Some 10,000 people took part in the annual gathering of opponents of the proposed new Nantes airport, at Notre Dame des Landes, over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 8th and 9th July. People came, as every summer, from all over France – to express their opposition to this project, which has become a huge political issue in France, and “the mother of all battles.” Part of the site is still occupied by the Zadistes, who have taken up residence there to protect and defend it. Things are looking more positive for the airport opponents. The recent presidential and legislative elections have changed the story of this airport soap opera. Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! movement does not have a history of supporting the airport plan, and indeed there are even deputies in the movement who, at one time, expressed their opposition to the project, particularly in Pays de la Loire and Brittany.” Now there is to be yet another conciliation mission to the airport opponents, but this time it seems more reassuring than earlier attempts at forcing the airport through. Opponents hope there will be better listening by the government team, and it will be easier for them – than the last government – to abandon it. The presence of Nicolas Hulot at the head of the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition is also seen as a favourable sign, against the airport.
Opponents of the project of airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) had happy faces on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 July, at the 17 th of their annual gatherings, 5 kilometres from the quiet little town. Although they defend themselves, they cherish the hope of a happy outcome to their historic struggle against this project, which is more than 50 years old.
Under bright sunshine and intense heat, they were more than 10 000 to be coming from France fully to assert their opposition to the construction of an airport deemed “useless” , here in the meadows with grazing cows and the bocage [fields, hedges, countryside] occupied by hundreds of environmental activists and anti-capitalists, the Zadists, inhabitants of the zone of deferred management (ZAD) which has been for eight years an “area to defend”.
At the 2016 summer gathering, opponents were twice as numerous at the rally this year. A success that is explained, according to officials, by the effect of the departmental consultation on the proposed transfer of the current airport Nantes -Atlantique in the bocage, about twenty kilometres north of the agglomeration.
On June 26, 2016, three weeks before their annual rally, the opponents suffered an electoral defeat, with the “yes” winning with 55.17% of the vote in local referendum. They then wanted to highlight their mobilisation.
Since then, however, the presidential and legislative elections have changed the story of this airport soap opera. The decision to appoint a new conciliation mission – the umpteenth of its kind – “to envisage the solutions to meet the imperatives of engagement, in a calm dialogue with the actors and in the respect of public order” , in the words Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, the 1 st June, reassured opponents, more accustomed to hawkish comments of former Prime Minister Manuel Valls on next evacuation ZAD and the start of work.
“So far, we were dealing with two political parties, the PS [Parti Socialiste] and Les Républicains , who carried the project, the airport was their baby. But it does not belong to the history of the En marche! Movement, which is very young, there are even deputies of this movement who, at one time, have expressed their opposition to the project, particularly in Pays de la Loire and Brittany,“ says Julien Durand, a former farmer and historic opponent, spokesman for the Association Intercommunal Citizens of the populations concerned by the airport project (Acipa).
He hopes for a greater listening and, above all, that the decision to abandon the project will be easier for this new government team. “There is a tendency to believe that the project is being abandoned, but we must remain mobilized,” he said.
The presence of Nicolas Hulot at the head of the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition is also perceived as a favourable sign, which some people want to believe, even if prudence remains in place. “We hope that this government will understand that the project must be stopped . It is much easier to stop than nuclear with the economic stakes, Flamanville … But I wait to see . I thought that Nicolas Hulot was going to impose advances before breaking , but with the setbacks on the neonicotinoids, a very vague climate plan , I am worried, “ notes the national secretary for ecology of the Left Party, Martine Billard.
The ex-deputy of Paris , a former member of the ecological struggle, led the young deputies of La France insoumise to meet this emblematic movement , among them the numerous stands set up on the parched meadow , including Mathilde Panot, 28 Val-de-Marne and new member of the Sustainable Development Committee of the National Assembly.
At the oak of Perrières, in the vast meadow between the village of Notre-Dame-des-Landes and the Temple-de-Bretagne, a dozen capitals have hosted many debates all weekend on topics as varied as the Agricultural projects on the ZAD, police violence, climate justice and, optimistically, “what to do after the victory at NDDL? “ .
This issue is challenging farmers, historical opponents, but also the more recent occupiers who have embarked on agricultural projects, market gardening, breeding, beer brewing, canning or even artisanal bakeries. The problem of evacuating the area, in case of abandonment of the project, concerns the three mediators appointed by the government, Anne Boquet, Michel Badré and Gérard Feldzer. They will make their report by 1st December.
Mediators in September
For the time being, the latter are increasing hearings. The opponents, grouped in the associations, have all been received and will still be in the coming weeks. “We always said that we wanted a study in transparency and loyalty, to continue this dialogue. We are going to meet again at the end of July and they are committed to a stage in September, “ commented Julien Durand.
For Sylvain Fresneau, another historical opponent and breeder installed on the zone, this mission is positive. “The mediators ask for the participation of many people , they ask questions, they let us develop our arguments, they are rigorous and know the question well,” he explains. As for the evacuation of the area, for Sylvain Fresneau, this is not a problem. “They know that here is a powder magazine, but we tell them that if there is no need for ZAD, there will be no more zadists. We just have to give ourselves a little bit of time, two years of moratorium after the end of the project,
In the ZAD, the opponents and their supporters also discover other movements, such as the fight against the commercial zone project north of Paris, EuropaCity, or that of the Nuclear Waste Disposal Center at Bure (Meuse). Notre-Dame-des-Landes, mother of all battles?
Les opposants au projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes croient en leur victoire
Quelque 10 000 personnes ont participé samedi et dimanche au rassemblement annuel des opposants au transfert de l’actuel aéroport nantais à NDDL.
LE MONDE |
Les opposants au projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) affichaient des mines réjouies, samedi 8 et dimanche 9 juillet, lors de la 17e édition de leur rassemblement annuel, à 5 kilomètres du petit bourg paisible. Bien qu’ils s’en défendent, ils nourrissent l’espoir d’une issue heureuse à leur combat historique contre ce projet, vieux de plus de cinquante ans.
Sous un soleil vif et dans une chaleur intense, ils étaient plus de 10 000 à être venus de la France entière pour affirmer leur opposition à la construction d’un aéroport jugé « inutile », ici, dans les prairies où paissent les vaches et dans le bocage occupé par des centaines de militants écologistes et anticapitalistes, les zadistes, habitants de la zone d’aménagement différé (ZAD) devenue depuis huit ans une « zone à défendre ».
Lors de l’édition 2016, les opposants étaient venus deux fois plus nombreux au rassemblement. Un succès qui s’explique, selon les responsables, par l’effet de la consultation départementale sur le projet de transfert de l’actuel aéroport de Nantes-Atlantique dans le bocage, à une vingtaine de kilomètres au nord de l’agglomération. Le 26 juin 2016, trois semaines avant leur rassemblement annuel, les opposants avaient essuyé une défaite électorale, le « oui » l’emportant avec 55,17 % des voix. Ils avaient alors voulu mettre en avant leur mobilisation.
« Jusqu’ici, on avait affaire à deux partis politiques, le PS et Les Républicains, qui étaient porteurs du projet, l’aéroport était leur bébé. Mais il n’appartient pas à l’histoire du mouvement En marche !, tout jeune, il y a même des députés de ce mouvement qui, à un moment donné, ont affiché leur opposition au projet, notamment en Pays de la Loire et en Bretagne », affirme Julien Durand, ancien agriculteur et opposant historique, porte-parole de l’Association citoyenne intercommunale des populations concernées par le projet d’aéroport (Acipa).
Il espère une écoute plus grande et, surtout, que la décision de l’abandon du projet sera plus facile pour cette nouvelle équipe gouvernementale. « Il existe une tendance à croire que le projet est en voie d’abandon, mais il faut rester mobilisé », précise-t-il.
La présence de Nicolas Hulot à la tête du ministère de la transition écologique et solidaire est aussi perçue comme un signe favorable, auquel certains veulent croire, même si la prudence reste de mise. « Nous espérons que ce gouvernement va comprendre qu’il faut arrêter le projet. Il est bien plus facile à stopper que le nucléaire avec les enjeux économiques, Flamanville… Mais j’attends de voir. Je pensais que Nicolas Hulot allait imposer des avancées avant de craquer, mais avec les reculs sur les néonicotinoïdes, un plan climat très vague, je suis inquiète », note la secrétaire nationale à l’écologie du Parti de gauche, Martine Billard.
L’ex-députée de Paris, ancienne des luttes écologiques, guide dans les travées, entre les nombreux stands installés sur la prairie desséchée, les jeunes députées de La France insoumise venues rencontrer ce mouvement emblématique, dont Mathilde Panot, 28 ans, députée du Val-de-Marne et nouvelle membre de la commission du développement durable de l’Assemblée nationale.
Au chêne des Perrières, dans l’immense prairie entre le bourg de Notre-Dame-des-Landes et le Temple-de-Bretagne, une dizaine de chapiteaux ont accueilli tout le week-end de nombreux débats sur des thèmes aussi variés que les projets agricoles sur la ZAD, les violences policières, la justice climatique et, signe d’optimisme, « que faire après la victoire à NDDL ? ».
Cette question taraude les agriculteurs, opposants historiques, mais aussi les occupants plus récents qui se sont engagés dans des projets agricoles, de maraîchage, d’élevage, de brasserie de bière, de conserverie ou encore de boulangeries artisanales. La problématique de l’évacuation de la zone, en cas d’abandon du projet,préoccupe les trois médiateurs nommés par le gouvernement, Anne Boquet, Michel Badré et Gérard Feldzer. Ils rendront leur rapport d’ici au 1er décembre.
Point d’étape des médiateurs en septembre
Pour l’heure, ces derniers multiplient les auditions. Les opposants, regroupés dans les associations, ont tous été reçus et le seront encore dans les prochaines semaines. « On a toujours dit que l’on voulait une étude dans la transparence et la loyauté, pour poursuivre ce dialogue. Nous allons nous revoir fin juillet et ils se sont engagés à un point d’étape en septembre », commente Julien Durand.
Pour Sylvain Fresneau, autre opposant historique et éleveur installé sur la zone, cette mission est positive. « Les médiateurs demandent la participation de beaucoup de monde, ils posent des questions, nous laissent développer nos arguments, ils sont rigoureux et connaissent bien la question », explique-t-il. Quand à l’évacuation de la zone, pour Sylvain Fresneau, ce n’est pas un problème. « Ils savent qu’ici, c’est une poudrière, mais nous, on leur dit que s’il n’y a plus besoin de ZAD, il n’y aura plus de zadistes. Il faut juste nous laisser un peu de temps, deux ans de moratoire après l’arrêt du projet, pour que l’on travaille avec les jeunes à construire de nouveaux modèles pour une agriculture différente », insiste-t-il.
Dans la ZAD, les opposants et leurs soutiens découvrent aussi d’autres mouvements, comme la lutte contre le projet de zone commerciale au nord de Paris, EuropaCity, ou celui du centred’enfouissement de déchets nucléaires à Bure (Meuse). Notre-Dame-des-Landes, mère de toutes les batailles ?
Cette année, le thème du 17e rassemblement annuel de la lutte contre l’aéroport NDDL est le rapport à la Terre.
De nos terres à la terre – Résister, agir, vivre ». Dès le slogan de l’évènement, les choses sont posées. Les organisateurs de ce rassemblement se mobilisent depuis le début de la semaine pour finaliser les installations.
Au programme : des forums, des diffusions de films, des pièces de théâtres, des concerts. Miossec, Zad Social Rap, Molécule ou encore Barbara Loutig animeront les deux soirées du week-end. Un temps fort collectif, dimanche matin, de 10 h 30 à 12h, est aussi proposé à tous les participants.
L’invité d’honneur est le collectif du triangle de Gonesse. Ce dernier lutte contre le projet Europa city (création d’un centre commercial et d’un centre de loisirs en région parisienne pour concurrencer le parc Disneyland).
« Cette année, nous avons mis l’accent sur l’appartenance à la Terre et le respect de celle-ci »,indique Dominique Fresneau, membre de l’ACIPA (association de lutte contre le projet d’aéroport).
Pour aller plus loin dans cette idée, six totems avec les slogans de la lutte contre l’aéroport vont être déplacés dans une zone réservée. Ils iront ainsi rejoindre les 40 autres déjà enterrés.
Et si une médiation est en cours concernant le projet d’aéroport, Dominique Fresneau assure que « quelle que soit l’issue de cette médiation, ce rassemblement ne sera pas le dernier. Il y en aura d’autres ».
A wealthy hotel tycoon, Surinder Arora, has submitted plans for a 3rd Heathrow. He has been a long time backer of a runway, and says his plan would be £5 billion cheaper than what Heathrow is offering (costing £17.5 billion). He has put his proposal to the government’s public consultation on Heathrow (the NPS consultation actually closed on 25th May.) Heathrow has been trying to find ways to make their runway + terminal scheme cheaper, as the airlines are not keen on paying the higher charges that would be needed. Ticket prices would rise. (ie. lower airline profit). The Arora Group’s proposals include altering the design of terminal buildings and taxiways, and reducing the amount of land to be built on. They know the alterations to roads, including the M25 and the junction of the M25 and the M4, are massive problems and “threaten deliverability” of the runway project. They therefore want to “shift the runway”. Where to? All this shows how very uncertain the runway plan has become, and the immense doubts – especially on money. Heathrow said they would welcome views on various options “in the public consultation later this year.” The plans must first be assessed by the Commons transport committee, be amended by the DfT and then voted on in Parliament …. it is not a quick process.
‘Cheaper’ Heathrow airport third runway plans proposed
A wealthy businessman has submitted plans for a third runway at Heathrow which he says would be £5bn cheaper than the airport’s current scheme.
Hotel tycoon Surinder Arora has put his proposal to the government’s public consultation on Heathrow.
Ministers have expressed a preference for the airport’s plans for a new runway and terminal costing £17.5bn.
Heathrow said it was already considering some of the ideas, and wanted to lower the cost too.
Arora Group’s proposals include changing the design of terminal buildings and taxiways, and reducing the amount of land it is built on.
Mr Arora said: “We want passengers to be at the heart of our plans and the current monopoly at Heathrow, which over-charges airlines and in turn raises fares for passengers, is not the right model for the future.
“Heathrow needs competition and innovation which puts passengers and airlines at the heart of the expansion project.”
He added: “One of the options we have proposed to government includes a possible shift of the runway so that it does not impact on the M25 and M4, as we know the M25 junction being affected threatens the deliverability of the whole project.
“We appreciate this is a politically sensitive issue but it is merely an option with additional savings of £1.5bn, whereas the rest of our proposals save up to £5.2bn without the need to amend the runway location.”
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ owner IAG, welcomed the proposals.
He said: “The government should look closely at Arora’s proposal as it would significantly reduce costs. British Airways is Heathrow’s biggest customer.
An airport spokeswoman said: “Heathrow’s expansion proposals are supported by the government and have widespread cross-party political, business and union support.
“We continue to develop our plans to improve passenger experience, reduce the impact on local communities and lower the cost so we deliver expansion at close to current charges.
“Some of the options we are looking at sound similar to those suggested in this submission, and we will welcome views on these in the public consultation later this year.”
Construction will not begin for at least three years, and it could be delayed by legal challenges over the runway’s environmental impact.
The Department for Transport has said a new runway at Heathrow would bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn, and create as many as 77,000 additional local jobs over the next 14 years.
Arora’s plan for a cheaper 3rd Heathrow runway means putting it further east. ie. more noise for London
July 10, 2017
Surinder Arora, a hotel magnate, wants to get the 3rd Heathrow runway built quickly, and has made some suggestions of how it could be done more easily – and at least £5-6 billion more cheaply. But his scheme, for a shorter northern runway, means there would be even more noise pollution over London than from Heathrow’s own £17.6bn proposal. Heathrow airport did not, apparently, know of his plans till he went public with them. If the new runway was shorter (3.2km not 3.5km) and moved a bit east, to Sipson, there would be cost savings. But this could mean noisier flights over London as aircraft may have to fly slightly lower over London by something like 300 feet or so (at a guess). One of Heathrow’s reasons for its own location for the runway was to get this 300 ft or so height gain, claiming it would make all the difference to noise levels. The 2009 scheme, by Heathrow, for a much shorter 2.2km runway failed in part because of noise concerns, as did a plan for a 2.8km runway rejected by the Airports Commission. Willie Walsh of IAG, and Craig Keeper of Virgin Atlantic, want the cheapest scheme possible, to keep their costs down, and avoid having to increase the cost of their air fares. Amusingly, the Heathrow airport runway plan involves demolishing one of Mr Arora’s 5 hotels at the airport, two of which are under construction. Mr Arora says he was not informed by Heathrow (Willie Walsh claimed the same, for his head office building).
Let me build Heathrow’s third runway and I will save £6bn
Hotels tycoon Surinder Arora has his own plans for a cheaper way to expand the airport’s capacity
By Oliver Shah (Sunday Times)
July 9 2017,
The first Surinder Arora heard of Heathrow’s intention to demolish his Sofitel at Terminal 5 to clear space for the long-awaited third runway was a rumour from “two different sources”. The hotels tycoon then confronted the airport’s bosses, who confirmed it.
“Bear in mind we employ more than 400 staff there,” he said to them. “Obviously you don’t see us as neighbours or partners. No one’s even told me.”
Arora’s voice is soft, but there is no mistaking his frustration as he recalls “the arrogance of it”.
Heathrow has played a big part in Arora’s life ever since he arrived there from India in 1972, aged 13. Having started out as an office clerk, he has built a £258m fortune around airport hotels, including five at Heathrow, two of which are under construction.
The airport could come to rue its high-handed treatment of the boy next door. Determined to carve out an opportunity from Heathrow’s “monopolising”, he has launched a bid to build and run the third runway and Terminal 6 in competition with the airport. He has submitted a range of plans to the government, one of which would avoid the need for a controversial bridge over the M25. He claims his designs would be as much as £6.7bn cheaper than the airport’s estimated £17.6bn bill — a saving that would ultimately be passed on to passengers.
Arora’s intervention is guaranteed to tip petrol on to the third runway debate given the fierce criticism already levelled at Heathrow’s scheme by airlines, which say they will end up paying for it via higher airport charges.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent, International Airlines Group, says: “The government should look closely at Arora’s proposal as it would significantly reduce costs.”
Craig Kreeger, the boss of Virgin Atlantic, says: “This once-in-a-generation project is an opportunity to challenge the status quo . . . Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.”
The airlines are speaking from self- interest: BA is Heathrow’s biggest customer and owns 51% of its take-off and landing slots. To a degree, so is Arora: he is the biggest landowner in the area, although he denies trying to “leverage up” the value of his holdings.
The backing of BA and Virgin will bolster his credentials, however.
A self-made entrepreneur who spent his teenage years living in a terraced house in Southall, five miles from Heathrow, he is up against a corporation whose owners include Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure giant, the Qatar Investment Authority and CDPQ, a Canadian pension fund. Heathrow’s boss is John Holland-Kaye, a former divisional director of Taylor Wimpey.
Arora agrees to an interview at his office overlooking Heathrow’s north runway after The Sunday Times obtains a copy of his government submission. As planes rumble and whine in the background, he runs through his remarkable backstory: born in Punjab, adopted by his childless aunt and uncle, then sent to live with his biological parents in London after becoming “a bit of a gangster — I was carrying a knife, smoking, gambling, doing all the wrong things”.
He left school at 18 with no A-levels and worked as a junior clerk for BA, moonlighting as a wine waiter in a hotel at Heathrow for extra money. He became a financial adviser at Abbey Life and ploughed his spare earnings into property. He still owns one of the first buildings he bought, the Heathrow Lodge Hotel in Longford, which gets trade from the Home Office housing asylum seekers — to the chagrin of some locals.
Arora Group has 16 hotels, most of them around Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, plus a big property portfolio. The jewel in its crown is the InterContinental at the O2 centre in London’s Docklands. The business made pre-tax profits of £11.7m on sales of £175.3m last year.
Arora, 58, is well-connected enough to count Tony Blair as a close friend, but he manages to keep a low profile. He knows he will face questions over his “experience and expertise” when it comes to his third runway proposals.
He has put together a heavyweight team for his pitch, including the family-run construction behemoth Bechtel and the renowned property barrister Chris “KitKat” Katkowski.
He has also assembled an advisory board comprising Mike Clasper, the former chairman of HM Revenue & Customs; Sir Rod Eddington, former boss of BA and Cathay Pacific; and Robert Webb, BA’s former general counsel. Eddington says: “This represents a game changer. Whether Surinder wins or not, the fact he’s put his hand up with a viable alternative to Heathrow will — among other things — force a discussion around costs and affordability.”
Arora, who comes across as emollient and sometimes almost shy, insists the airport should not “see us as a threat”, because “if you have competition, we can drive our people better and they can drive their people better”. Heathrow’s owners are unlikely to see it that way.
The London hub is like a cash machine for its shareholders. After an initial moratorium on dividends imposed by the banks that funded the debt-fuelled £16bn purchase of its parent BAA in 2006, Heathrow has paid out £2.5bn since 2012. It is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which sets the rate it is allowed to charge airlines based on the value of its assets every five years. Critics complain this system in effect incentivises Heathrow to spend without regard to efficiency, although the CAA can strip out items that it decides are unjustified.
Heathrow has promised to hold airline charges steady “on average” until 2048, while the new runway is under construction. Walsh has predicted an increase from the current level of £20 per passenger to £40 and warned that “£80 per return trip in airport charges will turn Heathrow into a white elephant”.
Arora has plenty of stories about Heathrow’s refusal to compromise. He says the airport tried to block him from putting up a billboard at Terminal 5 that would charge advertisers £350,000 a year — £150,000 less than Heathrow. When he won the planning battle, Heathrow refused to give him power. Holland-Kaye intervened after Arora said he would use a generator, but he is now “going through the same thing again” with another billboard.
Heathrow is by far Britain’s biggest airport. It serves 76m passengers a year and constantly runs at close to full capacity. The pressure can be seen in the prices at which carriers trade landing slots — up to $75m (£58m) for a pair. Arora agrees “100%” with the need for expansion, but quibbles with the way Heathrow has designed and priced its scheme.
The first of two plans he has put forward would involve keeping the runway’s length at 3.5km and bridging the M25, as proposed by Heathrow, but leaving car parking spaces where they are, scrapping a Terminal 2 extension and putting the new Terminal 6 satellite in a different place. He believes this would save £5.2bn and use 23% less space. The second would also involve shortening the runway to 3.2km (apparently, that would still work for 99% of flights) and bridging a spur of the M4 instead of the M25. Arora thinks this would save £6.7bn.
How does a mere millionaire intend to fund an infrastructure project costing £10.9bn to £12.4bn? Arora says he would put in some of his own money, but he has already had an offer from a big investor for the £1bn equity he would need. He thinks the rest could be raised through borrowing from banks or insurers.
His trump card is land. He has spent 15 years quietly buying plots on the proposed site of the third runway. He now has more than 200 acres, including 30 houses in the village of Longford and a row of offices including Heathrow’s own headquarters building.
“Even Carlton [Brown], my chief financial officer, said to me the first time I mentioned it, ‘Are you trying to leverage up your land values?’,” Arora says. “I said no. That question does not even exist in my head. Obviously I’d be mad if I was saying that I couldn’t make this work financially for our business, but it’s something that would benefit the nation.”
Arora has experienced corporate rough-and-tumble before: in 2014, he had to pass two hotels to Davidson Kempner, an aggressive US hedge fund that bought his loans from Allied Irish Bank. The bank’s sale of his debt “broke my heart” because “I’ve always looked at myself as a farmer, never as a hunter”.
You could compare the Americans’ raid with his third runway gambit. Arora says he wants to do “what’s right for customers” rather than “sit there and throw punches and work as enemies”.
But you sense that beneath his gentle manner, this farmer might just have acquired a taste for meat.
Teddington Action Group (TAG) comment on Arora Group’s “cheaper” plan for a runway – and Heathrow’s highly uncertain finances
Date added: July 11, 2017
On Sunday, 9th July, it was widely reported that hotel tycoon, Surinder Arora, has proposed a cheaper plan to expand Heathrow airport which includes changing the airport’s terminal and taxiway layout, occupying less land, and not impacting on the M25 and M4 motorways which hem it in. Speaking for Teddington Action Group (TAG), Paul McGuinness said: “With Heathrow’s current expansion plans being an un-financeable non-starter, and even Heathrow looking to cut the cost of its plans, it’s hardly surprising that an alternative should pop up to salvage any prospect of the airport’s expansion. But no alternative plan can change the fundamentals. Heathrow is already known as the “world’s most disruptive airport” – being positioned, as it is, bang slap in the middle of the UK’s most densely populated residential region, and with flight paths over the capital city. And from the perspectives of noise, environment and safety, it is expanding Heathrow’s activities by over a half again that will always remain the real non-starter”. TAG have produced a damning assessment of the financial difficulties of Heathrow, in attempting to raise the finance needed for its expansion from its various shareholders. It lists the serious problems Heathrow would have, its degree of indebtedness, and the risk to the UK taxpayer of having to bail out the airport, once construction began, and the airport ran out of money.
Heathrow knows it has an insuperable problem with air pollution if it was allowed a 3rd runway. Levels of NO2 are already often illegal, in many places. Now Heathrow is considering imposing a new “H-charge” on motorists who arrive or leave the airport by car. This is intended to reduce air pollution, and get more passengers to travel by rail (already pretty crowded). The idea is for a charge of £10 – 15 for everyone, including taxis and public hire vehicles, for each trip. Not surprisingly, avid backers of the Heathrow runway like Sir Howard Davies and Lord Adonis think the charge is a great idea. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to believe that some form of low emission zone around the airport will be needed. The government has made (rather hard to believe) assurances that a 3rd runway would only be allowed to operate if it can do so within air quality limits. (Which it cannot). Most of the NO2 and particulate pollution in the area is from road vehicles; a high proportion of those are Heathrow associated; a proportion comes from planes. The exact proportions are not known – yet. Heathrow likes to give the impression hardly any is from planes (not true). Heathrow airport says it will consult on the proposals for charging, and details of how it might work – but it is seen as a “last resort” to tackle its air pollution problems. It would be very, very unpopular with travellers and taxi/Uber drivers.
Plans to charge motorists £15 to enter ‘congestion cordon’ around Heathrow airport to tackle toxic air
BY NICHOLAS CECIL (Deputy Political Editor, STANDARD)
A new “H-charge” on motorists to tackle toxic air around Heathrow as part of plans for a third runway was today backed by two of Britain’s leading airport experts.
Sir Howard Davies, who chaired Britain’s Airports Commission, suggested a levy of £10 to £15 could be imposed on holidaymakers, business executives and other travellers seeking to drive polluting vehicles to the west London airport.
Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, also backs a “congestion cordon” around a bigger Heathrow.
While Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to believe that some form of low emission zone around the airport will be needed. He has stressed that another runway will only be allowed to operate if it can do so within air quality limits.
Currently, EU limits on nitrogen dioxide are widely breached across London including around Heathrow, largely due to road traffic levels.
In an interview with the Standard, Sir Howard, whose panel two years ago recommended a third Heathrow runway, said: “When we looked at this, congestion charging to the airport was something that people regarded as pretty extreme. But I think now, the congestion charge is hardly controversial in London any more.”
The former director of the London School of Economics added: “The idea that you should have to pay, you know, ten quid or 15 quid if you really want to drive to the airport and maybe you pay more if you are in a diesel car, I think that is a perfectly politically acceptable thing.“Indeed, I think it would be popular.”
Former Labour Transport Secretary Lord Adonis believes persuading millions more passengers to get to the airport by far better public transport links, including new Crossrail services, will be crucial.
He said: “I would support a cordon charge around Heathrow to ensure the number of vehicles going to and from the airport is reduced even after the new runway is built. The charge level should be set to ensure there is a reduction in the number of vehicles going to and from Heathrow.”
Nima Fash, 24, said it would be ‘like getting charged twice’. Bosses at the airport have committed to consulting on proposals to introduce a charge, though, a source stressed this was seen as a “last resort” to tackle any air pollution problems.
The plans at the moment would be for the levy only to apply to vehicles going to the airport and there could be exemptions in place for the greenest vehicles, taxis and local residents.
Nigel Milton, Heathrow’s director of communications, said: “We have been clear that even as the airport grows, the amount of airport-related traffic on the road will remain the same as today’s levels.
“This is something we have been able to achieve in the past – over the last twenty years, passenger numbers have nearly doubled whilst airport-related traffic has remained static.”
However, John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion group HACAN, questioned whether air passengers would find it “acceptable” to pay a levy to drive to the airport.
“It would be a very brave politician who introduced such a tough and potentially unpopular measure,” he said. “The very fact that it’s even being talked about shows that people realise how difficult it will be to control air pollution at a bigger Heathrow.”
A particular problem is the number of freight lorries, with Heathrow being such a big port for international trade.
To address this, airport chiefs are considering new consolidation centres around the airport, to reduce the number of deliveries to it, and investing in technology to help freight forwarders and cargo operators pool their freight loads.
To get far more passengers using public transport to and from Heathrow would need behavioural change which would be encouraged by increased and also better train, Tube and bus services.
Labour MP Gordon Marsden, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on tourism, leisure and the hospitality industry, called for more evidence about how a congestion charge would work.
He added: “Anything like that would have to be pre-dated by radical improvements in access facilities on London Underground and other public transport for travellers’ luggage given that travellers’ luggage seems to be getting bigger and bigger.”
WHAT SOME PEOPLE SAID TO THE STANDARD ABOUT IT:
Nima Fash, 24, a makeup artist from Wembley
“If it’s just me I don’t mind taking a train, but for example today my aunt was going to Nigeria – it’s not just one suitcase she has, so it’s not that easy to go on the train. What if you have a big suitcase?
“I’m all for reducing pollution. But it’s annoying because you pay to park at the airport as well if you’re staying, so to pay £15 on top is like you’re getting charged twice. I pay for my flight, pay for my parking – and then pay just to come here?”
Raj Rewani, 34, a finance analyst from Harrow
“That’s disgusting, we’re already paying for the flights. It’s absolutely ridiculous – we’re not even in London, this is outside of London.
“If that came in I’d get a cab. But if you want to pick someone up – you’ve got family coming, you want to see them at the airport, you don’t want to send them a random driver. It’s taking away our option of doing that.”
Florin Ursachi, 45, taxi driver
“If they charge £15 here it’s going to be a nightmare. You already have to pay in the short stay car park, and the price has increased.
“People aren’t going to fly from Heathrow anymore, or the drivers are going to have to increase prices. The companies and the cab offices are going to charge the customers for it.”
Marcus Sillence, 53, taxi driver
“The only people that come here are the people that are dropping off or picking up. I can’t see any other way of doing it, people will still have to do that. Whatever costs are involved for us have to be covered by the customers.
“I can’t see it changing much, passengers will just have to pay more. You have to pay at Luton and Stanstead, so they’re only following what the others are doing.”
Mohammed Habbal, 40, Uber driver
“My car is a hybrid, below 40 miles an hour it is electric. I don’t agree with this idea, it’s going to cost too much for drivers.
“Driving to Heathrow from London is not good for me anyway because often there is no one to take back, so with the charge it will not be worth it. It will be like working for free.”
Heathrow expansion plans, and ability to reduce road vehicle trips, threatened by Crossrail costs row
Date added: May 22, 2017
Simon Calder, writing in the Independent, says plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway could be jeopardised by a row between the airport’s owners and Transport for London (TfL). Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4 are expected to be served by the new Crossrail east-west line, which is due to open in May 2018. But Heathrow is demanding very high fees from rail users to pay back the estimated £1 billion cost of the privately funded Heathrow Express spur from the Great Western line – into the airport. That opened in 1998. The Office of Rail and Road said that Heathrow could not recoup the historical costs of building this link. Heathrow challenged this decision, and a legal judgment is expected shortly. If the ruling is in favour of Heathrow, TfL may choose not to serve the airport at all — which would throw into doubt predictions of the proportion of passengers using public transport if a 3rd runway was built. The NPS for the runway requires a higher proportion of passengers and staff to use public transport in future, than now. One of Crossrail’s selling points has been easy access to Heathrow from east London and the City, down to 34 minutes from Liverpool Street to Heathrow. “Without straightforward, low-cost rail links, more airline passengers may opt to go by road to Heathrow — adding to pollution, congestion and noise.”
DfT data show Hounslow, Hillingdon & Slough (all near Heathrow) have the most heavily used roads in UK
Date added: May 12, 2017
There are more than twice as many vehicles on the roads of two west London boroughs than anywhere else in the UK. The DfT figures show Hounslow to have considerably more road traffic even that the second busiest borough, Hillingdon. Both are close to Heathrow, and much of the traffic is associated with the airport. In 2016, 8,339 vehicles passed an average point in the Hounslow road network every day, a marginal increase from 8,240 the previous year. This is more than twice as many than the national average, where a typical stretch of road would see 3,587 vehicles a day. Hillingdon had 7,889 vehicles using the average stretch of its road network daily. The figures were also very high in other boroughs in west London, such as Ealing, Brent and Harrow. Another area near Heathrow, Slough, had 7,576 vehicles per hour. Road use is at the highest level it has ever been across the country due to steady growth in car traffic. Heathrow hopes to increase its number of passengers, with a 3rd runway, by about 50% and to double the volume of air freight. It claims that it will try to keep the number of road vehicles to no higher than current levels, though it has no effective means to ensure this. The DfT data shows just how bad the current problem is, even with a 2 runway Heathrow.
Inadequate draft DEFRA air quality plan remains silent on Heathrow 3rd runway impact on NO2
Date added: May 8, 2017
Defra’s new, very weak (due probably to trying not to upset owners of diesel cars in the run-up to the election) air quality plan is not likely to achieve air within legal NO2 limits in parts of London before 2030. A 3rd Heathrow runway would increase levels of NO2 in an area that has remained persistently in breach of legal limits. However, the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) point out that the draft plan does not mention the airport, with emissions associated with a 3rd runway apparently not even modelled. AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said, while we are waiting to see what legal action is taken on UK air quality: “In the meantime ministers are hoping to lock in parliamentary support for Heathrow expansion by the end of the year, despite new forecasts indicating that London may still be non-compliant with air pollution limits by 2030, and despite knowing that a third runway, due to open mid-2020s, would make the problem worse. The process for approving Heathrow expansion should be halted immediately, and reconsulted on only once an effective and legally compliant air quality plan is in place, so that the impact of a third runway can be properly assessed.” Forecasts from both the Airports Commission and the DfT show that expansion would act to further increase NO2 due to extra emissions from aircraft as well as associated passenger and freight traffic on the roads.
Government response to EAC on Heathrow air pollution are vague and entirely unsatisfactory
Date added: May 8, 2017
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) criticised the UK Government for its failure to deal adequately with air pollution from a 3rd Heathrow runway. Before its dissolution, for the general election on 8th June 2017, the EAC published the response by the government (dated 21st April) to questions put to it by the committee in February. The responses on air pollution are not satisfactory. Asked by the EAC to carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, the government just says it is updating “its evidence base on airport capacity as appropriate to ensure that any final NPS is based on the most up to date information” … and that “The Government is determined to meet its air quality obligations and to do so in the shortest time possible.” …”The draft NPS stipulates that final development consent will only be granted if the Secretary of State is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements.” ie. totally vague, saying almost nothing specific. The EAC said Government must publish a comprehensive assessment of the infrastructure requirements of a 3rd runway and consult on it before publishing a final NPS. The Government just said “necessary changes to the transport system will rightly be considered as part of the statutory planning process.” And so on.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has issued a warning to residents across the region not to be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s smoke-and-mirror exhibition and biased consultation survey on its further expansion plans. Both appear designed to trick people into thinking that further Stansted expansion in passenger number will be painless and sustainable. They make these claims, even before the environmental impacts have been assessed. The displays are deliberately misleading, and SSE says people should be very sceptical. Brian Ross, SSE’s deputy chairman, said the displays are all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives.” People attending the exhibitions need to ask searching questions, like explanations about the proposed increase in flight lights compared to today. And passenger movements compared to the position today. This, say SSE, reveals a very different picture from the one being put forward by Stansted’s bosses who have been making the false claim that the extra passenger numbers will only lead to “approximately two extra flights an hour”. In reality the proposal would mean an extra 2,000 flights a week compared to today’s levels – 285 per day. That means an increase from on average of a plane every 2¼ minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds. Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport says it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million.
DON’T BE HOODWINKED BY STANSTED SPIN, WARN SSE
6.7.2017 (By Stop Stansted Expansion – SSE)
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has issued a warning to residents across the region not to be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s smoke-and-mirror exhibition and biased consultation survey on further expansion plans.
Both the exhibition which opened today (6 July) and related survey appear designed to trick people into thinking that further expansion at the airport will be painless and sustainable -before the environmental impacts have even been assessed.
“The portrayal of the potential impacts that would arise from further expansion at Stansted is deliberately misleading and the public should be very, very sceptical about the claims being made to try to push through its proposals,” commented Brian Ross, SSE’s deputy chairman, after visiting the exhibition at its first outing.
“The airport’s so-called roadshow has all the hallmarks of a sales pitch for time-share apartments. It’s all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives,” Brian Ross continued.
The campaign group is encouraging those visiting the airport’s travelling exhibition to ask questions and insist on explanations about the proposed increase in flight and passenger movements compared to the position today. This, say SSE, reveals a very different picture from the one being put forward by Stansted’s bosses who have been making the false claim that the extra passenger numbers will only lead to “approximately two extra flights an hour”. In reality the proposal would mean an extra 2,000 flights a week compared to today’s levels.
The airport is currently handling 25 million passengers a year and has not yet started to use the extra 10 million increase to 35 million, granted after a five month public inquiry held in 2007. Despite this, Manchester Airports Group which owns Stansted say that that its growth predictions mean that the present 35 million cap ‘urgently’ needs to be raised to a massive 44.5 million.
Compared with the current throughput, the expansion plans would mean 20 million more passengers per year and an extra 104,000 flights. This translates into an aircraft overflying during daytime hours from the current average of a plane every 2¼ minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds. Noise, air quality and especially road and rail transport impacts would all be significantly worsened in contrast to the airport’s claim that there will be ‘no significant adverse environmental effects.’
Those contemplating the use of the airport’s questionnaire as a means of providing comment on concerns about impacts, meanwhile, should also be aware that the survey is deliberately skewed to elicit results which are favourable towards the airport’s plans.
Analysis of the questionnaire reveals that it is appallingly biased. It consists almost entirely of claims for the benefits of Stansted expansion, and a wish list of further potential benefits with no negatives included. It provides no opportunity to express any opinion about the pluses and minuses of expansion, such as likely damage to quality of life and the environment, except in the ‘Anything else we should consider?’ question, which does not encourage criticism, in particular because it says ‘as part of our proposals’.
SSE is recommending that those living in the region who wish to make representations on the expansion plans should email or write direct to Uttlesford District Council Planning Department or use their online planning portal (quoting reference UTT/17/1640/SO) to give their views first-hand, rather than be manipulated into answering a set of questions that are contrived to give an overly positive answer that can be used against the community and support the latest round of calls for growth.
NOTES TO EDITORS
More information on Stansted Airport’s formal submission to Uttlesford District Council can be found at:
Stop Stansted Expansion brands airport expansion plans as premature and opportunistic
June 21, 2017
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has condemned Stansted Airport for insulting the intelligence of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and the community at large by claiming that its latest expansion proposals will have “no significant adverse environmental effects”. SSE’s Chairman Peter Sanders has further stressed the need for the council not to be hoodwinked by the airport’s spurious claim and to ensure a comprehensive, honest and thorough assessment of all the environmental impacts that would result from major expansion. The statement comes following the airport’s formal notification of its intention to submit a planning application later this year to seek permission to grow to an annual throughput of 44.5 million passengers and 285,000 flights. This compares to last year’s throughput of 24 million passengers and 180,000 flights. If approved, this would mean an extra 20 million passengers and an extra 104,000 flights every year blighting the lives of thousands across the region. Stansted hasn’t even started to make use of its 2008 permission to grow from 25mppa to 35mppa. Even by its own projections, the airport doesn’t expect to reach 35mppa until 2024 although the credibility of its forecasts is questionable given its wildly inaccurate record on this front.
Analysis of the 8th June general election results, in constituencies affected by Heathrow, done by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, found that over 70% of votes were cast for anti-3rd runway candidates. The analysis also confirms that 68% of votes cast for the Conservatives, and 65% for Labour, were for candidates who oppose the Heathrow runway. Plans for the runway have been thrown into serious doubt since Theresa May failed to win a majority she was expecting. The breakdown of the election results underlines just how unpopular Heathrow expansion really is – not just by a large number of Mrs May’s own Tory MPs but by the majority of voters too. Two key Cabinet ministers — Boris Johnson and Justine Greening — are fiercely opposed to expansion plans, as are most Conservative MPs in London seats. With the majorities of both Boris Johnson and Justine Greening severely slashed at this election, these new figures suggest both Cabinet Ministers could lose their seats next time if Theresa May were to press ahead with Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston, is one of the most vocal campaigners against a 3rd runway. His seat was the only Conservative gain in London at this election – narrowly winning with just 45 votes. Were the Government to press ahead with Heathrow expansion, his would be another seat that the Conservatives could very likely lose.
71% OF VOTES CAST AT THE GENERAL ELECTION WERE FOR ANTI-3RD RUNWAY CANDIDATES
4.7.2017 (No 3rd Runway Coalition)
Election analysis by the No 3rd Runway Coalition found that over 70% of votes were cast for anti-3rd runway candidates at the General Election on 8 June (see analysis below).
The analysis also confirms that 68% of votes cast for the Conservatives, and 65% for Labour, were for candidates who oppose the expansion of the airport.
Plans for a third runway have been thrown into serious doubt after Theresa May failed to win a majority at the last election.
These new figures underline just how unpopular Heathrow expansion really is – not just by a large number of her own MPs but by the majority of voters too.
Two of her own Cabinet ministers — Boris Johnson and Justine Greening — are fiercely opposed to expansion plans, as are most Conservative MPs in London seats.
With the majorities of both Boris Johnson and Justine Greening severely slashed at this election, these new figures suggest both Cabinet Ministers could lose their seats next time if Theresa May were to press ahead with Heathrow expansion.
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston, is one of the most vocal campaigners against a third runway. His seat was the only Conservative gain in London at this election – narrowly winning with just 45 votes. Were the Government to press ahead with Heathrow expansion, his would be another seat that the Conservatives could very likely lose.
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and Shadow Chancellor, said:“This election made it very clear that Heathrow expansion continues to be a big issue for many voters – and rightly so.
“It can be no coincidence that the Conservatives did so badly in London, with a Manifesto that pledged to build a third runway at Heathrow.
“Speaking in my role as the local MP, let’s hope the election result will not only make Heathrow plans impossible to get through parliament, but that the Government will now recognise the real strength of feeling against the building of a third runway.”
Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition:“These figures provide clear evidence that supporting a 3rd runway at Heathrow is politically toxic in the large number of constituencies affected by the airport. With Theresa May needing all the support she can get at the moment, let’s hope she drops these plans and starts looking at viable alternatives which will be more popular with voters.”
The analysis compiled the positions of all election candidates in the constituencies which experience aircraft noise from Heathrow, located within the 51db noise contour, the figure at which the DfT suggest marks the onset of community annoyance from aircraft noise around Heathrow – a total of over 1,000,000 people within 22 constituencies and comprising of a total of 1,173046 votes.
The number of votes for each candidate from the Conservative and Labour parties were categorised as either in favour or opposing a 3rd runway. In a few instances, views were unknown and were categorised as such. All the votes cast for Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates were considered as anti 3rd Runway as the party positions are completely opposed to expansion.
Analysis of votes in constituencies within the 51 decibel noise contour at the 2017 General Election.
This analysis looks at the relationship between the view of candidates at the 2017 General Election and the number of votes received for those both for and against the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport.
The analysis uses all the constituencies located within a 51 decibel noise contour, in relation to the noise of aircraft around Heathrow. The Government has suggested that using a measure meant of 51 decibels as the average aircraft noise measurement experienced over the course of 16-hour period, best indicates the level at which community annoyance in relation to aircraft noise begins. There are an estimated 1,500,000 people, including children, that fall within this noise contour – far, far greater than any other airport in the Europe and one of the highest in the world.
The Conservative Party stated it would support the development of Heathrow Airport expansion in its 2017 manifesto. In this analysis however, the position of Conservative candidates has been identified on a candidate-by-candidate basis. The analysis found that 68% of the votes cast for the Conservatives in the constituencies assessed were for candidates who opposed Heathrow expansion. Given the large share of votes cast for candidates against a third runway, the Government could run in to potential problems in the House of Commons if it forces a Parliamentary vote on Heathrow expansion (as part of an Airports National Policy Statement). Moreover, local Conservative candidates are likely to remain conscious of constituents who could vote differently at the next election, if, as constituency MPs, they were to vote to support Heathrow expansion and dissuade a large numbers of votes being cast in their favour.
The Labour Party supported increased airport capacity in the south east of England in its manifesto, but, unlike the Conservatives, did not give a direct mention of Heathrow, suggesting the Party could be prepared to back Expansion at locations such as Gatwick or Stansted in the future. In similarity to the Conservative Party however, this analysis identifies the position of candidates, and therefore the number of votes cast, on a candidate-by-candidate basis, given a large number of Labour candidates within the constituencies studied here did not support a third runway, who received 65% of all the votes cast for the party.
All votes cast for the Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates are counted as against a third runway as those parties demonstrated clear opposition to the project in their respective 2017 General Election manifestos.
Votes cast for other candidates, including independents and very small minority parties have been added, reaching 0.5% of the total votes cast. As there were a large number of candidates within this category where a fair number of whose position on Heathrow were known, half the number of votes cast (6,285), have been allocated to each tally of those for and against a third runway.
All 22 constituencies and the candidates are listed below the key statistics found in the analysis.
A breakdown of the number and percentages of the votes:
Total votes for pro 3rd Runway candidates – 236419, 20.1%
Total votes for and 3rd Runway candidates – 841983, 71.8%
Total cost for candidates whose position is unknown – 94644, 8.1%
ChATR, Chiswick Against the Third Runway, have written to all the new Cabinet ministers since the election, to express their grave concern at the Conservative manifesto promise to build a Third Runway at Heathrow – and to urge them not to support these proposals. They ask: “How can this government lend support to a development that knowingly harms public health? There is a weight of evidence against the Third Runway showing the adverse effects of noise, pollution and sleep deprivation. It seems utterly bizarre to us that this government has endorsed a scheme that benefits foreign shareholders at the expense of millions of Londoners who will suffer these very serious and well documented health consequences.” … They say: “Poorer communities nearer the airport and working families under new & existing flight paths, trapped by debt, mortgages, stamp duty costs or other reasons will suffer the most. It seems quite wrong that the inequalities and injustices of airport expansion, which have been repeatedly raised by the affected communities, are being simply brushed aside for an, as yet unproven, marginal economic gain.” And the DfT now acknowledge that the economic benefit (without including the carbon costs) of Heathrow is only about £6-7 billion over 60 years. Read the whole letter.
Letter sent to all new Cabinet members after the June 2017 election:
The People Against Heathrow Expansion
We are writing on behalf of Chiswick Against the Third Runway (ChATR) to express our grave concern at the Conservative manifesto promise to build a Third Runway at Heathrow and urge you not to support these proposals.
How can this government lend support to a development that knowingly harms public health? There is a weight of evidence against the Third Runway showing the adverse effects of noise, pollution and sleep deprivation. It seems utterly bizarre to us that this government has endorsed a scheme that benefits foreign shareholders at the expense of millions of Londoners who will suffer these very serious and well documented health consequences.
It is worrying in the extreme that these health dis-benefits have not been properly costed in assessing the pros and cons of expansion at Heathrow and worse still, that DfT
documentation and the Davies Commission actively suppressed figures that show the true extent of the harm caused by Heathrow expansion.
Poorer communities nearer the airport and working families under new & existing flight paths, trapped by debt, mortgages, stamp duty costs or other reasons will suffer the most. It seems quite wrong that the inequalities and injustices of airport expansion, which have been repeatedly raised by the affected communities, are being simply brushed aside for an, as yet unproven, marginal economic gain.
As you know, £89 billion of projected benefit has been wiped off the Davies Commission estimates by the DfT who now acknowledge that the economic benefit (without including the carbon costs) of Heathrow over Gatwick is only c. £6-7 billion over 60 years.
This has to be set against the known harm that expansion at Heathrow will cause millions of Londoners. It has been repeatedly claimed that the regions will benefit by Heathrow expansion over any other airport, but there is considerable evidence that regional airports will have to reduce their flights as Heathrow expands and companies such as Flybe & Ryanair do not wish to operate out of Heathrow because it is too expensive.
There is no doubt from the responses in our community that Labour gains in London in the recent election reflect, amongst other things, Londoners’ deep opposition to Heathrow expansion. These concerns have been voiced for many years and yet promises have been repeatedly overturned by politicians so that communities have to keep fighting to be heard over the noise of the juggernaut of Heathrow’s PR machine.
But why are the politicians listening to Heathrow and not ordinary working Londoners?
We know that this Tory government is not listening to us. Even as the DfT ‘consultation’ was underway (in which supposedly local communities were being consulted) the Tory manifesto was published stating that Heathrow expansion would go ahead. What kind of ‘consultation’ is this? Is this Government listening to communities like ours at all?
The science showing the health costs of having planes overhead, the disingenuous measurements of noise and noise contours in the DfT’s proposals, the safety issues that have been buried by the Davies Commission and DfT alike: all this is detailed in our response to the DfT Consultation (copy attached – to the Cabinet members – 9 pages).
This is a heartfelt plea and again we urge you not to support this disastrous scheme to build a runway right in the middle of the West London suburbs.
“Grow Heathrow” is a community project that has been living in Sipson since 2010, as a protest against a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have been fighting eviction for many years. Now Grow Heathrow has been given 14 days to leave, by the High Court. They had taken over a derelict site and turned it into a partly self sufficient community, growing a lot of their own food and acting as a community centre. On 29th June Judge Dight granted a possession order to the landlords of the site, Lewdown Holdings. The judge acknowledged the hardship and logistical difficulties which will be caused by the effect of the order – which requires the eviction of an entire settled community, but granted Lewdown the possession order. The judge said the owner had no need to justify his alleged failure to use the land for any purpose, though it had been derelict. Lewdown Holdings have had their planning permission for the site rejected, so nothing is planned on it. Grow Heathrow say they will appeal, and they do not intend to leave. They are being given pro bono legal help from Leigh Day. One of the activists living at Grow Heathrow said: “We are completely committed to continuing support for the local community. Airport expansion will make their homes uninhabitable.” They have a lot of support from local residents, one of whom commented: “They took over a piece of neglected land which they skilfully rejuvenated to provide a vibrant hub for like-minded people.”
Grow Heathrow runway protest community given 14 days to leave site
Court orders 20 residents to leave the community garden set up on derelict site to protest against airport expansion
By Sandra Laville (Guardian)
A community project set up to protest against a third runway at Heathrow has been given 14 days to leave its home by the high court.
Grow Heathrow took over a derelict garden centre in Sipson in 2010 and turned it into a community garden as part of action in protest against the plans for the runway. About 20 people live at the site and from their base they have become an integral part of the community activity against the building of a third runway at the airport.
But on Thursday Judge Dight granted a possession order to the landlords of the site, Lewdown Holdings. The judge acknowledged the hardship and logistical difficulties which will be caused by the effect of the order which requires the eviction of an entire settled community, but granted Lewdown the possession order.
Lawyers for Grow Heathrow argued they had the right to a home, as interpreted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and were therefore entitled to resist a possession order. Any possession order, they said, would infringe the freedom of expression (under Article 10) and freedom of assembly, protest and association (under Article 11).
The judge found that the defendants could not rely on these rights to override Article 1, that: “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.” The judge stated that a “private landowner [is] entitled to put its land to any form of lawful use, including doing nothing with it”.
He said the owner had no need to justify his alleged failure to use the land for any purpose.
Alex Sharpe, one of the protesters, said Grow Heathrow would appeal against the granting of the order. He said: “What we want to do now is sit down with the landowners Lewdown and talk to them like adults. They have had their planning permission for this site rejected and we don’t have any intention of leaving this site. We hope to be able to talk to them sensibly about this.
“We don’t have any intention of leaving the Heathrow villages because we are part of the fight against the third runway, and as long as that is still a threat we will be here.”
The activists are being given pro bono legal help from Leigh Day.
The eviction of the residents could start in 14 days, but activists hope the appeal and conversations with the owners will mean this does not happen.
Ruth Raynor, one of the Grow Heathrow protesters, said after the hearing in London: “We are completely committed to continuing support for the local community. Airport expansion will make their homes uninhabitable.
“As caretakers of this land we’ve cleared 100 tonnes of rubbish, returning the land to an ecological habitat and community garden. We would like to continue a conversation with Lewdown Holdings outlining a community based educational project.”
The shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, said the project had inspired the whole community and improved what was a derelict site. “We need lawful spaces of protest with the values of education and community embedded in them; Grow Heathrow would be a great loss for my constituency in this crucial campaign year against Heathrow airport’s expansion,” he said.
The activists and their hundreds of supporters cleared the site of 30 tonnes of rubbish and built a self-sufficient community when they took over the site in 2010 as part of protests against the third runway.
Jane Taylor, chair of Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association, supported the activists.
“Grow Heathrow came to the village to breathe new life into the community following another attempt by Heathrow airport to decimate its neighbouring villages. They took over a piece of neglected land which they skilfully rejuvenated to provide a vibrant hub for like-minded people.”
“Grow Heathrow” still hanging on in Sipson – which would be wiped out by a 3rd northern runway
January 4, 2014
A small Transition community calling itself Grow Heathrow set up in Sipson three years ago, in order to give heart to the community, so badly damaged by the runway threat and the purchase by Heathrow airport of many properties. The Grow Heathrow site is a hub for local residents and environmental activists to share knowledge and practical skills such as organic gardening, permaculture design, bicycle maintenance and wood and metal work. They endeavour to be self-reliance, producing their own food; by use of solar and wind power, as well as simpler heating technologies, they are completely “off grid”. They collect water from the greenhouse roofs to feed the plants, fruit and vegetables; they use fuel-efficient rocket stoves to heat water; they have compost toilets making “humanure.” The site has been under threat of eviction for many months. Following an Appeal Court decision on 3rd July 2013 that the landowner could take possession, nothing has happened. They could be evicted at any time. They are still trying to negotiate with the landowner to buy the land, and the legal process seeking to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court is still trundling along. Meanwhile Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway in the Harmondsworth area, west of Sipson, has been short-listed by the Airports Commission.
“Grow Heathrow” squatters in Sipson pledge ‘peaceful’ resistance to bailiffs, due to evict them
August 15, 2014
The remarkable “Grow Heathrow”squatter community, occupying land near Heathrow in protest at the airport’s expansion, are expected to be evicted by bailiffs today – or soon. They say they will “peacefully” resist, but a range of non-violent means, including digging tunnels and locking themselves onto items. Grow Heathrow, which includes some 15 families, moved onto a derelict site near Sipson in 2010. The privately owned land had been a wasteland, and an area for anti-social activities. Grow Heathrow cleared rubbish from the site, and created a garden, as well as being as self sufficient in food as possible. They also ran creative and artistic workshops, and a positive and productive community. However, the land owner wants the land back, perhaps for sale to Heathrow airport (their 3rd runway plans would make most of Sipson impossible to live in). Many local people in Sipson have been delighted to have Grow Heathrow as neighbours, rather than a derelict site. The local MP, John McDonnell said he “wholeheartedly” supported the activists. “These are people who not only helped us fight off the third runway, they’ve actually occupied a site which would have been the sixth terminal for the expanded Heathrow Airport.”
Court of Appeal decision on Grow Heathrow eviction due
SQUATTERS occupying land once designated for Heathrow’s third runway will find out whether their appeal against eviction is successful next week.
Next Wednesday (July 3), campaigners from environmental action group Transition Heathrow will return to the Court of Appeal and hear whether they are allowed to remain at the Grow Heathrow community garden in Vineries Close, Sipson.The appeal was heard back in January, and the judges have since been mulling over their ruling in what could be a landmark case in land use and eviction cases.
The owner of the contested land, Imran Malik, was given a judgement of possession by Central London County Court in July 2012, nearly two years after first serving the group with an eviction notice, but Grow Heathrow were given dispensation to challenge the ruling.
The group’s legal argument is that eviction would infringe on their right to a home, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
This defence has never been used as the basis of such an appeal, and the ruling could have implications for housing law.
Previously disused wasteland, the group cleared the area and established Grow Heathrow in March 2010. It is now well regarded amongst people in Heathrow Villages, and John McDonnell appeared as a witness during the appeal in support of the young activists.
Grow Heathrow want to buy the land from Mr Malik and set up a Community Land Trust (CLT), but the offers have been rebuffed.
The momentous hearing starts at 9.30am, in court 70.
In a very interesting new study, entitled “What’s wrong with infrastructure decision making? Conclusions from six UK case studies” by the Institute for Government, some useful problems are shown up. In the case of the Heathrow runway, the study says – as with other bad infrastructure approvals – “poor investment decisions could lock the economy into inappropriate infrastructure systems for many years, with significant harmful effects on future prosperity.” … “Bad investments can result in white elephants – projects that waste public money and fail to deliver the promised economic benefits.’ The report says there is a serious problem in that government does not always identify the best investments. They say some of the reasons why government can make bad choices (eg. on Heathrow) are that there is no national strategy for infrastructure investment (no UK aviation policy); the more ambitious the forecast, the more questionable the model (seriously the case with crazy forecasts of alleged economic benefit for the runway); Ministers and senior civil servants can fail to understand project risk; Government finds it difficult to make decisions which create ‘concentrated losers’ (which is an immense problem for Heathrow with local impacts like air pollution, congestion etc, and noise impacts over hundreds of square miles); and no method to properly compensate people for the costs the runway would impose on them.
What’s wrong with infrastructure decision making?
Conclusions from six UK case studies
The UK needs to make a series of major decisions about the country’s energy supplies, rail network and airports, but weak processes are leading to the wrong projects and contested decisions, wasting both government time and taxpayer money.
This report argues that making decisions about infrastructure is one of the most important but difficult tasks for the UK government.
High-quality economic infrastructure – energy, transport, utilities and digital communication – supports successful economies. Well-chosen projects contribute to job creation and increased productivity. That is why the Government is planning £245bn of economic infrastructure projects over the next five years.
But poor investment decisions could lock the economy into inappropriate infrastructure systems for many years, with significant harmful effects on future prosperity. Bad investments can result in white elephants – projects that waste public money and fail to deliver the promised economic benefits.
The report also notes that not all infrastructure projects are equal. Looking at major decisions, from High Speed 1 to Hinkley Point C, it is clear that government does not always identify the best investments. This is a serious problem.
The report examines six large and controversial infrastructure projects: the Heathrow third runway, High Speed 1, High Speed 2, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Hinkley Point C and the Jubilee Line Extension.
It finds there are six reasons why the UK struggles to make decisions on infrastructure:
There is no national strategy for infrastructure investment.
Government does not devote enough attention to assessing early options.
The more ambitious the forecast, the more questionable the model.
Ministers and senior civil servants can fail to understand project risk.
Government finds it difficult to make decisions which create ‘concentrated losers’.
Inadequate evaluation misses the opportunity to improve future projects.
Some sections relating to Heathrow are copied below:
3. The more ambitious the forecast, the more questionable the model. Uncertain
long-term forecasting may be used to green-light schemes which are costly and
difficult to deliver – as some have alleged was the case for the third runway at
Heathrow and Hinkley Point C. Detailed future economic analysis, particularly for
complex outcomes such as employment, investment and regeneration, is where
governments traditionally struggle. Criticisms of individual projects are often
driven by concerns about the robustness of their business cases. Despite these
concerns, successive governments have failed to communicate the inherent
difficulties of modelling large projects with long-term payoffs, and continue to put
more weight on these estimates than may be justified.
5. Government finds it difficult to make decisions which create ‘concentrated
losers’. Economic infrastructure has diffuse benefits and concentrated costs,
creating small groups of highly vocal ‘losers’ who are likely to oppose projects. The
drawn-out tales of Heathrow and HS2 indicate that a small number of influential
voices can seriously delay, or even derail, decisions. The history of our six case
study projects – particularly in the period between final analysis and the start of
construction – illustrates the problems governments have when deciding whether
to go ahead.
Heathrow runway expansion
The question of UK airport capacity has been considered many times since the 1968
Roskill Commission, yet progress has been slow and successive governments have
postponed the decision on where to give the go-ahead.9 When Theresa May’s
Conservative Government approved a third runway at Heathrow in October 2016, it
provoked a cabinet split and public criticism, on grounds of noise, environmental
impact, and the expense of the particular model chosen, which would pass
considerable costs onto airlines and passengers.
An air of uncertainty still hangs over the project; a public consultation is underway, to
be followed by a national policy statement (NPS) on aviation and a parliamentary vote.
Meanwhile, the only new runways built in recent decades have been at London City
and Manchester airports. London airports still rely on runways that have been in place
since the middle of the 20th century.10
Problems with the expansion of airport capacity in the south-east of England illustrate
the failure to create appropriate institutions and methods of serious engagement with
local communities, as well as to compensate them for the costs that large
infrastructure projects impose on them.11 The continued controversy (even after the
final report of the Airports Commission) also demonstrates the challenges of using
long-term forecasting to justify schemes that are costly and difficult to deliver in the
Case study: Heathrow third runway
The analysis that the Airports Commission undertook for Heathrow attempted to
forecast flight demand for the next 60 years. It did so using diverse datasets and a
highly complex set of models,82 using the Department for Transport’s own modelling
tools as a starting point.83
The conclusions of this modelling heavily influenced the Commission’s
recommendations. They predicted ‘a faster and more substantial increase in
passengers and destinations served at an expanded Heathrow than at Gatwick,
particularly in the long-haul market’.84 Overall, they assumed linear national and
international growth broadly in line with past trends.
However, the aviation market is notoriously difficult to predict. The economist John
Kay highlights that moving ‘from Orville Wright’s first flight in 1903 to the introduction
of the jumbo jet took barely 60 years’. The next half-century was less eventful but he
notes that ‘while the Roskill commission of the 1960s, which reviewed London airport
policy, got traffic growth projections broadly right, it did not forecast that the growth
would come from low-cost airlines offering point-to-point services’. Even the 2003 air
policy review ‘failed to appreciate how the centre of the world economy was shifting
east, and that Dubai would come to be the world’s busiest airport for international
passengers’.85 The Airports Commission’s assumption of such little disruption to
existing trends is, given recent history and the pace of technological change, risky.
* Sensitivity analysis establishes how much the value of a benefit would have to fall, or a cost would have to rise, to render a given option unattractive. It gives decision makers some measure of the uncertainty of analysts’ predictions.
The Commission’s base-case forecasts have already been shown up as inaccurate. It
predicted Gatwick would reach 40 million passengers by 2024, but the airport got to
41 million in May 2016.86 The Commission can hardly be faulted for inaccurate
predictions. All forecasts are, by their nature, doomed to inaccuracy. However, given
the divergence of demand from the Commission’s predictions in less than a year, it
looks unlikely that 60-year forecasts will stand up for long.
This uncertainty is often lost, or downplayed, in the policymaking process. In the
case of the Airports Commission, it initially set out a range of possible scenarios to
guide decision making and was even-handed about the range of possibilities.
These included a scenario entitled ‘low-cost is king’, in which growth in cheap air
travel accelerates and demand pivots from Heathrow to Gatwick.153 However, the
final report used only the starting point deemed ‘most likely’ for its analysis and
recommendations. Other scenarios disappeared.
and there is more, in this very interesting paper, at
Gatwick is again saying it wants a 2nd runway, after it has increased its annual number of passengers to over 44 million. Gatwick hopes to exploit possible indecision by government over the Heathrow 3rd runway, continuing to claim (very dubiously) that its 2nd runway would be “financeable and deliverable”. Gatwick said its number of passengers has risen, so far this year, by 7.7% compared to the same time last year. The vast majority of Gatwick travellers are on short haul leisure trips to Europe, but it hopes to get more long haul holiday travellers to the USA and the middle east or far east. It remains largely a “bucket and spade” airport. Gatwick wants to persuade government that its 2nd runway would be a useful alternative to Heathrow, which is used by most business travellers to destinations in the Far East and the Middle East. Since the June 2017 election and the loss of a proper Tory majority, the government will have increasing problems pushing through an unpopular Heathrow runway, with opponents such as Boris Johnson – and Jeremy Corbyn. Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, says he can build long haul routes and they can see future passenger demand and “we stand ready to deliver should the government give us the go-ahead.” In reality, Gatwick is in the wrong place, and has surface access transport far below the standard that would be needed for a 2 runway airport.
Low-cost long-haul boom beefs up second runway case in spite of Heathrow, claims Gatwick chief
By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)
29 JUNE 2017
Gatwick is hoping the Government will give the go-ahead for a second runway in its forthcoming airport plan after ramping up long-haul traffic beyond what independent experts expected it to hit.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said the Government was set to start consultations on a new airport strategy this year and that he believes his airport now merits expansion more than it did when its plans were scrutinised by the Airports Commission lead by Sir Howard Davies in 2015.
“What we would like to see as part of the airport strategy is an endorsement of an additional runway as well as or instead of one at Heathrow,” Mr Wingate said.
He added Sir Howard had predicted Gatwick would only have 48 long-haul connections by 2050 if it built a second runway but a rapid rise in the low-cost long-haul industry means it now has more than 60 just with its existing single runway.
Mr Wingate said major commitments from the likes of Norwegian, which has said it would base 50 Dreamliner aircraft at Gatwick if it was expanded, had also substantially changed the proposition the airport offered from just a few years ago.
“As we went through the Airports Commission the question raised that we had to answer was ‘can you support long-haul connectivity’?,” Mr Wingate said.
“We would argue that Dreamliners and the low-cost long-haul market mean we are well placed.”
Mr Wingate was speaking as the airport welcomed a record 44.1m passengers in the year to March, up 3.2m on the comparable prior period.
Revenue rose 7.7pc to £381m thanks a higher level of sales in areas from airline charges to car parking. Charges to airlines rose 2pc but this was partly offset by an increase in the level of discounts offered to help encourage greater passenger numbers.
Mr Wingate said its charges equated to an average £9 per passenger, which he claimed was up to a third of the amount of some rival airports.
Costs also rose partly because it has employed more people and pay has risen. But its outgoings rose less rapidly (7pc including depreciation and amortisation) than sales which the airport said supported its operating profits.
The airport also splashed out this year with its largest ever level of capital investment in 12 months of £272.6m – including on a new security area in the North Terminal – and is set to spend £1.6bn in the seven years from April 2014.
National Infrastructure Commission chairman, Lord Adonis, says UK must maintain ties with EU to save key projects such as Heathrow 3rd runway and HS2. He said a hard Brexit would spell the end for the 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow airport was keen, before the referendum in 2016, for the UK to remain in the EU. While Heathrow, since the referendum, has argued that Brexit makes its 3rd runway ever more important, Andrew Adonis said private investment in infrastructure would be off the table unless Britain could maintain ties with the EU. He said that a host of major projects including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3 rail links between northern cities, as well as universal broadband and mobile services, would be under threat but particularly those that rely on private funding. “These decisions on Brexit have a crucial bearing on infrastructure. Business will not invest for the long term if they think Britain is going down the tube. It’s as simple as that.” And “If we were to go for a hard Brexit which severs Britain’s trading ties with the continent I think we could be heading for a calamity as a country.” The cost of the expansion at Heathrow would be about £17.5 billion (with Heathrow only paying about £1 billion towards surface access). They are trying to find cost savings. The money needs to come from its range of foreign investors, the biggest two of which are a Spanish Ferrovial (25%) consortium and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund (20%).
Hard Brexit could halt Heathrow expansion plans, says Lord Adonis
National Infrastructure Commission chair says UK must maintain ties with EU to save key projects such as third runway and HS2
By Gwyn Topham (Transport correspondent, Guardian)
Monday 26 June 2017
A hard Brexit would be a “calamity” that would spell the end for the Heathrow expansion, according to the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission.
While the airport has argued that Brexit makes its third runway ever more important, Andrew Adonis said private investment in infrastructure would be off the table unless Britain could maintain ties with the EU.
Lord Adonis said that a host of major projects including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3 rail links between northern cities, as well as universal broadband and mobile services, would be under threat but particularly those that rely on private funding.
“If we were to go for a hard Brexit which severs Britain’s trading ties with the continent I think we could be heading for a calamity as a country,” he said. “It’s important that we have a Brexit that maintains Britain’s trading ties with the continent, and that probably requires a long transition period, so we can get a fully fledged trade treaty.
“These decisions on Brexit have a crucial bearing on infrastructure. Business will not invest for the long term if they think Britain is going down the tube. It’s as simple as that. The projects that will be most affected will be those that require immediate private sector investment – starting with Heathrow.”
Heathrow is owned by a range of foreign investors, the biggest two of which are a Spanish consortium and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. The cost of a third runway was put at £17.6bn, although Heathrow said it was trying to reduce the price.
The commission chair was joined on Monday by business leaders in calling on the government to make urgent progress on infrastructure decisions.
A decision has been taken in principle on Heathrow but it needs to be approved by MPs voting on a national policy statement due to be published this year. Although a majority of MPs are thought to back expansion, senior figures in both the Conservative and Labour party are strongly opposed.
With a hung parliament, Adonis said: “There is a real danger that no decisions come forward and we end up as a country seriously regretting yet another period of dither and delay on major infrastructure decisions.”
Adonis was joined by leaders from the British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses in calling on politicians to ensure infrastructure projects were not delayed. They set out a timetable for decisive action on a total of 12 schemes across transport, energy, digital and water sectors, all of which have been agreed in principle by government but could yet languish.
Adonis said all could be met but added: “If we have dither and delay and a hard Brexit we’re going to really struggle to secure any agenda of long-term investment in the British economy.”
Adam Marshall, the director general of the BCC, said Brexit was “so all-consuming it is sucking the air out of the room”. He said: “We must ensure our parliamentarians are focusing on infrastructure and investment too.”
The government is due to build HS2 with public funding and is expected to put legislation before parliament to build phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe this year, and make a decision on the rest of the route. However, a faltering economy could further undermine the business case for the railway, with Treasury calculations basing passenger growth on GDP. Projects such as Crossrail 2 are expected to be significantly funded by private investment.
Andrew Adonis, Chair of National Infrastructure Commission, urges government to get on with Heathrow runway
June 26, 2017
Lord Andrew Adonis, chair of the UK National Infrastructure Commission, has urged the government to show it is committed to getting a 3rd Heathrow runway built. He wants to reassure backers of the runway that the current woeful political instability in government will not delay the project. The FT says Lord Adonis (a long time backer of the runway) considers it “essential” – but though it was in the Tory election manifesto, it was not mentioned in the (watered-down) Queen’s Speech. The Airports National Policy Statement is due to be considered by the Transport Select Committee (when it is re-convened) and then voted on in the House of Commons – perhaps early 2018. Andrew Adonis has urged Theresa May to get the vote as early as possible; that would be May 2018 “to send out a positive signal to business”… that “Britain is open for business.” He considers (with the problems on Hinckley Point C power station) that getting the runway built would be “the “acid test” of the government’s commitment to infrastructure investment.” But the parliamentary vote is far less certain that before the election, and Theresa May is not likely to remain Prime Minister for long. If Boris Johnson became PM, he has always been vehemently opposed to the runway. There remains huge uncertainty about the whole scheme.