John Redwood, the MP for Wokingham, has been in correspondence with Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye, about the considerable increase in aircraft noise that his constituents have been subjected to since mid 2014. Mr Holland-Kaye has replied, setting out a long list of possible improvements to how much noise Heathrow flights might produce. John Redwood replied: “The changes that NATS made, without consultation, in June 2014 to the Compton Gate have resulted in incessant noise over the Wokingham area due to the concentration of flights over one area, rather than their dispersal. The various mitigating effects that you have described to me over the past months appear good in theory but they are having no effect on reducing the noise level above our houses. I have no wish to engage in a continuous dialogue or await some new consultation. What I and my constituents wish to see is a return to the pre-June 2014 dispersal and Gate policies. It is difficult to see why Wokingham would wish to support an expansion of the airport if this matter cannot be put right promptly.” So, roll on the consultation by the CAA this year, and then the other by the DfT, on aircraft noise and airspace change.
Reply to CEO of Heathrow Airport re. aircraft noise
Dear Mr Holland-Kaye
Thank you for your letter of 15 December.
The changes that NATS made, without consultation, in June 2014 to the Compton Gate have resulted in incessant noise over the Wokingham area due to the concentration of flights over one area, rather than their dispersal. The various mitigating effects that you have described to me over the past months appear good in theory but they are having no effect on reducing the noise level above our houses.
I have no wish to engage in a continuous dialogue or await some new consultation. What I and my constituents wish to see is a return to the pre-June 2014 dispersal and Gate policies.
It is difficult to see why Wokingham would wish to support an expansion of the airport if this matter cannot be put right promptly.
Letter from CEO of Heathrow Airport
I have received the following letter from the CEO of Heathrow Airport, addressing the points raised in my conversation with a pilot last month:
The letter from John Holland-Kaye – (presumably dated 15th December?):
Thank you for your letter dated 23rd November. I am grateful that you continue to engage in a constructive dialogue with us on these important issues. With regard to the recent conversation you had with a pilot, I would make the following comments in response:
Aircraft altitudes on departure
Heathrow’s departure routes and procedures regarding climb gradients were designed in the 1960s. As modern aircraft fleets have replaced older technology, we have seen a steady increase in aircraft altitudes. Indeed, the recent analysis undertaken by independent analysts PA Consulting shows that over the last five years, there has been an upward trend in the altitude of departures over Wokingham. [It would be good if they would publish this data, in comprehensible form, for all to see. AW note]. This is what we would expect with modern aircraft fleets. However, further improvements beyond this will be limited in the short term because of the airspace constraints that NATS work within.
Heathrow’s airspace is one of the most congested in the world due to: the proximity of four other major airports (Gatwick, Stansted, City and Luton); the location of the four holding stacks; and the interaction between arriving and departing traffic. Taken together, these mean that until changes are made to the whole of London’s airspace through the Government’s modernisation programme, it will not be possible to increase further the height of aircraft.
As part of any future changes to climb gradients, the noise impacts of steeper climb gradients will have to be considered. There will always be trade-offs. While getting aircraft at greater altitudes more quickly may benefit some, it will also result in increased noise for others. [ie. it is even noisier for those living near the airport, who are already subjected to the worst noise. A benefit? AW note].
Aircraft altitudes on arrival
The majority of aircraft coming into land at Heathrow already perform what is known as a Continuous Descent Approach or CDA. This is a procedure aircraft perform after leaving the holding stacks, from approx. 6,000 feet and before they lock onto the final approach (the last 10 miles or so when aircraft line up in a straight line into the airport). It involves aircraft maintaining a steady angle of approach when landing at the airport, as opposed to stepped approaches which involve prolonged periods of level flight. [And then engine thrust too. AW note].
Continuous Descent Approaches reduce noise because they require less engine thrust and keep the aircraft higher for longer. Some 87% of arriving aircraft currently use CDA at Heathrow.
In order to achieve the objective of keeping aircraft higher before they reach the final approach, there are a number of ways this might be possible in future. The first is to introduce a steeper final approach angle, which would mean aircraft approach the airport at a higher altitude. Currently the approach angle of the final approach (known as the Instrument Landing System) is set at 3 degrees. This means that depending on the point that aircraft join it, they will be at a set height from touchdown. We are currently trialing a slightly steeper approach with a view to increasing it further in the future. [This omits to say the steeper angle is only 3.2 degrees, which makes virtually no difference, and is largely for PR purposes. AW note].
We are also investigating the feasibility of what are called ‘segmented approaches’. A two-segmented approach adopts an intermediate approach phase flown at a steeper angle, before transitioning back to a standard 3 degree approach. This would potentially provide noise benefits further out during the approach phase, without affecting the final approach phase.
Aside from the procedural change that NATS made in 2014 to the Compton route, which has meant more flights over areas in the Wokingham area, there have not been amendments to procedures that change the way aircraft are directed.
For areas closer to Heathrow, improvements [meaning technical advances. AW note] in aircraft navigational technology has meant there is a trend for aircraft to be more concentrated with the established departure routes. [By improvements, he means that GPS-type technology enables planes to navigate more accurately – it has not meant any improvement to those living under the newly concentrated routes. AW note].
In areas further away from the airport, including areas in your constituency, the independent analysis shows that there is still a degree of natural dispersal once aircraft are over 4,000 feet (the point that they can leave the departure route). Nevertheless, it confirms that there has been an overall increase in aircraft numbers passing over the area which will account for the increased over flight some people experience. [No explanation is given of why there are now greater numbers. Heathrow is, in theory, almost “full”. AW note].
Our view is that in planning future airspace changes, the industry should explore how new precision technology could be used to create alternating departure routes that would provide period of predictable respite from noise for residents. [Is there evidence that this is what people over flown actually want? Has research been done? AW note]. Currently aviation policy [DfT policy. AW note] favours concentration over dispersal, although we understand that, as part of a consultation on airspace policy next year, it will seek views as to whether this is still the right approach. It will be important that you and others make your views known during this process.
Regarding better planning of arrivals, NATS has just adopted a new operational procedure – known as ‘XMAN’ – that cuts the amount of time that aircraft circle in holding stacks. This is done by slowing down traffic in their en-route phase when delays are anticipated on arrival.
Traditionally NATS has only been able to influence an arriving aircraft’s approach to Heathrow once it enters UK airspace – sometimes only 80 miles from the airport. This limits the opportunity to manage the flow of traffic and can result in additional time spent in the holding stacks. [Bearing mind the location of Wokingham, this seems to be irrelevant to Mr Redwood’s constituents’ problem. link AW note].
Under the XMAN system, if delays in the Heathrow holding stacks begin to build, air traffic controllers in the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Ireland are asked to slow down aircraft up to 350 miles away from London to help minimize delays on arrival. Absorbing delay in the en-route phase, when aircraft are higher and more efficient, saves fuel and CO2 while minimising noise for the communities living beneath the stacks.
I would be happy to meet to discuss these issues in more detail.
Chief Executive Officer.
This was an earlier letter:
Letter from Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport about noise
Dear Mr Redwood
Thank you for the constructive meeting last month. It was useful to discuss some of the issues raised by the recent Airports Commission recommendation as well as the airport’s operations today and how we can be a better neighbour to your constituents.
I am grateful for the constructive manner in which you have raised a number of important issues on behalf of your constituents. As a consequence of our engagement with you and other local Members of Parliament, Heathrow has developed a Blueprint for Noise Reduction which aims to address many of the concerns you have raised over the past 12 months. These are set out in the briefing paper I’ve attached.
At our meeting, we discussed the Government’s Future Airspace Strategy which seeks to make fundamental improvements to airspace structures in the longer term. The modernisation of airspace creates the potential to restructure airspace to reflect the capabilities of today’s modern aircraft. This will address some of the more significant changes to you want to see, including increasing aircraft altitudes on departure. Although these structural changes are a few years away, in the meantime, we will continue to work with NATS and the airlines to find innovative solutions to managing noise and continuing to reduce Heathrow’s noise footprint.
I will ensure that you are kept fully informed about any future trails or proposed changes to flight paths. Your continued input into this process would be very welcome.
Chief Executive Officer
Briefing for Rt Hon John Redwood, MP for Wokingham – Aircraft noise, Heathrow
Blueprint for Noise Reduction
Heathrow’s Blue print for Noise Reduction is a list of practical steps to reduce the impact of operations at the airport today on those living under flightpaths around the airport. It was developed following engagement with local politicians and in response to concerns raised by local residents.
The relevant commitments Heathrow have made that will improve the noise climate for residents in Wokingham include:
Continuous Descent Approach
Aircraft approach airports in two stages. The first part, which happens over areas such as Wokingham on easterly operations, is as aircraft make their way from the holding stacks to the final approach. Pilots can make this stage less noisy by descending at a steady rate in what’s known as a continuous descent approach (CDA). The alternative – coming down in steps with periods of level flying in between – is noisier because aircraft fly at low altitudes for longer.
The use of CDA has been increasing over the last few years and over the past 12 months Heathrow has been working with those airlines that perform below average. This has seen some very encouraging results and last month saw the best ever performance of CDA with 89% of all arrivals at Heathrow using this procedure. This is benefitting the Wokingham area by keeping these aircraft higher for longer.
Fitting Quiet Technology to A320s
The Airbus A320 family of aircraft accounts for 55 to 60% of the aircraft that use Heathrow. They’re efficient aircraft but they emit a distinctive high pitched whistling sound when the aircraft are about 10 to 25 miles from touchdown, over areas such as Wokingham. It’s now possible to retrofit a component that reduces the noise from each aircraft by around 6 decibels.
I have written to the Chief Executives of all airlines operating the A320 into Heathrow, encouraging them to adopt the new technology. Some have already done so and 80% of the fleet is expected to be retrofitted in the next 18 months.
Early Phase-out of the Noisiest Planes
Some aircraft are noisier than others. The oldest and noisiest are classified as ‘Chapter 3’ aircraft. Airlines already pay ten times more to fly Chapter 3 planes to Heathrow than they pay for the quietest aircraft. Although the number of ‘Chapter 3’ aircraft in use at Heathrow is decreasing each year, based on last year’s movements there are still around 3,600 of these aircraft which we know are disruptive to residents.
Heathrow aims to become the first large European airport to be completely free of ‘Chapter 3’ aircraft and we are working with the airlines that still use these aircraft to encourage an early phase-out. We will be able to report progress against this later this year.
Late Running Aircraft
The last scheduled flight of the day leaves its stand at 22.50. For a variety of reasons aircraft may leave later, which can be very disruptive for local communities. Sometimes late departures are unavoidable. We are working with NATS to reduce operational bottlenecks that lead to delays and late flights.
We are keeping a record of all late-departing aircraft so that we can track the least punctual airlines and are working with the airlines that run late most often to help them keep to schedule.
While not officially included in the Blueprint, we have been working with British Airways to explore the concept of ‘segmented approaches’ which potentially offer additional noise benefits, particularly for communities further away from the airport such as the Wokingham area.
Segmented approaches are where the aircraft has an initial steeper approach path before transitioning to a lower angle for the final approach to the runway. For example, this might be going from 4.5 degrees to 3 degrees. This would mean aircraft would be higher over Wokingham than is the case today.
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The “Tutur” flight path trial at Edinburgh airport created a storm of protest, from those finding themselves under a new, narrow flight path for the first time. The trial had to be stopped two months early, in October, because of the opposition. Now Fiona Hyslop, the MSP for Linlithgow, which was partly overflown in the trial, has herself surveyed 2,000 residents in West Lothian to find out their views. She has sent her 42-page report to the CAA. Ms Hyslop said the reason for her report was that residents had been kept in the dark about the potential for a new Edinburgh flight path and although the CAA “will receive a report from Edinburgh Airport stating that the complaints they received have originated from a small number of residents who have repeatedly complained, Edinburgh Airport did not proactively contact each individual resident as I have.” Of the 2,000 surveyed, she found that 1,220 respondents felt that noise created by planes overhead was intrusive or disturbing while they were in their house with the windows shut. 760 of those surveyed found that there had been either no change, that the noise was barely noticeable or that it was tolerable. In two areas, the number saying they had been adversely affected were 71% and 60%. These results give a much fuller picture of the noise impact than “simply stating the results from two temporary noise monitors as Edinburgh Airport propose to do.”
West Lothian flight path report sent to aviation chiefs
30 DEC 2015 (Daily Record)
BY EDDIE HARBINSON
Forty-two page document details noise complaints during four month trial
MSP [Member of the Scottish Parliament] Fiona Hyslop has sent a 42-page report into the impact of flight path noise over West Lothian to the Civil Aviation Authority
Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop sent the document after surveying 2000 residents during the
Edinburgh Airport flight path trial between June and October last year.
She found that 1,220 respondents felt that noise created by planes overhead was intrusive or disturbing while they were in their house with the windows shut.
But 760 of those surveyed found that there had been either no change, that the noise was barely noticeable or that it was tolerable.
Ms Hyslop claimed the reason for her report was that residents had been kept in the dark about the potential for a new take-off flight path from Edinburgh Airport.
She said: “I am asking the CAA to bear in mind that although they will receive a report from Edinburgh Airport stating that the complaints they received have originated from a small number of residents who have repeatedly complained, Edinburgh Airport did not proactively contact each individual resident as I have.
“Therefore any decision that the CAA come to must take into consideration the 2,000 plus views that I have collated from my survey.
“Edinburgh Airport had the opportunity to contact all residents in West Lothian to notify them of the new flight path prior to it starting but they chose not to.
“As a result they are misinformed about the level and severity of the disruption.
“My report goes a long way to ensure the CAA are aware of the real issues behind this proposed flight path and the actual effects it has had on my constituents, rather than simply stating the results from two temporary noise monitors as Edinburgh Airport propose to do.”
Map to illustrate where the affected places are in relation to the airport
Ecclesmachan was the place with the highest percentage of people found the noise intrusive – 47% of those surveyed.
In Linlithgow, a third of people said the noise was noticeable but half of those surveyed said there had been no change, the noise was barely noticeable or it was tolerable.
60% of Broxburn residents claimed they had been adversely affected, while in Uphall that figure rose to 71%.
But a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “The recent flight path trial was conducted to gain essential information to enable a full consultation with local residents.
“In line with CAA guidance we informed all local MPs, MSPs – including a meeting with Ms Hyslop – and councils were contacted in advance to inform them of the trial.
“As previously stated, any future airspace change trails will be preceded by a direct engagement process with local residents.
“In January 2016 we will publicise the results of the trial including noise and any resulting proposed air space change will include comprehensive stakeholder consultation.”
People living with Edinburgh airport plane noise adamant that changes to routes persist
The new campaign group, Stop Edinburgh Airspace Trial (SEAT), was set up last year in response to the suddenly increased noise from the TUTUR trial that started in June 2015 over some areas. They say Edinburgh Airport is planning to impose a “new airspace regime” on the area surrounding it – effectively a secret flight path. The purpose of TUTUR was to see if the airport could increase capacity by cutting the departure interval between flights from two minutes to one. However, people living beneath it have attacked the airport’s lack of transparency. Helena Paul, from SEAT said Edinburgh Airport failed to adequately communicate about the TUTUR experiment with communities.” She also said there were concerns that data from airport-positioned noise monitors would “not adequately reflect the disturbance on the ground”. The trial was stopped 2 months early after nearly 8,000 complaints. Yet SEAT members say they are still hearing about new problems with noise being experience by residents across West Lothian and into Fife. There are complaints that planes are more frequent, lower and louder. But the airport says: “Aircraft have been flying in and out of Edinburgh Airport on the same routes for 40 years; they are not flying any lower or louder than they did in the past.” This a now familiar pattern – residents and airports not agreeing. The airport will publicise the results of the trial later this month.
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Edinburgh trial (no prior consultation) of new narrow route to be ended 2 months early, due to opposition
Edinburgh Airport is to halt its controversial trial of a new flight path two months early (28th October). The trial of the concentrated route resulted in unacceptable levels of noise for those below the new route. The airport’s Chief executive Gordon Dewar admitted the airport had been overwhelmed with complaints about the trial route over areas which were not previously over flown. He said a letter from Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, asking if the trial could be shortened had also influenced the decision. The announcement was made at a packed public meeting in Broxburn. Like all other new routes that have been introduced through the CAA, there was no consultation. Mr Dewar said on the consultation: “…I do apologise. We have learned a lesson on that one.” The CAA has been taken aback by the extent of opposition to every new concentrated flight path it has introduced, and appears unable to work out how to implement the European SESAR changes to airspace on an articulate and determined population, against their will. Someone at the meeting commented that Gordon Dewar’s presentation was met with silence from the audience. But a short video by Sally Pavey, an experienced noise campaigner from Gatwick, received enthusiastic applause. Campaigners from affected airports are linking up to oppose unsuitable airspace changes.
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Scottish MSPs call for the Edinburgh flight path trial, that is reducing people to tears, to be ended early
Edinburgh Airport started a trial of a new flight path in June, due to continue till 24th December. The purpose of the route is to enable the airport to have take-offs every minute, rather than every two minutes. It has resulted in a narrow, concentrated flight path over areas that did not have much plane noise before, and this has caused real distress. People are especially infuriated because the CAA allows NATS to run trials with no consultation of the public. This consultation is currently only needed once the trial has been done (and it pretty much a fait accompli). Campaigners of SEAT (Stop Edinburgh Airspace Trial) launched a petition against the trial and have won the support of cross-party Lothian MSPs, including Labour’s Neil Findlay who yesterday led the debate. Four MSPs spoke up in a debate at Hollyrood, saying it is not acceptable that people now badly affected by noise were not consulted, and they want the trial ended early. Alison Johnstone (Green Party Scotland) said the relentless noise, often from 5am all day through till midnight, had reduced people to tears due to stress and sleep deprivation. She added, re. the CAA: “Just because you don’t have to consult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”
Edinburgh Airport unveils 5 month trial of flight path to boost the airport’s capacity
Edinburgh Airport has unveiled details of a 5-month trial of a new flight path for aircraft taking off to the west, in a bid to increase capacity. The Airspace Trial, which will begin on 25 June, will introduce a new SID route, the purpose of which is to allow more flights to use the runway, and allow aircraft to take off at one-minute intervals. This is to “allow the airport to maintain safe and sustainable growth without affecting punctuality.” Most of the time the flights take off to the west and there are currently 3 SID routes – known as Grice (which goes north), Gosam (which goes south west) and Talla (south). The new route – Tutur – will see aircraft take off in a south westerly direction and turn right towards the River Forth, passing over West Lothian and to the east of Linlithgow. The settlements worse affected, with planes at 1900 – 2000 feet, would be Uphall and Dechmont. Map Aircraft will climb as they turn, to fly over the coast and down the Firth of Forth passing North Queensferry, and then fly back over land at approximately 13,000ft near Musselburgh. The airport says the aircraft using the trial route are likely to be their least noisy (B737s, A319, A320, A321, 787 and A330s). The airport says the trial would monitor the impact on local communities, and noise monitors would be placed along the flight path to collect data on the flights.
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Under guidance from the DfT, airports have to be statutory consultees for any planning application within a radius of 13 km of the airport, that might have an impact on it, for a variety of reasons. One of these is the risk of bird strike, and so new developments that might attract birds are opposed. Now Gatwick Airport has objected to plans for a new hospice and homes in Pease Pottage [south of Crawley, and about 6km south of Gatwick airport] due to an increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’. St Catherine’s Hospice would provide a 48-bed care facility, and there would also be up to 600 new homes, cafe, a community building, retail units, and a new primary school. The current hospice has only 18 beds, and is not able to cater for the number of people needing palliative support in the area nor has sufficient family areas. Gatwick says the areas of open water in the application would attract birds large enough to endanger planes, including feral geese, duck, grey heron and cormorants – especially if the public feed them. Gatwick also fear the mown grassland would provide a grazing habitat for birds. Gatwick wants minimal water. Airports keep their grassed areas as unappealing to bird life as possible. Gatwick set out, for the Airports Commission, what it would do to “control and where possible reduce bird hazard.”
Gatwick airport objects to new hospice due to increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’
31 December 2015
Link to map showing location of Pease Pottage in relation to Gatwick
Gatwick Airport has objected to plans for a new hospice and homes in Pease Pottage [south of Crawley, and about 6km south of Gatwick airport] due to an increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’.
St Catherine’s Hospice has partnered with Thakeham Homes to promote a new development on land off Brighton Road for a 48-bed care facility, up to 600 new homes, cafe, a community building, retail units, and a new primary school.
The hospice, based in Malthouse Road, Crawley, has 18 inpatient beds, but is not currently able to cater for the amount of people needing palliative support in the area and has limited family areas.
However Gatwick, as a consultee, has objected to the application as it stands, as it believes the open water in the proposed ponds will attract birds ‘hazardous to aircraft’ such as feral geese, duck, grey heron and cormorants.
Birds can cause damage to aircraft either by being sucked into the engines or by colliding with the windscreen, as happened in 2009 when a plane was forced to safely land in New York’s Hudson River shortly after take off.
Gatwick’s consultation response, sent to Mid Sussex District Council as the local planning authority, read: “As this is a residential development it is envisaged that feeding of the birds by the general public is highly likely, thus creating an additional attractant to these birds.”
It also suggested that the grassland surrounding the water bodies, if mown short, could create a grazing habitat for birds, and suggested that open water should be reduced to a minimum.
Meanwhile Highways England has raised concerns that proposals have the potential to impact the ‘safe and efficient operation of the strategic road network’, in this case the M23 at junction 11, and part of the A23.
It has asked for more information to be provided in the application’s transport assessment and travel plans, as well as a commitment from Metrobus that it will extend the number 1 service from Broadfield.
However a number of residents have written to the district council in support of the application, describing a new facility to care for terminally-ill people as a ‘no-brainer’.
One resident added: “There should be no debate, this facility is urgently needed in the area and this site represents the best location.”
Giles Tomsett, chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, urged the council to recognise the wider benefits the application will offer as the hospice is a ‘strategic asset to the wider health economy’.
Although the charity has received a number of sizeable donations towards the new hospice project, it still needs to raise another £6m if planning approval is granted.
Residents can respond to the application’s consultation on MSDC’s planning portal.
Guidance from the DfT 4.11.2005
Safeguarding aerodromes, technical sites and military explosives storage areas
Aerodrome safeguarding maps: “Birdstrike” hazard
Birdstrikes are one of the major controllable hazards to aviation. Common birds have caused catastrophic accidents to all types of aircraft. Most birdstrikes occur on or near aerodromes but, because birds are very mobile, features far beyond an aerodrome boundary may increase the hazard. If a man-made development provides feeding, roosting or breeding opportunities, or shelter and security, it may, depending on the siting of the development and the species which it attracts, increase the number of birds visiting or overflying an aerodrome or the number of birds in the airspace used by aircraft. Gulls and starlings congregate in very large overnight roosts and travel long distances daily, while waterfowl are large and often fly in close formation. There is only limited scope for taking action on aerodromes to counter these hazards, and safeguarding may be the only effective means of reducing the risk to aircraft in flight.
The primary aim is to guard against new or increased hazards caused by development. The most important types of development in this respect are: facilities intended for the handling, compaction, treatment or disposal of household or commercial wastes, which attract a variety of species, including gulls, starlings, lapwings and corvids; the creation or modification of areas of water such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds, wetlands and marshes, which attract gulls and waterfowl; nature reserves and bird sanctuaries; and sewage disposal and treatment plant and outfalls, which can attract gulls and other species. Planting trees and bushes normally creates a bird hazard only when it takes place relatively near to an aerodrome, but a potential starling roost site further away from an aerodrome can create a hazard. Mineral extraction and quarrying can also create a bird hazard because, although these processes do not in themselves attract birds, the sites are commonly used for landfill or the creation of wetland.
In order to protect aerodromes against these hazards, safeguarding maps include, in addition to the requirements related to the height of buildings and structures, a dotted circle, with a 13 kilometre radius in the case of civil aerodromes and an eight mile (about 12.87 kilometre) radius in the case of military aerodromes, centred on the safeguarded aerodrome reference point to indicate the area within which developments likely to attract birds require similar consultation. Local planning authorities are required to consult the relevant consultee before granting planning permission for any development within the relevant radius of an officially safeguarded civil or military aerodrome which is likely to attract birds. Whether or not a development is likely to attract birds will depend on a number of factors. A local planning authority will need to consider not only the individual potential bird attractant features of a proposed development but also whether the development, when combined with existing land features, will make the safeguarded area, or parts of it, more attractive to birds or create a hazard such as bird flightlines across aircraft flightpaths.
A Second Runway for Gatwick Appendix A10 Biodiversity
May 2014 for the Airports Commission
In practical terms, measures are taken to deny birds feeding, nesting, loafing and roosting through careful design, good estate management and use of dispersal action/scaring where necessary. There are restrictions with respect to planting trees, landscaping, and also in relation to the planting palette, e.g. that the species used should not be berry bearing. New ponds or open water courses are generally required to be netted to prevent bird hazard. 3.9 The Airport is required to be consulted by the Local Planning Authorities on proposed developments that have the potential to be bird attractant within 13 km of the aerodrome.
We remain fully committed to the maintenance of diverse habitats in and alongside the River Mole, and likewise in areas of countryside that we own to the east of the railway, subject to aerodrome safeguarding requirements which, for example, require us to avoid the use of plant species, or the creation of habitats, attractive to large flocking birds. We also have a commitment to replace trees that are lost as a consequence of airport development and, as well as attending to the land within our ownership, we support good countryside management in Gatwick’s vicinity’.
The Airport will continue to be required to control and where possible reduce bird hazard within and around its environs and the CAA will expect that bird hazard is not increased as a result of the proposals as per the directive in CAP772. This will require an understanding of the risks the present habitat poses to aircraft operations, and also the context of the development in respect of the mosaic of surrounding habitats in the Low Weald NCA. In developing proposals Gatwick will consult with the CAA, Natural England and the Environment Agency.
The on-site grassland provides particular opportunities for mitigation and enhancement of airfield grasslands, even though the areas concerned are managed carefully by the Airport to reduce bird hazard. These grassland areas can be designed to have low nutrient soils, which in the longer term (10 years or so) would effectively develop into low productivity lowland grassland. It is recognized that the mowing regime would militate against achieving high floral diversity. Nevertheless, the large area coupled with an appropriate management regime would achieve an equivalent resource to that being displaced by the airport extension. Despite close wildlife hazard management by Airports, such airside grasslands have been known to develop to support population of Brown Hare and Skylark. [!!!]
In circumstances where new habitat is proposed to offset that which is lost, the CAA will require to be consulted closely as will Natural England and the Environment Agency, so as to ensure that risks from Bird Hazard are not increased.
Information from Biggin Hill airport on its rights as a statutory consultee, on planning applications within a 13 km radius of the airport:
This states (some extracts below) :
Birdstrike – controlling developments (e.g. water features and waste disposal sites) which have the potential to increase the number of birds or the bird hazard risk.
The Local Planning Authority is required to consult the Airport, when considering developments where the height of a proposed building or structure would exceed the level indicated on the safeguarding map.
The map also includes a dotted circle with a 13km radius, around Biggin Hill Airport to indicate the area within which developments likely to attract birds require consultation of the Airport. Such applications include: facilities for handling compaction, treatment or disposal of household or commercial wastes, the creation or modification of areas of water such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds, wetlands and marshes, nature reserves and bird sanctuaries, and sewage disposal and treatment plant. Applications for development of this nature should be accompanied by a Birdstrike Hazard Assessment.
Consultation is required not just on full or outline planning applications, but for an application for the amendment of an outline planning permission or an application for the removal or modification of conditions imposed on a previous planning permission.
When consulted on the type of proposed developments outlined above, the Airport considers whether the proposals could compromise the safe operation of the Airport, impair the performance of aircraft, airport navigation or Instrument Flight Procedures or cause a birdstrike hazard. The Airport will respond in writing to the relevant Local Planning Authority accordingly. If the Airport has insufficient information to consider the proposed development they will submit a holding objection to the Local Planning Authority requesting further information. This could delay the determination of a planning application.
Birds of prey and robot bird being used to keep birds away from airports
More stories about wildlife and how it is removed by airports at
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People living in areas around Penshurst, Crowborough, Tunbridge Wells, Bidborough etc began to suffer from far worse Gatwick noise from early 2014. Changes had been made to Gatwick arrivals flight paths, without consultation. There is now an independent review being undertaken, of the changes. It is being done by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake, and will be published on 28th January. It is hoped that this will not be a whitewash. A resident from a village in West Kent has written to Bo Redeborn, expressing very clearly the necessity of the review being genuinely independent, and avoiding the ambiguities, evasions and half-truths that have plagued the whole flight path change situation from its start. The writer says: “Until or unless you are able to tell us precisely what changed, why it changed, who proposed it and who authorised it then to all intents and purposes this really is ‘vectoring choices’. If this is not PBN, if this is not SESAR, if this is not government directed policy, then this really is caused by a bunch of ATCs [Air Traffic Controllers] making arbitrary decisions to send planes down pig trails. So it can, and should, be restored ‘overnight’ as confirmed by Charles Kirwan-Taylor.” He concludes: “Mr Redeborn, an awful lot of people are depending upon you to repair their shattered lives; don’t let us down.” See the whole letter ….
Gatwick say (and have said many times)
“… the impression may be that something has changed, although I can assure you nothing has …” Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick 18.07.14 to Charles Hendry MP
Are you sure?
Letter to Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake
from a resident in West Kent, living for over a year and a half under a new intensified flight path for Gatwick arrivals
(extracts only ….)
…This once beautiful location (‘one of Kent’s oldest and most beautiful villages’ – National Trust) is now a living hell and I hope that you are fully aware of the expectation that we have of a satisfactory outcome to your review. [Review link]
What is being perpetrated in the skies above West Kent is unnecessary, is unjustifiable and is totally intolerable.
One hint of a fudge from the review and those that have had their lives destroyed would be totally justified in kicking some doors in, figuratively,…..of those that still, unbelievably, continue to lie about what has gone on and …..of those that are paid handsomely to protect us, yet for some reason choose to pass by on the other side.
…. you know what’s gone on, and you know why it’s gone on; we had to work it out for ourselves, but we know what has gone on and we know why it has gone on.
Tom Denton certainly knew what was going on – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25741337 – and so did Stewart Wingate. Mr McNulty knew what was going on and so did the company that Mr Major advises – they stood to be the prime beneficiaries and only initiated a review under duress in order to protect its share price.
The problem is that when planes started screaming in down concentrated flight paths …. people noticed, which was something of an inconvenience as GAL [Gatwick Airport Ltd] had everything mapped out; clearly it believed that the best way to deal with the 975% increase in complaints was to ignore them.
We knew that trials to increase capacity had taken place, but Stewart Wingate lied about it; the GAL website was subsequently doctored.
GAL’s ‘consultation’ to create an aviation superhighway was botched and had to be spiked, so Gatwick imposed it anyway and this is the misery we have been left with.
Mr Redeborn, notwithstanding the vested interest of your paymasters, the results of your review will be the very essence of the people vs profit wrangle; this has become a head to head between some of the most important amenity space and heritage sites in the south east and an amoral, voracious foreign hedge fund. It is a straight fight between the health, wealth and happiness of my family and thousands like it and the Pension fund of Korea and it is within your gift to influence the outcome.
I have read the runes and I just want to be sure that no little wrinkles or loop holes exist in your final judgement that could impact its conclusions, recommendations or adoption.
Firstly, I understand that Mr Lake said at the public meeting in Crowborough that ‘flight paths haven’t changed’; if that appears in your conclusions, I suspect it would be wise to strike that through – a 975% increase in complaints is not a result of mass hysteria it is a result of massive disrespect.
If aviation guidelines allow an amoral operator to behave in such a fashion, and an aviation expert to make such a risible pronouncement, they are not fit for purpose.
Secondly, you stated in Tunbridge Wells that ‘reverting to the situation before 2013 is not feasible’; I totally refute that statement.
Until or unless you are able to tell us precisely what changed, why it changed, who proposed it and who authorised it then to all intents and purposes this really is ‘vectoring choices’.
If this is not PBN, if this is not SESAR, if this is not government directed policy, then this really is caused by a bunch of ATCs [Air Traffic Controllers] making arbitrary decisions to send planes down pig trails. So it can, and should, be restored ‘overnight’ as confirmed by Charles Kirwan-Taylor.
If you are tempted to include the NATS statistic that 90% of approaches are CDA [continuous descent approach] that will undermine any other conclusion; planes are levelling out fully 25 miles from the runway, before joining the magic roundabout out over the High Weald and then screaming to join the ILS from below. Planes have never been this low, planes do not need to be this low. Planes cannot be this low in the future.
If you are tempted to include the following to fob us off regarding the extended joining point to the ILS – “based on well intentioned safety improvements to reduce unstable approach risks” – I reckon you’d be well advised to keep that one in your quiver.
GAL lobbied CAA to extend the joining point after it botched its consultation. FOI requests proved that its justification on safety grounds were entirely bogus – go-arounds actually increased as a proportion and the primary reason was ‘runway not clear’ – a result of trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot.
Andrew Haines was subsequently found to be massaging and misrepresenting figures to cover GAL’s lies. The CAA is meant to be the regulator?
There is no justification to extend the joining point on safety grounds and however ‘well intentioned’ it was, rather than restoring an 8 nm joining point I think technology would allow you to recommend something closer than the previous 7 nm – particularly as Gatwick is still touting 6.95 nm for its second runway.
The other thing that I feel has no place in your review is the Airbus ‘whine’; this is something that has been known about for a decade and only came to the fore when concentrated flight paths were created without consultation or permission and the altitude of approaches was slashed.
It is an issue that needs to be addressed but I don’t think that claiming to have ‘mitigated’ the effect of an airframe defect should be included in your review; you should identify the reason the nuisance was exacerbated in the first place and then propose how its impact can be lessened in lieu of modifications being made to the offending planes.
We have been suffering from two years of frustration, anger and aural assault – quite wilfully imposed upon an arbitrarily created minority; we have been fed lie after lie and I hope that you will take the opportunity to deliver a genuine blueprint for a return to the equitable situation that existed in the past. I suspect that if it looks as though the future can even resemble the present – things will escalate.
We don’t have ages to wait for improvements either; unless you want to tell me otherwise, months and years of airspace planning did not go into creating this torture, so neither must there be any of the dragging of the feet that is being seen elsewhere. It was turned on overnight, it can be turned off overnight.
And if you are even tempted to suggest that things could have been just so much better if GAL’s communication and community engagement was improved, just take one look at the toe-curlingly embarassing pamphlets that were sent out recently trumpeting the arrival of Brer Dormouse in Gatwick’s green and pleasant land; in fact so fantastic are Gatwick’s green credentials that I don’t imagine it will be long until Bottlenose Dolphins are spotted pushing up the River Mole just to get a snout full of its Alpine-fresh air.
Just one thing, a slightly less glossy paper stock would make any future editions more absorbent and therefore suggest at least one useful purpose for it.
Mr Redeborn, an awful lot of people are depending upon you to repair their shattered lives; don’t let us down.
Public meeting in Crowborough hears from Bo Redeborn about his review of Gatwick flight paths
The MP for Wealden, Nus Ghani, organised a meeting on 23rd October for people in the Crowborough area who are being disturbed by flights over them, arriving at Gatwick. In August, in response to the high degree of opposition to changes to fight paths, Gatwick set up an “independent review” of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals. This is being led by Bo Redeborn, who is being “assisted by a small independent review team which has been tasked with ensuring the involvement of local communities most affected.” The review is to look at whether everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the problems which local communities are raising is in fact being done, (by Gatwick, NATS, CAA, DfT or the airlines); and the approaches which Gatwick has adopted for providing information to the local community and for handling complaints are fully adequate for the task. Bo Redeborn was present at the Crowborough meeting, and also Graham Lake, the Technical Adviser to the review team. They answered questions from concerned residents, who are not persuaded that Gatwick has either done enough or responded appropriately to concerns. To submit your views about Gatwick Airport to Nus Ghani MP download a copy of the consultation form: Gatwick Feedback Form.
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Gatwick announces “independent review” of Westerly Arrivals due to the extent of opposition to changed flight paths
Due to the level of disturbance, upset and anger for miles around Gatwick, from increased aircraft noise, narrowed and altered flight paths, Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, has commissioned an “independent review” of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals (ie. planes arriving from the east, to the airport, when there are westerly winds). The review will be led by Bo Redeborn, who for many years was Principal Director of ATM for EUROCONTROL. Gatwick airport says Mr Redeborn “will be assisted by a small independent review team which has been tasked with ensuring the involvement of local communities most affected.” The review is to look at whether, for westerly arrivals: “Everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the problems which local communities are raising is in fact being done, whether this involves action by the airport or by other parties most closely involved – NATS, CAA, DfT or the airlines.” And if Gatwick’s approach to providing “information to the local community and for handling complaints are fully adequate for the task.” Thousands of people do not believe Gatwick is succeeding on either. The review is to begin on 1st September 2015. It may end in November, but may be extended if more consultation is needed. There will be a review of Easterly Arrivals later on.
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The Labour party remains in a mess on what to do on runways. They have a position of stating that “Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, alongside any additional material that is commissioned, and we will respond on the basis of our four tests for aviation expansion. These are: 1.That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity. 2. That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met. 3. That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimised. 4. That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East.” But, though Lilian Greenwood, the Shadow Transport Secretary herself bought up a bit of Airplot in 2009 to prevent a Heathrow runway, she now says: “There is no doubt … that we need a new runway.” And “Aviation expansion is a matter of national significance and, having committed to addressing the problem head on, David Cameron faces a loss of credibility if he ducks the issue now. The UK needs additional capacity, but the prospect of any expansion is now in doubt.” But Labour itself says the runway has to meet the 4 conditions. And in reality that is not possible. So Labour’s position?
Heathrow or Gatwick? It’s make your mind up time for David Cameron
By Lilian Greenwood (Labour’s shadow transport secretary)
28.12.2015 (City Metric)
“Few policy problems have proved to be as intractable as providing new airport capacity – but the case for action is overwhelming.
The UK has produced a long list of discarded plans for new airports. Lullingstone, Cubbington and Maplin Sands were all unrealised, and Boris Johnson’s Thames Estuary Airport on the Isle of Grain looks set to join them. Even when new runways have been built, they have provoked intense local and ecological protests. The construction of a second runway at Manchester Airport 15 years ago was a case in point.
There is no doubt, however, that we need a new runway. Heathrow is full, and it has been for a decade. Gatwick operates at 85 per cent of its capacity, and it too is effectively full during the peak period. No new full-length runway has been built in the South East since the 1940s. [The reason is that the UK built a lot of full length runways for the RAF in the War. AW note].
Redistributing demand to underutilised airports is easier in theory than in practice, and the Airports Commission found that, without action, the entire London airport network would be operating at the limits of its capacity by 2040.
It has become clear over the last few days that David Cameron is hamstrung. He commissioned an independent report that strongly recommended Heathrow expansion, yet he is also faced with the threat of a by-election triggered by his mayoral candidate if that recommendation is adopted.
Now he has to choose which pledge he breaks: either that “a decision will be made by the end of the year,” as he told MPs in July, or his famous 2009 promise that there would be no third runway at Heathrow – “no ifs, no buts”.
This continued indecision is deeply damaging for the economy, and it is causing blight for residents who live close to both Heathrow and Gatwick.
It’s vital that questions over the environmental impacts of expansion are addressed; but they must be genuinely investigated and not just used as an excuse to kick the issue further down the road. Aviation accounts for around 6% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and airports have not always been regarded as good neighbours, especially when it comes to noise pollution.
The Airports Commission recommended that an independent noise authority should be created two years ago. This is a sensible recommendation that could have already been implemented without prejudicing a wider decision on runway capacity – so why has the government failed to take action?
We have also taken note of the Environmental Audit Committee’s concerns which were published in early December. Ministers must make sure that when they do bring a proposal before parliament they are doing so on a sound legal basis. There can be no repeat of the West Coast franchise scandal which cost taxpayers over £50m. However, as the Committee itself said, “the government should not avoid or defer these issues”. It’s clear that the report is not a charter for further, indefinite delay.
Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, alongside any additional material that is commissioned, and we will respond on the basis of our four tests for aviation expansion:
1.That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity;
2. That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met;
3. That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimised;
4. That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East.
We have also set out a set of proposals which would support the wider aviation industry. The National Infrastructure Commission should study the road and rail requirements of airports outside the South East, and the government should confirm the HS2 Manchester Airport Station as soon as possible. These measures are not, however, in themselves a substitute for new runway capacity in the South East.
Aviation expansion is a matter of national significance and, having committed to addressing the problem head on, David Cameron faces a loss of credibility if he ducks the issue now. The UK needs additional capacity, but the prospect of any expansion is now in doubt. The country – and people who live under the flightpaths of both Heathrow and Gatwick – deserve better.”
Lilian Greenwood is MP for Nottingham South, and Labour’s shadow transport secretary.
Some comments by AirportWatch members:
At the moment the article by Lilian Greenwood is the clearest we are going to get from Labour. She must know the policy is a muddle, so is sticking rigidly to these four tests. There is a lot support within Labour – and even amongst London Labour MPs – for Heathrow. Labour have correctly worked out that the Government decision to delay gives them at least another 6 months to become clearer on policy. Jeremy Corbyn and of course John McDonnell are against a 3rd runway at Heathrow but their views don’t necessarily reflect that of all their MPs. It is likely that for a lot of their MPs outside the SE (which is most of them) this is not an issue that is top of their agenda. So the response from these MPs is to give a pretty uninformed knee-jerk reaction as to what they perceive – from all the airport PR and spin – as being best for their constituency.
Can’t see Labour going for Heathrow expansion while John McDonnell is Shadow Chancellor! They might opt for Gatwick (like Sadiq Khan has done) as they have few votes to lose down there.
Maybe Lilian Greenwood could be sent a question entitled “Aviation capacity or climate emissions? It’s make your mind up time for Labour” instead – asking her to clarify in detail what she means by the second condition ‘ That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met’. The insertion of that word ‘legal’ looks potentially equivocal.
This comment from Lilian Greenwood is aimed at being even handed, but is actually pro-expansion. She believes building more runways is the only option and no doubt would go along with one each at Heathrow and Gatwick with a little further persuasion from the aviation lobby.
Politicians and Sir Howard Davies want people to be pacified with the creation of an INDEPENDENT Noise Authority. We all know that “Independent” means little these days but pro-expansionists love this condition. They love Community Noise Forums too. It all paints a cosy (but erroneous) picture of co-operation and concern for people suffering damage to their health.
There is also a quote about Airplot – “Ms Greenwood said that she had joined the (Airplot) campaign because she had opposed that plan for Heathrow expansion. However, she said that it was different from those now being discussed and she had an “open mind” about whether Labour should back the present plans for a third runway.” Ms Greenwood never bought land, as stated in The Times headline. Even she doesn’t seem to realise that. Confused is one word you could use.
It is irritating that politicians perpetuate the idea that this Heathrow plan is significantly different from the last. As far as I can see it is as damaging as the last, if not more so. The Heathrow villages will still be destroyed, regardless of whether the centre of the destruction is now Harmondsworth rather than Sipson, with Longford being wiped out. (It seems unlikely that the Heathrow Hub option will be selected).
The second point is “That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met.” AEF have demonstrated very convincingly that a new runway at either airport will in practice mean our legal climate change obligations will not be met. That they ‘could still be’ is the same sort of meaningless fudge Davies hid behind. It is depresisng beyond belief that we may still have to fight Labour Party policy on airports – even with Corbyn in charge. I despair of our political economy ever delivering for ordinary people instead of elites and corporations.
Sadiq Khan on this morning’s Today programme described himself as disagreeing with Corbyn – in that Sadiq supports Gatwick expansion. He is happy to dump the airport misery, of which he is well aware, on Sussex, Surrey and Kent – sadly facts he does not pay attention to as these people will not get the chance to vote against him as Mayor.
Sadiq seems so keen to be ‘the most pro business’ mayor that he seems to want to support Gatwick, and looks like London City airport expansion too…. And seems to have calculated he can do that to people around Gatwick, as they are not able to vote against him. And the are is all Tory anyway. But Sadiq is miscalculating on the green vote – we will certainly expose him for this, but will first try to get him to see that there can be no new runway at Gatwick either -for climate reasons
Labour divided as 30 northern Labour MPs back Heathrow expansion, believing it would help their regions
Nearly 30 northern Labour MPs have signed a letter backing a 3rd Heathrow. The letter to Lillian Greenwood, shadow transport secretary, was signed by members of the PLP Northern Group. They include senior figures such as Chi Onwurah, Kevan Jones, and Nick Brown. This may be an indication of the Labour party’s divisions over the issue. Key to David Cameron’s calculations will be whether he can win enough backing in Parliament for Heathrow expansion, given that it is opposed by several of his senior colleagues including Zac Goldsmith, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are against a Heathrow runway, but it is not clear if Mr Corbyn would order Labour’s 232 MPs to vote against it. If as many as 26 Labour MPs from one region are in favour of the Heathrow runway it suggests that Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell’s views are not shared by all the rest of the party. The PLP Northern Group hope the regions would benefit from a Heathrow runway, and (like everyone else other than a few with the time and abilities to understand it all) have not read the Airports Commission’s papers in detail – showing negative implications for regional airports from a new runway. A rather flimsy paper by “Quod”, setting out predictions of growth and jobs for the regions, is the basis of hopes by regional MPs.
Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway likely to lead to internal Labour party disputes
Jeremy Corbyn – who might become leader of the Labour party – has come out against a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The Labour leadership favourite has indicated in an interview with the FT that under him, the party would not support expansion at Heathrow. He said: “I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across west London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London. I’d vote against it in this parliament.” If he does become leader (decision on 12th September) this would represent a U-turn from the party’s current stance of supporting the runway, if certain conditions are met. Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway will have an impact on the London mayoral race, as two Labour candidates are in favour of it, and two against. Tessa Jowell, the favourite to win the nomination, would find herself at odds with her party’s leadership on Heathrow. There are also plenty of moderates in the party who would also rebel against Corbyn. But airports are purely a lobbying issue for mayoral candidates — they have no actual power over the decision. It is not yet known if there will be a parliamentary vote on a runway, though it will require a lot of public funding (directly and indirectly for years). David Cameron will decide by November whether to accept the Airports Commission recommendation of Heathrow, and if Labour now votes against it, that could fatally undermine the project.
Labour abandons support for new Heathrow runway
McDonnell and Diane Abbott are strongly opposed to a third runway
By Michael Savage and Laura Pitel
Labour has dropped its support for a third runway at Heathrow in a move that risks another split among Jeremy Corbyn’s new shadow cabinet.
The party had backed the recommendation in the summer by Sir Howard Davies, provided noise and air pollution conditions were met. The move had wrong-footed David Cameron, who faces a split over the issue within his party and is yet to rule on whether to back Heathrow expansion.
Lilian Greenwood, the shadow transport secretary, said that she had an open mind over whether the third runway should be supported, with Mr Corbyn known to be strongly against the plan. “I want to look at all the evidence in more depth,” she said. “We’ve got a new leadership team, I’m new to the shadow secretary of state role, and I want to look at it myself. And I want to have discussions with colleagues.
“It’s no secret that there are differences of opinion on this issue in the Labour party, as indeed there are on the Conservative benches.”
Michael Dugher, the former shadow transport secretary said to be keen on backing Heathrow expansion, is now shadow culture secretary.
Full article at
Corbyn ally, Lilian Greenwood, bought land at Airplot, in 2009, to stop Heathrow runway
By Michael Savage Chief Political Correspondent
The shadow transport secretary was the owner of a slice of land near Heathrow bought to stop a third runway being built. [Airplot, a scheme by Greenpeace]
Lilian Greenwood, who was promoted in Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle of the Labour front bench, was in a group of politicians, activists and celebrities that purchased and shared a plot of land in 2009 to hamper the airport’s expansion plans. Her participation suggests that she held serious concerns about the construction of a third runway. She has vowed to look at all options over airport expansion, in effect ending Labour’s support for a third runway.
Ms Greenwood said that she had joined the campaign because she had opposed that plan for Heathrow expansion. However, she said that it was different from those now being discussed and she had an “open mind” about whether Labour should back the present plans for a third runway.
Mr McDonnell was so angered by the Labour government’s approval of a third runway in 2009 that he grabbed the Speaker’s mace. He was suspended from the Commons for five days.
Full article at
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An ex-councillor from Suffolk, Judy Terry, writing in Conservative Home, puts forward the idea of using the redundant RAF base at Mildenhall, in Suffolk as a new airport. It is a charmingly bonkers idea – but logically no more bonkers than adding a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. Judy is aware of the negative impacts a new Heathrow runway would have on surrounding residents, and is unconvinced that greatly increasing Heathrow air freight is a great plan, due to road congestion and diesel pollution. She says deferring the decision on a runway makes sense, as “a lot has changed since Howard Davies started his airport review three years ago, and we don’t understand why other options were dismissed.” So, a “new solution” could be putting soon-to-be-redundant airfields in the regions to use as airports. “In the last year, the USAF announced that it will be leaving the RAF’s wartime bomber base in Mildenhall, Suffolk, by 2022.” This will cause job losses and negative impacts on the local economy, so Judy believes Mildenhall should be considered “if only the Heathrow expansion advocates would open their minds to a viable alternative.” “With the support of the local MP, Matt Hancock, the local council has just received a £230,000 grant to review the future, one option being an international airport, subject to the RAF’s future plans.”
Map shows location of Mildenhall, and East Midlands airport (red marker)
Judy Terry: Don’t expand Heathrow – boost regional airports instead
Apart from the EU negotiations, latterly focus has been on Heathrow, and the decision to defer a decision for a further review– this time on the potential environmental impact of a third runway. This has been interpreted as ‘for political reasons’ by the sceptics, citing the forthcoming London Mayoral elections. Yet, for many of us, a deferral makes sense because a lot has changed since Howard Davies started his airport review three years ago, and we don’t understand why other options were dismissed.
Whilst Willie Walsh threatens to take British Airways’ business elsewhere, Boris Johnson has called for “bold, imaginative, new solutions” to the airport expansion dilemma.
Boris is not alone. Apart from those of us trying to get to business appointments, or for a weekend away who are regularly stuck in traffic jams on the M25, if Heathrow expansion goes ahead, residents across the region will have their lives blighted for generations. Not just during the complicated infrastructure works (costing billions and never likely to be delivered on time or on budget), but they will also have to put up with increased aircraft noise, not to mention the impact on their property prices.
It appears that passengers are not the priority after all; demand for another runway comes from the freight industry, which wants increased capacity. However, freight inevitably has to be transported around the country. So why does it have to be imported and exported via London? Where the roads are already clogged up and there are concerns about diesel fumes and the impact on health?
Presumably, the answer is that the capital is the largest market for some incoming goods; that there are existing warehouses local to Heathrow, even if the road/rail infrastructure is inferior, which must increase costs and time delays when moving goods. Or maybe the reluctance to think afresh is simply due to the more usual “we’ve always done it this way and we don’t want to change”.
So, a “new solution” could be putting soon-to-be-redundant airfields in the regions to a new use. In the past, decommissioned airfields have become housing or industrial estates, often stunting wider economic growth (Ipswich is an example) and losing the opportunity for inward investment to create a high paid/ambitious jobs culture. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard people say, if only we hadn’t allowed that to happen!
However, all is not lost. In the last year, the USAF announced that it will be leaving the RAF’s wartime bomber base in Mildenhall, Suffolk, by 2022.
Employing 4,200 airmen and civilians, losing the base will have a disastrous impact on the local economy which offers limited alternative employment in this historic market town which was part of the post-War London overspill programme. On the edge of the Fens, just 10 miles from Newmarket and close to the A11,with easy access to Cambridge, it has two particular claims to fame: a 15th century market cross, and the ‘Mildenhall Treasure’, a 4th century hoard of Roman silver, now in the British Museum. Despite its advantages, the town has never lived up to expectations, but the time is right for it to make real progress if only the Heathrow expansion advocates would open their minds to a viable alternative.
With the support of the local MP, Matt Hancock, the local council has just received a £230,000 grant to review the future, one option being an international airport, subject to the RAF’s future plans.
Residents are used to heavy aircraft, and consequently unlikely to resist commercial expansion.
Given the location, it would be convenient for racehorses to be flown around the world, and there would be major advantages for the freight industry in having easier access across the country and to Felixstowe port (for any onward transmission to the continent and across the globe). There is plenty of space to create new, efficient warehousing, and salaries are lower than in the London area; housing is also cheaper.
For the government, costs would also be lower and it would be easier and quicker to deliver the additional capacity. Local road and rail improvements connecting the Eastern region to the Midlands and North (as well as London) are long overdue in any event, so there would be a dual benefit from the investment. Funds could also be made available for grants or loans to support the freight industry to review their business models and develop the new warehousing/transport hubs. In return, the local council would have increased business rates and the Treasury would benefit from higher tax income as more jobs were created, and the benefits budget declined.
Such development would also boost further private investment in a region already renowned for its world class scientific and technical research, especially in the agricultural and medical sectors, with innovations which would benefit not just the UK economy, but help emerging economies and poor countries desperate to improve healthcare and to feed their populations.
Unlike its neighbours in Essex and Norfolk, Suffolk doesn’t have a commercial airport, which has had a seriously detrimental impact on its growth. Mildenhall could change that, and improve so many lives.
Some comments under the article:
January 01 2016, 4:42PM
Clearly the closure of Mildenhall will be a big blow to the local economy and not least in falling local and surrounding property prices. With US central air command moved to Mannheim, Germany its also questionable for how long Lakenheath too remains operational. An over dependency on the *US has no doubt been too long taken for granted, however although early days it appears unfortunate that the Cllr. presently seems intent in trying to raise false hopes by clutching at (fanciful) straws. In that regard perhaps he might do better than enquire if Marshalls here in Cambridge are silently waiting in the long grass!
January 01 2016, 2:47PM
Bonkers idea, Suffolk just doesn’t have the population to justify an International Airport, look at Cambridge that has just decided to stop offering passenger flights. It mentions that it would be far better to fly cargo from Mildenhall rather than Heathrow, the reality is that there are few if any purely cargo flights into Heathrow, the cargo travels in the aircraft hold alongside our suitcases. Cargo aircraft use Stansted instead. All shows that you don’t have to be very bright to be a Cllr, but the ability to talk ******** is advantageous.
January 01 2016, 12:17PM
A very good idea. Of course, infrastructure improvements would need to take place, especially railway expansion. but runways are already there, and the buildings on the base could be put to good use for an airport. I am glad that USAF Mildenhall will close, World War 2 has been over for over 70 years and the Soviet Union has been gone for 25 years.
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Heathrow starts fight over bill for Crossrail link
Travellers could be hit with a surcharge as airport demands £40m a year from operator of flagship London project
A ROW has erupted over who should foot the bill for a stretch of line that connects Heathrow’s overground stations to Crossrail, the newest rail network in London.
Heathrow said European rules meant it had to introduce charges: “Under this approach, Heathrow will recover the long term rail infrastructure costs in a fair and transparent manner.”
The Department for Transport said: “As a joint sponsor of the [Crossrail] project, we oppose increased charges to train operators to access the Heathrow spur. As supporters of the growth agenda, we recognise the important role the private sector plays in bearing its fair share of these costs, particularly where they are benefiting now and more so in the future.”
Full article in the Sunday Times at
The western section of Crossrail is on the surface from Reading to Acton Main Line, with an underground spur to Heathrow Airport, and upgrading stations: Maidenhead, Taplow, Burnham, Slough, Langley, Iver, West Drayton, Hayes and Harlington,Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line. Reading station has already been redeveloped.
The Heathrow branch includes stations at Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Central and joins the main route at Airport Junction, between West Drayton and Hayes & Harlington.
Crossrail had been planned to end at Maidenhead, with an extension to Reading safeguarded. On 27 March 2014, it was announced that the line would go to Reading.
The RUS (Route Utilisation Strategy) also proposes integrating Heathrow Express services from Heathrow Terminal 5 into Crossrail to relieve the GWML and reduce the need for passengers to change at Paddington.
- The Crossrail route will run over 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
- There will be 40 Crossrail stations including 10 new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.
- Crossrail will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and will link London’s key employment, leisure and business districts – Heathrow, West End, the City, Docklands – enabling further economic development.
- The first Crossrail services through central London will start in late 2018 – an estimated 200 million annual passengers will use Crossrail.
- Construction of the new railway will support regeneration across the capital and add an estimated £42bn to the economy of the UK.
- The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn.
Moreover, Crossrail will make accessing our major international gateways like London Heathrow more accessible – for instance, the journey time from London Heathrow to the City of London (Liverpool Street) will fall from 55 to 34 minutes.
PROJECT TIMELINE AND MILESTONES
- Major fit-out of stations and tunnels continues as does the major upgrade of the existing rail network for Crossrail services by Network Rail.
- The first new Crossrail rolling stock will start to replace existing suburban trains between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
- In late 2018, the first Crossrail services will start through the central London tunnelled section.
- In late 2019, the full Crossrail service will be operating from Heathrow and Reading to Abbey Wood and Shenfield.
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On 23rd December, there was a brief court hearing for the 3 activists who blocked a main Heathrow entrance tunnel on 26th November. The hearing was at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, and they pleaded not guilty. Another hearing will therefore be arranged in 2016. Many supporters of the activists attended the hearing and gathered outside the court beforehand. After the court hearing, a large group Heathrow-3rd-Runway-opponents including many local residents who face destruction of their homes and communities if a runway is built, met outside the Magistrates court. Wearing Santa hats, they sang a few Christmas carols and jingles (with two or three accompanying policemen) before dispersing. The next court date for Plane Stupid airport activists will be Monday 18 January 2016 at 9am at Willesden Magistrates’ Court, when the 13 activists who occupied Heathrow Airport in July 2015 have their trial -due to last 6 days. All 13 activists are asserting their right to defend the climate and the communities negatively impacted by Heathrow, and are pleading not guilty. Plane Stupid invites people who sympathise with the actions taken by the activists, and want to support them in court, to come along. They say: “Bring cake and banners, or just yourselves!”
Some of the supporters outside the Uxbridge Magistrates court before going in for the hearing
The 3 defendants, who blocked the main entrance tunnel to Heathrow terminals on 26th November, attended a Hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on the afternoon of Wed 23rd December.
They pleaded not guilty, and so the Magistrates postponed the hearing. The magistrates will meet on January the 6th (without the defendants being present) for a meeting amongst themselves to arrange a date for the next hearing.
After court a very large group of anti-3rd-Runway-supporters met outside the Magistrates court again and as it was a clear but chilly afternoon, we put on Santa hats and sung a few Christmas carols and jingles with the support of two or three policemen before dispersing.
The next court date for Plane Stupid airport activists will be Monday 18 January 2016 9am Willesden Magistrates’ Court. The 13 activists who occupied Heathrow Airport in July 2015 have their trial. The trial will last 6 days. All 13 activists are asserting their right to defend the climate and the communities negatively impacted by Heathrow, and are pleading not guilty.
Plane Stupid invites people who sympathise with the actions taken by the activists, and want to support them in court, to come along. They say: “Bring cake and banners, or just yourselves!”
See: http://www.planestupid.com/blogs/2015/07/13/plane-stupid-activists-heathrow-runway-climate-protest for details of their action
The Airports Commission failed to address climate change adequately in its report. Use of fossil fuels is destablising the climate and the life support systems upon which life depends, so we need to rapidly transition to a fossil free future. This means that we cannot have more carbon-intense mega-infrastructure projects like a new runway, in fact we need to reduce fossil fuel use dramatically from where we are now. It’s up to people acting collectively to bring about a sustainable, just and fossil free world, since the government is taking us in the opposite direction.
The “Heathrow 13” activists also have strong support amongst the long suffering community around Heathrow.
5 arrests after Plane Stupid block Heathrow tunnel for 3 hours using a van + activists locked onto it
The main road entrance tunnel to Heathrow’s Terminals 1 and 2 was blocked by climate change activists from Plane Stupid, for about 3 hours, from 7.40 this morning. Three activists parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked themselves to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron’s election promise in 2010: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”. Five people were arrested, and the tunnel was finally cleared and the road re-opened by 1.30pm Some travellers may have been delayed or could have missed flights. Local resident Neil Keveren, a builder from Harmondsworth, whose house would be bulldozed for the 3rd runway, was fined after blocking the same tunnel with his van for half an hour on 2nd July, the day after the Airports Commission announcement. Neil said: “No one wants to do this. They feel they have to. People feel they have no choice. After we campaigned for years, David Cameron was elected promising ‘no ifs, no buts: no third runway’. …. We have tried every other option. We have been forced to be disobedient just to be heard. To save our homes and our planet.” There is already airport capacity for families taking a couple of trips per year, or wealthy foreign visitors to the UK, but a new runway would be for the most wealthy to take multiple leisure trips each year. Plane Stupid apologised for causing inconvenience, but believe the strong arguments against a Heathrow runway must be heard.
Click here to view full story…
The last time the tunnel was blocked:
Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour
A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow. This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”. The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic. Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell.
Full story at http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/07/26823/
13 Plane Stupid activists who invaded Heathrow plead not guilty – trial in January
Thirteen members of Plane Stupid, who invaded part of Heathrow on 13th July as a protest about a possible 3rd runway, were charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome. At Uxbridge magistrates’ court on 19th August, they all pleaded not guilty to both charges. Dressed in polar bear costumes or wearing David Cameron masks, and carrying placards – they were surrounded by supporters and arrived to chants of “no ifs, no buts, no third runway!” Many of the 40 or so supporters could not get into the public gallery. One of the accused, Sheila Menon, said people are already negatively impacted by Heathrow, and the UK already has enough runway capacity. An extra runway would largely cater for leisure travel by a minority. She believed the government was failing to act responsibly, and: “It is against this background and the failure of democratic processes, we believe our actions were reasonable, justifiable and necessary.” The 13 were released on bail on the condition not to enter Heathrow or the area considered to be its perimeter. A trial date was set for 18th January. It is thought the case will last two weeks, with each defendant expecting to give evidence.
Click here to view full story…
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The CAA published its long-awaited Post Implementation Review report in early November. Gatwick is required by the CAA to change one westerly departure route (Route 4) that affects people in many villages to the South of Dorking and across to Reigate and Redhill. This has to revert back to being within the NPR (noise preferential route) as before. Local group, Plane Wrong, set up in response to the noise problems caused, says it welcomes the decision and wants this to be implemented rapidly so that residents do not have to suffer the noise for another summer. Plane Wrong is, however, dismayed at the CAA decision in respect of Route 3, which is not to be changed despite the fact that many more people are significantly affected by the change. This appears to have been entirely ignored. Plane Wrong has considerable doubts about some of the methodologies employed by the CAA to reach both these decisions. On the change to Route 4, Plane Wrong says the changes should be completed quickly, though the CAA has to test the change in simulators for Boeing and Airbus. They do not yet know when this work will take place. There is also a 2 month period that has to elapse after that, and there is no indication yet of when this will end.
Response to the CAA’s report of November 2015 in respect of the introduction of PBN for Gatwick Departures
- We welcome the decision of the CAA to require Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) to change the westerly departure route (Route 4) and call for this to be implemented rapidly so that residents do not have to suffer the noise for another summer.
- We are, however, dismayed at their decision in respect of Route 3. The fact that many more people are significantly affected by the change appears to have been entirely ignored
- We have considerable doubts as to some of the methodologies employed to reach both these decisions.
The methodologies used
1 At no stage of the PIR process has the CAA considered noise actually measured on the ground. All their findings about noise have been based on theoretical models. We believe that this methodology may (in part) account for the considerable difference between what people are actually suffering and the CAA’s apparent views as to what they are experiencing.
2 The above failure to measure noise is compounded by the CAA’s selective interpretation of the Government’s Aviation Policy Framework. (See paragraph 4.37.) This interpretation provides their reasoning for stating that the environmental effect of the changes they authorised in August 2013 has not been significant.
Their choice of the 57dB LAEq 16 hour test set out in paragraph 3.17 of the APF combined with the unrelated noise test set out in paragraph 3.39 sets a high bar which greatly reduces the chances of noise which actually is significant being treated as significant by the CAA.
1 Although we are pleased that the CAA accepts that, under plans they originally approved, a large quantity of aircraft have been flying outside a long established NPR swathe since May 2014, we cannot understand why – as appears to be the case – the CAA is so relaxed about long suffering residents having to put up with another summer season (i.e. when windows and doors are open and when flights are at their most frequent) in which the NPR is regularly flouted. We think that to allow another season of stress caused by excessive aircraft noise in a once tranquil environment would be both unacceptable and unnecessary.
2 The changes the CAA have asked for should therefore be completed in the shortest possible time and ideally before the 2016 summer season starts in April. We are aware that, following discussions with the CAA, GAL has produced a revised design that is expected to take the route back inside the established NPR and we understand that the CAA requires this to be tested in simulators for both Boeing and Airbus. However, we do not know when this work will take place.
Also, whilst we know that approval from the CAA will be required after the simulation work and that there is then a 2 month period that has to elapse before implementation, we do not know how long this is expected to take.
It would be logical and helpful if the CAA and Gatwick were to collaborate and let local community groups see a draft timetable which would progress from today’s currently unsatisfactory position, via consultation with the public, to a new route being in place.
3 Nonetheless, we understand that it is likely that the new route within the NPR will benefit from only a limited degree of lateral dispersal. We believe that on balance an element of dispersal (similar to that which existed prior to the changes) would benefit the communities who live under or close to the flight paths.
The main reason for the new route being concentrated seems to be that the CAA and Gatwick are agreed on an industry-friendly interpretation of government policy. We do not accept that interpretation.
Further, we support all efforts to change government policy, so that it is accepted that there should be a fair and equitable lateral dispersal of aircraft both arriving and departing.
1 As we say above, we are dismayed by the CAA’s conclusion that the easterly departure route does not need to be changed.
2 Their reasoning here seems to be that outlined above – that their modelling does not indicate that the flightpath changes have made any previously quiet locations noisier, and even if they have, these locations are not significantly noisier. This erroneous reasoning is compounded by the methodology used to analyse the sources of noise complaints; here, the CAA simply made the decision not to associate any complaints arising in the Reigate and Redhill area with Route 3 flights. Given the increased number of complaints from this area since May 2014, this is perverse.
3 That there should be an increased number of complaints from this area is only to be expected. The new route affects more people significantly than the old one did partly because it is more concentrated (as the CAA accept – see para 9.33) and partly because more flights are flying closer to Reigate and Redhill.
4 So we urge the CAA to revisit their conclusions.
The CAA’s disappointing PIR finally published, showing only one Gatwick route to be slightly changed
Since autumn 2013 there have been changes to flight paths for Gatwick airport, given provisional approval by the CAA. Routes have been altered, and flight paths have been more concentrated. This has been done without consultation of affected communities. The CAA has done a PIR (Post Implementation Review) that ended in January. It has finally, after delays, published its findings. These are regarded as very disappointing, as almost no concessions have been made and though hundreds of complaints were sent in, there are few changes to routes. GACC says: “In a 198 page report they devote only 2 pages to the possibility of dispersal – spreading the aircraft over a wider area – and to the possibility of respite – giving people a break from constant noise. And then reject both. We will now need to take the case to the Government and indeed will raise this when we meet the Minister for Aviation, Robert Goodwill MP …on 18 November.” The more concentrated noise has caused great distress for the people unlucky enough to live directly under the flight paths. The only change to a route is one which takes off to the west, and flies over Holmwood, Brockham and Reigate – Gatwick will be consulting on a revised route in the next few months. People are angry that the CAA, yet again, ignores input from the public.
Sally Pavey’s comment on the CAA’s Gatwick PIR – it ‘ignored’ human cost of changed flight paths
Responding to the publication of the PIR (Post Implementation Review of Gatwick flight path changes since 2013, Sally Pavey (Chair of CAGNE) commented that it was “extremely disappointing”. It concluded that only the departure route taking off to the west, and heading north, had to change. Local group, Plane Wrong, welcomed that admission, but are dismayed by the CAA’s conclusion that the easterly departure route does not need to be changed. The PIR said a route towards the south-coast and another heading east were acceptable but should be reviewed by Gatwick; the remaining six routes did not need to change. Sally said the PIR now needed to be reviewed by the Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill: “For a Government, in this day and age, to implement and subject residents to such an airspace concentrated system without any research into the noise readings or emissions from concentrated routes is beyond belief.” She added: “The noise shadow is far grater from a concentrated route than a dispersed route. It’s like having a country lane next to your home, which might see a few cars throughout the day and night, and changing it to the M1 overnight. The noise is relentless. Until the aviation industry recognise that concentrated routes create noise shadows these reports are pointless as they serve only the aviation industry and not the taxpayers.” The report offers little for people affected in West Sussex.
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The Sunday Times reports that British Airways has admitted it plays the system at Heathrow by “tactically cancelling” flights so it can hang on to lucrative landing slots without needing to fly more planes. BA has about 50% of Heathrow’s take-off and landing slots, and it could have 53% by next summer. It has done successive deals to obtain more slots, such as its 2012 takeover of BMI, and getting 11 pairs of slots following the closure of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red service to regional airports, and the collapse of Russian carrier Transaero. Most of these slots had been mandated for use on UK routes, as part of a European competition ruling on the BMI takeover.But BA can now use them as it wants, after the failure of the two rival airlines. In the rules that govern how landing slots are used, airlines have to use them 80% of the time or lose them to another airline. Airlines that owns lots, which can be valued up to £40 million, are not keen to lose them. BA is using “tactical cancellations” across their network, so they can keep the 80% rule,without much overall increase in capacity. BA cancelled a daily Heathrow flight to New York, and some short-haul routes and will launch new routes, mainly to leisure destinations in Europe. While BA’s tactics are within the rules, they raise questions about whether Heathrow’s runway capacity is being used effectively.
BA cancels flights to tighten grip on privileged Heathrow position
By John Collingridge (Sunday Times)
20 December 2015
BRITISH AIRWAYS has admitted it plays the system at Heathrow by “tactically cancelling” flights so it can hang on to lucrative runway slots without having to fly more planes.
The carrier, owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), has been gradually strengthening its dominant position at the London hub through deals such as its 2012 takeover of BMI. By next summer it will have almost 53% of the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports.
BA recently acquired another 11 pairs of slots following the closure of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red domestic service and the collapse of Russian carrier Transaero. Most of these slots had been mandated for use on UK routes, as part of a European competition ruling on the BMI takeover. However, BA is now free to use them as it wishes after the failure of the two rival carriers.
Under the rules that govern runway slots, airlines are obliged to use them 80% of the time or lose them to another carrier. With slot pairs at Heathrow changing hands for as much as £40m, BA is reluctant to let them go.
Willie Walsh, the boss of IAG, recently told analysts: “The [Little Red] slots have reverted to us and we are required to use them or lose them. So we’ve increased some domestic capacity but we are looking at tactical cancellations across the network to operate within the 80: 20 rule so as to minimise the overall increase in capacity.”
During the summer BA quietly cancelled a daily round-trip between Heathrow and New York plus a clutch of short-haul routes. In the spring it will launch new routes, mainly to leisure destinations in Europe, and Walsh said that, by using the “same sort of criteria”, it would only slightly increase short-haul capacity.
While BA’s tactics are within the rules, they raise questions about whether Heathrow’s runway capacity is being used effectively.
This month the government delayed a decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow — which Walsh has labelled a “monopoly airport” trying to build a “gold-plated” runway.
Asked about the chief executive’s comments to analysts, a spokeswoman for BA said: “I’m not going to expand on what Willie said.”
full Sunday Times story at
Heathrow slots that should be ‘ring fenced’ for Scottish flights redeployed for leisure routes to Spain, Italy & France
Simon Calder reports that precious landing slots at Heathrow that had been “ring fenced” for Scottish routes are being redeployed by British Airways to open new routes to Spain, Italy and France – leaving Scotland with one million fewer seats a year. When BA bought BMI, it was forced to hand 9 daily slot pairs specifically for use on routes connecting Heathrow with Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The so-called “remedy slots” had been used by BMI to operate flights from Heathrow to Scotland, and were taken up by Virgin Atlantic, which ran them for 2 years as “Little Red”. But last month Virgin scrapped Little Red. Therefore the slots revert to BA, which is using them to launch routes to Menorca, Biarritz and Palermo (starting next spring) – as opposed to the “emerging markets” in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are often cited in support of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. There will also be increases in the number of departures to long-established destinations such as Berlin, Stockholm and Venice. ie more holiday destinations. If another contender were to come forward for the “remedy slots”, BA would be obliged to hand them over. It is difficult to see, though, an airline that could make a success where Virgin Atlantic failed.
British Airways adds more Heathrow leisure routes – Olbia, Kos, Corfu – to the existing list
Heathrow airport makes a lot of how important its flights to emerging economies are, and how limited its slots are for this. So it would be logical to imagine that spare slots would be used for just this sort of flight. Heathrow is keen on making statements like: “The UK will fall behind in the global race if it cannot connect to growing economies.” And “Global air transport provides access for our key industries to established and emerging new markets, which will help deliver economic growth across the UK.” So one might expect that, if spare slots come up, they would immediately be used for these long haul destination, to emerging economies. However, Heathrow will now be getting new British Airways flights to … guess where? Olbia in Sardinia; Kos and Corfu in Greece and Split in Croatia from summer 2015. And these will use Airbus A319s and A320s. To be fair, it is moving its Las Palmas flights to Gatwick. Other purely holiday destinations Heathrow offers in the Med are Mykonos and Santorini, which started earlier this year. There are also Pisa and Porto. And the Heathrow destination map includes many, many more … Ibiza, Nice, Tunis, Malta, Malaga….
BA uses its new BMI slots at Heathrow, not for emerging economies, but largely leisure destinations. As usual.
BA got 42 daily Heathrow slots from taking over BMI. And it said very publicly, in March, that it would be using these to fly to the emerging economies – in Asia, Africa and Latin America – which is part of the myth that the aviation industry is peddling at present. So what are the slots actually being used for? One flight per day to Seoul. The rest are domestic UK (Aberdeen Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester, Leeds Bradford), or Zagreb, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Marseilles, Phoenix, Zurich and Bologna – with more flights to some. So that is where the money is. So much for the allegedly desperate need for slots to fly to second tier Chinese cities. This really proves what a lot of misleading PR is being put out by BAA and the airlines at Heathrow.
A long article by CAPA on Heathrow’s slots, in 2013:
Heathrow Airport’s slot machine: hitting the jackpot again?
British Airways now holds more than 50% of the slots at capacity-constrained Heathrow, thanks to its bmi acquisition. Nevertheless, BA had managed to grow its holding for years, mainly due to secondary slot trading. After years of uncertainty over its legality in EU law, the EU clarified its position in 2008 and allowed the practice. It went on to commission a 2011 study which concluded that slot trading had clear beneficial impacts at Heathrow.
In this report, CAPA analyses the small proportion of the total number of Heathrow slot trades where slot values have been reported in the media and elsewhere. For many years until the mid 2000s, the average traded value per daily slot pair calculated from such transactions was around GBP4 million. A series of trades at more than GBP20 million per pair captured headlines in 2007 and 2008 before the market went underground. Surprisingly, after such a long quiet period, 2013 has seen two deals valuing Heathrow slots at GBP15 million per daily pair.
BA’s Heathrow slot holding is above 50% for the first time, thanks to bmi
British Airways is the biggest holder of slots at London Heathrow Airport, with 50.6% of the total for the summer 2013 schedule. This is the first summer season for which BA has held more than half of the slots (although it had 52.8% in the winter 2012 schedule) and its increase from 44.1% in summer 2012 is due to the acquisition of bmi. The significant growth in Virgin Atlantic’s share is mainly due to the slot divestment for domestic services following BA’s takeover of bmi.
and it continues with a lot of interesting detail, graphs and charts ….
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