused a number of deadly crashes as well as numerous injuries to passengers and crew on other aircraft flying just below that encounter the wake.

The wake turbulence would have caused significant upset to the 747 and triggered the stick shaker and other alarms.

The 747 in question has continued to operate flights normally since the incident.

Qantas confirmed that passengers on QF29 experienced “unexpected turbulence’’ about an hour before landing.

The airline said the incident lasted about two minutes and the captain called for an ambulance to meet the aircraft on arrival.

The injuries were minor, but one passenger was transferred to hospital for a precautionary medical assessment and later released.

“We notified the ATSB of the occurrence, and our teams are also reviewing the event,’’ the airline said in a statement. “These investigations need to be completed before Qantas can comment further.”

http://www.airlineratings.com/news/1167/qantas-747-was-struck-by-wake-turbulence-

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and earlier

Private jet flipped over in wake turbulence from Airbus A380

By Alastair Jamieson

A small private jet was flipped over in midair and plunged 10,000 feet after being caught in the wake turbulence from a passing Airbus A380 superjumbo, according to reports.

One person aboard the Bombardier Challenger 604 reportedly suffered serious injuries in the accident, which is being investigated by aviation authorities.

Wake turbulence caused by the engines and wingtips of large planes can linger in the air for several minutes and cannot be seen by pilots or detected on their radar.

The executive jet’s German operator hasn’t confirmed any details about the January 7 drama, citing an ongoing probe by the country’s BFU air accident investigation bureau.

However, trade publication FlightGlobal said the twin-engine plane with registration D-AMSC, rolled three times and was thrown around by such strong G-forces that it was damaged beyond repair. It made an emergency landing in Muscat, Oman.

The private jet was carrying vacationers back from the Maldives to Berlin and cruising over the Arabian Sea when it passed 1,000 feet under an A380, Der Spiegel reported. A short time later, it rolled at least three times, throwing unsecured passengers around the cabin, and descended out of control “like a paper plane in a wind tunnel,” the newspaper said.

Several of the passengers were taken to hospital, one of them with serious injuries, according to news site DW.

Germout Freitag, a spokesman for the BFU, confirmed the agency was investigating but said no details were available until an interim report was released. He added that there was no estimate when that would be published.

Steffen Fries, CEO of MHS Aviation, which is the largest executive jet operator in Germany, told NBC News: “Since the investigation from BFU is ongoing, we cannot comment.”

FlightGlobal reported that aviation authorities had issued revised guidance to Bombardier Challenger operators and air traffic controllers about the possible effects of wake turbulence from four-engined Airbus A380 planes on other aircraft.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/22/private-jet-flipped-over-in-wake-turbulence-from-airbus-a380.html

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Roof damage:

There are links to a large number of stories, over the years, of roofs damaged to vortices from aircraft overhead, near airports.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/10/tiles-ripped-off-roof-in-birmingham-by-plane-vortex-fortunately-nobody-injured/ 

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Easter Saturday: Neil makes it to 200 miles – halfway to Scotland – with support from Rachael Maskell

Day 12 saw Neil cross the halfway point on his 400-mile walk from Harmondsworth, the main village that would be demolished with a 3rd Runway, to Edinburgh. He is seeking to raise awareness of the campaign and speak with Scottish politicians, as the SNP is intending to vote as a block in favour of the runway. He wants to ask they why they are prepared to destroy his home, community and the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, for vague pledges of help for Scotland and more air freighted salmon and whisky. In York, Neil was met by Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central,at the iconic York Minster, Rachael offered her support to Neil and the campaign, commenting: “It’s great to be here today with Neil … to raise awareness of the impact that a third runway at Heathrow would have. It’s fantastic he’s made it so far on this journey about what’s going to happen to housing, air pollution issues, noise pollution and of course the cost of the project. I’ll be taking his message out into the city, do a public meeting and ensure that people understand the real impact on the local community on a third runway…. Whilst we hear so many jobs will be created, what’s really important is the community voice is also part of the consultation and people understand the consequences of what will happen if a third runway actually goes ahead.”
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Neil makes it to York – halfway to Scotland!

15.4.2017  (Stop Heathrow Expansion – SHE)

Day 12 saw Neil cross the halfway point on his 400-mile walk from Harmondsworth, the villages that would be demolished with a 3rd Runway, to Scotland, as he seeks to raise awareness of the campaign and speak with Scottish politicians about why they are prepared to destroy his home, community and the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.


Neil with Rachael Maskell MP at York Minster
Neil was met by Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central as he reached the halfway point of the walk. Meet at the iconic York Minster in the City Centre, Rachael offered her support to Neil and the campaign, commenting: “It’s great to be here today with Neil who’s now walked 195 miles to raise awareness of the impact that a third runway at Heathrow would have. It’s fantastic he’s made it so far on this journey about what’s going to happen to housing, air pollution issues, noise pollution and of course the cost of the project. I’ll be taking his message out into the city, do a public meeting and ensure that people understand the real impact on the local community on a third runway.”

Video clip here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7SCWPuvzi0 

Rachael added: “Whilst we hear so many jobs will be created, what’s really important is the community voice is also part of the consultation and people understand the consequences of what will happen if a third runway actually goes ahead.”

Later in the day Neil met two York City Councillors, who offered their strong support to the campaign. Green group leader Andy D’Agorne and Cllr Denise Craghill who were collecting signatures for a local petition about air pollution. Neil explained that Hillingdon, the borough that includes Heathrow Airport, breaches nitrogen dioxide limits more than any other local authority in the United Kingdom. The legal limits are 40 micrograms per cubic metre, Hillingdon has readings of 68mcg. Both councillors agreed that this needs addressing now, and air pollution must be brought into legal limits, before any talk of runway expansion could ever begin.


Nitrogen Dioxide readings around Heathrow are reaching 68 microgrames per cubic metre. The legal maximum limit is 40.


York City Councillors Andy D’Agorne and Denise Craghill meet Neil as he passes the halfway mark on Saturday afternoon
With half the walk complete, Neil is feeling optimistic about the rest of his journey, commenting “Walking this far is challenging, but I’m feeling good and looking forward to the second half. It is vitally important that politicians in the north of the UK and in Scotland hear the reality of Heathrow expansion – it will not deliver on its fanciful projects they have promised places such as York.

Tomorrow Neil will be taking a break from walking, but will be visiting an anti-Fracking camp in Kirby Misperton which is slightly off-route. More updates from us on here on Easter Monday. In the meantime, check our Twitter page for the very latest updates @StopHeathrowExp.

On behalf of all of Neil, and all of us at Stop Heathrow Expansion, we wish you a peaceful Easter.

http://stopheathrowexpansion.co.uk/scotlandwalk/april2017/2017/4/15/neil-makes-it-halfway-to-scotland

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Grayling tells the Welsh that Heathrow 3rd runway will be of huge benefit to them

On Friday 7th April the DfT held one of its regional events, promoting the 3rd Heathrow runway – as part of its draft NPS consultation (ends 25th May). Chris Grayling must have felt the need to try to encourage attendance (which has been woefully low at other regional events) so he had a piece in the local paper, Wales Online. He pushes the potential benefits of the runway for Wales as hard as he can, with comments like how it will “boost jobs” and “promote our innovative industries on the world stage” and “the new runway could provide better links to more destinations around the world, a wider choice of airlines ….”   He said: “According to Heathrow, it currently handles £2.8 bn of Welsh exports each year. The new runway could double the airport’s freight capacity, linking Welsh businesses with fast growing global markets.”  And so on.   Heathrow signed up to a deal with the Welsh government in January, in which the airport gave some very dubious figures of how much Wales would benefit. These figures are based on Heathrow’s own assumptions, based on assumptions, based on an out of date, highly exaggerated figure of economic benefit of the runway, of £147 billion (that is, over all the UK, over 60 years). Even the DfT no longer believes that figure.
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How the Welsh economy will benefit from a third runway at Heathrow, says Chris Grayling

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling on how Welsh exporters will benefit

Aviation expansion is hugely important for Wales, and the whole of the UK, to boost jobs and promote our innovative industries on the world stage.

We recently published the draft Airports National Policy Statement, setting out the planning criteria that should be met before a proposed new runway at Heathrow Airport could gain consent.

For the people and businesses of Cardiff, the new runway could provide better links to more destinations around the world, a wider choice of airlines, and lower fares through increased competition at Heathrow.

The expansion will have a direct impact on the economy of Wales too. According to Heathrow, it currently handles £2.8 bn of Welsh exports each year. The new runway could double the airport’s freight capacity, linking Welsh businesses with fast growing global markets.

Access to London and Heathrow from Wales will be improved by the upgrade to the Great Western rail line. Cardiff Airport is seeing growing passenger numbers, reaching over 1.3 million in 2016.

We expect it to continue attracting new airlines and growing its network of destinations, and expansion at Heathrow could provide passengers with even more choice and opportunity.

With a new runway, Heathrow plans to double its freight capacity. It already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31% of non-EU trade. The expansion would create even more opportunities for exporters in Wales and other nations.

For instance, I hear that Newport firm SPTS Technologies exports more than 95% of its products, all of which are shipped from Heathrow. The company says that Heathrow’s extra capacity for shipping freight could potentially open up new trading routes and lower costs, while new routes could help improve connections for international customers visiting its facilities.

The UK Government wants people and businesses in the area to put their views forward. Today we’ll be listening to Cardiff’s businesses, community groups, manufacturers, freight operators, passenger organisations, local authorities and any interested parties and encouraging them to respond to the consultation.

This Government is not only making the big decisions that previous Governments didn’t, but getting on with delivering them too. It’s all part of our Plan for Britain – to build a stronger, fairer UK with proper investment in skills and sectors, to spread prosperity and opportunity here in South Wales and around the country.

We believe the case for the new runway is compelling. Between 2009 and 2015, Heathrow slipped from being the world’s second busiest airport to the sixth busiest. Heathrow’s two runways are full. By comparison, its main competitors – Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam – have ample spare runway capacity into which to grow.

We have explained why we consider the proposed runway would best meet the pressing need for new airport capacity in the South East in the draft Airports National Policy Statement, which also sets out strict planning obligations Heathrow would have to meet to get approval for the new runway.

It is out for public consultation and will be scrutinised by MPs before a final National Policy Statement could be laid in Parliament next winter.

The draft Airports National Policy Statement is a big step forward for what would be one of Britain’s most important infrastructure projects. Now it is vital that Cardiff is engaged in the consultation process, so it can ensure its interests are represented.

So please join the debate and make your voice heard.”

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/how-welsh-economy-benefit-third-12860434

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See also

 

A new partnership (Welsh Government and Heathrow) could see a flight from Wales to Heathrow Airport

Airport chairman says it could boost economy in Wales by £6.2bn

By Chris Pike (Wales online)

6.3.2017

A new partnership between the Welsh Government and Heathrow Airport could help deliver 8,400 new skilled jobs and £6.2bn in economic growth for Wales.

An agreement is set to be signed today signalling the start of what aims to be a close working relationship between the two.

It will look at mutually beneficial commercial opportunities to support economic growth and the delivery of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

‘Broaden supply chain’

This partnership opens up new business opportunities in Wales as Heathrow, which invests more than £1bn a year at its site, wants to broaden its supply chain to support demand.

The partnership will mean airlines wanting to operate a route from Wales to Heathrow would be eligible to bid for the £10m route development fund.

The first ever Heathrow Business Summit Wales will take place on July 5 providing Welsh businesses with the opportunity of winning new business with the airport’s biggest suppliers.

It will also look at the possibility of locating off site manufacturing logistic hubs in Wales to support delivery for the third runway.

This new strategic partnership will be signed in Cardiff by First Minister Carwyn Jones and Heathrow’s chairman Lord Paul Deighton today.

Lord Deighton said: “I want to ensure that every corner of Britain benefits from Heathrow expansion. This strategic partnership will bring us closer to Wales and help us to deliver an expanded Heathrow.

We want to make it a success’

A new Heathrow runway will unlock up to 8,400 new skilled jobs and underpin up to £6.4bn in growth from construction through to increased tourism and exports for Wales.  [These figures are based on a study, done for Quod, that does some manipulation of out of date predictions, coming up with numbers of jobs and benefits. They are based on a figure of £147 billion of economic benefit.  That is actually the benefit, without taking off the costs. The DfT in October 2016 said the £147 figure should be replaced by £61 billion. Even that is before costs are taken off. It is shameful that the Welsh government is being this badly misled by Heathrow, and given numbers that they are unclear how to interpret.  AW note] This new partnership is a sign of our commitment to ensuring Heathrow expansion delivers tangible benefits for every corner of Britain and we are looking forward to working closely with the Welsh Government and Welsh businesses to make it a success.”

[See the article below, for how Scotland has also been taken for a ride by Heathrow – as have all the regions – based on really dodgy figures, from the Quod study.]

The First Minister said the partnership “opens the door” for Wales to explore new opportunities particularly for Wales’ existing supply chain companies that have the experience and expertise to support infrastructure projects at Heathrow.

He said: “I would certainly like to see a far higher percentage spend in Wales and the Welsh Government will do all it can to support companies in Wales to bid and win more business at Heathrow.

“I am also pleased to announce that plans are already underway to host the first Heathrow Business Summit in Wales, where our supply chain companies will have the chance to meet and discuss opportunities with Heathrow’s procurement team.

“It certainly marks a great start for this new relationship and there are very many other areas we are keen to explore with Heathrow Airport.”

The UK Government confirmed its backing of the expansion of the west London airport in October last year.

At the time, the First Minister welcomed the announcement but said he wanted to see Wales get a fair allocation of landing slots and a spur rail link to Heathrow from the mainline allowing direct rail travel from South Wales.

The planned spur would enable travellers to avoid going into and out of Paddington to get to Heathrow. Trains would deviate from the line towards London after Slough, between the stations Langley and Iver, and go into a tunnel that would take them to Terminal 5.

The rail journey between Reading and Heathrow would be reduced by around 35 minutes. The project has been out for public consultation and feedback is currently being reviewed before another round of consultation.

If given the go-ahead, work could begin in 2019 and be completed by 2024.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/new-partnership-between-welsh-government-12695511

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See earlier, to understand how Heathrow is producing these disingenuous figures:

 

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

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

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

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