Another of Simon’s brilliantly written pieces. Just a few extracts: the runway decision is “…a result of that blight on modern government, lobbying. If anyone complains about public cynicism towards politics, just say Heathrow.” …”We should remember that 10 years ago Heathrow’s owners planned to shift their future expansion to Stansted because they expected no government would allow anything as polluting as more Heathrow.” … “Heathrow may be full. So are Paddington and Victoria stations, so are the M25 and M40, so are Barts and Guy’s hospitals. Supply does not have to answer demand. Price can take the pressure. We no longer “predict and provide” the supply of roads or houses or even hospitals.” …”London now faces two decades of controversial mega-project disruptions, for Heathrow, HS2 and Crossrail 2.” … “Suppose the proposed “year of consultation” yields an overwhelmingly hostile response, leading to furious public inquiries, Supreme Court hearings, civil rights claims and global warming protests? The smart money already is on this being, in reality, a do-nothing decision.” … “The one overwhelming case against it is that in the 21st century it should be inconceivable to send vast, noisy jets screaming over the heads of millions of people”. … “For passengers it is mostly a luxury service. Barely 20% of London air travel is for “business”, the rest being tourism and leisure, overwhelmingly for Britons going abroad. That does nothing for exports.”
Simon Jenkins: Expanding Heathrow will be a monumental blight on west London
The Prime Minister has done a U-turn on expansion that will result in more noise and pollution around the airport
What happens to an airport runway if a prime minister is against it? It goes ahead. What happens if the previous prime minister is also against it, “no ifs, no buts”? It goes ahead. What if the Chancellor of the Exchequer is against it, as well as the Transport Secretary, the Education Secretary, the Mayor of London and the previous mayor? It goes ahead.
Today’s decision, albeit provisional for a year, to expand Heathrow is a display of raw power as deployed by corporate Britain. It is a result of that blight on modern government, lobbying. If anyone complains about public cynicism towards politics, just say Heathrow.
The third runway at Heathrow — after successive governments pledged not to build it — is not about reason or planning or the environment. We should remember that 10 years ago Heathrow’s owners planned to shift their future expansion to Stansted because they expected no government would allow anything as polluting as more Heathrow.
Gordon Brown stopped them, saying this would be too much market share for one company. He gave Stansted to the owners of Manchester Airport instead. Today, 40 per cent of Stansted’s capacity lies unused. London’s one-time “third airport” languishes unloved. Its much needed high-speed rail link to central London was supplanted by one for the Olympics.
Meanwhile a furious Heathrow plc amassed an army of lobbyists to take on Gatwick, Stansted, west London, sensible planning and the entire environment movement. It confronted prime ministers, civil servants, residents of west London, pollution targets and congestion fears. It even took on its “buddy” airline, BA, which opposes the new Heathrow runway as too expensive. It beat them all.
Heathrow is not a government agency or a planning authority. it is a subsidiary of a Spanish company, Ferrovial. It argued that Heathrow was the biggest British airport and big was beautiful. It therefore held the key to “UK plc”. It would mean jobs and growth.
Of course, a runway anywhere means jobs and growth, but overheated west London needs them least. Locating an airport, for freight and passengers alike, is a planning decision. For passengers it is mostly a luxury service. Barely 20 per cent of London air travel is for “business”, the rest being tourism and leisure, overwhelmingly for Britons going abroad. That does nothing for exports.
Heathrow may be full. So are Paddington and Victoria stations, so are the M25 and M40, so are Barts and Guy’s hospitals. Supply does not have to answer demand. Price can take the pressure. We no longer “predict and provide” the supply of roads or houses or even hospitals. We ration by price and congestion. As for infrastructure — the spending craze of the moment — it is better roads that British business desperately needs, not more planes at Heathrow.
The Heathrow decision is bizarre in every way. May has apparently granted her colleagues, including ministers, freedom to oppose it for the next year. Will she and the Chancellor, Philip Hammond do so, having in the past opposed the runway? Will they vote against what they once thought a dumb decision in Parliament? Or is May seeking to avert the catastrophe of her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, honouring his “pledge” to hurl himself under the first Heathrow bulldozer?
London now faces two decades of controversial mega-project disruptions
London now faces two decades of controversial mega-project disruptions, for Heathrow, HS2 and Crossrail 2. Heathrow means a predicted decade of legal and planning argument before a single bulldozer gets the chance to bury Johnson in mud, then a further decade of chaos. That will be 20 years of no investment in London airport capacity, including a pandemonium of closures of the M4 and M25. It also means an estimated £18 billion of associated infrastructure, money that will not be available for other, far needier, parts of London’s transport network.
What if, during these two decades, airport demand shifts towards smaller provincial airports? Suppose the double-length runway at Heathrow emerges as cheaper and quicker than the monster third runway? Suppose we find new ways of costing congestion, disruption and pollution, rendering a new Heathrow unthinkably expensive? Suppose the proposed “year of consultation” yields an overwhelmingly hostile response, leading to furious public inquiries, Supreme Court hearings, civil rights claims and global warming protests? The smart money already is on this being, in reality, a do-nothing decision.
The one overwhelming case against it is that in the 21st century it should be inconceivable to send vast, noisy jets screaming over the heads of millions of people
I am not against Heathrow as such. It is a compact, comfortable and, for me, convenient airport. The one overwhelming case against it is that in the 21st century it should be inconceivable to send vast, noisy jets screaming over the heads of millions of people. All world cities nowadays position their new airports well away from harm and hearing. London is entering the dark ages.
Expecting millions of leisure fliers each year — I repeat this is about tourism — to go to Gatwick and Stansted might seem harsh.
But we don’t allow heliports in Hyde Park for the benefit of “UK plc”. We don’t put wind turbines on the Embankment or fracking sites on Hampstead Heath. Other considerations sometimes apply. It would hardly be the end of the world for business routes to be concentrated at Heathrow and predominantly leisure flights to go elsewhere.
The trouble with Heathrow is noise and pollution. Perhaps one day there will be quiet jets that create no smog. Airlines keep promising this, but never deliver. As with Hinkley Point and HS2, Theresa May has shown herself a patsy to big-time lobbying.
London must now wait two decades for a new runway. When it arrives, it will be in the wrong place, more polluting and more congesting. And Stansted remains half empty, just because it belongs to Manchester.
The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) is the main group in the UK assessing UK aviation policy for its environment impacts, with several decades of expertise. They have had a first look at the government’s Heathrow decision, and are underwhelmed. Some of their comments: On CO2 the DfT says that keeping UK carbon emissions to within the 37.5 MtCO2 cap while adding a Heathrow runway effectively cannot be done. AEF says the DfT now has no commitment to the 37.5 MtCO2 cap, and just includes vague references to the ICAO global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management -though both measures are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling. On air pollution, the DfT says “a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” But AEF says Government appears to have little idea what those mitigation measures will be, and the deliverability of the plan has already, therefore, been questioned through the courts. And on noise AEF says the noise impact will depend heavily on the precise location of flight paths, which are unknown.
What answers has the Government found to the environmental hurdles facing a third runway?
October 25th 2016
Aviation Environment Federation press release
With the Government now having officially announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow, despite having slashed the Airports Commission’s claim of a £147 billion benefit to the UK by almost 60% (referring instead to a benefit over sixty years of ‘up to £61 billion’), we take a first look at what they have to offer in terms of answers to some key environmental challenges.
As AEF has consistently pointed out, and as the Committee on Climate Change reminded Government today, there is no plan for delivering the aviation emissions limit required to deliver the Climate Change Act either with or without a new runway.
The last time we had a government supporting runway expansion, it specified that this would be conditional on the sector’s CO2 emissions being on course not to exceed 37.5 Mt by 2050, in line with the CCC’s advice. Today’s announcement included no such commitment, instead making vague references to the global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management – both measures that are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling, and that won’t bring us anywhere nearto achieving the minimum level of ambition required under UK law.
So what does the Government have to say about how the CCC’s recommendation will be met? The answer is deeply buried in a technical paperreleased alongside the announcement which states that the Airports Commission’s carbon-capped scenario “is helpful for understanding the varying effects of constraining aviation CO2 emissions on aviation demand and the impact on the case for airport expansion but was described by the AC as ‘unrealistic in future policy terms’”. In other words it can’t be done.
With the Heathrow area consistently breaching legal limits for nitrogen dioxide and the Airports Commission anticipating that expansion at the airport would have an adverse or significantly adverse impact on air quality, this represents a clear legal obstacle that the Government must be ready to take on. Today’s announcement indicates that a ‘re-analysis’ by Government of air pollution levels subsequent to the Airports Commission’s report has shown that “a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.”
The problem is that Government appears to have little idea what those mitigation measures will be, and the deliverability of the plan has already, therefore, been questioned through the courts. ClientEarth, which brought the action, said todayin a statement “Those plans were so poor that last week we took them [the Government] back to the High Court to force action on air pollution. The government needs to produce an in-depth and credible plan to drastically cut air pollution to meet its legal obligations rather than digging an even deeper hole for itself.”
With Heathrow’s noise already affecting more people than its five main European rivals combined, the likely noise impact of expansion has always been at the heart of much of the political opposition to a new runway. Today’s announcement includes the statement that “The government will propose that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced” but gives no indication of preference for whether this will run from 11:30pm to 6:00am as recommended by the Airports Commission or from 11:00pm to 5:30am as proposed by the airport, with numerous flights potentially scheduled from 5:30 in the morning. Meanwhile the noise impact, including for the hundreds of thousands predicted to be newly affected, will depend heavily on the precise location of flight paths – an issue potentially as contentious as the expansion itself.
The Conservatives’ mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has already announced his decision to resign in response to the Government announcement, and the Government is now relying on the support of both Parliament and the Lords to get approval for an Airports National Policy Statement supporting expansion (not to be published for consultation until next year). This is – of course – not the end of the debate but in many ways just the beginning.
Dark day for communities and for the UK’s chance of tackling climate change, as Heathrow announcement shows reckless disregard for environmental targets
Oct 25 2016
PRESS RELEASE by AEF
The environmental NGO, Aviation Environment Federation , which represents communities around the UK’s airports, has strongly criticised the Government’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow.
Cait Hewitt, AEF Deputy Director, said:
This is a dark day for local communities, and suggests a reckless disregard for the climate change damage that a new runway will bring.
Within weeks of the Paris Agreement on climate change becoming binding, the UK appears to be turning its back on earlier promises to play our part in ensuring a safe and stable climate. Heathrow is already the UK’s biggest single source of emissions , and is responsible for more CO2 from international flights than any other airport in the world . As the Government has no meaningful plans for tackling CO2 from aviation despite UK and international climate change commitments, a new runway will see aviation emissions soar.
The decision is also a betrayal of local people who are already exposed to dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution, and to noise at levels known to harm health. Even if the airport introduces a partial night flight ban that may provide some respite for existing communities, hundreds of thousands of people will be overflown for the first time as a result of expansion, at an airport that already impacts more people than its five major European rivals combined.
Today’s decision is not final. This is not the first time that a UK government has announced its support for a new South East runway. On each occasion in the past that that the government has supported expansion, it has not proceeded once the full economic and environmental costs have become clear.
Parliament will now have its say on the Government’s decision. It is vital that MPs look beyond the headline figures from the Airports Commission’s final report, since many of the costs of expansion were hidden in appendices. Factoring in these costs shows that the environmental damage created by a new runway will result in a relatively small economic benefit and could even be negative. Over the summer we sent politicians from all major parties 50 reasons to oppose a new runway. MPs must now see if the Government has answers to these challenges.”
 The Aviation Environment Federation is the only national NGO campaigning exclusively on environmental impacts of aviation including noise, air pollution and climate change. We represent community groups around many of the UK airports in our work to secure effective regulation of the aviation industry at national and international levels. www.aef.org.uk
 Drax emissions from UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (verified emissions accounting for biomass); Heathrow emissions projections from Jacobs, Carbon Assessment, November 2014, prepared for the Airports Commission
 The UN reached agreement earlier this month on a global aviation emissions offsetting scheme, a welcome indication that all countries recognise the challenge of aviation emissions. While the agreement represents a first step towards bringing the sector into line with climate ambition, however, it will be unable to deliver the emissions reductions required by either UK climate legislation or the Paris Agreement.
The Environment Audit Committee has announced (already) that, after the government’s announcement that it backs a Heathrow runway, it will be calling Ministers to scrutinise how environmental concerns are being mitigated. The EAC has scrutinised the Airports Commission in the past, on environmental problems of a Heathrow runway. The EAC wants assurances from the Government that a new runway will comply with key environmental conditions. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said it would be necessary to look at what the runway means for local residents, on air quality and noise standards and also on carbon emissions. She said: …”we need a clear plan to reduce emissions from aviation to meet our climate change targets. … The Government must ensure that current legal EU air pollution limits are retained after we leave, to protect the health and wellbeing of local people. We wait to hear what the airport’s plans are for covering the costs of local transport. … On noise we welcome Heathrow’s announcement that it will accept a ban on night flights. Ministers must ensure that local communities receive predictable respite from planes flying over their homes.” The EAC report, published in November 2015, called upon the Government and Heathrow to demonstrate how issues were to be dealt with. They are not persuaded by the replies.
EAC seeks Government assurances on Heathrow expansion
25 October 2016
From the Environment Audit Committee website
Committee announces it will be calling Ministers to scrutinise how environmental concerns are being mitigated
Reacting to the Government’s announcement of its approval for Heathrow expansion, the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Mary Creagh MP is seeking assurances from the Government that any new airport capacity will comply with key environmental conditions.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“My committee recently looked at what a third runway at Heathrow would mean for local residents and we will be seeking assurances from the Government that the airport’s proposals meet strict carbon emissions, air quality and noise standards.”
“We have seen some international progress on tackling carbon emissions from aviation recently, but we need a clear plan to reduce emissions from aviation to meet our climate change targets.”
“The Government must ensure that current legal EU air pollution limits are retained after we leave, to protect the health and wellbeing of local people. We wait to hear what the airport’s plans are for covering the costs of local transport.”
“On noise we welcome Heathrow’s announcement that it will accept a ban on night flights. Ministers must ensure that local communities receive predictable respite from planes flying over their homes.”
The EAC report, published in November 2015, called upon the Government and Heathrow to demonstrate that Heathrow expansion can be reconciled with our climate change commitments and legal air pollution limits. It called for an improvement in surface transport and a ban on night flight.
The Climate Change Act 2008 requires the Government to set a series of 5 year carbon budgets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. The statutory Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government on meeting these budgets, says its ‘planning assumption’ is that 2050 aviation emissions should to be around 2005 levels (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2).
The UK’s legal air pollution limits are set out in EU Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality, which was transcribed into UK law. The Directive limits values in respect of certain key pollutants – including an annual mean limit value of 40 μg/m3 NO2. Compliance is assessed through measurements carried out by “receptors” next to roads. The deadline for compliance was 2010 but 38 out of 43 areas remain above the limit values, including Greater London.
The government has made its announcement that it backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow, using the north west option (not the extended northern runway). It has decided to entirely follow the recommendation of the Airports Commission, by backing one runway only. The statement from Chris Grayling is on the DfT website, with a list of supporting documents. The government glosses over details of how it could ensure the runway did not cause worse air pollution, or worse noise, or higher CO2 emissions. Neither the DfT statement, nor Chris Grayling’s contributions in the House, give any clarity or reassurances on most of the problems that a 3rd runway will create. There will be a consultation, starting in early 2017, on the National Policy Statement, which has to be agreed by both House of Parliament before Heathrow could go ahead with the planning stages for its runway. The government’s statements say things like: “Despite the increase in flights Heathrow Airport Ltd has made firm commitments to noise reduction. The government will propose that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights …” And “the government proposes new legally binding noise targets, encouraging the use of quieter planes, and a more reliable and predictable timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path.” And new work “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place”….. ie. vague waffly aspirations, with zero practical details.
There were many excellent comments by a number of MPs. Chris Grayling could not give convincing responses to any of the criticisms or the fears of MPs opposed to the plan.
Government decides on new runway at Heathrow
From: Department for Transport and The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP – DfT press release
Tuesday 25 October 2016
Government Heathrow Airport announcement.
– expanding Heathrow will better connect the UK to long haul destinations in growing world markets, boosting trade and creating jobs – passengers will benefit from more choice of airlines, destinations and flights – expansion at Heathrow will be subject to a world class package of compensation and mitigation measures for local communities
In a major boost for the UK economy the government today (25 October 2016) announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow – the first full length runway in the south-east since the second world war. The scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft ‘National policy statement’ (NPS) for consultation.
The government’s decision on its preferred location, which will be consulted on in the new year, underlines its commitment to keeping the UK open for business now and in the future and as a hub for tourism and trade. Today’s decision is a central part of the government’s plan to build a global Britain and an economy that works for everyone. This is just one of a series of major infrastructure investments that will create jobs and opportunities for every part of the UK.
A new runway at Heathrow will bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion. Up to 77,000 additional local jobs are expected to be created over the next 14 years and the airport has committed to create 5,000 new apprenticeships over the same period.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.
A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities. This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights.
This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation. Of course it is also hugely important for those living near the airport. That is why we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.
Expansion at the airport will better connect the UK to long haul destinations across the globe and to growing world markets including in Asia and South America, bringing a significant boost to trade.
Heathrow already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31% of the UK’s non-EU trade, and its expansion will create even more opportunities for UK business to get their goods to new markets.
While there are clear gains for business, passengers will also benefit from a greater choice of airlines, destinations and flight times. The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, anticipated that a new runway would bring in new capacity to meet demand and allow greater levels of competition, lowering fares even after taking into account the costs of construction.
Expansion costs will be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer. It will be for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as the independent industry regulator, to work with Heathrow Airport Ltd and airlines operating at the airport, on the detailed design and costs to ensure the scheme remains affordable. The government expects the industry to work together to drive down costs to benefit passengers. The aim should be to deliver a plan for expansion that keeps landing charges close to current levels.
This new runway will deliver major economic and strategic benefits to the UK, but it must be delivered without hitting passengers in the pocket. The Airports Commission was clear that this is achievable as is the CAA.
A third runway will also support new connections to the UK’s regions as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes. Heathrow has proposed a further 6 new routes to Belfast International, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added after expansion. The 8 existing routes offered today are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. This would provide 14 domestic routes in total, and spread benefits right across the country.
Government will also take all necessary steps including, where appropriate, ring-fencing a suitable proportion of new slots for domestic routes, to ensure enhanced connectivity within the UK.
Despite the increase in flights Heathrow Airport Ltd has made firm commitments to noise reduction. The government will propose that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced for the first time at Heathrow and will make more stringent night noise restrictions a requirement of expansion. The timing of this ban will be determined through consultation.
Furthermore, the government proposes new legally binding noise targets, encouraging the use of quieter planes, and a more reliable and predictable timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path. The airport has also pledged to provide over £700 million for noise insulation for residential properties.
In addition, modernising use of our air space will boost the sector and will help to further reduce noise and carbon emissions. Proposals will be brought forward to support improvements to airspace and how to manage noise, including the way in which affected communities can best be engaged and whether there is a role for a new independent aviation noise body as the Airports Commission recommended.
The Airports Commission concluded that even with the extra flights added by the airport’s expansion fewer people would be affected by noise from Heathrow by 2030 than are today.
Following the clear recommendation of the Airports Commission the government conducted more work on the environmental impact. That work is now complete and confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.
The UK has already achieved significant improvements in air quality across a range of pollutants. Emissions of nitrogen oxides in the UK fell by 41% between 2005 and 2014. Heathrow’s scheme includes plans for improved public transport links and for an ultra-low emissions zone for all airport vehicles by 2025. The government will make meeting air quality legal requirements a condition of planning approval.
A draft NPS setting out why the government believes this scheme is the right one for the UK will be published in the new year when the public will be consulted on the proposals.
An extra runway at Heathrow will deliver:
economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion over 60 years
lower fares relative to no expansion, fewer delays, better connections to destinations including to Asia and South America
up to 77,000 additional local jobs created by 2030
Heathrow have committed to 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2030
an extra 16 million long haul passenger seats in 2040
6 new regional routes proposed by Heathrow – giving 14 in total
following consultation a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced for the first time at Heathrow
a mitigation package for the local community most affected by expansion worth up to £2.6 billion
This [£2.6 billion] includes:
people with homes subject to compulsory purchase receiving 125% of full market value for their homes, plus stamp duty, legal fees and moving costs
a package of over £700 million of noise insulation for homes
£40 million to insulate and ventilate schools and other community buildings
In addition, up to £450 million could be available to local authorities through business rate retention. A Community Compensation Fund could make a further £750 million available to local communities. This will be determined through the planning process.
[Law firm Bircham Dyson Bell say the paragraph by the DfT contained inaccuracies. Below is the DfT paragraph, with the sections that are incorrect shown in light orange, and the corrections from BDB shown in red italics.]
Airport expansion will be delivered through a thorough, faster planning process, under the 2008 Planning Act and 2011 Localism Act. The government will set out the need for the airport scheme it wants, along with supporting evidence, in its National Policy Statement. The public and Members of Parliament will be consulted and there will be a vote in the House of Commons on the final draft of the NPS. This will be followed by a planning applicationdevelopment consent order by the airport to the Planning Inspectorate who will examine the applicationtake a view and advise government of his decision its recommendation. Final sign off will be by the Secretary of State for Transport and then construction will start once any pre-commencement requirements have been discharged.
In time a new runway will also require the redesign of the airport’s flightpaths. This will form part of a wider programme of airspace modernisation which is already needed across the country in the coming years. The government expects to consult in the new year on a range of national proposals covering noise and airspace.
Expansion at Heathrow Airport Ltd will be accompanied by a comprehensive package of mitigation measures which will be subject to consultation with the public as part of the draft NPS consultation process. The measures will also be subject to regulatory approval by the CAA.
The Department for Transport has also set up a working group with Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs on air quality. This is part of a 10 year project to accelerate improvements in air quality.
Today’s announcement follows an unprecedented UN global agreement achieved earlier this month to combat aviation emissions. Under the deal, airlines will offset their emissions with reductions from other sectors to deliver carbon neutral growth for the aviation sector from 2020. The government believes that a new runway at Heathrow can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations.
Meanwhile, the government wants to see the continued prosperity of the UK’s second busiest airport, and the world’s busiest single runway airport, Gatwick. Its continued success will drive competition in the sector, which is good for passengers and the prosperity of the nation, drawing inward investment, trade and growth.
The Airports Commission lead by Sir Howard Davies, was set up in September 2012. It published its final report in July 2015. In December 2015 the then Secretary of State for Transport Sir Patrick McLoughlin announced that government accepted the case for airport expansion in the case for airport expansion in the south-east and the Airports Commission’s shortlist of options for expansion.
The government’s new Air quality plan was published after the Airports Commission’s work was concluded. This study assesses the implications of the new plan and pollution climate mapping modelling on the conclusions of theAirports Commission’s air quality analysis. The study also includes a foreword which provides an initial qualitative review of the potential implications of more recent data on the conclusions of the re-analysis.
The policy ‘briefing note’ adds further detail on how airport expansion could be compatible with the government’s air quality obligations.
The department’s review of the Airports Commission’s final report found that it is a sound and robust piece of evidence.The review also identified areas where further work could be helpful. The further analysis supports the Airports Commission’s analytical approach and helps to give greater assurance to the areas raised for further consideration in the department’s review.
The Airport’s Commission final report recommended that the compensation and mitigation package to be provided as part of expanding airport capacity at Heathrow airport should be ‘world class’. The government wanted to understand what a ‘world class’ compensation package was and whether the packages on offer by Heathrow Airport Limited and Gatwick Airport Limited could be considered as such. The Department for Transport engaged Ernst & Young to prepare a report on the approaches taken by other international airports in addressing the local impacts of the airport.
This report by Highways England provides an assessment of the estimated costs and delivery assumptions developed and published by the Airports Commission.It focuses on the cost and deliverability aspects of the specific strategic roadsurface access proposals developed by the Airports Commission to support each of its short-listed options for airport expansion.It also considers issues such as the management of construction impacts on the road network in delivering the proposals and the supply chain industry’s capability and capacity.
Following the publication of the Airports Commission’s report the government engaged with the promoters of all 3 shortlisted options. The statement of principles records the outcomes of engagement between government and Heathrow Airport Limited in July 2015.It sets out the scheme promoter’s expectations and commitments in principle as to how its scheme would be taken forward if preferred by government as the best way to meet the need for more runway capacity in London and the south-east.
Heathrow is keen on emphasising the importance of routes to countries like China, or the emerging markets. It likes to give the impression that there is huge pent up demand for these services, and if only Heathrow could be much bigger, there would be numerous flights to all these places. It is just the absence of a 3rd runway holding them back ….. But now the service by BA to Chengdu, about which Heathrow was very proud, is to be cut after just over three years, in January. There is just not enough demand to make it pay. It is not commercially viable, even with smaller planes. So nothing to do with a runway then. Chengdu was where British business would fly to and build trade links if only Heathrow was big enough, according to prominent backers of airport expansion. From September 2013 there were 5 return flights per week, but that was later trimmed down to fewer. BA’s 787 plane and Heathrow slot will be used to fly to New Orleans instead – spare slots are always used for the more lucrative leisure market destinations. The links to China were a key part of Heathrow’s submission to the Airports commission in November 2012. Heathrow led the Commission to believe in the need for such links. Time after time, when slots become available at Heathrow, they are used to add capacity on profitable North American or European routes.
BA scraps service to Chinese city cited by airport expansionists
Heathrow service to megacity Chengdu is not commercially viable, says airline on eve of decision about new runway
Chengdu was where British business would fly to and build trade links if only Heathrow was big enough, according to prominent backers of airport expansion.
But less than three years after British Airways found a Heathrow slot to fly to the Chinese megacity, and on the eve of a decision to build a new runway, the airline has dropped the route because it is not commercially viable.
BA launched direct flights to Chengdu, its fourth Chinese destination, in late 2013, and ran return flights five times a week. Even after having trimmed down the frequency and switched to a smaller, Boeing 787 plane, BA has confirmed that the service will end this January.
Launching Heathrow’s first submission to the Airports Commission in November 2012, the airport’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said a lack of capacity was limiting Britain’s ability to connect to growing cities in emerging markets, such as Chengdu in China.
Two months earlier, the lack of direct flights to Chengdu was highlighted in an intervention from senior Conservatives that prompted the then prime minister, David Cameron, to set up Sir Howard Davies’s commission and pave the way for expansion.
In the opening line of an article demanding whether Cameron was “man or mouse”, MP Tim Yeo wrote: “What better way to kickstart Britain’s sluggish economy than by boosting trade with China? Perhaps with Chongqing, with 28 million consumers, many enjoying rising incomes. Or Chengdu, with 14 million.”
A year before that, the then mayor of London, Boris Johnson, lamented the Chengdu-goer’s plight as he again argued for more runway capacity. “We are making it harder for British business people to get to the future megacities from London than from our competitor airports. If you want to fly to Chengdu … you can get there direct from one of London’s Continental rivals – but you can’t get there from Heathrow,” he said in a comment piece.
In a statement, BA said on Monday: “We regret that we have decided to suspend the Heathrow to Chengdu route. We have a proud tradition of flying to China but despite operating this route for three years it is not commercially viable.”
Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, has previously blamed the British visa regime for the disappointing traffic on the route.
A spokeswoman for the airport said a “degree of ebb and flow on demand on specific routes” was normal, adding: “The record shows Heathrow overall has gained and maintained new long-haul routes that are so critical for the British economy.” Destinations in emerging markets such as Vietnam and Indonesia were among the six long-haul routes added since 2010, she said.
A spokesperson for Gatwick, which still hopes to beat Heathrow in building London’s next runway, said: “Lack of current connectivity to some markets – in China for instance – is less to do with capacity and more to do with lack of demand. When slots have become available, airlines at Heathrow have been consistently adding capacity on these profitable routes – such as North America and Europe – rather than use them for emerging markets.”
BA’s 787 plane and Heathrow slot will be used to fly to New Orleans instead.
The UK and China recently raised the number of flights allowed between the two countries to 40 returns each per week. But the UK only uses 29 of them (even fewer without Chengdu).
UK and China renew bilateral deal so each could have 100 return flights (up from 40) per week
October 12, 2016
The DfT has renewed the bilateral aviation agreement with China, to allow more weekly flights between the two countries. Until now, the limit had been 40 flights by UK airlines to China per week, and 40 flights by Chinese airlines to the UK. This has been raised to 100 flights each. There will be no limit on the number of all-cargo services (but most Heathrow freight goes as belly hold, not separate freighter). Currently Chinese airlines operate 38 flights a week between the two countries, and UK airlines operate 29. The only UK airports that have flights to China are Heathrow and Manchester. The earlier deal was that any UK airline could serve a maximum of 6 separate airports in China. Now UK airlines can operate to anywhere in mainland China. Laying on the hype, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said the deal was a “big moment for the UK”. However, airlines will have to decide whether it makes sense to use the extra capacity to offer new Chinese flights to and from China, with doubtful demand, when transatlantic routes are more profitable. The hope is probably for more UK business and UK exports. The DfT ignores the problem that the UK imports from China more than twice as much as it exports to China. More flights may exacerbate that. House of Commons Library data says that: “In 2014, UK exports to China were worth £18.7 billion. Imports from China were £38.3 billion. The UK had a trade deficit of £19.6 billion with China.” Flights to and from Hong Kong are in a separate bilateral deal.
More BA routes from Heathrow …. to key business destinations …. Palma and Ibiza
January 17, 2013
Anyone reading the statements from Heathrow about the capacity crisis and how there is a need for more flights to the emerging markets might be puzzled by recent news from British Airways. Back in February 2012 Willie Walsh said he planned to expand IAG into lucrative emerging markets, such as Latin America and he hoped to use the extra Heathrow take-off and landing-slots from BMI to accelerate growth into emerging markets. But BA has now announced that it is putting on new flights from Heathrow to Palma (Majorca) from March, and to Ibiza. These are in addition to Mexico and Alicante, as well as Bologna and Marseilles announced earlier. There are also new flights to Leeds Bradford (and a mention of links for business connnections) and a new flight to Chengdu in China, announced earlier, as well as Almaty (Kazakhstan), Dublin, and Seoul among others, where there is likely to be a business component. It is hard to believe there is much business benefit from weekend flights to Alicante or Palma or Ibiza.
Heathrow finds space for new flights to Mexico – and Alicante
October 19, 2012
The Telegraph writes that it has taken Aeromexico four years to get some slots at Heathrow, and makes out that this is because Heathrow is full etc etc. There are already 4 flights per week to Mexico, and these new flights will bring the total number to 7 per week. The Telegraph compares this to Paris with 14 and Madrid with 19. In reality, due to the BA link with Iberia, there are relatively few flights from Heathrow to south America, as they go via Madrid. Looking at Heathrow’s website, and its new destinations, one could be forgiven for thinking the airport is only looking to attract tourists, as all its publicity about new destinations is about their tourism potential, and delightful things to go and see and experience. Not one word about their business potential, or the chances for business to drive UK exports. And Heathrow has found room for as many new flights per week to Alicante as there will be to Mexico. Driving UK exports via Alicante ? Really?
It is not that airlines cannot get slots at Heathrow. It may be the case that they cannot get slots at the time they want, but they could have other slots, when the airport is less busy. This is, however, not the way this issue is either described by the industry, or reported in the media. The journalists probably don’t know the details.
BA uses its new BMI slots at Heathrow, not for emerging economies, but largely leisure destinations. As usual.
June 27, 2012
BA got 42 daily Heathrow slots from taking over BMI. And it said very publicly, in March, that it would be using these to fly to the emerging economies – Asia, Africa and Latin America – which is part of the myth that the aviation industry is peddling at present. So what are the slots actually being used for? One flight per day to Seoul. The rest are domestic UK (Aberdeen Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester), or Zagreb, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Bologna, Marseilles, Phoenix, Zurich and Bologna. So that is where the money is. So much for the desperate need for slots to fly to second tier Chinese cities. This really proves what a lot of misleading PR is being put out by BAA and the airlines at Heathrow.
In an open letter, a large number of environmental and climate-aware organisations have written about the disastrous impacts of allowing the expansion of the UK aviation sector by building a new runway. The letter says: “With the scrapping of vital decarbonisation policies and funding, the UK is already way off-track to meet our climate change commitments. The impacts of any new runway will be devastating to people’s lives and to the planet. … the biggest tragedy of the government’s failure is a global one. … The push for more runway space is not about demand from business – that has been dropping for over a decade. Nor is it about people taking one or two annual holidays. Growth is being driven by the frequent leisure flyers taking weekend breaks and shopping trips by plane. Half of the UK population don’t fly in any given year, yet all of us subsidise the holidays of the rich. The UK must not abandon our commitments under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act for the convenience of binge flyers. We will not allow our government to ignore the promises they have made to us and to the world.” There are also statements by Professor Kevin Anderson and Professor Alice Larkin, on how building a new runway is entirely incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate. Kevin described adding a runway as demonstrating “a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement.”
Airport expansion’s disastrous effects, near and far
With the scrapping of vital decarbonisation policies and funding, the UK is already way off-track to meet our climate change commitments. The impacts of any new runway will be devastating to people’s lives and to the planet.
Locally it will see the demolition of hundreds of homes, result in increased noise pollution, and illegal levels of air pollution – already responsible for almost 10,000 premature deaths in London every year.
But the biggest tragedy of the government’s failure is a global one. Only around 5% of the world’s population flies at all, yet the impacts of climate change – droughts, floods and heatwaves – are already hitting poorer communities in the global south, who are the least likely to ever set foot on a plane.
The UK must not abandon our commitments under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act for the convenience of binge flyers. We will not allow our government to ignore the promises they have made to us and to the world.
Craig Bennett CEO, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland,
Nicky Bull Chair, Operation Noah,
Amy Cameron, Director, 10:10,
Sarah Clayton. Coordinator, AirportWatch,
Peter Deane, Biofuelwatch,
Bill Hemmings, Director, aviation and shipping, European Federation for Transport and Environment,
Claire James, Campaigns coordinator, Campaign Against Climate Change
“The highly constrained carbon budget that is consistent with the Paris Agreement requires all fossil fuel consuming sectors to urgently accelerate towards full decarbonisation – and while some sectors will achieve this sooner than others, no sector can be excluded. Technical and even operational options for decarbonising the aviation sector within a timeframe consistent with the Paris goals are few and far between. As such, demand-side measures that constrain further growth, must receive much greater attention. Equally, policy measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel such as new runways, particularly within richer nations, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and should be avoided .”
Professor Alice Larkin:
Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy, University of Manchester
Statement by Professor Kevin Anderson
“The UK Government’s enthusiasm for more airport capacity alongside its clamour for high-carbon shale gas demonstrates a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement. Both of these decisions will lock the UK into ongoing emissions of carbon dioxide for decades to come, putting short-term convenience and financial gain ahead of long-term and genuinely low-carbon prosperity. Such reckless disregard for the prospects of our own children and the well being of poor and climatically vulnerable communities arises from either a scientifically illiterate Government or one that cares nothing for its legacy. Whichever it may be, these are undesirable characteristics of a government facing the climate change and other strategic challenges of the twenty-first century.”
Professor Kevin Anderson: University of Manchester and Uppsala
Leo Murray, who was one of the founders of the activist group, Plane Stupid, has written eloquently in the Independent, about the opposition – for climate change reasons – to a Heathrow 3rd runway. Leo himself took part in numerous actions, against aviation expansion because the UK government had no effective way of limiting the sector’s CO2 growth. Now he says, “Here we go again.” Heathrow expansion is back, “rising remorselessly like a zombie from the grave. …Why won’t it stay buried?” Heathrow and Gatwick have reportedly spent over £30m each on PR and lobbying, to conjure up an “airport capacity crisis” for London, for their own ends – making out that a new runway is in the national interest. To meet carbon targets, UK aviation cannot increase its CO2 to more than its 37.5MtCO2 cap. Leo says: “The solution is clear, but horrifies politicians: we will have to have policy to manage the growth in demand. There is simply no other way.” Government will have to grasp the nettle of demand management for air travel. In the meantime, people will just have to rise up once more against the green light – if that is given next week. “Heathrow is set to become a lightning rod for radical climate activists all over the country and the old networks from the former alliance are starting to light up again for the first time in years. Once more, dear friends, once more – but let’s make sure it’s really dead this time.”
If you think climate change activists like me will take the decision over airport expansion lying down, you’ve got another thing coming
Stansted’s runway slots are half empty. The direct contribution of the aviation sector to the British economy is less than the combined value of the annual tax subsidy it enjoys and the UK’s gaping tourism deficit
Ten years ago last month, I joined 24 other brave souls and a Baptist Minister to cut through the fence at Nottingham East Midlands airport, where we held a sermon on the runway. This was Plane Stupid’s first ever runway occupation, in defiance of government policy backing a trebling of passenger numbers and massive expansion at dozens of British airports. The UK did not yet have a Climate Change Act, but it was already clear that aviation was now the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and that government policy pushing this could not be squared with effective action on global warming.
I went on to be taken to the High Court by BAA, scale the House of Commons, take part in a mass occupation of the runway at Stansted and help my comrades to superglue themselves to Gordon Brown and slime Peter Mandelson. But all these (and many more) direct actions were themselves just one small part of an unprecedentedly broad and diverse movement that mobilised against a third runway at Heathrow. Environmental NGOs and development charities, local MPs and councils of every hue, grassroots noise campaigners and the Mayor of London all took up the cause. At the centre of everything were the members of the communities that would disappear beneath the tarmac if the third runway went ahead.
The sheer force of our collective will eventually brought the weight of public opinion behind us, and the fate of the third runway was sealed – “no ifs, no buts”. David Cameron even planted a tree on the site to commemorate its passing.
The tree died. But the third runway lived on, in the hopes and dreams of Britain’s aviation lobby. Today, it is rising remorselessly like a zombie from the grave, clawing its way to the top of the political agenda once again. Why won’t it stay buried?
Former MP Chris Mullin gives some clues in his account of his time as Aviation Minister: “I learnt two things. First, that the demands of the aviation industry are insatiable. Second, that successive governments have usually given way to them.” The excessively cosy relationship between the Department for Transport and the aviation industry was laid bare in 2008, when officials were reported found to have been colluding with Heathrow to engineer the outcome of air quality assessments needed to approve expansion.
Heathrow and Gatwick have reportedly spent over £30m each on PR and lobbying since the elaborate political long-grassing exercise that was the Airports Commission began its deliberations over where to put new airport capacity in the South East. This was the wrong question (of which, more in a moment) but the framing of the Commission has conspired with the huge marketing budgets of the rival airports to conjure up an “airport capacity crisis” for London.
This is now the new common sense – our airports are full, and delaying new runways is doing irreparable harm to the British economy. This hysteria climaxed in the summer with the comical claim that these delays are costing us £6m a day. But it seems to have worked. Labour’s Shadow Aviation Minister Andy MacDonald sums up the new paradigm thus: “It is beyond doubt that additional capacity is needed. The imperative is overwhelming.”
Neither is true. Stansted’s runway slots are half empty. The direct contribution of the aviation sector to the British economy (£18bn) is less than the combined value of the annual tax subsidy it enjoys (£11bn) and the UK’s gaping tourism deficit (£17bn and rising). Only one in ten international flights by UK residents are now business flights, and the proportion goes down a little more every year. The latest incarnation of the runways debate has been almost magically effective at conflating the financial interests of the big airport owners with the national economic interest.
Airport capacity, it faces a profound challenge in the shape of climate change. Aviation has a uniquely generous target under the Climate Change Act: absolutely no reduction in emissions, while the rest of the economy must make up the shortfall with extra cuts. Yet the aviation sector is still set to break the budget. The problem is that annual growth in demand for flights greatly outstrips efficiency improvements – by a rate of about five to one, globally.
Heathrow third runway decision needed ‘as soon as possible’ after Brexit says Simon Calder
In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change have advised that for aviation to comply with the Act, demand growth must be limited to around 60% per cent to 2050. But the Department for Transport expects demand to grow over this period by 93 per cent; this is the extra demand which a new runway is clamouring to cater for. The solution is clear, but horrifies politicians: we will have to have policy to manage the growth in demand. There is simply no other way.
Eventually, if the UK stands by its commitment to tackle climate change, some government must grasp the nettle of demand management. When they do, we will be ready. Demand growth for air travel is driven by lavish tax breaks on fuel duty and VAT which keep air fares artificially low. A frequent flyer levy that shifts tax off ordinary holidaymakers and on to frequent flyers would benefit the large majority of UK residents. Those who would have to pay more are those who can most afford to. Modelling shows that it could keep aviation emissions within safe limits at the same time as distributing flights more evenly across the income spectrum, and raising more money to support alternatives.
In the meantime, people will just have to rise up once more against the green light next week. Heathrow is set to become a lightning rod for radical climate activists all over the country, and the old networks from the former alliance are starting to light up again for the first time in years.
Once more, dear friends, once more – but let’s make sure it’s really dead this time.
Leo Murray is a co-founder and former activist with Plane Stupid. He is currently campaigning for a fairer tax on air travel at afreeride.org.
Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary
June 21, 2015
Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts. These include the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others. In a letter to the Observer – in order to remove the alleged “need” for a new south east runway – they put forward the concept of allowing each person one tax-free flight per year, but increasing the rate of tax for people who fly frequently. The levy would rise with each successive flight. This would mean that instead of APD (£13 per return flight to Europe) there would be a higher rate of tax for frequent fliers. Their analysis shows that 15% of the UK population take 70% of all the flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year. Rather than a new runway being vital for business, the reality is that it would be used for the better off to take more leisure flights (holidays or visiting friends and family). The proposed levy would mean the number of flights would be cut to a level that would make a new runway unnecessary. The authors of the scheme have also shown that this change to the taxation of air travel would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.
Several old posts on Theresa May’s personal website as Maidenhead MP, stating her opposition to a Heathrow runway, were unearthed several months ago. One (May 2010) said she “welcomed the Government’s decision to cancel the third runway project at Heathrow Airport.” And she said: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome to cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.” Now the Telegraph has found a leaflet from Theresa May in summer 2009 that says: “Theresa has opposed the Government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow. This would have a major impact on the constituency. A particular concern is a possible earlier increase in night flights over Maidenhead and the surrounding area.” And the statement ends: “…I will fight to stop the third runway.” She was part of Mr Cameron’s front bench when he made opposition to a third runway a key part of his pitch to get the Tories elected in the 2010 general election. Another leaflet from November 2010 – months after the Tories won power and scrapped plans for the third runway – shows her praising the “victory”.
Theresa May pledged to ‘fight to stop third runway’ at Heathrow in newsletter to constituents
Theresa May once pledged to “fight to stop the third runway” at Heathrow and warned it would have a “detrimental” impact on her constituents, it can be revealed.
Newsletters from Mrs May to local voters uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph show she warned Heathrow expansion would “increase noise and pollution”.
It has also emerged that she lobbied the independent airports commissioner while Home Secretary over concerns about the impact of expansion on the environment.
The revelations come just days before Mrs May is expected to proclaim support for a third runway at Heathrow and will cause embarrassment.
They will leave her open to the same claims of backtracking on earlier promises as David Cameron, who was criticised for ditching his “no ifs, no buts” promise to oppose a new runway.
Mrs May’s Maidenhead constituency is less than a half an hour’s drive from Heathrow Airport and her local council has opposed expansion for years.
She was part of Mr Cameron’s front bench when he made opposition to a third runway a key part of his pitch to get the Tories elected in the 2010 general election.
Local campaign literature ahead of the vote shows the full extent of Mrs May’s criticism of the Labour Government’s plans at the time.
A summer 2009 newsletter reads: “Theresa has opposed the Government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow.
“This would have a major impact on the constituency. A particular concern is a possible earlier increase in night flights over Maidenhead and the surrounding area.”
Mrs May is quoted as saying: “The Government has approved the third runway, and I am concerned that they will now push ahead and allow an increase in night flights from Heathrow. This would be a major blow to local residents.
“We have already seen the leaked plans from BAA for a 30 per cent increase in night flights, and the Government have been less than clear about their plans once the current arrangements end in 2012. I will continue to press them to rule out more night flights and will fight to stop the third runway.”
Another leaflet from November 2010 – months after the Tories won power and scrapped plans for the third runway – shows her praising the “victory”.
It reads: “Theresa has welcomed the news that the Government has cancelled the third runway project at Heathrow Airport.
“The third runway, which was planned by the previous Government, would have resulted in additional flights and increased noise and pollution in the Maidenhead and Twyford areas and surrounding parts, and was opposed by Theresa and much of the local community.”
Mrs May – by now the Home Secretary – is also quoted. “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow,” she says.
“Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and the Government’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
The comments – which were in line with party policy at the time – are likely to be replayed back to Mrs May by Heathrow critics if she backs expansions at the airport as expected.
They date to a time before the Tory leadership decided to reopen the door to Heathrow and announced an independent inquiry in 2012.
Years after the announcement Mrs May met Sir Howard Davies, chair of the Airports Commission, to discuss her views on expansion.
A message on her website in 2014 said Mrs May mentioned the concerns that many local residents have about aircraft noise, particularly at night time, and the need to consider the environmental impacts of any proposals”. It also said she raised the number of local jobs that “depended” on Heathrow.
Discussing her previous stances, allies of Mrs May have said she is determined to make an airports decision in the “national interest” since taking office.
Archive material reveals the extent of new Prime Minister’s opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow over many years
July 16, 2016
Campaign group HACAN has unearthed archive material, from Theresa May’s website, which reveals that the new Prime Minister has been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, for many years. Her comments on Heathrow since 2008 are copied here. For example, in January 2009 in response to the decision by the Labour Government to give the go-ahead to a 3rd runway, she said: “I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets. …. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.” And “my constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service in Crossrail. I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that as a result of today’s announcement, nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again.” In March 2008 she said: “The Government needs to show that expansion is consistent with national targets for tackling climate change and cutting CO2 emissions,” She has also consistently expressed concern about night flights.
Theresa May has welcomed the Government’s decision to cancel the third runway project at Heathrow Airport. The third runway, which was planned by the previous Government, would have resulted in additional flights and increased noise and pollution in the Maidenhead and Twyford areas, and was opposed by Theresa and many local residents.
The commitment to scrap the third runway project is contained in the coalition government’s ‘Programme for Government’, published today.
Theresa said, “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome to cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
The main customer of Heathrow IAG, which owns British Airways, has been adamant that it will not pay exorbitant landing charges at Heathrow well before a new runway opens. Now in a last ditch attempt to win them over (and anticipating a decision by the government to back their 3rd runway) Heathrow is claiming it can keep landing charges down till the runway opens. Heathrow’ CEO John Holland-Kaye says: “Through the planning and build period, we can keep prices flat on average compared to today. …What that means is that there will be some years where they are going down, some where they are going up.” Whatever that means. IAG has feared that landing charges would rise from about £20 now to around £40 per flight. Heathrow already has some of the world’s most expensive landing charges. But Mr Holland-Kaye’s words did not impress IAG and the company said the average was calculated over a period stretching up to 30 years, and “Their figures cannot deliver their stated aim of making Heathrow and the UK competitive. ” Last week, Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways, urged Heathrow’s shareholders to finance the construction from their own funds, rather than by increasing charges to passengers and airlines. Heathrow’s 9 month financial statement showed increasing debt for the company, and a huge hole in the pension scheme.
Heathrow pledges to keep passenger charges unchanged during runway construction
British Airways’ owner IAG accuses airport of ‘ripping off’ passengers over runway costs.
By Dan Cancian
October 21, 2016 (IB Times)
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has pledged to keep passenger charges flat even if the airport is granted permission to build a third runway.
The government will formally decide next week between Heathrow and Gatwick which airport should be given the green light to expand, but some airlines have voiced concerns over the impact of expanding the former.
In June, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways and Heathrow’s biggest customer, accused Britain’s largest airport of “ripping off” passengers amid new runway plans, which he said could cost about £16.5bn ($20.2bn).
Walsh said such a move would result in passengers paying £80 towards landing charges per return trip, which is double the present charge of £40.
However, Holland-Kaye said the airport could afford a third runway without hiking per-passenger charges.
“Through the planning and build period, we can keep prices flat on average compared to today,” he was quoted as saying by the Financial Times. “What that means is that there will be some years where they are going down, some where they are going up. That is a very good position to be in.”
Per-passenger charges have been steadily declining over the past few years and are forecast to account for 68% of the airport’s income from air operations next year.
However, Holland-Kaye’s words did not impress IAG and the company said the average was calculated over a period stretching up to 30 years.
“Their figures cannot deliver their stated aim of making Heathrow and the UK competitive,” said the owner of British Airways and Aer Lingus.
Walsh has not been the only executive to be vocal about the impact of Heathrow’s proposed expansion. Last week, Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways, urged the airport’s shareholders to finance the construction from their own funds, rather than by increasing charges to passengers and airlines.
On Thursday (20 October), the airport reported a rise in profits for the first nine months of 2016 and claimed increased support for its plans to build a third runway.
The airport saw a 0.7% annual increase in the number of passengers passing through to a record high 57.3 million in the January to September period. Pre-tax profits climbed 11% to £202m, while revenue rose 1.2% to £2.09bn. [But this article omits to say that the 9 month figures also show that Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Also their pension fund went from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. Their loss before tax was larger than the same 9 months a year earlier, at £293 million, compared to a profit of £552 million the year before. The accounts are not simple to understand …. but Heathrow’s finances do not look as good as Heathrow is trying to make out. See the recent 9 month figures.… AW note] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/heathrow-pledges-keep-passenger-charges-unchanged-during-runway-construction-1587590?
Heathrow’s dividends to shareholders grow, but profits have plunged, pension deficit grows, and net debt grows
October 20, 2016
Heathrow has released financial figures for the first 9 months of 2016, to the end of September. They show a drop in profits compared to a year earlier. There is a pre-tax loss of £293 million, compared to a £552 million profit in the same period in 2015, due to various exceptional items. Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn. Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Heathrow’s pension fund dropped from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote etc. If this size of deficit continues, Heathrow will be required to put more money into its pension scheme. The Sunday Times recently said that Heathrow and Gatwick had each spent about £30 million on advertising and promoting their runway bids. The 9 month accounts show £13 million on “intangible assets” (probably advertising etc) this year, and £11 million in 2015. They also show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and Dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.
British Airways CEO confirms his airline will not pay exorbitant Heathrow fees to build new runway scheme
October 13, 2016
Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, (which is part of IAG) said the airline would oppose any move by its main airport, Heathrow, to raise its charges if it gets permission to build a 3rd runway. Mr Cruz said that although there was an “overwhelming case” for expanding capacity at Heathrow, this should not be at such high cost, and “Any notion that the cost will be borne by airlines is not acceptable.” He said that though IAG (BA produced about 75% of IAG’s 2015 profit), would not leave Heathrow altogether if costs were too high, it would look at expanding operations elsewhere. IAG also has hubs in Dublin and Shannon for Aer Lingus, in Madrid for Iberia, and Barcelona for Vueling – so it has lots of possible options. IAG does not want to pay in advance for the future runway and terminal, the extravagant design of which it has described as “gold plated.” Alex Cruz, like IAG boss Willie Walsh, was critical of a 2nd Gatwick runway, saying there was “no business case” for it, and “There is simply not sufficient demand from either customers or airlines….Experience shows that the majority of long-haul airlines that start operations at Gatwick either quit and leave London altogether or go to Heathrow as soon as possible.” Mr Cruz said that Heathrow’s shareholders should bear the cost of building a 3rd runway from the start. “Heathrow’s investors do pretty well out of its monopoly hub status.”
Heathrow has released financial figures for the first 9 months of 2016, to the end of September. They show a drop in profits compared to a year earlier. There is a pre-tax loss of £293 million, compared to a £552 million profit in the same period in 2015, due to various exceptional items. Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn. Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Heathrow’s pension fund dropped from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote etc. If this size of deficit continues, Heathrow will be required to put more money into its pension scheme. The Sunday Times recently said that Heathrow and Gatwick had each spent about £30 million on advertising and promoting their runway bids. The 9 month accounts show £13 million on “intangible assets” (probably advertising etc) this year, and £11 million in 2015. They also show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.
Heathrow’s profits plunge and pension deficit grows as it awaits decision on third runway
The company’s financial results show a drop in profits just days before the Government is expected to announce its preference for expansion
By Cristina Criddle (Telegraph Business)
20 OCTOBER 2016
. Heathrow has reported a plunge in profits and a £474m loss in its pension fund as it its campaign for a third runway reaches a climax.
Prime Minister Theresa May will announce the Government’s preferred choice for airport expansion by the end of the month — opting for either Gatwick or Heathrow.
Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn.
Meanwhile, the pension fund of Britain’s largest airport dropped from a surplus of £104m on December 31 to a deficit of £370m in just nine months — a £474m loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote and falling corporate bond yields. [This deficit is partly caused by the current low interest rates – but if such a huge deficit continues, Heathrow should put some money into the fund. The Pensions Regulator will be looking at the issue. Such a large swing from surplus to deficit is unusual. The Heathrow pension fund is managed by the trust company. AW note]
Heathrow’s debt also grew. Consolidated net debt was £12bn, (£2,016 million consolidated net debt) up 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11,745 million.
Despite its results, the airport today insisted that expansion on its site was the “right choice to help make Britain stronger and fairer for everyone”.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the airport has “broad support” for its third runway plans and praised the Prime Minister for “showing leadership” after years of uncertainty.
“We stand ready to deliver the runway that will keep Britain a confident, outward looking trading nation as soon as we get the green light from government,” he added.
Mrs May, however, has been warned by her own ministers that she will be “making a huge mistake” if she backs expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Today it emerged that David Cameron was warned by his own policy chief a year ago that the Government was “exposed on Heathrow” because it had no answers to concerns raised over air quality.
A third runway would create up to 180,000 jobs and £211bn of growth across the country, it added.
Heathrow Airport pays out £225m to investors while asking for public cash
By NICHOLAS CECIL (Evening Standard)
Heathrow was caught in a financial row today just days before the Government is expected to give the go-ahead for a third runway.
The west London airport faced criticism after it announced it was paying £225 million in dividends to investors for 2016, while also asking for public money to improve the transport system for another runway.
Its pre-tax profit increased 11% to £202 million in the first nine months of the year.
Revenue rose 1.3% to £2.1 billion but overall it posted a £293 million loss due to exceptional items.
Mr Holland-Kaye was grilled on BBC radio on pay-outs to investors of more than £2 billion over the last four years.
Reacting to the figures, Hammersmith Labour MP Andy Slaughter said: “If Heathrow can afford to pay such large sums in dividends to shareholders, why are they offering a fraction of the costs to improve road and rail networks that a third runway would require – and letting the taxpayer pick up the bill?”
The airport defended the dividends, stressing investors had put in £11 billion in past years to pay for Terminal 5 and Terminal 2 to maintain the airport as a global leader.
Part of the dividends were for sales of Stansted and Edinburgh airports, a spokesman added.
Heathrow has pledged to pay an unspecified share of £1 billion for surface access improvements needed for a third runway. [Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told the Environmental Audit Select Committee at its inquiry last year that Heathrow would only be prepared to pay £1.1 billion towards improved road and rail access. AW note]
But Transport for London says the figure could end up being between £10 billion to £20 billion.
In the nine months ended 30 September 2016, gross restricted payments of £556 million (net restricted payments £461 million) were made by the Group which principally funded the majority of the £225 million in quarterly dividends paid to the Group’s ultimate shareholders …
But the tables have the figures of dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.