Heathrow has said it hopes to double the amount of air freight it carries, if it gets a 3rd runway. Most of this freight arrives at the airport, or leaves the airport, in diesel powered lorries or vans. Heathrow knows it has real problems worsening local air quality, with particulates and NO2 in particular. The Airports Commission report was particularly weak on NO2 air pollution, and ignored the emissions from Heathrow’s air cargo. In March 2016 Heathrow put out the news that it is trying to get freight companies to consolidate some loads, share journeys etc. Now Heathrow has put out a similar story, about a new App it has produced. This new load consolidation App is called “Heathrow CargoCloud.” It might save companies a bit of money, and it might slightly cut the number of trucks, and hence the levels of NO2 air pollution. The illegal levels of air pollution are a real problem for Heathrow, and neither the airport nor the government has any realistic means of getting these down in the short term. In reality, getting a few trucks off the road – though very welcome – is not going to be enough to negate a planned doubling of freight tonnage. Heathrow hopes its App will make Heathrow “an airport of choice for cargo.” ie. attract more freight (and more congestion and air pollution) cancelling out any improvements …
Cargo operators will be able to consolidate freight loads coming in and out of Heathrow, with the aim of not only improving efficiency but also reducing the number of trucks and emissions on the road around the airport.
Companies subscribing to Heathrow CargoCloud will be able to exchange and share information about any spare capacity on their vehicles, or ask for help on a load they need transporting, and the app will work to match them and they contact each other offline and discuss the opportunity.
Heathrow head of cargo, Nick Platts says: “Operating a cleaner, leaner and more efficient freight operation is an essential part of delivering on our ambition to be the best airport in Europe for cargo. CargoCloud offers benefits to the whole industry.”
“For our cargo partners it allows them to reduce their costs, our local communities will experience less congestion and improved air quality, and Heathrow will build on its strength as an airport of choice for cargo.”
Heathrow worked in partnership with Nallian to create the app, and chief executive officer (CEO) Jean Verheyen adds: “Today, this vision is made concrete through the new tool to reduce emissions and traffic congestions. Tomorrow, shared data can be used to further synchronise cross-company processes, allowing clusters of independent companies to achieve efficiency levels that are historically reserved to fully integrated players only.”
DHL Global Forwarding CEO BELUX, Luc Jacobs says: “As a driver of innovation in our industry, we fully support initiatives that allow us to do our job a little bit better every day. We are big supporters of cloud based community systems because when done well, they have the potential to enable substantial efficiencies and eliminate waste in the supply chain at the same time.”
Heathrow air cargo includes “80 million animals per year” – and largest import is fresh beans
In a long and breathlessly excited and impressed account, a writer for the Daily Mail records his trip to Heathrow cargo warehouses. There are some interesting insights. He says Heathrow handles 80 million animals per year, including “280,000 reptiles, 28 million fish, 16,000 cats and dogs, 2,000 birds and 200 horses every year.” … and “including bears, lions, penguins, elephants and tigers.” (There may be good reasons to question the environmental sustainability or morality of shipping non-domestic animals in this manner …) Some of the animals in the Animal Health Centre in Feltham have been seized from smugglers, such as number of African pygmy hedgehogs. Apart from the animals there are vast amounts of flowers and perishable goods. Huge amounts of bell peppers, cucumbers and salmon are shipped to the Far East and the US every day. Some 100 tonnes of salmon, “from countries such as Scotland and Norway” are flown overseas each day. Luxury cars are shipped by air, and ship parts. Drugs are sent when needed urgently. One of the most daft shipments was “ice cubes sent from London for a swanky cocktail party in Korea” … as well as “rolls of carpets; barrels of olive oil; art, paintings and antiques.”… “The biggest import into the UK are fresh beans, but also berries, asparagus and exotic fruits.”
Heathrow produces some unconvincing attempts to persuade that its air pollution from freight will be reduced
Heathrow knows it has real problems worsening local air quality, with vehicles associated with the airport adding a great deal of pollution. The Airports Commission report was particularly weak on NO2 air pollution, and ignored the emissions from Heathrow’s air cargo. Heathrow has now put out a short document attempting to convince that it is making serious improvements to local air quality. On air freight, it says it will be getting shippers to share lorry journeys. Heathrow says in 2016 it will: “• Keep pushing for greater consolidation of vehicle loads at Heathrow and aim to provide an online venue for freight operators to buy and sell empty space on their trucks by July. • Establish a sustainable freight partnership with operators by September with the objective of reducing emissions [No clue what that actually means ?] • Develop and publish our plans for building a call-forward cargo facility to reduce congestion, idling, and emissions of vehicles coming to Heathrow by the end of the year.” So that does not look like much. But Heathrow is trying to persuade the government soon. The reality is that Heathrow hopes to double its volume of air freight, with a new runway – and that freight is carried in diesel vehicles, and lorries are not producing less air pollution.
Heathrow hoping to woo air freight companies with plans to give air freight more priority
There was a small decline (0.2%) in 2015 in cargo volumes at Heathrow compared with 2014 levels. The tonnage of freight (1.496 million tonnes, more imports than exports) is barely changed from the amount in 2011. Heathrow has tried to sell its 3rd runway plans partly on the grounds that it is vital for UK companies that export things needing air freight. Many non-perishable, not especially high value items are air freighted (books and brochures, raincoats and overcoats). Almost all air freight at Heathrow is belly hold, in passenger planes. DHL is the only freight airline there. Heathrow has plans (nothing started) to try to develop itself as a European cargo hub through the investment of around £180m, including a specialist pharmaceutical storage area — to support airlines to move highly valuable and temperature sensitive medicines. There would be a huge impact on local roads of all the freight vehicles, which would be diesel powered, and the NO2 pollution. IAG has a large freight hub in Madrid, shipping air cargo into Heathrow and Gatwick. Heathrow says it has restricted air freight capacity on some routes, but overall load factors were only about 60-65%. ie. there is plenty of space for more. Air freight companies would like Heathrow to allocate slots for them.
Heathrow plans to double its volume of air freight, necessitating more trips by diesel powered HGVs and goods vehicles
Heathrow plans to double its air freight volumes in its aspiration to become one of the leading airports for cargo in Europe. CEO John Holland-Kaye announced at the British Chambers of Commerce that Heathrow will invest £180 million in the project and has its blueprint ready. Investment will be made to enhance air to air transit by building a facility on the airport for faster handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out again by air, reducing the times. The improvements to air freight is meant to be “essential for the growth and success of the UK economy.” (Where have we heard that before?) There will need to be a new truck parking facility for over 100 vehicles, with waiting arenas for drivers. There will be a special pharmaceutical storage area to move temperature-sensitive medicines and provide better infrastructure for faster freight movement. Holland-Kaye wants the UK “reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020.” Heathrow dealt with 1.50 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2014. This can only increase the number of HGVs in the Heathrow area. HGVs are all powered by diesel, not petrol – with its attendant higher NO2 emissions. Meanwhile Mr Holland-Kaye was at the EAC saying there would be no extra car journeys to/from Heathrow with a 3rd runway.
Air cargo tonnage at Heathrow falling recently, and only 1.76% higher in 2014 than in 2010
Heathrow airport is keen to stress that it deals with more air freight than any other UK airport, and imply that without its air cargo exports (ignoring the imports) the economy of the UK would flounder. However, in recent years, the volume of Heathrow air cargo has been pretty much static. There was 1.76% more air cargo (tonnes) in 2014 than in 2010. In September 2010 Heathrow handled 123,680 tonnes, and in September 2015 it handled 119.092 tonnes. In October 2010 it handled 138,301 tonnes and 132,575 tonnes in October 2015. Tonnage has been down compared to 2014 every month since May. Earlier in November, John Holland-Kaye said: “Cargo is essential for UK PLC and Heathrow is its global freight connector, with 26% of all UK goods by value going through the airport.” In early November Heathrow announced £180m investment in inprove air cargo facilities and double the volume passing through Heathrow. The aspiration is that faster more efficient cargo movements will encourage airlines to increase freight capacity, boosting the UK’s global export competitiveness. And imports ?? Holland-Kaye says this will “support British businesses to keep the economy moving, connecting exporters to the world and helping the government reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020.” Air cargo has been declining at Frankfurt too.
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The original permission for the proposed 3.1km runway at Dublin airport was granted in 2007, and was due to expire this August. A 5 year extension was granted by Fingal County Council in March 2017. The runway plans were put on hold during the recession.. Now Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought a judicial review of Fingal County Council’s decision. They allege that the council’s Chief Executive was fully aware that the extra runway would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions before granting the 5-year extension. This would be in contravention of the objectives of the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act. FIE say that as the original permission was granted based on an Environmental Impact Statement from 2002, the council has failed to consider new research on climate change over the past 15 years. The FIE’s challenge also refers to the recent refusal of planning permission for a third runway at Vienna Airport by the Austrian Court due to the higher carbon emissions the runway would cause. Two separate groups of residents to be affected by the construction of a 3rd runway have also brought legal challenges. St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group say the impact of the runway on their homes was not properly considered by the council.
May 8th, 2017 (Green News)
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought a judicial review of Fingal County Council’s decision to extend planning permission for the development of a €320 million runway at Dublin Airport.
The environmental group alleges that the council’s Chief Executive was fully aware that the extra runway would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions before granting the five-year extension.
According to the group, this runs in contravention of the objectives of the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act.
The group’s affidavit states that the Chief Executive failed to take account of various climate and emissions related criteria as legally obliged under the 2015 Climate Act before deciding to grant the extension.
The extension was granted by Fingal County Council in March. The original permission for the proposed 3.1km runway, granted in 2007, was due to expire this August.
The project, set to be located less than 2km north of the Airport’s existing main runway, was put on hold during the recession.
Direct emissions from the aviation industry account for about 2 per cent of global emissions, and are projected to be around 70 per cent higher in 2020 compared to 2005 levels.
According to the European Commission, a flight from London to New York and back generates the same emissions as the average EU citizen does from heating their home for a year.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates that by 2050 aviation emissions will have increased by 300% compared to today.
According to an affidavit provided by FIE Director Tony Lowes, the Fingal Chief Executive made a number of “entirely general observations” in relation to the findings of the ICAO in its decision.
The FIE’s challenge also points to the recent refusal of planning permission for a third runway at Vienna Airport by the Austrian Federal Administrative Court due to air traffic’s climate change impact.
The group also argue that, as the original permission was granted based on an Environmental Impact Statement from 2002, the council has failed to consider new research on climate change over the past 15 years.
“The fact is that the international and national context in respect of climate change has moved on dramatically since the runway was first granted permission, which included a very limited assessment of climate impacts,” the affidavit states.
“Every citizen possesses constitutional and natural rights to bodily integrity, life, water, food, health and an environment consistent with their right to dignity and well-being. Climate change will directly and irrevocably impinge on each and all of those constitutional and natural right.”
Two separate groups of residents set to be affected by the construction of a third runway have also brought legal challenges.
One group, St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group, allege that the development is illegal as the council failed to consider the impact of the development on their homes before granting the extension.
These cases are set to be heard in the Commercial Court in October following an application to the high court by the Dublin Airport Authority.
In 2016, 25 million passengers passed through Dublin Airport. Dublin is the fastest growing major airport in Europe, according to Airports Council international Europe, the trade association for European airport operators.
Dublin Airport may buy 40 homes, already badly affected by noise, in bid to step up 2nd runway plans
Dublin airport was given consent for a 2nd runway in 2007, but due to the recession it was not started. There are now plans to start work in 2017, for completion in 2020, though as much has changed in the years since 2007 on the aviation market, questions are asked about whether the original consent should still be valid. Due to the inevitably increased noise from the 2nd runway, it is likely that around 40 houses (mainly in the St Margaret’s area 2-3km from the airport) would be bought by the airport, and negotiations are planned. Triple glazed window insulation will probably also be suggested for hundreds of other properties including schools. A spokeswoman for the St Margaret’s Concerned Residents Group said the affected 30 home owners in her association are devastated but have no choice. The airport has assessed the level of noise necessitating house purchase based on 90 days of the airport’s busiest months from June to September. Residents, some of whom have been in the area for three generations, fear that a 2nd runway, with increasing frequency, growth in long haul services and more larger aircraft Dublin would compound the noise problem.
Work to build Dublin 2nd runway could start in 2017 for completion in 2020
Dublin airport is to press ahead with building a 2nd main runway, resurrecting plans that were approved in August 2007 but then put on hold when Ireland was plunged into financial crisis after 2008. The 2 mile runway will be cost about €320 million (£258m) with work starting in 2017. It may be ready by 2020, to meet rising demand. Passenger numbers at Dublin are now back up to where they were before the recession, and although the airport is not yet at full capacity, it is congested at peak hours. There were around 25 million passengers in 2015. Passenger numbers are expected to rise further. Dublin to London is one of the world’s busiest international air routes, while the facility to pre-clear US immigration in Ireland has made Dublin popular with transatlantic travellers. Ireland cut is small charge of €3 on air tickets in 2013, while Northern Ireland continued to charge £13 in APD. Many people therefore travelled from Northern Ireland to Dublin, to save money. Ryanair has over 40% of the flights at Dublin backs the runway, as does IAG. Willie Walsh has said he might consider using Dublin more if Heathrow got a 3rd runway, and raised charges sharply. There are some conditions restricting night flights very slightly, (65 per night 11pm to 7am) with the 2nd runway.
Click here to view full story…
Willie Walsh keen to get 2nd Dublin runway, which has planning consent
Planning permission for a new east-west runway, 1.6 kilometres to the north and parallel to the existing main runway at Dublin airport was granted in 2007 and remains valid till 2017. However a new planning application may have to be lodged because the original permission contained 31 restrictive conditions including a requirement that no flights operate from the 2nd runway between 11pm and 7am. The airport’s busiest time is the hour between 6am and 7am so airlines say a ban before flights taking off then is “impractical.” The runway cost has been estimated at €300m. The likelihood of it being built is considered higher now after the IAG takeover of Aer Lingus which includes plans to use Dublin airport to feed traffic from Europe to North America. IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh wants the runway, saying (predictably) Dublin airport is currently at full capacity during peak hours, leading to “congestion and delays”. Mr Walsh says he was open to an agreement with Ryanair that would see it feed passengers to the Aer Lingus long-haul network, and an agreement could be reached by summer 2016. The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is re-examining its proposals for a second runway as passenger numbers have risen to more than 21 million in 2014 and it expects a rise of 15% this year.
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Burien is an area affected by Seattle airport, in the US. People there have been badly affected by a new concentrated flight path over them, since June 2016. Residents have got together to fight the changes, and get the noise reduced. In January 2017 the lawyer for Burien City said she had made it clear to the FAA that the city was serious and that if the agency “did not ‘cease and desist by February 10, 2017 and if the FAA did not commit to conduct a full environmental review,’” then the Burien and Quiet Skies Coalition would sue the FAA. They have now done that, and won – and their win is inspiring other cities to make similar moves. The flight path changes were made without any public notice, either to the city or to the Port of Seattle. The FAA had refused to meet the city council to discuss changing the flight plan. Local campaigner Debbie Wagner said: “It’s a huge win, nobody ever beats the federal government.” However, this is a win of a battle – not the war. “You can band together, you can join together and fight and win, but in the grand scheme of things we’re fighting a Goliath that wants to grow even bigger….we are all suffering. We’re suffering now in the present situation, they want to make it twice as bad. I can’t even imagine” she said. Sea-Tac International Airport is expanding, with new buildings etc, and expansion is only going to make the situation worse.
Burien sues FAA to stop flights overhead — and wins
APRIL 17, 2017
BY ANNIE ANDREWS (Q13 Fox.com)
Burien is a suburban city in King County, Washington, United States, located south of Seattle and close to Seattle-Tacoma airport Map
BURIEN, Wash. – Burien residents, with the backing of the city, successfully sued the FAA getting them to change a new flight pattern over their community. The decision was announced this week, and it’s inspiring other cities to make similar moves.
“It started out 15-20 a day,” said Larry Cripe. “We’ve even had as many as 60 flights in one day, turn west.”
That turn didn’t exist, said Cripe, before June 2016. It didn’t exist before the FAA created it last year, and directed commuter flights to use it, without informing neighbors, communities or even the airport.
“It was like the FAA built three new runways, east-west runways, without pouring one foot of concrete,” said Cripe.
“They had done this without any public notice, they hadn’t told the city, they hadn’t told the Port of Seattle,” said Debi Wagner.
Wagner is on the Burien City Council and worked with Cripe to sue the FAA. She said it had to come to a lawsuit after the FAA refused to meet with them to discuss changing the flight plan.
“The FAA dropped the litigation, based on the initial two-page letter,” explained Wagner.
“It’s a huge win, nobody ever beats the federal government,” she said.
Wagner said she is excited, but not overly optimistic. She said they won the battle, not the war.
“You can band together, you can join together and fight and win, but in the grand scheme of things we’re fighting a Goliath that wants to grow even bigger,” she said.
Sea-Tac International Airport is expanding. They broke ground in February on a multimillion-dollar expansion project that will add eight gates for Alaska Airlines in the North Terminal. The Port of Seattle does not control where planes fly, just where they land. The FAA, they said, decides where and how to direct flights.
“It’s already a bad situation, that expansion is just going to make worse,” said Kent Palosaari.
Palosaari is working to engage SeaTac residents to find a solution to the noise and air pollution that comes from the airport and the flight paths. He said Burien’s win is a win for everyone.
“I hope it empowers the other communities that yes, we can do this,’” he said.
Wagner said SeaTac is just one of nearly a dozen communities that are in talks with Burien on what they can do to mitigate air traffic issues. Medina, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Beacon Hill, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Mercer Island, Redmond and Federal Way have already met with the city, said Wagner.
“All of these cities, we are all suffering. We’re suffering now in the present situation, they want to make it twice as bad. I can’t even imagine,” said Wagner.
FAA continues to stonewall group over increased Burien airplane noise
A recent meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration regional office in Renton was a bust, and it is time for serious legal action to stop the recently increased noise from planes taking off from Sea-Tac Airport.
The Quiet Skies Coalition in a newsletter to its members Tuesday evening said that a Jan. 24 meeting with the FAA regional office in Renton “was very unproductive.”
“We came fully prepared and hoping that our questions and concerns would be openly addressed,” the group’s President Larry Cripe wrote. “However, the FAA chose to simply re-read what they had already sent us on December 16, 2016 with vague and incomplete responses.”
So the time has come to hire professionals for the job, he said.
“… We strongly believe it is time for us to hire a project coordinator to manage the daily activities as we move forward.”
He said Quiet Skies is writing a job description for a coordinator but it will cost money.
“We will need your financial support to make this happen.”
City of Burien involved
The Burien City Council on Jan. 23 voted to approve up to $70,000 for a legal battle against the FAA.
“We are very grateful to the six Council members for their support,” Cripe said in his newsletter. The lone negative vote was from Council member Bob Edgar who said he was concerned about what “the final monetary impact would be to the city.”
Then Burien City Attorney Lisa Marshall said she had made it clear to the FAA that the city was serious and that if the agency “did not ‘cease and desist by February 10, 2017 and if the FAA did not commit to conduct a full environmental review,’” then the Burien and Quiet Skies Coalition would sue the FAA.
“Over the past six months, your Quiet Skies Coalition committee has been working on your behalf to get us to this point,” Cripe wrote in his newsletter. “We will continue to work with the City to protect our interests.”
Cripe said the Quiet Skies website, quietskiescoalition.net, continues to expand.
Burien residents form ‘Quiet Skies Coalition’ to fight increased airplane noise
October 3, 2016
By Jack Mayne
A citizens group called the Quiet Skies Coalition has been formed to fight increased airline noise in Burien instigated by the Federal Aviation Administration at Sea-Tac Airport.
The Coalition released a newsletter today (Oct. 3) that said was to “notify you that a citizen committee has been formed to oppose the drastic increase in westbound departures from SeaTac Airport due to changes the FAA has enacted that affect the greater Burien area.”
The new group has been legally incorporated as the Quiet Skies Coalition as a not-for-profit corporation under Washington state law.
The Quiet Skies Coalition is asking residents to “become a part of this opposition” to the increase in prop-jet aircraft turning west over Burien whenever flights take off to the north. That direction is required by the FAA flight controllers whenever with wind comes from the north.
Initially the Quiet Skies Coalition will “be directing our activities toward the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines (and the) Federal Aviation Administration.”
The group ways they are beginning “currently fundraising, doing research and forming a preliminary plan and strategy. We will be sharing this with you and seeking your help and opinions in the near future.
The Coalition said it is planning a public meeting to “share input and ideas as well as how you can be a part of this effort.”
The opposition group included in its news release maps that were generated by the Port of Seattle and “illustrate the change in the number and direction of takeoffs over the greater Burien area. As you can see, things have changed dramatically.”
These maps illustrate the direction and number of flights prior to last July and illustrates “the direction and number of flights starting in July and illustrates “our city is now exposed to a major increase in noise from over flights – far in excess of the historic norm for our area.”
BEFORE: Flight pattern from Aug. 26, 2015. Click image to view larger version.
NOW: Flight pattern for Aug. 24, 2016. Click image to view larger version.
The group is headed by retired Alaska Airlines Group pilot Larry Cripe and is seeking “legal options, raising funds necessary to support the community effort, launching our advocacy website and a host of other activities.”
They are soliciting local citizen to join with them and “volunteer your time to raise awareness about the issue, contribute funds, attend public meetings, and engage in letter writing campaigns and so forth.”
Contact can be made with Cripe as Quiet Skies president or member John Parnass. They may be contacted by emailing email@example.com or LarryCripe@comcast.net.
They promise a website soon to update the contact information (stay tuned to The B-Town Blog for news when this happens).
‘The Port, Alaska Airlines and the FAA have underestimated our resolve to stop this blatant disregard for us as residents, taxpayers and property owners,” the news release said. “By joining together in this battle, we stand a chance to reverse the decision that has been imposed upon us.
“We are asking each and every one of you to spread the word by whatever methods you can. We need thousands of email addresses in the next sixty days, which is only possible with your help.”
With a list of residents willing to assist them, “We will then be able to communicate and keep everyone informed as to what we are doing as an organization.
“Unfortunately, none of this is going to be achievable without raising funds.”
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SSE says National Air Traffic Services (NATS), who develop flightpaths for Britain’s airports, should reverse changes made last year. The changes to flightpaths are causing “noise misery.” The changes, introduced in February 2016, have led to a doubling of flights using the easterly Clacton departure routes and led to more than four times the number of complaints about aircraft noise (4,000 in 2016 compared to 760 in 2015). NATS and the CAA are conducting a review of the changes, to assess the impacts and benefits against what was expected when the plans were introduced. SSE noise adviser, Martin Peachey, said: “Whenever there are changes to flight paths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines. There must be more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery.” The changes were opposed by residents at public consultation, with 82% of those who responded, but were nevertheless approved by the CAA and implemented in February 2016 because there were judged to be benefits for airlines, in terms of fuel savings and time saving. Any minor benefits for airlines are far outweighed by the additional noise misery being inflicted upon local communities. SSE is urging local residents to make their views known to NATS.
Anti-Stansted expansion group calls on airport to reverse flightpath changes during review
By Huw Wales (Hertfordshire Mercury)
May 9th 2017
Stansted Airport should change its flightpaths because it is causing “noise misery,” a campaign group has said as a review is ordered.
The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign has said that National Air Traffic Services (NATS), who develop flightpaths for Britain’s airports, should reverse changes made last year.
READ MORE: Stansted Airport arrivals building given go-ahead
The NATS and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is conducting a review of the changes to assess the impacts and benefits against what was expected when the plans were introduced.
The changes, introduced in February 2016, have led to a doubling of flights over the Clacton departure routes and led to more than four times the number of complaints about aircraft noise.
The campaign has claimed that there were only 760 noise complaints in 2015, compared to more than 4,000 in 2016.
SSE noise adviser, Martin Peachey, said: “Whenever there are changes to flight paths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines.
“There must be more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery.”
The changes were opposed by residents at consultation, with 82 per cent of those who responded opposing moving the flight paths into Stansted Airport.
REVERSE THE FLIGHT PATH CHANGES – SAYS SSE
STOP STANSTED EXPANSION
8 May 2017
Flight paths for aircraft taking off from Stansted were changed last year by National Air Traffic Services (‘NATS’) which has led to a doubling of flights during the day on the easterly ‘Clacton’ departure routes, causing additional aircraft noise misery for local residents beneath those flightpaths.
The changes were opposed by 82% of those who responded to the public consultation held beforehand but were nevertheless approved by the CAA and implemented in February 2016 because there were judged to be benefits for airlines, in terms of fuel savings and time saving.
A review of the changes by NATS and CAA is currently underway to assess the actual impacts and benefits against what had been expected when they approved the changes last year.
Stop Stansted Expansion (‘SSE’) spearheaded a vigorous local campaign against the changes from the outset and is now urging local residents to use the opportunity of this review to press for a reversal of the changes.
After 15 months of experience of the flight path changes, SSE is more convinced than ever that any minor benefits for airlines are far outweighed by the additional noise misery being inflicted upon local communities. The figures speak for themselves. Stansted Airport received over 4,000 individual complaints about aircraft noise in 2016, compared to just 760 the previous year.
SSE has written to NATS and the CAA setting out the reasons why these flight path changes must now be reversed. SSE has also proposed immediate mitigation measures that could lessen the impacts of intensified overflying and has offered to meet NATS to discuss the issues further.
SSE Noise Adviser Martin Peachey commented: “Whenever there are changes to flightpaths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines. There must be a more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery.”
The deadline for submissions in response to the current review is 15 May and SSE is urging local residents to make their views known to NATS if they have not already done so.
For information on how to respond to NATS, go to http://stopstanstedexpansion.com/nats.html
NOTES TO EDITORS
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
- SSE Campaign Office, T 01279 870558; firstname.lastname@example.org
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Defra’s new, very weak (due probably to trying not to upset owners of diesel cars in the run-up to the election) air quality plan is not likely to achieve air within legal NO2 limits in parts of London before 2030. A 3rd Heathrow runway would increase levels of NO2 in an area that has remained persistently in breach of legal limits. However, the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) point out that the draft plan does not mention the airport, with emissions associated with a 3rd runway apparently not even modelled. AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said, while we are waiting to see what legal action is taken on UK air quality: “In the meantime ministers are hoping to lock in parliamentary support for Heathrow expansion by the end of the year, despite new forecasts indicating that London may still be non-compliant with air pollution limits by 2030, and despite knowing that a third runway, due to open mid-2020s, would make the problem worse. The process for approving Heathrow expansion should be halted immediately, and reconsulted on only once an effective and legally compliant air quality plan is in place, so that the impact of a third runway can be properly assessed.” Forecasts from both the Airports Commission and the DfT show that expansion would act to further increase NO2 due to extra emissions from aircraft as well as associated passenger and freight traffic on the roads.
Weak government air quality plan remains silent on Heathrow third runway
The Government has today published an updated air quality plan, with new figures suggesting London may not be compliant with legal limits even by 2030. But despite projections having shown Heathrow expansion would increase levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in an area that has remained persistently in breach of legal limits, today’s plan remains silent on the implications of a third runway opening mid-2020s, with emissions associated with expansion apparently not even modelled.
Reacting to today’s publication, AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said:
“The Government has yet again failed to set out a convincing plan for bringing London’s air pollution down to levels that are legally compliant and safe for health. We’ll now wait to see whether further legal action will be taken.In the meantime ministers are hoping to lock in parliamentary support for Heathrow expansion by the end of the year, despite new forecasts indicating that London may still be non-compliant with air pollution limits by 2030, and despite knowing that a third runway, due to open mid-2020s, would make the problem worse.The process for approving Heathrow expansion should be halted immediately, and reconsulted on only once an effective and legally compliant air quality plan is in place, so that the impact of a third runway can be properly assessed.”
Court actions and Government delay
A number of cities in the UK are currently breaching legal air quality limits, putting public health at significant risk. Campaign group ClientEarth had taken legal action against the Government, arguing that its previous plan for tackling air quality relied on over-optimistic modelling, and contained insufficient measures to tackle the problem.
The court agreed and ordered the publication of a new plan by 24th April. A last minute application by Government to delay the date until after the General Election was turned down, with the court ruling that the plan should not be delayed for political reasons and must be published by 9th May.
Comment in today’s press speculates that “with the general election looming, the plans have been watered down to limit the immediate impact on the drivers of Britain’s 12 million diesel cars”.
The press release from the Department for Transport states that local authorities “will now be expected to develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist.”
The new forecasts reflect more realistic projections of NO2 from diesel vehicles than were assumed in the previous air quality plan, after the VW scandal revealed that real-world emissions are far higher than those modelled in lab conditions.
Yet proposals for effective measures to tackle the problem are thin on the ground. Anticipated commitments from Government to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme, and to give local authorities new powers to introduce charging zones have, for example, been omitted from the plan published today.
What does this mean for Heathrow?
The Heathrow area has remained persistently in breach of legal limits for NO2, with previous hopes that vehicle emissions in the area would fall significantly having failed to materialise.
Forecasts from both the Airports Commission and the Government show that expansion would act to further increase NO2 as a result extra emissions from aircraft together with associated passenger and freight traffic on the roads.
The Airports Commission argued, however, that the scheme could legally proceed as long as it did not ‘delay compliance’ with the law, on the assumption that parts of central London might have even worse air quality than the roads around Heathrow.
Several of the local authorities around Heathrow have indicated that they plan to judicially review the Government’s plan for expansion at the airport on the basis that it contravenes the legal requirement to achieve air quality limits in the shortest possible time.
James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth has meanwhile said today “The air quality plans are much weaker than expected. The Government says pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health, yet under the plan we will be faced with illegal air quality for years to come.” The organisation has yet to make a statement on further legal action.
A consultation on the air quality proposals runs until 15th June. Plans for the third runway are proceeding in parallel, with a consultation on the National Policy Statement (which could lock in parliamentary support for a new runway) closing on 25th May and a vote planned in the autumn.
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The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) criticised the UK Government for its failure to deal adequately with air pollution from a 3rd Heathrow runway. Before its dissolution, for the general election on 8th June 2017, the EAC published the response by the government (dated 21st April) to questions put to it by the committee in February. The responses on air pollution are not satisfactory. Asked by the EAC to carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, the government just says it is updating “its evidence base on airport capacity as appropriate to ensure that any final NPS is based on the most up to date information” … and that “The Government is determined to meet its air quality obligations and to do so in the shortest time possible.” …”The draft NPS stipulates that final development consent will only be granted if the Secretary of State is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements.” ie. totally vague, saying almost nothing specific. The EAC said Government must publish a comprehensive assessment of the infrastructure requirements of a 3rd runway and consult on it before publishing a final NPS. The Government just said “necessary changes to the transport system will rightly be considered as part of the statutory planning process.” And so on.
Government responds to EAC report
Before its dissolution on 3rd May, the EAC released a number of papers, including the Government’s response to its follow-up report on the Airports Commission recommendations. There were no great surprises in the Government’s response, and the lack of any strategy on aviation’s climate change impact was openly acknowledged. In a comment following the release of the Government’s response, Mary Creagh, chair of the EAC, stated that ministers “have no national plan for air pollution, and their carbon calculations are a fantasy.”
Seventh Special Report
The Environmental Audit Committee published its Seventh Report of Session 2016–17, The Airports Commission Report Follow-up: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise, [HC 840] on 23 February 2017. The Government’s response was received on 21 April 2017 and is appended to this report.
Appendix: Government response
The Government welcomes the work that the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has done on the subject of airport capacity since the Airports Commission (AC) published its final report in July 2015.
In informing the House of Commons of the Government’s preference for the Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme the Secretary of State for Transport was very clear that “we must tackle air quality and noise, and meet our obligations on carbon both during and after construction”.
The draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament and published for public consultation on 2 February 2017, sets out the requirements that an applicant for a Northwest Runway scheme at Heathrow Airport and associated infrastructure would need to meet in order to gain development consent. These include measures to limit the impacts of noise, air quality and carbon emissions.
The Transport Committee has been appointed by the Liaison Committee to scrutinise the draft NPS, and will publish its report by summer recess 2017. Once the public consultation has closed, the Government will consider all the responses received, along with the report from the Transport Committee. Only then would the Secretary of State lay a final NPS before Parliament, which may be voted on by the House of Commons, after which it could be designated by the Secretary of State.
Below is the section on Air Quality:
1. [The EAC had said to government:] The Government must publish such an assessment [of air quality impacts using the revised air quality plan] alongside the final National Policy Statement, it must work towards a scenario in which all road links affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins. (Paragraph 32)
Response: (by government) The Government continues to update its evidence base on airport capacity as appropriate to ensure that any final NPS is based on the most up to date information.
The Government is determined to meet its air quality obligations and to do so in the shortest time possible. We will publish the final UK Air Quality Plan by 31 July. The draft NPS stipulates that final development consent will only be granted if the Secretary of State is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements.
As far as health impacts are concerned, the draft NPS makes very clear that “in order to be compliant with the Airports NPS, a further project level Health Impact Assessment is required. The application should include and propose health mitigation, which seeks to maximise the health benefits of the scheme and mitigate any negative health impacts”.
2. [EAC asked] We encourage the committee scrutinising the NPS to consider this report and its recommendations, and urge the Government to clarify its position [on post-Brexit air quality limits] in its response to this report. (Paragraph 33)
Response: (by government) The Government is aware of the desire for certainty around what exiting the EU means for our environmental policy and legislative framework. That is why the Prime Minister announced last year our plans for a Great Repeal Bill. The Bill will convert EU law into UK law as it stands at the moment before we leave the EU. On 30 March 2017 the Great Repeal Bill White Paper was published setting out the detail of our approach to the Bill and how the domestic legal system will work once we have left the EU.
The UK has a long commitment to improving the environment even before it joined the EU; for example the Clean Air Act was introduced in 1956. Our strong commitment to improving air quality will continue after the UK leaves the EU.
3. [EAC asked] The Government should work with Defra on an air quality alert system for people who are especially vulnerable to the effects of short-term exposure to pollutants. (Paragraph 34)
Response:(by government) Through the Government-funded website UK-Air, Defra already makes available a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels. This allows members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. This information is also available on the Met Office website, alongside the weather forecast.
UK-Air also provides the most up-to-date information on local air pollution levels using data from the national network of air pollution monitors. Importantly, the website provides Public Health England’s advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events.
Defra issues daily tweets from the UK-Air Twitter account, which provide information about current air pollution levels and accompanying health advice. These include details of affected regions and links to regionalised maps. These are routinely retweeted by Public Health England and are followed by journalists who use the information to inform their reporting, as well as health charities and campaign groups who regularly retweet information to vulnerable populations.
During episodes of high air pollution Defra alerts a network of health charities, providing full details of the nature of the episode, its geographical location and anticipated duration, along with links to further information including specific health advice relevant to the episode.
The Government will continue to ensure that members of the public have the information and advice they need to take appropriate action to minimise their exposure to high levels of pollution.
4. [EAC asked] The Government must publish such an assessment [a comprehensive assessment of the infrastructure requirements of an expanded Heathrow] and consult on it before publishing a final National Policy Statement. (Paragraph 44)
Response: (by government) As part of the statutory planning process responsibility rests with the applicant to provide a detailed Transport Assessment as part of any development consent application and to set out its proposals to mitigate impacts on the surrounding transport network, whether through transport infrastructure or other transport measures.
In the draft NPS the Government has proposed the outcomes it wishes to see, including specific targets relating to public transport mode share and employee travel that the airport would be required to meet. It would be up to the applicant to demonstrate in detail how it would meet such outcomes. However, the work of the AC, and subsequent work, has illustrated a number of improvements to public transport which could support this. Some of these improvements, such as Crossrail, HS2 and improvements to the Great Western and Piccadilly Lines are happening regardless of airport expansion.
Other schemes, such as the planned Western Rail Link to Heathrow, are in development and could be in place before a new runway opens. This would provide a rail connection to the west of the airport. Other proposed schemes such as Southern Rail Access would provide direct access from the airport to the South West Trains network, with connections towards Waterloo and Clapham Junction, and potentially towards Woking and Basingstoke. Southern Rail Access is at an earlier stage of development and a range of options are being considered which would provide a range of benefits to both airport and non-airport users.
Details of any finalised proposals for the Northwest Runway scheme at Heathrow Airport and necessary changes to the transport system will rightly be considered as part of the statutory planning process.
5. [EAC asked] There needs to be clarity over how this pledge [that there will be “no more cars on the road” as a result of expansion] will be delivered and monitored, the consequences if it is not met and the implications of that for local authorities’ responsibilities to deliver air quality compliance. (Paragraph 45)
Response: (by government) The Government has set out its expectation in the draft NPS that “Heathrow Airport should continue to strive to meet its public pledge to have landside airport-related traffic no greater than today.” The Government has also proposed specific targets on public transport mode share and employee travel. Heathrow Airport will need to set out, and provide evidence, as part of any development consent application as to exactly how it would achieve these. It is the Government’s expectation that, subject to the outcome of the NPS and planning processes, the mode share targets at paragraph 5.16 [copied below] of the draft NPS would become binding upon the airport.
Lastly, we note that the EAC referred in its report to a Government target for 60% of all new cars to be Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) by 2030. The EAC has since confirmed that this was an error as the Government currently has no such target. The Government is committed to almost all cars and vans being zero emission by 2050 and will publish an updated strategy on support for the transition to zero emission road transport by March 2018.
See full EAC report at
5.16 Any application for development consent and accompanying airport surface access strategy must include details of how the applicant will maximise the proportion of journeys made to the airport by public transport, cycling and walking to achieve a public transport mode share of at least 50% by 2030, and at least 55% by 2040 for passengers. The applicant should also include details of how it will achieve a 25% reduction from the current baseline of all staff car trips by 2030, and a reduction of 50% by 2040 from 2017 levels. 123 HAL will aim to report, on at least an annual basis, on progress towards meeting or exceeding these targets. [But there is no mention of any enforcement if the target is not met. AW comment]
123 These mode share targets are derived from Heathrow Airport Ltd. Statement of Principles, part 5, paragraph 1.6 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heathrow-airport-limited-statement-of-principles
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Heathrow airport has effectively stuck two fingers up at the local opposition to the 3rd runway, by appointing to the post of Director of Community and Stakeholder Relations at the airport. Mr Gray starts in May, working under executive director for expansion, Emma Gilthorpe. The job will be to “work with local communities to ensure our plans reflect their views.” Rob Gray has been deeply disliked by opponents of Heathrow expansion, due to his 4 years as director of the astro-turf organisation, “Back Heathrow” which was set up to look like a genuine community group. Mr Gray is unpopular not only because of his personal style and hostile attitude to those whose lives would be damaged by the runway, but also because of untruthful campaigns. One was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in October 2016, for having incorrectly used statistics claiming the extent of support for a 3rd runway. Back Heathrow also produced promotional materials and letters implying *(falsely) that Heathrow would close without the runway, and jobs would be lost. Mr Gray’s attitudes towards runway opponents makes him a highly unsuitable person to have the role of liaison – if the airport was serious in undertaking genuine dialogue. His appointment is being seen as a signal that they are not. Back Heathrow has a new director, Parmjit Dhanda, and its recent letter to its supporters, asking them to send in NPS submissions in favour of the runway says: “It is now up to you to save Heathrow’s future.” and “PS. Don’t risk Heathrow’s future.”
Anger as Back Heathrow residents group boss bags top job at airport
Former Back Heathrow director, Rob Gray, will soon be in charge of community engagement for the airport
BY KATHERINE CLEMENTINE (Get West London)
26 APR 2017
The man behind a residents pro-third runway campaign group has bagged a top job at Heathrow Airport – in charge of engaging with the those who will lose their homes over the expansion.
Rob Gray’s transition from director at Back Heathrow, to director of community and stakeholder relations at Heathrow Airport, has angered some local residents and opposition groups.
According to the airport, this new position “recognises the importance to Heathrow of working with local communities in delivering an expanded airport.”
Campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, and residents of the nearby villages earmarked for demolition, were left “dumbfounded” after the announcement on Tuesday (April 25).
Back Heathrow has consistently disagreed with Stop Heathrow Expansion, arguing the airport should be removed from Hayes and Harlington constituency because MP John McDonnell opposes expansion, and disagreeing with each other’s protests repeatedly over the years.
Rob Gray was campaign director for Back Heathrow.
Christine Taylor, whose home in Harlington 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.”
Under Mr Gray’s four-year leadership, Back Heathrow was the subject of controversy when an advert for theirs was banned for making false claims regarding the level of support for Heathrow expansion.
Back Heathrow said: “That ruling is confusing because even by the ASA’s own definition of residents living near to Heathrow, the evidence clearly shows a majority of support for the airport’s expansion. “Nevertheless, we are pleased that the ASA acknowledged that more local people support a new runway at Heathrow than oppose it.”
Opposition group Stop Heathrow Expansion, claim how Mr Gray, also oversaw a mismanagement whereby people replying to their campaign materials were automatically registered as supporters.
Back Heathrow disputes this, and accused anti-expansion campaigners of “mischief making by actively signing up opponents to a pro-Heathrow campaign and then highlighting it for PR purposes.”
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?”
Back Heathrow advert banned for false claims that ‘community supports expansion’
Heathrow Airport claim it is committed to developing an airport that is quieter and cleaner and continues to provide opportunities for its neighbours and future generations.
In making the announcement, the airport boasts that “Rob brings first-hand experience of the area from his time running the community campaign group Back Heathrow.”
Mr Gray said: “I have always been an advocate of Heathrow because of the huge opportunities it offers local residents.
“I also recognise local concerns and the need for Heathrow to deliver on the commitments it has made to mitigate the impacts of expansion.
“Heathrow has demonstrated its willingness to listen and change its plans based on feedback.
“I’m looking forward to working with local communities to ensure our plans reflect their views.”
Mr Gray will take up the new role next month, working under executive director for expansion, Emma Gilthorpe.
Taking over from Mr Gray will be former minister Labour MP, Parmjit Dhanda, who held a parliamentary seat in Gloucester from 2001 to 2010.
Former Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda is now the executive director at Back Heathrow. Mr Dhanda, who was born in Southall, went to school in Hayes, and later served as a Hillingdon councillor, said: “As someone who knows the Heathrow patch very well, I am delighted to lead this vital campaign.
“Expanding Heathrow offers a golden opportunity for many local people and for the country, so we will make that case strongly.
“Yet expansion cannot come at any cost which means we need to be sensitive to the needs of residents for quality air, controlled noise and fair compensation to those directly affected.
“I know from experience that there is a generation of people who are proud of the prosperity that Heathrow has brought to tens of thousands of local residents.”
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.
Advertising Standards Authority rules against misleading “Back Heathrow” ad claiming 60% support for runway
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from “Back Heathrow” claiming that most local people back Heathrow expansion. “Back Heathrow” is a lobby group, funded through Heathrow with the aim of pushing for the 3rd runway. Back Heathrow ran a regional press ad headlined “Rallying for the runway” with the line “Don’t believe the hype. Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion.” They claimed from polls there was 60% support. The ASA says the claim was misleading, and the 60% figure had only been massaged up from 50% to that level by omitting the 15% who did not express an opinion. The ASA considered most consumers were likely to understand it to mean that a clear majority of those surveyed in the poll (the original sample) were in support of expansion. They ruled that removing the 15% was “not a suitable methodology by which to draw such a conclusion, and was misleading. The ad must not appear again in its current form, and “Back Heathrow” must not repeat these claims ” unless it held robust substantiation for them.” This is a blow to “Back Heathrow,” the strategy of which has been to try to convince decision-makers that a majority of local people back a 3rd runway. That claim looks flimsy.
Click here to view full story…
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For those of us who are unfamiliar with the way parliament works etc, and especially in relation to select committees and the effect of a general election, here is a short briefing on what will happen in the coming months, especially in relation to Heathrow. From the 3rd May Parliament is dissolved. The parliamentary select committees have also ceased to function. The chairs of these committees need to be elected first, and the decision made on which party will chair each committee, according to the strength of the party in the House. It could be mid July before committee chairs are appointed. Then members of the committees have to be appointed, and that needs a motion setting out the membership of each committee, agreed on the floor of the House. In both 2010 and 2015, this took approximately six weeks to be agreed. Therefore, the earliest the final composition of select committees will be known is likely to be September 2017. The election means that any current inquiries not completed (such as the Transport Committee one on the draft NPS) have been paused. It will be up to the members of the new Transport Select Committee if they wish to pick up this inquiry and continue with it. There is also an inquiry by 4 select committees into air quality. That will also have to be picked up by the new committees.
All Select Committees in the House of Commons will have to be reconstituted once Parliament returns after the Election. Since 2010 the Chairs of the Select Committees have been elected by all members of the House in a secret ballot. The individual political parties also now arrange elections to help choose their members of select committees. This process has to be done in a transparent and democratic way but each party group can decide on its own method of election. This results in MPs lobbying their colleagues for their support if they desire to serve on a specific committee.
However, before the election of committee chairs can begin, the House must first allocate the posts of particular committee chairs to specific parties. The Speaker of the House of Commons writes to the party leaders on the day following his/her election at the start of a new Parliament, indicating the numbers of chairs that should be allotted to each party, according to their strength in the House.
Within a week of the Queen’s Speech, a motion is put to the House (in the name of all the leaders of the parties entitled to a chair) to allocate the chair of each committee to a specific party. If no such motion is tabled within two weeks, the Standing Order allows a motion allocating chairs to be brought in the name of any MP.
The ballot for the select committee chairs must take place within 14 days of the motion being approved. This means that the new chairs should be in place before the Summer Recess begins.
The process for electing committee members kicks off once the results of the chair elections are known so that unsuccessful candidates can stand. The party balance of committee membership is intended to reflect the balance of seats in the House. Once each party has decided who will represent it on each committee, a motion setting out the membership of each committee has to be agreed on the floor of the House. In both 2010 and 2015, this took approximately six weeks to be agreed. Therefore, the earliest the final composition of select committees will be known is likely to be September 2017.
The election means that any current inquiries not completed (such as the Transport Committee one on the draft NPS) have been paused. It will be up to the members of the new Transport Select Committee if they wish to pick up this inquiry and continue with it.
After a General Election, every All Party Parliamentary Group needs to hold an AGM to formally reconstitute the Group. This provides an opportunity to encourage new MPs and peers to join and for a new programme of work to be agreed. The APPG on Heathrow and the Wider Economy will thus need to be reconstituted.
Though the NPS process may be delayed, it has not been changed by the announcement of the General Election. The consultation on the draft NPS will close on 25th as planned and the Government is expected to publish an official response before the Summer Recess.
The vote on the final NPS may be slightly delayed by the disruption caused by the General Election and the dominance of Brexit negotiations including the Great Repeal Bill. It is likely to be in spring 2018.
If there is a large Conservative majority that could mean the government pushes the NPS process through as fast as it can. Whatever the outcome of the General Election there will be reshuffles of Ministerial teams and possibly even some changes to Government departments.
Purdah begins – 21st April
Dissolution – 3rd May
Local Elections – 4th May
Party Manifestos expected to be published – Week commencing 8th May
Deadline for nomination papers to be submitted to returning officer for General Election – 11th May
Consultation on draft NPS on airports closes – 25th May
General Election – 8th June
1st possible date of new Parliament – 14th June
1st possible date of State Opening – 21st June
Possible date for ballots of election of Select Committee Chairs – 13th July
Summer Recess – 20th July
Parliament Returns – 5th September
Parliament in Recess – 15th September
TUC conference – 10th until 13th September
Lib Dem Party Conference – 16th until 19th September
Labour Party Conference – 24th until 27th September
Conservative Party Conference – 1st until 4th October
SNP Party conference – 6th until 9th October
Parliament Returns – 10th October
Four Select Committees launch an unprecedented joint inquiry into air pollution
MP’s from four Parliamentary select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots. The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution. The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits. Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee (dealing with the draft NPS on Heathrow), said emissions from vehicles are a significant problem and the standards that governments have relied on have not delivered the expected reductions: “We will be asking what more can be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles as well as to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.” Deadline was 12th May 2017 but that has been suspended due to General Election.
Transport Committee announces start of its inquiry into (Heathrow) Airports NPS (24th March deadline for evidence)
The Transport Select Committee (a supporter of airport expansion and of a larger Heathrow) is the parliamentary committee that was given the task of running an inquiry into the draft Airports NPS. The deadline for commenting was 24th March. The committee had intended to submit its report to government by early July. But due to the election, the work of the committee has halted. Staff can continue to consider the responses they were sent. However, the committee needs to be re-constituted after the election. There may be a different chair, and different members. The process of establishing a new committee could take many months and the committee is not likely to be up and running before mid-September at the earliest. The election means that any current inquiries not completed, like this one, have been paused. It will be up to the members of the new Transport Select Committee if they wish to pick up this inquiry and continue with it. Whether this would cause a delay to the timetable for the government getting its NPS voted for in Parliament is uncertain. The vote is not now likely before spring 2018 rather than by November or December 2017, as originally intended.
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The UK Government is under increasing pressure to clarify how a 3rd Heathrow runway could be delivered without breaching air quality and CO2 dioxide emissions targets. In February the parliamentary EAC issued a report that called on the Government to produce a new air quality strategy “to determine whether Heathrow Airport expansion can be delivered within legal air quality limits”. It also said the Government “must not allow our air quality standards to be watered down as a result of leaving the EU”, and urged clarification on what a post-Brexit air quality national plan would look like. The UK needs to ensure EU air quality targets won’t be quietly dropped. The government’s draft NPS has made vague assurances that “final development consent [for a third Heathrow runway] will only be granted if the Secretary of State [for Transport] is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements”. However, there is no clarity on what that means. They surely would not prevent Heathrow using its runway, after spending so much money building it. Heathrow just says “Although we don’t have all these solutions yet we have a strong history of innovation and we’re confident that the next 10 years will hold even more exciting breakthroughs than the last.” ie. fingers crossed it all just – possibly – might be OK ….
Govt under pressure to prove LHR expansion will meet air quality targets
By Kerry Reals (Runway Girl Network)
The UK Government is under increasing pressure to clarify how the addition of a third runway at London Heathrow could be delivered without breaching air quality and carbon dioxide emissions targets.
After calling a snap general election for 8 June, the Conservative Government last month sought to postpone the publication of its plans for tackling air pollution until after the poll. However, in a victory for environmentalists the UK High Court ruled a week ago that the draft plan must be published on 9 May.
The parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) issued a report in February, in which it called on the Government to produce a new air quality strategy “to determine whether Heathrow Airport expansion can be delivered within legal air quality limits”. Link to EAC report
……. and it continues
Full Runway Girl article at
About Kerry Reals
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Passengers on the Piccadilly line suffered 47,800 hours of delays during the last 10 months, official statistics reveal. Problems with the 40 year old trains accounted for a third of all rush hour delays while 7% were because of faulty signals on the ageing line. The line, fourth busiest on the network and used by more than 70,000 passengers a day, has been beset with problems. Lost passenger hours are calculated by measuring the delay caused to each train and then multiplying by the number of people affected. The information was obtained by a FoI request to TfL. The figures highlight the need for urgent upgrade work on the line. The director of the Piccadilly line said this was caused by “a large number of damaged train wheels during November and December last year” (due to rain, apparently – rain happens every year?). In autumn 2016 leaves-on-the line resulted in half the Piccadilly line fleet being taken out of service for repairs. This is the main tube line to Heathrow, and Heathrow pledges (if anyone could believe them …) that 55% of its passengers will use public transport by 2031 – up from about 42% now. That is a massively higher number of people, expected to use a line that already struggles. The 3rd runway can only make this worse, and Heathrow refuses to pay for transport infrastructure improvement.
Staggering 47,000 hours of delays on Piccadilly line in the last 10 months
By DICK MURRAY
Passengers on the Piccadilly line suffered a staggering 47,800 hours of delays during the last 10 months, official statistics reveal today.
Problems with the 40 year old trains accounted for a third of all rush hour delays while seven per cent were because of faulty signals on the ageing line.
The line, fourth busiest on the network and used by more than 70,000 passengers a day, has been beset with problems.
Lost passenger hours are calculated by measuring the delay caused to each train and then multiplying by the number of people affected.
London Assembly Tory transport spokesman Keith Prince, who obtained the statistics through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to Transport for London (TfL,) said the figures highlighted the need for urgent upgrade work on the line.
He blamed the Mayor’s fares freeze which he said is costing TfL more than £640 million “stretching the thin budget and putting important investment under threat.”
Brian Woodhead, operations director for the Piccadilly line, said: “The main reason was a large number of damaged train wheels during November and December last year and we are very sorry for the disruption this caused to our customers.
“We worked around the clock to restore normal service and are conducting a detailed, independent review to prevent this from happening again.
”We have one of the biggest investment programmes in the world to provide more capacity and reliability for a growing city.”
Last Autumn leaves-on-the line resulted in half the Piccadilly line fleet being taken out of service for repairs.
Leaf mulch causes wheels to slide on the track creating a flat spot rendering them unusable.
In November the RMT said the situation was so bad that “serious consideration” should be given to closing the line while problems with flatted wheels and other mechanical issues were sorted out. TfL robustly rejected the call.
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