Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says the airport wants to change conditions which have prevented it from lobbying government for more night flights. The plans were “buried” within its planning application to expand its annual throughput of passengers from 35 million to up to 43m. It claimed it was “a clandestine attempt to betray the community”, as it raised concerns about sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights. “For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region,” said SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey. “Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next 10 years as a condition of expansion.” The airport says it is not seeking any change to current night flight limits, [as the limit is already set above current usage.] SSE are also concerned that the long haul and freight aircraft which airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is hoping to attract to Stansted are “typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there” and with less stringent night noise controls, these could become a serious noise problem for local residents.
Campaigners raise night flights and ‘noise nightmare’ concerns over Stansted expansion plans
17 April 2018
By Sarah Chambers (EADT)
The owners of Stansted Airport have stressed that they are not seeking any change to current night flight limits at the site, after campaigners claimed they were trying to overturn the current legal conditions.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) claims the airport wants to change conditions which have prevented it from lobbying government for more night flights.
But the group said the plans were “buried” within its planning application to expand its annual throughput of passengers to up to 43m.
It claimed it was “a clandestine attempt to betray the community”, as it raised concerns about sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights.
“For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region,” said SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey.
“Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next 10 years as a condition of expansion.”
But an airport spokesman said: “We recognise that night flights are a sensitive issue for local residents and our application does not seek any change to the current night flight limits at Stansted.
“These flights are regulated separately by central government with the current controls applying until 2022.
“Night flights are a small but important part of our operation with both passenger airlines and cargo operators attaching a high value to the ability to operate at night.
“Stansted has grown in a measured and environmentally sustainable way and the introduction of the latest generation of quieter, more efficient aircraft will ensure that we continue to minimise aircraft noise.”
Campaigners are also concerned that the long haul and freight aircraft which airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is hoping to attract to Stansted are “typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there”. and that they would also exacerbate problems with noise disturbance suffered. “If MAG succeeded in having the present restrictions on night flights relaxed, the floodgates could rapidly open to a noise nightmare,” they claimed.
Stansted Airport expansion plans will ‘ambush local communities and residents,’ according to Uttlesford Liberal Democrats
Uttlesford Liberal Democrats say that Stansted Airport is seeking to ‘ambush local communities and residents’ with its plans to become the UK’s 2nd biggest airport. They say the submitted planning application is “unravelling under the pressure of public scrutiny” and Stansted is not being ‘open’ with local residents. Thaxted Councillor Martin Foley said public opinion is not being taken into account, nor is there enough consideration in regards to the additional traffic following the expansion, branding plans too “simplistic”. The airport is “not being open and transparent in their application to expand its capacity to 43+ million passengers per annum.” …“Firstly, they have buried their demand for the removal of current restrictions on night flights at Stansted in an appendix to their main application.” Public consultation events have not been properly promoted, and the airport’s “assessment of the impact of the additional traffic generated by the expansion is simplistic and rudimentary.” Implausibly, the airport’s CEO tries to make out there will be a lower noise impact, even with 8 million more annual passengers (35 million up to 43 million).
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The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has commented on the Government’s Aviation Strategy, produced on 7th. They say that while the UK aspires “to be a world leader in aviation when it comes to facilities and services, the same cannot be said for environmental protection, at least when it comes to climate change. A world-class package of environmental protection doesn’t currently seem to be on the agenda.” They say “The Aviation Strategy objectives should include an environmental objective that is not wrapped up in a commitment to growth, and the implications of this objective should be considered from the start.” AEF reiterate that aviation’s “unlimited growth is incompatible with achieving environmental commitments” and the DfT is not even questioning whether aviation growth was a positive outcome to aim for. Instead of the 3 separate consultations on aspects of UK aviation policy over the next 18 months, (with environment at the end) there will be a single Green Paper this autumn. The AEF hopes this allows for environmental impacts to be considered throughout the period of policy development and not as an afterthought (as it originally appeared). The DfT policy is focused on airline passengers and improving the service to them, but it should instead be in the interest of the whole population, including those affected by airports and aircraft.
Government publishes its ‘next steps’ towards an aviation strategy
13.4.2018 (Aviation Environment Federation)
On Saturday 7thApril the Government published the outcome of its call for evidence on the Aviation Strategy ‘Beyond the Horizon’. It’s not a particularly inspiring read in terms of environmental ambition. While the Government aspires for the UK to be a world leader in aviation when it comes to facilities and services, the same cannot be said for environmental protection, at least when it comes to climate change. A world-class package of environmental protection doesn’t currently seem to be on the agenda.
But the document does at least put many of the right issues on the table (including some, such as aviation’s non-CO2 impacts, that have long been neglected) and we plan to engage actively with the Government and others on the environmental aspects of the strategy between now and publication of the Green Paper. We’ve taken a look back at five points we argued in our response to the call for evidence, looked for evidence in the outcome document of any changes in the Government’s position on these, and set out what we’ll be calling for as the policy develops.
We said: The Aviation Strategy objectives should include an environmental objective that is not wrapped up in a commitment to growth, and the implications of this objective should be considered from the start
In our response to the call for evidence, we highlighted evidence that unlimited growth is incompatible with achieving environmental commitments, and that these objectives could not properly be dealt with together.
The outcome document notes that “Environment and community groups felt that the document gave insufficient prominence to carbon emissions and downplayed other environmental impacts as secondary to supporting growth, without questioning whether growth was a positive outcome to aim for.”
Nevertheless the Government plans to stick with its original wording for the objective to “support growth while tackling environmental impacts” with the justification that “the interdependencies of these issues has confirmed the Government’s view that they should all be addressed together as part of a single objective in the aviation strategy”.
Meanwhile, the plan to run three separate consultations over the next 18 months, with environment at the end, has been replaced by a proposal for a single Green Paper this autumn. We hope that this allows for environmental impacts to be considered throughout the period of policy development and not as an afterthought (as it originally appeared).
What we’ll be arguing for in the Green Paper
We’ll continue to present evidence for the need to keep environmental impacts within acceptable limits, whether or not they align with industry and government aspirations for growth.
We said: The commitment to put consumer interests at the centre of the strategy could prevent effective policy-making
The aviation strategy will be strongly consumer-focused and market-driven, the call for evidence had specified. We argued that government policy on aviation, including on its environmental impacts, should be in the interest of the whole population, not just consumers, including the half who don’t take a single flight in any given year.
The ‘market-driven’ language is less evident in the outcome document, but the consumer focus remains clear. In particular, the document makes clear that action on environment, and investment in new technologies, will be considered only if that’s not too costly for consumers and the industry. UK action on climate change could, for example, put our airlines at a competitive disadvantage and increase fares for passengers, the document argues, while the possibility of noise reduction will be considered “in the context of airport growth”. The possibility that environmental objectives should be met even if they conflict with direct passenger interests is not addressed.
What we’ll be arguing for in the Green Paper
AEF will continue to make the case that the Government won’t be able to meet its own aim of a sustainable aviation sector if its key test for all policy decisions is focused narrowly on serving direct consumer interests, and that Government policy should focus on the wider public interest.
We said: Heathrow expansion should not be decided till the strategy is in place
It makes no sense, we argued, for expansion of the UK’s biggest, noisiest airport (in terms of the number of people affected), and its biggest single source of CO2 emissions from any sector, to take place in the absence of national policy on environmental impacts. The outcome document has not acknowledged any concern about this issue.
Meanwhile some airports, such as Luton, have set out expansion plans that are large enough in scale to fall under the NPS process (the one being used for Heathrow expansion). It’s unclear at present how the Government plans to treat such applications – whether it would amend the current Airports NPS (which deals only with Heathrow) or draft new legislation.
What we’ll be arguing for in the Green Paper
Heathrow expansion is not yet a done deal and we’ll continue to argue that MPs should vote against the National Policy Statement in the absence of convincing evidence that it can and will be compatible with meaningful environmental limits. These limits should be set out or reflected in the Aviation Strategy, to ensure a common baseline for all UK airports, and to allow the impact of UK aviation as a whole to be considered.
We said: The proposal to take action to support airports where there is urgent need for growth, in advance of the strategy being finalised, is either meaningless, or a cause for concern
The call for evidence had an odd section on ‘Making Best Use of Existing Capacity’ that noted likely demand among airports to increase passenger throughput and argued that “Due to the recent rise in growth, the Government believes that this issue cannot wait until the publication of a new Aviation Strategy.”
We said that it was unclear what the proposal was, since applications would still need to go through the planning process and the Government doesn’t typically stand in the way. We would nevertheless strongly oppose, we said, a policy whereby these authorities were encouraged to approve any applications for growth in the absence of strategic guidance from Government on how to assess environmental impacts.
The outcomes document doesn’t shed any light, that we can see, on this issue. Some airports have been hoping that the strategy will include specific policy support for expansion at particular airports or in particular regions. There’s no evidence so far that the Government plans to get involved in this level of detail.
What we’ll be arguing for in the Green Paper
Airport development decisions taken at the local level should be guided by a strong policy framework on environmental impacts, which provides a common baseline, and takes into account cumulative impacts, where relevant, from more than one airport.
We said: The proposed ‘policy tests’, including that policy should be evidence-led, should be rigorously implemented
The Call for Evidence proposed that the Government’s approach to developing the strategy would be guided by a set of policy tests:
- What is the rationale for action?
- What is Government’s role?
- What does the evidence say?
- Have all of the options been considered?
- What is the effectiveness of any proposed action?
We said that we fully supported the application of these tests. There is no mention of them, however, in the outcome document.
What we’ll be arguing for in the Green Paper
We’ll be making the case for effective, evidence-led government action on aviation’s environmental impacts, focusing on areas where the market won’t deliver what’s needed unless the Government gives the right policy steer.
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The Queen and Sir David Attenborough, were recording for a programme in Windsor. Their genial chatter was marred by the overhead din of aircraft or helicopters. The Queen could not contain her irritation. “Why do they go round and round when you want to talk?” she pondered aloud. Poking fun at the noisy aircraft favoured by US leaders, she joked: “Sounds like President Trump or President Obama.” It is not the first time the monarch has expressed frustration about living under a flight path. Last year, she bemoaned the increasing “noise from the air” that disturbs the peace when she is enjoying the gardens at Frogmore House in Windsor. “These days there is more noise from the air than in 1867, but Frogmore remains a wonderfully relaxing environment.” Heathrow airport is barely a seven mile drive from Frogmore House and its flight path passes very close to the royal retreat. It was suggested in 2015 that the monarch could receive millions of pounds in compensation to soundproof Windsor Castle due to the noise of planes from an expanded Heathrow.
Queen jokes that noisy plane ‘sounds like President Trump’ during cordial chat with Sir David Attenborough
By Victoria Ward (Telegraph)
10 APRIL 2018
In any other circumstance, two 91-year-olds strolling slowly around a garden, complaining about the prevalence of noisy aircraft would hardly be of note.
But when that elderly couple happens to be the Queen and Sir David Attenborough, old friends and undisputed national treasures, the nature of their conversation is rather more of interest.
As it happened, the pair’s genial chatter was marred by the aforesaid overhead din.
The Queen could not contain her irritation. “Why do they go round and round when you want to talk?” she pondered aloud.
Poking fun at the noisy aircraft favoured by US leaders, she joked: “Sounds like President Trump or President Obama.”
It is not the first time the monarch has expressed frustration about living under a flight path.
Last year, she bemoaned the increasing “noise from the air” that disturbs the peace when she is enjoying the gardens at Frogmore House in Windsor.
In a pre-recorded message, she told BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time: “I very much hope you have enjoyed visiting Frogmore House and garden, which holds a special place in my family affections.
“Indeed, I would echo the sentiments of Queen Victoria, who, 150 years ago, wrote of this dear lovely garden where all is peace and you only hear the gum of bees, the singing of the birds.
“These days there is more noise from the air than in 1867, but Frogmore remains a wonderfully relaxing environment.”
Heathrow airport is barely a seven mile drive from Frogmore House and its flight path passes very close to the royal retreat.
It was suggested in 2015 that the monarch could receive millions of pounds in compensation to soundproof Windsor Castle due to the noise of planes from an expanded Heathrow.
But aside from the noise pollution, the Queen and Sir David clearly revelled in each other’s company.
The pair, who were born just a month apart, had met after the former agreed to escort Sir David personally around the Buckingham Palace tree collection.
Their summer stroll was the culmination of a year’s filming that also involved her grandchildren, Prince William and Prince Harry, for the Queen’s Green Planet documentary, which follows the progress of a project known as the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, which aims to create a network of forests around the globe, second only in size to the Amazon rainforest.
Sir David admitted that despite their many previous meetings he was a little nervous about the garden walk because “all sorts of things could have gone wrong.”
“There were problems in that where the palace is, geographically, there are always police sirens and ambulance sirens that make filming difficult,” he told the Radio Times.
“But she took it all in her stride. It was a privilege of course, a very nice occasion — and she was very gracious. “She is very unsolemn, very good at putting people at their ease.”
At one point, the Queen teased Sir David because he was struggling to identify the nametags on two oak trees planted to celebrate the births of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
“The truth was I couldn’t find my glasses,” he said.
The monarch also chuckled when Sir David pointed out a sundial “neatly planted in the shade”.
Asked how two nonagarians were still going strong, protecting the planet, he said: “We must be very lucky in our constitutions.
“There are very many virtuous people I can think of who can’t walk at my age, so it’s a matter of luck isn’t it?”
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Over 2 million people could be affected by noise from an expanded Heathrow according to secret documents obtained by campaigners. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had previously claimed in October 2016 that an expanded Heathrow (up to 50% more flights) would be quieter in 2030 than today. This claim (obviously ludicrous) was not repeated in the revised draft consultation on the Airports National Policy statement (NPS) published in October 2017. This predicted that 92,700 additional people in the area around Heathrow would be exposed to noise by 2030 as a consequence of the 3rd runway. Now, following an FOI request for the noise data contained in the CAA’s economic analysis, a new figure emerges of 972,957 households who would experience greater noise by 2060. This is the time frame for the full introduction of ‘quieter’ (= slightly less noisy) planes. Based on CAA assumptions on household size this figure is equivalent to 2.2 million people. The third runway, if approved, is expected to be fully open by 2028. At this point it is claimed that a maximum of 90% of the aircraft fleet would have been updated. This excludes many of the noisier four-engine planes. It is likely therefore that at this point the numbers of people experiencing increased noise would be significantly higher.
THIRD RUNWAY NOISE TO HIT OVER 2M PEOPLE
9.4.2018 (No 3rd Runway Coalition press release)
Over 2 million people could be affected by noise from an expanded Heathrow according to secret documents obtained by campaigners.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had previously claimed in October 2016 that an expanded Heathrow would be quieter in 2030 than today (1).
This claim was not repeated in the revised draft consultation on the airports national policy statement (NPS) published in October 2017. This predicted that 92,700 additional people in the area around Heathrow would be exposed to noise by 2030 as a consequence of the third runway (2).
Now following an FOI request for the noise data contained in the CAA’s economic analysis, a new figure emerges of 972,957 households who would experience greater noise by 2060. This is the time frame for the full introduction of ‘quieter’ planes (3).
Based on CAA assumptions on household size this figure is equivalent to 2.2 million people.
The third runway, if approved, is expected to be fully open by 2028. At this point it is claimed that a maximum of 90 per cent of the aircraft fleet would have been updated. This excludes many of the noisier four-engine planes. It is likely therefore that at this point the numbers of people experiencing increased noise would be significantly higher.
The detailed workings obtained from the CAA also show that within this figure there are 420,000 people who already suffer significant noise who would experience a doubling of flights overhead every day.
The 2.2 million figure is a best-case scenario. It relies on a flightpath strategy that aims to minimise the overall numbers affected. A different option which aimed to minimise the numbers newly affected by noise could increase the overall figure by 24% based on CAA calculations. (3)
Together with the noise from older planes that had not been replaced this could take the overall numbers affected to 3 million.
People’s real-life experience of noise is not reflected in the figures. The NPS proposes reducing the current half-day’s respite to one third. It also proposes that daytime flights should start every day at 0530 instead of 0600 currently.
The lack of information in the NPS on flight paths and the failure by the CAA to consider alternative flight path strategies makes it impossible for people to know if they will be affected and by how much.
Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:
“It has long been clear that the DfT have understated the numbers who will be impacted by an expanded Heathrow’s noise. Every analyst has pointed out that – by considering just one, and the most unrealistic flight path scenario – the figures were being massaged.
So, it’s hardly surprising to learn that these CAA calculations were not presented to the public and parliament. The DfT wish to conceal the true impact of expanding this highly disruptive airport, that sits at the heart of our country’s most densely populated region. And news of this concealment simply completes the narrative”.
John McDonnell MP said:
“As the true impact of expanding Heathrow is revealed, the more politicians are realising that it is a political costly and environmental liability for any political party that tries to force it through”
Zac Goldsmith MP said:
“It is astonishing that even while virtually every argument put forward in the Airports Commission and subsequently by Government to support the third runway has had to be abandoned or significantly revised, the Government’s position on the third runway has not altered one jot.
“The Government’s own figures show that Heathrow expansion is the most polluting, most expensive, least economically beneficial, and most difficult to deliver of the options. And now we learn that, disgracefully, the Government has deliberately downplayed the number of people who stand to be affected by noise.”
The CAA’s economic analysis, which uses the DfT’s webTAG appraisal model, was made available on January 31, 2018 following a Freedom of Information request (3).
- Chris Grayling, Statement to Parliament, 25 October 2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/airport-capacity
- Appraisal of Sustainability, Revised NPS, October 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/654320/aos-revised-draft-airports-nps-non-technical-summary.pdf p. 22
- FOI https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/aviation_policy_framework_metric_2#incoming-1104762
For more information – Rob Barnstone, 07806 947050; Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org
Official files show government expects 973,000 households to face increased daytime noise
More than 2 million people would be exposed to additional aircraft noise if Heathrow builds a third runway, according to a government analysis.
Ministers have argued that Britain’s biggest airport will affect fewer people with noise in future, due to quieter planes. But government calculations suggest a new runway would still have a negative impact on nearly a million households, or 2.2 million people.
Department for Transport documents, released by the Civil Aviation Authority after a freedom of information request, show the government expects 973,000 households around Heathrow to experience increased daytime noise by 2050 after a third runway is built.
It said 673,800 households affected by Heathrow’s two runways will experience less noise once expansion takes place, making a net 300,000 worse off.
The DfT work was carried out for a revised national policy statement published last year, which gives the green light to Heathrow expansion if approved by a parliamentary vote expected this summer.
Campaigners and parliamentary opponents of expansion accused the government of attempting to bury the figures.
Paul McGuinness, the chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “It has long been clear that the DfT have understated the numbers who will be impacted by an expanded Heathrow’s noise.
“So it’s hardly surprising to learn that these calculations were not presented to the public and parliament. The DfT wish to conceal the true impact of expanding this highly disruptive airport.”
According to the Heathrow anti-noise group Hacan, households in Heston, Osterley Park, Brentford and parts of Chiswick and Hammersmith would be brought directly under a new flight path.
When announcing the government’s backing for a third runway in 2016, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, told the House of Commons: “Even with expansion, fewer people will be affected by aircraft noise than today.”
In February, he told the transport select committee: “If you look ahead 20 years, I expect an expanded Heathrow airport to be quieter than the existing two-runway airport.”
The policy statement acknowledged that 92,700 more people around Heathrow would by 2030 be affected by noise at levels recognised as causing disturbance, although it said the numbers would diminish as plane technology improved.
The DfT said increased noise would be addressed by home insulation and compensation. “We have been clear that expansion at Heathrow would not be allowed to proceed without a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures for local communities,” a spokesperson said.
“This includes noise insulation for homes and community buildings and a community compensation fund worth up to £50m per year. We have consulted extensively on the options for airport expansion and will continue to engage with MPs and their communities as the proposals develop.”
Heathrow insisted fewer people would be affected by noise than at present, even with another runway. “We stand by our commitment to expand Heathrow while reducing the number of people affected by noise, compared to today. We are currently consulting with our local communities on airspace modernisation, which will redesign how planes fly over Heathrow in coming years,” a spokesperson said.
“Any future modelling of noise impacts must take into account these changes, as well as the stringent mitigation and insulation plans Heathrow will put in place, which will continue to reduce the number of people affected by our operations.”
The airport has managed to double passenger numbers and decrease its noise footprint in recent decades, as the oldest and loudest planes have been phased out. It expects to be held to a 6.5-hour night flight ban as a condition of building a third runway.
Airspace around Heathrow is also to be redesigned, which could see fewer newly affected households, although with 50% more flights, taking the total number to up to 740,000 a year, limiting additional flightpaths would concentrate the burden on areas that are already overflown.
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For a masterful summary (2 pages with all references) of the reasons why the UK government should not be persuaded into allowing a 3rd Heathrow runway, see this briefing by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson, from Transport for Quality of Life. They sum up all the ways in which the business case for the runway is flawed and the environmental case rests on hugely optimistic assumptions. They list these as: “planes will get cleaner and quieter at a faster rate than has previously been expected; cars and vans will also get dramatically cleaner; freight movements will somehow be optimised; the latest National Air Quality Plan will deliver all anticipated air quality improvements; the fledgling international aviation carbon offsetting scheme will generate a high enough carbon price; the national Aviation Strategy (not yet written) will come up with cost-effective mechanisms for constraining aviation emissions further; the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise will prove effective; a review of airspace (that has not taken place for over 40 years, as it is so controversial) will take place soon; HS2, Crossrail and the Piccadilly line upgrades will attract air passengers and airport staff in sufficiently large numbers; funding will be found for Western and Southern rail access; etc. It seems very unlikely that all of these will fall into place.”
Radical Transport Policy Two-Pager #2
Reality Check: Why politicians should reject the third runway
by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson (Transport for Quality of Life.com)
The business case for a third runway is flawed and the environmental case rests on hugely optimistic assumptions.
Given how long the debate about Heathrow expansion has worn on, it may be tempting for politicians to think “let’s just get on with it”. There is a danger that the sheer weight of paper generated, the time spent debating the issue, and the dogged persistence of the airport’s operator, which has spent £30m promoting its cause1 , now tips the scales towards development, whatever the social and environmental cost. But a third runway represents a very serious threat to the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people living around the airport2 and could also compromise the UK’s ability to deliver on its climate change commitments3 . The decision should be the right one, not just the easiest.
Proponents of expansion argue that there is an urgent economic need for the runway; that mitigating measures will protect the health of those affected; and that we will still be able to meet our climate targets. Up close, however, these claims rest on a web of tenuous assumptions and highly optimistic predictions. And, although the House of Commons transport committee has just come out in favour of expansion 4 , the endless caveats to its judgment only highlight the huge uncertainties surrounding the scheme.
Take, first, the claim that we urgently need new capacity for business travellers. In practice, over the last ten years, the number of flights made for business at the UK’s five largest airports, including Heathrow, has not increased5 . Latest DfT forecasts also suggest that a new runway will make little difference to the number of flights taken for business across the UK in the future 6 .
Instead, the argument made is that business travellers will enjoy more services to key destinations, fewer delays, and (even) cheaper fares 7 . However, this is all subject to future business decisions made by the airport’s operator. The level of fares, for instance, depends on whether Heathrow avoids passing on costs of the new runway to its users – something the airlines are deeply sceptical about 8 , and one of many areas where the transport committee is now calling for safeguards. Meanwhile, although Heathrow’s hub status may enable it to offer services to more obscure places, there is no guarantee that flights will therefore go to emerging business destinations, rather than more lucrative holiday hotspots.
We might expect the Government’s economic assessment to tell us about the effects on UK-wide prosperity. However, the majority of calculated economic benefits for expansion come from adding together estimates of small reductions in journey times or fares for individual passengers. Making flying quicker and cheaper is not beneficial for ferry or rail operators, or thousands of UK businesses that depend on domestic tourism. In 2016, UK residents flying abroad for leisure spent £33.5bn, whilst overseas visitors flying here for leisure spent only £14.5bn – a deficit of £19bn 9 . This loss to the UK’s tourism economy is not even factored into the cost-benefit analysis of the third runway.
And latest Government forecasts also suggest that regional airports will lose out from expansion, since, with the third runway, they will have 17 million fewer passengers by 2050 than they would without it10 .
The validity of the case for expansion is further undermined by the sheer volatility of the figures presented. The maximum estimated benefits (over 60 years) have been repeatedly revised, from £211bn in 2014 11, down to £74bn in 2017 12. When the costs of the project are then added in, latest official figures show that, in some scenarios, the overall ‘net present value’ for the expansion is actually negative 13 .
Worse still, the environmental case for the runway relies on a series of hugely optimistic forecasts. In evidence to the transport committee, advocates of the runway argued that there will be no additional road traffic, that air quality will stay within legal limits, that noise impacts can be effectively managed, and that Climate Change Act requirements will not be breached.
However, this rests on the following assumptions:
- planes will get cleaner and quieter at a faster rate than has previously been expected 14,15;
- cars and vans will also get dramatically cleaner 16;
- freight movements will somehow be optimised 17;
- the latest National Air Quality Plan will deliver all anticipated air quality improvements 18;
- the fledgling international aviation carbon offsetting scheme will generate a high enough carbon price 19;
- the national Aviation Strategy (not yet written) will come up with cost-effective mechanisms for constraining aviation emissions further 20;
- the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise will prove effective; a review of airspace (that has not taken place for over 40 years, because it is so controversial) will take place soon 21;
- HS2, Crossrail and the Piccadilly line upgrades will attract air passengers and airport staff in sufficiently large numbers;
- funding will be found for Western and Southern rail access 22; etc
It seems very unlikely that all of these will fall into place.
Doubts about the timing and effectiveness of such measures are also expressed by the Commons Transport Committee, which is calling for more safeguards to be written into the Airports National Policy Statement, including conditions withholding the use of new capacity if targets are not met. However, for Heathrow to open in 2026, the scale of what would have to be delivered in the next eight years is immense. It is unclear how, at this stage, any re-written paperwork can provide the certainty needed. Nor does it seem credible to believe that, after billions have been spent on building the runway, politicians will tell Heathrow they can’t use it.
Surely, instead, before taking any decision, it makes sense to wait and see whether, as promised, in the next few years, air quality improves, planes get quieter, airspace becomes better organised, carbon emissions can be managed, and an increasing share of air passengers and staff start using public transport. If these things don’t happen – or, indeed, if the airport operator then decides that it is no longer financially viable to build the runway – politicians will have made the right choice, safeguarding both the health of local communities and the UK’s climate commitments. Giving a green light to expansion now is an enormous gamble with the future.
Sally Cairns and Carey Newson are independent researchers and Associates of specialist transport consultancy, Transport for Quality of Life. Input to this article was also provided by Cait Hewitt and Tim Johnson of the Aviation Environment Federation. A version of this Two-Pager was first published as an article in Local Transport Today: “Approving a third runway at Heathrow is the easy option. But it would also be wrong.” LTT Issue 744, 3rd April 2018.
1 John Holland-Kaye, CEO Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd: [In response to a direct question about the amount of money spent ‘solely on promoting the third runway’] “Solely on promoting it, the number I have in mind is £30 million.” Emma Gilthorpe, Executive Director Expansion, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd: “More than that has gone into community engagement, which I would not consider to be promotional. I would consider that just being a good responsible business.” Q360, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 5/2/18.
2 Val Shawcross CBE, Deputy Mayor of London: “..something like three quarters of a million people are already affected, so the potential expansion could push one million people to experience significant noise nuisance.” Q264, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 15/1/18.
3 The aviation forecasts currently suggest that Heathrow expansion will lead to total UK aviation emissions from departing aircraft of 39.9MtCO2 p.a. by 2050, which exceeds the total needed to meet the Climate Change Act requirements (DfT 2017 UK Aviation Forecasts, Table 39, p110). A review of theoretical additional carbon abatement measures was published in conjunction with the revised NPS, however, critics have highlighted the potentially high costs and practical challenges to implementing them. https://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/2017/12/AEF-comments-on-NPS-reconsultation.pdf
4 House of Commons Transport Committee (2018) Airports National Policy Statement. HC548. Third report of session 2017-19 5 Airports Commission (2015) Final Report shows the trend in the number of international terminal passengers travelling for business at the UK’s
5 largest airports between 2000 and 2013, Figure 3.1, page 70. According to Civil Aviation Statistics, the total number of terminal passengers travelling for business at the UK’s five largest airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Manchester) was 40.5 million in 2006, 34.9 million in 2011 and 34.8 million in 2016.
6 DfT (2017) UK Aviation Forecasts. Table 31, page 100. In the unconstrained capacity scenario, the forecast is for 93 million business passengers p.a. (including UK business, foreign business and domestic business) in 2050. In the constrained scenario, the forecast is for 91 million. The forecast difference in total passenger numbers is 494 mppa compared with 410 mppa. Allowing a third runway at Heathrow (which is expected to reduce constraints, but not reach the ‘unconstrained’ scenario) is expected to result in total passenger numbers of 435 mppa (Table 34). The Transport Committee’s report (page 17) states that “the passenger growth facilitated by a NWR scheme is accounted for almost entirely by leisure passengers (i.e. those travelling for holiday purposes or those visiting friends and relatives sometimes referred to as VFR) and international transfer passengers”.
7 Caroline Low, Director of Airport Expansion and Aviation and Maritime Analysis: “The number of people travelling is not dissimilar, because in any scenario, business travellers will pay to travel…” “…the benefits we monetise are reduced delays, increased frequency and reduced fares…” Q464 and 465, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 7/2/18
8 Craig Keeger, CEO Virgin Atlantic: “…we find ourselves today – being quite concerned that we or our customers, or some combination thereof, would effectively be left holding the bag for any overspending in what is now, at this point, a very unpredictable outcome.” Q578 Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group: “It is a huge cost, and the risk at this stage is completely unknown, because we do not know what we are talking about…We are being asked to sign a blank cheque.” Q585, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 20/2/18
9 Office for National Statistics (2017) Travel trends: 2016. Figures taken from the underlying data tables (2.09 and 3.09), in order to exclude international travel done for business, or by sea or channel tunnel. Leisure includes holidays, visiting friends or relatives, and ‘miscellaneous’. In 2012, the equivalent figures were £23.2 billion versus £11.5 billion, a difference of £12 billion. It is also notable that, in 2016, 78% of leisure spending by UK residents flying overseas was on holidays, whereas this was only the case for 48% of leisure spending by overseas visitors. Inbound foreign holiday makers (travelling by air) only spent £7 billion in the UK in 2016. This is a significant difference to the figure of ‘over £22 billion’ for ‘inbound tourism’ given on page 14 of the revised NPS. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/leisureandtourism/articles/traveltrends/2016
10 Department for Transport (2017) Updated appraisal report: airport capacity in the South East. Table 3.7, p21.
11 Airports Commission (2014) Consultation document: Gatwick Airport Second Runway, Heathrow Airport Extended Northern Runway, Heathrow Airport North West Runway, p75, para 3.128
12 Department for Transport (2017) Revised Draft Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England. p23, para 3.26
13 Department for Transport (2017) Updated appraisal report: airport capacity in the South East. Tables 9.2 and 9.3, p44 and 46.
14 The aviation forecasts assume that there will be a 46-48% improvement in fuel efficiency between 2016 and 2050 (DfT 2017 UK Aviation Forecasts. Table 8, page 55). In 2013, the expectation, in line with mid-point technology assumptions used by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation, was for a 32% improvement, according to the Aviation Environment Federation. https://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/2017/12/AEF-comments-on-NPS-reconsultation.pdf
15 Stephen Clark, No Third Runway Coalition: “… a heroic gamble is being taken on a quieter fleet. Some of these changes are not happening… The new generation A380s are not being ordered at the moment. There are other new types of quieter planes where production has been scaled right back. This is a huge gamble, and it has not been properly investigated.” Q304, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 15/1/18
16 BEIS (2017) The Clean Growth Strategy refers to intentions for almost every car and van to be zero emissions by 2050 and to end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040 (p85). Meanwhile, the Defra/DfT (2017) Draft UK air quality plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide: technical report includes graphs in Annex H, which indicate the scale of reduction in nitrogen dioxide expected over time, most of which is anticipated to come from reductions in NOx from vehicles.
17 Alex William, Director of City Planning, Transport for London: “..the NPS sets out no objectives to reduce, manage or consolidate that [freight] to reduce the impacts on the wider network. HAL would like an arrangement where there is no increase in the overall volume of trips. We see no strategy from HAL as to how that will be achieved. It is the right objective in our view, but there is no detailed evidence base to say how it will be achieved.” Q244, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 15/1/18
18 The updated air quality analysis highlights that there is a ‘high’ risk that the Heathrow scheme could delay or worsen compliance with limit values, and that “the mitigation of risks relies on the effective implementation of the Government’s 2017 Plan measures and RDE legislation to reduce emissions from road transport.” DfT/WSP (2017) 2017 Plan Update to Air Quality Re-Analysis, p4
19 The aviation forecasts assume that a theoretical global carbon trading scheme is operational, with BEIS estimating the associated cost of carbon to be £77/tonne in 2030 (DfT 2017 UK Aviation Forecasts, para 5.16, p78). This cost feeds through to fares, and thereby causes some suppression of demand, resulting in lower carbon emissions than would otherwise occur. However, in reality, aviation will not participate in a global trading scheme, as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has agreed to introduce an offsetting scheme, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). ICAO analysis suggests the carbon costs of CORSIA will be only £11/tonne in 2030, and will therefore fail to have the same effect on demand and CO2 reduction. https://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/2017/12/AEF-comments-on-NPS-reconsultation.pdf
20 See footnote 3
21 Lilian Greenwood, Transport Select Committee Chair: “…ultimately, you are having to make choices about who is affected – who is going to be overflown. These are hugely contentious and have proved very difficult issues in the past, have they not?” Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport: “They are very difficult issues…” Q535, House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 7/2/18
22 Alex Williams, Director of City Planning, Transport for London: “We hear warm words in the NPS [about western and southern rail access], but we do not hear firm statements about commitment… We see them as essential to getting anywhere near the mode shift targets.” Brendon Walsh, Chairman of the Officer Group, Heathrow Strategic Planning Group: ”The Heathrow Strategic Planning Group represents 12 local authorities and the local LEPs in the area. We too agree that it is essential rather than desirable to see southern and western rail access.” Q238 House of Commons Transport Committee Oral evidence: Airports National Policy Statement HC548, 15/1/18
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The government has published its Aviation Strategy, which the DfT says “will set out the longterm direction for aviation policy to 2050 and beyond.” The first phase of its development was the publication of a call for evidence in July 2017. The Aviation Strategy says it will now “pursue 6 objectives, which are unchanged following the consultation.” It is very much focused on the passenger, the passenger experience, helping the aviation industry, expanding aviation and “building a global and connected Britain.” The Strategy “sets out further detail on the challenges associated with these objectives and some of the action that the government is considering and which will form part of further consultation later in the year.” The DfT says: “The government will continue the dialogue that has already begun on these issues. The next step will be the publication of detailed policy proposals in a green paper in the autumn of 2018. This will be followed by the final Aviation Strategy document in early 2019.” There is mention of the environmental problems (carbon, noise, air pollution) but they are given scant attention, and it is presumed they can all be reduced – even while the sector has huge growth. A 3rd runway at Heathrow is assumed to happen.
DfT says: “Government puts consumers at heart of the aviation industry”
- greater focus on passengers, to improve their experience throughout their journey
- creating an ever cleaner, greener sector which prioritises sustainable growth
- building a global and connected Britain with more trade opportunities
The government will today (7 April 2018) set out its plans to make the country’s aviation sector world-leading in prioritising passengers, fostering sustainable growth and promoting trade.
The aviation strategy next steps document outlines proposals which will build on the aviation industry’s work to improve the flying experience for passengers at every stage of their journey. Read it here
This will include new measures to help passengers make a more informed choice about their flight including providing more transparency on additional costs.
The document also outlines how the government will work with industry to ensure all passengers have a dignified and comfortable travelling experience, including ways to improve accessibility at airports and on aircraft and tackling the issue of disruptive passengers.
Work will be carried out to improve the compensation scheme for consumers, ensuring passengers are properly informed about their rights to claim when things go wrong and exploring greater powers to enforce regulations.
Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said:
Our world class aviation industry has a proud and accomplished history, from pioneering the first international routes to championing consumer choice.
Working with industry, we want to improve the flying experience from booking to arrival, ensuring passengers are truly at the heart of the aviation sector.
This demonstrates our commitment to creating a transport system which works for passengers as we build a Britain fit for the future.
The government is also providing more details about its ambitious plan to make Britain’s aviation sector the world’s greenest, including proposals to tackle issues around noise, greenhouse gas emissions and airspace congestion.
Environmental proposals include the introduction of new noise targets, strengthened noise controls at airports and improved compensation for people living near airports. The government will work with industry to reduce the usage of single use plastics and improve recycling rates.
The government will also explore measures with industry to support the use of quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft, as well as the emergence of electric and hybrid technology.
The ‘next steps’ document makes clear the government’s commitment to ensuring the aviation sector continues to grow.
The sector already contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy each year and the strategy will examine what can be done to help it develop even further.
The strategy will examine the agreements UK has with other countries to operate flights, identify opportunities to improve connectivity and open up new routes for overseas investment.
Other proposals include reviewing the allocation of airport landing slots to ensure the process is fair, transparent and fosters a competitive marketplace which benefits consumers by offering more choice.
An initial call for evidence for the aviation strategy was launched in July of last year, receiving almost 380 responses. The proposals being outlined in the ‘next steps’ document will be consulted on further in the autumn, with the final strategy due for publication in early 2019.
The aviation strategy is designed to achieve a safe, secure and sustainable aviation sector that meets the needs of consumers and of a global, outward-looking Britain. It will look to:
- help the aviation industry work for its customers
- ensure a safe and secure way to travel
- build a global and connected Britain
- encourage competitive markets
- support growth while tackling environmental impacts
- develop innovation, technology and skill
Beyond the horizon
The future of UK aviation
Next steps towards an Aviation Strategy
The section on carbon is on Pages 60 – 63.
The section on noise is on Pages 63 – 67
On biofuels, it says Page 63:
“6.22 Sustainable alternative aviation fuels are widely seen as essential to the long term sustainability of the aviation sector. The government has legislated to extend eligibility of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation to aviation fuels and through the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition government has made £22 million of matched capital funding available to support the production of low carbon fuels for aviation and Heavy Goods Vehicles. Through the Aviation Strategy the government will consider policies it can put in place to further assist the long term uptake of sustainable alternative fuels in this sector which is particularly difficult to decarbonise.”
A part of its section on carbon states:
“6.14 In Europe, aviation has been included in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) since 2012. As set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, the government is considering the UK’s future participation in the EU ETS after our exit from the EU. Whatever our future relationship with the EU, the government will seek to ensure that our approach is at least as ambitious as the existing scheme and provides a smooth transition for the relevant sectors.
“6.15 It has long been the government’s position that international aviation emissions are best tackled at the international level. This reflects the inherently global nature of both the aviation industry and the challenge of climate change. Airline schedules are designed so that an aircraft may fly between any number of states in any given day and be registered to an operator in a different state altogether. Assigning portions of the aircraft’s emissions to different states is problematic, particularly in the absence of an agreed international methodology.
“6.16 Stronger action at the UK level without an equivalent level of action internationally is likely to impose greater costs on airlines flying to and from the UK, thereby putting UK airlines at a greater competitive disadvantage compared to foreign airlines and potentially increasing fares. Passengers may, as a result, choose to travel through other airport hubs which would simply move the emissions elsewhere rather than reducing them (known as carbon ‘leakage’).
“6.17 In addition to the government’s emphasis on international action, it has always been willing to consider all cost effective measures to ensure that the sector continues to contribute to the UK’s emissions reduction obligations, including under the Climate Change Act and Paris Agreement.”
DfT’s webpage on its Aviation Strategy
Beyond the horizon: the future of aviation in the UK
The next steps towards a new aviation strategy
The aviation industry is a British success story; rooted in a deep heritage of being at the forefront of global aviation.
To build on this success we are developing a new strategy to support industry in delivering even greater improvements for passengers, the environment and our country.
Between July and October 2017 we asked for views on how we should consult to develop this new strategy as well as what issues we should cover.
We have now published a ‘next steps’ document, which identifies the challenges for aviation in the years to come and discusses how we can respond to them.
It also sets out how we will engage with industry throughout 2018. This will result in a final aviation strategy by early 2019.
Read the ‘aviation strategy next steps’
Our 6 objectives for a new aviation strategy
Aviation matters – it drives economic growth across the whole United Kingdom, connects us with the world, removes barriers to trade and supports jobs and skills. We have an aviation history to be proud of and we’re building on a track record of success.
But we also recognise the challenges that our aviation sector faces in maintaining this leading position. So the time is now right to develop a new aviation strategy that will set out the long-term vision for aviation taking us to 2050 and beyond.
These are our 6 objectives for a new aviation strategy.
Help the aviation industry work for its customers
Enhancing the consumer experience through improved accessibility, better information and support when things go wrong.
Ensure a safe and secure way to travel
Championing the UK’s aviation security and safety record and ensuring our approaches remain cutting edge and responsive to new challenges.
Build a global and connected Britain
The importance of aviation to building a global Britain that is outward looking, with a strong economy that benefits the whole of the UK.
Encourage competitive markets
Examining the sector to see whether market failures exist and how government can encourage more competition.
Support growth while tackling environmental impacts
Building capacity and promoting regional growth and connectivity whilst balancing this with the need to tackle environmental impacts.
Develop innovation, technology and skills
How we can make best use of new technology and build on the aviation sector’s track record of success in encouraging innovation.
Download the full outcome
The aim of the new aviation strategy is to achieve a safe, secure and sustainable aviation sector that meets the needs of consumers and of a global, outward-looking Britain.
We sought views on the aviation strategy from industry, business, consumers, environmental groups and anyone with an interest in aviation.
The next steps document outlines our 6 key objectives for the strategy, challenges ahead and actions the government is considering to address these.
We will hold a consultation on the policy detail for all 6 of the strategy objectives later this year, leading to the publication of a final aviation strategy in 2019.
This call for evidence is the first stage of developing a new aviation strategyfor the UK.
This document sets out our overall aims and approach and seeks views on:
- our proposed approach
- the issues that we would like to explore through the development of the strategy
We want to be guided by you. This is your opportunity to shape the future of aviation.
An updated version of this document was published on 9 August 2017 correcting a typographical error in figure 12 on page 43.
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Planned new flightpaths into Glasgow airport will see planes flying over some of Scotland’s wealthiest suburbs, so there can be slight fuel use reductions and the airport can handle increased passenger numbers. The changes to the routes will see flights take off or land over areas such as Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and East Renfrewshire to cut down on the time it takes planes to reach international flightpaths. The proposals are aimed at “modernising” Glasgow’s airspace to handle increasing passenger numbers, larger aircraft and (allegedly) greenwash the plans and “to make flying less harmful to the environment.” Community groups in affected areas are worried about the impact on their communities and are urging the airport to rethink the plans, which are out to consultation till April 13th. The system will change from older ground navigation, to new satellite systems (PBN), and will enable flight paths to be concentrated, so particular areas get intensified plane noise, as plane after plane follows the same track. One village that fears it will be badly affected is Uplawmoor, which currently is tranquil, where residents are angry they were not consulted until “very late in the day”. People want a more open and honest consultation, and for the CAA to ensure that happens.
Residents alarm at proposed changes to Glasgow Airport flightpaths
PLANNED new flightpaths into Scotland‘s largest airport will see planes flying over some of the country’s wealthiest suburbs in a bid to cut down on carbon emissions and handle increased passenger numbers.
The changes to the routes around Glasgow Airport will see flights take off or land over areas such as Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and East Renfrewshire to cut down on the time it takes planes to reach international flightpaths.
The proposals are aimed at “modernising” Glasgow’s airspace to handle increasing passenger numbers, larger aircraft and to make flying less harmful to the environment.
But community groups in affected areas such as Bearsden, Dennistoun and Uplawmoor are worried about the impact on their communities nad are urging the airport to rethink the plans.
The plans are currently out to public consultation which closes on April 13.
READ MORE: Ryanair to cut Glasgow Airport base with 300 jobs at risk
A key element of the plan involves removing ground-based navigation aids, which were devised in the 1960’s, in favour of satellite systems. Ground navigation aids used by Glasgow Airport, which guide the aircraft to and from the airfield, will be decommissioned in 2019.
Supporters say the move to satellite systems will help reduce the time planes queue in the air and on the ground and reduce overall CO2 and fuel emissions.
But opponents claim the change from beacon to GPS will concentrate air traffic in a way that has not been seen around Glasgow before with all aircraft flying on exactly the same route, causing increased noise in the affected areas.
Stuart Wilson, who represents Uplawmoor Community Council, said the airport had not explained why the departure route needed to go directly over the village when it was surrounded by empty countryside.
The village lies in the East Renfrewshire countryside about nine miles south of the airport and Mr Wilson said his main concerns were with the increase in noise over the “very tranquil peaceful surroundings”.
He said there would be departure flights flying over the village every few minutes and the noise would be equivalent to “being next to a busy 50mph road”.
He said: “The proposals as they currently stand estimate on most days up to 70% of traffic leaving Glasgow airport will now come over a very condensed area over a very small rural population,” he said.
He criticised the airport for not consulting the community until “very late in the day”.
READ MORE: Ryanair to cut Glasgow Airport base with 300 jobs at risk
Mr Wilson said he hoped the Civil Aviation Authority, which has the final say on the proposals, would force the airport into a more “transparent, open and honest” consultation.
Residents in Bearsden, which is about six miles the north of the airport, have also protested over the increase flights taking off over parts of their area.
A similar Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) review of proposed changes to Edinburgh Airport’s flight paths has been halted on a techinicality amid thousands of complaints from affected communities.
The CAA decision – which is very unusual – is thought to relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission.
Edinburgh Airport had said the changes were necessary to cope with increasing numbers of passengers.
But local campaigners raised concerns about increased noise and the impact on communities.
Edinburgh Airport insisted its flight path proposals “work” and were “the best balance achievable” but last years it said it had modified its plans following the latest public consultation.
A Glasgow Airport spokesman said: “The flight paths have not changed materially in decades.
“As is the case with wider UK airspace infrastructure, they are no longer fit for purpose.
“There is a need for Glasgow to modernise the departure paths, however it is important to stress that what we have put forward are only proposals.
READ MORE: Ryanair to cut Glasgow Airport base with 300 jobs at risk
“We can only make changes once we have considered the views of all those who respond directly to the consultation.
“Those views will then be presented to our regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, who will ultimately make the decision on whether or not we can proceed, however, we will of course take on board all of the views that were expressed as we consider our next steps.”
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A new study Corridors of Concentration, published by HACAN and Plane Hell Action, reveals a dramatic increase in the number of flights over many areas of South East London in recent years. It also found that flight paths have become more concentrated. The study was carried out to highlight the current impact of aircraft noise on south east London and to influence the policy debate by feeding into Heathrow’s recent consultation on future flight path design. Over a dozen areas from Clapham Common to Greenwich were surveyed, and the number of aircraft audible from each location recorded. The study found that the area is heavily overflown, with typically 38 planes an hour audible to many communities. This could rise to over 40 during busy periods. Due to increasing concentration, some communities are especially badly hit. The study concluded many more planes are joining their final approach corridors further east than before and are more concentrated within those corridors. People living south of the Thames are experiencing an increased density of turning aircraft over their homes. The study recommends that flight paths need to be varied more, and the practice of concentrating night flights over particular communities should be avoided. See the whole study for details.
NEW STUDY: DRAMATIC INCREASE IN FLIGHT NUMBERS OVER PARTS OF SOUTH EAST LONDON
3.4.2018 (HACAN press release)
A new study (1) reveals a dramatic increase in the number of flights over many areas of South East London in recent years. Corridors of Concentration, published today by HACAN and Plane Hell Action, also found that flight paths have become more concentrated. The study was carried out to highlight the current impact of aircraft noise on south east London and to influence the policy debate by feeding into Heathrow’s recent consultation on future flight path design.
Over a dozen areas from Clapham Common in the west to Greenwich in the east were surveyed. The number of aircraft audible from each location was recorded. Key counts were verified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The study found that:
- The area is heavily overflown, with typically 38 planes an hour audible to many communities. This could rise to over 40 during busy periods.
- Increased concentration of flights has taken place in recent years. More than ever, flights are being guided through ‘concentrated corridors’ which means particular communities are especially badly hit.
- The overall number of flights is much the same as when we last surveyed the area 10 years ago but this masks significant changes in certain places:
– the number of flights in the east of the region has increased dramatically: daily flights in the Brockley corridor grew by 135 between 2011 and 2017; Greenwich saw an increase of 165 a day.
– flight numbers in the ‘southern corridor’ – which is focused on the southern runway – have risen significantly.
– increased concentration has meant more flights for particular communities. Although the study focused on daytime flights, it found evidence to suggest night flights have also become more concentrated.
The study concluded many more planes are joining their final approach corridors further east than before and are more concentrated within those corridors. Increased concentration and the join point shifting have meant that people living south of the river are experiencing an increased density of turning aircraft over their homes.
The study made three key recommendations:
- In the short-term, flight paths need to be varied as much as possible to reduce the concentration identified.
- The practice of concentrating night flights over particular communities should be avoided.
- In the longer-term, when Heathrow redesigns its airspace, it needs to ensure that the new technology is used to distribute arrivals fairly over multiple approach routes.
Dan Scorer, of Plane Hell Action, said: “This study confirms everything that people have been telling us across south east London. The increased concentration of flights is driving many people to despair, with no escape from the constant noise over our heads. We can’t wait 7 years for Heathrow to change flight paths – action is needed now.”
HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This study makes a powerful case that the problems caused by flights to Heathrow are not confined to West London and areas close to the airport. For many communities in South East London the situation has got worse rather than better over the last decade.”
Notes for editors:
(1). Link to the study: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Corridors-of-Concentration-Report.pdf
For further information:
John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650
Dan Scorer on 07949 653 704
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CAGNE, (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions), has written to the Chief Medical Officer Health of the Department of Health and Social Care, Professor Dame Sally Davies, asking for research to be undertaken to the true cost to health of night flights on communities surrounding Gatwick. Gatwick currently has permission to fly 14,250 flights at night per year with no restrictions on the number of arrivals and departures they are permitted to fly over sleeping rural communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent during the hours of 11.30pm and 6am. CAGNE said: “There has been international research into the health impacts of night flights and the conclusions have shown that aircraft night movements have serious ramifications on the wellbeing of communities. And yet Gatwick is allowed to fly the most night flights of any airport in the UK today with no cost evaluation to the NHS budgets or wellbeing of people who suffer sleep deprivation due to aircraft movements at night.” Gatwick has the most night flights of any UK airport. It has only made token gestures to reduce the night noise over rural communities that surround it. Residents have a normal expectation of having a full night’s sleep of 8 hours sleep as recommended by Sleep Foundation, but for too many this is not possible.
CAGNE raises health concerns over night flights
CAGNE, (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions), has written to the Chief Medical Officer Health of the Department of Health and Social Care, Professor Dame Sally Davies, asking for research to be undertaken to the true cost to health of night flights on communities surrounding Gatwick.
Gatwick currently has permission to fly 14,250 flights at night per year with no restrictions on the number of arrivals and departures they are permitted to fly over sleeping rural communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent during the hours of 11.30pm and 6am.
“There has been international research into the health impacts of night flights and the conclusions have shown that aircraft night movements have serious ramifications on the wellbeing of communities. And yet Gatwick is allowed to fly the most night flights of any airport in the UK today with no cost evaluation to the NHS budgets or wellbeing of people who suffer sleep deprivation due to aircraft movements at night.”
“It is about time that the health and wellbeing of communities came before profits of the airlines and airports. With Heathrow continuing to offer night respite to communities and a ban of 6.5 hours with a third runway which Gatwick never offered with a second runway. We feel it is about time the true cost to the NHS is understood from ill health of residents that are deprived sleep due to the noise of aircraft.”
Note to Editor:
Letter from CAGNE to Professor Dame Sally Davies copied below:
With its appendices, it can be seen at CAGNE letter to Dame Sally Davies 26.3.18
26th March 2018
Professor Dame Sally Davies
Chief Medical Officer Health (Department of Health and Social Care)
39 Victoria Street
Dear Dame Sally Davies
CAGNE is a community group established in February 2014 that seeks a fair and equitable distribution of arrivals and departures to the east and west of Gatwick Airport.
We contact you with regards to the recent document on ‘Health Impacts of All Pollutions 2017’ with interest in the sections relating to aircraft noise.
Gatwick has the most night flights of any UK airport. It has only made token gestures to reduce the night noise over rural communities that surround it. Residents have a normal expectation of having a full night’s sleep of 8 hours sleep as recommended by Sleep Foundation** . This is not possible due to the large number of night flights flown out of Gatwick Airport.
Gatwick has 11,200 night movements during the summer schedule with dispensations to allow for more. The Government 2017 night quotas are permitting Gatwick to grow by 60% during the winter schedule. In 2016 Gatwick had around a 2% increase in night movements resulting in more people affected within the 57Leq noise contour.****
Although your above mentioned document touches on night noise and light pollution *** it does not fully investigate the impact of night flights on the health and wellbeing of those that endure the continual noise and light.
There have been many international studies on the impact of aircraft noise and the effects on health, but nothing is being actively done to reduce the impact of night noise. Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries at work and on the roads. The lack of sleep or impaired sleep significantly impacts thinking and learning. Repeated lack of sleep puts residents at risk from serious medical conditions such as heart disease and attacks, high blood pressure and strokes. * In a war torture or interrogation scenario, sleep deprivation tactics are used to bring about a change in psychological state. We see no difference in being woken every few minutes by yet another plane landing or departing at Gatwick.
The recent CAGNE survey carried out over 3 month (released January 2018) residents participating from Sussex, Surrey and Kent, showed that at Gatwick 36.82% wanted a ban on night departures and 32.0% on arrivals landing during the night. Gatwick and airlines claim that a ban would not be feasible due to and the requirements of aircraft turnaround for early morning departures or long-haul flight requirements.
Gatwick try to use night noise quotas with modern aeroplanes compared to old aeroplanes that to illustrate that noise has been reduced. The fact is that the frequency by which planes are flown at Gatwick continues to increase and so does the disturbance of adults and children endeavouring to sleep.
Please see appendix A and B for movement and quota figures for Gatwick and other London airports. Please note that Heathrow is offering a 6.5-hour no fly at night with the third runway. Gatwick Airport submitted proposals for expansion with two runways operating simultaneously throughout the day and night.
Many residents do not get any respite from aircraft noise as they are overflown 24/7 by arrivals and departure, multiple routes, and yet they are not given any priority status by Gatwick Airport even though the planes are flying below 4,000ft. Other airports affords respite to their surrounding communities in effect to provide ‘nights off’ from aircraft.
Residents feel helpless, unable to stop night noise or the late evening noise up to 11.30pm when both noise and the light pollution*. Another major issue is the deluge of early morning departures that start before 6.30am.
Gatwick Airport is at its busiest during the summer months when people sit in gardens late or have windows open so the impact of the increased noise is even more detrimental.
Although Gatwick Airport has implemented a Noise Action Plan that goes some way to introduce measures to reduce aircraft noise and night noise, it does not detail the health cost equivalent to them continuing to fly such a large number of planes at night. Gatwick will argue that planes have become quieter and that they are seeking to run a reduced night noise trial of RNAV routes, but Gatwick having introduced PRNAV on all departure routes in 2014, the concentration of routes may reduce the total number impacted but it is mental torture for anyone below the single route; Gatwick flies arrivals and departures at night. ***
The fact remains that Gatwick has more night flights than any other airport and does not seek to reduce the number of aircraft movements or ban them. Gatwick also use Government dispensations to allow planes, which are banned from night scheduleing due to noise levels, to fly at night as well as taking unused winter movements into the summer schedule.
We would like to ask if you would consider undertaking research and producing a document to the full extent of the night noise on the residents surrounding Gatwick, which are mostly rural areas with an ambient noise of less than 30dB at night. Even where there is mixed urban/rural areas the noise is drastically reduced at night and thus aircraft have a significant affect. The health impact of Gatwick’s operations compared to the economic benefits for the airport and airlines has never been assessed and the Department for Transport WebTag Noise Appraisal is only as good as the data input.
We are not alone in enduring airport night noise as the WHO (World Heath Organisation) details that ‘one in five Europeans is regularly exposed to sound levels at night that could significantly damage health.’ And Aviation Environment Federation 2016 survey found that 73%**** of participants felt night noise was an issue.
It is felt that national research is required to fully understand the impact of aircraft noise at night on the health of the UK citizens and the price we are paying in financial burden to the NHS the workplace and the national economy through sleep deprivation.
We thank you in advance for your consideration and look forward to your response.
Chair of CAGNE
**** CAA Gatwick Noise Contour 2016
NB: We have included the history of Gatwick’s night movements and passages from your report
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries Unit ; Sarah Bishop – Department for Transport
Est Feb 2014
c/o Warnham Lodge Farm, Mayes Lane, Warnham, West Sussex RH12 3SG (address is not to be published)
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The Mayor of London has published the Transport Strategy for London, which sets out the Mayor’s policies and proposals to reshape transport in London over the next two decades. The Strategy is firmly opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. Its section on Heathrow states: “The demand generated by the current airport combined with local traffic already place considerable strain on the roads and railways serving the airport and contribute to levels of NO2 that are well in exceedance of legal limits. The Mayor considers that, as a result of the additional flights and associated traffic, any expansion at Heathrow would significantly impair London’s ability to meet international air quality obligations in the shortest possible timescale and would contribute to an overall worsening of air quality relative to the situation without expansion. Heathrow already exposes more people to significant aircraft noise than its five main European rivals combined, and the proposed increase in flights cannot avoid many people being newly exposed to significant noise. Moreover, it would be unacceptable if the air quality gains secured by the Mayor and the potential noise improvements as a result of new technologies were not allowed to accrue to local communities to improve public health, but were instead used to enable expansion of Heathrow airport.”
The Mayor will continue to oppose expansion of Heathrow airport unless it can be shown that no new noise or air quality harm would result and the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities. Any such expansion must also demonstrate how the surface access networks will be invested in to accommodate the resultant additional demand alongside background growth.
Mayor London – Transport Strategy
Heathrow section P 137
The Government announced its preference for a new north west runway at Heathrow in October 2016. This would increase the airport’s current cap by more than 50 per cent, from 480,000 flights to 740,000 flights per year. The Mayor is engaging with the planning process around Heathrow expansion to ensure his fundamental concerns are raised and addressed.
The demand generated by the current airport combined with local traffic already place considerable strain on the roads and railways serving the airport and contribute to levels of NO2 that are well in exceedance of legal limits. The Mayor considers that, as a result of the additional flights and associated traffic, any expansion at Heathrow would significantly impair London’s ability to meet international air quality obligations in the shortest possible timescale and would contribute to an overall worsening of air quality relative to the situation without expansion.
Heathrow already exposes more people to significant aircraft noise than its five main European rivals combined, and the proposed increase in flights cannot avoid many people being newly exposed to significant noise. Moreover, it would be unacceptable if the air quality gains secured by the Mayor and the potential noise improvements as a result of new technologies were not allowed to accrue to local communities to improve public health, but were instead used to enable expansion of Heathrow airport.
The Mayor will continue to oppose expansion of Heathrow airport unless it can be shown that no new noise or air quality harm would result and the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities. Any such expansion must also demonstrate how the surface access networks will be invested in to accommodate the resultant additional demand alongside background growth.
The forecast additional airport-related highway trips are an essential component of the air quality impacts and one that any expansion would have to address. Without significant rail investment, the airport’s aspiration for ‘no net increase in highway trips’ is not credible and would place further pressure on already congested streets, including through the increase in freight vehicles that would result from any expansion.
If the aspiration for no new highway trips is achieved, this would result in an increase in public transport trips of more than 250 per cent. But without significant new infrastructure, it will place severe strain on the public transport networks that serve the airport. Existing committed schemes such as the Elizabeth line and the Piccadilly line upgrade – designed to support London’s population growth – will not be able to accommodate this increase. Delivering the shift to public transport requires Government commitment to further schemes to provide sufficient additional capacity and connectivity, notably:
• A western rail link to Heathrow – direct services from the Thames Valley: Slough, Maidenhead and Reading
• A southern rail link to Heathrow – direct services via a route with sufficient spare capacity from central, south and south west London, as well as Surrey
Any proposals must ensure that they can deliver significant additional capacity and connectivity that are capable both of attracting sufficient passenger and staff trips that would otherwise be made in cars and taxis, and of accommodating the additional demand. This cannot be at the expense of non-airport trips and services, nor should it erode the ability of the transport network – including already planned schemes – to enable growth.
There is an important role for improvements to bus, cycling and walking infrastructure serving the airport, particularly for staff journeys. It is also essential that the access for disabled people to the airport is improved.
The Mayor will:
a) Work with industry partners and stakeholders to assess options for surface access to Heathrow, and
b) Seek a commitment from Government to fund and deliver within an appropriate timescale the extensive transport measures required to support the expansion of Heathrow.
See full report at
Mayor’s Transport Strategy 2018
The Mayor’s Transport Strategy has now been published. The document sets out the Mayor’s policies and proposals to reshape transport in London over the next two decades.
The London Assembly considered the Transport Strategy after a detailed consultation by Transport for London (TfL), and amendment of the original draft published in 2017.
Transport has the potential to shape London, from the streets Londoners live, work and spend time on, to the Tube, rail and bus services they use every day.
By using the Healthy Streets Approach to prioritise human health and experience in planning the city, the Mayor wants to change London’s transport mix so the city works better for everyone.
Three key themes are at the heart of the strategy.
1. Healthy Streets and healthy people
Creating streets and street networks that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use will reduce car dependency and the health problems it creates.
2. A good public transport experience
Public transport is the most efficient way for people to travel over distances that are too long to walk or cycle, and a shift from private car to public transport could dramatically reduce the number of vehicles on London’s streets.
3. New homes and jobs
More people than ever want to live and work in London. Planning the city around walking, cycling and public transport use will unlock growth in new areas and ensure that London grows in a way that benefits everyone.
Read the evidence behind the strategy on TfL’s Mayor’s Transport Strategy page.
Mayor of London publishes draft Transport strategy for consultation – not in favour of Heathrow runway
The Mayor of London has published his draft Transport strategy for consultation. It states: “A three-runway Heathrow, however, would have severe noise and air quality impacts and put undue strain on the local public transport and road networks, and alternative airport expansion options should be considered. London’s growth is important, and it must be made to work for all of the city’s current and future residents.” And Policy 20: “The Mayor will continue to oppose expansion of Heathrow airport unless it can be shown that no new noise or air quality harm would result and the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities. Any such expansion must also demonstrate how the surface access networks will be invested in to accommodate the resultant additional demand alongside background growth.” Also Proposal 96″ “The Mayor will seek a commitment from Government to fund and deliver within an appropriate timescale the extensive transport measures required to support the expansion of Heathrow.” The consultation closes on 2nd October 2017. It can be found here. People responding do not have to answer every question, but can say if they agree or disagree, and whether the Mayor should consider other aspects.
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