Dr Tania Mathias debate in Parliament on Heathrow – hoping in vain for government assurances on air pollution

Dr Tania Mathias, Conservative MP for Twickenham, secured a debate on Heathrow and its air pollution problem. She made persuasive and important points, and received only inadequate responses from John Hayes, the Minister of State, DfT.  A few quotes are copied here: …”the WHO has said that for PM2.5 “no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.”… “within just over a week of the Government being found guilty in the courts of not having an adequate plan to address air quality, they decided to approve Heathrow expansion. The expansion will involve perhaps 50% more planes. … with nearly 250,000 more flights planned, there will be thousands more passengers and staff, and they will not be walking to and from Heathrow airport.” … “£799 million will be spent on car parks at an expanded Heathrow.”.. My question to the Minister is simple: if the Government support Heathrow expansion, how will they get air quality within legal targets? I have asked two Prime Ministers, two Secretaries of State for Transport and a Minister from DEFRA how they can expand Heathrow airport without increasing air pollution. Thus far, I have been assured that it will happen, but I have not been told how. I hope that today, at the 6th time of asking, I will be told.”  [She was not – just more waffle].

John Hayes could do little better than:  “the Government believe that, with a suitable package of policies and mitigation measures, the Heathrow north-west runway scheme can be delivered without impacting on the UK’s compliance with air quality limit values.”
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Heathrow Expansion: Air Quality debate

Full report can be seen on Hansard at 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-11-22/debates/D7D41A78-B3AC-41D0-B1DA-7BAEFD203758/HeathrowExpansionAirQuality

Some extracts below:

4.00 pm   Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con)

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the effect on air quality of proposed Heathrow airport expansion.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. As you and the Minister are aware, I have spent much time in Parliament on the issues of Heathrow and Heathrow expansion because many of my constituents in Twickenham are concerned. It is therefore a great disappointment to me that the Government recently decided to support Heathrow expansion, and I reiterate that I am still firmly and utterly opposed to that decision.

Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)

I congratulate the hon. Lady, my constituency neighbour, on securing this debate. I alert the House that many MPs for constituencies in and around Heathrow airport have constituents who are worried about the implications of the proposed expansion and about air quality, which is increasingly important locally.

Dr Mathias

I thank the hon. Lady for making that important point, as this not only affects Twickenham. Four councils are currently taking the Government to court over air quality because of Heathrow. Air quality is an important concern for many people.

The people, like the hon. Lady, know that Heathrow is not deliverable on many levels, including cost, noise pollution and the upcoming legal challenges, but the insurmountable challenge, and the reason I secured this debate, is air quality. The Minister will know that air quality is a major and increasing concern, and he may recall that in January 2016 I asked the then Prime Minister about the shocking news that the annual legal limit for nitrogen dioxide had been breached in London by 8 January. A map of nitrogen dioxide levels across London and Heathrow shows high concentrations in central London and Heathrow. Nitrogen dioxide, of course, affects the lungs, particularly in people with asthma or bronchial conditions, and decreases lung function growth in children.

Perhaps of even more concern is particulate matter. I am sure the Minister is aware of the World Health Organisation’s comments on particulate matter, which affects more people than any other pollutant. Although I will be talking about the legal limits for PM2.5 and PM10, I remind him that the WHO has said that for PM2.5 “no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.”

There is no safe level but, just like for nitrogen dioxide, London breached the annual legal limit in the first few months of this year. Forty cities in the United Kingdom have already breached the annual legal limit for PM2.5, and London is in the top six. PM10 is also of serious concern. Only 11 cities in the United Kingdom breached the annual legal limit in the early part of this year, and London is in the top four.

Particulate matter contributes to fatalities from strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and acute and chronic respiratory diseases. The cost in human terms is that 9,000 deaths a year in Greater London are attributable to nitrogen dioxide or particulate matter, which are just some of the air pollutants. Four thousand deaths in 1952 gave rise to the Clean Air Act 1956. Now we have more than double that number every year, and the Government are not doing enough.

What concerns me is that, within just over a week of the Government being found guilty in the courts of not having an adequate plan to address air quality, they decided to approve Heathrow expansion. The expansion will involve perhaps 50% more planes. The Minister might say that it is not the aircraft but the cars that are adding to the air pollutants, but Heathrow lies near the M4 and the M25, two of the country’s most congested motorways. He will also know that, with nearly 250,000 more flights planned, there will be thousands more passengers and staff, and they will not be walking to and from Heathrow airport.

The number of cars will increase, and I do not agree or accept that electric cars will be the answer. There are 11 million diesel cars in the United Kingdom, and they will not be scrapped and replaced in time for the proposed Heathrow expansion. I do not want to hear that putting on facemasks will protect us from particulate matter, because the British Lung Foundation says that there is no evidence that that will help.

Heathrow implicitly acknowledges the risk to air quality. I am sure the Minister has a well-thumbed copy of the Airports Commission report, and page 225 states that £799 million will be spent on car parks at an expanded Heathrow. That will increase air pollutants, which are already breaching legal limits. Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd will argue about how much it wants to spend on surface access—that is one argument—but nobody who favours Heathrow expansion denies that surface access will increase, which means more road trips and more pollutants.

Dr Mathias

Heathrow airport prides itself on being a leading cargo airport. Again, cargo and freight are not coming to and from Heathrow in an electric car or on a horse and cart. My question to the Minister is simple: if the Government support Heathrow expansion, how will they get air quality within legal targets? I have asked two Prime Ministers, two Secretaries of State for Transport and a Minister from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how they can expand Heathrow airport without increasing air pollution. Thus far, I have been assured that it will happen, but I have not been told how. I hope that today, at the sixth time of asking, I will be told.

Howard Davies spent years and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on his commission’s report, and he said on page 307 of the Minister’s well-thumbed copy that “an expanded Heathrow Airport must be contingent on acceptable performance on air quality.”

Howard Davies said that that was needed but, again, the report did not specify how it would be achieved. We need airport expansion, but it must be in a place where the legal limits for air pollution have not been breached.

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab)
I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing this debate; she is making a compelling case. The overwhelming body of legal and expert opinion on environmental and transport matters is that it is not sustainable. Does she agree that it is a welcome sign that the Mayor of London has put the resources of TfL behind the campaign, and will support all of us who are campaigning to ensure that Heathrow does not expand, because of that particular risk?

Dr Mathias

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that absolutely brilliant point. I would think that the Mayor of London supporting the campaign would focus the minds of the Minister and the Cabinet, because four councils—Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead—are taking the Government to court for noise and air pollution as a result of the proposed Heathrow expansion. Ministers have a chance to change their minds and deliver runway capacity in an area where air pollution is not so critical. No other place in the United Kingdom is as vulnerable as the area around Heathrow, close to Greater London.

If the Government continue to support Heathrow expansion without a plan to reduce air pollution to within safe medical and legal limits—it must be done in a critical time frame, as ClientEarth told the Government in the Supreme Court and the High Court—I will ask the Government to admit that they are wilfully and knowingly increasing the number of deaths attributable to air pollution caused by an expanded Heathrow.

……..

 

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr John Hayes)

It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I am pleased to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Dr Mathias) on securing this debate. She has been a regular, repeated and determined advocate for the case that she makes today.

The Government are straightforward about our plans, as my hon. Friend made clear in her speech. The Secretary of State has announced the steps that we are taking in respect of Heathrow, which she has drawn to the House’s attention, but in doing so, the Secretary of State was absolutely clear that it will now be subject to a consultation, that it will be gauged according to that consultation and that the Government are committed to the interests of local people, just as we are committed to the interests of people who wish to travel to and from Heathrow. Of course, she is right to suggest that squaring those two objectives is a significant challenge, but it is one that the Government are willing to meet.Share this contribution.

……. he then talked about electric vehicles, and the debate got suspended for a while when MPs had to go out and vote for a Division ….. on their return …..

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Dr Mathias

Although I absolutely applaud electric cars, there are 11 million diesel cars. The point is the timeframe. I do not believe that the Government will move to all cars being electric, with no air pollution, in the timeframe within which they want Heathrow expansion, which cannot take place with air quality levels as they are.

Mr Hayes

I would not claim for a moment, and have not done so, that we are going to have an entirely electric fleet of cars, privately owned or otherwise, in the near future. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend’s intervention is reasonable, given that that is a factor that will affect the way we drive in future, with a consequent effect on emissions.

 

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Dr Mathias

Does the Minister agree that because air pollution is at such a dire, illegal level, complete electrification is the only way we will be able to get safe levels in future?

Mr Hayes

[…. lots of general stuff not saying much  …… then ….]

Let me be clear on the impact of the expansion. The Government’s commitment to dealing with emissions will be central to the discussion of the air-quality impact and to meeting the challenge of balancing the need to grow airports with the need to maintain the health and wellbeing of the people who live near them, and of all our people. We have made it clear that we must tackle air quality and noise and meet our obligations on carbon, both during and after construction of the expanded airport.

Dr Mathias

[To John Hayes] Will he confirm whether I am correct in concluding that if the consultation shows that air pollution levels cannot be brought within legal limits, Heathrow expansion will not take place?

Mr Hayes

It would be entirely inappropriate of me to prejudge the consultation, still less its outcome, as my hon. Friend invites me to do. Nevertheless, given her absolute consistency and vehemence in defence of the cause she has identified today, I shall give her my 10-point summary of the issues. Ten points is the very least she deserves, given her consistency.

First, air quality is a significant national health issue, as my hon. Friend says, and the Government take it seriously. However, she knows that the prevailing issues of air quality associated with an urban environment—indeed, those associated with the kind of cars we drive and how that is changing—are the most significant feature of some of the public health arguments that she made earlier. We should not be preoccupied with assuming that airport expansion is the be all and end all in this, and I am sure she is not so preoccupied.

Secondly, the Government are already taking action to cut vehicle emissions. For example, the UK is delivering a programme, backed by £600 million of investment, to support the long-term transition to low-emission vehicles, to which I referred a moment ago.

Thirdly, the Department for Transport, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Treasury have already embarked on a joint project to identify further ways in which we can tackle this issue. Indeed, if the consultation goes that way, by the time a new runway opens in the next decade we intend to have made substantial progress in tackling air-quality challenges throughout the whole nation.

Fourthly, as announced in December 2015, we tested the Airports Commission’s analysis against the Government’s 2015 air quality plan. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend is right that the evidence base in this policy area is ever shifting, and we do need to recognise that there is more work to do; I happily do so today. We have to keep our assessments up to date and to take account of changing technology and what that brings.

Fifthly, Heathrow airport will have to play its part. The new runway must be underpinned by further industry-leading measures to mitigate air quality impacts.

Sixthly—I am rattling through these points because I am conscious of the time, Mr Hollobone, and this Chamber deserves as much information as possible—the Government believe that, with a suitable package of policies and mitigation measures, the Heathrow north-west runway scheme can be delivered without impacting on the UK’s compliance with air quality limit values.

Seventhly, final development consent will be granted only if the Secretary of State is satisfied that, with mitigation, the Heathrow scheme is compliant with legal requirements on air quality. I do not think that is quite what my hon. Friend asked for—as I say, I do not want to prejudge the consultation—but she must be pleased with what I have said today; she would be churlish not to be.

[He did not get to ten ….]

Dr Mathias

The Minister is being very generous in taking interventions. Will he confirm that, after all these measures are taken, if air quality levels are illegal, the beginning of any construction for a third runway at Heathrow cannot and will not take place?

Mr Hayes

For the sake of clarity, I will repeat exactly what I said for the record. Final development consent will only be granted if the Secretary of State is satisfied that, with mitigation, the Heathrow scheme is compliant with legal requirements on air quality. Whether that is quite what my hon. Friend wants or not, I do not know, but I think that is quite a big commitment to make and it is certainly made in the spirit that I described earlier—that of a Government who are absolutely concerned to do the right thing by local residents and in terms of emissions generally.

 

……

Ruth Cadbury

… Last week at Transport questions, I asked a question about an issue that concerns my local area, which is the proposed expansion of the M4, which, so far as I can see, would be needed if the third runway is given the go-ahead. Will the Minister comment on the impact on air quality of a tunnel coming up either in Brentford or Chiswick?

Mr Hayes

Yes. Among my many responsibilities, although I know that Members in this Chamber think that they are too few, are big roads, and the M4 is indeed a big road. However, it is important to point out that in any expansion that takes place at Heathrow, a range of transport connections would be considered. I know that Heathrow is considering how people would get to and from the airport. That will not just be by car. The hon. Lady will know that about 45% of people currently make their journey to and from Heathrow by private vehicle, but that number is not fixed in stone. One would hope that—indeed, I would expect it to be so as part of this package—all kinds of innovative solutions will be delivered as to how people can get to the airport efficiently.

Therefore, I do not want to prejudge that issue and I certainly would not want either to say anything that contradicted the answer that the hon. Lady received last week, because the question then was not posed to me; I think it was posed to the Secretary of State. I reassure the hon. Lady that we are broad-minded about the means by which people get to and from Heathrow and the effects that might have on local people.

Let me make my last three points, because I promised 10 points and so far I have delivered only seven.

[Eighth]  The Government have also made it clear that we must tackle noise and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham is also concerned about this. We will also meet our obligations on carbon. On noise, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd has committed to a ban on scheduled night flights of six and a half hours, more predictable periods of respite for communities and new and binding noise targets.

Ninthly, the Government’s announcement was just the beginning, as I said, of the process, as the preferred scheme will now be subject for consultation through a draft airports national policy statement that will follow in the new year. Of course, that is something to look forward to after the excitement of Christmas.

Finally, it is important to point out—I know that my hon. Friend is very conscious of this and I thought she deserved an answer on it—that the Government accept the recent High Court judgment that more needs to be done to improve the nation’s air quality. That does not apply simply to airports; I am looking at a range of transport modes, as she will doubtless appreciate. I can tell her that the Government will produce a revised plan by 31 July 2017 and my team in the Department for Transport are beavering away and working with other relevant Departments to make sure that the plan meets all the necessary requirements.

…..

Jonathan Lord

I thank the Minister for giving way. Many experts, commentators and indeed Members of this House feel that the air quality projections made to date have been somewhat fanciful, including a large dose of wishful thinking. Can he reassure us that there is anything in the next year’s worth of consultation that will be more robust, and that the Government will take note of what many experts are saying?

Mr Hayes

I can give an absolute assurance that while I am the Minister of State at the Department for Transport all that we do will be studious and robust, and that includes the considerations of the kind that my hon. Friend has identified. It is important that we do the work to produce an evidential argument and also articulate that argument in a way that sends the public a very clear message—this Government are serious about transport and about wellbeing. All that we do in the Department, while I have influence over it, will be gauged by wellbeing and the effect that it has on the national interest and the common good.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered the effect on air quality of proposed Heathrow airport expansion.

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-11-22/debates/D7D41A78-B3AC-41D0-B1DA-7BAEFD203758/HeathrowExpansionAirQuality

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Read more »

Walsh says Heathrow charges rule out more UK domestic links, and he will not be told where to fly

Chris Grayling and the DfT were eager to point out how a 3rd Heathrow runway would increase links to the regions, and increase the number of routes from Heathrow from 8 now to 14 in future. And these links might have to be ensured by payments. Heathrow, in trying to persuade government this was possible, said it would create a new £10m Route Development Fund. The Airports Commission said there should be a Public Service Obligations on an airport-to-airport basis, to encourage these unprofitable routes. Now Willie Walsh has confirmed that there is “zero chance” of British Airways operating any new domestic flights from an expanded Heathrow.  He will not be told, by government or an airport, where to fly.  He says the high landing charges, inevitable to pay for the expansion, made it impossible to deliver an increase in domestic air links. He would refuse to run these links even if Holland-Kaye “begs me to do it” because it would not be profitable. He said Heathrow was “fat, dumb and happy” and that it attracted large numbers of airlines but that many failed to make a profit. He also said with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would price out most airlines. Holland-Kaye is hoping he can get easyJet, Flybe and BMI Regional to take on potential regional routes. Mr Walsh said the current charge of £40 for a return trip would double to £80 per passenger with a new runway.
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Heathrow charges rule out more domestic links, says BA

Heathrow charges rule out more domestic links, says BA

High landing charges at an expanded Heathrow will make it impossible to deliver an increase in domestic air links, the head of British Airways parent company warned.

International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh said there is “zero chance” of BA operating any new domestic flights once the London hub adds a third runway.

BA would refuse to step in even if the head of Heathrow “begs me to do it” because of the expense of operating out of Heathrow.

He told the Airport Operators Association’s annual conference in London that Heathrow was “fat, dumb and happy” and that it attracted large numbers of airlines but that many failed to make a profit.

Walsh has claimed that plans for a third runway would price out most airlines. Heathrow has denied this, insisting that it will attempt to keep landing charges as flat as possible when a new runway is built as early as 2025.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said it was negotiating with easyJet about moving to the airport.

He said: “From 2025, when the new runway opens, we can add more domestic routes and more frequencies as well as competition on existing routes.

“We have been working with easyJet, Flybe and, more recently, Bmi Regional on their potential route networks.”

Heathrow has links to eight UK cities but it said at least six routes would be created, including to Liverpool, Humberside, Isle of Man, Jersey and Newquay.

Walsh told how BA had increased its share of slots from 36% to 53% over the past 15 years after buying space from other airlines that had been forced to abandon the expensive hub.

He said the current charge of £40 for a return trip would double to £80 per passenger with a new runway.

Heathrow has denied this, insisting that it will attempt to keep landing charges as flat as possible.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said some of the additional routes created by an expanded airport would be ring-fenced for domestic flights.

But Walsh said he doubted that any airlines would be able to operate the routes and there was a “zero chance” of BA stepping in, The Times reported.

“We are not going to listen to any airport or any government telling us where to fly. None whatsoever. So we are not going to do it,” he said.

“If someone’s going to fly between Heathrow and Newquay, if it’s us, it will be done on a purely commercial basis. If John Holland-Kaye begs me to do it, I won’t do it. If he gives me £10 million a year, I’ll think about it.”

Bmi and Virgin’s Little Red had both attempted to operate domestic networks into Heathrow and it had been a “complete disaster”.

“It’s not going to happen unless there is a commercial reality behind it,” Walsh said. “We’re not interested in these artificial routes.”

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/64075/heathrow-charges-rule-out-more-domestic-links-says-ba

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BA will not expand Heathrow flights

By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times)
November 23 2016

There is “zero chance” of British Airways operating any new domestic flights from an expanded Heathrow, the head of the airline’s parent company has warned.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said high landing charges made it impossible to deliver an increase in domestic air links.

He said that BA would refuse to step in even if the head of Heathrow “begs me to do it” because of the expense of operating out of the west London hub.

…..
Full article at
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ba-will-not-expand-heathrow-flights-l3xnc8jvm

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What the DfT and Chris Grayling said, on 25th October, about a 3rd Heathrow runway and domestic flights:

From https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-decides-on-new-runway-at-heathrow

“A third runway will also support new connections to the UK’s regions as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes. Heathrow has proposed a further 6 new routes to Belfast International, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added after expansion. The 8 existing routes offered today are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. This would provide 14 domestic routes in total, and spread benefits right across the country.

“Government will also take all necessary steps including, where appropriate, ring-fencing a suitable proportion of new slots for domestic routes, to ensure enhanced connectivity within the UK.”

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and in the House of Commons from   https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-25/debates/4D74A7CB-8921-48BD-9960-FD15D5D1EEDF/AirportCapacity

“The third assurance is about how the expanded airport will benefit the whole of the UK, not just by creating jobs across the airport’s UK-wide supply chain, but by giving even more of the UK access to important international markets by strengthening existing domestic links and developing new connections to regions that are not currently served. The airport expects to add six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030, bringing the total to 14. That will strengthen existing links to nations and regions such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England, and allow the development of new connections to regions such as the south-west.

“I am determined that Heathrow will meet those pledges and that the Government will hold the airport to account on them. Furthermore, the Government will take all necessary steps, including, where appropriate, ring-fencing a suitable proportion of new slots for domestic routes through public service obligations to enhance connectivity within the United Kingdom. It is important to stress that this is a decision in the national interest; it is not just about the south-east of England.”

 

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and in reply to questions in the House of Commons at https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-25/debates/4D74A7CB-8921-48BD-9960-FD15D5D1EEDF/AirportCapacity

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)

The decision to build a new runway at Heathrow is the right one, but it is absolutely vital that the Secretary of State delivers on his pledge to ensure that the benefits of expansion are felt in every nation and region of the UK. The Davies commission noted the difficulties in reserving slots for domestic flights from regional airports posed by the EU slot regulations. Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU what assessment has he made of the decision for potential measures to protect and enhance domestic connectivity?

Chris Grayling

The slot issue is one avenue for us to follow. We want to have a detailed discussion with regional airports, airlines and Heathrow itself about the best mechanism. I am absolutely clear that the planning consents, which I hope and believe will eventually be granted, and the national policy statements we prepare must contain provisions that protect connectivity. We need to work out the best way of doing it. It is not just about having a handful of slots at 11 o’clock at night; it is also about connectivity with international flights. We have to get this right for the whole United Kingdom and I give a commitment that that is what our agenda will be.

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and
Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab)

This is indeed the right decision for the UK and for Scotland, but will the Secretary of State confirm that any additional slot capacity for domestic airlines will be guaranteed either in the planning process or in legislation? Furthermore, will he undertake an ongoing assessment of the ability of regional airports such as Edinburgh to attract direct routes following Heathrow’s third runway coming on stream in nine years’ time?

Chris Grayling

We will look carefully at what the right mechanism should be. It might not be as simple as guaranteeing a number of slots, because I want there to be the right connectivity. For example, I do not want a regional airport to be given a tail-end slot at 11 o’clock at night that does not allow proper links between that airport and international destinations. We have to think carefully about how this should be done and what the best mechanism is for doing it. However, I have given a guarantee that there will be protections for the regional airports and the connectivity that they need.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-25/debates/4D74A7CB-8921-48BD-9960-FD15D5D1EEDF/AirportCapacity

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Earlier

 

Heathrow’s “manifesto” says:

“Heathrow already links eight cities to the world – Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester. An expanded Heathrow would add flights to new domestic routes to Jersey, Isle of Man and Belfast International. [These are the routes EasyJet suggested it might add, if it started operations at Heathrow, with a 3rd runway. See below]

“Heathrow will be establishing a special £10m Route Development Fund, providing start-up support for new domestic destinations. This will support up to five new routes from Heathrow with airports like Liverpool, Humberside and Newquay on the shortlist.”   [Newquay already has a PSO funded route to Gatwick. The Government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF), is a £20 million fund set aside by the coalition Government, to pay for routes such as Newquay].

Heathrow also says:

“A third runway will lead to better connections from Wales to the rest of the globe – enhanced by the fast Western Rail Link that is backed by the Welsh Assembly.”   [Scarcely a direct consequence of a runway …. Cardiff is not on the list of airports mentioned above. AW note].

Heathrow actually says that much of the connection to the regions will be by better rail links, getting people to Heathrow. [ link  Page 12].


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The Airports Commission realised it would be difficult to get regional links from Heathrow.

The Airports Commission final report said:

“Public Service Obligations could be used to support a wide network of domestic routes at Heathrow.”

and P 35

“It is crucial to ensure that expansion at Heathrow delivers benefits for all of the nations and regions of the UK

“A new northwest runway is likely to protect and bolster domestic services in and out of London leading to a rise in the number of passengers and frequency of services on the thickest routes, but more can be done to facilitate connections from the airport to an increased number of domestic destinations.

“To secure this, the Commission recommends that:

The Government should alter its guidance to allow the introduction of Public Service Obligations on an airport-to-airport basis, [AC emphasis]  and use them to support a widespread network of domestic routes at the expanded airport.

“HAL should implement additional measures to enhance domestic connectivity, including reduced charges and start-up funding for regional services. ” [AC emphasis] ”

and P 78

” An important consequence of the airport capacity constraints in the UK is the apparent decline of domestic connectivity into the largest London airports and particularly into Heathrow.”….”Heathrow saw over 40,000 domestic flights in 1990 compared to just 23,000 in 2014″

and P 79

“A significant decline in the number of domestic routes into Heathrow has also been seen over recent years (see Figure 3.3). The Commission’s forecasts predict that, unless capacity is expanded, this pattern will continue, with the number of destinations served from Heathrow declining to as few as three by 2040. The primary reason for this reduction in domestic connectivity at Heathrow is that, with practically all the airports slots taken up, many domestic destinations are priced out by long-haul routes that deliver higher yields per passenger.”

and P 266

“The Commission’s forecasts suggest that with expansion more than twice as many domestic passengers will travel via Heathrow in 2040 than if the airport’s capacity remains constrained. In addition, to ensure that cities and regions across the UK can benefit from Heathrow’s enhanced connectivity, including areas such as the Highlands and Islands, the Isle of Man and the Tees Valley, which have lost their direct links to Heathrow over recent decades, the Government should use Public Service Obligations (PSO) to support a widespread network of domestic routes.”

and Page 313

“Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) should implement additional measures to enhance domestic connectivity, including introducing reduced charges and start-up funding for regional services.”

“Capacity constraints at Heathrow Airport have seen the number of domestic connections decline at the airport over recent years. No daily service has operated between Heathrow and Liverpool since 1991, Inverness since 1997 and Durham Tees Valley since 2008.”

and Page 314

“The new slots made available at Heathrow would allow airlines to establish new domestic links to the capital, re-establish lost connections and increase frequencies on those that are already in place. Heathrow Airport Ltd and easyJet’s consultation responses argued that were the low-cost carrier to move to the airport, it would seek to develop new services to Inverness, Jersey, Belfast International and the Isle of Man”.  [So some of these potential future domestic links might depend on EasyJet?  Which will resist the high landing charges necessary to  pay for the 3rd runway? AW note].

“To support this point, the National Connectivity Task Force put forward analysis considering the latent demand for services from the UK regions to the capital, suggesting that in 2040 domestic services could utilise 136-175 additional daily slot pairs at an expanded Heathrow, compared to current day slot allocation of 55 daily 313 slot pairs. This would equate to 6.5% of runway capacity at the expanded airport being utilised for domestic services, up from 4.2% currently. ”

and Page  315

“15.7 Against this positive outlook, it is important to note that even in the event of expansion, a number of competing pressures may limit the increase in domestic services to an enlarged Heathrow. One such pressure could be continuing competition from overseas hubs, which may still be able to offer cheaper services, higher frequencies, or more convenient connections on some routes. An expanded Heathrow is also likely to see rapid growth in demand, which may relatively quickly begin to exert pressure on slots during the most popular periods.

“15.8 The Commission’s forecasts reflect these pressures and suggest that without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future than the seven served currently. It would still however see more than the three domestic routes predicted to be available from the airport without expansion. “

“Given the historic long-term pressures on the availability of capacity for domestic services at a constrained Heathrow, any stabilisation in the numbers of domestic services operating to the airport is to be welcomed. Nonetheless, the Commission believes that this should not be the limit of the UK’s or the airport operator’s ambition.

“15.10 In summary, a new runway at Heathrow will enhance the domestic connectivity of the UK, strongly benefitting the nations and regions outside London and the South East. In order to ensure that these benefits are widely spread and a diverse network of domestic routes is supported at the expanded airport, however, additional measures may be required. These are discussed in the next section of this chapter.”

 

There is a long section, Pages 316 to 319 setting out the Commission’s thinking on the issue. Worth reading.

There are considerable difficulties in setting up PSOs (Public Service Obligations) for routes, and there is no guarantee that the UK government would want to use public funds in this way, or would be permitted to within the EU. These routes could only be made viable if given public subsidy.  Is this a good use of taxpayer’s money? (especially as only about 11% of UK flights in 2015 were for business, and the rest for leisure).

 

 

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Willie Walsh not happy IAG/BA HQ to be demolished for 3rd runway (and IAG will partly have to pay)

This is not April Fools news.  Willie Walsh has only learned, from looking at an Airports Commission map, that the head offices of BA are to be demolished to make way for the Heathrow 3rd runway.  Walsh is CEO of IAG, which owns British Airways – and BA has more than half the flights using Heathrow. The head office of both IAG and BA is at Waterside, in Harmondsworth – and would be under the 3rd runway.  Walsh said he received no formal warning of the proposed demolition of his headquarters, which only opened in 1998 at a cost of £200 million and sits in a 115-hectare (280-acre) manmade park. Walsh said the HQ was “a fantastic environmental achievement on our part”.  Walsh’s grievance over his doomed HQ has been compounded by the prospect of being effectively charged for the compensation bill.  IAG will receive compensation, but this will largely come from charges to airlines – so IAG would largely have to compensate itself. The scale of increased charges to airlines, because of the cost of building the new runway, terminal etc, will be determined by the CAA.  Walsh said: “That compensation goes into the regulatory asset base and we end up paying 56% of that. We can’t have a situation where I end up paying for the destruction of my own head office.” This office fiasco may have contributed to Wash’s antipathy to Heathrow’s plans. At the recent AOA conference he described Heathrow as “fat, dumb and happy.” at the Airport Operators Association conference in London.
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BA boss shocked to find out that third Heathrow runway will raze his HQ

waterside-ba-headquarters-to-be-bulldozed

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, claimed that despite the group being responsible for about half of all flights at the London hub, he received no formal warning of the proposed demolition.

He said: “We were never actually informed or advised by Heathrow that they intended to knock down our headquarters.”

However, it looks unlikely to stay that way. “The first I saw of it was when the Airport Commission report came out and I saw a map and I thought, that looks very close to Waterside,” Walsh said. “Then I discovered it actually went right through Waterside.”

Walsh’s grievance over his doomed HQ has been compounded by the prospect of being effectively charged for the compensation bill.

While all properties in the path of the runway will be compulsorily purchased at 25% over the market price, the way Heathrow’s charges are set by the Civil Aviation Authority means that airlines are likely to pay more to operate from the airport as expansion costs grow.

Walsh said: “That compensation goes into the regulatory asset base and we end up paying 56% of that.

“We can’t have a situation where I end up paying for the destruction of my own head office.”

The IAG boss accused Heathrow of failing to hold proper discussions with airlines about creating a cost-effective airport and expansion plan.

He said: “I don’t think they have the capacity to engage. They’ve never had to go out there and encourage airlines to operate from [Heathrow], unlike every other airport … Heathrow sits there fat, dumb and happy, waiting for the queue to build up.”

In approving Heathrow’s expansion plans last month, the government said that increased domestic flights from around the UK would be a precondition.

But Walsh stated that his airlines would not operate routes to airports such as Newquay in Cornwall, “even if [Heathrow chief executive] John Holland-Kaye got down and begged me”.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/nov/22/ba-boss-shocked-to-find-out-that-third-heathrow-runway-will-raze-his-hq

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Reduction in business rates for Heathrow means it will pay about £10 million less per year for next 5 years

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Businesses in Richmond Upon Thames subsidise Heathrow Airport Tax Cut

By  (The London Economic)

Whilst businesses in Richmond upon Thames face a staggering £70m increase in business rates over the next 5 years, Heathrow Airport, the issue at the centre of the current by-election, in comparison received a tax cut ahead of the expansion announcement, say CVS business rates specialists.

The reduction in Rateable Value at Heathrow Airport is almost the equivalent of the entire increase in property value for all 5,802 Richmond Upon Thames businesses.

It is just a matter of weeks since the Government adjusted the Rateable Values of every business property in England and Wales to reflect changes in the property market. The new Rateable Value will be used to determine the basis of the tax calculation for rates next April and for the next 5 years.

The revaluation of business properties usually happens every 5 years but was controversially delayed by 2 years as a result of the economic downturn. The last revaluation came into effect on 1st April 2010 based on the property market as long ago as 1st April 2008.

Those whose properties have performed better than their peers – by dint of the quality of their property, location or business sector – since the previous revaluation can expect to see their bills rise. Equally, those whose properties have underperformed can expect to see their bills fall.

Whilst Heathrow Airport remains the largest ratepayer in England and Wales, the Government reduced its property assessment by £32.5m- from £247.5m to £215m- meaning that next year it will pay £3.92m less in property tax.

However, because of the Government-proposed transitional rate relief scheme, any reductions in Rateable Value are capped and phased in gradually over the Rating List. This means that on average over the next 5 years, CVS surveyors suggests that Heathrow Airport will pay £118.02m per year in business rates bills, which is down from £127.96m in the previous List; a 5 year saving of £49.7m.

There has been a further £6.49m reduction in property tax assessments at two cargo centres at Heathrow Airport too.

But Gatwick Airport, Heathrow’s rival for expansion, saw its Rateable Value rise from £56.6m to £60.4m, making it the second largest ratepayer in the country.

Yet CVS business rates specialists suggest new Rateable Values recently published show that across Richmond Upon Thames, total property assessments have increased by a staggering £29.05m.

Their analysis shows 5,802 Richmond Upon Thames businesses had a combined Rateable Value of £200,780,068 based on the last property assessment in 2010, which has formed the basis of rates bills for the last 7 years, but this has just increased to £229,827,201.

CVS projects that on average over the next 5 years, taking into consideration the proposed transitional rate relief scheme and inflation, business rates bills across Richmond Upon Thames next year will be £14.1m per year higher than this year, resulting in a massive £70.5m tax hike across Richmond Upon Thames over the next 5 years.

Mark Rigby, CEO of CVS says: “The purpose of a business rates revaluation is to try and achieve fairness by ensuring that tax liabilities are based upon up-to-date values.

“Revaluations create winners and losers as tax liabilities are shifted in line with relative movements in property values since the previous revaluation.

“Across the 32 Boroughs of London and the City for all sectors, Rateable Values have risen by 24.04% on average yet Heathrow seems to have emerged as a major ‘winner’.”

Businesses facing increased rates bills are advised to seek professional advice as to whether they are paying the correct amount. The Government’s changes to the business rates appeals process means that there is now a three-stage process known as ‘Check. Challenge. Appeal.’ (CCA) for the property’s new assessment.

The CCA process is intended to manage the flow of cases through the system in a structured and transparent way, and each step must be fully completed in sequence to submit an Appeal.

Nearly three quarter of a million businesses in England and Wales challenged their last assessment with almost 1 in 3 receiving a rebate.

Mark Rigby added: “The by-election campaign will revolve around Heathrow Airport and its expansion. However, local businesses are now faced with massive tax increases next year with only 6 months to prepare for them.

“It’s a bitter sweet pill to swallow for businesses in Richmond Upon Thames knowing that their property values have increased and will effectively subsidise Heathrow’s tax savings.

“It is essential that businesses across Richmond Upon Thames consider a thorough check of their new tax assessment as there may well be scope for an appeal.”

http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/businesses-in-richmond-upon-thames-subsidise-heathrow-airport-tax-cut/21/11/

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Heathrow is top business rate payer in England and Wales

13 October 2016  (BBC)

London’s Heathrow airport will continue to pay the highest rate bill of any business in England and Wales when new rateable values are applied in 2017.

The airport’s annual bill will be £118m, according to calculations by the property surveyors CVS.

The firm’s list of the top 50 rate payers is dominated by airports, power stations and London head offices.

Harrods and Selfridges both appear in the top 10, paying £18m and £16m respectively each year.

The new rateable values for tens of thousands of businesses in England and Wales were announced in September, following the first revaluation since 2008.


What are rateable values?

The rates are a form of business tax, based broadly on the rentable value of the property in question.

Once the rateable value is established, a “multiplier” set down by the government is applied to calculate the actual amount to be paid each year.

In some parts of the country where property values have fallen, so have rateable values and thus the business rates to be paid.

But in London and the South East property has become much more expensive and so business rate bills will rise for many businesses there next year.


CVS said the rateable values of the top 50 properties, calculated as of 1 April 2015, had risen by £98m since the previous rateable values were decided in 2008.

This meant, said Mark Rigby of CVS, that the owners of these properties would pay an extra £400m over the five-year life of the new rateable valuations.

“The new Rating List shows that the big infrastructure sites – such as airports, power stations and railway infrastructure – are still dominant as the properties with the highest rateable value in the country,” said Mr Rigby.

“The offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the heart of the City of London have seen their rateable value rise by more than 70% to £17m, while retailers Harrods, John Lewis and Selfridges have all seen increases of more than 50%.

“At £35m, Harrods is the retail property with the highest rateable value – 7th overall – while HSBC’s offices at Canada Square in Canary Wharf are the highest valued office at over £26m,” he added.

Although staying top of the list, Heathrow’s annual bill will in fact fall by £10m from its 2016 level, and other big payers such as Sellafield nuclear power station, and Stansted and Manchester airports, will also pay reduced bills too.

But most of the big rate payers will indeed pay more.

Gatwick airport will stay as the second biggest payer at £30m per year, and Sizewell nuclear power station will pay nearly £24m.

Others in the top 10 are Heathrow airport’s engineering base, Heysham 2 power station in Lancashire, Harrods, the Channel Tunnel, Selfridges, and Vodafone’s fibre optic network, based at offices in Berkshire.

The Channel Tunnel’s bill will rise by 114% to £16.4m, while Hinkley nuclear power station will pay 198% more at £11.8m a year.

The BBC will pay £13.4m on its New Broadcasting House headquarters in central London, up from £9.5m this year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37630906

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Firms behind Berlin Brandenburg airport offered million-€ bonuses if it is ready by July 2017 (6 years late)

The bosses of Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport have been criticised for offering bonuses to the companies building the long-delayed and over-budget project. Construction companies were being offered financial incentives to speed up their work on the building so that it can be opened by the end of 2017. They will only be paid if work is finished by July 2017. The potential bonuses may add up to around €10 million. Each construction company could receive around €1 million. Berlin Brandenburg airport was meant to open in 2011, but costs have risen from an original projection of €2.5 billion to €6.4 billion. The project has had a catalogue of very serious problems, involving partial rebuilding. A key problem was the fire detection systems, which did not meet national fire safety standards There has also been  scandal, and corruption. The plans for bonuses have been criticised by members of the Berlin Senate and on social media, news of the bonuses was met with ridicule.  Some consider it is more likely the airport would only be ready in 2018.
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Firms behind Berlin airport offered million-euro bonuses

21.11.2016  (the.local.de)

The bosses of Berlin’s new international airport have been criticized for offering bonuses to the companies building the long-delayed and over-budget project.

Karsten Mühlenfeld, the head of the state-owned company responsible for Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), told Bild am Sonntag that construction companies were being offered financial incentives to speed up their work on the building so that it can be opened by the end of 2017.

According to Tagesspiegel, the potential bonuses add up to around €10 million. Each construction company could receive around €1 million.

Costs for BER, which was supposed to open in 2011, have skyrocketed from an original projection of €2.5 billion to €6.4 billion.

The bonuses will only be paid if the passenger terminal is ready by July 2017.

News that companies which have participated in a project dogged by scandal, corruption and delays could receive such bonuses met with immediate criticism from members of the Berlin Senate.

“I have a few questions for the airport hierarchy that I won’t be saying in public,” said Berlin finance minister Christian Görke of Die Linke (The Left Party).

Berlin authorities have pledged that the airport will open in 2017, six years behind schedule. A major cause of the delay has been problems with fire detection systems which did not meet national fire safety standards.

An internal report seen by Bild earlier in the year suggests that the airport is unlikely to open before 2019, with work currently crawling along at a snail’s pace.

One former project planner for the airport has even suggested that the airport will never open due to complications involved in rebuilding its fire safety systems.

On social media, news of the bonuses was met with ridicule.

“Airport: ‘The building should have been ready in 2012’. Builders: ‘But, fire safety…’ Airport: ‘And if we give a bonus?’ Builders: ‘Done!'”

http://www.thelocal.de/20161121/berlin-airport-hopes-to-speed-opening-with-cash-bonuses

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According to internal information, the terms of the contract are such that it is only paid if the passenger terminal is ready in July 2017 and released for use. And the airport has not managed in the last year, basically all the self-imposed deadlines, delays never caught up. Recently, the last planning application had been submitted so late in the building control office of the circle Dahme-Spreewald. A start before the spring of 2018, according to the daily mirror research, therefore, unrealistic.

http://germaneconomyonline.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/berlin-airport-bonuses-for-companies-to.html


Below are some earlier stories about Berlin Brandenburg airport:

News about Berlin Brandenburg Airport

EU clears massive €2.2bn investment package by German government to complete Berlin Brandenburg airport

The European Commission has approved financial support for Berlin’s long-delayed airport project, deciding that German government funding aimed at completing the facility is in line with EU state aid rules. The EU said the planned investment is “made on market terms and will thus involve no state aid to airport operator FBB.” FBB is co-owned by the Berlin city authority, the surrounding region of Brandenburg and the German federal government. In January 2016, Germany notified plans by the airport’s public shareholders to grant a €1.1 billion shareholder loan and a shareholder guarantee covering additional debt financing of up to €1.1 billion to FBB. The financing to be covered by the shareholder guarantee will be provided by commercial banks. Part of the investment is to address technical issues (for example, with the fire protection system), and to enhance noise protection. The rest will be used to increase capacity, as traffic growth will exceed the previous forecasts on which the initial project was based. Interventions by public authorities in companies can be considered free of state aid when they are carried out at conditions that a private investor would have accepted (according to the so-called “market economy investor principle” – even if no private investor had considered the investment attractive. The airport was initially meant to open in 2011 but has had a succession of show-stopping problems.

Click here to view full story…

Speculation that Berlin Brandenburg might never open, as its problems are so expensive

The man in charge of planning Berlin’s Brandenburg airport, which has had a catalogue of major problems, says it now may never open. It might be pulled down. It was meant to open in 2010, but had real problems with the fire extinguisher system, which did not work. Every year, the date of possible opening is pushed further back. Now it seems the myth of German national efficiency is under threat. The airport is already £5 billion over budget and a national disgrace for a country that prides itself on technical excellence. The chief planner, until 1999, doubted if it would ever open. After the fire issue, which required the removal of hundreds of defective firewalls, there were also hundreds of miles of wiring that had to be ripped out of leaking underground conduits. The luggage relay systems did not work, and the computer system was so complex that for years nobody could work out how to turn off the lights. They blazed 24/7. Every month, the delay costs about £15 million, including cleaning costs and lighting to prevent vandalism. The Times says the airport’s PR chief “who, rather too truthfully, told journalists that claims of the project going well were “bullshit”.” If it does ever open (2018, 2019?) it will already be too small, and another runway may be added ….

Click here to view full story…

 

Berlin Brandenburg airport problem of terminal ceiling being too heavy ….. already years late, hugely over budget

Berlin’s long-delayed Brandenburg airport has suffered another setback after structural flaws were found in the terminal roof.  It appears that the ceiling in the terminal building is too heavy. The airport, which was originally due to open in 2010, is still under construction and has run billions of Euros over budget. It was expected to open in 2017 but that could be postponed even further. The local building authority said it had told the construction firm to “immediately stop building works for the area underneath the entire terminal roof of the BER airport” until security checks could be carried out by engineers. The airport’s CEO has left the company. Earlier this year Air Berlin, which is currently running at a loss, reached a settlement with the airport over the delays as it had planned on making BER its main hub airport. The first problems noted were to do with the smoke and fire detection problem. The proposed solution, (which was not surprisingly rejected) was (paraphrased) for 800 low-paid workers armed with cell phones, sitting on camping stools, armed with thermos flasks, who would take up positions throughout the terminal. If anyone smelled smoke or saw a fire, they would alert the airport fire station and direct passengers toward the exits” The airport’s cost, borne by taxpayers, has tripled to €5.4 billion.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/10/berlin-brandenburg-airport-problem-of-terminal-ceiling-being-too-heavy-already-years-late-hugely-over-budget/

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Up-beat and determined rally organised by Zac Goldsmith, in Richmond, against Heathrow 3rd runway

In addition to the protest against a 3rd runway near Heathrow, with two sections of nearby roads closed by activists linked together with arm locks, lying on the ground, there was also an entirely law abiding protest near Heathrow.  Earlier in the day there was a large, energetic and very positive rally in Richmond, organised by Zac Goldsmith – as part of his re-election campaign. Zac had always said that if the government backed a 3rd runway, we would resign. As soon as they did, he did – keeping his word to his electorate. The by-election was caused by the Heathrow issue, and that is what Zac intends to be returned to Parliament on. The LibDems want to get a 2nd MP in parliament, and so are hoping the by-election will instead be largely about Brexit. The rally was compered (brilliantly) by Giles Brandreth, and addressed by numerous well informed speakers, including the Leaders of the 4 councils now embarking on legal action against the government on the runway decision, and the ex-President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, as well as spokespeople from the Richmond Heathrow campaign, Teddington Action Group, Stop Heathrow Expansion, and Chiswick residents. It was made very clear that Zac has the necessary years of political experience as an MP to take this issue back to Parliament, get change, and ensure the runway is opposed – in every way.

Everyone who spoke was utterly determined that, with sufficient work and concerted, united opposition over the coming years, the highly unsustainable and damaging plan for a 3rd runway at Heathrow will be blocked.
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Lots more photos at 

http://www.rexfeatures.com/livefeed/2016/11/19/heathrow_runway_protest,_richmond,_london?

The rally was very ably, and amusingly, introduced by Giles Brandreth, (if  anyone ever needs a rally to be engagingly and effectively compered, Giles is your man).  The first speaker, with a range of amazing impersonations (including Boris ….) was Alistair McGowan, who spoke movingly about the devastation to all life on earth, including the natural world, from human impact including climate change.  (David Attenborough lives close to Richmond Green).

 

Some photos, to give a flavour of the rally:

zac-at-richmond-rally-19-11-2016

Zac at the rally – hoping to be re-elected as MP for  Richmond Park, to continue his determined fight against a Heathrow runway

4-councils-at-richmond-rally

The 4 councils that will be taking legal action against the government’s decision to approve a Heathrow 3rd runway.  (Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of Windsor & Maidenhead; Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth; Councillor Dominic Gilham, standing in for Cllr Ray Puddifoot of Hillingdon; and Lord True, Leader of Richmond council).

mohammed-nasheed

Mohammed Nasheed, ex-president of the Maldives (which once held a government meeting under water, for the cameras, to illustrate the danger of climate change

sheila-taylor-with-giles

Sheila Taylor (aged 85) speaking about how it had been a battle for residents for years against Heathrow, with decades of uncertainty about their future and the chance of having homes compulsorily purchased and having to move. Sheila has lived in the area since World War 2.

part-of-the-crowd

Part of the crowd listening to the speakers – often applauding enthusiastically

no-3rd-runway-kids

Young people who understand the negative impacts that a larger Heathrow would bring, to so many people, in so many different ways.

Lib Dem candidate for Richmond Park Sarah Olney, former climate change secretary Ed Davey and Ukip’s Suzanne Evans were also seen with protesters, many of whom were holding placards and posters.

main-speakers-at-richmond-rally
Neil Keveren, whose house would be yards from the boundary fence of an expanded Heathrow, in Harmondsworth, spoke passionately about the fight. He ended by this memorable chant:

“Theresa May, Theresa May,

what would your father say?

No ifs, No buts, No 3rd runway.”  

stronger-together-against-heathrow

Stronger together – with the logos of many of the groups united together to fight a Heathrow runway

watch-out-banner

Warning about how much the necessary work to improve surface access would cost taxpayers, if there is a Heathrow 3rd runway

theresa-may-banner

Reminder, from a Stop Heathrow Expansion banner, of Theresa May’s comment in 2010: “I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow”.

 

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15 people arrested in protest against proposed 3rd runway, blocking two roads close to Heathrow

In addition to a rally held on Richmond Green, organised by Zac Goldsmith, against the planned 3rd Heathrow runway there were two other protests near Heathrow. Zac’s rally had a host of speakers, including the leaders of the four councils bringing a legal challenge to the government, and the ex-President of the Maldives – with the aim of ensuring Zac is returned to Parliament in the by-election on 1st December. A short while later, there was an action by climate protesters, organised by RisingUp! close to Heathrow itself. They got onto the M4 spur road to the airport at a traffic lights when the traffic had stopped. Within seconds five had locked themselves together with arm locks, blocking the road. Another Heathrow road, the East Ramp, was also blocked, for a short time, with some road trips slightly delayed, but no flights were affected. Fifteen arrests were made for obstructing the highway or public order offences. Many others protested, though without blocking a road. A spokesman for Rising Up! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.”   One of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, Genny Scherer, 70, said: “It’s one or the other: new runways or a safe climate. I want my nephews and nieces to grow up in a safe climate, just like I was able to.”
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Half an hour video by Radical Action at https://www.periscope.tv/ClimateIntifada/1dRJZRmZPVDJB?t=15# shows how the protesters got onto the road, at a traffic lights, off the M4 and set up their road block just in front of the cars.

protesters-blocking-road-at-lights

Image shows the first few seconds of the protest, (still from the video)

 

Heathrow expansion: Protesters arrested on M4 spur road

19.11.2016 (BBC)

Heathrow expansion protesters were arrested after they blocked a motorway near the airport.

Environmental activists disrupted the west London airport’s M4 spur road as a number of groups demonstrated on Saturday over the government’s recent decision to approve a third runway.

Fifteen arrests were made for obstructing the highway or public order offences.

Traffic was disrupted but there was no reported impact on flights.

Environmental protestors block a road 
Image copyright PA

A Heathrow spokesman warned passengers to allow extra time to travel to the airport
Protesters from campaign group RisingUp! lock themselves together as they block the east ramp at Heathrow AirportImage copyright PA

Protesters from campaign group RisingUp! locked themselves together as they blocked the East Ramp near Heathrow
Police cut out environmental protestors who had chained themselves together to block access to Heathrow airportImage copyrightPA

Police released protesters who chained themselves together

girl-at-no-new-runway-protest

Protesters from the environmental organisation Rising Up! also locked themselves together as they blocked the East Ramp road near the airport.

Other campaigners gathered on the flyover to chant “No ifs, no buts, no third runway” and “No more runways”.

A Heathrow spokesman warned passengers to allow extra time to travel or to use public transport where possible.

A spokesman for Rising Up! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.”

A number of organisations demonstrated at Heathrow on Saturday
ProtestersImage copyright CLIMATE CHANGE IS A CRISIS

Neil Keveren, a resident of nearby Harmondsworth, said: “Democracy has failed us.

“As a direct result, the quality of life and life expectancy of the population here will be shorter.

“This is against our human rights and must be defended. Who is left to correct this injustice when our politicians will not?

“The answer is us – you and me.”

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said: “Independent analysis by the Airports Commission has found that building and operating an additional runway at Heathrow is compatible with the UK meeting its long-term climate change reduction targets.

“The Independent Committee on Climate Change has also shown that a 60% growth in passenger numbers in the United Kingdom can be achieved within the UK’s Climate Change Targets.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38038313.

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Heathrow Protest: Police arrest 15 people during protests over airport’s expansion

19.11.2016  (Get West London)

BY ALEXANDER BALLINGER

A pre-planned protest at Heathrow Airport has resulted in 15 arrests for suspected blocking of a public highway and for public order offences 

Campaign group RiseUp! organised the rally after the Government approved plans to build a third runway at the airport last month.

The 15 arrests were on suspicion of obstructing a public highway and for public order offences.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “A planned protest is ongoing at Heathrow Airport on Saturday. “A proportionate policing plan is in place.  There have been 15 arrests for obstructing the highway and public order offences. Officers remain at the scene.”

One of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, Genny Scherer, 70, said: “It’s one or the other: new runways or a safe climate.

“I want my nephews and nieces to grow up in a safe climate, just like I was able to.”

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/heathrow-protest-police-arrest-15-12200992

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15 Heathrow anti-expansion campaigners arrested at motorway protest

Protesters blocked the motorway.
Protesters blocked the motorway.  Photo: Bethany Martin

 

Fifteen climate change protesters have been arrested after some campaigners blocked a motorway leading up to Heathrow Airport.

A small group of activists ran on to the M4 spur road and lay down in front of oncoming traffic, causing temporary disruption while others were arrested on suspicion of public order offences.

Organised by campaign group RisingUp!, the action is demonstrating against the government’s recent decision to approve a third runway at the West London airport.

Police made 15 arrests.
Police made 15 arrests. Credit: Bethany Martin

 

Campaigners of all ages gathered on the flyover to chant “No ifs, no buts, no third runway” and “No more runways”.

Placards read “Heathrow expansion will destroy thousands of homes” and “Protect the planet, no more runways”.

arm-locked-together-near-heathrow

Radical Action   @ClimateIntifada

A spokesman for RisingUp! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.”

Passengers using the airport have been advised to allow extra time to travel to the airport and use public transport where possible.

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crowd-at-protest-outside-heathrow
A law abiding protest took place, within sight of one of the road blockages, just outside Heathrow, against the 3rd runway 

Bath Road, Heathrow

heathrow-demo-19th-nov-16-bath-rd-john-stewart

The second event of the day saw Heathrow Villagers and local environmental activists join up on the Bath Road near The Three Magpies Pub to hear speeches and show banners to highlight the issues to people passing through to the airport

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HACAN’s John Stewart addresses the gathering


At least 15 arrested at massive ‘die-in’ protest at Heathrow over airport expansion

Sofia Petkar for Metro.co.uk

Former MP Zac Goldsmith was also seen speaking to campaigners at a separate demonstration in Richmond.

They could also be heard chanting: ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’.

Grassroots organisation RisingUp! held the protest after it was announced that the Government would be backing the £16 billion plan to expand Europe’s busiest airport with a third runway.

At least 15 arrested at massive 'die-in' protest at Heathrow
Environmental protesters block a road during a protest near Heathrow airport (Picture: REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

At least 15 people have been arrested at a major demonstration against a third runway at Heathrow.

Announcing the massive ‘die-in’ on the M4 spur road before the protest, the group said: ‘The Government’s decision to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.

‘Only 15% of the British public is responsible for 70% of international flights taken in the UK, and Heathrow largely serves international passengers who have a mean income of £57,000 per year.

‘This expansion is being driven by the very rich at the expense of some of the poorest people in the world.

‘By 2050 there will be 200 million climate refugees worldwide. Agricultural land in the global south will turn to desert, depriving millions of their right to economic development and driving them into hunger and malnutrition.’

Campaigners help up signs which read ‘protect the planet, no more runways’ and ‘residents against aircraft noise’.

One local resident, Neil Keveren from Harmondsworth, said: ‘Democracy has failed us. Elected leaders have totally reversed the will of the people.

‘As a direct result the quality of life and life expectancy of the population here will be shorter. This is against our human rights and must be defended.

‘Who is left to correct this injustice when our politicians won’t? The answer is us, you and me.’

Why are people protesting the third runway at Heathrow?

In their own words, RisingUp are demonstrating against the planned expansion of Heathrow because:

  • Out of control climate change will put the lives of hundreds of millions at risk, especially in the global south, and has already destroyed the lives of millions through increased incidence of extreme weather events.
  • Expansion at Heathrow will cause the UK to break its own national laws to reduce emissions, as well as undermining the international climate commitments agreed only a year ago in Paris.
  • Nationally, aviation emissions are already dangerously high and will be responsible for 1/4 of UK carbon emissions by 2050 even without the expansion of existing infrastructure.
  • If Heathrow expands, it would be responsible for more emissions than any other single site in the UK, including the UK’s largest power station (Drax).
  • At a local level, the new runway will devastate local communities. Families will lose their homes. They will suffer dangerous levels of air pollution, which will be responsible for trebling deaths directly caused by Heathrow aviation emissions, and contribute to the 4000 annual deaths from air pollution in London.
He gave up his Richmond Park seat last month after vowing to his constituents he would resign if the third runway plan was approved.

His resignation has triggered an emergency by-election, which will be held on December 1.

Goldsmith plans to stand again in the constituency as an independent.

Lib Dem candidate for Richmond Park Sarah Olney, former climate change secretary Ed Davey and Ukip’s Suzanne Evans also turned up to voice their opposition to the plans.

http://metro.co.uk/2016/11/19/at-least-15-arrested-at-massive-die-in-protest-at-heathrow-over-airport-expansion-6269361/

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Councils and campaigners take first step towards legal challenge against government support for Heathrow runway

Solicitors Harrison Grant acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident have (17th November) sent a letter, under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol, to the Secretary of State for Transport. The letter gives the Government a period of 14 days in which to withdraw its decision, issued on the 25 October to support a 3rd runway at Heathrow.  If it fails to do so, judicial review proceedings will be commenced in the High Court, without further notice to the Government, on the basis that the Government’s approach to air quality and noise is unlawful and also that it has failed to carry out a fair and lawful consultation exercise prior to issuing its decision.  The 33 page pre-action letter sets out comprehensive grounds for legal challenge, drawing on a broad range of statute and legal precedent, as well as highlighting the many promises and statements made by senior politicians confirming that the third runway would not be built.  The move comes shortly after the Government’s air quality plans were overturned in the High Court, putting ministers under greater pressure to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in places like Heathrow. The latest court ruling rejected the current government plans to tackle emissions as inadequate and based on over optimistic assumptions.
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Councils and campaigners take first step towards Heathrow legal challenge

Thursday 17th November  2016

Wandsworth Borough Council website

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Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon, have today written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling demanding he withdraws Government support for Heathrow expansion or face court action.

The pre-action protocol letter, sent on behalf of the claimants by Harrison Grant Solicitors, gives ministers 14 days to reverse their decision to back a third runway. If they fail to comply judicial review proceedings will commence in the High Court.

The letter argues that the Government has failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality and noise impacts and that ministers failed to carry out a fair and lawful consultation prior to issuing the decision.

The 33 page pre-action letter sets out comprehensive grounds for legal challenge, drawing on a broad range of statute and legal precedent, as well as highlighting the many promises and statements made by senior politicians confirming that the third runway would not be built.

The move comes shortly after the Government’s air quality plans were overturned in the High Court, putting ministers under greater pressure to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in places like Heathrow. The latest court ruling rejected the current government plans to tackle emissions as inadequate and based on over optimistic assumptions.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot Leader of Hillingdon Council said: “I was in the High Court in March 2010 at the last JR on Heathrow expansion when the judge referred to the third runway plans as ‘untenable in law and common sense’. Six years on it is unbelievable that the current Government are promoting an expansion that is still untenable in law and common sense and it is simply not acceptable in this country. This is the first round of this legal challenge and whilst we should win by a knockout in the first round we are prepared for a long fight if necessary.”

Lord True Leader of Richmond Council said: “Heathrow expansion is one of the worst government decisions in modern times – dishonest, in that it reverses a clear commitment; incompetent, in that it took six years to get to Base A (from which it will never proceed); indefensible economically, in that it is the most costly and polluting option and the most likely to involve charges on public funds; illogical, in that it is the slowest to deliver and a staggering affront to every principle of competition and careless of the public good, in that is the most polluting and the most disruptive of the public.  This legal challenge is only one route to block the Heathrow juggernaut. There will be others.”

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with environmental legislation and the process leading up to this decision has been deeply flawed. Ministers have not listened to our warnings so we have no choice but to take legal action. The simple truth is that Heathrow is in the wrong place for a major airport and its location amplifies its damaging impacts to world beating levels. Expansion will make this dire situation much worse. An objective assessment from the High Court is bound to conclude that you can’t mitigate against such a bad location.”

Leader of Windsor and Maidenhead Council Simon Dudley said: “The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead will hold Government to account for its decisions and protect our residents from such decisions should they prove to be unlawful.”

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “It’s clear that the government has greenlighted the third runway despite having no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems it will cause. This is reckless and unlawful. Expanding Heathrow will heap more misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners already breathing illegal air pollution, expose more people to aircraft noise, and drive carbon emissions through the roof. It will make it practically impossible for the government to comply with air pollution laws and court rulings. Either the laws of physics will be suspended, or the laws of the land will be broken. If ministers are hell bent on disregarding the laws that protect our health, a courtroom is where we’re going to hold them to account.”

Harrison Grant Solicitors has been working with the claimants over several months to develop the case against Heathrow expansion.

An alliance between Greenpeace and local councils successfully overturned the Brown Government’s backing for a third runway in the High Court in 2010, which prompted the incoming Cameron Government to emphatically rule it out.

The claimants say today’s Heathrow expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. They argue that new evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.

Sign up for campaign updates at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/enews

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/article/13650/councils_and_campaigners_take_first_step_towards_heathrow_legal_challenge

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this is also on the Hillingdon Council website

Legal Challenge on Heathrow Expansion

18.11.2016

Hillingdon Council website

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And on Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council website at 

https://www3.rbwm.gov.uk/news/article/152/legal_challenge_on_heathrow_expansion

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By contrast, Hounslow:

By contrast with the four strong councils, below is the feeble statement put out by Hounslow council, which is more concerned to try to get jobs and some trickle down economic benefits:

Proposed by Councillor Steve Curran and Seconded by Councillor Amrit Mann
“This Council notes the decision of the Conservative Government on Tuesday 25 October to approve the expansion of Heathrow Airport and the building of a third runway.
We recognise that this decision will have huge implications for our borough and that, while many residents and businesses are directly involved in Heathrow and its supply chain, potential adverse consequences must be addressed.
This Council reaffirms its continuing commitment to a better and not bigger Heathrow and resolves to redouble its efforts to ensure that residents are protected from any adverse consequences of the Government’s decision.
Council further resolves to:
1.    Bring forward new measures to reduce the impact of congestion, pollution and noise locally.
2.    Seek compensation and appropriate mitigation from Heathrow Airport Ltd for all residents who will be adversely affected by the implementation of the Government’s decision.
3.    Ensure that the voice of Hounslow’s residents and businesses is heard in the forthcoming national policy statement consultation.
4.    Work with Heathrow Airport Ltd to achieve the best possible outcome for our borough.”
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Passenger plane approaching Heathrow ‘in near-miss with drone 650ft to the east of the Shard’

A passenger plane flying near the Shard had a “very near-miss” with a drone as it approached Heathrow Airport, an official report has revealed.  The drone, described as black and about 50cm (20in) wide, was spotted out of the right flight deck window at about 12.45pm on July 18, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) report into the incident said.  The A320 aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of 4,900ft near to the Shard skyscraper in central London, “narrowly avoided” colliding with the drone, according to the report.  The crew said the drone had “probably” passed above the right wing and the horizontal stabiliser, which is found on the tail of the plane.  The UK Airprox Board said the account given of the incident “portrayed a situation where a collision had only been narrowly avoided and chance had played a major part”. It deemed the incident to be in the most serious category of risk and said the drone operator had not been traced. Earlier on 17th April 2016 a British Airways flight from Geneva was possibly hit by a drone as it approached Heathrow (in the Richmond area) at about 12:50pm on Sunday 17th. The plane was an Airbus A320, with 132 passengers and five crew on board, that landed safely. The AAIB investigation was closed at the end of April, for lack of evidence. It is thought this may not have been a hit by a drone.
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Passenger plane approaching Heathrow ‘in near-miss with drone 650ft to the east of the Shard’

17th November 2016

A passenger plane flying near the Shard had a “very near-miss” with a drone as it approached Heathrow Airport, an official report has revealed.

The drone, described as black and about 50cm (20in) wide, was spotted out of the right flight deck window at about 12.45pm on July 18, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) report into the incident said.

The A320 aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of 4,900ft near to the Shard skyscraper in central London, “narrowly avoided” colliding with the drone, according to the report.

The crew said the drone had “probably” passed above the right wing and the horizontal stabiliser, which is found on the tail of the plane.

The UKAB report said: “Members agreed that this incident appeared to be a very near-miss and that the drone operator should not have been flying in that location at that altitude.”

It added that the account given of the incident “portrayed a situation where a collision had only been narrowly avoided and chance had played a major part”.

It deemed the incident to be in the most serious category of risk and said the drone operator had not been traced.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/17/passenger-plane-approaching-heathrow-had-near-miss-with-drone-65/

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See also:

Drone operators blamed for three more UK close encounters

By Alan Dron  (Air Transport World – ATW)
Dec 09, 2016
The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) has reported three more incidents in which unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) came alarmingly close to airliners. All three occurrences were rated as being in the highest category for risk.

According to UKAB, two incidents occurred July 20, 2016.

In one encounter, an Embraer E190 regional jet climbing out of London City Airport (the UKAB does not identify airlines involved in such incidents) was undertaking a right-hand turn passing 2,700 ft. when the first officer spotted a UAV in the 11 o’clock position, slightly above the aircraft. It passed down the left side of the E190, with the crew estimating the miss distance as 30 ft. vertically and 65.6 ft. horizontally.

The UKAB said “chance played a major part” in a collision being avoided.

In the second incident that day, a Boeing 767 was on short finals to runway 23R at Manchester Airport, northwest England, when an object passed down the right side of the vehicle at cockpit height, with the crew estimating it to be so close that it must have passed over the wing.

From the crew’s description of the bright yellow UAV, approximately 60 cm. in diameter, the board’s verdict was that it was carrying an underslung camera.

The final incident involved an Airbus A320 in a holding pattern over Biggin Hill Airport, southeast London. Descending to FL110, the first officer spotted a small object in the one o’clock position, closing very rapidly with the aircraft. He estimated the football-shaped UAV, fitted with a flashing magenta light, passed between 20-40 m horizontally from the A320 and the aircraft had no opportunity to avoid it.

The UAV operator was not traced in any of the cases.

There has been growing concern that a UAV will be ingested by an engine as the aircraft is in “low and slow” mode, either on approach or immediately after takeoff. A particular problem seems to be the use of UAVs to carry cameras aloft to film aircraft on approach to runways.

http://m.atwonline.com/safety/drone-operators-blamed-three-more-uk-close-encounters

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Earlier:

‘Drone’ hits British Airways plane approaching Heathrow, with no damage caused

The AAIB investigation was closed at the end of April, for lack of evidence. It is thought this may not have been a hit by a drone.  Link 28.4.2016 Guardian

A British Airways flight from Geneva was possibly hit by a drone as it approached Heathrow (in the Richmond area) at about 12:50pm on Sunday 17th. The plane was an Airbus A320, with 132 passengers and five crew on board. After landing safely, the pilot reported an object – believed to be a drone – had struck the front of the plane. It did not do serious damage, and a BA spokesman said the plane “was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.” This is thought to be the first time a drone has actually hit a plane, with many previous incidents of near misses.  BA is giving the police “every assistance with their investigation” and the Metropolitan Police are asking the public to help if they have information. The CAA said it is illegal to fly drones near airports, and the penalties include imprisonment.  In March, BALPA called for research by the DfT and the CAA into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports between 11th April and 4th October 2015. The effect could be serious if a drone smashed into the cockpit windscreen, or if it crashed into an engine. Unlike with bird strikes, the drones carry lithium batteries – there is concern these could cause a serious engine fire.  

Metropolitan police appeal following incident with aircraft

18.4.2016 (Metropolitan Police website)

Police are appealing for information after a plane on its descent into Heathrow Airport was struck by an object believed to be a drone.

On Sunday 17 April, a pilot on an inbound BA flight into Heathrow Airport from Geneva reported to police that an object believed to have been a drone had struck the front of the aircraft. It was flying at approximately 1,700 ft at the time of the incident shortly before the aircraft landed at 12:38hrs.

The flight landed at Heathrow Terminal 5 safely and was inspected by BA engineers. There was no damage found to the aircraft.

Officers believe that the incident occurred over the Richmond area, in proximity of Richmond Park, South West London. Local officers searched a wide area for suspects and/or debris but nothing has so far been found.

Aviation Policing are working with partners from British Airways (BA), Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to investigate this incident, which is being treated as an endangerment of an aircraft under Article 137 Air Navigation Order 2009.

Aviation Policing would ask for anyone who was in the area of Richmond Park or any surrounding open spaces on that day between 12:00hrs and 1300hrs who may have information to contact police or Crimestoppers.

We would also ask anyone to contact police if they find identifiable parts of drone in the Richmond area.

Anyone who can assist the inestigation is asked to contact Aviation Policing on 020 3276 1460; or alternatively Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.

Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy, head of Metropolitan Police Service’s Aviation Policing Command, said:

“Thankfully the aircraft landed safely but the incident highlights the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and some times malicious use of drones. We continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority and other partners to tackle this issue and ensure that enthusiasts who fly drones understand the dangers and the law.

“One of the challenges is to ensure people realise what is legitimate and what is illegal. The message is do not fly them anywhere near airports or flight paths, or over crowded places such as football and other stadiums. The potential is there for a major incident.”

Met Police press release

 

[AirportWatch comment: The affected plane was probably BA727, from Geneva, (GVA) which landed at about 12.31pm, after taking the usual S shaped course, coming from the east, heading west over Purley, turning north around Epsom, heading east around Thornton Heath, turning north almost over Dulwich and joining the approach path around Battersea and then towards Richmond. See the plane’s route on Webtrak http://webtrak5.bksv.com/lhr4  12.18pm to 12.31pm.]


 

‘Drone’ hits British Airways plane approaching Heathrow Airport

17.4.2016 (BBC)

A plane approaching Heathrow Airport is believed to have hit a drone before it landed safely, the Metropolitan Police has said.

The British Airways flight from Geneva was hit as it approached the London airport at about 12:50 BST with 132 passengers and five crew on board.

After landing, the pilot reported an object – believed to be a drone – had struck the front of the Airbus A320.

Aviation police based at Heathrow have launched an investigation. Police said no arrests have been made.

If confirmed, it is believed to be the first incident of its kind in the UK.

A British Airways spokesman said: “Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight.”

The airline will give the police “every assistance with their investigation”, the spokesman added.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman said it was “totally unacceptable” to fly drones close to airports, and anyone flouting the rules can face “severe penalties, including imprisonment”.

Steve Landells, from the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), said it had been “only a matter of time before we had a drone strike”. He called for greater enforcement of existing rules.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36067591


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Earlier:

 

BALPA wants DfT and CAA to fund drone strike research – fears of cockpit hit or engine fire

Pilots’ union British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) are calling for research into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports between 11th April and 4th October 2015. In one incident a drone passed within 25m (82ft) of a Boeing 777 near Heathrow.  Twelve of the incidents were classed as “A” rated, the most serious rating, by the independent Airprox board, meaning there was “a serious risk of collision”. Other incidents given the most serious rating include a drone coming within 20m (66ft) of a Embraer 170 jet on its approach to London City Airport above the Houses of Parliament on 13th September.  Also a Boeing 737 had a near miss with a drone shortly after take-off from Stansted. BALPA wants the DfT and the CAA to back research into the possible consequences of a collision with a passenger jet. The effect could be serious if a drone smashed into the cockpit windscreen, or if it crashed into an engine. Unlike with bird strikes, the drones carry lithium batteries – there is concern these could cause a serious engine fire.  The consequences of a drone hitting a plane would depend on a number of factors such as the size and speed of the drone and the location of the collision.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/03/balpa-wants-dft-and-caa-to-fund-drone-strike-research-fears-of-cockpit-hit-or-engine-fire/

 


Earlier:

Drone over Heathrow was ‘wingspan away’ from collision with jet

UK Airprox Board reports two more high-risk near misses involving passenger planes, one at Heathrow and the other at Manchester airport

By Gwyn Topham, Transport correspondent (Guardian)

26.2.2016

Two more near-misses between drones and passenger planes at UK airports have been reported by aviation authorities, including one a “wingspan away” from a jet landing at Heathrow.

Pilots have called for a clampdown on drone use after a spate of incidents. Among the latest six to be investigated and verified by the UK Airprox Board, which monitors the threat of midair collisions, three were in the most serious bracket of risk, one involving a small light aircraft and two involving larger passenger planes.

The closest calls came in late September as an Airbus A319, which typically carry up to 180 passengers, landed at Heathrow, and two days later as a turboprop commuter plane, believed to be a LoganAir flight to Scotland, left Manchester airport.

The pilot at Heathrow reported a drone helicopter hovering close to his flight path, and was unable to take evasive action as the drone passed less than 30 metres away from his A319. Police were called but the operator of the drone could not be traced.

The Manchester plane had taken off and reached an altitude of 3,000ft when a pilot saw a red and white drone pass less than 15 metres above the port propeller. Although the aircraft was undamaged, investigators concluded that “separation had been reduced to the bare minimum and chance had played a major part in events”.

Pilots fear that more near-misses occur than they witness, and say the trend is extremely worrying. The Balpa union has called for a registration system for drone users and more research into the possible effects of an impact.

A Balpa spokesperson said: “Once again we see these near misses happening at altitudes where manned aircraft frequently operate and also on approach to airports where there is absolutely no reason for a drone to be. We need to catch the people that are doing this before we see a collision and loss of life.

“Due to the small size of drones it is often the case that pilots see them so late that it is impossible to take avoiding action. The responsibility is on drone operators to keep them away from commercial traffic, and crucially, away from airports.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The unauthorised use of unmanned aerial vehicles in proximity to an airfield is both irresponsible and illegal. Heathrow’s top priority is the safety of our passengers and colleagues. The CAA recently published revised guidelines on the use of UAVs and we will continue to work with them and other partners to ensure that any violation of airspace rules is fully prosecuted.”

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, which as the owner of airlines including British Airways is the biggest operator at Heathrow, said drones were “one of the inherent challenges we face with developing technology, and we need to keep the situation under review”.

Last month the board revealed details of seven recent incidents involving drones, four of which were classified as high-risk.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/26/drone-wingspan-away-jet-landing-heathrow

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and

Near miss with airliner should spur review of drones, says Labour

Labour calls for urgent review of rules after UK Airprox Board reveals plane came within 20 metres of drone above Houses of Parliament

1.2.2016

By Rowena Mason and agencies (Guardian)

The near collision of a drone and a passenger plane over the Houses of Parliament should be a wake-up call for the government to speed up its review of unmanned aerial vehicles, Labour has said.

Richard Burden, a shadow transport minister, said the near-miss over central London and other recent cases should be a “spur to action” after delays in the government’s promised consultation on regulating drones.

….. full article at ….

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/feb/01/drone-near-miss-should-be-a-wake-up-call-for-review-says-shadow-minister

 

 

 

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Sadiq Khan backs councils’ legal action against Heathrow 3rd runway – and TfL will offer help

Sadiq Khan has announced at Mayor’s Question Time that he was officially supporting legal action against a 3rd Heathrow runway.  He has instructed Transport for London (TfL) to help 4 local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead) and Greenpeace, which are together bringing the case against expansion.  The involvement of TfL was met with delight from many Assembly Members.  TfL is expected to be named as an “interested party” in the action. It is believed that the intervention of TfL will strengthen the case of the local authorities’ challenge.  In the previous Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan said he wasn’t able answer the question on legal action until the government decision had been made. It was made on 25th October. Though Sadiq Khan had in the past backed a Heathrow runway, he changed his mind in 2015 when the extent of the noise and air pollution impacts became clear. He has now said, addressing the full London Assembly: “I promised I wouldn’t just stand by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution a third runway would cause.  That’s why I’ve directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support” the councils.. “and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.”  TfL has the most expertise on matters relating to impacts of Heathrow expansion on London’s transport network.
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Sadiq Khan backs councils’ legal action against third runway at Heathrow Airport

By PIPPA CRERAR (Evening Standard)

16.11.2016

Sadiq Khan today announced that he was officially supporting legal action against a third runway at Heathrow.

The Mayor has instructed Transport for London to help four local councils and Greenpeace which are bringing the case against expansion.

The transport body is expected to be named as an “interested party” in the action, which insiders believe will strengthen their hand. Mr Khan will then decide whether City Hall, at the taxpayers’ expense, will formally join the legal challenge.

At City Hall question time, the Mayor hit out at the “devastating environmental consequences” of the Government’s decision last month to back a third runway at Heathrow.

“I promised I wouldn’t just stand by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution a third runway would cause,” he said. “That’s why I’ve directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, and Greenpeace, as they prepare for a joint legal challenge, and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.”

The Mayor said expansion would mean the “intolerable” prospect of an extra 200,000 Londoners, including 43,200 schoolchildren, being exposed to an unacceptable level of noise every day, leading to health problems related to stress and sleep disturbance.

The runway would also lead to higher levels of toxic air in an area where pollution is already well above legal levels for NO2 emissions, Mr Khan claimed.

Ministers have argued that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within air quality requirements. However, the High Court rejected the Government’s air quality plan two weeks ago.

The Mayor also raised concerns over how the Government would find billions of pounds to improve road and rail connections to Heathrow.

Welcoming the decision, Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Transport for London’s resources and technical expertise will be hugely helpful to developing our case and exposing the deeply flawed logic supporting Heathrow expansion.”

Greenpeace’s John Sauven said: “A third runway at Heathrow will inevitably heap more misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners already suffering from illegal levels of air pollution. It will also drive the UK’s climate-warning emissions through the roof.

“Ministers are already on the run from a court ruling that has exposed their current air pollution plan as a sham.”

Mr Khan, who U-turned on his original support for Heathrow after the air quality evidence changed, was in favour of expanding Gatwick, which he said could boost the economy without causing air pollution problems.

It was also said Gatwick would be cheaper and quicker to expand than Heathrow.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/mayor/sadiq-khan-backs-councils-legal-action-against-third-runway-at-heathrow-a3396941.html

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Sadiq Khan agrees to back legal action against Heathrow Airport Third Runway decision

16.11.2016 (Get West London)

The Mayor of London, who has openly backed Gatwick Airport, has said he will support legal action against the government decision

Sadiq Khan has said he will step in and support legal action taken by council against the Heathrow Third Runway decision.

In an announcement made during the Mayor’s Question Time in City Hall on Wednesday November 16, the Labour Mayor said he “will fully support” boroughs such as Hillingdon and Richmond as they fight against the government’s expansion choice .

Addressing the full London Assembly, he said: “I promised I wouldn’t just stand by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution a third runway would cause.

“That’s why I’ve directed Transport for London (TfL) to provide their expert advice and assistance to support Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, and Greenpeace, as they prepare for a joint legal challenge, and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.”

Greenpeace has already joined forces with Hillingdon council to take legal action against the proposals.

In the previous Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan said he wasn’t able answer the question on legal action until the decision had been made , but the official announcement was met with delight from many Assembly Members.

Heathrow Airport told getwestlondon: “The Airports Commission’s detailed work represents a solid foundation to support a Government decision for the third runway, and we are confident that any legal challenge would be unsuccessful and would not affect the timeline for delivering a third runway.

“We want to work with the Mayor to ensure that Heathrow expansion helps London thrive as a global hub for talent, tourism and trade.”

It has been proposed a the third runway could be built over the M25.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling previously said it would be a “cheaper and quicker” option rather than building a tunnel for the M25 underneath the new runway.

“I am, of course, very concerned to make sure that, as this runway is built, it doesn’t cause massive disruption on the M25, so I think this is a sensible way,” Mr Grayling said.

“It is a very gentle hill up which the planes would take off rather than a flat surface.

“It’s what happens at very many airports around the world.”

According to the airport’s timeline, it is unlikely that any new runway capacity would be operational before 2025.

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/sadiq-khan-agrees-back-legal-12183916

 


See earlier:

Greenpeace to join with 4 councils in legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a joint legal challenge against Heathrow expansion.  More claimants could join the alliance in the coming days as media reports have suggested a final decision has now been delayed until 25th October.  Greenpeace and the four local authorities say both Heathrow expansion schemes would be unlawful due to their unrivalled environmental impacts, which include exacerbating illegal levels of air pollution, increasing Europe’s worst aircraft noise footprint and stretching the local transport network beyond breaking point. The councils jointly instructed Harrison Grant Solicitors to prepare their legal strategy last year and Greenpeace will now share costs and bring new environmental expertise to the partnership. The campaigners also worked together back in 2010 to successfully overturn the Brown Government’s backing for a 3rd runway in the High Court. Later that year the scheme was emphatically ruled out by the incoming Cameron Government.  Heathrow current expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. New evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.

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See earlier: 

Richmond, Merton, Kingston & Croydon councils write to PM to stop Heathrow runway, and choose Gatwick

In addition to the four councils that will legally challenge the government if it decides on a Heathrow runway (Windsor & Maidenhead, Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth) now four councils have written to the Prime Minister to oppose a Heathrow runway decision. Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils, calling themselves the South London Partnership, made the case to Theresa May to approve a Gatwick runway instead. All these councils know the highly adverse impact of the noise of Heathrow flights on their residents, and would prefer that noise burden to be pushed to others (who do not have the opportunity to vote them out – as with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also backs a Gatwick runway. They also say: “One thing in particular on which we want to contribute is ensuring the transport links to Gatwick and connectivity more widely, including into our area, central London and with other key corridors, are developed to support the full potential of airport expansion.” Presumably they appreciate that the transport links to Gatwick are very poor, and would not be able to cope with a doubling in the number of air passengers. Conservative Richmond Council leader Lord True said the government should “stand up for ordinary families, rather than ‘big business’”.

Click here to view full story…

Shock £17bn taxpayer’s bill for Heathrow expansion revealed through Freedom of Information request – from TfL  – by Greenpeace

Environmental and transport groups have used FoI to obtain details from Transport for London (TfL), of their estimates of the amount of money the UK taxpayer would be expected to pay, for Heathrow’s 3rd runway. This comes to a staggering £17 billion, to cover the costs of transport links needed to deal with a massive traffic surge from a 3rd Heathrow runway.  TfL say the actual cost would be around £18.4 billion – which is 4 times as high as estimated by the Airports Commission.  Heathrow’s John Holland-Kaye reiterated, to the Environmental Audit Committee (4.11.2015) that the airport would pay only about £1 billion. The government made it clear (Oct 2015) that it expects aviation expansion promoters to cover any surface access costs.The vast amount of money required throws into question both the financing and feasibility of a crucial part of the project. The documents, released to Greenpeace through FoI, contain the first detailed comparison of the contrasting estimates by the Airport Commission and TfL. They show the figures published in the Commission’s report failed to take into account the costs of key rail schemes, extra buses, additional operational spending and road traffic management. The Treasury needs to properly assess the real costs of expanding Heathrow and guarantee taxpayers won’t be left to pick up the bill.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/04/shock-17bn-taxpayers-bill-for-heathrow-expansion-revealed-through-freedom-of-information-request-by-greenpeace/


Recent opponent of Heathrow runway, Sadiq Khan, appoints pro-Heathrow runway, Lord Adonis on transport

Until June 2015, Sadiq Khan (now London Mayor) backed a 3rd Heathrow runway.  He was Transport Minister under Gordon Brown, pushing for it. He then appreciated that he could not be elected Mayor if he backed the runway as it is so unpopular with millions of Londoners, who are adversely affected by it.  Ministers are saying his election, and his opposition to a 3rd runway, will not influence their runway decision.  The Mayor’s opinion on a runway carries some weight, though they cannot make the decision.  Worryingly, Sadiq will appoint former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, who strongly backs a Heathrow runway,  to run transport in London.  The Labour peer also heads the government’s National Infrastructure Commission.  Sadiq backs a 2nd runway at Gatwick to increase airport capacity, as people in areas adversely affected by Gatwick did not get to vote in the Mayoral election.  He also backs improved rail links to Stansted.  It would be easier for a Conservative government to resist the opposition of a Labour mayor, than a Tory one, to a Heathrow expansion. Transport Professor, David Metz, said: “There is a respectable case for deferring this difficult political decision, to see how a very competitive aviation sector copes with the growth of demand for air travel” … seeing how market forces displace leisure travellers from Heathrow to Stansted in future.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/05/recent-opponent-of-heathrow-runway-sadiq-khan-appoints-pro-heathrow-runway-lord-adonis-on-transport/

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