Claims have been made about how important it is for the government to make a runway decision fast, and how massive amounts of money are being (allegedly !) lost to the UK economy every single day of delay. A new grouping – the “British Infrastructure Group” – BIG – led by Tory MP Grant Shapps suggests the sum is “up to £6 million per day”. Full Fact has looked into this, and how the claims are calculated, and they find them to be very dodgy indeed. It’s complicated economics, but at heart they looked at the possible maximum benefits that the Airports Commission said a Heathrow might generate, over 60 YEARS. Then they worked out that, backwards, to a sum per day. There are various assumptions that should, and should not, be made when working out that sort of calculation and assessing possible future values. Their sum of “£6 million per day” depends on Heathrow producing a national benefit of £147 billion over 60 years. But the Airports Commission’s own figures show that if the costs of carbon in the carbon capped scenarios reduce the possible national benefit of a Heathrow runway to around (amazingly tiny) just £1.4 billion over 60 years. That, divided up by day, is an insignificant amount (up to £64,000). Full Fact says: “Any precise figure will be uncertain.”
Does delaying airport expansion cost us £6 million a day?
“Delaying a decision about which runway to build costs the UK economy £6 million every day.”
Whether or not you agree that a delay in the decision is imposing unnecessary costs on the UK economy, this probably isn’t the best estimate of what those costs are. Any precise figure will be uncertain.
An article making this claim:
“Delay over Heathrow third runway decision costing UK up to £6m a day, say MPs”
The idea behind this kind of assessment is to suggest how much all the future benefits from an investment project are worth at the time of the decision. Benefits that come further away in the future are treated as if they’re worth less. The point is to decide, in financial terms, which project gives the most benefit for the smallest investment.
The report suggested that the future benefits over 60 years from a new runway at Gatwick were worth £89 billion to us at present, an extended runway at Heathrow was worth more at £131 billion and a new northwest runway at Heathrow was worth the most, at £147 billion. This was one of the reasons why the report favoured a new runway at Heathrow. [In fact the Airports Commission’s own economic advisors were very sceptical about this level of economic benefit, and warned against such a high figure. See Link AW note ]
A peer review of the findings, also commissioned by the Airport Commission, emphasised the difficulties in predicting the impact of a new runway on the UK economy, and cautioned against attaching ‘significant weight’ to the report’s final figures
The British Infrastructure Group, a cross-party group of MPs, has taken the Airport Commission’s valuations and used them for a different purpose.
They’ve divided each figure up to suggest a ‘lost value for each day’s delay’ on a decision about which project to choose. So between £2 million and £4 million ‘cost per day’ for a new runway at Gatwick, £5 million and £6 million for a runway extension at Heathrow, and £6 million and £7 million for a new runway at Heathrow.
The figures suggested by the British Infrastructure Group aren’t so much ‘costs’. This isn’t money that has to be paid every day until a decision is made.
They’re based on predictions which include all the opportunities the UK could miss out on in the future if it doesn’t have a new runway, and judgments about what those missed opportunities will be worth.
So it’s better to treat the estimates as judgements caveated with a reasonable degree of uncertainty, rather than facts.
By focusing only on the economic benefits, the British Infrastructure Group has also ignored the predicted costs of each airport expansion proposal.
When these are factored in, the Airport Commission suggests that the overall social benefit balances out to between about £5.5 billion and £10.8 billion for a new runway at Gatwick, depending on how strictly carbon emissions are controlled. They suggest a net benefit of between £1 billion and £10.2 billion for an extended runway at Heathrow and between £1.4 billion £11.8 billion for a new runway at Heathrow. So it suggests the net benefits from expanding Heathrow would be more sensitive to how carbon emissions are controlled than expanding Gatwick.
Arguably, these bottom-line figures don’t give the full picture either.
First, looking at the net benefit to the economy overall won’t tell you who wins and who loses. For example, the report suggests that passengers would enjoy cheaper travel and a better service if any of the projects went ahead, whilst aviation businesses would suffer lower profits. Particular places or industries would also do better or worse from each proposal.
Second, a range of opponents of the third runway at Heathrow have questioned whether certain negative consequences had been given enough consideration, such as environmental costs, noise pollution and public health concerns.
Arguably, the report is using the Airport Commission’s original estimates in a way they aren’t meant to be used anyway.
The Commission gave a figure for the present value of each investment. This is a way to compare options – to make a judgement about all the benefits that will stem from an investment and sum up what those future benefits are worth to us right now, at the time of the decision. The British Infrastructure Group have treated the same valuations as if they show the value added to the UK economy by each investment, which isn’t the same thing.
Dividing up present value calculations may not give you a good idea of the costs that come from putting off an investment project. To start with, the value assigned to benefits in the far future are reduced down in present value calculations. If the British Infrastructure Group had used figures for the value added by each project as their starting point, they might actually have suggested a higher number.
This still might not have been a very good estimate for the cost of delay. Investment projects often have one-off benefits that won’t be reduced by a year’s delay, as the British Infrastructure Group acknowledges. Delaying building-work also delays the costs of future repair-work – a runway built one year later, for example, might be expected to last one year longer. The strategic benefits of increasing capacity ahead of the UK’s rivals may matter more, but these considerations aren’t included in the figures.
Because there are three possible projects, there are three starting points for suggesting how much a new runway is worth to us right now.
The Airport Commission has said that it also depends on whether the UK tries to meet its carbon emissions targets by strict ‘carbon-capping’ or more flexible ‘carbon-trading’ systems, which they think would restrict the growth of businesses less.
That means there are at least six alternative suggestions for how much the future benefits from a new runway are worth to us right now, looking forward over 60 years. These are considerably reduced if we factor in the costs as well.
You can’t account for everything
The estimates don’t account for every effect that comes from building a new runway. For example, the Airport Commission didn’t factor in how construction work on the runways will affect GDP, because they think it’s too hard to judge how much investment spending will be drawn away from other places in the economy, or exactly how the aviation industry will grow.
The British Infrastructure Group agreed that you could debate the costs of a delayed decision up or down, depending on which factors you considered.
The Airport Commission’s peer reviewers concluded that although the report was useful for considering the strategic reasons behind airport expansion, it shouldn’tbe assumed that the final figures for the economic impact are reliable.
No decision has been made
The Airport Commission recommended the Heathrow Airport northwest runway proposal as the best option, although this wasn’t an uncontroversial decision.
The government has said that the decision will now need to be reviewed in light of the EU referendum result and that they will continue looking at the different options.
This article was updated on 8 August 2015 to incorporate a discussion about the Airport Commission’s suggestions for the net present value of each project, and a note from the Commission’s expert advisors on the findings.
By Claire Milne and Richard Braham
We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we’ve made an error or missed some relevant information, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is one of the most ambitious attempts to prepare a quantified Economic Impact Assessment. There are few comparators available. While the content of the model itself has been well-tested, the same cannot be said of the front end, where an increase in capacity is converted into an increase in trip-making, trade, tourism and finally productivity. Furthermore the interpretation of the result— what exactly do they mean and is their basis transparent— is an issue. Overall, therefore, we counsel caution in attaching significant weight either to the absolute or relative results of the GDP/GVA SCGE approach (PwC report) within the Economic Case. We would accept that there is some useful indicative material for the Strategic Case but care is required in assessing its robustness and reliability.”
Delay over Heathrow third runway decision costing UK up to £6m a day, say MPs
24 JULY 2016
BY ROBERT CUMBER (Get West London)Theresa May urged to show her ‘mettle’ and end speculation over airport expansion ‘immediately’MPs from across the political divide have demanded an “urgent” decision on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick airport.The delay in making a decision over where to build a new runway is costing the UK up to £6m a day, a report by a cross-party Commons body claims.The British Infrastructure Group (BIG), headed by Conservative MP Grant Shapps, urged new prime minister Theresa May to show her “mettle” by ending the speculation. [BIG seems to be a bit of a one-man band. No website. No membership? Its only web presence is Grant Shapps own website.http://www.shapps.com/category/big/big-big/ ] Its report entitled Gate Now Closing, which was published on Sunday (July 24), calls for an “urgent and immediate decision on hub airport expansion”.
The report does not state where group thinks a new runway should be built, but it argues that the indecision is having a deleterious effect on Britain’s businesses, the economy and jobs.
‘Problem of capacity… causing substantial damage’
“The problem of capacity at the current hub, Heathrow, is causing substantial damage to the industry as a whole,” the report says.
“It erodes confidence in the Government’s stated ambition of growing the economy and our international trade.
This computer-generated image shows how a third runway at Heathrow would look
“The evidence has been gathered by the Airports Commission. Now a decision is needed, to show the new leadership’s mettle.”
The Airports Commission last summer recommended building a third runway at Heathrow over a second landing strip at Gatwick.
The Government’s decision was initially delayed last year when further environmental studies were commissioned , and then in June following the outcome of the EU referendum.
The Department for Transport has not indicated when a decision is likely, following Chris Grayling’s appointment as the new transport secretary.
Theresa May’s election as prime minister, and the appointment to her cabinet of a number of Heathrow opponents , saw one bookmaker slash the odds on Gatwick winning the battle for a new runway.
Heathrow recently unveiled new images and video footage showing how an expanded airport would look , which it said showed it was ready to begin work as soon as it got the go-ahead.
Gate Now Closing report The report’s executive summary.
Make an urgent and immediate decision on hub airport expansion. The problem of capacity at the current hub, Heathrow, is causing substantial damage to the industry as a whole. It erodes confidence in the Government’s stated ambition of growing the economy and our international trade. The evidence has been gathered by the Airport Commission. Now a decision is needed, to show the new leadership’s mettle.
Expand our regional airports. Demand for flights is soaring and regional airports have begun to offer credible long-haul services. For the sake of UK PLC, regional airports must be allowed to expand. Only their expansion can address the coming ‘capacity crunch’ and deliver sustained growth, underlining the concepts of the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine and sharing the proceeds of growth across Britain.
Progressively Lower Airport Passenger Duty (APD). Britain’s major aviation tax, APD is many times the rate of similar taxes in European competitors and trading partners such as the USA. APD hinders exports, distorts the market, and hits small carriers hard. BIG believes that a lowered rate, by boosting the wider economy, would eventually be cost-neutral for the Treasury. Bringing forward hub airport expansion could allay the cost in the interim – around a third of APD could be waived with the proceeds of bringing construction forward a year.
Join up infrastructure to regional airports. Even airports as large as Bristol and Luton suffer from congested roads and delay-prone rail links. Planning improvements should be a priority of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).
Make regulation small-airport-friendly. Existing regulation is often suited to large airports. Smaller airports cannot enjoy the same economies of scale. We should lower the burden by giving the main regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a ‘regional connectivity’ brief.
Improve funding for local start-up routes. The Government uses Public Service Obligations (PSOs) fund outlying routes; they could form a more coherent network in outlying areas. The Government uses the Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF) to pay start-up costs for new, commercially viable routes; this fund needs more streamlined, airport-friendly management.
Fast-track enterprise zone development around airports. In a competitive industry, airports rely on commercial activity around them to support their services. Enterprise zones should be fast-tracked through the planning system.
The report has the support of over 40 cross-party MPs:
Airport runway delay ‘could cost UK £5bn’
‘We need this decision on airport capacity to be taken quickly. It is urgent and not optional’
Russell Lynch (Independent)
Tuesday 8 December 2015
Delaying the hugely controversial decision on expansion of UK airport capacity could cost the economy more than £5bn, the head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned.
The business lobby group’s new director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, accused the Government of “a real failure of leadership” because ministers are poised to postpone their decision on airport growth – which was originally due by the end of this year – for at least six months.
The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, said in July that it preferred a plan for a new runway at Heathrow over the extension of Heathrow’s existing northern runway, or building a second runway at Gatwick.
But any decision to go with Heathrow will be a political embarrassment for David Cameron, who pledged before the 2010 election to oppose a third Heathrow runway with “no ifs, no buts”. It will also undermine the Conservative Zac Goldsmith’s bid to succeed Boris Johnson as Mayor of London next May. Mr Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond Park, has been a consistent opponent of Heathrow expansion.
The Government is also understood to be concerned by potential legal challenges about the environmental impact of a third runway at the west London airport, because pollution levels in the area already breach European safety limits. Ms Fairbairn said: “A failure to have new a new runway up and running by 2030 will cost the UK as much as £5.3bn a year in lost trade to the Bric countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] alone.”
She told the BBC: “It feels like a real failure of leadership. We need this decision to be taken quickly. We really need a decision on airport capacity, it’s urgent and not optional.”
Her comments come after the CBI’s president, Paul Drechsler, urged ministers to “get on with it” and “not duck infrastructure decisions”.
Heathrow, which is running at full capacity, claims that a third runway would add £100bn to the economy and create 120,000 jobs.
The commission’s report on the new £23bn runway is calling for further night flight restrictions, a noise levy and a legal commitment to protect air quality.
A new report for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has analysed the Airports Commission’s backing for new runway in relation to carbon emissions, and says the necessary carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050. The Commission was aware that UK aviation is expected to far exceed the cap set for the sector’s CO2 emissions (37.5MtCO2) before 2050. Adding another runway only makes the situation far worse, by exacerbating the problem. The only way to keep aviation emissions down, with a new runway, is greatly increased cost of flights, trying to reduce the demand that has been increased by adding capacity. This means a carbon price massively higher than today – at several hundred £s. The report, by Leo Barasi and Leo Murray, say that as well as making flights expensive (perhaps pricing out those on low pay) the addition of a new SE runway means growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded London capacity. Dame Julia King, who was on the Airports Commission and is on the Committee on Climate Change, admits that regional airports would need to be restricted in order to allow growth in the south east. There has been far too little assessment and acknowledgement of the CO2 implications of a runway. The government should not rush into approving a runway until this has been fully accepted.
Third Heathrow runway would push up air fares, say campaigners
Analysis of Airports Commission’s backing for new runway claims carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050
Passengers would be forced to pay substantially higher air fares if a new runway was built in the south-east and Britain kept to its carbon targets, according to an analysis of the Airports Commission’s backing for a third runway at Heathrow.
Another consequence of the Airports Commission’s analysis is that growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded capacity at Heathrow.
A member of the government-appointed commission said that prohibitive pricing or other measures to curb demand for air travel would be needed whether or not a new runway was built in the south-east.
The CBT report, Air Traffic Controls, claims that the additional carbon price to offset the growing demand in air travel from a new runway could amount to more than the cost of the ticket itself on some flights. The extra costs, implied by the commission’s data but not previously calculated, would be up to £127 for return flights from Manchester to Tenerife, £148 from Newcastle to Sharm el-Sheikh or £221 from London to Florida.
Leo Murray, one of the report’s authors, said: “There has been far too little scrutiny of the Airports Commission’s proposals for squaring airport expansion in the south-east with the UK’s climate change targets, with the details hidden deep inside hundreds of pages of technical reports. Building a new runway, while still meeting our climate change commitments, is expected to add hundreds of pounds to the cost of flights from all of the UK’s airports if the commission’s proposals are enacted.”
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “If the government approves a new runway in the south-east, it risks either breaking the national carbon budget, or pricing those on lower incomes out of the sky entirely. The Airports Commission uses heroic assumptions about technology and efficiency improvements which are at odds with the government’s own analysis. Worse, the huge sums the commission proposes adding to the cost of plane tickets to allow a new runway to be built have so far gone almost unnoticed.”
However, Julia King, who was on the commission and is a member of the Committee on Climate Change, said it was impossible to make accurate fare predictions for 2050, but that the level was irrelevant to the commission’s verdict on runways. “We already have enough runway capacity in Britain to exceed carbon emissions as it is,” she said. “The reality is that independently of whether we build a new runway or not, we will have to control the increase in flights.”
The CBT report shows price rises are likely to see regional airports decline while London’s grow. King said that while it could seem “a harsh message”, the commission’s analysis of catchment areas and hub activity meant only expansion in the south-east would make longhaul flights to key destinations economically viable for airlines.
“Clearly there would need to be slower growth at regional airports generally if you have additional capacity in London. All the indications were that the big demand is in the south-east.”
She added: “If we are to have to compensate for reduced trade with the EU post-Brexit, the longhaul requirements become even more critical – and our conclusion that the need is best fulfilled from Heathrow becomes even stronger.”
[And some vacuous and disingenuous comments from Heathrow and Gatwick are added to the article:]
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow supports the international aviation industry’s commitment to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and the UN’s international civil aviation organisation, which plans to introduce a mandatory carbon offset system to achieve this goal.”
A spokesperson for Gatwick airport said: “Our analysis shows that expansion at Heathrow would be significantly less carbon-efficient than expansion at Gatwick.” He added that Gatwick had pledged to cap landing charges, meaning fares would stay lower.
Campaign for Better Transport analysis finds Heathrow expansion relies on higher carbon prices that could reduce demand in other parts of the country
Theresa May last week talked up plans to bolster the government’s push to reduce the divide between the economies of London and other British cities, even if she is loath to deploy George Osborne’s “northern powerhouse” rhetoric.
But a new report released today has highlighted one little spoken of, but potentially huge hiccup in the drive to balance the British economy more evenly – namely that a large-scale expansion in London’s air capacity, as would occur with the expansion of Heathrow of Gatwick airport, would necessitate a future reduction in the capacity of airports elsewhere in the country if the UK is to keep within its carbon budgets.
The analysis, published by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), scrutinises the assumptions and conclusions made in the final report of the Airports Commission, an independent body set up by the government in 2012 to look at how the UK should maintain its global aviation hub status. Published last July, the report recommended a third runway be built at Heathrow. When challenged on whether this would be compatible with the UK’s already generous allocation for the aviation sector in its 2050 climate target, the commission reassured those concerned that it was.
But by looking deeper into the Airports Commission’s figures, the new CBT analysis has highlighted a potential flaw behind that reassurance: the commission’s projections for keeping within the aviation climate budget rely on soaring carbon prices that would reduce the number of UK flights taken elsewhere.
A return flight from London to New York, for example, would have a £68 carbon price added to the cost of the ticket, the new report highlights. The assumption goes that this price hike would keep overall demand within the level needed to hit the sector’s carbon target – a return to 2005-level emissions by 2050, which is already an extremely generous allowance compared to other sectors that allows for a 60 per cent increase in flight demand assuming fuel efficiency improvements and the wider use of biofuels materialise as planned.
But the Airport Commission also found that expansion at Heathrow (or Gatwick for that matter) would still be justified, because even with the hike in carbon prices it expects all new London capacity to be used – an assumption which inherently means it will be those airports outside London where people are less able to pay the increased cost of flying where the number of flights will be curbed.
In addition, the report argues that under the Commission’s carbon pricing vision if a new runway is built and assumptions about demand and technology-delivered emissions-reductions prove too optimistic, prices will have to rise even further to ensure aviation remains within its carbon cap. Examples given in the report include an increase in prices of £108 by 2050 for a return ticket from Edinburgh to Malaga, a £116 increase on the cost of a flight from London to Athens, and a price hike of £140 for flights from Manchester to Tenerife. The cost for a family of four to fly from London to New York and back would be bumped up by up to £855 – a price hike with significant implications for those on a tighter budget in a country where an estimated 15 per cent of the population already take over 70 per cent of flights, and over half of people do not take any flights at all in a given year.
“They’re using carbon pricing to reduce demand, and that both means that ticket prices would be really quite a lot higher and even if we accept all their assumptions they’re quite a bit higher,” Leo Barasi, climate policy specialist and co-author of the analysis, tells BusinessGreen. “But if we start questioning whether every single one of their assumptions about technology and biofuels – which are all at the upper end of optimistic – if any of those don’t happen then the carbon pricing that they suggest would have to be higher still.”
It is important to note the expected increased in flights over the next few decades means flight numbers are still likely to increase everywhere, so that other areas will only be hit relative to the increase in flights they could have expected if no London airport expansion was delivered.
But the report echoes a warning made in June last year by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) that by 2050, an extra runway at Heathrow would result in 55 per cent fewer passengers per year flying in and out of airports in the West Midlands, alongside a 14 per cent cut in the North West, a 36 per cent reduction in the South West, and a 11 per cent cut in Scotland compared to business-as-usual.
The new report argues the Airports Commission are likely already aware of the potentially huge impact of aviation carbon prices and have in fact concluded there would still be enough extra demand in London for a new runway to be economically worthwhile despite the assumed carbon price. However, while there are certainly reasons to believe London flight numbers will keep climbing, it is also important to note that Office for National Statistics data shows that the number of overseas business flights by UK residents has actually flatlined for the past 20 years, making up a smaller proportion of overall flights each year. Meanwhile, holidays abroad and family visits are the main growth areas for the UK aviation industry – a fact that also likely contributed to the UK’s rising tourism deficit this year reaching £17bn.
“I think they’ve applied a very narrowly economic lens to the question and I have no reason to doubt their view that the most economically efficient thing to do might well be to continue to prioritise growth in the richest part of the country and the place where most immigrants and businesses want to be,” says Barasi. “But then it’s a question for the country as a whole about where we want to put our investment in infrastructure and where we want to pursue growth.”
It’s also important to note says Barasi, that fears that London could lose out competitively compared to other European airports such as Amsterdam when it comes to being a global flight hub could be misplaced. “What’s always missed in that is that all of our European competitors that might build an alternative hub have in fact the same challenges that we do, so it’s not like we’re the only one struggling with this,” he argues.
With Department for Transport’s own projections showing the UK is currently set to exceed its aviation emissions target by 25 per cent even without increased airport capacity in London, Theresa May and her transport ministers face what should be a very tough decision on Heathrow. However, while local environmental impacts were cited as one of the main reasons for the most recent delay to the decision in December, the government has so far given little indication it would consider shelving plans for London airport expansion. Either Heathrow or Gatwick are set to be expanded, with all the implications that has for aviation emissions, carbon pricing scenarios, aircraft fuel efficiency, and regional airports.
When asked about the findings of the new report, a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport told BusinessGreen the government is fully committed to delivering runway capacity on the timetable set out in the Airports Commission’s report. “The Secretary of State and his ministerial team will consider all of the evidence very carefully before the government reaches a view on its preferred scheme,” she added.
But the CBT analysis shows if expansion goes ahead, the implications on an already tight carbon budget could be severe, while the question will also be raised as to whether people who can less afford it will accept the potentially huge rises in the costs of flights, even if such price hikes are deemed environmentally necessary.
“It feels like this is the first really difficult climate decision that the UK’s had to face, that so far it’s either been relatively small scale decisions that aren’t that expensive or things that you can present as a win-win,” says Barasi. “It’s perhaps a sign of some of the challenges that we’ll have to confront in the future.”
With aviation only representing six per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, a failure to reach the allocated budget wouldn’t necessarily mean we breach the Climate Change Act, assuming even deeper emissions cuts are delivered elsewhere. But considering the challenges already facing the country as it strives to decarbonise other sectors of the economy on schedule, giving aviation a free pass would certainly make complying with the Climate Change Act considerably more difficult.
Local Gatwick community group, CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions) had produced a new short report on the extent of the noise impact a 2nd Gatwick runway would have. CAGNE says Gatwick’s local communities have been side-lined as the airport has failed to develop a proper strategy to deal with aircraft noise with expansion. A second runway would mean double the number of people impacted by night flights and create 24-hour “noise ghetto from hell.” CAGNE says Gatwick’s expansion proposals contravene Government policy on aircraft noise by failing to incorporate measures which would reduce noise. This is especially unsatisfactory as the Government is likely to make a runway decision, or at least a statement of preference between Heathrow and Gatwick, in early September or in October. The unacceptable noise burden from Heathrow is well known. Gatwick has tried to make out that its noise problem is small by comparison. However, CAGNE shows that Gatwick (with a 2nd runway it would be the size of Heathrow now) plans to use both runways in segregated mode, so both are used all day for both landings and take offs. This does not allow the half day respite from which those under Heathrow flights benefit. Gatwick also plans to continue night flights all night, which Heathrow has been told it cannot do.
Gatwick 2 would create a “noise ghetto from hell” for Tory heartlands with expansion
§ Gatwick’s local communities side-lined as airport fails to develop strategy to deal with aircraft noise with expansion
§ Gatwick’s expansion plan will double the number of people impacted by night flights and create 24-hour “noise ghetto from hell”
§ Government decision to approve Gatwick expansion would act against all local councils and conservative MPs who stridently oppose Gatwick expansion plans
New research released today by CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions – has revealed that Gatwick’s expansion proposals violates Government policy on airport noise by failing to incorporate measures, which would reduce noise.
The shocking revelation comes as the Government prepares to make a final decision on airport expansion in the South East in September or October.
The Government’s aviation policy framework (see flight path documentfor policy details) requires that airports that expand to implement strategies to mitigate noise impacts on local communities. The new research shows that Gatwick’s expansion proposal ignores this requirement, and seeks to create a noise ghetto from hell for local communities in a 30 mile radius by:
§ Operating mixed-mode runways (ie. both take offs and landings on both runways) which offer no respite for overflown communities
§ Operating with no night flight ban, doubling number of people exposed to night noise with noise during every hour of the night
§ Operating without steeper approaches or displaced landing thresholds (to reduce noise not to increase runway capacity as used at present by Gatwick) which are easy to implement and have reduced noise at other airports
Gatwick’s lack of a noise mitigation strategy is in total contrast to the proposals submitted by Heathrow, that detail an apparently comprehensive plan to minimise aircraft noise for local communities by banning night flights, guaranteeing respite through runway alternation and working to change aircraft operating procedures.
If this can be done at one of the world’s busiest airports, Gatwick’s local communities are left wondering why these changes did not factor in the airport’s own expansion plans.
Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE said:
“No community in the UK is subject to constant aircraft noise but that’s exactly what Gatwick are proposing with their expansion plans which offer no noise respite for overflown communities and would create a 24-hour noise ghetto from hell by operating flights every hour of the night.
“I would remind the Prime Minister Theresa May that not a single local council or local MP – all of whom are members of her slim Conservative majority – supports Gatwick expansion. If her Government is serious about making big corporations behave responsibly, they must be decisive and kick Gatwick’s ludicrous back-of-an-envelope proposal into the long grass.”
To name a few areas to be hit by Gatwick 2 flight paths, (full details can be found on Page 6 onwards and proposals and a map of flight paths can be found on page 12 plus of the report below)
In an interview with Nigel Milton, Heathrow’s Director of External Affairs, by a Slough paper – he reiterates some of the typical spin. The PR is intended to convey the impression (to Theresa May in particular, and her Cabinet) that Heathrow is all set for its 3rd runway; its plans and promises fully cover all that has been asked of it by the Airports Commission and government; that it will henceforth be a really great and considerate neighbour; and that its runway will be the salvation of the nation. The mask slips a bit when Nigel has to admit that: “if our government introduce an act of parliament to rule out a 4th runway [Heathrow] will support that because ultimately that’s the only thing that can stop it.” ie. only if barred by law. And “if the government decided to build a third runway it needs to set up a framework, a governance regime … to hold us to account. … it needs to have teeth to be able to penalise us and require us to take action – at the moment that isn’t the case.” ie. Heathrow will not regulate itself, but only comply with law. He makes out, without any evidence, that Heathrow freight is “26% of UK exports and imports” (it is far less than that) makes the claim (quite untrue) that “…we are not asking people to choose between the economy and the environment” implying that noise, night flights, NO2, surface access and CO2 problems are solved. They are not. Details of Nigel’s dangerous, disingenuous spin below.
FEATURE: Will Heathrow expansion ever be cleared for take off?
Ever since the first passengers departed from the newly created Heathrow Airport in 1946, the debate over its expansion has rumbled on. One year on since the Airports Commission recommended a third runway, concerns remain over country’s most significant infrastructure project. Express news editor Paul Miles spoke with external affairs director at the airport, Nigel Milton, to discuss the expansion plans and whether he believes they will ever be cleared for take off.
It was David Cameron who famously proclaimed: “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts.”
The fresh faced soon-to-be Prime Minister made no secret of his views on Heathrow with the coalition scrapping plans for a third runway at the airport when it came to power in 2010.
Fast forward six years and a very public change of mind from the former Prime Minister, the country is now waiting to see where a new government stands on the third runway.
Sat opposite me in the departures lounge of Terminal Five, overlooking one of the airports two runways, Nigel Milton seems unfazed about the latest expansion setback and the fact the decision will now be taken by an entirely new government.
When put to him that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, said in 2009: ‘We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow,” he is quick to point out the Maidenhead MP was talking about a very different expansion proposal compared to the one now backed by the Airports Commission. [It really is not that different – just a slightly different location, and a few more sweeteners to be given out to those affected. And a few vague schemes to spread the noise out over more people. AW note].
“It is bigger and better now and therefore since that proposal has been on the table, she has been a very careful not to say anything,” he said.
“She has gone on record to say that she will take decisions based on facts and evidence and as Home Secretary she would have been aware of the Airports Commission.
“We have had meetings with her as a constituency MP to discuss the impact of the airport on her constituency. Heathrow has a lot of supporters in the area, not least the Maidenhead Chamber of Commerce which has been very supportive in public of Heathrow and we have individual residents who are supportive, the same as we have residents who oppose.
“When we met with her she was very careful to talk about Heathrow’s current operations and she was very interested to talk about our plans in a two runway scenario and how we plan to get quieter due to the impact of the airport while providing the jobs and opportunities for people based in Maidenhead, so she was very engaged in that conversation but she was very careful not to say anything about expansion.
“What the previous government didn’t have that Theresa May does have is that it wasn’t until May that we announced we would accept all of the Airport Commissions conditions. [That is actually not true. They cannot meet noise restrictions, have no mechanism by which to meet local air quality standards, have made only very flimsy commitments on night flights, and do not want to pay for infrastructure. And they would only not want a 4th runway if prevented from doing so by law. See below. And on carbon emissions, there is nothing at all. AW note]
“Now that we have done that the government is faced with a report which says yes we should go ahead [with expansion] but we think these 11 things should happen and they got a response saying we agree.[If the government looks at the Airports Commission report is sufficient detail, and if it looks sufficiently critically at the Heathrow “commitments” they will see that allowing a Heathrow runway would be very risky. It is not backed by facts, and the negatives outweigh the positives. AW note].
“If they are going to make the decision based on evidence and the facts then I would hope and I would expect them to be highly influenced by that report.”
A change in leadership is not all that has changed over the past couple of months with the Brexit vote now changing the future of the UK and also being the reason a decision on a third runway was stalled until autumn.
Speaking about the Brexit issue, Nigel adds: “I think that there are certain things the government will need and one of them is investment in production by the private sector. What we are talking about here is a £16bn private sector investment.” [What Nigel carefully avoids saying is the immense amount of money the government – ie. the taxpayer – would have to spend on all the infrastructure to support the runway. TfL estimates around £20 billion for surface access.Link. AW note].
It is here he points out to the runway to a transport wagon loading items onto an aeroplane being prepared for departure.
“As well as the passengers going onto the planes, every plane that leaves Heathrow has cargo on board and 26% of all the UK’s exports and imports go through Heathrow so we are more then Felixstow or Southampton [docks] put together.” [Heathrow is certainly NOT 26% in terms of tonnage of UK trade. It is below 1% in terms of tonnage of imports + exports combined. Huge volumes in terms of tonnage are transported by ship. DfT figure is total tonnage handled by UK sea ports was 503.2 million tonnes in 2014 – 325.5 million tonnes was imports, and 177.7 was exports.Heathrow total tonnage in 2014 was 1.5 million tonnes.Link (Table 13.2 of Link ) That is, by weight, about 0.3% of the total. By value it is perhaps 6 – 7 % of the UK total. And about 15% in 2014 to total export value. Not 26%. Link . See more below. AW note ]
“Heathrow is the long haul airport for the country. What Gatwick are putting forward, what Stansted does, what Luton does , they all do kind of short haul travel and they do it very well.
“In the post Brexit world the airport you want to see grow is the one that does trade with the wider world and that is not Gatwick, that is Heathrow.
“Heathrow is a global brand and what better way to show the world that the UK is open for business, that the UK is a welcoming and a confident country that wants to trade with the rest of the world than expanding its most popular and most well known gateway.”
Despite the Airports Commission ruling in favour of Heathrow’s plans to build a third runway northwest of the airport, the Royal Borough was one of four Conservative councils who announced earlier this year it is preparing to sue the government over the proposal.
“It’s 17 less local authorities than it was six years ago so that shows you how much progress we have made and they are the elected representatives and they have to do what they think is best for their residents,” says Nigel.
“All four of those authorities have had long held views opposing Heathrow expansion. I can see how they believe they have got to hold that position until they have exhausted all their avenues available but what I am hoping is that once that’s finished and if the third runway is going ahead, I hope all four of those authorities will constructively come round the table to help us deliver the best expansion we can.” [What Nigel fails to mention is that the local authorities deeply opposed to Heathrow are very badly overflown, and appreciate just what a negative impact this plane noise has on their residents. They also know the air pollution impacts of so many planes on public health. There are also serious traffic impacts. Adding 50% more planes will only make this situation far worse. AW note].
Heathrow expansion would enable the airport to provide up to 740,000 flights a year – enough to compete on an equal footing with Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. [Heathrow alrelady has more passengers and more flights than either Paris, Frankfurt, or Amsterdam. Heathrow makes out that it is losing out to the competition. It is still ahead of its rivals. In 2015, Paris had approximately 65,766 980 passengers; Frankfurt had 61,032,020 passengers; Amsterdam had 58,285,110 passengers; and Heathrow had 74,958,030 passengers. Heathrow really is already competing quite effectively with European rivals. Anna Aero datalink.AW note].
But the move continues to garner controversy with noise and pollution problems persistently plaguing the proposal.
Despite this, Nigel feels the airport has now been able to find a balance – believing it can deliver lower noise and pollution levels while delivering benefits to neighbouring communities. [This is just PR-speak. Words used to conceal reality and give a pleasant gloss over the negative impacts, to attempt to reassure critics that everything can easily be sorted out, in a sort of happy never-never land of planes and flights ….. AW note].
“It’s always been more difficult in the past, because in the past you have had to choose between national benefits and local negatives and that’s why we were under so much pressure form the Airports Commission and others four or fives year ago to come up with a plan that meant it was not a choice anymore,” he says.
“That’s what is different this time around, we are not asking people to choose between the economy and the environment. [Oh yes they are. Contrary to the attempts by Heathrow to pull the wool over the eyes of the government etc, the environmental negatives really have NOT been sorted out in such a way that 50% more flights could be added. It is pure delusion. AW note].
“What we are saying is that Heathrow expansion can deliver both and that has changed the debate and that has meant we have being able to win far more support.”
He is also keen to put across the message that Heathrow has not always got it right with the public, freely admitting a ‘trust deficit’ has developed between the airport and its neighbours – something which he is keen to put right.
“We are so confident in our plans we are willing to be held to account but we also understand that given the force of commitments and promises that have been made in the past that there is what I think we call a trust deficit,” he said.
“We are not making wild commitments anymore or commitments for the future, we were asked for a long time and are being asked now to rule out a fourth runway and what John Holland-Kaye (Heathrow Chief Executive) has said was what’s the point me ruling out a fourth runway because I could be replaced as chief executive but what I will say is that if our government introduce an act of parliament to rule out a fourth runway I will support that because ultimately that’s the only thing that can stop it. [That’s disgraceful. Heathrow admit they will push for as much growth as they can get away with, only being limited by the law, if another runway becomes illegal. So much for any sort of self regulation. Heathrow is not likely to ever limit the potential for profit, unless prevented from doing do by law. AW note].
“We will make the commitments we can keep to and we will be held to account on them but it requires the government to set some tough regulatory framework to keep us to that. [Again, they will do only what the government insists on. It is unlikely Heathrow would do anything to limit noise, reduce night flights, or even its own NO2 emissions, unless government makes this compulsory. Even then, a pro-growth, pro-corporations government is unlikely to impose sufficient regulations to protect the public adequately. Worrying. AW note.]
“If the government decided to build a third runway it needs to set up a framework, a governance regime which Windsor and Maidenhead need to be involved in, Slough needs to be involved, both our supporters and opposers need to be involved in to hold us to account. [Note, this governance regime is to be put in place AFTER, not before, a decision to allow a runway. Closing the stable door well after the horse has bolted. Post hoc. AW note]
“It needs to have teeth to be able to penalise us and require us to take action – at the moment that isn’t the case.” [ In other words, Heathrow has not made any attempts to be a “better neighbour” as it has not had to. Heathrow’s attempts to give the impression it cares about its neighbours are shown to be thin – akin to being dependant on throwing a few crumbs to local communities etc, once it has been given a whole new loaf. Heathrow has shown itself unwilling or unable to self regulate in the past. AW note].
Asked about whether he feels confident Heathrow will be the choice of the future he adds: “We have always been confident. The Airports Commission gave us the confidence we have got a really well thought through plan to deliver economic benefits and to improve the quality of life around the airport but ultimately it’s always been a political decision and are we in a stronger position now, arguably we are because we no longer have a Prime Minister that’s made a public commitment, no if no buts, no third runway.
“We now have a Prime Minister who has said she will consider the evidence and facts to make the decision, we have a Secretary of State of Transport that has said he wants to take an urgent, rapid decision based on the facts so I think we have demonstrated we have a clear parliamentary majority in support of Heathrow expansion across parties. [This last statement is based on a biased, small sample of MPs, and then generalised to extend to all MPs, in an unjustified manner. AW note].
“There is going to be no trouble with the parliamentary voters, it’s just a question now of whether the Prime Minister, when she looks at the evidence and the facts, thinks that Heathrow is the right choice.
“Participate in the debate; hold us to account on those commitments we have made and work with us to ensure Heathrow becomes a better neighbour.” [Heathrow has only made offers to do anything to improve compensation, reduce noise levels, cut night flights or try to limit air pollution on the condition is is allowed a runway. None of these things are being offered if there is no extra runway. The promises have been used to try to persuade all and sundry that Heathrow is going to change. Like an alcoholic – “just let me have one more bottle of gin, and then I will definitely cut back on drinking.” It is to be hoped that Theresa May is more intelligent than to be taken in by Heathrow’s pleadings and half truths. AW note]
Government figures show the value of UK trade exports in 2015 was £304.9 billion. The value of UK trade imports in 2015 was £410.9 billion. The value of combined UK trade imports and exports in 2015 was £715.8 billion.
The value of Heathrow’s exports in 2014 was £48 billion.
Government figures show the value of UK trade exports in 2014 was £310.5 billion. The value of UK trade imports in 2014 was £420.6 billion. The value of combined UK trade imports and exports in 2014 was £731 billion.
So £48 billion of £310.5 billion is 15.45%. It is NOT 26% as claimed by Nigel Milton above.
The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, have announced they are allowing the expansion programme at London City Airport. The plans are for an extended terminal, new aircraft taxiway and parking spaces for planes, which will enable more, larger, noisier planes to use the airport. The government is hoping this is a symbol of Britain “being open for business” and increasing connections with Europe, at a time of great fears about the impact of Brexit. With government fears for the economy, they are trumpeting the expansion as creating “1,600 airport jobs for staff, together with 500 construction jobs” and huge benefits to the economy. All three ministers made extravagant and excited statements about the positive impact of this expansion. Boris Johnson earlier turned it down on grounds of unacceptable noise levels for Londoners. Hacan East, the local campaign, is very concerned indeed about the noise. They say residents will now face a double whammy. Earlier this year, in February, London City concentrated all its flight paths, and now the people under these flight paths face the prospect of more and larger planes.” Cait Hewitt, from the Aviation Environment Federation, said: “It is hard to see how an increase in aircraft and in passengers travelling to and from London City can be compatible with the Mayor’s ambitious plans to tackle air pollution in London.”
PERMISSION TO EXPAND CITY AIRPORT “A DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR RESIDENTS”
27.7.2016 (Hacan East press release)
The Government today announced that it has granted London City Airport permission to expand. Link (It is a 182 page document, not yet up on the DCLG website – 27th July). It endorsed the recommendation of the Inspector who heard the evidence a Public Inquiry earlier this year. The airport can now go-ahead with building a new taxiway and larger parking spaces to accommodate the bigger planes it wants to use at the airport. But campaign group HACAN East has said it is bad news for residents.
HACAN East chair John Stewart said: “Residents face a double whammy. Earlier this year, in February, London City concentrated all its flight paths. Today the people under these flight paths face the prospect of more and larger planes.”
John Stewart added, “The airport claims that the expansion will create over a thousand jobs. That is in the realm of speculation. What is certain is that residents’ quality of life will get worse.”
More than ever now, this means London City airport’s decision last February to concentrate its flights paths should be reviewed.
On February 4th the CAA gave City Airport permission to concentrate its flight paths. See link.
Inspector’s recommendation and summary of the decision
3. The Inspector recommended that the appeal be allowed and planning permission granted. 4. For the reasons given below, the Secretaries of State agree with the Inspector’s conclusions, and agree with his recommendation. …..
London City Airport expansion approved
July 27th 2016 (AEF – Aviation Environment Federation)
Expansion at London City Airport has been approved in a joint statement by the Chancellor, Transport Secretary and Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities.
The expansion plan involves building 7 new aircraft stands and a new taxiway to increase peak time capacity, as well as expanded terminal facilities to enable the airport to reach its permitted capacity of 120,000 flights a year.
The scheme is expected to cost £344 million, and to allow a 40% increase in flights and an increase in passengers from 4.3m in 2015 to 6.5m each year by 2025. Flights during peak times would increase from 36 to 45 per hour. According to the statement from Hacan East on the application, the plans would lead to an increase in the size of the 57 Leq noise contour, nearly doubling the number of dwellings within the noise contour from 8,300 in 2012 to 15,100 in 2023.
London City Airport is also adjacent to the Newham Air Quality Management Area in which several sites haved breached legal air quality limits designed to protect health.
The planning application was originally turned down by the Mayor of London based on its anticipated noise impacts, leading to the application going to Appeal. The local campaign group Hacan East acted as a rule 6 party, allowing them to question the airport’s expansion plans.
Following his election as Mayor, Sadiq Khan, dropped the Mayor’s opposition and the new Government has now announced the go-ahead for the scheme in a joint statement from several members of the Cabinet.
Commenting on the announcement, AEF’s Deputy Director, Cait Hewitt said:
“The Government’s decision to grant permission to London City Airport’s expansion plans will significantly increase the number of flights in a heavily populated area where noise and air pollution are already damaging people’s health and well-being. It is hard to see how an increase in aircraft and in passengers travelling to and from London City can be compatible with the Mayor’s ambitious plans to tackle air pollution in London.
“Meanwhile, the Government is continuing to approve growth of the aviation industry without a plan in place for tackling its climate change emissions.”
In a major boost to improve passengers’ journeys and support British jobs and investment, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid have today (27 July 2016) announced the go-ahead for a brand new £344 million expansion programme at London City Airport.
The three ministers announced the approved plans for an extended terminal, new aircraft taxiway and parking spaces for planes in one of the capital’s fastest growing airports.
Set to improve passengers’ journeys, these new plans will increase connections within the UK and Europe and support business opportunities and investment.
London City Airport also estimates that the scheme will create 1,600 airport jobs for staff, together with 500 construction jobs, and could potentially contribute £1.5 billion to the UK economy by 2025.
There will be new space for planes to taxi to and from the runway, so more planes can use it, and new stands for planes to allow bigger, more modern planes to use the airport. This will mean more flights at peak times, with bigger, newer and, most importantly, quieter planes. An extended terminal will give the airport the space it needs to cope with the increase in passengers and services, bringing a better passenger experience.
London City Airport will also make a number of investments in transport links around the airport, including funding the cost of additional DLR rolling stock (£2.6 million), investing in a bus and taxi access scheme and improving walking and cycle routes to the airport.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:
London City Airport’s ambitious growth plans will boost international connections, strengthening the City of London’s links to destinations across the world, and send a clear signal that Britain is open for business. Making it easier to visit and do business in the City of London will help drive forward our economy and further strengthen the city’s status as the world’s leading financial centre.
This is a real vote of confidence in the resilience of our economy, creating over a thousand new jobs.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
This is fantastic news for London and Britain as a whole. I am determined to invest in the infrastructure this country needs, to help people get around more easily, boost investment and create opportunities.
London City Airport is an engine for growth in the City, serving the community in which it operates and providing a vital link to our regional airports and the rest of the country.
These new plans for London City Airport will deliver jobs and business in the capital and more widely. Companies across the UK will be able to bid for construction and procurement contracts worth £294 million, meaning the benefits will be felt up and down the country.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said:
This decision clearly indicates that Britain is open for business.
The expansion of both the airport and terminal building will provide a real boost to economic growth and job creation.
Commuters also stand to benefit from the expansion of the terminal and improved facilities which will make using the airport more pleasant and efficient.
The planning decision was formally approved by the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.
A generous compensation package will be provided by the airport to support local residents affected by the increase in air traffic.
Changes brought in by NATS on February 4th means new noise ghettos in east London
February 4, 2016
On 4th February, NATS implemented the first phase of its LAMP (London Airspace Management Programme). It says this was approved by the CAA in November 2015. It means that routes into and out of London City airport will be altered, and routes will be concentrated – using PR-NAV (precision navigation). The changes involve use of a “point merge” system for arrivals, with the joining points to the ILS out at sea. They will mean all the planes from Westerly departures will be routed over for Bow, Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Redbridge, Barkingside, Collier Row and Harold Hill. For Easterly departures, all the planes will be routed over Barking Riverside, Dagenham, Elm park and Hornchurch. And for Easterly arrivals, all the planes will be routed over Bexley, Sidcup, New Eltham, Mottingham, Catford, Dulwich Village, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall. The changes are described by NATS in glowing terms – about “more efficient flights, saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions, reducing noise, keeping aircraft higher for longer and minimising areas regularly overflown.” And, of course, enabling more flights to be crammed into crowded airspace – to enable the aviation industry to increase the number of flights. HACAN East is talking to its lawyers about a JR against the CAA for failure to consult.
Decision on London City Airport expansion does not rest with Sadiq Khan, but with the Planning Inspector and Secretaries of State
May 11, 2016
Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, in one of his very first acts, has instructed the Greater London Assembly’s GLA Land to withdraw its objection to London City Airport’s Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of Royal Docks Land, following ‘new’ evidence supplied by the Airport. However, a final decision on the airport’s expansion is not in the Mayor’s hands. The decision rests with the Planning Inspector, who will make a recommendation to both Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Communities Secretary Greg Clark, following the main planning inquiry into expansion of City Airport that concluded on 5th April. A decision is not expected till the summer. The airport wants to CPO 26.4 hectares of GLA land to facilitate their CADP1 expansion programme which includes parts of the London Plan protected Blue Ribbon Network. of waterways and bodies of water. GLA Land was one of four remaining objectors to the expansion plans. However, its change of heart is not critical. The current Inquiry into the CPO has been adjourned until Tuesday 17 May as negotiations between the airport and the DLR continue, with agreement considered likely. The previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, refused permission for expansion on noise grounds.
After just a few days as Mayor, Sadiq Khan drops GLA objection to compulsory purchase of land for London City Airport expansion
May 10, 2016
Within the first few days as London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has re-opened the possibility of expansion at London City Airport. He has dropped the GLA objection to a compulsory purchase order of 26.4 hectares in the Docklands, owned by City Hall. The airport will get the result of its recent appeal against refusal of expansion plans, by Boris Johnson, later this year. The GLA said: “The Mayor continues to support the case for improved noise mitigation measures that will be considered by the Secretary of State when he decides on the planning appeal in due course.” Khan had said in November 2015, during his election campaign, that he would look again at the prospect of the airport expanding. Boris had rejected it, on noise grounds. Meanwhile the owners of London City Airport paid themselves a £27.7m dividend payout last year after the airport attracted its highest ever number of passengers, increasing profits by almost 20%. The airport, while being considered to have the largest proportion of business passengers, in increasingly for leisure trips. London City’s higher customer numbers last year were in part driven by its new travel routes including Berne, Hamburg, Mykonos and Santorini (all just holiday destinations) and extra flights to Edinburgh, Luxenbourg, Geneva and Guernsey.
Three Conservative local authorities – Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon – have written to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, warning that court proceedings will be launched if a Heathrow 3rd runway is approved. The 3 council leaders, Lord True, Ravi Govindia and Ray Puddifoot, say any approval given to Heathrow would create “severe political and social rupture” at a time when unity is needed. It is also undeliverable and unlawful. They are already preparing a “substantial and strong legal challenge” and say “We must also be very clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge against the government in the unfortunate event that it resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects,” The reasons for the challenge are that bad air quality around the airport already breaches legal limits, and with a 3rd runway, the extra planes and cars in west London would “blight the lives” of millions of people. The council leaders say, in their letter to Chris Grayling, that the runway “would be an environmental disaster for our communities”. Unfortunately they also urge government to back a 2nd Gatwick runway instead, content to push the misery that they are keen to avoid for their own residents onto others.
Legal action threatened if Heathrow expansion is approved – Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon council leaders write to transport secretary
25 July 2016 (Epsom Guardian)
By Ben Weich, Reporter – Richmond + Twickenham
The leaders of Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon councils have written to the new transport secretary to threaten legal action if the Heathrow expansion is approved.
Following reports a decision could be made as early as September, Lord True and Ravi Govindia, as well as Hillingdon council leader Ray Puddifoot told Chris Grayling they would launch a ‘legal challenge’.
In their letter the three argue a Heathrow expansion would be a slower and more costly option, with Gatwick representing a ‘far better option on every level’.
Lord True said: “Heathrow expansion – in either the form of the new north-west runway or the extension of the existing northern runway – would be an environmental disaster for our communities.
“Under both scenarios the costs far outweigh the benefits and we urge the Government to dismiss the inflated and implausible case made by the slick PR promoters of these schemes.
“The Prime Minister has spoken of her concern to protect communities and listen to the concerns of ordinary people. I have no doubt she will be true to her word.”
Ravi Govindia said Wandsworth residents had lived with the threat of a Heathrow expansion for too long – as he appealed for a swift decision.
The aversion to a Heathrow expansion in west London is such that Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith threatened to resign in 2015 if it was given the green light.
Four councils affected by Heathrow threaten to take legal action against Government if it backs Heathrow runway
March 3, 2016
Four Conservative controlled councils – Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils – are preparing to sue the government over a proposed 3rd Heathrow runway. The four councils are near Heathrow, and affected adversely by it. The warning to David Cameron, from their lawyers, says an escalation in the number of flights would be “irrational and unlawful”. The legal letter to No 10 says court proceedings will be launched unless the Prime Minister categorically rules out expansion of Heathrow. It says “insurmountable environmental problems” around the airport mean it can never be expanded without subjecting residents to excessive pollution and noise. The councils have believed, since the launch of the (government appointed) Airports Commission’s final report, that it made a “flawed assessment” of Heathrow’s ability to deal with environmental issues (noise, NO2, and carbon emissions among them). The councils also say David Cameron’s previous promise – “No ifs, No buts, no 3rd runway” – had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that there would be no runway. The authorities have appointed Harrison Grant, the solicitors that led a successful High Court challenge in 2010 against the former Labour government’s attempt to expand Heathrow.
Flightpath consultation must come before runway decision
The Prime Minister has been warned that signalling Government support for a third Heathrow runway would be unlawful unless the new flightpaths needed to operate the landing strip are first subject to public consultation.
6 October 2015 (Hillingdon Council)
The warning comes from the leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils who have written to Mr Cameron to highlight a series of flaws and omissions in the Airports Commission’s final report on aviation capacity.
They point out that by law, changes to London’s airspace require open consultation so a decision to expand Heathrow would pre-empt this statutory process. Approving a runway clearly infers the associated flightpaths will also be approved.
David Cameron is now considering the commission’s dossier which recommends expanding Heathrow. Despite scrutinising the new runway proposal for over two years the commissioners failed to identify the location of its new flightpaths, nor carry out the necessary consultation.
Instead, the final report, which costs tax payers in the region of £25m, asks ministers to approve a third runway at Heathrow without telling them where the planes will fly over London and the south east.
The local councils have now pointed out that the commission’s recommendation is pointing the Government down a legal cul-de-sac and has urged the PM to dismiss the report.
The letter concludes that the local authorities “reserve their rights to take whatever action is in their power to protect their residents and communities from the devastating impacts of a new runway at Heathrow.”
Leader of Hillingdon Council Ray Puddifoot said:
“Even the airports commission has to agree that runways need flightpaths. If you approve one you have to approve the other.
“It will be unlawful for any Government to approve a new runway without publishing detailed flightpath data so the communities affected can exercise their legal right to scrutinise the plans. This is a major obstacle that can’t be put off much longer.”
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said:
“The law is very clear. Communities have to be consulted on air space changes and once those maps are finally published the backlash will completely change the course of this debate.
“It’s very hard to justify why a two year aviation investigation failed to unearth this key piece of information. We’ve made it very clear to the prime minister that the commission’s recommendation can’t be followed until it is out in the open for all to see.”
Luton Airport’s change in flight paths are affecting residents throughout Herts, including those living in Stevenage, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City and St Albans – but avoids Luton itself. Complaints about plane noise from Luton Airport have leapt by 78%, with residents saying their lives have been “devastated” by detrimental flight path changes. The latest edition of the airport’s quarterly monitoring report has also revealed a 60% rise in the number of complainants. Flight movement maps in the report, recording westerly and easterly movements over a 24 hour period in March, show a concentration of planes flying over many urban areas in Herts, including St Albans district, Stevenage, Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City. Yet, the skies above Luton, and the immediate area around the town – apart from the airport’s location in the south – appear to be mostly devoid of aircraft by comparison. Between January and March this year, there were 191 noise complaints, compared to 107 in the first quarter in 2015. The airport has been expanding rapidly since its owner, and prime beneficiary, Luton borough council, controversially approved its bid to near double passenger throughput to 18 million a year in December 2013.
Luton Airport flight path changes “unfair to Hertfordshire residents”
25 July 2016 (Herts Advertiser)
Luton Airport’s change in flight paths are affecting residents throughout Herts, including those living in Stevenage, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City and St Albans – but avoids Luton itself. This shows just one day in March this year: easterly departures in blue, arrivals in red.
Complaints about plane noise from Luton Airport have leapt by 78 per cent, with residents saying their lives have been “devastated” by detrimental flight path changes.
Luton Airport’s change in flight paths are affecting residents throughout Herts, including those living in Stevenage, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City and St Albans – but avoids Luton itself. This shows just one day in March this year: westerly departures in blue, arrivals in red.
The latest edition of the airport’s quarterly monitoring report has also revealed a 60 per cent rise in the number of complainants.
Flight movement maps in the report, recording westerly and easterly movements over a 24 hour period in March, show a concentration of planes flying over many urban areas in Herts, including St Albans district, Stevenage, Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City.
Yet, the skies above Luton, and the immediate area around the town – apart from the airport’s location in the south – appear to be mostly devoid of aircraft by comparison.
One of the many local residents affected by recent flight path changes, John Worth, told the Herts Advertiser: “It has been devastating for those living in the Childwickbury area between St Albans and Harpenden. The noise is becoming continuous with, on some days, a constant stream of low flying flights over our area.”
Between January and March this year, there were 191 noise complaints, compared to 107 in the first quarter in 2015.
There were a total of 26,907 aircraft movements, a rise from 22,824 for the same period in 2015 – an increase of 18 per cent.
This equated to about 300 movements per 24 hours, compared to 254 last year.
The airport has been expanding rapidly since its owner, and prime beneficiary, Luton borough council, controversially approved its bid to near double passenger throughput to 18 million a year in December 2013.
Although the first phase of its £110 million redevelopment project just started in September last year, the airport has pressed ahead with expanding capacity, boasting this month of an increase in numbers for the 27th month in a row, with 1.4 million people flying during June alone.
Also in September last year, in a bid to better control aircraft and prevent them from straying from centrelines, Luton introduced a system called “RNAV”, which stands for area navigation.
Based on using software assistance to navigate flights, using a network of beacons to follow a designated route, RNAV is designed to channel aircraft down a narrow track – but if you live underneath it, you suffer from increased noise.
A Harpenden-based campaigner for quieter skies, Neil MacArthur, pointed out that Herts residents are suffering more as a result, when compared to those living in Bedfordshire.
Another reason for this stems from the designated flight paths. Back in 2008, NATS, the UK’s provider of air traffic control services, proposed that Bedfordshire should share the load, but that was opposed.
Neil explained: “On the contrary, there seems to be a significant body of influence and opinion at Luton Airport, Luton borough council (LBC) and councils in Bedfordshire which suggest the airport should gain all the economic benefits, yet the county take none of the day or night disturbance which has been deemed by LBC and the airport as a Hertfordshire problem – that will become progressively worse as the airport expands.”
Neil said the RNAV results showed recent flight path changes were “significantly flawed insofar as meeting the airport’s aim of reducing noise disturbance for local communities”.
A spokesman for the airport said there were plans to reduce the flight path even further, with trials to begin later this year, followed by public consultation.
An aircraft noise enquiry or complaint can be made to Luton Airport via its online flight tracking system known as TraVis (http://travisltn.topsonic.aero), or email: email@example.com or by calling 01582 395382 (24hr automated line).
Revelations of a spike in complaints about Luton Airport noise have come as no surprise to locals, with one commenting that some flights “could surely wake the dead, let alone anyone trying to do a day’s work later”.
The man, who lives between Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead and did not want to be named, criticised Luton Airport’s recent flight path changes as “a failure; it seems that more people are being disturbed now.
“I fully accept that nobody wants aircraft noise, but why the presumption that Luton Airport and Luton council can ride roughshod over anyone in their way is completely unacceptable.
“The centreline now goes directly over our house and the path has been concentrated, so rather than having a few over flights, like others we now seem to get the lot. Cargo flights at night make a good night’s sleep a rarity. A heavily loaded older plane at full throttle could surely wake the dead.”
He also asked why there were so many night flights.
Luton Airport said in a recent report there were 2,281 such flights between January and March this year, compared to 1,991 for the first quarter in 2015.
This prompted the man to say: “We are not at war, night flights are not vital or essential for the UK population. Only a real and complete ban between 10.30pm-6.30am will allow everyone to get a minimum of eight hours’ proper sleep.”
John Worth, who lives in the Childwickbury area, said: “We first noticed the increase in noise just before Christmas, with a sudden increase in flights that were going over or close to our house.
“After much correspondence with Luton Airport, we found out it is because of the implementation of a new technology that keeps all flights to a certain path.”
However, John pointed out, he was not consulted upon this significant change and impact upon his life.
And while the airport told him it had been monitoring noise levels in the area, “further enquiries have revealed this is completely inadequate. There have been two monitoring attempts in recent years, neither directly in the Childwickbury area – the results of which are inconclusive. Luton Airport now admits it is inadequate, and that they do not have sufficient equipment in order to carry out appropriate monitoring.”
John went on: “Most importantly is the height of flights, which are being kept deliberately low – a mere 4,000 feet above sea level or less. You cannot hold a conversation with others outside, you are woken up to the sound of aircraft, and animals and people alike are startled.
“Furthermore, we are getting tired of not having our voices heard, and being brushed off by authorities that really don’t care enough to find alternative solutions. We are being fobbed off.”
People in Ascot and surrounding areas are bitterly opposed to further expansion of Heathrow, and formed a local group Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN). The area is around 15 miles from Heathrow, and residents are upset and annoyed about the new level of plane noise they are having to endure. Before early 2014 there were virtually no flights to or from Heathrow over the area. Then in August 2014, Heathrow started ‘trials’ without informing anyone and since then the area has been subjected to an enormous amount of noise pollution. People say they have not been able to get proper uninterrupted night’s sleep for almost two years, for most of the time, due to plane noise which only stops for a few hours each night – not enough to get 7 hours sleep, let alone 8 hours of peace. People feel they can no longer enjoy their gardens in summer any more, with planes thundering overhead as often as every 3 minutes. In hot weather, people have to choose between being hot with fresh air, and less plane noise – or being cooler with the windows open, but being woken up. There is anger, in Ascot as in so many areas, that Heathrow is able to “ride roughshod over our peace, homes, business, environment.” The prospect of another runway, making the noise situation even worse, is almost unimaginable. Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM), wrote to David Cameron regarding the issues about noise and air pollution at Heathrow.
Opposition to third Heathrow runway among Ascot area residents remains firm
24.7.2016 (Bracknell News)
Ray Rampton has to put up with aircraft flying over his house as often as every three minutes
THIS man is one of hundreds of Ascot residents who are continuing their stiff opposition to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Ray Rampton, who lives 15 miles from the international airport and complains that he cannot enjoy his garden in the summer anymore, says he sees aircraft flying over his house as often as every three minutes.
He explained: “We can’t have a window open at night when it’s hot and we now get flights through the night waking us up.
“Heathrow is a fine example of a public service company, but it can’t be allowed to ride roughshod over our peace, homes, business, environment.”
Mr Rampton fears that increased disruption from air traffic would ghettoise the region and make it only fit for industry. The massive increase in noise and air pollution, which we already suffer from in the Ascot area, would be unimaginable,” he added.
Kate Mann, who like Mr Rampton belongs to the campaign group Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN), lives more than ten miles from the airport and believes a third runway would be unbearable.
She said: “When I moved to Sunninghill in 2009, the flights didn’t affect me at all, as we had none. Not a single one.
“Then, in August 2014, Heathrow started ‘trials’ without informing anyone and since that date, we have been subjected to an enormous amount of noise pollution as these flights thunder directly overhead on a daily basis.”
Camille Jeffs chimed in: “I have not had an uninterrupted night’s sleep in practically two years thanks to Heathrow.”
Councillor David Hilton, representing Ascot and Cheapside ward for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM), said the council wrote a letter to David Cameron regarding the issues about pollution at the London hub.
The letter warned that if problems were not resolved, RBWM and three other authorities would be seeking a judicial review.
Cllr Hinton said: “It is fundamentally wrong and undemocratic to be making a decision without taking into account the impact on affected people.”
Though the Brexit vote may have kicked any Heathrow proposal into touch, he warned the saga would return to haunt the new Government.
“It is not clear whether pollution around Heathrow would be manageable. The issue will come back,” he continued.
A representative of NATS, which manages air traffic control, stressed that any planned changes to airspace or flight paths would be subject to a full public consultation.
He said: “Regardless of any decision, NATS will continue to work with Heathrow and the airlines to help reduce the number of people who experience aircraft noise through use of regular respite and continuous descent approaches that keep aircraft higher for longer.”
When new Prime Minister Theresa May left Downing Street for her first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 20 July, she couldn’t miss the gathering of campaigners protesting against a 3rd Heathrow runway. This was just a reminder to the Maidenhead MP that residents currently living under the threat of a bigger Heathrow, want an announcement that a 3rd runway will never be built. A banner urged Theresa May to “Save us from a third runway.” People living in the villages of Harmondsworth and Sipson also want Theresa May to appreciate that they have spent decades under threat. Each new plan for expansion at Heathrow puts homes at real risk of demolition. The last proposal (2002-2010) would have flattened Sipson and part of Harmondsworth. This time round almost all of Harmondsworth would be under concrete with Sipson initially on the boundary but quickly engulfed by airport development. People in the Heathrow villages say though politicians decry the lack of human rights in other countries, they ignore the fact that the British government has repeatedly ill-treated people living near Heathrow. Robert Barnstone, Campaign Co-ordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “We are sending Theresa May a reminder that she should not change her views on a third runway at Heathrow.” Residents around Heathrow want the threat of the 3rd runway ended for good.
Theresa May’s First PMQs Prompts Runway Protest
20.7.2016 ( Stop Heathrow Expansion)
When new Prime Minister Theresa May left Downing Street for her first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 20 July, she couldn’t miss the gathering of campaigners protesting against a third runway at Heathrow.
This was just a reminder to the Maidenhead MP that residents currently living under the threat of a bigger Heathrow, want an announcement that a third runway at the airport will never be built.
A banner urged Theresa May to “Save us from a third runway.
People living in the villages of Harmondsworth and Sipson also want Theresa May to appreciate that they have spent decades under threat. Each new plan for expansion at Heathrow puts homes at real risk of demolition.
The last proposal (2002-2010) would have flattened Sipson and part of Harmondsworth. This time round almost all of Harmondsworth would be under concrete with Sipson initially on the boundary but quickly engulfed by airport development. In the past the Heathrow village of Harlington was earmarked for bulldozing, this time round it would be overflown as aircraft take off and land only metres away. Longford village, which has also been under threat before, was significantly impacted by Terminal 5 and now faces being wiped off the map if either the third runway or Heathrow Hub options are approved.
When politicians decry the lack of human rights in other countries, they ignore the fact that the British government has repeatedly ill-treated people living near Heathrow. If Theresa May announces a third runway at Heathrow she knows that a legal case against it is guaranteed.
Communities in the Heathrow Villages to the north have been starved of investment in favour of more airport development. None of the villages has a library, four out of five villages have no doctor or dentist, the only leisure facility (a small swimming pool built for children) is managed as a charity by volunteers. A council park with sports pavilion in Harlington has been taken over by Heathrow private hire vehicles that have made it a no-go area for locals.
Other areas suffer in different ways, particularly because they have had little or no say about being overflown. It has been proved that, although Heathrow claims aircraft are quieter, the way that aircraft are flown is actually increasing noise and annoyance for thousands of people.
In parliament, Theresa May’s responses to questions shocked political commentators. Mrs May appeared to have adopted a Margaret Thatcher-style aggression. Our new PM has strongly opposed Heathrow expansion in the past so it is hoped that, like Mrs Thatcher, the lady’s not for turning.
Robert Barnstone, Campaign Co-ordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “We are sending Theresa May a reminder that she should not change her views on a third runway at Heathrow.
“Now, as prime minister, it is for her government to deliver the verdict that so any residents around Heathrow want; to end the threat of the third runway for good.”
The chair of HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) John Stewart added: “We know from her past statements that Theresa May is no fan of Heathrow expansion. We are gathering to remind her that she now has the power to stop it.”
A decision on a new runway in the southeast could be made “within weeks” after the new transport secretary, Chris Grayling, who replaces Patrick McLoughlin, said the government had to “move rapidly” on the issue. Given the strength of feeling on the issue, it is unlikely that a decision will be taken during the parliamentary summer recess. MPs start their summer break on Thursday and return on September 5th. So a decision could be made between 5th and 15th September. Mr Grayling, interviewed yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, said: “I am very clear that I want to move rapidly with a decision on what happens on airport capacity. It is a decision that will be taken collectively by the government. “We have a quasi-judicial role so I’m not going to say today whether I prefer Gatwick or Heathrow … I’m going to look at this very carefully in the coming weeks.” He added: “What I’ll be saying to the business community today is I think we need to take a rapid decision to provide certainty on what’s going to happen and that will be my objective.” Patrick McLoughlin had said last month that a final decision was unlikely to be taken before October, but that was in the expectation of there being no new Prime Minister until September. Logically, it would take the new Transport Secretary many weeks to fully understand the brief, and the highlycomplex issues involved.