SSE tells Stansted airport to publish the evidence it is using to try to restrict compensation claims

Following the publication by Stansted Airport of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused it of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting one. As part of its ‘Guide to Residents’ on submitting compensation claims, Stansted has published a map which shows an incredibly small ‘eligibility area’ – with no explanation as to the basis for this. SSE says there is absolutely no legal basis for eligibility for compensation to be thus restricted. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the airport expansion. This came about because of infrastructure that enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the 8 years leading up to 2007. The limited area includes just a few hundred homes, but the full area includes many thousands of homes that have lost a significant amount of value. Stansted residents have only received any compensation for expansion much earlier, in the 1990s. SSE is advising people not to be deterred, and it will be asking Stansted for a lot more clarification of the legal basis for its attempt to limit claims.




12.7.2016   (Stop Stansted Expansion – SSE – press release)

Accuses airport of seeking to evade its responsibility to compensate local residents.


Following the publication by Stansted Airport Ltd (STAL) last week of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused STAL of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting a claim.

As part of its ‘Guide to Residents’ on submitting compensation claims, STAL has published a map which shows an incredibly small ‘eligibility area’ – with no explanation as to the basis for this.  See

There is absolutely no legal basis for STAL to restrict eligibility for compensation to a shaded area on a map. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the expansion of Stansted Airport which was enabled by the infrastructure added between 2001 and 2007 – the so-called Phase 2 development of Stansted.

Only a few hundred homes are within STAL’s eligibility area whereas evidence gathered by SSE in 2007 clearly indicates that many thousands of local homes lost a significant amount of their value (compared to the general movement in house prices) between 2001 and 2007 – i.e. at the time of  the Phase 2 development of Stansted.  This expansion of Stansted’s taxiways, aircraft stands and runway infrastructure enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the eight years leading up to 2007.  To date, local residents have received no compensation for this.

Local residents have only ever received compensation for Stansted Airport’s expansion to 8 million passengers per annum (8mppa) in the 1990s – the so-called Phase 1 development of Stansted.  At that time, compensation payments ranging from 2% to 20% of the value of their houses were paid to residents in Broxted, Burton End, Great and Little Hallingbury, and parts of Birchanger, Bishop’s Stortford, Elsenham, Hatfield Broad Oak, Hatfield Heath, Spellbrook, Takeley and Thaxted.

Stansted’s Phase 2 development from 2001 to 2007 enabled the airport to triple its throughput to 24mppa and STAL believes that the airport can achieve a throughput of 35mppa (possibly more) without any additional taxiways, aircraft stands or runway infrastructure.  This throughput would be more than four times the 8mppa throughput for which compensation has been paid to date.

SSE’s evidence – based on the official Land Registry statistics – shows significant house price depreciation in areas far beyond the shaded eligibility area on STAL’s map.  There is evidence of house price depreciation in postcode sectors CM6 1, CM6 2, CM6 3, CM22 6, CM22 7, CM24 8 and CM23 5.  That is not to say that all the properties in all of these postcode sectors experienced a loss in their relative value due to Stansted’s Phase 2 development.  Nor is it to say that no property outside these postcode sectors was devalued by Stansted’s Phase 2 development.

SSE strongly recommends that individuals who believe they may have an entitlement to claim should not be deterred by STAL’s attempts to minimise the number of claimants, and they should take professional advice.  It is not SSE’s role to advise which individual homes may be eligible for compensation and which may not.  It is however very clear to SSE that STAL is seeking to be unreasonably restrictive with the eligibility area it has drawn on its map.  STAL does not explain how it has arrived at this area and, as we have said, it has no legal basis.

SSE has written to STAL asking for the evidence it relied upon to define its eligibility area. The letter also asks STAL to explain and clarify a number of other restrictions attached to STAL’s compensation process with no apparent justification in law or otherwise.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “It took the threat of legal action to force the airport to make a commitment to start dealing with these long overdue compensation payments for local residents.  However, it’s already beginning to look like the airport’s management will need to be dragged every inch of the way to make these compensation arrangements fair and reasonable – and accessible – to all those local families who have a legitimate right to compensation.”

Peter Sanders concluded:  “This has already gone on far too long.  It’s time the airport stopped trying to evade its responsibilities and started behaving with some decency and integrity.”




See also SSE press release of 7 June 2016 at





Stop Stansted Expansion prepares to launch legal proceedings against Stansted airport, over compensation delays

Stansted Airport faces legal action on behalf of thousands of local residents denied compensation over devaluation of their property caused by airport expansion. The cost to the airport could run to hundreds of millions of pounds. Stansted failed to meet a deadline (31st May) to make a public statement agreeing to introduce a compensation scheme for local residents after years of prevarication. Since 2002, Stansted has used the excuse that it has no legal obligation to pay compensation until it has completed everything listed in its 1999 Phase 2 planning consent. Completion of a small part of these works, the Echo Cul-de-Sac, has been repeatedly postponed – most recently until the mid-2020s – and has thus been branded the ‘golden rivet’ loophole. Stansted lawyers finally accepted this, but then immediately put forward a new excuse for rejecting compensation claims – that claims were now time-barred under the Limitation Act. This gave rise to withering criticism from the judge who remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late.” Due to Stansted stalling, SSE are now taking legal action, to safeguard the interests of local residents. SSE’s preparations for a legal challenge ,on the airport’s use of the Limitation Act, are underway. They have appointed and briefed its legal team, which includes two expert barristers and one of the country’s foremost planning solicitors.   SSE presentation with prevarication details

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Stop Stansted Expansion sets out details of Stansted’s devious attempts to avoid compensation payments from 2000

Stop Stansted Expansion have catalogued the appalling deceit and prevarication used by Stansted Airport, in its attempts to avoid making compensation payments to people affected by airport’s expansion. Work on Phase 2 was started in 1999, to take the airport up to 15 million passengers per year, and claims should then have been possible. But Stansted insisted that no claims could be made until one of the taxiway piers, Echo, was completed. Each year, from 2004 to 2011 the date when the Echo stand’s completion date was pushed further and further back (partly as Stansted had a dramatic fall in passenger numbers in the recession). Finally this April Stansted’s lawyers said ” …1 March 2007 is a relevant date at least in respect of some of the works in paragraph 1.8..” In other words Stansted finally concedes that it had been wrong to use the ‘golden rivet’ ploy to avoid paying compensation. But now Stansted has a new ploy to avoid paying compensation, saying any claim had to be brought within 6 years. The Deputy President of the Lands Tribunal remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late?” Stop Stansted Expansion gave the airport until 31st May to make a public statement reversing this stance – or face a legal challenge. No satisfadtory response was received in time from owners, MAG.

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Blog: Heathrow’s truly negative health impacts on millions of people are not ameliorated by the airport providing local employment

At an event held on 4th July in Parliament, the issue of the noise impact of Heathrow flights on mental health was considered. This is perhaps the first time this has been discussed, and the links made. Heathrow’s Matt Gorman spoke at the meeting, and said Heathrow creates   jobs and those employed have better mental health because of their financial security. This spurred Murray Barter, a member of one of the groups that emerged in the past 2 years, due to changes to Heathrow flight paths, to write a blog about the widespread dissatisfaction there is with Heathrow and the way it is dealing with communities. In his impassioned  blog, Murray says: “Employment at Heathrow for a minority is not, and cannot be, an antidote to the known adverse impacts on health, well being and quality of life that are caused by the airport’s operations. These affect hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of people living as much as thirty miles from Heathrow.”  And “The adverse effects of plane noise on vast numbers of people – including increased incidence of mental stress and depression  – cannot, and must not, be swept under the carpet merely because Heathrow provides employment. The good does not outweigh the bad, and attempting to blur the two does Heathrow no credit.” And Heathrow expansion cannot be used as a social experiment in noise torture for the unfortunate minority who find themselves under a “noise canyon” (the CAA’s term). Read the full blog.


Heathrow’s truly negative health impacts on millions of people are not ameliorated by the airport providing local employment

6th July 2016
By Murray Barter (RAAN)

At the event in Parliament on Monday 4th July, looking at the links between exposure to aircraft noise and negative mental health impacts, Matt Gorman (Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability and Environment) was invited to speak.

Matt made the somewhat unrelated point, but one that Heathrow is always keen to promote, that having a job at Heathrow, or associated with it, increases physical and mental well-being. True enough, having a job and financial security is much better for mental stability than the     stresses of being unemployed – and having financial problems.  But it somewhat misses the point.

What the meeting was about was the impact of aircraft noise, so this employment argument was seen by some as a cheap point and dismissive of the real problems that Heathrow creates for those its planes overfly.  Employment at Heathrow for a minority is not, and cannot be, an antidote to the known adverse impacts on health, well being and quality of life that are caused by the airport’s operations. These affect hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of people living as much as thirty miles from Heathrow.

Matt’s attempt to excuse Heathrow’s noise impacts, by job claims, was a stark reminder of how the aviation industry continues to seek to spin every ounce of information/data into a positive – for their own benefit.

The adverse effects of plane noise on vast numbers of people – including increased incidence of mental stress and depression  – cannot, and must not, be swept under the carpet merely because Heathrow provides employment. The good does not outweigh the bad, and attempting to blur the two does Heathrow no credit.

There are few bounds to Heathrow’s publicity, propaganda & their deliberate warping of information, data, and science.  The incessant advertising shows this, with several adverts and claims found wanting by the Advertising Standards Authority.

One of Heathrow’s most insidious forms of distorting reality is their use of the outmoded and discredited 57dB “average noise contour” measurement, and also how PBN-based flight concentration is deliberately used to gerrymander the apparent reductions in the size of noise contours. (They recently state a range of noise metrics ought to be considered, though their publicity & speeches always stick to the averaged noise contours, as it shows them in the most favourable light. What would be more appropriate are contours showing individual noise events > 50dB, e.g. grouped into > 25, > 50, > 75, > 100 etc. All studies show significant increases in community annoyance at much lower levels than 57 dB.  See the ANASE study )

Given this, with aircraft landing and taking off every 90 seconds for 13+ hrs/day, it has become increasing clear that raised risk of mental illness for sections of the population is being wilfully – if unintentionally – delivered by Heathrow.

These negative effects are being glossed over and ignored by the airport and those who back its expansion, who are chiefly :

1). A predominance of MP’s from constituencies north of Bedford & west of Swindon who are simply unaware of the serious issues of noise anguish, and the detrimental impacts of airborne pollution & associated surface access movements. The MPs appear uncaring towards those affected.

2). Businesses salivating at the anticipated honeypot of potential profits, from prospects dangled before them of rising GDP and more exports, or airport construction work. They conveniently ignore the likely disproportionate increase in imports, and the capital & jobs outflows, as do Heathrow – which only considers exports and inbound tourists, and not the reverse.

3).  The highly conflicted and aviation-centric DfT & CAA – and the Treasury. (By contrast, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), DEFRA, DCLG, DoH need to deal with the consequences of aviation expansion, with its environmental and social costs).

4). The conflicted Airports Commission, with its Economist-centric staffing bias, coupled with its Chairman who has Prudential board membership . The Commission was given misdirected Terms of Reference (‘to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub’), resulting in only one feasible outcome, given the status quo

Against all this, the tax-paying, law-abiding communities are at the butt end, and in the vast majority of cases, derive no benefit from Heathrow’s operations. The airport has paid lip service to its responsibility to them for decades, never making serious attempts to be a good neighbour. The current Community Noise Forum is the latest in a long line of headline-grabbing, perfunctory talking-shop smokescreens with zero achievement made, after two years and counting.

The Airports Commission didn’t include any economic modelling based upon Brexit, and therefore the discredited, exaggerated and double-counted 60-year economic forecasts need serious and immediate remodelling.  That would immediately downgrade Heathrow’s already patently absurd claims of expected GDP growth.

Incidentally, the Airports Commission didn’t seem to take into account the disproportionate increase in imports that would inevitably happen at the same time as any growth in exports, further adding to our net trade deficit, nor the net capital and jobs outflows. It would therefore appear the £24 million Airports Commission report started out as being misdirected, finished as incomplete upon publication, then became obsolete in under 12 months.

Heathrow expansion cannot be used as a social experiment in noise torture for the unfortunate 20% underneath a proposed “noise canyon” (source: the CAA).  Those unluckly enough to live in these “canyons” are being subjected to inhuman and/degrading suffering and treatment, through the noise burden inflicted on them.  And this excess noise is merely the result of Heathrow, NATS and the CAA attempting to “squeeze a quart into a pint pot” in terms of south east airspace – and enabling Heathrow to meet its allotted (outdated, outmoded, discredited) noise measurement criteria, as set by the government.

What future, 21st century vision do we have for our children and their children in Britain? Are we genuinely serious about schools with adobe huts, as an illusion of outdoor play spaces? Or the desecration of huge areas where instead of homes being places of calm and quiet, they are becoming mental-torture chambers of repetitive noise, where “respite” can shrink to as little as just 4 hours per day without the din?  This is not a modern progressive society, which cares for the well-being of all its members, including the most vulnerable.

Heathrow accounts for 28% of people affected by aircraft noise in the whole of Europe. It talks of an £18.7 billion ‘privately funded’ infrastructure project as a boost for the UK economy at this time,.  However it, and its business backers, conveniently chooses to omit the ‘elephant in the room’ –  the taxpayer requirement of up to £20 billion (Transport for London figure) for regional infrastructure spending needed to support it.  Without these improvements in surface transport, the new runway means gridlock and illegal air pollution for miles around the airport.

I’m sure the government has other rather more pressing priorities than this runway, in terms of time & resource allocation, at this present time where most economists are forecasting downturns of economic activity & travel.

If the appropriate question is posed, Heathrow expansion is most certainly NOT the answer

Two questions:

“Is Heathrow Airport one of the:

a). most mendacious and least trusted

b). most polluting

c). most noisy and most complained about

d). worst positioned major source of noise and pollution

companies in UK corporate history?

And are Heathrow’s multi million £ media and lobbying campaigns, glossing over its insuperable problems that are an inevitable consequence of its operations, a satisfactory and sufficient basis for its expansion?

by  Murray Barter, Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN)


RAAN is one of the groups set up in 2014 due to the worsening noise from Heathrow airport, affecting new areas in Berkshire, Surrey and North Hampshire. RAAN is involved with the Heathrow Community Noise Forum.

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Howard Davies makes more dodgy claims about necessity of building a 3rd Heathrow runway, regardless of Brexit

After the Brexit vote, there are very real uncertainties about the demand for air travel in future decades. Agreements need to be worked out between the UK and Europe, and this includes the Open Skies agreement between the UK and the US. These could take several years to work out. The Airports Commission gave absolutely no consideration to the possibility of Brexit. However, instead of sensibly deciding to delay a runway decision, Sir Howard Davies (as ever appearing oblivious of the many and serious deficiencies of his Commission’s report) is pushing hard, in the media, for a Heathrow runway. These claims are dangerous. Howard Davies says the economic case for a 3rd runway has been strengthened by the Brexit vote; “there are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset.” .. The UK “needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry….will soon need the work.”  Some businesses see not building the runway as “a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world.”  He says a Brexit choice is “presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible… ” … “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”



London airport expansion: Britain risks becoming ‘a joke if we keep dithering’ over Heathrow and Gatwick

By JOE MURPHY (Evening Standard)
Friday 1 July 2016

Airports Commission chief Sir Howard Davies today warned that Britain risks becoming “a joke” if it fails to push ahead with extra runway capacity for London and the South East.  [Might be a laughing stock if it makes a really bad, unsound decision that ends up needlessly costing the taxpayer a great deal of money, and makes large areas of West London unpleasant to live in.  AW comment]

In an Evening Standard interview, he said it was more important than ever following the Brexit referendum to show that Britain was open to business with growing markets like China and India. [Might that be because the Brexit vote means the Airports Commission’s report is no longer of much use, as it failed completely to consider Brexit? And Howard Davies is keen that his work is not shelved – thus reducing his reputation?  AW note] 

He warned: “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.  [There is plenty of UK airport capacity for links to the far east etc. If fewer flights from Heathrow were going to European destinations, there is ample space at Heathrow for as many long haul business destinations as there is demand for.  Brexit may mean – nobody knows yet – fewer flights to and from some European airports.  AW note] 

“Internationally there’s a risk that the Brexit decision is seen as a kind of inward-looking choice. It’s crucial, I think, that we try as a country to offset that – and here is a good way of doing that. So I think it has much more significance now that it had before.”  [There is also the case to be made that links to distant parts of the world can easily be organised, without building a new Heathrow runway. That is just the option that suits Heathrow, and its shareholders, best.  Howard Davies, till September 2012, advised the GIC (Singapore), which owns 11.2% of Heathrow.  He is still a board member of Prudential, details, an insurance group which invested in property near Heathrow, just months before the Commission recommended a 3rd runway.  Also involved in Chinese banking.  Details.  AW note].

Urging David Cameron’s successor to “be bold” he said the country’s governance would look “threadbare” and “daft” if there was further indecision. [No, it would not.   Making a very wrong decision, for very bad reasons, would look “daft.”   AW note ]

The interview marks exactly a year since the commission headed by Sir Howard recommended Heathrow expansion after three years of research and studies.

He expressed frustration at the repeated delays announced by Mr Cameron and said: “They needed to be bold. Just waiting for something to turn up in a Mr Micawber-like way, hoping that suddenly everybody will agree, it isn’t going to happen, actually.

“The French say ‘gouverner c’est choisir’ – to govern is to choose. But it has just been put off further and further.”

The senior businessman urged the next Prime Minister to “screw his courage to the sticking point” and endorse Heathrow’s third runway. “Heathrow have made the concessions we asked for, more or less,” he said.  [More of less pretty much sums it up.  Heathrow has not given proper assurances about a real ban on night flights. The aspirations about making less noise with 50% more flights are largely wishful thinking. The promises on air quality are not for Heathrow to achieve, so are largely meaningless. And they are not prepared to pay the costs of surface infrastructure. Let alone on carbon emissions. If anyone believes that means meeting the conditions, their  perspective seems to be very biased – or their understanding incomplete. AW note ]. 

He also revealed that he did not think Tory frontrunner Theresa May was a diehard Heathrow opponent, contrary to the view of some MPs.

Intriguingly, Sir Howard did not think Theresa May would be influenced against Heathrow on the grounds of local noise nuisance for her Maidenhead constituents. “I’ve met her and talked about it and she asks good questions but she has never said ‘over my dead body’,” he said.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin yesterday told MPs it would now be October at the earliest before a decision could be taken because of Mr Cameron’s resignation. The further delay was strongly criticised by business leaders.

Sir Howard said business would not accept endless delays. “I would be very disappointed if nothing happened – and I would not be the only one.  [It is not for “business”  (meaning here, some businesses and not by any means all ) to decide on a matter like the devastation of a huge area of West London or of Surrey and Sussex.  If the right decision has to be made, then business just has to accept it, like everyone else.  The UK should not be run merely for the whims of big business.  AW note] .

“They are going to have to do it pretty soon after a new prime minister is appointed because I just think the credibility of the governing process in this country is now rather threadbare on this. Internationally it looks pretty daft.”


Britain needs new Heathrow runway more than ever

By Sir Howard Davies  (Chairman of the, now closed, Airports Commission that recommended a 3rd Heathrow runway on 1.7.2015)

1.7.2016 (In the Financial Times)

[ Caution – read this with great caution.    It is written from the perspective of someone very keen to have his work taken seriously and acted upon. Its arguments, such as they are, are as full of holes as a Swiss cheese.  AW note ]

There are already signs of an inward investment slowdown this would offset, writes Howard Davies

He says: 

“It is now exactly a year since the Airports Commission, which I chaired, published its final report, recommending a third runway at Heathrow. The government had planned to make an early decision, but announced yesterday that this will not happen until October at the earliest. It is perhaps not surprising, as there are one or two other things going on, but it underlines the unwisdom of a year’s procrastination, in the hope that a more propitious moment would arrive.
Since a decision on runway capacity in south-east England has already been put off for several decades, a further delay while the Conservative party elects a new leader seemed an attractive option. But it is arguable that the cost of delay is rising and has escalated since last Thursday’s vote to leave the EU.

Most of the leadership candidates have not been closely involved in the runway debate. The non-appearance of Boris Johnson as a candidate will simplify the choice.  He continued to hanker after a new airport in the Thames Estuary. But there is no enthusiasm for that highly costly and environmentally challenged project elsewhere in government. So the options are those we set out last year: two different schemes at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.

In the year since our report was published, the public debate on the merits of the three options has continued. Gatwick has spent a lot of money on advertisements, some of which the Advertising Standards Authority forced it to withdraw, but no material new points have emerged to invalidate the Airports Commission analysis.

The air pollution problem, which is serious for all cities, is becoming more salient, partly as a result of the VW affair. But at the airport it can be resolved and will be alleviated by London-wide measures that are necessary anyway. The noise increase, while obviously unwelcome to those close to the airfield, we believe to be manageable. A three-runway configuration allows respite for affected communities, and aircraft are getting quieter year by year.

Our support for Heathrow expansion was, however, conditional on some important and costly concessions by the airport and the airlines, notably a ban on early morning arrivals, which cause particular concern; a noise levy to fund insulation schemes; and tough actions to reduce car traffic to the airport. In particular, the “kiss and fly” habit of driving right up to the airport to drop off passengers is one we need to break: kissing should be reserved for rail and bus stations, not Heathrow set-down zones.

The airport has now accepted almost all those recommendations, which was an important step forward.

The economic case for the project has in my view been strengthened by the events of the past few days. There are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset. It is likely that the greater part of the nearly £20bn investment would come from overseas investors, who remain keen to participate. The business case for Heathrow expansion remains strong.

The narrative of those arguing for Brexit included the point that the UK should be focusing more attention on fast-growing non-EU markets in the Far East and elsewhere. Stronger air links will be essential if that aspiration is to become a reality. Heathrow already offers far more non-European destinations partly because it has a supporting air freight infrastructure vastly greater than Gatwick. Expanding Gatwick, which is dominated by short-haul European leisure services, does not offer anything like the same advantages. Heathrow benefits from the network effects that come from a huge spread of long and short-haul routes, built up over half a century, which help to incubate new routes and make them viable. That cannot be quickly replicated elsewhere.

More broadly, the country needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry — whose stocks have suffered badly since the referendum — will soon need the work.

So the political case for delay is not as strong as the economic case for a decision. We talked to overseas investors and businesses, many of whom saw the lack of a decision on airport capacity as a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world. The Brexit choice is similarly presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible after their bucket and spade break. The waverers could take our compelling report to the beach. It is a page-turner, right up there with The Girl on the Train.”

The writer is a professor at Sciences-Po, Paris and chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland


That then prompted a letter from Sir Roy McNulty, of Gatwick:

 [Also with some very dodgy and selfl serving logic]. 
July 3, 2016

Gatwick expansion is now more important than ever


Howard Davies is wrong to assert that no material new points have emerged in the long period since the publication of his report commissioned by David Cameron (“Heathrow needs its third runway to take off without delay”, July 1).

One reason for that delay was that the report itself failed adequately to address the issue of air quality, a matter of increasing national concern; it is now clear that air quality issues around Heathrow are a much more significant impediment to expansion than Sir Howard recognises.

The report’s conclusions have also shown to be wrong in other respects. In the past year, Gatwick has served more than 40m passengers (a number the report suggested would not be reached until 2024) and has announced 20 new long-haul routes, including routes to second cities in China, giving the lie to the idea that only “hub” airports can open new routes to emerging markets. Indeed, a freedom of information act request has revealed that the commission’s own data show that long haul traffic for the UK will be the same under expansion at Gatwick as at Heathrow.

Further assessment of the risks of the two schemes, an area that the Treasury select committee identified as lacking in the analysis, has shown clearly that Gatwick’s scheme is low risk whereas the risks associated with Heathrow’s scheme are an order of magnitude greater. And a new report by the Competition and Markets Authority has identified the very considerable benefits of competition between airports, an issue largely dismissed by Sir Howard.

In the new environment in which the UK finds itself, our ability to act with agility and efficiency, to deploy our national resources judiciously, is more important than ever to demonstrate that we are open for business. The commission concluded that expansion at Gatwick was credible, financeable and deliverable. Gatwick has recently confirmed its ability to deliver a new runway by 2025, at no expense to the taxpayer and at a cost that will maintain our competitive position in the world market. That would be a better outcome than seeking to perpetuate an old orthodoxy which has so evidently failed time and again.

Sir Roy McNulty
Gatwick Airport Ltd


Airports Commission chairman warns Government over Heathrow delay

By Ben Martin
1 JULY 2016 (Telegraph)

It would be “a joke” if the Government sets out to boost trade with emerging markets following Brexit without building more runway capacity in the south east of England, the City grandee who led the Airports Commission has said.

Sir Howard Davies chaired the Government-appointed Commission that exactly a year ago told ministers the best way to tackle the looming aviation capacity crisis is to build a £17.6bn third runway at Heathrow.

The Government delayed a decision on the Commission’s findings in the 12 months since. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, then provoked fury among businesses on Thursday when he said the post-Brexit political chaos would result in another delay and a decision should not be expected until “at least October”.

Sir Howard, who is now chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, said in an interview with the Evening Standard: “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”

He continued: “Internationally there’s a risk that the Brexit decision is seen as a kind of inward-looking choice. It’s crucial, I think, that we try as a country to offset that – and here is a good way of doing that.”

Expanding Heathrow is controversial because of worries it will increase air and noise pollution.

Instead of backing the Commission, the Government in December said it would carry out more environmental work on a third runway and two rival projects – a second landing strip at Gatwick, and a plan to lengthen an existing Heathrow runway proposed by a group that is independent of the airport. It will now be left to David Cameron’s successor as prime minister to choose which scheme goes ahead.

Heathrow is almost full and Gatwick is also approaching its limits. The commission spent almost three years and £20m examining how to expand capacity before deciding another Heathrow runway would be the best way to solve the problem.

Heathrow’s third runway – 15 years of dithering

Department for Transport says more airport capacity is needed to cope with doubling in passenger numbers
Government White Paper published on third runway at Heathrow
Government says it backs Heathrow’s third runway
Public consultation launched
Conservatives come out against the plans for third runway
Third runway is approved by the Labour Government
Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition rules out third runway
Coalition asks Airports Commission to review options for air capacity in south east
July 2015
Commission says it backs third runway at Heathrow
December 2015
Government delays decision until Summer 2016 – at the earliest
May 2016
Heathrow offers to ban night flights in a bid to win approval for a third runway. The measure had been a sticking point.
June 2016
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin says the decision will now be made in the autumn when a new prime minister has been chosen.

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Ground-breaking seminar on aircraft noise and mental health held in House of Commons

A ground-breaking seminar discussing the impact of aircraft noise on mental health was held in Parliament on 4th July. The seminar, by HACAN and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) explored the issue. Hosted by Dr Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham, the seminar heard from Dirk Schreckenberg, one of the authors of the seminal NORAH study which looked at the link between noise and health at Frankfurt Airport. The study found negative effects on both mental well-being and on depression, from plane noise – especially in people experiencing increased levels of noise. A resident from West London, Chris Keady, spoke about his own history of mental problems, and the effect of high levels of aircraft noise on him. Not enough is known about the impact of exposure to aircraft noise, especially loud noise, often repeated, at different times of day and night, on mental health and stress levels. The evidence suggests that people who already have mental health issues can find aircraft noise particularly disturbing. There is a real problem if there is no escape from the noise, and people feel powerless and impotent against this imposition. We need a constructive dialogue involving noise experts, politicians, campaigners and the aviation industry to give proper consideration to this issue. Matt Gorman from Heathrow Airport also spoke at the event.



AEF event highlights aircraft noise and mental health link


AEF and HACAN hosted a well attended event in Parliament this week which explored the relationship between aircraft noise and mental health. The event was chaired by Twickenham MP, Dr Tania Mathias.

Dirk Schreckenberg, from the Centre for Applied Psychology, Environmental and Social Science in Hagen, Germany, provided a summary of the findings of the NORAH study. This major piece of research from around Frankfurt Airport examined a wide range of health impacts associated with aircraft noise before and after a fourth runway was built. The study included ground-breaking research on the links between aircraft noise and depression, and the impacts of a change in noise exposure (associated with expansion or new flight paths) on quality of life and community annoyance. The full presentation can be downloaded using the link at the end of this article.

Also giving presentations were Chris Keady and Heathrow Airport’s Sustainability Director Matt Gorman. Chris Keady, who lives under the Heathrow flightpath and has suffered with depression reflected on how a flight path change had impacted on his wellbeing. Matt Gorman highlighted the steps the airport was taking to provide respite for communities affected by aircraft noise.

We hope that that the seminar provided a useful contribution to the debate on aircraft noise and mental health. We will be continuing our work to push the issue of the health effects of aircraft noise up the agenda this year.


Download: Presentation by Dirk Schreckenberg on the NORAH study

See also:

Findings of the NORAH study in Frankfurt, on effect of aircraft noise on mental well-being and depression

At the event in the House of Commons on 4th July, exploring the relationships between exposure to aircraft noise and mental health, a presentation was given by Dirk Schreckenberg, from Hagen, Germany. He is one of the research psychologists who worked on the NORAH study (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) carried out in Frankfurt, before and after the opening of the 4th runway. The NORAH study is the largest and most comprehensive to look at the impacts of aircraft noise on people’s health and quality of life, and also its impacts on children. One sub-study looked at mental well-being, and another looked at depression. It was clear from the data that people were more annoyed and more affected by noise from the new runway, and at lower noise levels, than had been expected. Though the links are complicated, and not entirely linear, there is a clear link between worsening mental well-being and more plane noise. There was a clear relationship between depression and aircraft noise, with more depression at levels of noise that are widely experienced. The data form an inverted “U” shape graph, indicating less depression at the highest noise levels. The reasons are unclear, but may be a “healthy resident” effect.

Click here to view full story…




AEF report finds UK’s out-of-date aircraft noise policies putting the health of over one million people at risk

A new report by the AEF has identified that the Government’s aircraft noise policies are risking the health of over one million people and an urgent policy rethink is needed ahead of runway decisions in 2016. Aircraft noise is associated with increased risk of increased blood pressure, and higher risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke. Health is also detrimentally affected through sleep disturbance and annoyance. Aircraft noise impedes the memory and learning ability of school children. The UK’s aircraft noise policy has not been updated in line with this mounting evidence base, with some noise policies based on studies dating back to the early 1980s. The Government’s lack of response to emerging evidence on noise may be costing the UK £540 million each year.The noise problem is particularly acute at Heathrow, including many affected schools, but there are serious problems at many other airports too. The health burden is not just experienced close to airports, with high levels of noise miles from the runway. The current policy on flight paths does not consider the impact of sudden changes, or the health impacts of newly affected communities. The report calls for the Government to act now to reduce the health burden from aircraft noise. Long-term noise targets are needed to protect health, and all noise policies should be reviewed in the light of these targets. A new runway should only be permitted if the noise burdens are reduced.


The report: !Aircraft Noise and Public Health: the evidence is loud and clear”

AEF noise report 12.1.2016




New report finds aircraft noise policy puts the health of over one million people at risk

Government noise attitudes survey: people increasingly disturbed by aircraft noise





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US Department of Transportation (DOT) denies Norwegian Air UK foreign carrier exemption

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has dismissed an application by the UK subsidiary – Norwegian Air UK (NUK) – of Norwegian Air Shuttle to operate flights to the United States on “procedural grounds.”  NUK applied for an exemption and permit to operate flights to the US from Gatwick in December, and the DOT refusal means a set back for Norwegian flying to the US. The DOT cited overlapping issues with Norwegian’s Ireland subsidiary—Norwegian Air International (NAI) —which also sought an exemption to begin operating to the US. The DOT dismissed the NAI exemption in September 2014, but indicated in April that it was inclined to approve it. Opponents of Norwegian being allowed permits to operate flights in the US say the airline seeks to evade both Norwegian and international labour laws and pay pilots less by establishing “flag of convenience” subsidiary airlines. This is seen as a threat to jobs and pay in US airlines. The US Transportation Trades Department, a coalition of unions representing airline staff, say Norwegian’s business model is ‘novel and complex’. They say Norwegian should not be allowed to create shell subsidiaries designed to undermine labour standards etc. Gatwick airport needs Norwegian to be able to fly extensively to the US, to claim it has important long haul (leisure) routes.



U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Denies Norwegian Air UK Foreign Carrier Exemption

by Bill Carey  (AIN)
July 1, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has dismissed an application by the UK subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle to operate flights to the United States on “procedural grounds.” While airline industry unions praised the decision, Norwegian Air said the DOT continues to review the subsidiary’s foreign air-carrier permit.

In an order released on June 30, the DOT cited overlapping issues with Norwegian’s Ireland subsidiary—Norwegian Air International (NAI)—which also sought an exemption to begin operating to the U.S. while the DOTconsiders its permit application. The DOT dismissed that exemption in September 2014, but the department indicated in April that it was inclined to approve the foreign air-carrier permit.

The British subsidiary—Norwegian Air UK (NUK)—applied for an exemption and permit to operate flights to theU.S. from London’s Gatwick Airport in December. The DOT’s latest action was to dismiss the exemption, which would have expedited NUK’s proposed service.

“As we have previously stated, the Department typically reserves its exemption powers in awarding foreign air carrier authority to situations where the circumstances of a case are sufficiently clear-cut to permit acting, at least for a limited term, without the additional procedural protections of show-cause procedures and (regulatory) review,” the DOT stated in the order. “The parties opposing the Norwegian UK application have raised a number of significant issues, in many instances directly overlapping the types of issues before us in the still pending proceeding involving the permit application of Norwegian Air International Limited. The Department has already characterized those issues as novel and complex in the NAI context, and it reaches the same conclusion as to the present proceeding.”

Opponents allege that Norwegian Air Shuttle seeks to evade both Norwegian and international labor laws and pay pilots less by establishing “flag of convenience” subsidiary airlines. The Air Line Pilots Association described the DOT’s latest finding as “a significant milestone in the drive to ensure fair competition for U.S. airlines in the global marketplace. NUK is a UK airline, and its employment structure for its pilots and flight attendants is unclear, as are as its potential effects on U.S. jobs and the international airline industry.”

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), a coalition of unions representing pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and other transportation workers, also welcomed the “sound decision” by the DOT. “Now that Norwegian Air’s exemption application has been dismissed, the company’s business model—described by DOT as ‘novel and complex’—will face the careful scrutiny it deserves,” said Edward Wytkind, TTDpresident. “Norwegian Air should not be permitted to create shell subsidiaries designed to undermine labor standards and take advantage of lax employment and tax laws.”

In its own statement reacting to the DOT finding, Norwegian Air said the permit application by NUK remains pending, and that it is confident the subsidiary “will receive its permanent authority” to operate to the U.S.

“Norwegian UK should be entitled to a foreign carrier permit under the terms of the Open Skies Agreement,” the group stated. Norwegian’s U.S. flights currently operate under the Norwegian Air Shuttle air operator certificate, which allows the airline to operate between the U.S. and Europe. With U.S. approval for Norwegian UK, the airline will be able to more effectively utilize its long-haul fleet and establish a seamless operation, including the use of the same aircraft on both U.S. and other long-haul routes… which currently all other European airlines can.”


DOT deals setback to Norwegian Air, but broader battle remains

July 1, 2016 (USA Today)

WASHINGTON – A Norwegian airline’s attempts to have subsidiaries fly low-cost routes to the U.S. is in the news again this week.

The Transportation Department on Thursday rejected an application from Norwegian Air United Kingdom to serve the U.S. But the dispute isn’t over yet, as the department noted in saying that the application rejected on procedural grounds had many overlapping issues with a broader, earlier application from Norwegian Air International.

The complicated case involves Norwegian Air Shuttle, the third-biggest discount carrier in Europe, and various subsidiaries that the parent company has organized in countries such as Ireland, the United Kingdom and Singapore. For now, the airline’s long-haul subsidiary serves several U.S. cities.

But the airline applied in December 2013 for permission to serve the U.S. with another subsidiary, Ireland-headquartered Norwegian Air International.

This set off a firestorm of opposition from rival airlines and their unions. The critics argue that the corporate arrangement would allow Norwegian to hire Asian crews at below-market rates, in a “flag-of-convenience” model that allows cruise ships to skirt labor and safety laws.

But the parent airline strongly rejects the criticism. The airline hired hundreds of U.S. workers for its existing routes, and insists Asian crews are used on Asian routes. The Federal Aviation Administration trusts Irish officials to ensure that its airlines fly safely and maintain their planes.

The Transportation Department hasn’t decided what to do on that big fight. But as that dispute has lingered, the subsidiary Norwegian Air United Kingdom asked in December 2015 for permission to fly to the U.S.

Officials from the United Kingdom and London’s Gatwick airport strongly supported the application, saying Norwegian employs 800 workers in that country. U.S. airports such as Orlando and Oakland, which are scheduled to receive new Norwegian routes this year, also supported the application.

“Norwegian UK is a recognized British airline, with a large UK base and the support of the British government,” said Anders Lindström, an airline spokesman. “Given Norwegian UK’s clear and legitimate right to a foreign-carrier permit, we therefore remain confident we will receive final approval.”

But Jenny Rosenberg, acting assistant secretary of transportation for aviation and international affairs, rejected the application on procedural grounds by saying “novel and complex” issues of the case overlapped with the pending application of Norwegian Air International.

“In these circumstances, the department does not find that grant of a temporary exemption to Norwegian UK is appropriate or in the public interest,” she wrote in the three-page decision.

U.S. pilots and flight attendants welcomed the rejection, but agreed that the bigger decision involves Norwegian Air International.

Capt. Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, a union with 53,000 members, said U.S. airlines “will struggle to compete if the U.S. government does not stop foreign airlines that attempt to use unfair business practices to gain a marketplace advantage.”

“Aviation workers deserve strong job protections in foreign trade agreements,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which has 50,000 members.








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Biggest destruction of British heritage since the Blitz if Gatwick expands – new report

Campaigners against Gatwick expansion have highlighted the extent of the devastation that a 2nd Gatwick runway would cause to important buildings of great British heritage value, as well as demand to local history and environment. Unveiling a new report, the groups say Gatwick’s own submission to the Airports Commission detailed 17 listed buildings which would be destroyed. These include some of Britain’s finest examples of medieval architecture. The launch of the report was held at Rowley, a former residence of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, which is among those “requiring removal”, according to airport plans. The new runway would require the irreversible loss of the last remnant of the ancient village of Lowfield Heath, which was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1068. The groups behind the new report are CPRE (Sussex, Surrey and Kent branches), the Woodland Trust, the GACC and CAGNE.  Duncan Leslie, from Hever, and Sir Charles Burrell from the Knepp Estate spoke about the impact of plane noise on their historic sites.  Bendon Sewill commented: “Gatwick seek to wallpaper over the sheer level of destruction it would cause to our British heritage.  This is a major stand against Gatwick on one of the historical sites that its proposal would destroy.  It would be far more damaging than HS2.”



Biggest destruction of British heritage since the Blitz if Gatwick expands

Gatwick heritage launch 1.7.2016

1.7.2016 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

The report is The Gatwick threat to heritage

Short video (4 mins 50)

Campaigners against Gatwick expansion have united to hold a rally today at the ancestral farm of one of Henry VIII’s wives to highlight the devastation Gatwick expansion would wreak on British heritage in the southeast. At today’s rally, the campaign groups unveiled a new document outlining the irreversible impact Gatwick expansion will have on British heritage, local history and the environment.

Gatwick’s own submission to the Airports Commission detailed 17 listed buildings all heading for the chop* – some of Britain’s finest examples of medieval architecture – and the last remnant of the ancient village of Lowfield Heath which was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1068.  [ Reference * in Gatwick’s own submission    See page 53 onwards.]


Brendon Sewill, Chairman of GACC, said:

“Gatwick seek to wallpaper over the sheer level of destruction it would cause to our British heritage.  This is a major stand against Gatwick on one of the historical sites that its proposal would destroy.  It would be far more damaging than HS2.”

The planned development will result in the mass destruction of heritage sites, triple the amount which will be destroyed by the new HS2 rail link between London and the North.

 Henry Smith MP for Crawley said:

“Gatwick Airport is an important economic contributor but we must also have respect for our local environment and heritage.

“I believe we can see a successful airport in harmony with the importance of maintaining countryside strategic gaps for the wider community good.

“For both economic and area environmental reasons I am convinced that Gatwick should not see runway expansion.”

15 hectares of ancient woodland which have stood undisturbed continuously since at least 1600 will also get the axe as new car parks and terminal buildings fill almost the entire space between the current airport and the town of Crawley. These complex ecosystems have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of years to establish and form a critical part of local history and biodiversity.

Brenda Smith, West Sussex County councillor for the area, said: 

“Not only does the Gatwick runway involve demolishing 17 ancient buildings but the boundary of the airport would come to within a hundred yards of Crawley, a town with 110,000 inhabitants.  All the problems of noise and health which apply at Heathrow would be equally bad at Crawley.  Our infrastructure is already almost at a standstill; we have the highest level of asthma in children.  A second runway would be intolerable.”

In the midst of a housing crisis which is crippling communities across the UK, Gatwick are proposing to double their airport putting impossible demands on the local housing stock. West Sussex County Council’s consultants estimate that an additional 40,000 new houses will be needed to house the workers needed to fill the posts at an expanded Gatwick, representing the biggest risk to local countryside.

At full capacity, an expanded Gatwick would operate almost twice as many flights. They’ve committed to using both runways all day every day seven days a week, offering no respite for local communities and threatening areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the South Downs National Park.

Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE and Trustee of CPRE Sussex said:

“The Conservative Party leadership candidates need to make it clear: they won’t betray the Home Counties, destroy our livelihoods and be responsible for the biggest destruction of British heritage since the Blitz.

Expansion at Gatwick won’t just be a temporary disruption, it would see the irreversible destruction of Britain’s heritage and the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The candidates have a duty to stand up to Gatwick and protect the lifestyle and culture for our future generations of years to come.” 

 Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said:

“What must be recognised is that ‘environmental impact’ should not only be used, as has consistently been the case as part of the expansion debate, as a term to refer to noise and vibration in relation to people and their homes, with damage to the natural environment seemingly just a secondary complication. Any risk of loss or damage to the natural environment, and especially to irreplaceable habitats like ancient woodland or ancient trees, must be taken just as seriously, and every possible avenue investigated to avoid it if we are to adapt to threats such as climate change, and so that communities can exercise their right to a healthy lifestyle…….remembering that this is not just about the footprint of a new runway, but all the surrounding development likely to be required that will add more strain on the UK’s natural environment in the long term.”

Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East,was unable to attend the event at Rowley due to emergency debates in the European Parliament, but commented :  “The case for airport expansion is built on sand.  It is, and always has been, a myth that the UK faces an airport capacity crisis; we already fly more than any other country.  Despite this, the airport and the pro-expansion lobby are spending millions of pounds trying to convince people otherwise.  All but one UK airport is under-capacity and demand is likely to fall, rather than rise, following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

We cannot hope to meet vital climate change targets while building major new runways – the two policies are wholly incompatible.  Gatwick expansion not only threatens the South East with more noise, more traffic, and more pollution but also directly threatens the unprecedented demolition of our heritage and countryside.”

The campaign groups are CPRE Surrey, CPRE Sussex, CPRE Kent, the Woodland Trust, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, and Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions.


The report is at 

Sally Pavey 07831 632537/



Second Gatwick runway ‘threat to heritage’, campaigners warn

1.7.2016 (BBC)

The Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warned 17 historic buildings – including several Grade II-listed ones – were threatened.

A former residence of Henry VIII’s fifth wife is among those “requiring removal”, according to airport plans.

Gatwick said many buildings would be retained or relocated.

‘Irreversible destruction’

A decision on additional runway capacity has been put back until “at least October” while the Conservative leadership race takes place.

Sally Pavey, of CPRE Sussex, said expansion “would see irreversible destruction of Britain’s heritage and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people in Kent, Surrey and Sussex”.

She called on the Tory leadership candidates to rule out expansion and “not betray the Home Counties” if they are chosen.

“The candidates have a duty to stand up to Gatwick and protect the lifestyle and culture for our future generations,” she said.

Rowley HouseImage copyright GACC.  Rowley House near Gatwick Airport was once the home of Henry VIII’s fifth wife


Several conservation and campaign groups are to meet with a local MP at Grade II-listed Rowley House – one of the buildings identified in runway design documentsfor “complete removal” or demolition – to oppose the plans.

The 16th Century farmhouse was once owned by the Culpeper family, a member of whom was Joyce Culpeper. Her daughter Catherine Howard – Henry VIII’s fifth wife – was beheaded in 1542.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, said he was “convinced Gatwick should not see runway expansion” for both economic and environmental reasons.

The Woodland Trust has also backed the campaign, having previously warned“irreplaceable habitat” would be destroyed.

Grade II-listed buildings which “require removal”

  • Rowley Farmhouse, Brighton Road, Crawley
  • Charlwood House (formerly Ticcaradges), Charlwood Road, Lowfield Heath
  • Gatwick Manor Inn (Hyders Hall), London Road, Crawley
  • Church of St Michael and All Angels, Church Road, Crawley

Gatwick Airport said many of the buildings identified in its plans were timber-framed, making them “viable to move and relist” at new locations.

A spokesman said: “If we build a new runway everything possible will be done to retain listed buildings within the scheme, or use experienced experts to relocate them to suitable new sites nearby.

“We have a good track record when it comes to managing our local environment. Gatwick has been referred to as the airport in the countryside and we will ensure that it stays that way.”

The airport has committed to retaining a Grade II-listed 1930s terminal building and control tower previously earmarked for relocation.

Known as “The Beehive”, the circular building will remain in its original location.

The airport said the building was “important not only in the history of British aviation but also in terms of world airport design”.

Latest Gatwick expansion imageImage copyright  GATWICK AIRPORT. Gatwick released new images of what an expanded airport would look like



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Government announces runway decision is postponed, till at least October, and left to next Prime Minister

The government has announced that the decision on whether to build a new south east runway will be left to Cameron’s successor as Prime Minister. It is believed that this means Heathrow will not be getting a 3rd runway, any time in the foreseeable future. Downing Street sources say David Cameron sees no point in making a runway decision that would almost certainly be overturned by a successor. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, said in the Commons:  “Being realistic, given recent events, I cannot now foresee that there will be an announcement until at least October.” He and George Osborne wanted David Cameron to take the decision in favour of Heathrow before leaving office. Boris had been expected to stand as a candidate to be Prime Minister, but has not done so. The most likely next PM may be Theresa May, whose position on Heathrow is described as “nuanced.”  The Times understands that civil servants in the DfT recommended a Heathrow runway, having believed the (flimsy and guarded) promises by Heathrow on noise and NO2. Gatwick may feel it has a slightly better chance, but with Brexit the demand for air travel may be lower in coming years.  There will be several years of negotiation to establish arrangements for  UK airlines with the EU, and Gatwick deals mainly with cheap European holiday flights. Replies  were made in the Commons to MPs’ questions, by Patrick McLoughlin.



Heathrow loses out as decision on runway is left to next leader

The Times


Extracts below:


David Cameron will announce today that the decision on airport capacity will be left to his successor in a move that effectively spells the end of plans to build a third runway at Heathrow.


Mr Johnson, the former London mayor and Uxbridge MP, has long been a diehard opponent of Heathrow expansion. Mrs May, the MP for Maidenhead, has expressed concerns over noise and has previously been portrayed as an opponent of expansion. However, her position is believed to be more nuanced.


Civil servants in the Department for Transport are believed to have recommended in favour of a £17.6 billion northwest runway at Heathrow after being won over by the airport’s promises in May to curb noise and pollution. Speaking at a conference this week, John Holland-Kaye, the Heathrow chief executive, said: “Now more than ever, Britain needs to underpin its globally recognised economic strength by delivering privately funded infrastructure projects like a third runway, to protect growth and underpin investor confidence.

“Constraints at Heathrow risk us falling behind our European counterparts and if Heathrow falls behind,Britain falls behind.”

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, said: “It is now clearer than ever that only Gatwick can deliver the new runway Britain needs.”

Full Times article at

30 June 2016
  • 8. What plans he has to expand airport capacity. [905576]

  • 10. When he plans to make a decision on the construction of an additional runway in south-east England. [905578]

  • I had hoped that we would be able to announce a decision on airport capacity this summer. Clearly, any announcement on airport capacity would have to be made when the House was in session. Being realistic, given recent events, I cannot now foresee that there will be an announcement until at least October. We aim to publish the further analysis on air quality soon. Separately, promoters have announced undertakings that would increase the compensation available for residents living near the airports and the connectivity between other UK airports. The Government are fully committed to delivering the important infrastructure projects that they have set out, including the delivery of runway capacity on the timetable set out by the Davies report.

  • It is another boring day at Westminster, and I was rather hoping that the Secretary of State might inject some excitement into it for me. Nobody can accuse him of rushing this decision. Post-Brexit, with a number of countries banging on the door of the UK to do trade deals, does he agree that increasing airport capacity at London City, London Heathrow and London Gatwick will be vital to British businesses throughout the UK?

  • I would have liked to be in the position of asking the House to make a decision, and endorsing a decision. We are not going to be in that position, and we have to be realistic. My hon. Friend may regard it as a boring day in the House of Commons, but it is certainly not a boring day in Westminster.

  • The Secretary of State will know that I am going to make the case for Birmingham airport. Is there still time, whenever the report comes out, for Birmingham airport to make the case for the 250,000 jobs that could flow from a second runway there?

  • Looking at the hon. Lady’s question, I did not realise that she was going to mention Birmingham, because her question specifically talks about south-east England. To the best of my knowledge, Birmingham has not moved since I knew it as a boy, 20 miles away from where I lived. Birmingham airport is a fantastic airport, which serves an important role as far as Birmingham and the midlands are concerned, and it has just had a runway extension.

  • We are greatly reassured by the Secretary of State’s geographical knowledge.

  • Does my right hon. Friend accept that even if he had been able to make an announcement on this subject today, the earliest that extra runway capacity could be provided would be 2023, and at worst probably 2030? Does that not point up the need to improve connectivity to Stansted, which is the only airport in the London area with the capacity to deal with the strain of extra demand?

  • That is one of those questions that one cannot really disagree with, and my right hon. Friend has a habit of asking such questions in Transport questions. Although I agree with the point he makes, the delivery of what he is asking for is somewhat more difficult than he suggests.

  • Yet more dithering on the decision whether to expand hub capacity at Heathrow will harm the regions of this country and the United Kingdom. What recommendation will the Secretary of State make to the next Prime Minister?

  • Well, one step at a time. If the hon. Lady does not mind my saying so, she is assuming a number of events, which I am not going to do. In all seriousness, I would say to the hon. Lady, who is Chair of the Transport Committee, that this is a very important and big decision for the United Kingdom and it is not an easy one. The simple fact is that whichever option we choose will impact on people’s lives. It is therefore right to make sure we do all the preparatory work on air quality and the other issues. However, I very much hope that a decision can be made later this year.

  • It is inconceivable that either the Home Secretary or the former Mayor of London would at this time put their constituency interests ahead of the national interest. I know that had the Secretary of State sought an assurance from the former Mayor of London that he would support this decision if the Government went ahead with it, he would have received it. Did he seek such an assurance, and if not, why not? This is not in the national interest, and it is not in the interests of people around Gatwick who will have to live with further uncertainty.

  • I am very sorry that my hon. Friend is disappointed by my announcement this morning. As I have said, however, given the parliamentary timetable and when the House will rise, I do not see how it would be possible to come to the House for a statement with a recommendation and possibly a vote before the summer recess.

  • I thank the Secretary of State for his earlier comments, but his answer is exacerbating the profound uncertainty about the future of essential transport projects, including HS2 and a new runway at Heathrow. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships are in the balance. Does he not understand that delaying these plans will add to the wider economic shock that was triggered last week, and that public and private investment in our transport networks must be delivered?

  • We are now back on familiar ground and I do not need to repeat what I said earlier. The simple fact is that I am very proud of the investment that this Government are putting into infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is 50% higher than it was during the last Parliament, and it is much larger than the amount put in by the previous Labour Government, so this Government are very committed to infrastructure investment. The hon. Lady talks about airport capacity, but there were airport capacity issues during the 13 years her party was in government, when it did nothing.

  • With the political and economic uncertainty following last week’s referendum vote, infrastructure projects have become more, not less, important for the future of this country. That is particularly true of our airports, which will have renewed importance in ensuring that the UK is a global, outward-looking trading nation. The comments made by the Prime Minister and, indeed, by the Secretary of State today have cast doubt on that. Does the Secretary of State not accept that kicking this decision into the long grass yet again is simply utterly unacceptable?

  • We are accused of kicking something into the long grass, but I have said that I hope to see a decision by the end of the year, and Opposition Members have not yet expounded which option they actually support.

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Joint statement by the Nantes anti-airport movement at Notre-Dame-des-Landes

Common position of the anti-airport movement following the results of the consultation

Here is the joint statement of the anti-airport movement on Sunday night following the results of the consultation.

“As was shown the various components of the movement, the setting, the process and the content of this consultation were fundamentally biased . This was based on a series of government lies and was radically unfair. There was no question for us that this is just one step in the long struggle for a future without an airport at Notre Dame des Landes. This struggle continues tonight. We know that the attacks of the government and pro-airport side will be strengthened. On our side, we will not cease to live, grow and protect this farmland. It will continue to be defended with great energy because it carries the ineradicable hopes today against the destruction of the living and the commodification of the world. We call on all supporters and committees throughout France and beyond to mobilize and be vigilant in the weeks and months ahead. There will not be an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

We call in this sense, and in the first instance, for a massive convergence at Notre Dame des Landes for a summer anti-airport gathering, on 9th and 10th July.”

The original French: 

Position commune du mouvement anti-aéroport suite aux résultats de la consultation

Publié dans Communiqués de presse  (ACIPA)

Voici la déclaration commune du mouvement anti-aéroport lue à la Vache Rit ce dimanche soir suite aux résultats de la consultation.

« Comme l’avait démontré les différentes composantes du mouvement, le cadre, le processus et le contenu de cette consultation étaient fondamentalement biaisés. Celle-ci était basée sur une série de mensonges d’État et radicalement inéquitable. Il ne s’agissait pour nous que d’une étape dans la longue lutte pour un avenir sans aéroport à Notre Dame des Landes.

Cette lutte se poursuit dès ce soir. Nous savons que les attaques du gouvernement et des pro-aéroport vont se renforcer. De notre coté, nous n’allons pas cesser pour autant d’habiter, cultiver et protéger ce bocage. Il continuera à être défendu avec la plus grande énergie parce qu’il est porteur d’espoirs aujourd’hui indéracinables face à la destruction du vivant et à la marchandisation du monde. Nous appelons tous les soutiens et comités partout en France et au-delà à se mobiliser et à redoubler de vigilance dans les semaines et mois à venir. Il n’y aura pas d’aéroport à Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

Nous appelons en ce sens, et dans un premier temps, à converger massivement à Notre Dame des Landes pour le rassemblement estival anti-aéroport, les 9 et 10 juillet.»

Our determination remains intact after a cleverly-oriented consultation!

Press Release – Notre-Dame-des-Landes, (ACIPA)

June 27, 2016

[Imperfect translation into English below].

The ACIPA, despite his reservations, chose to campaign for the NO vote alongside other organizations opponents of Coordination. It was naturally unthinkable to leave the field open to project leaders and not to take advantage of this media window to denounce constantly their lies and continue to bring to the attention of as many as possible fair arguments in this long and complicated case.

What would the vote have been without the voice of the two camps?

We noted already that only 27.84% of registered voters said YES and 22.65% said NO or a 5-point gap …

As soon as we learned of the launch of this consultation, we denounced the boundary, that was shamefully reduced to one department only, while they have sold us for decades the idea this is a “Great Western” airport and the state and the regions of Brittany and Pays de la Loire, largely contribute to the financing and should bear the economic and ecological consequences of the project.

We denounce now the method of its implementation.

Public funding was used in the campaign (display campaign funded by the Region, for example, the blue color is not by chance). The CCI  bore the cost of the mailings, enterprises, posters, stickers. The President of the Loire Atlantic Mayors Association has abused its mandate to campaign …

We denounce the partiality of the public information document prepared by the CNDP (Commission National of Public Debate). A precise analysis of this document made by the Citizen Workshop, pointed out defects. To the question on the adoption of the document unanimously by the Committee, Mr. Leyrit, its president, has also entrenched behind supposedly secret deliberations. One can easily deduce that this unanimity was not achieved.

We would of course have liked the outcome of the polls, despite all these handicaps, to have been favourable to us, however, we do not feel bitter, instead.

A quick analysis of results by geographic segment is instructive.

In Nantes, the tidal wave in favour of YES that proAGO were called for, did not take place: it failed by 100 votes for Nantes switched to the No camp. The center of the city did not praise the transfer of Nantes-Atlantique. The lies of the holders of the project have not been taken on board by Nantes citizens.

On the territory of the Community Commons and Erdre Gesvres, the one where should implement the project, it is clear that the scurrilous campaign chairman for Region the “zadistes” need to “release” was not approved because the NO wins in 8 towns out of 12. The silent majority living near the project is opposed to it and knows the reality of the people who live in Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

In the South Loire also has NO contrasting scores. Bouguenais does not want much as you would have us believe the departure of the airport since the result is extremely tight on this county.  And what about Rezé, Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire, Le Pellerin, Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau or La Montagne who refuse the transfer.

The Northern Department by contrast, a forgotten sector and probably deluded by false promises of jobs has blindly followed notables favouring “transfer”.   We must therefore strengthen our information activities in this area in the future.

Finally, we will return to the outstanding campaign which was conducted by the Coordination. We thank all the volunteers for their tireless energy and all the groups that have allowed this tremendous mobilization and thank the voters for their confidence in the action of the ACIPA daily.

The domestic support (and even international) continue to stand with us by sending messages of support. We have said from the beginning, this “consultation” was only a step.

The No side emerges strengthened from this new test, the opposition believes. Support committees are at work and are ready to come to the site.

The next steps are the summer gathering of opponents of Coordination on 9 and 10 July in Montjean (Notre-Dame-des-Landes), monitoring of the process call on water law remedies and protected species, pending the response from France to the issues brought by the European Commission within the framework of environmental litigation, studied in SCoT Nantes-Saint-Nazaire in a few weeks.

We will also be vigilant that suites the record begun by the experts of the Ministry of the Environment in February did not go unheeded.

The ACIPA continue the fight, including legal on the merits of the case and continuing to give information to the citizens, to respect the planet and future generations in the spirit carried by the COP 21.

The ACIPA continue to oppose the evictions of the inhabitants of the area defined in the DUP and requires that that President of the Republic honours his local commitments “no work or expulsion, as legal avenues are all exhausted.”

There will be no airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

The original French below:

Notre détermination reste intacte après une consultation savamment orientée !


L’ACIPA, malgré ses réserves, avait choisi de faire campagne pour le NON aux côtés des autres organisations de la Coordination des opposants. Il était naturellement impensable de laisser le champ libre aux porteurs du projet et de ne pas profiter de cette fenêtre médiatique pour dénoncer sans cesse leurs mensonges et continuer à porter à la connaissance du plus grand nombre les justes raisons de son long combat sur un dossier si complexe.

Qu’aurait-on entendu si l’écart des voix avait été bien supérieur par absence d’un des deux camps ?

Notons déjà que seuls 27,84% des électeurs inscrits ont dit OUI et que 22,65% ont dit NON, soit 5 points d’écart…

Dès que nous avons eu connaissance du lancement de cette consultation, nous avons dénoncé le périmètre honteusement réduit à un seul département alors qu’on nous vend depuis des décennies un aéroport « du Grand Ouest » et que l’État, ainsi que les Régions de Bretagne et Pays de la Loire, contribueraient largement au financement et devraient assumer les conséquences économiques et écologiques du projet.

Nous dénonçons à présent la méthode de sa réalisation.

Du financement public a été utilisé dans la campagne (campagne d’affichage financées par la Région par exemple, dont la couleur bleue ne doit rien au hasard). La CCI a submergé les entreprises de mails, affiches, autocollants, le président de l’Association des Maires de Loire Atlantique a abusé de son mandat pour faire campagne…

Nous dénonçons la partialité du document d’information au public rédigé par la CNDP (Commission Nationale de Débat Public). Une analyse précise de ce document, faite par l’Atelier Citoyen, en pointe les défauts. A la question sur l’adoption du document à l’unanimité de la commission, M. Leyrit, son président, s’est d’ailleurs retranché derrière un soi-disant secret des délibérations. On peut en déduire facilement que cette unanimité n’a pas été atteinte.

Nous aurions bien sûr aimé que le résultat des urnes, malgré tous ces handicaps, nous soit favorable, néanmoins, nous ne ressentons pas d’amertume, au contraire.

Une rapide analyse des résultats par secteur géographique est riche d’enseignements.

À Nantes, le raz de marée en faveur du OUI que les proAGO appelaient de leurs vœux, n’a pas eu lieu : il s’en est fallu de 100 voix pour que Nantes bascule dans le camp du NON. Le centre-ville n’a pas plébiscité le transfert de Nantes-Atlantique. Les mensonges des porteurs du projet n’ont pas eu prise sur les Nantais.

Sur le territoire de la Communauté des Communes Erdre et Gesvres, celle où devrait s’implanter le projet, force est de constater que la campagne ordurière du président de Région concernant les « zadistes » qu’il fallait « dégager », n’a pas été approuvée puisque le NON l’emporte dans 8 communes sur 12. La majorité silencieuse vivant à proximité du projet est bien opposée à ce dernier et connaît la réalité de ce qui se vit à Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

Au Sud Loire aussi le NON a fait des scores contrastés. Bouguenais ne souhaite pas autant qu’on veut bien le dire le départ de son aéroport puisque le résultat est extrêmement serré sur cette commune. Et que dire de Rezé, Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire, Le Pellerin, Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau ou La Montagne qui refusent le transfert.

Le Nord du département par contre, secteur oublié et sans doute illusionné par les fausses promesses d’emploi a, lui, suivi aveuglement ses notables favorables au « transfert ».  Nous devrons donc renforcer nos actions d’information dans ce secteur à l’avenir.

Pour conclure, nous reviendrons sur la campagne exceptionnelle qui a été menée par la Coordination. Nous remercions tous les bénévoles, pour leur énergie inépuisable, ainsi que tous les collectifs qui ont permis cette formidable mobilisation et nous les remercions les électeurs pour leur confiance dans  l’action de l’ACIPA au quotidien.

Les soutiens nationaux (et même internationaux) continuent de se tenir à nos côtés en envoyant des messages de soutien.

Nous l’avons dit dès le début, cette « consultation » n’était qu’une étape. Le camp du NON sort renforcé de cette nouvelle épreuve, l’opposition a convaincu. Les comités de soutien sont au travail et sont prêts à venir sur le terrain.

Les prochaines étapes sont le rassemblement estival de la Coordination des opposants les 9 et 10 juillet à Montjean (Notre-Dame-des-Landes), le suivi de la procédure d’appel sur les recours loi sur l’eau et espèces protégées, l’attente de la réponse de la France aux questions portées par la Commission Européenne dans le cadre du contentieux environnemental, étudiée dans le SCoT Nantes- Saint-Nazaire dans quelques semaines.

Nous serons aussi très vigilants à ce que les suites du dossier entamé par les experts du Ministère de l’Environnement en février ne restent pas lettre morte.

L’ACIPA continue le combat, notamment juridique sur le fond du dossier, ainsi que l’information continue en direction des citoyens, pour le respect de la planète et des générations futures dans l’esprit porté par la COP 21.

L’ACIPA  continuera de s’opposer aux expulsions des habitants de la zone définie dans la DUP et à exiger que le Président de la République honore ses engagements locaux : « pas de travaux ni d’expulsion, tant que les recours juridiques ne sont pas tous épuisés ».

Il n’y aura pas d’aéroport à Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

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Stansted management changes, under new CEO Andrew Cowan

In March, Stansted airport announced that its CEO, Andrew Harrison, would be moving to the role of Chief Strategy Officer at MAG, based in Manchester. The new CEO is Andrew Cowan, who had been Chief Strategy Officer of MAG, started in the role on 1st April 2016.  Andrew Harrison led Stansted since MAG’s acquisition of the airport in March 2013. Andrew Cowan will lead a team of over 1,400 employees at Stansted. Prior to becoming Chief Strategy Officer at MAG, Andrew was Chief Operating Officer of MAG and Managing Director of Manchester Airport. Stansted has now appointed Martin Jones as commercial director responsible for retail, car parking and business development. He previously worked as MAG interim retail director having joined the business from Marks and Spencer in 2015. Stansted has now also appointed Daniel Gallo as customer service and security director, having been MAG HR director and takes over from Karen Smart who moves to the position of Stansted’s assets management director responsible for developing the airport’s future infrastructure needs. Stansted wants better rail links, and soon. Charlie Cornish is the Chief Executive Officer of MAG overall, which owns Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.


Stansted announces senior management shake-up

Stansted has announced a number of changes to its senior management team following the recent appointment of new CEO Andrew Cowan (pictured).

Martin Jones has been appointed commercial director responsible for retail, car parking and business development. He previously worked as MAG interim retail director having joined the business from Marks and Spencer in 2015.

Daniel Gallo joins the Stansted team as customer service and security director having been MAG HR director and takes over from Karen Smart who moves to the position of Stansted’s assets management director responsible for developing the airport’s future infrastructure needs.

Martin Lyall, who previously held the position of assets management director, is now Stansted’s transformation programme director while James Dix has joined as finance director from Drax Group plc, having worked in the USA for three years as senior vice president for finance.

Andrew Cowan, Stansted’s CEO, said: “I am delighted to welcome the new members of our management team that not only strengthen the expertise of the senior leadership team at the airport but allow us to really focus on the key areas of the business: continuing to grow our passenger numbers; transform the airport’s infrastructure; enhance the customer experience and leverage existing and future commercial opportunities.”

“It’s vital we continue to attract the best talent to Stansted to enable us to successfully deliver our ambitious plans for the airport so I’m delighted welcome the new team members and very much look forward to working together in what promises to be an exciting and successful new chapter for Stansted.”




Andrew Cowan Appointed As New Divisional CEO Of London Stansted Airport

9 March 2016

Stanste Airport Press release
Andrew Cowan, currently Chief Strategy Officer of MAG, has been appointed Divisional CEO of London Stansted Airport.

Andrew Cowan will take up his role at the UK’s fourth largest airport on 1 April 2016 and lead a team of over 1,400 employees. Prior to becoming Chief Strategy Officer at MAG, Andrew was Chief Operating Officer of MAG and Managing Director of Manchester Airport.

Andrew Harrison, who has led Stansted since MAG’s acquisition of the airport in March 2013, will assume the role of Chief Strategy Officer at MAG, based in Manchester.

In this new role, one of Andrew’s key responsibilities will be to spearhead a new function tasked with defining MAG’s digital strategy and e-commerce business model. This “MAG-online” proposition will also enable the improvement of customer service and airport efficiency, and expand MAG’s profitable products and services portfolio outside of the Group. Commercial trading, e-commerce and CRM will sit within this function in addition to Group Strategy and Corporate Development.

Under Andrew Harrison’s leadership, London Stansted Airport has become one of the UK’s fastest growing airports; adding 5 million passengers and now offering more European destinations than any other UK airport.

During the last three years, £80 million has been spent on transforming London Stansted’s terminal and British Airways has recently announced plans to begin flights from the airport. Earlier this month, London Stansted was named the ‘Best London Airport’ at the 2016 London Transport Awards.

Announcing the appointments, Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive Officer of MAG, said: “Since MAG acquired London Stansted, Andrew Harrison has done a fantastic job of driving growth at the airport and integrating it into the wider Group.

“Andrew Cowan is hugely experienced and I am confident that he will continue to build on the great foundations that exist at Stansted. The airport has even greater potential and there is a clear and pressing need to improve its rail links in order to enable it to take the strain as other London airports reach capacity and before any new runway can be built in the south east.”

Andrew Cowan said: “It’s a hugely exciting time in the aviation industry and I feel privileged to be taking on the role of Divisional CEO at London Stansted Airport. Andrew Harrison has delivered phenomenal growth and a significant investment programme which has seen passengers and airlines voting with their feet and choosing Stansted. I’m looking forward to building on the strong foundations left by Andrew, continuing the drive to attract new airlines to serve the vibrant London market and burgeoning Eastern England region and further improving the customer experience.”

Andrew Harrison said: “I’m very proud of what the Stansted team has achieved over the last three years. We have taken the airport through a significant transformation programme, returned passenger numbers back close to their previous peak and rebuilt our relationships with the local community. The airport has a very promising future ahead and I wish Andrew every success in taking forward the next chapter in Stansted’s journey.

“I am delighted to have been appointed Chief Strategy Officer and lead MAG’s push into new markets. The opportunities for innovative companies like ours are endless and we have a great opportunity to become a leader in airport management, digital products and services.”






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Heathrow aircraft noise must be cut says Henley MP, John Howell

The MP for Henley, John Howell, has called for a “significant reduction” in noise from aircraft over the Henley area.  With other MPs from Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey he had a meeting with representatives from Heathrow and NATS about the increased noise problem they are experiencing. Mr Howell has had complaints from constituents about increased noise from aircraft coming into land at Heathrow, particularly when there was an easterly wind, when planes circled over Henley. Martin Rolfe, chief executive of NATS, “accepted that increased aircraft noise was a problem for some people” and agreed to investigate individual issues of serious disturbance if they were reported to him by the MPs. [Whatever that will achieve].  Mr Rolfe said there had been no changes to routes but that the flight patterns within controlled airspace changed almost daily. This is the standard thing the airspace management bodies say. People overflown know they experience a change. The CAA etc use semantics to say this is not technically a change, but just a difference in how a route is flown. One of the key improvements in how the airspace change is managed is to recognise and accept that changes to fleet mix, intensity of use of a route, height of planes and times of day are all changes. They have to in future be acknowledged as such, and taken into account fully in the process.


Aircraft noise must be cut, says Henley MP, John Howell

27.6.2016 (Henley Standard)


JOHN HOWELL has called for a “significant reduction” in noise from aircraft over the Henley area.

The Henley MP was speaking after a meeting between a group of MPs from Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey with representatives from Heathrow Airport and NATS, which is responsible for air traffic control.

Mr Howell said it had to be acknowledged that there had been an increase in the amount of air traffic.

He had received complaints from constituents about increased noise from aircraft coming into land at Heathrow, particularly when there was an easterly wind which meant the planes circled over Henley.

Martin Rolfe, chief executive of NATS, accepted that increased aircraft noise was a problem for some people and agreed to investigate individual issues of serious disturbance if they were reported to him by the MPs.

He said there had been no changes to routes but that the flight patterns within controlled airspace changed almost daily.

Apart from wind direction, there were many reasons why flights paths varied, including weather, industrial action overseas and pressure on airspace.

Mr Rolfe said a review of airspace across the South-East was being carried out and would include asking pilots to fly aircraft higher more quickly and to move to holding points higher and further out.

The review would take several years and would include public consultation. [See timetable of CAA consultation etc below]. 

Airlines were being incentivized to invest in quieter planes. More noisy planes at Heathrow paid higher landing charges.

The meeting heard that the aviation industry was working on new technologies to help reduce noise but updating fleets took years due to the cost and lead times.

Heathrow already imposes higher landing charges on noisier planes as an incentive with the result that airlines tend to use their quieter planes going to and from the airport.



Mr Howell said: “NATS gave a good explanation but what we really want to see is a return to the former situation or, better still, a significant reduction in noise over the Henley constituency.

“Of course the aircraft passing over the constituency are not only going to and from Heathrow. A complex web of many flights passes over the area every day.

“In order to get a better understanding of this and the issues around it, I will be visiting the air traffic control tower in the near future.

“This is an important issue and one which we will need to watch as we seek to balance environmental concerns with the increasing demand for travel.”


Below is the CAA’s anticipated timeline of changes to UK airspace

from P.111 of   CAA consultation document

Anticipated timelines for reviewing the airspace change process 2016

March to June 2016

CAA public consultation on proposed changes to the airspace change process. Responses to the consultation are published on the CAA website.

June to July 2016

The CAA assesses the responses to the consultation and develops a plan for implementation of any changes to the process that we have decided on.

September 2016

The CAA announces the outcome of the consultation and will commence the work that needs to be done prior to the future implementation of a revised process. This will include our public response to the consultation and evidence received, and the development of guidance and other documentation or processes as necessary.

November 2016

The CAA sets out in its annual charging scheme consultation the way it intends to recover costs for administering the airspace change process in the form of charges for 2017/18.

January to March 2017

The CAA consults on the text of a draft replacement for CAP 725 CAA Guidance on the Application of the Airspace Change Process. This will include the additional guidance material on different aspects of the process referred to in Chapter 5. We will at the same time indicate when any changes to the process will take effect, and how we will manage transition arrangements between the old and new process.

April 2017

Earliest that a new CAA charging scheme to finance a revised airspace change process will come into effect. The CAA publishes a final version of the replacement for CAP 725 CAA Guidance on the Application of the Airspace Change Process

April or later in 2017

Implementation date of any new process.



CAA and airspace change clarification

Some comments by the Aviation Environment Federation, in their response to the CAA consultation on CAP 725 on airspace change, and on how what constitutes a change in airspace needs to be clarified. 

The AEF says:

…”the way in which flight paths are used, and when they are flown, is at least as important as the position of those flight paths on a map in terms of noise impacts. These factors – such as numbers and type of aircraft and, to a lesser extent perhaps, the use of the use of continuous climb and continuous descent operations – are largely outside the CAA’s control. We are concerned that a flight path change could be approved on the basis of a particular forecast in terms of traffic movements being considered acceptable in terms of noise impact without any clear mechanism for the CAA to enforce such usage (in contrast to the way planning conditions on aircraft infrastructure operate), or to repeal approval of a flight path if, for example, usage is more intensive than originally anticipated.

Some of the changes on which information should be included are:

Intensity and nature of flightpath use

• Anticipated numbers of aircraft under a range of possible scenarios.

• Height of aircraft.

• An indication where the aircraft are going to fly within the boundaries of the route.

• Runway and flight path respite; any runway alternation (with information where relevant on historical alternation patterns).

• Anticipated aircraft types.

• Operational procedures assumed (continuous climb/descent for example); any nonstandard procedures being considered eg curved approaches.

• Impact of different weather conditions (notably wind direction) on how a route is likely to be flown. 



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