It appears that the whole issue of building a new runway is so fraught that the UK’s most senior civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, wrote to government ministers in the run up to the party conference season, warning them against speaking out about it. Sir Jeremy’s email said Ministers could repeat statements they had made before the report was published on 1st July, but urged them to keep quiet now. It was received by some with deep irritation. Laura Kuenssberg (BBC) said a cabinet minister told her it was “unprecedented”. The Cabinet Office said they would not comment on leaked documents, but the anxieties in government are real and are twofold. (1). There are concerns over any comments making the final decision more vulnerable to a legal challenge – tying up the decision in the courts for years to come. (2).There is significant political opposition around the cabinet table, including from Boris Johnson. Theresa May would not comment on the leak, but told the BBC that the story was a “mountain out of a molehill”. The PM and the chancellor have promised to make a decision by Christmas, but that promise won’t be easy to keep. Though AirportWatch and the Aviation Environment Federation did have a stall at the Conservative conference, there were difficulties in getting it approved.
Johnson, who is an MP but not a minister, did not refrain from commenting on Heathrow. He used his speech at the Conservative party conference to say: “If we are going to build new airport capacity, let’s not bodge it with one runway in the wrong place in a short-termist and environmentally disastrous solution.”
The government has said that it will deliver its formal response to the commission before Christmas.
However Labour MP Andy Slaughter, whose Hammersmith constituency lies under the Heathrow flight path, said it was “disgraceful” that ministers with constituencies directly affected by the decision were barred from speaking out.
“This is going to be subject, if Heathrow does get approval, to ligation over a number of years anyway. It is going to be judicially reviewed,” he told the Today programme.
“Cabinet ministers have been muzzled on this. I think it is disgraceful that they can’t speak up on behalf of their constituents.
“There is so much pressure coming from (Chancellor) George Osborne and others within the Government to go for Heathrow. I think that they just want to bulldoze the proposal through.”
“Toxic” is how one minister described the government’s dilemma over Heathrow.
In fact, the whole issue is so fraught that the country’s most senior civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, wrote to government ministers in the run up to the politically-charged conference season, warning them against speaking out.
Sir Jeremy’s email said they could repeat statements they had made before the report was published in July, but urged them to keep quiet now.
It was received by some with deep irritation.
One cabinet minister told me it was “unprecedented”. Other ministers believe the letter illustrates the political sensitivity of the decision.
The Cabinet Office said they would not comment on leaked documents, but the anxieties in government are real and are twofold.
There are concerns over any comments making the final decision more vulnerable to a legal challenge – tying up the decision in the courts for years to come.
And there is significant political opposition around the cabinet table, including from the London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
Decades of dithering
He, along with others, is all too ready to remind David Cameron of his own vow in 2009, “no ifs, no buts”, ruling out a third runway at Heathrow.
But the business community is eager for a decision to be made, after decades of political dithering.
And the government, particularly the chancellor, have made big promises about pushing ahead with big infrastructure decisions, even citing the Airports Commission as an example of how the case for major projects should be independently made.
But resistance to Heathrow is passionate and powerful. The prime minister and the chancellor have promised to make a decision by Christmas, but that promise won’t be easy to keep.
Though AirportWatch and the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) had a stall at the Conservative Party Conference, earlier in October, they had considerable difficulty in getting this permitted. After an initial acceptance of the booking, the conference organisers then said it would not be possible for the stall to be at the conference. No reason was given. Several weeks later, and after the intervention of several MPs, the stall was given permission. However, passes were only sent out two days before the conference, and John Stewart (Chair of Hacan) was refused a pass, on the day before the conference – leaving no time to appeal. This makes more sense, now this comment by Sir Jeremy Heywood, has been revealed.
On Monday 19th October, Heathrow campaigners parked a replica plane outside Downing St to mark the 6th anniversary of Prime Ministers ‘No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway’ speech. On 19th October 2009 David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, made his now famous promise in a speech at a rally in Christ School in Richmond. When the Coalition Government came to power in 2010 it ruled out any new runways for the duration of that Parliament. But in 2012 it set up the Airports Commission, under Sir Howard Davies, to look at the case for new runways. In July this year the Commission recommended a third runway at Heathrow. The Prime Minister is expected to announce before the end of the year whether he accepts that decision. Margaret Thorburn, spokesperson for the campaigners said, “Today’s colourful stunt is a visible reminder to David Cameron of the promise he made on this day six years ago. If he breaks it, he will not be forgiven by tens of thousands of people in and around London and countless environmentalists across the country.”
The plane “parked” at the entrance of Downing Street
The plane “parked” outside Parliament on College green.
Heathrow has sent out a survey to (it appears) all the houses that would be under threat of compulsory purchase if there was a north west runway, seeming to ask about their homes etc. It could be considered hugely presumptuous for Heathrow to be mailing residents before there is even an indication from Government that there might be agreement for a runway. The very existence of the survey undermines affected Heathrow villagers, giving the impression that the runway is a done deal. The survey asks a lot of questions, as well as wanting address and email details, like: how many people live at the house, how long have you lived there; do you own or rent, and if so, from a private landlord or a local authority; and do you have other residential properties or commercial properties in an area that could be affected by the expansion of Heathrow. The intention of this survey appears to try to pick off the residents who would be keen to throw in the towel, take the money and get out. The more people sell up, take Heathrow’s offer and leave the area, the more the soul and spirit of the community is lost. Divide and rule. To help win people over, Heathrow is offering, for those whose houses could be demolished, one to one sessions with Heathrow staff to talk about it. (ie. be persuaded to take the money). The sessions can be booked by phone or email.
It is a jaw-dropping exercise in evasive writing. What is being asked is details of people, details of their ownership if their properties and other local links, and whether English is their first language. The matter at issue is the possible compulsory purchase and demolition of at least 780 homes for a 3rd runway, and rendering perhaps 2,000 too badly affected to be liveable. Nowhere in this document is any mention of anything other than (blandly put, innocuous) residents being “affected” by Heathrow’s expansion. Talk about disingenuous, euphemistic prose …!
Local campaigners are suggesting people do not give Heathrow their personal details.
Heathrow survey copied below:
Local Community Survey
This short questionnaire is designed to help us improve the way in which we communicate with you and to make sure we providing you with the most relevant information.
We’re committed to working with local communities. To help us better understand local community concerns and the best ways to communicate with you, please complete the survey below.
This short questionnaire is designed to help us improve the way in which we communicate with you and to make sure we providing you with the most relevant information.
You should feel free to complete as much or as little of this questionnaire as you wish. We will still continue to provide all local residents with information on Heathrow’s expansion proposals.
The questionnaire gives you the option of letting us know if you are responding on behalf of all those who live at the property. This lets you provide one response on behalf of your family.
If, however, all those living at the property wish to complete the questionnaire (for example, if you live in a house share with other occupants) you should feel free to do so.
The questionnaire should take approximately 5 minutes to complete. We have provided space for you to go into more detail if you wish.
Any information you do provide will be kept completely confidential. If you have any questions about this questionnaire, and how we will use this information, then please feel free to contact us on 0800 307 7996 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. What is your home address?
You do not have to give your home address, but doing so will enable us to use the information you provide to improve the way we contact you based on the responses you provide. Any information you provide will be kept completely confidential.
2. Are you responding to this questionnaire on behalf of all occupants of the property?
3. How many occupants currently live at this address?
4. Would you like us to provide additional copies of any letters and updates we might send you?
5. How would you prefer Heathrow to provide you with updates on our proposals for the expansion of the Airport (Select all that apply)?
Post and Email
6. If you selected B or C, please provide you email address/addresses in the field below.
7. Do you have any specific communications preferences we should know about, such as requests for language translations or large print?
8. The following questions are related to your property ownership status. We will continue to keep all local residents updated on Heathrow’s expansion proposals, but we will also look to provide specific updates to residents based on issues that specifically concern them. This could include, for example, information about property or noise compensation schemes.
Again, you should feel free to provide as much or as little information as you wish. What description best describes your property ownership status (select one answer):
I own the property
I rent the property from a private landlord
I rent the property from the local authority
9. How many years have you lived at this address?
10. Do you or any other occupants of your property own any other residential properties in an area which you think could be affected by the proposed expansion of Heathrow?
11. If you answered yes, you can use the space below to provide the addresses of these properties and any other relevant details you would like us to know about.
12. Do you own any commercial properties in an area which you think could be affected by the proposed expansion of Heathrow?
13. If you answered yes, you can use the space below to provide the addresses of these properties and any other relevant details you would like us to know about.
14. Do you own any businesses which operate in an area which you think could be affected by the proposed expansion of Heathrow? This applies to commercial premises you may currently rent.
15. If you answered yes, you can use the space below to provide the addresses of these properties and any other relevant details you would like us to know about.
16. Proposals for the expansion of Heathrow require Government support and would then require detailed planning permission. During this significant and wide-reaching public consultation would take place around all aspects of our proposals, including our compensation offer to local residents affected by Heathrow expansion. Whilst there are important decisions still to be made around whether Heathrow is allowed to expand, we believe it is important to provide as much information as possible about how we plan to engage with local residents. Please use the space below to let us know how you would like Heathrow to communicate with you during this process, and if there are any other personal circumstances you would like us to consider.
Thank you text goes hereThank you for completing this questionnaire. (sic) If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised here then please feel free to contact us on 0800 307 7996 or by email at email@example.com
Alex Salmond, previous First Minister of Scotland,says the SNP will not back a new runway in south-east England unless David Cameron gives millions of ££ to Scotland. He says that to get backing for a runway from the 55 SNP MPs in Parliament, they would need to have agreement of huge funding for Scotland through the Barnett Formula. Alex Salmond said the Airports Commission report was “shoddy”, the “work on the cost/benefit analysis was pretty ropey”, and Sir Howard Davies was “blinkered”. Salmond wants guarantees of extra Scottish flights from an expanded SE airport. Under the Barnett Formula, for every £ spent in England, a proportion must be spent in Scotland, based on its population compared to that of England. It is know that at the very least, a Heathrow runway would cost the public £5 billion for tunnelling the M25. Under the Barnett formula of about 10% of the cost being given to Scotland, that would mean paying about £500 million. (And would the other regions also need their separate payments?) Salmond: “What we’d want to know is that if it were to be a development which depended on infrastructure spending, is that spending going to be properly Barnetted? Or is it going to be another fiddle like the Olympics?” He commented Heathrow and Gatwick had been “desperate” to speak to the SNP, with both sending lobbyists to the party’s conference.
Salmond: SNP won’t back runway in South-East unless Scotland gets cash
By JOSEPH WATTS
16.10.2015 (Evening Standard)
Alex Salmond today said the SNP will not back a new runway in south-east England unless David Cameron hands millions of pounds to Scotland. [Alex Salmond served as the fourth First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014. He is currently a member of both the Scottish and United Kingdom parliaments.]
In an interview with the Standard he demanded the Prime Minister put cash on the table to secure critical support from his party in the Commons. The SNP’s former leader also condemned Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, as the “blinkered” author of a “shoddy” report into how to expand UK airport capacity.
Ahead of talks with Heathrow and Gatwick this week, Mr Salmond went on to say his party will refuse to back any airport’s expansion plan without guarantees for extra Scottish flights.
His intervention in the middle of the SNP conference comes as the Government decides whether to follow Sir Howard’s recommendation for a third Heathrow runway.
Mr Salmond argued that Mr Cameron lacks the support from Tory MPs to deliver the controversial expansion, given he has a majority of just 12 and Labour’s position is unclear.
While insisting a new runway was necessary, Mr Salmond said the Prime Minister would have to pay to secure the support of 55 SNP MPs. In particular, he said public money spent on airport expansion must be subject to the Barnett Formula — meaning for every pound spent in England, a corresponding amount must be spent in Scotland.
He said: “Heathrow says it’s a private development, but it depends on at least £5 billion of public money, and that’s only the initial estimate.
“What we’d want to know is that if it were to be a development which depended on infrastructure spending, is that spending going to be properly Barnetted? Or is it going to be another fiddle like the Olympics?”
Mr Salmond claimed only a small proportion of money spent on the 2012 Games was subject to the Barnett Formula, meaning Scotland lost out.
He went on: “Then, of course, that was in a different political situation. There’s a lot more influence now.
“There haven’t been any guarantees from the Government about the Barnetting, not of the airport expansion itself but of the infrastructure leading to the airport. If there is to be spending like that, then it has to be Barnetted.”
If the £5 billion of Heathrow-related spending Mr Salmond speaks of were subject to the Barnett Formula, it could mean an extra £500 million for Scottish projects. [And if TfL is right that the cost could be as high as £15 – £20 billion, for surface transport alone, that means £1.5 – 2 billion ….]
Turning to Sir Howard, Mr Salmond complained the commission chairman failed to accept the need to increase flights to Scotland immediately.
He said: “Howard Davies is a particularly blinkered individual, he couldn’t seem to grasp that fairly elementary point since he was so busy trying to juggle Boris’s airport against Gatwick, against Heathrow.
“I don’t think the Commission report is particularly good incidentally. Given the amount of time he spent on it, or his commission spent on it, I thought it was pretty shoddy. The work on the cost/benefit analysis was pretty ropey.”
Mr Salmond said Heathrow and Gatwick had been “desperate” to speak to the SNP, with both airports sending lobbyists to the party’s conference.
He is due to meet representatives over the next two days in Aberdeen and will deliver a stark message. He said: “The question I’ll ask is, ‘What guarantees will you give in terms of connectivity of Scottish destinations into either airport if they become the choice?’ If the answer is, ‘There are no guarantees’, why on earth would we want to support it?”
He added: “We have to start talking specifics, not vague generalities. If people say there are no guarantees they can give, then fine. It’ll be quite easy to make up our minds.”
More on the Barnett formula: Devolution: What’s the Barnett formula?
30 October 2014 (BBC)
What is the Barnett formula?
The Barnett formula is a system of grants which dictates the level of public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Under it, extra funding – or cuts – from Westminster are allocated according to the population size of each nation and which powers are devolved to them.
When the UK government increases or decreases funding for departments such as health and education in England, the Barnett formula is used to decide how much devolved governments will receive.
The Barnett formula was designed in 1978 as a temporary solution to settle rows about government spending allocations.
It was also partly created to allow for Scotland’s lower average incomes, larger physical area, and healthcare and housing needs.
Was Scotland already getting more money?
Yes, Scotland’s public spending windfall goes back more than a century.
In the 1880s the “Goschen Proportion” – which was named after the then Chancellor George Goschen – channelled £11 to Scotland for every £80 spent in England and Wales because there were roughly 11 Scots for every 80 people in England and Wales.
Scotland’s population fell below 11/80th of the population of England and Wales in 1901, so it started receiving more public spending per head than England. The proportion was the first time the UK government had used a formula to distribute public spending across the constituent nations.
What does Lord Barnett think of his formula?
Lord Barnett, now 91, never intended his formula to last for 36 years. He recently told the BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight programme it was “grossly unfair” and repeated his call for it be scrapped. He also told the Daily Telegraph introducing it was a “terrible mistake” which had become a national and personal “embarrassment”.
The Barnett formula is a mechanism used by the Treasury in the United Kingdom to automatically adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in England, England and Wales or Great Britain, as appropriate. The formula applies to a large proportion, but not the whole, of the devolved Governments’ budgets − in 2013-14 it applied to about 85% of the Scottish Parliament’s total budget.
The Barnett formula is said to have “no legal standing or democratic justification”, and, being merely a convention, could be changed at will by the Treasury. In recent years, Barnett himself has called it a “terrible mistake”. In 2009, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Barnett Formula concluded that “the Barnett Formula should no longer be used to determine annual increases in the block grant for the United Kingdom’s devolved administrations… A new system which allocates resources to the devolved administrations based on an explicit assessment of their relative needs should be introduced.”
Following the September 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the Barnett formula came to widespread attention amid concerns that in a last-minute government bid to sway voters against independence, Scotland had been promised continued high public spending.
How the formula works
The formula consists of a baseline plus increases to central Government funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on increases in public spending in England in comparable programmes, applied in proportion to current populations:
Extra funding in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland = Extra funding in England × Population proportion compared to England × The extent to which the relevant English departmental programme is comparable with the services carried out by the devolved administration
For example, in 2000, the Scottish and Welsh populations were taken to be 10.34% and 5.93% (respectively) of England’s population. For programmes in the Department of Health, the comparability factor for Scotland and Wales was 99.7%. Therefore, if £1 billion was to be added to planned health expenditure in England, then the extra amount added to the Scottish block, compared to the year before, would be £1bn x 10.34% x 99.7% = £103 million, and the amount added to the Welsh block would be £1bn x 5.93% x 99.7% = £59.1 million.
After weeks of negotiations, campaigners have reached an agreement with Gatwick over the terms of its review into controversial flight paths. Since last year there has been disturbance, upset and anger for miles around Gatwick, from increased aircraft noise, narrowed and altered flight paths. In August Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, commissioned an “independent review” of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals. It is led by Bo Redeborn, who for many years was Principal Director of ATM for EUROCONTROL. Local group Gatwick Obviously Not had threatened to ‘step up its campaign further’ if ‘substantial concerns’ about the terms initially proposed by the airport were not addressed. These included doubts about the transparency and impartiality of the process, its failure to consider both easterly and westerly arrivals and, crucially, the absence of ‘a fair and equitable dispersal’ policy. Now meetings have left campaigners optimistic that the process could be helpful. The review’s terms of reference have been altered, to include an assurance that “the review team will give particular attention to assessing the feasibility and implications of adopting a policy of fair and equitable dispersal’ which a number of campaign groups have expressed as a priority.”
Campaigners mark ‘sea change’ in Gatwick’s view of flight paths
14th October 2015 (Times of Tunbridge Wells)
After weeks of negotiations, campaigners have reached an agreement with Gatwick over the terms of its review into controversial flight paths.
As reported in the Times last month, action group Gatwick Obviously Not had threatened to ‘step up its campaign further’ if ‘substantial concerns’ about the terms initially proposed by the airport were not addressed.
These included doubts about the transparency and impartiality of the process, its failure to consider both easterly and westerly arrivals and, crucially, the absence of ‘a fair and equitable dispersal’ policy.
But recent meetings have left campaigners optimistic that Gatwick may finally be ready to deliver the changes they have spent over a year fighting for.
GON chairman Martin Barraud said: “We sat down with review leader Bo Redeborn on September 23 to look him in the eye and see if we could do business with them.
“We went through the agenda we put forward and agreed the terms of reference we had set down.
“It was a very open process. We asked if we could record it, and he said yes without hesitation. They are looking for transparency on all levels and put-ting all documentation online.
“Mr Redeborn came across as independent and confident, and played a straight bat. He had an advisor with him who we know and trust, and we now feel we are on our way.”
The agreed terms of reference for the review, which is an independent process funded by Gatwick, include an assurance that ‘the review team will give particular attention to assessing the feasibility and implications of adopting a policy of fair and equitable dispersal which a number of campaign groups have expressed as a priority.”
Subsequent meetings with the CEOs of Gatwick, the Civil Aviation Authority and National Air Traffic Ser-vices have proved further cause for optimism.
Mr Barraud said: “They were very proactive about covering the cost of airspace redesign, which is a significant moment as they’re saying it needs a redesign.
“We said we wanted technical advisors, and Gatwick has agreed to fund them up to £30,000.
“It’s a complete sea change in attitude. We couldn’t get a reply from them a month ago, now we’re sitting at the same table. It may all come to nothing, but we have to take it at face value for now.”
Despite the progress in the campaign, Mr Barraud is not resting on his laurels. Yesterday he began a ten-day,
1,000-mile cycle from San Sebastian to Penshurst, to raise funds for GON.
A crowdfunding initiative launched on August 16 has secured over £25,000, with an additional £40,000 pledged by previous donors if that total reaches £50,000.
Selection from the review’s amended terms of reference
The scope of this review, in its initial phase, is westerly arrivals into Gatwick. easterly arrivals will be covered in a second phase
The target date for completing this initial phase of the review is November 2015, but it is accepted that this end date may need to be moved back depending on the extent of consultation the review team decides is necessary.
In considering the concerns raised by local communities, the review team will give particular attention to assessing the feasibility and implications of adopting a policy of ‘fair and equitable dispersal’ of flights, which a number of campaign groups have expressed as a priority.
Particular attention should be given to ensuring the involvement of organisations representing the local communities most affected, and communities which may be newly affected by any proposed changes, and to developing effective means of ascertaining the views of these communities more generally.
Gatwick Flight Paths: Community Meeting in Crowborough on 23rd October
14th October 2015
Nus Ghani, Member of Parliament for Wealden, will be hosting a community drop-in meeting in Crowborough on Friday 23 October with lead members of the independent review of air traffic at and around Gatwick Airport.
Ms Ghani recently met with Mr Bo Redeborn, who is leading the review, and Mr Graham Lake, Technical Adviser, to discuss the terms of the review and the concerns of Ms Ghani’s constituents with respect to noise and disruption from aircraft.
Mr Redeborn and Mr Lake have agreed to join her at All Saints Church, Crowborough, between 17:00 and 18:00 on Friday 23 October, where constituents who would like to submit evidence to the review are able to meet with them and discuss their concerns.
Ms Ghani has previously welcomed Gatwick Airport’s decision to commission the review, saying last month that she was “pleased that it has acknowledged the strength of feeling of many of my constituents” and that she hoped “to be closely involved” in it.
She added to those remarks today, saying: “I was delighted, when I met with Bo and Graham, by their desire to engage, their independence from Gatwick Airport, and their determination to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Their expertise is well known, but it is pleasing that that expertise is being accompanied by a strong willingness to listen to Wealden’s residents.”
Mr Redeborn said: “We are currently in the vital listening phase of our review and have yet to say no to anyone who wants to talk to us. I hope that many people will be able to join us in Crowborough to have their say, because understanding their perspective is an important part of the review process.”
Gatwick announces independent review of Westerly Arrivals
24/08/2015 (Gatwick press release)
In response to noise concerns expressed by some local residents, Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, has commissioned an independent review of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals.
The Review will be led by Bo Redeborn who brings extensive experience and understanding of air traffic control having previously served as Principal Director of Air Traffic Management for EUROCONTROL. He will be assisted by a small independent review team which has been tasked with ensuring the involvement of local communities most affected.
The purpose of the review is to consider, in relation to Westerly Arrivals, whether:
Everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the problems which local communities are raising is in fact being done, whether this involves action by the airport or by other parties most closely involved – NATS, CAA, DfT or the airlines; and;
The approaches which Gatwick has adopted for providing information to the local community and for handling complaints are fully adequate for the task.
The review is to begin on 1st September 2015 and a provisional target date for completion has been set for November. It is accepted that this end date may need to be moved back depending on the extent of consultation which the review team decides is necessary. A review of Easterly Arrivals will be undertaken as part of a second phase review.
Terms of Reference for the Review can be found at the following link.
Gatwick announces “independent review” of Westerly Arrivals due to the extent of opposition to changed flight paths
August 25, 2015
Due to the level of disturbance, upset and anger for miles around Gatwick, from increased aircraft noise, narrowed and altered flight paths, Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, has commissioned an “independent review” of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals (ie. planes arriving from the east, to the airport, when there are westerly winds). The review will be led by Bo Redeborn, who for many years was Principal Director of ATM for EUROCONTROL. Gatwick airport says Mr Redeborn “will be assisted by a small independent review team which has been tasked with ensuring the involvement of local communities most affected.” The review is to look at whether, for westerly arrivals: “Everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the problems which local communities are raising is in fact being done, whether this involves action by the airport or by other parties most closely involved – NATS, CAA, DfT or the airlines.” And if Gatwick’s approach to providing “information to the local community and for handling complaints are fully adequate for the task.” Thousands of people do not believe Gatwick is succeeding on either. The review is to begin on 1st September 2015. It may end in November, but may be extended if more consultation is needed. There will be a review of Easterly Arrivals later on.
In a new blog for HACAN, a long standing member, Jenine Langrish, writes about the likely legacy of David Cameron – and the main thing for which he would go down in history. And not in a good way. She asks how history will remember the three key party leaders in recent times: Tony Blair, Nick Clegg, and David Cameron. Tony Blair led Labour to their biggest ever majority, 3 election victories, and much else besides – but if you ask the man in the street – he’s remembered for just one thing: his misguided decision to support George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Nick Clegg secured enough votes to hold the balance of power following 2010’s election, giving his party real power. But if you ask the man in the street, Clegg is remembered for breaking his promise on student tuition fees. And David Cameron has many key achievements on the economy and keeping his party’s divisions on Europe under control. But his highest profile promise is of course ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’. His party said no runways at Gatwick or Stansted either. As he appears to stand on the brink of an about turn on Heathrow he would do well to reflect on the lessons of Tony Blair and Nick Clegg. Dave – how do you want to be remembered? #WhatsyourlegacyDave?
Dave – what’s your legacy?
Guest blog from Jenine Langrish – for HACAN
Three parties, three leaders: Tony Blair; Nick Clegg; and David Cameron. How will history remember them?
Tony Blair united the Labour party and led them to their biggest ever majority and three consecutive election victories. His government oversaw the introduction of a national minimum wage; freedom of information; devolution; and the signing of the Good Friday agreement.
And yet…if you ask the man in the street, he’s remembered for just one thing: his misguided decision to support George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, justified by the claim that Saddam Hussein had ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
That single policy decision has led to mass vilification in the media and ensures that he will forever be remembered as “Tony B-liar”.
Under Nick Clegg’s leadership the Lib Dems soared in popularity and surprised everyone by securing enough votes to hold the balance of power following 2010’s election. For the first time since the days of Asquith and Lloyd George, the political party in the centre of politics held real power. They can claim credit for a number of policies in the coalition government, notably raising the tax threshold to take over 3 million low earners out of the income tax system; introducing the pupil premium; and creating the Green Investment Bank.
And yet…once again, if you ask the man in the street, Clegg is remembered for just one thing: breaking his promise on student tuition fees.
That single concession in the coalition agreement discussions led to highly personal attacks in the media and to his party’s vote being decimated in the last election.
Which brings me to David Cameron. He can claim credit for having overseen the recovery from the financial crisis; bringing the deficit under control; and generally keeping his party’s divisions on Europe under control.
But how will he be remembered in ten years time? The lesson from Tony Blair and Nick Clegg is that the public have little tolerance if they believe politicians have lied or broken high profile promises. Part of the reason for Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise ascendancy appears to be that Labour’s grass roots supporters saw him as an honest man who’d do what he said he would.
David Cameron’s highest profile promise is of course ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’. As he appears to stand on the brink of an about turn on Heathrow he would do well to reflect on the lessons of Tony Blair and Nick Clegg.
Dave – how do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be judged on your policies or simply remembered as the latest in a line of political leaders who broke their promises. The choice is yours.
The four boroughs that have worked hardest to oppose a Heathrow runway, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead, have produced a damning report on the Airports Commission’s recommendation. They have called on MPs to carefully consider their in-depth assessment of the Commission’s claims, which they have say put together an inflated and distorted case for expanding Heathrow. The councils’ report challenges the recommendation on environmental, health, and community impact grounds, and highlights the environmental, transport, social and political factors that make the 3rd runway undeliverable. They point out how little extra connectivity a new runway would provide; they show claims regarding EU air quality legislation have been misunderstood by the Commission and that it has deliberately recommended adding a large source of pollution in an area that is already under severe strain. Critical factors presenting the biggest challenge to a runway “have been either avoided, or worse, misinterpreted by the Commission.” The councils conclude that a 3rd runway “would significantly reduce regional connectivity and economic competiveness. It would be severely damaging for the millions of people who neighbour the airport and live below its new flightpaths. It is the wrong choice at every level.”
Report finds fault with the Airports Commission’s recommendations on Heathrow third runway
15.10.2015 (Hillingdon Council website)
Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have called on MPs to oppose the recommendation from the Airports Commission for a new third runway at Heathrow.
The councils, members of the 2M Group of local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion, have asked MPs to consider their findings following an in depth assessment of the commission’s claims.
A report put together by the councils challenges the recommendation on environmental, health, and community impact grounds, and says the commission has put together an inflated and distorted case for expanding Heathrow. The report highlights the factors that make the third runway undeliverable. These barriers include environmental, transport, political and social factors as well as potential legal challenges that are at the centre of the debate. ?
The councils also point out that the commission’s own aviation growth forecasts predict a third runway will only offer the UK an additional five long haul routes.
The evidence suggests too that claims regarding EU air quality legislation have been misunderstood by the commission and that it has deliberately recommended placing a large source of pollution in an area that is already under severe strain.
Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “The critical factors which present the biggest challenge to a potential third runway have been either avoided, or worse, misinterpreted by the commission.
“There is a distinct lack of information on air quality and flightpaths and instead there are inflated claims about a colossal economic windfall that the commission says will come from a handful of new trade routes. It’s clear to me that the case for expansion at Heathrow doesn’t add up and a third runway will never happen, no ifs or buts.”
Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “As the evidence in this report points out, there is no way to mitigate the impacts of the Heathrow expansion and this third runway proposal is no different from those which went before it. As with previous schemes, it is wide open to legal challenge and the environmental costs do not justify the economic benefits, in addition, the expansion could cost UK taxpayers ?20bn.”
Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council said: “The Airports Commission’s recommendation points the way to more wasted years and another failed runway scheme. Heathrow is simply in the wrong place and there is no realistic prospect of overcoming the complex physical, legal and environmental factors that will always constrain its growth.”
David Burbage, Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead said: “We are asking MPs to consider carefully whether a scheme that is forecast to deliver a net reduction in direct routes between Heathrow and domestic airports is really in the interest of regional economies and local people. The third runway is the wrong choice for London and the South East and would greatly reduce regional connectivity and economic competitiveness. For the millions of people who are neighbours to the airport, this would be very damaging.”
The Airports Commission claims: A third runway offers “significantly enhanced connectivity”
The councils say: Heathrow expansion offers just 5 additional long haul routes.
The Airports Commission claims: A third runway will “generate up to £147 billion in GDP”
The councils say: Heathrow expansion could cost UK taxpayers £20 billion.
The Airports Commission claims: Heathrow will be a “better neighbour for local communities”
The councils say: Heathrow’s expansion will expose 160,000 additional people to aircraft noise.
The Airports Commission claims: “Compliance with EU limites will not be delayed” by a 3rd runway
The councils say: The Commission misunderstood EU air quality legislation.
The Airports Commission claims: A third Heathrow runway can be deliverd.
The councils say: Heathrow is located in the most densely populated area in the UK.
The councils say:
What the evidence tells us is that Heathrow is in the wrong place. Its location at the heart of the UK’s most densely populated area means the costs – financial, environmental and social – are maximised and the airport will always have to operate under constraints. This is not a viable location for extra capacity.
At a national level, expanding Heathrow offers just five additional long haul routes and the constrained site will never be able to meet the UK’s long-term aviation demands. The third runway is also the wrong choice for London and would significantly reduce regional connectivity and economic competiveness. It would be severely damaging for the millions of people who neighbour the airport and live below its new flightpaths. It is the wrong choice at every level.
At the evidence session of the Environmental Audit Committee on the environmental impacts of a 3rd Heathrow runway, Daniel Moylan – who is the chief aviation advisor to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, gave evidence. He said a huge number of people under Heathrow flight paths would find their period of respite from the noise reduced, from around half the day (taken as 8 hours, 7am to 11pm) now to just a quarter of the day (ie. 4 hours). His words: “Davies admits that the respite period would on average fall to a third of the flying day rather than half at the moment. But our analysis shows that while that figure of a third, as an average, is about right, for some communities, for over half the communities, this will fall to 25% of the day only. And for the others it will be 50%. So the 30% is an average, and includes 50% of the affected population – a larger population – having only 25% of the flying day as respite….That is something people are not aware of that is coming down the road at them.” Currently for approaches, the airport operates runway alternation, so (with some exceptions) planes land on just one of the runways for half a day, changing to the other at 3pm each day. That gives about half a day of respite. If there is a new runway, this would have to be used in mixed mode, for landings and take offs. Half a day of respite would not be possible.
Extra Heathrow runway ‘would give just 4-hour break from noise’
By Nicholas Cecil (Evening Standard)
Tens of thousands of Londoners could face a respite from noisy planes of just four hours of their waking day if Heathrow expands, MPs have been told.
The airport currently switches runway use to ensure residents enjoy about eight hours of the 16-hour “working day” free from disturbing noise.
The Airports Commission has admitted that if another runway were built at Heathrow, this period would be cut to a third of the working day, which runs from 7am to 11pm, rather than half. But it insists the extra capacity the runway would bring would mean these periods could be more reliably maintained.
However, Daniel Moylan, the Mayor’s chief aviation adviser, told MPs that the respite period could be cut to as little as about four hours.
Speaking to the Commons environmental audit committee, he said: “Our analysis shows that while that figure of a third, as an average, is about right, for … over half the communities, it will fall to 25 per cent of the day only, and for the others it will be 50 per cent.
John Stewart, chairman of anti-third runway group HACAN, said: “If this is true, there will be uproar in communities across west London because for many people it’s the break from the noise that makes life bearable.”
[Below is what Heathrow says]
Heathrow said its own proposals showed it was possible to offer respite to 95 per cent of people affected by noise for 50 per cent of the time. [This sort of Heathrow statement needs to be treated with a great deal of caution, to understand exactly what is meant. It is not likely to mean what it appears to say, at face value. Beware! AW note]
“We have listened closely to feedback from residents, including groups like HACAN, to ensure our plans provide respite for almost every resident impacted by Heathrow’s operations — something that isn’t possible today,” a spokeswoman for the airport added. [This is likely to mean that – as only those living within certain noise contour areas are included in noise statistics – by carefully tweaking contours, they can adjust the numbers within certain noise contours to theoretically exclude areas. People anywhere close to a noise contour boundary, but just outside it, are likely to be experiencing a very similar degree of noise to someone just inside it. But they would – in theory – not be subjected to noise at all ….just considering those within the contour. AW note].
In its final report, the Airports Commission insists Heathrow can expand with a third runway, and possibly a fourth, while cutting the number of people disturbed by aircraft noise, partly due to quieter planes. But Mr Moylan told MPs: “It’s inherently implausible that you could have 50 per cent more flights, a third runway, and have an improved noise situation.”
Last year, the number of people blighted by Heathrow aircraft noise hit a 13-year high of just over 270,000, according to figures from the Civil Aviation Authority based on the Government’s preferred measurement.
But Heathrow said an analysis it commissioned from the CAA, using a different measurement favoured by City Hall and the European Commission, showed the number actually fell, by 46,000 from 2013.
The comments by Daniel Moylan start 16.12.14 into the video.
Transcript of what Daniel said on noise:
“It is inherently implausible that you can have 50% more flights, a 3rd runway and have an improved noise situation. As the Mayor once said, there would be more pigs flying over Heathrow than aeroplanes, if you really believe that. So I think you could start with the view that it is inherently implausible. And there is this issue of respite. At the moment it is 50:50 so the runway alternation with 2 runways allows respite for half the affected population for half the population for half a day but when you have three runways you can’t do that. One of the runways has to operate in mixed mode – and Davies admits that the respite period would on average fall to a third of the flying day rather than half at the moment. But our analysis shows that while that figure of a third, as an average, is about right, for some communities, for over half the communities, this will fall to 25% of the day only. And for the others it will be 50%. So the 30% is an average, and includes 50% of the affected population – a larger population – having only 25% of the flying day as respite.
“That is something people are not aware of that is coming down the road at them.”
Asked a question by Jo Churchill MP:
“May I just confirm that is all what the Commission stated Heathrow must stay within the “noise envelope” with noise limits no higher than today? You have to keep within those limits while jacking up [the number of flights]?
Daniel Moylan replied:
“I have a difficulty with this because noise is not a thing, but it is an experience and if I have half the noise and I share half of it with Nick [Lord True] is that an improvement or not. Given how you measure noise in logarithmic scales, it might be a significant improvement. But the whole notion of a noise envelope – noise contours are another matter – but the whole notion of a noise envelope that people have to stick to, I have huge difficulties with because it is not a quantum of something.”
In his concluding statement, Daniel Moylan said of a 3rd Heathrow runway: (16.20.17 into the video)
“I have to look at it from the point of view of the Mayor. It is just worth remembering that the Mayor has views on this question but he has responsibilities to which he is elected that relate to spatial geography, economic development, planning, housing and all sorts of aspects of London. And an airport, or indeed a new runway at an airport, and the number of flights involved, represent a very VIOLENT powerful intervention in all of those responsibilities.
“So even if it could be shown that – I don’t actually believe myself it is every likely to be compliant with EU air quality limits, I think that is going to be hugely challenging – even if it could be shown, he would still be left with the question, but why would I want to do that. Why would I as Mayor, with all these responsibilities, in a city with a population of already 8.6 million, forecast very reliably to be 10 million by the time this runway opens, why would I want to do that and impose that on all of these people when we need a better solution. He of course will not be Mayor for very much longer and the issues will not be those of the Mayor, but there will be someone else in position and you can argue with them yourselves, but I find it difficult to see any of those nominated for the post sitting down and saying, “Yeah, we’ve solved it, let’s just get on with it.” I don’t see it happening.”
John Redwood, the MP for Wokingham – about 20 km west of Heathrow – has written to Heathrow, to NATS and to Wokingham Council, about the impact of Heathrow aircraft noise on his constituency. He says: “Last year, NATS began experimenting with new trial routes to Heathrow. These were discontinued early as a result of the new noise levels, which were intolerable. However, the routes did not revert to the old pattern. What seems to happen now is a concentration of all flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over my constituency which cause big disturbance and unhappiness. As a result, this issue has become very contentious locally. It would be better if NATS could go back to the system operated prior to last year’s ill-conceived experiments. This would help to reduce the concentrated noise.” He says to the Council: “I think it is important for the council to be aware that this issue is very contentious locally and become more so in recent months. It appears that there is now a concentration of flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over the local area which cause big disturbance and unhappiness.” He says it “would also be helpful if planes entering and departing Heathrow adopted a steeper take-off and landing approach to enable them to fly higher.” He has expressed guarded support for the idea of another runway in the past.
Wokingham is a constituency about 20 km west of Heathrow, west of Bracknell Map On Twitter at @johnredwood
John Redwood says: Anyone with points they would like me to put can send them to me at Parliament, London SW1A 0AA or 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU.
Letter to the Chief Executive of NATS on aircraft noise
I have sent this letter to the Chief Executive of NATS in regard to the issue of aircraft noise. I am also making representations to Heathrow Airport, Wokingham Borough Council and to the Aviation Minister:
I am writing to you about the impact that overhead noise from aircraft traveling to and from Heathrow Airport is having on my constituents.
Last year, NATS began experimenting with new trial routes to Heathrow. These were discontinued early as a result of the new noise levels, which were intolerable. However, the routes did not revert to the old pattern.
What seems to happen now is a concentration of all flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over my constituency which cause big disturbance and unhappiness. As a result, this issue has become very contentious locally.
It would be better if NATS could go back to the system operated prior to last year’s ill-conceived experiments. This would help to reduce the concentrated noise. I enclose an example of correspondence I have received from local residents, which demonstrates the impact this is having.
I have sent this letter to the Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport in regard to the issue of aircraft noise. I am also making representations to NATs, Wokingham Borough Council and to the Aviation Minister:
Mr John Holland-Kaye
Chief Executive Officer
Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited
The Compass Centre, Nelson Road
Hounslow, Middlesex TW6 2GW
8 October 2015
Dear Mr Holland-Kaye
I am writing further to our recent meeting at which we discussed the impact of overhead noise from aircraft travelling to and from Heathrow Airport.
As you are aware, this issue is very contentious locally and has become more so in recent months. It appears that there is now a concentration of flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over my constituency which cause big disturbance and unhappiness.
I enclose an example of correspondence I have received from local residents, which demonstrates the impact this is having. I would welcome your comments in response to this.
I believe we need to return to the previous status quo whereby flights operated on a much wider corridor, which helped to mitigate much of the noise. I would be grateful if you could raise this matter with NATs and encourage them to do more to tackle this problem.
It would also be helpful if planes entering and departing Heathrow adopted a steeper take-off and landing approach to enable them to fly higher.
I have sent this letter to the Chief Executive of Wokingham Borough Council in regard to the issue of aircraft noise. I am also making representations to NATs, Heathrow Airport and the Aviation Minister:
Mr Andy Couldrick
Wokingham Borough Council
Civic Offices, Shute End
Wokingham, Berkshire RG40 1BN
8 October 2015
Thank you for your email note to me following our recent meeting.
You explained that Wokingham Borough Council has not received any significant volume of complaints about the impact of overhead noise from aircraft travelling to and from Heathrow Airport.
I think it is important for the council to be aware that this issue is very contentious locally and become more so in recent months. It appears that there is now a concentration of flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over the local area which cause big disturbance and unhappiness.
I enclose an example of correspondence I have received from local residents, which demonstrates the impact this is having. I am sending this onto you for your information.
I have arranged a meeting with the Chief Executive of Heathrow to take up the question of more noise from aircraft over the Wokingham constituency. Many residents remain unhappy about the change of flightpaths put through without consultation. I will also review ways in which aircraft noise could be reduced. Anyone with points they would like me to put can log them here or send them to me at Parliament, London SW1A 0AA or 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU.
Yesterday a letter arrived in my email box from the Chief Executive of Heathrow. He wants my support in case Heathrow emerges as the preferred location for an extra runway from the imminent Report.
I have written back to him reminding him that recent changes to flight patterns have increased the noise over my constituency. This took place with no advertisement or public consultation. I have held meetings with both Heathrow and NATs to complain. I am awaiting answers to my questions about what measures they propose to take to reduce the current noise levels and to reconsider the flight paths.
I have asked the Chief Executive himself to look into this important matter, which has reduced support for Heathrow in the Wokingham area. I want to know if the flightpaths can be changed back, if the planes can climb and descend more steeply so they are higher over us, if pilots can be required to fly in less noisy ways, if future capacity increases could remove the need for stacking and circling, and if more use can be made of quieter planes.
I will pursue these issues with Heathrow, NATs and Ministers.
I have long held the view that London does need more airport capacity. I had to accept that the last Parliament had no mandate to back airport expansion, and no wish by many MPs to decide it. The next Parliament will be different.
The main parties have all agreed that a decision does have to be made, and have agreed to be guided by – but not bound by – the report which will be published into the competing claims of Heathrow and Gatwick shortly after May 7th.
I have not come to a final conclusion on the best answer, because I wish to read the report. I also would like to hear more views from residents in the Wokingham constituency. I am also most concerned about the increase in flights and noise over the constituency in recent months, and unhappy about how this occurred and how the matter was handled by NATS. I will make further representations to both Heathrow and NATS if elected on May 7th. I will also link the issue of noise to the decision on future airport expansion, as noise will be an important consideration for many living within range of Heathrow as we do.
Dr Lee, MP for Bracknell, and I met with representatives of Heathrow airport on Wednesday 18th March to discuss airport noise.
We had asked for the meeting on discovering that changes were made to flight routes last year without telling the local community. Readers of this site will know that I and others challenged the airport when it was conducting experiments with new routes last autumn. The airport accepted that these trial routes were thought too noisy by many of us and ended the trials early. However, noise levels still seemed different. Heathrow denied there had been any other changes.
They now inform us that NATs did indeed make operational changes last year which concentrate more flights over Bracknell and Wokingham during easterly operations. The airport apologised again, but said they did not know of this change. Apparently it is an operational change for safety reasons which NATs may do without consultation.
Dr Lee and I pressed the airport to do more to control noise. I raised the following issues
1. Can very early arrivals be delayed to a more civilised hour ? A first flight can come at 4.30am, though outbound flights start at 6am.
2.Can airlines be encouraged or made to use quieter planes for the early or late flights?
3. Can plans be advanced to get planes to climb higher sooner, or descend on steeper paths, to cut noise further from the airport?
4. Can more incentives be introduced to encourage use of quieter planes by airlines?
5. What action is taken to deal with poor flying by the occasional pilot who uses too much thrust/airbraking/banking and turning in a way which increases noise?
I was told work was going on with all of these matters. I asked for a report on what we should expect by way of improvement.
I have had the following reply to the complaint I placed on the Heathrow site. I still recommend constituents register their own complaints on the Heathrow noise site as well:
” I am sorry you have been disturbed by aircraft using Heathrow. Your complaint has been registered.
The airspace trials ended on the 12 November and flights have now returned to pre-trial patterns.
During the trial your area was affected when the airport is on what is known as ‘westerly operations’ (i.e when there are westerly winds). During periods of westerly operations, planes will land over London and depart towards the west. However since the trial ended, we have mainly been on easterly operations. During these periods your area will see overflight either from planes making their way to the final approach into Heathrow or as they depart on route 6 and head west. This happened prior to the trial. I have attached some slides to show how your area is affected during easterly operations. It also shows the situation prior to the trial starting.
In light of concerns that flights have not returned to pre-trial patterns, we have also carried out some analysis that looks at the numbers and heights of aircraft before and after the trial. This analysis can be found on our websiteHeathrow.com/noise. “
The Evening Standard reports that recent CAA data show that over 270,000 people – a 13-year high – suffered from the sound of Heathrow planes overhead last year, which was a rise of nearly 6,000 on 2013. This was also the highest number affected by noise since 2001. In theory, planes are supposed to be getting marginally less noisy, as new models slowly replace older ones. But as planes get ever larger, they are noisier than smaller planes they replace – and these planes are perceived to fly lower. The figures may indicate that Heathrow’s claims it can add a runway and even reduce total noise are not credible. The Airports Commission is likely to have been over-optimistic in presuming that would be possible. London’s population is growing and the CAA analysis shows the number of people suffering noise, using the Government’s preferred measurement, the 57 Leq noise contour, from Heathrow planes rose from around 264,250 to over 270,000 people, though the size of the contour fell from 107.3 km sq to 104.9 km sq. The numbers within the 57 Leq contour fell from 1988 to 2001, but this trend failed to continue over the following years.
2011 108.8 km squ 243,350 people in the 57 Leq contour
2012 110.1 km squ and 239,600 people
2013 107.3 km squ and 264,250 people
2014 104.9 km squ and 270,000 people in the 57 Leq contour
Thousands more people suffer blight of Heathrow noise, aviation bosses reveal
Number of affected neighbours rises to 13-year high
By Nicholas Cecil (Evening Standard)
Thousands more people around Heathrow are being blighted by aircraft noise, according to official figures.
Just over 270,000 individuals – a 13-year high – suffered from the sound of planes overhead last year, which was a rise of nearly 6,000 on 2013.
The figures compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority also showed the highest number of people affected by noise since 2001.
Anti-expansion campaigners immediately seized on the revelations to cast doubt on the Airports Commission’s conclusion that the west London airport could expand while cutting the number of people disturbed by noise.
John Stewart, chairman of the HACAN campaign group, said: “These figures suggest that the Commission has been too optimistic in predicting that the noise climate will improve over the next few decades even with a third or fourth runway in place.”
London’s population is growing and the CAA analysis shows the number of people suffering noise, using the Government’s preferred measurement, [the 57 Leq noise contour] from Heathrow planes rose by two per cent from 2013 to 2014.
But the area affected actually also shrunk by 2% from 107.3 kilometres squared to 104.9 kilometres squared. [See DfT data ]
The aviation experts put these two changes partly down to variations in the noise contour shape which expanded in the region between Feltham and Twickenham, and also to the west of Windsor, while contracting near Barnes and in the area west of Slough.
Tory mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and a leading anti-third runway campaigner, said: “Despite some marginally quieter planes, London’s growing population has more than cancelled out any gains and an additional 300,000 flights will clearly make things dramatically worse.”
The CAA report for the Government showed a marked decline in the number of people and the size of the area blighted by Heathrow plane noise between 1988 and 2001, but this trend failed to continue over the following years.
However, Heathrow stressed it had commissioned a separate analysis from the CAA which showed more than 46,000 fewer people were disturbed by plane noise last year, compared to 2013.
This was using a different measurement which is preferred by City Hall and the European Commission, and put the airport’s noise footprint at its “smallest level in our history”, added a spokeswoman.
The different findings in the two CAA studies are not necessarily contradictory as the measurement preferred by City Hall and the European Commission includes and heavily weights night flights which have got quieter, according to the experts, and the way it measures noise also means it found a wider area affected, 210.7 kilometres squared in 2014 compared to 220.4 kilometres squared 12 months earlier, and a bigger population of more than 700,000.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “The area around Heathrow is a popular place to live and research shows aircraft noise has little impact on the willingness of people to move into the area, nor on the ability of residents to find buyers when they choose to sell their house.”
The rise is the number of people disturbed by noise under the Government’s preferred measurement level, which measures flights during summer days, could be partly down to people moving into new homes and properties becoming households of multiple occupancy.
Heathrow emphasised CAA figures show that there are 16 per cent more homes now than in 1991 within the Government’s preferred measurement level noise contour around the airport.
[The CAA and Heathrow are measuring the noise using different metrics].
The CAA use the 57 LAeq noise contour.
Heathrow use the 55 Lden contour.
“The CAA is using the Government’s preferred noise measurement known as the 57 LAeq contour. This looks at the number of planes, and the noise of each plane, flying over an area over a 16 hour day. The noise is then averaged out over the day. If the average is 57 decibels or more, that area is considered to be affected by the noise.
This 57 decibel cut off point has for years been widely criticized. Places like Fulham and Putney, clearly impacted by aircraft noise, lie outside the contour. Most European countries use a different measurement and the recent Airports Commission Report downplayed it.
But the CAA is correct that the numbers within the 57LAeq contour have risen. This is thought to be down to people moving into new homes and properties becoming households of multiple occupancy. [ie. higher population density. AW note]. This increased population has off-set any benefits from less noisy aircraft and improved operational practices.
So where did Heathrow get its figures? It used the measurement known as Lden recommended by the European Commission. This averages out noise over a 12 hour day, then separately over a four hour evening and an eight hour night. It adds 5 decibels to the evening measurement and 10 decibels to the night one to allow for lower background noise levels at these times.
It is regarded as more accurate than the 57LAeq contour. It certainly tallies more closely with the actual areas where noise is problematic. In London is includes area such as Clapham. The total numbers affected has been considerably over 700,000.
Heathrow, however, has brought the total number down to 702,000. It’s is good PR for the company. Whilst their new figure is technically accurate, the sleight of hand they have used to get it would have wide-boys of the world purring with pleasure.
The reason why the overall numbers is down is simply because of a reduction in night noise. Because 10 decibels are added to night flight noise to account for the lower background levels, Heathrow has only to introduce a relatively small number of less noisy planes at night to make a disproportional impact to overall noise levels. That is what has happened.
[So the reduction in noise is more a statistical artefact than a real improvement for residents. AW note]