Survey by SellingUp/Populus shows the serious impact of plane noise on attitudes of house buyers

The website guide on selling property, “Selling” had a survey done by Populus, into the impact of various negative features on the likelihood of getting an easy house sale. They looked at a range of things, like low energy efficiency, lack of storage space, poor mobile phone signal etc. They also looked at the impact of noisy neighbours and of noise from aeroplanes.  The issues most likely to put off a buyer, so they would not proceed with a house purchase, were noisy neighbours and plane noise.  The survey found for noisy neighbours, that 70% would not proceed with the sale when they know of the problem, and 17% would ask for a reduction in price.  For plane noise, 41% would not proceed with the sale, and 34% would ask for money off, (including 23% who would ask for a “substantial amount or many thousands of £s off the price). The impact on the value of homes that are over-flown is a serious issue.  Sellers are required to let a potential buyer know if they have a problem with noise. With the ambition of the industry to concentrate and narrow flight paths, meaning serious noise impacts for those below, this is a real concern – especially when there is no proper consultation about flight path changes, no legal redress and no compensation. (Compensation or double glazing is of no use if you want to enjoy a quiet garden)

SellingUp/Populus survey: the property dealbreakers that could ruin your sale

November 4, 2015 (Selling up —

Survey at


Any estate agent will tell you about typical property buyers’ most obvious dealbreakers: think location, space, condition, transport links, crime, local schools and so on. But what about the many hidden factors that could make an otherwise keen property buyer reduce their offer – or worse, lose interest in the purchase entirely?

Does having a bad mobile reception matter to buyers more than living next door to a cemetery? What about energy efficiency – it may be a legal requirement but do buyers really take any notice of that Energy Performance Certificate?

SellingUp has conducted an exclusive survey with Populus, one of the UK’s leading market research firms, to look into some of the lesser known reasons that potential buyers may be put off entirely, or encouraged to make a reduced offer.

Survey question & summary of results



Populus, on behalf of SellingUp, asked a 1000+ sample of the general UK adult population the following question:

Imagine you are looking to buy a property, and you noticed there was an issue. To what extent do you think each of the following would influence your offer on the property?


Copied below is just the section on plane noise:

Noise from aeroplanes


Campaigners fighting against the expansion of the UK’s biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, might feel vindicated by our survey when it comes to their concerns about the effect of airborne noise pollution on property values. A jumbo-sized41% of buyers would be prepared to see a purchase fly off into the horizon if they noticed serious noise from the skies above. More than one third (34%) of buyers would expect a price reduction (23% in the thousands and 11% in the hundreds of pounds) no doubt to make up for sleepless nights and the cost of triple glazing.

Below is just a part of the data given on the website:

Impact of plane noise on house sales

Full article at


See also

Information from Stop Stansted Expansion on the impact of aircraft noise on local house prices. 
(Around 2007)
Appeal by BAA Ltd and Stansted Airport Ltd following the refusal by Uttlesford District Council of planning application UTT/0717/06/FUL Proof of Evidence on behalf of Stop Stansted Expansion Economic Impacts Housing Market

Aircraft noise reducing property prices by up to 30% near Frankfurt airport

Residents in Frankfurt, whose homes are now  blighted by noise from the new 4th runway, that produces much more aircraft noise than expected, now know their property values are being seriously reduced.  A recent study found the decline is up to 30%, in 20 communities around the airport. Those who can afford to are moving out of the area. The cost of compensating all those affected would be enormous, and so they are saying that the noise has to be reduced substantially.


Over 1,000 claims for compensation from Southend Airport due to loss in value of homes, because of aircraft noise

Southend Airport – which has had a huge and very rapid rise in the number of aircraft using the airport over the past year – has received more than 1,000 claims for compensation over aircraft noise. Homeowners nearby are concerned that the airport is reducing the value of their properties, due to the noise. The airport has said it will honour residents’ compensation claims if it is proven their homes have lost value because of its activities. Jon Fuller, of local group SAEN (Stop Airport Expansion and Noise) said that estate agents are giving strong indications local residents must expect many thousands of pounds less than they expect when they sell their homes. Though house prices in the area are generally fairly buoyant, if houses are close to the airport or on the flight path prices are suppressed. The airport’s CEO, Alistair Welch said people can make a compensation claim up to a year after the new terminal is finished. Surveyors, Michael Marriott, who are helping people submit claims say they can only claim for nuisances arising from the use of the runway extension. Nuisances arising from the use of the airport which do not depend upon the extension will be disregarded.


600 homes to finally get £1,500 compensation for building of Manchester 2nd runway

Nearly 600 homeowners and 6 schools in Knutsford and Mobberley are to get a pay out for the building of Manchester Airport’s 2nd runway. This will come from the airport’s owner, the Manchester Airports Group. The householders say claimed their properties were devalued due to the noise from the planes since the runway opened in 2001. The schools will get £1,300 each. This has been brokered by local MP, the Chancellor George Osborne, and Jeff Gazzard. Two years ago 300 Knutsford and Mobberley residents were compensated. This is the final compensation and the end of an 11 year battle. The total payout comes to £1 million. The airport will also pay the council tax precept, £117,702. which is levied to fund Knutsford town council and Mobberley parish council, for one year.

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10 MPs and council leaders write to PM to warn over air quality problems of Heathrow 3rd runway

Opponents of a Heathrow 3rd runway have written to David Cameron, asking him to block it on the grounds of “illegal” air pollution. Ten MPs have signed the letter, including Tim Farron, (leader of the Liberal Democrats and staunch opponent of Heathrow), London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, and the representatives of Twickenham (Tania Mathias), Windsor (Adam Afriye), Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter), Harrow East (Bob Blackman), Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), and Brentford and Isleworth (Ruth Cadbury). Poor air quality is a huge cause of public concern, particularly in London, with increasing awareness of the impact of NO2 and particulate matter on health.  Air pollution is a make or break issue for Heathrow, already often in breach of air quality limits. In the letter, the MPs said:  “Air quality is a huge cause of public concern, particularly in London, and this has only been exacerbated by the recent revelations regarding VW emissions tests.” They say that failing to meet European Union air pollution rules could mean that “large financial penalties” are imposed on Britain “which would ultimately have huge implications for the UK taxpayer”. Heathrow has various optimistic – somewhat unrealistic – claims about how air pollution limits could be met, even with more air freight and 50% more flights.


Heathrow opponents fire fresh salvo against runway

Critics of Heathrow’s expansion plans write to the Prime Minister to warn over air quality

By Ben Martin(Telegraph)


Opponents of a third runway at Heathrow have fired another salvo against the airport’s plans to expand by urging the Prime Minister to block it on the grounds of “illegal” air pollution.

Local MPs and council leaders have sent a letter, seen by the Telegraph, to David Cameron imploring him to “rule out” another Heathrow runway, because of the “illegal impact on air quality that expansion would have”.

Air quality is a huge cause of public concern, particularly in London, and this has only been exacerbated by the recent revelations regarding VW emissions tests

Ten MPs have signed the letter, including Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and staunch opponent of Heathrow, London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, and the representatives of Twickenham, Windsor, Hammersmith, Harrow East, Carshalton and Wallington, and Brentford and Isleworth.

The Government is expected to make a decision in a matter of weeks about whether it should allow the west London airport to build another runway, and air pollution is a central issue.

In July, the Government-appointed Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, concluded that Heathrow had the best case for expansion, to help the country solve its looming aviation capacity crisis.

However, worries that a third runway would worsen air quality and increase the blight of noise for local residents have blocked plans to expand the airport in the past. Similar concerns have greeted Sir Howard’s recommendation and the Volkswagen scandal has heightened worries about air pollution in recent weeks.

“Air quality is a huge cause of public concern, particularly in London, and this has only been exacerbated by the recent revelations regarding VW emissions tests,” the Heathrow opponents said in the letter.

They claimed that failing to meet European Union air pollution rules could mean that “large financial penalties” are imposed on Britain “which would ultimately have huge implications for the UK taxpayer”.
However, Heathrow has always insisted that it can expand within environmental restrictions.

John Holland-Kaye, the boss of Heathrow, last week told MPs on the House of Commons’s Environmental Audit Committee that the airport has “a very good and robust plan in place to make sure that even with expansion we will continue” to meet EU limits. The two air monitoring stations around Heathrow that currently exceed EU restrictions are outside the airport on the M4.


Environmental Audit Committee hearing into

“The Airports Commission report: Carbon emissions, air quality and noise inquiry”

John Holland-Kaye and Matt Gorman gave evidence in front of the Commons  Environmental Audit Committee on 4th December.

The section dealing with air quality, and associated with it, the ambitions of Heathrow to have no increase in car journeys associated with the airport with a 3rd runway, is on pages 10 – 20 of the transcript at


A few quotes from that below: 

“Q106 Caroline Ansell: Will traffic not also increase, though, with an expanded Heathrow?


John Holland-Kaye:  No, it won’t. We will have no more cars on the road as a result of Heathrow expansion.  Now that sounds like a surprising statement but if you look back at history the number of passengers using Heathrow has doubled with no more cars on the road. The reason for that is the point that we were just talking about, which is improvements in alternative surface access. Give people an opportunity to get there by public transport and they take it. When we invested in Heathrow Express, which is just one of the rail routes we have into London at the moment, we increased modeshare—the proportion of people coming to the airport by rail—by 11%. It took us from just over 30% to 41% today. That is just one increase in surface access and that is just into the centre of London. We have no rail links today to the north, to the west or to the south, but with expansion and for the most part with committed projects such as HS2 and Western Rail and Crossrail, we will have significantly more capacity coming into the airport. Give people a choice to get out of their cars and they take it.

“On top of that we are making a number of changes that will encourage people to do so whether they are working at the airport or coming to the airport to travel. This is part of what we have designed into the new layout for the airport. Today if you are working in one of the hotels or the offices to the north of the airport, around the Bath Road, you have very little choice other than to get into your car, particularly if you are coming from the west or the north. With expansion we will be relocating all of those offices and hotels next to the public transport interchange, next to the railway station and the coach and bus station at Terminal 5. That means that if you are living out in Reading or Slough and working at BA head office, you will be able to get there by public transport. There is a big change and we have seen that if you give people the choice of going by public transport they take it”




Q127 Peter Heaton-Jones: ……. It is going back to air quality, not particularly around the perimeter of the airport, but in the surrounding boroughs. We took some evidence from Hounslow, for instance, and whether or not they accept the particular points you are making about what the air quality will be around the airport perimeter itself, they are worried about beyond that. They are saying that the difficulty is that some of the transport modelling that has been done in effect pushes the problem out. So you find your targets fine, you hit your targets, but in the surrounding boroughs they get the problem exported to them. Is that a difficulty?


Matt Gorman: Not from the modelling that we have done. So just to be absolutely clear, the commitment that we are making is no more airport-related vehicles on the road. In future those vehicles coming to Heathrow will be cleaner, because the whole vehicle fleet in the UK will be shifting away from petrol and diesel over time to hybrid electric and hydrogen. We are saying we will, if you like, solve the airport contribution to the air quality issue.

What we have also been absolutely clear on is our action needs to go hand in hand with action from city hall and from central government to both improve public transport, back to our earlier debate with Mr Goldsmith, but also to improve vehicle standards across not just London but the whole of the UK. The two we see going hand in hand.


John Holland-Kaye:  Can I just build on that? One of the great opportunities with Heathrow expansion is we take something that has developed in a fairly piecemeal manner, the master plan around Heathrow, over the last 60 years with buildings popping up all over the place wherever is available and we turn it into something that is master plan, where things are in the right place. My example of moving hotels and offices is one of those.

We can also redesign the routes around the airport. We can build a new tunnel to the south of the airport that makes it easier to balance flows of traffic and get them off local roads. There is an opportunity here to sort out some of the concerns about local road connectivity that exists today with this massive privately-funded infrastructure investment.”




On the proposed condition, by the Airports Commission, that the new runway could only be partly used if the levels of air pollution ended up being too high: 

Q104 Zac Goldsmith: Just as a business, how do you anticipate raising nearly £18 billion of finance to build a runway that you may theoretically not be able to use? How do you square that? That does not include the £20 billion or so that would be required for surface access. So the £18 billion, excluding surface access improvements: how are you going to do that? How will you make the case to investors that we want this vast sum of money to build something that the law may prevent us from using?

John Holland-Kaye: Let’s pick up on the plan first. We have got a good record of increasing the use of surface access to get to the airport and encouraging people to shift out of their cars on to public transport.

Zac Goldsmith: I know. We are coming to surface transport. On the first point.

John Holland-Kaye: So I am very confident in the plan that we will deliver because we have a good record of doing exactly that. ”


Full EAC transcript from 4th November is at


There are many stories about aviation and air quality over the past few years at 

Air Quality News Stories






Read more »

Telegraph reports Whitehall sources saying Cameron ‘preparing to drop opposition to Heathrow 3rd runway’

The Telegraph reports (Whitehall sources say) that David Cameron is believed to have decided it would not be too politically damaging to back a Heathrow runway. David Cameron personally pledged in 2009 that there would be no Heathrow runway (No ifs, No buts) but soon changed his mind. The government insists it will make an announcement on the next phase of the runway process before Christmas, but how firmly it will be backing one runway option is not yet clear. It may be Osborne who takes control over the issue, keen to be seen as building infrastructure..There is then to be a new public consultation on this in early 2016. David Cameron apparently hopes – as was always the intention of setting up the Commission, during the coalition government – that the Commission’s recommendation would remove responsibility for the decision from himself. It would cover him from blame for breaking a pledge, and make that “politically acceptable.”  The problem is that the Airports Commission has produced vast reams of material in its reports. Few – including few politicians – have read much of it.  Its recommendation is not in fact reflected in the details of the reports. The economic benefit of “up to £147 billion over 60 years” to the UK economy may really be as little as £1.4 billion.  The regional airports would suffer, as would UK carbon targets. The noise and air pollution issues are not resolved, as the Commission’s work shows.


Heathrow: Cameron ‘preparing to drop opposition to third runway’

The government is preparing to announce the next phase for airport expansion within weeks, ahead of a new public consultation on increasing aviation capacity

By Tim Ross, Senior Political Correspondent (Telegraph)
7 Nov 2015

David Cameron has decided it would be politically safe to back a third runway at Heathrow, despite previously promising to block the expansion of Britain’s busiest airport, Whitehall sources have said.

The government is preparing to announce the next phase for airport expansion within weeks, ahead of a new public consultation on increasing aviation capacity.

The Prime Minister has been wrestling with a “difficult decision” over whether to approve a third runway at Heathrow because he promised before the 2010 election that he would oppose such a plan.

However, Whitehall figures said Mr Cameron has been offered a way out by the independent Davies Commission, which decisively recommended expanding Heathrow while leaving the door ajar to potentially extending Gatwick.

Government insiders say that the Prime Minister believes that the Davies Commission’s strong recommendation in favour of the new Heathrow plan would make it politically acceptable for him to reverse his opposition to the earlier third runway proposal.

Officials are preparing for an announcement before Christmas on how the aviation plans will progress.

Increasing aviation capacity in the South East represents one of the most expensive and controversial infrastructure decisions facing the new Conservative government.

A number of MPs including Cabinet minister and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, have vocally opposed a third runway at Heathrow,while others oppose expanding Gatwick.

However, Sir Howard Davies, who chaired the commission examining the future of aviation capacity in the South East, recommended decisively that the government should allow Heathrow to expand because this would lead to more jobs, and wider economic benefits than extending Gatwick. [Some of the Commission’s own advisors on economics say the claims should be treated with caution. Letter to the Commission from Prof Peter Mackie and Brian Pearce. May 2015.   See details below.    AW note]

One Whitehall source said: “There will be some sort of announcement next month. Officials are still analysing data. The decision will be for the Prime Minister but it is difficult for him because he made this ‘no ifs, no buts’ promise not to build a third runway.”

The Davies Commission was so clearly in favour of Heathrow over Gatwick that “in the Prime Minister’s mind” it would be safe to choose a third runway at Heathrow. It’s not yet clear whether the public would agree, the source said.

The Chancellor is likely to want a decision as soon as possible, given how he has sought to brand the Conservatives as the champions of new building schemes.

“It would be difficult for the Chancellor to stand up and say ‘we are the builders’ and then when he has been given a really clear direction to build Heathrow, to say, ‘actually, we’re the pragmatists,’” one government insider said.

Mr Cameron is understood to want all the analysis to be completed before he comes to a verdict.

It has been suggested that the Chancellor will take control over the issue, making the crucial announcement about the government’s preferred option.

This would potentially save the Prime Minister from awkward questions over a policy reversal.

Government sources suggested that an announcement formally responding to the Davies Commission may not be part of Mr Osborne’s Autumn Statement on November 25 but could be made separately in December.

Justine Greening, the Tory MP for Putney and International Development Secretary, has promised to continue fighting against expansion at Heathrow.

She has told her constituents that she has been assured by Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, that there will be a new public consultation on plans before a final decision is taken.

The high costs of expanding Heathrow and the impact on the environment, including noise and air pollution, remain the subjects of considerable argument.

Heathrow has promised to charge airlines higher fees for landing noisier and more polluting aircraft at the airport in future. “We will encourage the world’s quietest aircraft to use Heathrow, charging more for noisier aircraft to land and quieter aircraft less and introduce “green slots” so that only the quietest and cleanest aircraft can use the capacity provided by a new runway,” the group  [which group?? – John Holland-Kaye ] said in a new report to MPs.

“We are clear – Heathrow expansion should only go ahead within strict environmental limits on noise, local air quality and in line with the UK’s climate change targets.” [None of those can be provided.  AW note]

Changes to road networks and new train links direct to Reading and Waterloo, as well as Crossrail, will help discourage travellers from driving to Heathrow, the airport said.



Letter from two expert economic advisors to the Airports Commission:

A Note from Expert Advisors, Prof. Peter Mackie and Mr Brian Pearce, on key issues considering the Airports Commission Economic Case

May 2015

Two extracts from that letter:

“Our assessment of the PWC approach is that there is a high degree of overlap between the direct and wider impacts. So for example a benefit accruing proximately to a business traveller going abroad to negotiate an export contract might also show up as a trade effect. We think there is likely to be some double counting between the direct and wider impact channels in the PWC calculations”


“Furthermore the interpretation of the result – what exactly do they mean and is their basis transparent – is an issue. Overall, therefore, we counsel caution in attaching significant weight either to the absolute or relative results of the GDP/GVA SCGE approach (PwC report) within the Economic Case. We would accept that there is some useful indicative material for the Strategic Case but care is required in assessing its robustness and reliability.”

5.5.2015    Letter at


See earlier: 


George Osborne launches National Infrastructure Commission, under Andrew Adonis, so UK can “think big again”

George Osborne has launched his national infrastructure commission. He said infrastructure investment would be at the heart of November’s spending review and the new independent body would think “dispassionately and independently” about Britain’s infrastructure needs. Andrew Adonis will chair the commission, which will oversee £100 billion of infrastructure spending by 2020. Osborne says the failure of successive governments to invest in infrastructure has meant that the British people have longer commutes, higher energy bills and can’t afford to be home-owners. Osborne himself has overseen a 5.4% fall in infrastructure investment since he took office in 2010.  He wants this government to be thinking “long term” and he wants new railway lines, new broadband installed (and perhaps a new runway). Other members of the commission include Michael Heseltine, Prof Tim Besley, Sir John Armitt, and Bridget Rosewell,  The commission will have the initial priorities of examining connections between the big northern cities, London’s transport system and energy infrastructure. It will produce a report at the beginning of each parliament with recommendations for spending on infrastructure projects, though politicians will have the final say.  In the spending review, Osborne will probably announce a suite of asset sales which the Treasury expects to raise billions of pounds to be ploughed back into projects.

Patrick McLoughlin insists government has not yet decided on runway options, despite Osborne rumours

It is still thought likely that the government will make some sort of announcement on whether it backs a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, by the end of the year. Whether that will come before Christmas Eve is anyone’s guess. The Times reported that George Osborne may be convinced by the Airports Commission report and is therefore ready to rule out Gatwick, considering it is “Heathrow or nothing.” But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said that the Government may reject the recommendation of the Commission’s report, that Heathrow should be expanded. He said the report had just given 3 “options” with a “preferred option”, rather than a ruling with much weight. “…we are looking at the options that it gave us. We are doing the work that is required to see how those three options stack up.” He argued the Government would have to see if some of the report’s recommendations were “actually doable”, and that though the work of the Commission would make a decision on expansion easier, questions still remained. An ally of the Chancellor told the Times: “George doesn’t have a settled view on this. He just wants to see a runway built somewhere as soon as possible once all the proper processes are concluded.”

Click here to view full story…

2M group boroughs produce highly critical report of Airports Commission’s Heathrow runway recommendation

The four boroughs that have worked hardest to oppose a Heathrow runway, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead, have produced a damning report on the Airports Commission’s recommendation. They have called on MPs to carefully consider their in-depth assessment of the Commission’s claims, which they have say put together an inflated and distorted case for expanding Heathrow. The councils’ report challenges the recommendation on environmental, health, and community impact grounds, and highlights the environmental, transport, social and political factors that make the 3rd runway undeliverable. They point out how little extra connectivity a new runway would provide; they show claims regarding EU air quality legislation have been misunderstood by the Commission and that it has deliberately recommended adding a large source of pollution in an area that is already under severe strain. Critical factors presenting the biggest challenge to a runway “have been either avoided, or worse, misinterpreted by the Commission.” The councils conclude that a 3rd runway “would significantly reduce regional connectivity and economic competiveness. It would be severely damaging for the millions of people who neighbour the airport and live below its new flightpaths. It is the wrong choice at every level.”

Click here to view full story…

Leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils tell PM that flight path consultation must precede Government’s runway support

The leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond & Wandsworth councils have written to the Prime Minister to warn that signalling Government support for a 3rd Heathrow runway would be unlawful unless the new flight paths needed re first subject to public consultation. The leaders also highlight a series of flaws and omissions in the Airports Commission’s final report, that recommends a Heathrow runway. They point out that by law, changes to London’s airspace require open consultation. Therefore a decision to expand Heathrow would pre-empt this statutory process. Approving a runway clearly infers the associated flight paths will also be approved. The Airports Commission, though working on Heathrow’s plans for 2 years, failed to identify the location of its new flight paths, let alone consult on them. Instead the Commission’s final report, which costs tax payers in the region of £25m, asks ministers to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway with no details at all on where flight paths would be. That is key information, needed to assess the areas to be worst affected. The local councils have now pointed out that the Commission’s recommendation is directing the Government down a legal cul-de-sac and has urged the PM to dismiss the report.

Click here to view full story…

Labour peer Lord Adonis to head Osborne infrastructure body – to get things like a new runway built fast

A new body to plan infrastructure projects, the “independent” National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will be chaired by the former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis. The government is expected to announce it will pledge an extra £5 billion in this Parliament for major schemes, which he hopes will boost the UK economy. Osborne says he plans to “shake Britain out of its inertia” and Lord Adonis thinks that without “big improvements” in transport and energy “Britain will grind to a halt”. The NIC will initially focus on London’s transport system, connections between cities in the north of England, and updating the energy network – funded by selling off land, buildings and other government assets. Lord Adonis has resigned the Labour whip and will sit as a crossbencher in the Lords as he starts work in his new role immediately. The NIC will produce a report at the start of each five-year Parliament containing recommendations of infrastructure building over the next 20 to 30 years. Osborne: “I’m not prepared to turn round to my children – or indeed anyone else’s child – and say ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t build for you.’ John Cridland, director-general of the CBI business lobby said: ” ….we must not duck the important infrastructure decisions that need taking now, particularly on expanding aviation capacity in the South East.”

Click here to view full story…

Dave – what’s your legacy?


Guest blog from Jenine Langrish – for Hacan

Three parties, three leaders: Tony Blair; Nick Clegg; and David Cameron.  How will history remember them?

Tony Blair united the Labour party and led them to their biggest ever majority and three consecutive election victories.  His government oversaw the introduction of a national minimum wage; freedom of information; devolution; and the signing of the Good Friday agreement.

And yet…if you ask the man in the street, he’s remembered for just one thing: his misguided decision to support George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, justified by the claim that Saddam Hussein had ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

That single policy decision has led to mass vilification in the media and ensures that he will forever be remembered as “Tony B-liar”.

Under Nick Clegg’s leadership the Lib Dems soared in popularity and surprised everyone by securing enough votes to hold the balance of power following 2010’s election.  For the first time since the days of Asquith and Lloyd George, the political party in the centre of politics held real power.  They can claim credit for a number of policies in the coalition government, notably raising the tax threshold to take over 3 million low earners out of the income tax system; introducing the pupil premium; and creating the Green Investment Bank.

And yet…once again, if you ask the man in the street, Clegg is remembered for just one thing: breaking his promise on student tuition fees.

That single concession in the coalition agreement discussions led to highly personal attacks in the media and to his party’s vote being decimated in the last election.

Which brings me to David Cameron.  He can claim credit for having overseen the recovery from the financial crisis; bringing the deficit under control; and generally keeping his party’s divisions on Europe under control.

But how will he be remembered in ten years time?  The lesson from Tony Blair and Nick Clegg is that the public have little tolerance if they believe politicians have lied or broken high profile promises.  Part of the reason for Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise ascendancy appears to be that Labour’s grass roots supporters saw him as an honest man who’d do what he said he would.

David Cameron’s highest profile promise is of course ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’.  As he appears to stand on the brink of an about turn on Heathrow he would do well to reflect on the lessons of Tony Blair and Nick Clegg.

Dave – how do you want to be remembered?  Do you want to be judged on your policies or simply remembered as the latest in a line of political leaders who broke their promises.  The choice is yours.

#WhatsyourlegacyDave ?


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Number affected by Gatwick night flights up 15% last year – 12,850 in the larger 48 dB Leq contour

The CAA has released figures showing 12,850 people were adversely affected by Gatwick night flights, a 15% increase from the previous year. The increase comes despite the fact the airport has changed the way it counts complaints, with multiple issues raised by the same person on the same day now counted as a single incidence. Campaigners say the dramatic increase in complaints is proof a 2nd runway should not be allowed. A review of the changed arrivals flight paths, by Bo Redeborn, is due to be completed around the end of 2015. People are very stressed by noise from night flights, adversely affecting their sleep and their health. Gatwick made an even worse than usual comment. A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: “Gatwick recognises that aircraft noise has an impact on people living near the airport and will continue to do everything possible to minimise its effects…..The increase in people affected has been influenced by an increase in aircraft movements, a change in the fleet mix from planes with propellers to small jets, and an increase in population due to Gatwick’s immigration centre being included in the numbers.” (sic) On Sunday 1st November, CAGNE released a short film highlighting the plight of residents, businesses and communities beneath Gatwick concentrated flight paths. 


Gatwick night noise 2013 2014 

The table from CAA document “ERCD REPORT 1502 Noise Exposure Contours for Gatwick Airport 2014”


Night Flight Shock

26.10.2015 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

Nearly 13,000 people were adversely affected by the noise of Gatwick night flights in 2014 – a 15% rise on the previous year. [This is the number within the 48dB noise contour, that is an average noise of over 48 dB, generally accepted as the area within which there is community disturbance.  paragraph 4.2.1]

These shocking figures, in a report by the Civil Aviation Authority, were revealed at a meeting of the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee on Thursday 22 October.

The CAA report also shows that the number of people more seriously affected by night time noise doubled in the past year.  [The number within the 57 dB contour.  The 2014 figures include the Gatwick immigration centre for the first time but when that is taken out of the calculation, the rise in the number of residents was still a shocking 66%.]

Peter Barclay, GACC’s representative on the consultative committee, said:  ‘At the meeting when I drew attention to these figures, members were dismayed.  As I pointed out, by increasing the number of night flights, Gatwick are going against Government policy to reduce the number of people affected by noise.’

Peter also drew attention to the colossal increase in the number of complaints to the airport, up from 2,673 in 2011 to 19,277 in the past year. [ page 1]

‘This seven fold increase is all the more remarkable because this year Gatwick have instituted a policy of only counting one complaint per person per day.  So if someone is annoyed five or ten times a day, and puts in five or ten complaints, it still is only counted as one complaint.  This is a fiddle to disguise the true level of anger created by all the new flight paths.’

Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, added:  ‘It is not surprising that pressure is growing for a total ban on night flights.  It is well known that being kept awake at night has a serious effect on health.’

A petition to ban Gatwick night flights is on the government website.  To sign it just google ‘night flight petition’.  []



Gatwick noise complaints are up thousands in the last year

Campaigners have claimed the dramatic increase in noise complaints about Gatwick flights is proof a second runway should not be allowed at the airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority released a report last month that showed almost 13,000 people were adversely affected by Gatwick night flights, a 15 per cent increase from the previous year.

The increase comes despite the fact the airport has changed the way it counts complaints, with multiple issues raised by the same person on the same day now counted as a single incidence.

The Times has previously reported that Gatwick had changed its flight paths, into ‘aerial superhighways’, according to campaigners. The initial phase of a review into the move is due to be completed this month.

Tunbridge Wells pressure group TW No to Gatwick was formed last month in response to an ‘uprising’ of people complaining about the recent surge in ‘intolerable’ aircraft noise.

And last Sunday, Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions released a short film  [See it at  www. ]highlighting the plight of residents, businesses and communities beneath the flight paths.

Chairman Sally Pavey said: “We launched the film to raise the issue that communities are being blighted by concentrated flight paths, and that if this is what we’re suffering now there’s no way Gatwick should get a second runway.

“The 15 per cent increase in complaints proves what people are saying about sleep deprivation being a major issue for them.

“We would go as far to ask if actual calculations have been done on the cost to people’s health.

“Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, constant noise is used in warfare. But the government has simply not done any research into the long-term effects.”

Claudia Williamson, a nutritional therapist based in Tunbridge Wells said: “Broken sleep is very detrimental on many levels, not just fatigue.

“Studies have shown that people who don’t sleep have more weight problems than those who sleep well.

“And if people are concerned about not being able to sleep, waiting for the planes to go overhead, that can be enough to stop them from sleeping by itself.

“It effects work performance, and could also be a health concern for people as they get older as well, as they tend to sleep less at night already.

“People have enough stress in their lives as it is.”

A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: “Gatwick recognises that aircraft noise has an impact on people living near the airport and will continue to do everything possible to minimise its effects.

“For example, in response to feedback from local residents, Gatwick commissioned an independent review of air traffic arriving into Gatwick. Similarly, following concerns from the local community, we are working toward implementing a redesigned of the westerly departure flight path that takes aircraft close to Redhill and Reigate.

“The increase in people affected has been influenced by an increase in aircraft movements, a change in the fleet mix from planes with propellers to small jets, and an increase in population due to Gatwick’s immigration centre being included in the numbers.”


New film highlights residents’ opposition to Gatwick second runway

Residents launched a film entitled what does a new runway at Gatwick mean to you on Sunday November 1 outside the Red Lyon Pub in Slinfold


To watch the film visit

Slinfold photo group film
A film highlighting opposition to a second runway at Gatwick from business owners and residents was launched in Slinfold at the weekend.

The five-minute video, called ‘What does a new runway at Gatwick mean to you’, was put together by Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) and was unveiled outside the Red Lyon pub on Sunday November 1.

In the film a number of residents speak about the effect a second runway could have on traffic congestion near the airport, the potential loss of business premises, and the amount of extra people affected by aircraft noise.

Sally Pavey, chair of CAGNE, said: “We are delighted by the turn out of local people, it plainly shows the anger residents currently feel towards Gatwick and the increase in flights and noise.”

The number of people affected by Gatwick night flights increased by 15 per cent in 2014, according to a report by the Civil Aviation Authority, although these figures include the Gatwick’s immigration removal centre for the first time.

While Sir Howard Davies recommended a third runway at Heathrow over expansion at Gatwick back in July, the airport has continued to press its case for a second runway.

The Government has yet to announce whether or not it will accept Sir Howard’s recommendations.

CAGNE said it would continue to press for less concentrated aircraft routes, which it argues is causing sleep deprivation for some communities.
The group was formed in February 2014 after trial flight paths started sending planes over Warnham and the surrounding area.

Both Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council voted to oppose a second runway earlier this year.

Since Sir Howard published his report, Gatwick has challenged the recommendation, called the findings ‘inconsistent and flawed’.

The Airports Commission concluded that the economic benefits of expanding Gatwick were ‘considerably smaller’ than those of expansion at Heathrow, while its conclusions were ‘clear and unanimous’.

To watch the film visit





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Beijing Capital Airlines hopes to get permission for direct flights between Birmingham and Hangzhou

Beijing Capital Airlines has requested rights to introduce weekly services at Birmingham from Beijing, and also the first direct link to the UK from the Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China.  The airline wants this from 2016, according to the CAAC.  The airline entered the long-haul market in September this year having introduced a first Airbus A330 into its fleet. The aircraft, a former Garuda Indonesia A330-200, has been used on weekly flights from Beijing and Hangzhou to Copenhagen. Its debut in the UK would see it replicate this Copenhagen operation at Birmingham with weekly flights from both Beijing and Hangzhou from April 2016. The Beijing route has been served in the past two summer schedules by China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, but Hangzhou will be a new market not just for Birmingham, but the UK.  KLM currently is the only airline with a direct link from Europe, at Schiphol, to Hangzhou.  Beijing Capital Airlines has only held informal discussions with Birmingham airport’s management and no agreement has yet been reached should it get the green light from Chinese authorities. More should be know later this month.  If Birmingham gets China flights, that is one less reason why a south east runway is needed for “vital business connectivity” to China.



Beijing Capital Airlines seeks rights to serve Birmingham

2 November 2015
By Richard Maslen (Routes online)
Beijing Capital Airlines seeks rights to serve Birmingham

Beijing Capital Airlines is seeking to further grow its long-haul network with flights to the UK city of Birmingham in 2016, according to information released by aviation regulator, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The airline, part of the HNA Group, has requested rights to introduce weekly services from Beijing and the first direct link to the UK from the Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China.

The airline entered the long-haul market in September this year having introduced a first Airbus A330 into its fleet. The aircraft, a former Garuda Indonesia A330-200, has been used on weekly flights from Beijing and Hangzhou to the Danish capital, Copenhagen in partnership with Chinese tour operator and fellow HNA Group company, Caissa during September and October.

Its debut in the UK will see it replicate this Copenhagen operation at Birmingham with weekly flights from both Beijing and Hangzhou from April 2016. The Beijing route has been served in the past two summer schedules by China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, but Hangzhou will be a new market not just for Birmingham, but the UK. In fact alongside the airline’s flight to Copenhagen, KLM is the only other carrier to link the city to Europe, via its Amsterdam Schiphol hub.

Although Beijing Capital Airlines has made an official application to the CAAC to serve Birmingham, it is understood to have only held informal discussions with the airport’s management and no agreement has yet been reached should it get the green light from Chinese authorities to serve the market. CAAC is seeking formal replies to the request before ruling on the application after November 10, 2015.

In an interview with the Chinese media following the arrival of the A330 in China in July this year, Xu Xin, chief executive officer, Beijing Capital Airlines said that over the next five years the carrier intends to purchase at least 30 widebody aircraft to open more international routes between Chinese cities and major overseas tourist destinations.

“My company focuses on tourism market so we must open more overseas routes, which requires us to maintain a fleet of large jetliners,” he said.

Alongside the flights to Copenhagen, Beijing Capital Airlines has also applied to the CAAC to serve the Finnish capital Helsinki from Beijing, again through a partnership with Caissa. . It is also seeking permission to begin flights between Hangzhou and Madrid from December 2015 and Qingdao and Melbourne in July 2016.

Although these flights will initially operate as charter packages it is understood to be Beijing Capital Airlines goal to develop them into scheduled operations in the future. It is now the seventh mainland Chinese carrier to introduce long-haul flights after Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.




New flights to connect Coventry and Warwickshire with two Chinese cities

4.11.2015 (Coventry Telegraph)

Birmingham Airport lined up for new flights to Beijing and Hangzhou

Coventry and Warwickshire could soon be connected to China with weekly flights from Birmingham Airport.

It is understood Beijing Capital Airlines is planning two weekly flights to China from next year.

That will make the Midlands the first region outside of London to offer scheduled flights to China – a major coup for the airport which markets itself as Shakespeare’s Airport in the Far East, owing to huge interest in the Bard.

The flights, made possible by the £40million extension of the runway, would be to Beijing and Hangzhou and would begin two months before direct services launch in Manchester.

Birmingham Airport, part-owned by Coventry City Council, would become the only place in the UK with a direct link to Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in eastern China. It is the country’s ninth biggest city, with a population of more than eight million, and is currently unserved.


It will be welcomed by business leaders with China a vital part of the region’s growth plans. Already, the Far Eastern superpower is the West Midlands’ top export market.

A summer of chartered flights between Birmingham and Beijing brought in £19m to the region’s economy.

Proposals for the new long-haul flights were revealed in documents released by aviation regulator Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which showed the airline, part of the HNA Group, revealed early-stage plans to start flights from April 2016.

It is believed the airline has only held informal discussions with the airport’s management and no agreement has yet been reached.

A spokesman for the airport would not confirm the plans, but said: “Birmingham Airport continues to work with its partners to operate flights to China again next year to meet the enormous demand there is for direct connectivity to and from the Midlands.”

The Midlands is the only region in the UK with an export surplus to China which widened to an incredible £2.76 billion last year.

Last week, Czech Airlines became the 11th airline this year to announce that it will launch flights from Birmingham.

The flag carrier for the Czech Republic will deliver an additional 50,000 passengers a year through the airport with five flights a week to Prague from April 2016.

That came a day after a service to Qatar – where the World Cup final will be held in 2022 – was announced. The flights mean more than 100,000 people a year will be able to head to Qatar, which is one of the world’s strongest economies.

It opens up onward flights to places like Pakistan, Thailand Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangkok and Hong Kong.





Birmingham airport to get 8 flights per week to Doha by Qatar Airways

After the runway extension at Birmingham was finally opened in May 2014, the airport has been keen to get some long haul flights to justify it. Now from March 2016 there are to be 8 flights per week by Qatar Airways Boeing 787s between Birmingham and Qatar. There will be one flight per day, but two on Saturdays. This means there is capacity for 100,000 people per year to fly between Birmingham and Qatar. The 787s have 22 business class seats,and 232 economy seats (= 254 seats. Variants of 787 seating plans can be from 242 to 335 passengers, so this few passengers is not particularly fuel efficient). Birmingham says they are the 4th airport (with Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh) in the UK to have flights to Qatar. This is being sold as being a useful link for people from the Midlands wanting to watch the World Cup final in 2022. Birmingham airport’s CEO, Paul Kehoe is enthusiastic about “a choice of 152 destinations served by the airline, including South East Asia, China and Australasia” from Qatar, for “commercial and leisure links.” With more Qatar flights from Edinburgh and Manchester, it will operate 71 flights per week between the UK and Qatar from March 2016. Again, reducing the alleged need for a new south east runway, for this sort of flight.

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Birmingham Airport wildly optimistic in anticipating 8,000 jobs from its runway extension

April 11, 2014

David Cameron has visited Birmingham airport, and effusively welcoming the announcement that 8,000 new jobs would be created, principally as a result of the long-awaited runway extension, with anticipated direct links to destinations like the West Coast of America and China. Shamelessly linking the airport jobs announcement with totally unrelated Government tax-cutting measures, the PM boomed: “The announcement of 8,000 jobs from Birmingham Airport is more great news in a week when we are cutting tax for 26 million hard-working people and taking over three million people out of income tax altogether.” Paul Kehoe used the PM’s visit for his PR purposes. Kehoe says by 2020 he forecasts Birmingham airport will have 15 million passengers a year, up from 9 million now. He claims this will create 4,000 jobs on-site and a further 4,000 in the immediate supply chain (doubtful figures, generally involving much double counting and optimism). “Politicians and business leaders are very good at talking the talk, but not always so assiduous at walking the walk.”

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Birmingham business leaders condemn Airports Commission for not recognising Birmingham Airport’s economic potential

February 3, 2014

Business leaders in Birmingham have criticised the Airports Commission’s interim report, released on 17th December, for overlooking the “crucial role” Birmingham Airport could play, in allegedly supporting the local and national economy. The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said the potential for the airport to capture thousands of new passengers was not being considered. It has written to MPs Louise Ellman, chair of the Common’s Transport Select Committee, and committee member Chloe Smith to outline its view. The GBCC would like to invite Ms Ellman and other members of the Transport Select Committee to visit businesses in Birmingham “to showcase how Birmingham Airport can help drive the export-led recovery.” The GBCC says it is pleased that Birmingham Airport has been identified as a long-term option for development. They say that “the catchment area for Birmingham Airport is home to half a million businesses (approximately 25% of British business) and has the largest share of manufacturing activity of all airport catchment areas.” Also that the Commission “could have gone much further in exploring the role of both HS2 and other economic assets across the West Midlands.”

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Heathrow plans to double its volume of air freight, necessitating more trips by diesel powered HGVs and goods vehicles

Heathrow plans to double its  air freight volumes in its aspiration to become one of the leading airports for cargo in Europe. CEO John Holland-Kaye announced at the British Chambers of Commerce that Heathrow will invest £180 million in the project and has its blueprint ready. Investment will be made to enhance air to air transit by building a facility on the airport for faster handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out again by air, reducing the times from a current average of more than hours. The improvements to air freight is meant to be “essential for the growth and success of the UK economy.” (Where have we heard that  before?)  There will need to be a a new truck parking facility for over 100 vehicles, with waiting arenas for drivers. There will be a special pharmaceutical storage area to move temperature-sensitive medicines and provide better infrastructure for faster freight movement. Holland-Kaye wants the UK “reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020.” Heathrow dealt with 1.50 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2014. This can only increase the number of HGVs in the Heathrow area. HGVs are all powered by diesel, not petrol – with its attendant higher NO2 emissions.  Meanwhile Mr Holland-Kaye was at the EAC saying there would be no extra car journeys to/from Heathrow with a 3rd runway.


Heathrow to invest £180m in cargo facilities

4 November 2015 (Airport Technology)


Heathrow airport in London plans to double the airfreight volumes in its endeavour to become one of the leading airports for cargo in Europe.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye announced at the British Chambers of Commerce that the airport will invest £180m in the project and has its blueprint ready.

Investment will be made to enhance air to air transit by building a facility on the airfield for faster handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out by air, reducing the times from a current average of more than hours.

E-freight will be fully implemented cut down on paper work and make it 100% digital.

“The improvements it is proposing are essential for the growth and success of the UK economy.”

The airport will build a new truck parking facility for over 100 vehicles, with waiting arenas for drivers.

The project includes development of a special pharmaceutical storage area to move highly valuable and temperature-sensitive medicines and provide better infrastructure for hazard-less movement of the freight in half of its usual time.

Being the international trade hub of the UK, Heathrow airport plays a critical role in connecting the British exporters to the global markets.

Freight Transport Association (FTA) director of global and European policy Chris Welsh said at the BCC conference: “Heathrow’s planned investment and increased freight capacity is excellent news, and exactly the type of commitment that FTA has long been asking for.

“The improvements it is proposing are essential for the growth and success of the UK economy.”

According to FTA, airfreight occupies 40% of UK’s imports and exports business.

“Cargo is essential for UK PLC and Heathrow is its global freight connector, with 26% of all UK goods by value going through the airport.

“This investment plan will significantly improve our cargo facilities and support British businesses to keep the economy moving, connecting exporters to the world and helping the government reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020,” Holland-Kaye added.

The airport dealt with 1.50 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2014.


“The real issue for air quality is vehicle traffic, not the airport.” – JHK

Embedded image permalink


See earlier:

Heathrow’s bid for a 3rd runway includes doubling air freight – with associated increase in lorries

In Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway, it plans to double its cargo capacity. It hopes this will help its bid, due to the financial value of air freight. In the past, some of the air freight industry have said Heathrow ignored their needs. Heathrow is now saying that its key logistics role as a single primary air freight hub for the UK is important for the economy, for export competitiveness, and essential for British importers and exporters to enable them to access key global markets.  Some 65% of the UK’s £400bn air freight exports already travel via Heathrow, almost all as belly hold in passenger planes. The airport plans to have its freight area improved with a new cargo railhead, and better road links.  Speaking at the Runways UK conference on 2nd June, Simon Earle said local residents consulted by Heathrow were unhappy about the number of HGV lorries. Air pollution is already often in breach of air quality levels. An article by T&E bemoans the resistance to changes and to cuts in polluting emissions by the lorry manufacturers. That does not bode well for Heathrow air quality, with much higher numbers of HGV movements in future.




Lorries: 21st-century fleet or dinosaurs on our roads?

Driving Europe’s transport industry in a more sustainable direction is a formidable challenge, not least because it means a fairly fundamental change in the way fairly large industries do their business.

It is in the DNA of these industries to resist change forced upon them by politicians.Carmakers oppose CO2 standards that make them fit clean tech to their cars, the aviation and shipping industries oppose doing their share and of course oil companies fight any kind of change that could end our addiction to their products.

Still, truck makers are a rather special case. I will explain.
The trucking sector disproportionately affects all of us. Lorries represent just 3% of vehicles but they emit 25% of road transport CO2 emissions and that share continues to rise.
Lorries are also involved in 15% of road deaths, often killing cyclists and pedestrians, and the health costs associated with lorry pollution are estimated at €45 billion a year, according to the European Environment Agency.
The lorry industry hasn’t exactly been pro-active in tackling these problems. Lorry fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions levels stagnated for almost 20 years and truck safety made only minimal strides, when compared to the Euro NCAP-driven safety improvements in the car sector.
Still, lorry makers vehemently oppose any suggestion that they should do more. They’re against CO2 standards and  dismiss new safety rules. Instead they promise us all will be well as long as we let the market take care of the problem. Given its past performance, that’s a hard line to tow.
What makes the lorry industry really stand out though is that it does not merely oppose change that is imposed; it simply opposes any kind of change.
The weights and dimensions file that is currently going through the EU legislative machinery is a case in point. Europe’s outdated lorry dimensions rules constrain the design of lorry tractors and force blunt cab-over-engine designs. So the Commission has proposed relaxing length constraints, so that lorry makers can make  new curvy designs. Such curvy designs would be more aerodynamic, safer and more comfortable for drivers. There’s absolutely no downside to it.
The truck industry didn’t ask for this design flexibility, so when it was confronted with the Commission proposal, confusion reigned. How to react to a proposal that does not impose anything but just enables things?
Eventually, the industry grudgingly conceded that while in principle flexibility to make better cabins isn’t a bad thing, in this case new designs should be prohibited until at least 2025. The reason for this rather odd position? To maintain ‘competitive neutrality’ – suppose one manufacturer would have better designs on the shelves and another not, wouldn’t that be terribly unfair?
Imagine the big smart phone producers demanding a 10-year moratorium on 4G connectivity because one of them has just put out a new 3G smartphone and wants to keep selling it for a while. You could be certain the anti-cartel police would find them soon.
Not so in the truck sector. EU governments sympathise with the prohibition line of truck makers and agreed new designs should be banned for at least another eight years.
That banning safer, cleaner trucks will go at the expense of lives, diesel, pollution, and even those truck makers that are ready for new designs, doesn’t seem to sway Council.
Lorry makers as well as those regulating the sector should reflect carefully. The problems associated with trucking are real and very tangible for a lot of people. Lorries killing cyclists or lorry pollution destroying people’s health will continue to make headlines.
Not harvesting the lowest-hanging fruit available will raise the cost of tackling our oil addition and climate change. And it may also suggest truckmakers are inherently incapable of cleaning up their act – in which  case the EU should take its ambitions to shift vast amounts of freight to rail a bit more seriously.


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New inter-departmental ministerial “Clean Growth” committee to be set up, on air pollution

The FT reports that David Cameron has set up a new inter-departmental ministerial committee to look at air pollution issues. Oliver Letwin will chair cross-party meetings of the “Clean Growth” committee. Its remit will include vehicle emissions, climate change and green energy. This activity has been sparked by the VW scandal of “defeat” devices in cars, designed to give artificially low NO2 readings when cars are tested. There are fears of losses for the car industry if the problem is not contained. People have known for years that the theoretical figures for fuel efficiency of cars were artificially good, and that is now also shown to be deliberately influenced. The DfT is known to have been aware of the problems with NO2 emissions from diesel cars since October 2014, but done nothing.  As well as Oliver Letwin, others on the Committee will be Sajid Javid, business secretary; Liz Truss, environment secretary; Amber Rudd, energy secretary; and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.  The FT says it is not clear if the Committee would deal with air pollution from a potential Heathrow 3rd runway. Stephen Joseph, of Campaign for Better Transport, hoped the committee would mean the government would take air pollution  more seriously and develop an effective cross-Whitehall strategy.



David Cameron sets up committee to tackle air quality



However, it is not clear if projected emissions from a potential Heathrow third runway will fall under the auspices of the new group if the project is authorised by the government this year.

Stephen Joseph, head of the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the new task force if it meant that the government would take air pollution seriously and developing a proper cross-Whitehall strategy.

“The VW scandal has shown that future pollution levels are likely to be far higher than the government was expecting, which means that any strategy must give real powers and funding to cities to get pollution levels down,” he said.


Full article at



David Cameron has been accused of failing to give an international lead in tackling air pollution and climate change.

29.10.2015 (Jersey Evening Post)
Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott warned the Lords it was “crazy” to cut subsidies for renewable energy.

He said the Government was doing “absolutely nothing” to tackle emissions from cars, adding: “It’s green crap according to our Prime Minister.”

Peers were debating climate change ahead of a summit in Paris in December when at least 80 world leaders, including from the US and China, are tasked with agreeing a global climate pact.

Lord Prescott, who led for Britain in negotiating a similar agreement in Kyoto in 1997, said the signs for agreement in Paris looked good.

But, stressing the need for a “global solution to a global problem, he attacked “negative factors,” including those who still questioned the science behind climate change.

Lord Prescott said the Government had a direct responsibility for air quality and its impact on health but the Tory Government had abandoned its leadership role and “no longer leads in Europe”.

With thousands dying each year from air pollution in London alone according to a study, Lord Prescott said: “That’s more people dying from air quality than from obesity, alcohol, tobacco…..”

After the VW emissions scandal and growing concern about the impact of diesel cars on pollution, he added: “What is the Government doing about it – absolutely nothing. They aren’t giving any leadership.

“It’s about time the Government changed its position and started joining the rest of the world community in doing something about climate change.”

Liberal Democrat Lord Greaves warned of a “total reversal” of green policies since the Tories came to power with a majority after the coalition years.

He said ministers were going down the “wrong track” and making the Government the “least green government” for a long time.

Opening the debate, Labour’s Lord Hunt of Chesterton, a former professor of climate modelling, urged ministers to adopt stronger environmental policies to tackle climate change and cut greenhouse gases.

Lord Hunt said he had experienced “uncomfortable” air pollution in London earlier this year at a level not seen since the 1950s.
and it continues …


Revealed: British ministers tried to block EU moves to clean up air quality

By Daniel Boffey and Frances Perraudin (Observer)

Sunday 27 September 2015


The British government sought to block new EU legislation that would force member states to carry out surprise checks on the emissions of cars, raising fresh questions over ministers’ attitude to air pollution and their conduct in the Volkswagen scandal.

A document obtained by the Observer reveals that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been advising British MEPs to vote against legislation that would oblige countries to carry out “routine and non-routine” inspections on vehicles’ “real-world” emissions.

The revelation will add to the growing concerns over the government’s commitment to tackling air pollution. It follows the admission last week that the Department for Transport had ignored significant evidence of the fraudulent practices being employed by the car industry when this was sent to it a year ago.

About 29,000 deaths in the UK are hastened by inhalation of minute particles of oily, unburnt soot emitted by all petrol engines and an estimated 23,500 by the invisible but toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) discharged by diesel engines.

Volkswagen has been engulfed in a scandal after it emerged that some of its diesel cars had been fitted with devices that could detect when they were being tested, concealing the real level of pollutants being emitted by them when on the road.

Now it has emerged that Defra has been lobbying against part of a proposed EU directive that would force member states to establish national testing regimes to catch out those who tried to conceal the damage they were doing. The proposed legislation – the national emissions ceiling directive – is designed to “ensure that policies and measures are effective in delivering emission reductions under real operating conditions”, according to the European commission.

A Defra briefing document circulated among European parliamentarians in July, and seen by the Observer, says that, while the British government agrees in principle to the need for tough checks to enforce emission limits of NO2, MEPs should vote against the imposition on member states of “market surveillance and environmental inspections” as the legislation is unclear and legally unnecessary.

The British government has been seeking to water down legislation in the directive which seeks to limit the emission of a series of pollutants other than NO2, including methane and ammonia. Officials claim that some of the measures proposed would unnecessarily increase the “administrative burden for industry and government”, according to the briefing paper. The European parliament is due to vote on the proposals at the end of October.

Alan Andrews, a lawyer based in Brussels for ClientEarth, a firm of environmental legal experts, said ministers were not matching their rhetoric with action. He said: “It is politically easy to say you agree in principle with reducing emissions, but without the mechanisms to enforce the law companies will breach it with impunity.

“The government says it supports in principle measures to ensure that the Euro 6 standard [current emissions rules] for diesel delivers real-world emissions cuts. But this clause they oppose is about a broader principle – requiring member states to have proper inspection and systems in place at the national level to ensure that technologies, products and pollution-reduction measures are really delivering reductions in the real world.

“This is important because it applies across the board, not just to diesel cars. We need to know that measures to cut pollution from farms, ships, trains, tractors etc are all doing what they say on the tin.”

In April, the supreme court ordered the government to make plans for tackling the UK’s air pollution problem, which has been in breach of EU limits for years and is linked to thousands of premature deaths each year.

London and several other British cities have failed to meet EU standards on NO2 levels since 2010. Yet when proposals were published earlier this month by the environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss, they were widely condemned as weak and ineffective.

The consultation document suggested individual emission limits for four different vehicle types but also passes the responsibility on enforcement to local authorities, which would then be liable to EU fines if limits were breached.

ClientEarth, which forced the supreme court to rule against the government, said it was now considering taking further legal action to push ministers into delivering on their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, air pollution is swiftly becoming a key issue for the London mayoral contest, in which Labour’s Sadiq Khan is expected to be pitched against Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park.

Khan told the Observer: “The Tories in government, and Boris Johnson, have stood by as London’s air has become dangerously polluted. We are now facing a health crisis – with air pollution responsible for as many as 10,000 deaths a year in the capital.

“I’ll make cleaning London’s air a top priority for City Hall – an expanded ultra-low emission zone, cleaner buses, more support for cycling, opposition to Heathrow expansion and a pedestrianised Oxford Street, turning one of Europe’s most polluted streets into a worldm class, tree-lined public space.”

Speaking at her party’s autumn conference in Bournemouth on Saturday, Green party MP Caroline Lucas described air pollution in the UK as a public health crisis. “If you look at the cost [of air pollution] to the NHS, it’s been estimated to be between £10bn and £15bn every single year,” she said.

“Just because air pollution is invisible, it’s almost as if successive governments have felt they can just afford to ignore it. They haven’t taken it seriously enough, but this is an absolute public health crisis. It’s nothing less than that. We need this government now to treat it as such.”

Lucas said the government needed be taking the lead in the EU on vehicle emissions regulations and should be investing in public transport which, in many towns and cities across the country, was “a creaking relic from decades ago”.

“[This government is] ideologically undisposed to regulation,” said Lucas. “They assume that markets are going to be able to sort this out. Well, they absolutely can’t, and while they dither kids die. They need to sit up and take notice.”

Seven million premature deaths are caused by air pollution each year, according to the World Health Organisation. This includes indoor and outdoor pollution such as smoke from cooking stoves in developing countries.

About 80% of deaths related to outdoor pollution are linked to heart disease and strokes, 14% to lung or respiratory diseases, and 6% to cancer, says WHO.

29,000 deaths a year in the UK are thought to be caused by air pollution, Public Health England estimates.

1,148 of London’s schools are within 150 metres of pollution hotspots, according to campaign group Clean Air in London.

100m working days are lost across the EU every year through illnesses such as asthma.

In London, the EU limits for nitrogen dioxide will not be met until after 2025.






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Richmond campaign shows Heathrow runway would lead to 50% of the new capacity used for international transfers

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has produced a very useful set of carefully argued briefings and aspects of a 3rd Heathrow runway (noise, CO2, air quality etc). These can be found here. There is now an updated briefing on economics. It makes several vital points showing how the Airports Commission’s conclusion and recommendation for a Heathrow runway is not supported by its own evidence. The RHC points out  that the Commission’s own “strategic fit” document shows that with a new Heathrow runway, there would be an extra 22 million international-to-international (I to I) transfer passengers using Heathrow per year (about 30 million in 2050 rather than about 8 million then if there was no runway). The additional 22 million passengers would take up over 50% of the new runway capacity, and would provide little or no economic benefit to the UK. They do not pay APD.  Transfer passengers do not leave the air-side at Heathrow. They contribute to the airline and airport profits and their value is said to add connectivity by providing minimum aircraft loads for otherwise unviable routes and by adding to route frequency. Support for thin (i.e. low demand/frequency) destinations is a main justification for the Commission recommending a Heathrow runway. But 95% of Heathrow’s I-to-I transfers support higher frequencies to already popular destinations rather than otherwise economically unviable thin destinations.



The RHC also points out that the £17.6 billion investment in the Heathrow runway produces just £1.4 billion of net benefit (present value over 60 years), which is negligible in macro-economic terms and within the margin for statistical error. 



What impact would a new runway at Heathrow have on the UK Economy?

New economics briefing by the Richmond Heathrow Group


The Airports Commission’s brief was to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub. The Commission’s conclusion and recommendation for a northwest runway (NWR) at Heathrow is not supported by the Commission’s own evidence.

This Fact Sheet, updated to reflect the Commission’s Final report, shows that:

  • There is already significant spare capacity at almost all UK airports, including Heathrow, which has existing capacity for an additional 34 million terminating passengers a year.
  • Heathrow’s north west runway expansion results across the UK in 17 million fewer passengers a year, fewer business passengers, fewer flights, and less connectivity.
  • Heathrow’s 41 million additional passengers a year result in a loss of 58 million passengers a year at other UK airports, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
  • An extra 22 million international to international transfer passengers a year (over 50% of the NWR capacity) provide little or no economic value to the UK.
  • Heathrow adds only 9 long-haul destinations, 2 million long-haul business passengers a year and one new domestic destination but 37 new short-haul destinations. The increased connectivity is of doubtful value and is offset by reduced connectivity at other London and regional airports. The overall number of destinations from the UK is reduced by three.
  • The £17.6 billion investment produces just £1.4 billion of net benefit (present value over 60 years), which is negligible in macro-economic terms and within the margin for statistical error. Omitted are: £15 billion of surface access costs needed to avoid road congestion and to meet service level standards and air quality limits; full recognition of noise costs; and the negative impact on the UK aviation market.
  • State funding of surface access costs of £20 billion in total is unjustified, but without it, the scheme is potentially undeliverable.

Full briefing at

including Annexes

Annex 1: Passengers, Flights and Destinations Analysis

Annex 2: Destinations Strategic Fit Updated Forecasts


Just considering the points on the international-to-international passengers, from the RHC report, to look at here in more  detail:

Some extracts on this:


[With a new Heathrow NW runway]  Impact on the UK as a whole:  [Data from Airports Commission’s Strategic Fit: Forecasts.  Tables 5.6 and 6.1

viii. Reverses the decline in I-to-I transfers in the UK (most are at Heathrow). Without a 3rd runway, UK-wide I-to-I transfers decrease from 20.4 million transfers in 2011 to 8.3 million in 2050. But the NWR option results in 30.5 million I-to-I transfers across the UK by 2050, which means the NWR option adds 22.2 million transfers compared to the Do-minimum option or the equivalent of around 54% of the 3rd runway’s capacity. These provide little or no economic benefit to the UK (see paras. 26-29 below).NEGATIVE for the UK.


Impact on Heathrow:  Reverses the decline in I-to-I transfers at Heathrow. Without a 3rd runway, Heathrow I-to-I transfers decrease from 18.5 million transfers in 2011 to 8.1 million in 2050 [AON carbon capped. Page 80 of link ]. But the NWR option results in 29.9 million I-to-I transfers at Heathrow by 2050, [AON carbon capped. Page 141 of link ] which means the NWR option adds 21.8 million transfers compared to the Do-minimum option or the equivalent of around 55% of the 3rd runway’s capacity. These provide little or no economic benefit to the UK (see paras. 26-29 below). POSITIVE for Heathrow but NEGATIVE for the UK.


22. The number of destinations served by Heathrow itself is forecast to decrease from 179 in 2011 to 151 in 2050 without Heathrow’s NWR expansion but to increase to 198 with Heathrow expansion. Compared to no NWR expansion, Heathrow’s NWR expansion adds 9 long-haul destination, 37 short-haul and one domestic destination. These increases, together with an increase of over 50% in the number of flights, improve Heathrow’s connectivity. But this results in increased numbers of I-to-I transfer passengers, UK resident leisure passengers on short-haul flights and increased frequency of flights to popular destinations. Therefore, the increased connectivity of Heathrow flights and destinations is of doubtful economic value. POSITIVE for Heathrow but of doubtful value for the UK.


25. Heathrow’s NWR expansion concentrates flights and passengers at a single airport. It follows that competition will be stifled. It could thrive if other airports were allowed to grow their market share and, in the south-east, all five London airports were encouraged to compete. ……… Heathrow has over 90% of the I-to-I transfer market. POSITIVE for Heathrow but NEGATIVE for all other airports.


26. Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) claims that Heathrow competes with overseas airports as the UK’s only hub airport. A hub airport is one where transfers represent a major part of the activity and there are the facilities to cater for transfers.   I-to-I transfer passengers represented 19 million or 27% of Heathrow passengers in 2011 or 91% of the UK’s total I-to-I transfers. In the absence of Heathrow’s NWR expansion, the number of I-to-I transfers at Heathrow decreases to 8 million passengers by 2050. This is 9% of Heathrow passengers. But with Heathrow’s NWR expansion the I-to-I transfers rise to 30 million passengers or 22% of Heathrow passengers by 2050.


27. An increase of 22 million I-to-I transfer passengers is over 50% of the new capacity of 41 million passengers served by an additional Heathrow runway.

28. Transfer passengers do not leave the air-side at Heathrow. They contribute to the airline and airport profits and their value is said to add connectivity by providing minimum aircraft loads for otherwise unviable routes and by adding to route frequency. However, there are very few thin (i.e. low demand/frequency) international routes from Heathrow that have any I-to-I transfers. There were 44 long-haul thin destinations in 2011 (less than one departure a day) out of a total of nearly 100 long-haul destinations. Only 7 of these thin destinations had I-to-I transfers and these accounted for just 446,000 out of 19 million transfers. It is doubtful that the economic viability of any of these 7 low frequency services depended on transfers.

But support for thin destinations is a main justification for the Commission recommending a hub airport such as Heathrow. Instead, 95% of Heathrow’s I-to-I transfers support higher frequencies to already popular destinations rather than otherwise economically unviable thin destinations. In 2011 New York JFK and Newark airports together had over 26 departures from Heathrow every day serving 1.2 million I-to-I transfers and 2.6 million terminating passengers. Average loads were as low as 216 passengers on flights to New York JFK in 2011 and 170 passengers to Newark, compared to an A380’s capacity of over 500 passengers. This issue was recently confirmed by the Sunday Times 18/10/15; it said that BA has over capacity on some US routes from Heathrow and is cutting the frequency of flights.


29. While frequency is important to connectivity there is a question of diminishing returns and efficient use of resources on high frequency routes, especially those serving primarily the leisure market.   I-to-I transfer passengers are exempt from Air Passenger Duty. They support business travel between overseas countries in competition with the UK. The routes tend to be circuitous with an additional landing and take-off compared to a direct flight, which results in additional noise and pollution. They use the UK’s valuable CO2 ceiling. As a result of Heathrow expansion, a very substantial 22% of Heathrow’s capacity would be used for the benefit of I-to-I transfers but not for the benefit of the UK. Fewer I-to-I transfers could free up Heathrow slots for flights to as many as 100 new destinations a day.


The Commission has given weight to the importance of I-to-I transfers supporting new long-haul destination with potentially rich business opportunities. However, we question whether I-to-I transfers support thin destinations and we question their value in adding frequency to already popular routes serving the leisure market and the diminishing returns on high frequency routes, as explained in paras. 26-29. The WebTAG model attributes £6.2 billion of benefit to I-to-I transfer passengers but why WebTAG assumes their benefit should benefit the UK is unclear; they appear to be excluded explicitly from the S-CGE valuation because they are said by PWC to add no value to the UK. Oxera also confirm that there is no I-to-I value in their report [Oxera Report – Concerns with the Airports Commission’s Economic Appraisal. Oct 2015].


39. Heathrow needs to find £28 billion to finance a third runway and ongoing cash outflows [14] and £20 billion for surface access [12]. Almost certainly Heathrow’s NWR expansion will require large amounts of state aid which will be at the expense of the rest of the UK and UK tax payer and will end up subsidising the return of Heathrow’s mainly overseas shareholders and the majority of users of the new capacity of 41 million passengers a year who will be I-to-I transfers passengers (an incremental 22 million by 2050) and UK resident leisure passengers (an incremental 7 million by 2050). The latter has a negative impact on the UK’s balance of payments. Air travel for leisure is also predominantly by the more wealthy and a questionable candidate for state subsidies. ABC1s are the predominant users of leisure air travel (74%)[15]. There is already substantial spare capacity at airports outside the UK requiring little further investment.



Series of RHC Factsheets on Heathrow

The other factsheets on Heathrow by the Richmond Heathrow Group are at

There are briefings on:

Air pollution.
Local economy.
Surface access.

Read more »

On day of appearance before the EAC, Heathrow “pledges” a (dubious) “triple lock” on air pollution

Heathrow knows it has a problem with the high levels of NO2 pollution (and actually also particulates) in its surrounding area, and these regularly already breach EU limits. Appearing in front of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on 4th November, John Holland-Kaye and Matt Gorman attempted to convince the MPs that Heathrow could solve the problems and add a new runway without local air pollution getting worse.  Mr Holland-Kaye repeated his intention that there would be a pledge by Heathrow for a “triple lock” on air quality under plans for a third runway. He wants people to believe that there would be (sic) no more car journeys to Heathrow with 3 runways than with 2. People would almost all travel to Heathrow on public transport, and likewise almost all staff at the airport. Heathrow would have options “ready” if needed to cut traffic flows and emissions, such as a congestion charge. And also more flights would only be allowed on the 3rd runway, if it was clear “the airport’s contribution would not delay compliance with EU air quality limits.” Challenged by the EAC there was the usual unconfirmed spin about jobs and growth, and no convincing evidence that NO2 air pollution could be reduced with a new runway.  The Airports Commission appears to have misunderstood the EU air quality directives, implying a runway would be permissible as long as air pollution was worse somewhere else in London.

The full EAC session on 4th November can be viewed on Parliament TV at

The full transcript of the 4th November session will be available at


Heathrow Chief Executive pledges guarantee on air quality limits with expansion

[Beware – read with eyes wide open, and a pinch of salt ….  AW note]

4.11.2014 (Heathrow airport press release)

  • Heathrow promises “triple lock” guarantee to keep air quality within EU legal limits, should Heathrow be allowed to expand
  • Airports Commission’s environmental caveats for Heathrow expansion explained

Giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye confirmed that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within EU air quality limits and without increasing the amount of airport-related vehicles on the roads compared to today. [That should read that he “confirmed that he hopes Heathrow expansion can be delivered …etc. AW note]. 

Mr Holland-Kaye explained that a “triple lock” guarantee would address the air quality surrounding the airport, should Heathrow be allowed to expand. [Why is it not doing everything possible to improve air quality now, regardless of a new runway?  AW note] 

The three elements of the triple lock are:

1. Meeting our existing commitment to improve air quality: 

by supporting [not necessarily paying for … AW note] improved surface access that would increase the number of people, both passengers and employees, using public transport and encouraging and incentivising the use of new technology and cleaner vehicles [how exactly? Heathrow cannot influence the take up of electric cars in the UK market. AW note]. . This will include new rail lines to the north, east and west of Heathrow that will be transformational and put Heathrow at the heart of an integrated transport system. The Airports Commission is confident that this will enable an expanded Heathrow to meet EU air quality limits. [It is widely considered that the Airports Commission misinterpreted the EU law on air quality. AW note]

2. Ensuring further options are ready to be introduced if required to reduce traffic:

In its plans for expansion Heathrow has a number of options available to improve air quality that can be implemented if needed. An airport congestion charge is a good example as, if needed, Heathrow believes it would help to reduce road journeys, reduce emissions and support more sustainable travel patterns. [Widely believed to be impractical. Another was ?? refrigeration units for plane engines on the ground, to cool them and emit less NOx ?? AW note ].

3. Binding our commitment: 

by guaranteeing that new capacity at an expanded airport will only be released when it is clear that the airport’s contribution will not delay compliance with EU air quality limits. [As revealed at the EAC hearing, it is implausible that Heathrow funders and share holders would accept paying £18 billion for a runway, to then find it could not be used, for air quality reasons.  Zac Goldsmith asked aboutt his at the EAC and JH-K could only say he was very confident that Heathrow would get people out of their cars. AW note.]


Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said:

“Heathrow expansion is not a choice between the economy or the environment – we can deliver both.  [Highly unlikely]  We will boost the economy for the whole of the UK by £211 billion, [utter rubbish – even the figure of “up to £147 billion over 60 years, from the Airports Commission has been seriously criticised, even by the Commission’s own economics advisors, let alone £211 billion.  AW note] create 180,000 jobs, the potential to eliminate local youth unemployment, and double the number of our apprenticeships, while ensuring we remove people from our noise footprint and meet both EU air quality limits and carbon targets.”  [This is just PR speak, carefully worded to give the right impression, but with little real content.  AW note]

While some of the Commission’s recommendations are dependent on action from other parties, including government and airlines, others are within Heathrow’s control and are already being worked on.

Heathrow is today:

  • Supporting the Airports Commission’s suggestion for the establishment of an independent aviation noise authority, with a statutory right to be consulted on flight paths and other operating procedures
  • Charging fines for aircraft breaking departure noise limits and re-investing that money in local community projects. [Note, this money does not come from Heathrow itself,. Its apparent generosity comes from airlines.  AW note] This year, Heathrow increased the amount it charges for all noise breaches, and introduced a sliding scale of fines that will charge more for noise made during sensitive early morning periods
  • Working with partners to deliver projects such as Crossrail [Note that Heathrow wriggled out of paying £230 million for Crossrail, and only paid £70 million. AW note] and Western Rail to increase public transport use by passengers to over 50% by the time another runway is operational, and providing additional avenues to reduce staff car use, including by hosting Europe’s largest car share scheme.
  • Proposing a world-class noise insulation scheme worth over £700 million [This amounts to only about £4,400 per house, spread over the 160,000 homes included.  That amount per house does not go far, if there are perhaps 6 – 8 windows and a door …. AW note]
  • Offering one of the country’s most generous property compensation schemes for a major infrastructure project, with proposals to offer those within the compulsory purchase zone as well as in close proximity to the airport to buy their homes at 25% above their un-blighted market, in addition to stamp duty and legal fee costs  [ie. making thousands homeless by compulsory purchase. And what has this got to do with air quality at Heathrow improving? AW note] 
  • Doubling apprenticeships to 10,000, and working to expand the training work of the Heathrow Academy, now celebrating its 11th anniversary. [What has that got to do with the air pollution problem?  PR and press department just left it in, for good effect?  AW note] 

Heathrow’s environmental approach has won the ACI’s Eco-Innovation Award, the GreenFleet Awards for our electric vehicle fleet, the 2014 award Transport Team of the Year award at the London Transport Awards for our sustainable commuting efforts  and earned the airport its 8th biodiversity benchmark award.

After three years of research, scrutiny and consultation, the Airports Commission has made a unanimous and unambiguous recommendation for expansion at Heathrow. Heathrow has taken a new approach to its expansion proposals, one which balances the needs of airport users with the concerns of people living nearby.


Notes to editors:

A congestion charge is one more scheme Heathrow has said it could introduce to reduce traffic congestion levels and improve air quality for local communities while raising money for public transport improvements. The scheme would only be considered following widespread consultation and once public transport alternatives are in place.

Heathrow has said that any revenue raised would be ring fenced and could be used to fund public transport projects at the airport and local sustainable transport projects.

For more information, please see:


“London mayoral candidate and Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith asked Mr Holland-Kaye if he expected the Government to make a decision on expansion “in the absence of clarity from you on that very core condition” of night flights.

Mr Holland-Kaye replied: “I think that is a question for government. I do see that there are no showstoppers in the conditions that were set by the Airports Commission and as Matt has said I think there is an opportunity to significantly reduce the night flights at Heathrow.”

Heathrow is currently restricted to 5,800 take-offs and landings between 11.30pm to 6am.

Around 80% of the night flights at Heathrow are between 4.30am to 6am.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson claimed the select committee session showed that the Airports Commission is “falling apart”.

He said: “I have never accepted that a third runway at Heathrow is the right solution even with all of the Airports Commission’s conditions, but Mr Holland-Kaye’s flat refusal to rule out the possibility of a fourth runway or to commit to conditions to limit air pollution, night flights and noise shows that he simply doesn’t understand that the recommendation of a third runway is crucially tied to these conditions.

“As so often with Heathrow in the past, it is all take and no give. Today’s hearings, apart from showing that Heathrow is willing to undermine the Airports Commission in pursuit of its own ends, prove once again that Heathrow expansion is the wrong solution to Britain’s aviation needs.”  ”



Heathrow’s pledges on air pollution in runway battle



Heathrow bosses today pledged a “triple lock” on air quality under plans for a third runway — but it failed to guarantee pollution would be cut.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye unveiled proposals aimed at addressing fears that another runway would lead to dirtier air around the airport. Their three key points are:

– Meeting the airport’s “existing commitment” on air quality including pledging to have no more airport-related traffic on the roads round the airport with a third runway.

– Having options “ready” if needed to cut traffic flows and emissions, such as a congestion charge.

– Guaranteeing new capacity at an expanded airport would only be released when it was clear that the airport’s contribution would not delay compliance with EU air quality  limits.

Mr Holland-Kaye, [who appeared] before the Commons environmental audit committee today on the third runway plans, said: “Heathrow expansion is not a choice between the economy or the environment — we can deliver both. We will boost the economy for the whole of the UK by £211 billion, create 180,000 jobs, the potential to eliminate local youth unemployment, and double the number of our apprenticeships, while ensuring fewer people are impacted by aircraft noise than today and we meet both EU air quality limits and carbon targets.”

However, critics are likely to point out that the “triple lock” does not pledge that pollution will be reduced or that a third runway would only be built, or operated, if it did not locally breach EU air quality limits.

New research claims that levels of nitrogen dioxide outside some homes close to Heathrow were sometimes about double EU rules, but the airport questioned these findings.

The Airports Commission, which strongly recommended that Heathrow rather than Gatwick be allowed to expand, argued that a third runway could happen provided it did not delay London complying with EU pollution regulations.

But this appeared to suggest that air quality could stay the same or even deteriorate around the airport if there were worse pollution blackspots in the capital.

Gatwick today published its response on air quality, saying “a third runway at Heathrow would mean millions more car journeys.”



Pollution around Heathrow threatens third runway plan

4.11.2015 (The Times)

Pollution levels around Heathrow are more than twice the legal limit, causing fresh demands to abandon plans for a third runway.

Research published yesterday found that levels of toxic gas in gardens close to the airport were regularly 125 per cent higher than maximum thresholds set out by the EU.
Meeting EU air quality standards has become one of the most critical issues determining aviation capacity in the southeast, with David Cameron due to decide on the issue within weeks.

The disclosure was made as the bosses of Heathrow and the government’s airports commission prepared to be questioned today by MPs investigating the environmental impact of the runway. Gatwick, Heathrow’s main rival, warned that pollution levels in west London were now worse than they were five years ago, insisting that there could be no “legal basis for approving Heathrow expansion”.

The airports commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, decisively recommended in July that Heathrow should expand because it would generate greater economic benefits, including more jobs and profitable long-haul routes, than Gatwick. Controversially, it insisted that the environmental impact of expansion “does not outweigh its very significant national and local benefits” when mitigation measures were taken into account.

Heathrow insists that greener aircraft, changes to landing approaches and reforms designed to stop people driving to the airport — the biggest cause of pollution in the area — will enable it to achieve long-term pollution targets. This includes a link to the Crossrail network and new direct rail access to Reading and Waterloo.

EU regulations state that emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is linked to 23,500 deaths in the UK each year, should be limited to 40 micrograms per cubic metre ( m3).
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is consulting on a wide-ranging strategy designed to improve UKair quality, including banning the worst diesel vehicles from up to a dozen of the most polluted urban areas.

Yesterday, a study by OpenSensors, a data management company, found that pollution levels near Heathrow regularly exceeded the 40 m3 standard.

The study, which placed sensors in 20 residential gardens around west London, found that NO2 reached an average of 70 m3 at Sipson, just over half a mile north of Heathrow, with highs regularly exceeding 90 m3, 125 per cent higher than the permitted standard. The research, funded by Open Data Institute, showed that readings in Isleworth, which is six miles east of Heathrow, reached up to 75 m3.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “We take air quality issues very seriously. The airports commission has been clear that Heathrow can expand while remaining within EU legal limits.”



‘Clean Air in London’ obtains QC Opinion on Air Quality Law (including at Heathrow)

The group, Clean Air in London (CAL), is very aware of the problems of air quality in London. Its founder and director, Simon Birkett, says the law about air pollution is not being properly applied. So they have asked their environmental solicitors, Harrison Grant, to obtain advice from a QC on the approach which planning authorities across the UK should take to Air Quality Law. CAL wants to ensure that tough decisions to reduce air pollution and protect public health are taken by the Government, the Mayor and other planning authorities. In particular CAL wanted to clarify the extent to which planning decisions should take into account breaches, or potential breaches, of air pollution limits. This applies particularly to a Heathrow runway, among other projects. CAL now have advice from Robert McCracken QC. It says: “Where a development would in the locality either make significantly worse an existing breach or significantly delay the achievement of compliance with limit values it must be refused.” And “Any action which significantly increases risk to the health of the present generation, especially the poor who are often those most directly affected by poor air quality, would not be compatible with the concept as health is plainly a need for every generation.

Click here to view full story…

Chairman of Commons Environmental Audit Committee says Cameron must answer questions on Heathrow expansion

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recently set up an Inquiry on the “Airports Commission report: Carbon emissions, air quality and noise.” It closed on 3rd September. A considerable number of submissions have been made, from councils, organisations, individuals (and a few from the aviation industry or its consultants). The Chairman of the Committee, Hugh Irranca-Davies, has said that the Government has “big questions to answer” over how it could meet the legally binding EU air quality rules while backing a 3rd Heathrow runway. The submissions, including the one from Transport for London (Boris Johnson) raised a series of objections to a bigger Heathrow. Boris said: “The Commission has failed to demonstrate that a three-runway Heathrow, even with mitigation, will not have the worst NO2 concentration in Greater London, so risking the compliance of the entire zone and EU fines on the UK.” He said the Commission failed to recognise the impact of increased road traffic. Clean Air in London said: “If the Commission is suggesting that the only relevant requirement is that additional runway capacity should not delay in time average compliance throughout the London zone, then it has misdirected itself on the law.” Sections on air quality from a number of submissions are shown in this article.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow refuses to backtrack on misleading claim that “M4 pollution will be fixed by 2020″

 28 OCTOBER, 2015
(Colnbrook Views)


New analysis by Defra “has confirmed” that the M4 near Heathrow will meet EU air quality standards by 2020, the airport says.  But the airport has given a frosty response to Colnbrook Views when challenged that Defra’s draft findings actually say the opposite.

Conflicting messages: Heathrow says the M4 nearest the airport will be compliant by 2020 based on defra's draft plans. But defra's plans show the stretch around J5 won't be while J4B is not included. "Not out problem", says Heathrow.

Talk to Defra! is Heathrow’s blunt response to questioning on its claim that pollution on the M4 will meet the EU standard by 2020.

The unsubstantiated claim on October 12 that went (nearly) unnoticed was delivered among a flurry of media releases in the past few weeks trumpeting record passenger numbers and even better freight figures in the run-up to the Government’s decision on a Colnbrook Runway.

New analysis by defra has confirmed that the M4 near Heathrow will meet EU air quality standards by 2020 as a result of actions taken by us and others

But rather than anything “new” the unattributed statement turns out to a reference to a diagram on one page of defra’s draft plan to improve air quality in Greater London (fig.7, p.30), and is contradicted within defra’s equivalent plan for the South East.

Why defra’s analysis is anything but confirmed:

  • The plan is draft (out for consultation until November 6 and currently under scrutiny by the EFRA Parliamentary committee). It is not yet confirmed.
  • The draft plan has been widely criticised for including more optimistic assumptions on diesel emissions (compared to July 2014) which have subsequently been found to be far removed from real world emissions in light of the VW scandal.
  • The draft plan indicates that emissions will be close to or at the upper limit on a small stretch of the M4 immediately north of Heathrow in the Greater London agglomeration, while the South East zone plan includes an assessment by Slough Borough Council that its part of the M4 will NOT be compliant by 2020 – where the new runway will go.
  • There is no suggestion in the draft plan that WHO guideline levels (the definition of “safe” air which the EU also acknowledges) will be met. The plan indicates EU air quality objectives and limits will be met (at least for Greater London) but not standards.


The draft plan for the ‘Greater London agglomeration’ includes a stretch of the M4 from Longford eastward – incorporating 3 of the 4 miles of M4 immediately north of the airport.  According to defra’s forecasts this area will be registering between 30-40 µg/m³ by 2020.  40 µg/m³ is the legal limit which is currently greatly exceeded.

But the M4 west of the airport is part of the ‘South East zone’, for which the picture is not so clear cut.  While defra says it expects the zone to achieve minimum EU limits by 2020, as highlighted byColnbrook Views a month ago buried deep in the 260-page draft plan (p.226) is contradictory information. Slough Borough Council says that it does not expect to achieve compliance without “significant intervention”.  AQMA 1, which includes Brands Hill and parts of the M4 west of Heathrow, will still exceed safe levels of air pollution.

A missing mile of the M4 between Longford and the M25 is covered by neither zone!  Harmondsworth, Sipson and Longford residents find themselves in the curious position of being outside of all EU air quality reporting according to defra’s plans.

The forgotten Heathrow Villages ... outside of all zones for EU air quality reporting!

Heathrow Senior Press Officer Paloma Aguilar’s initial response to Colnbrook Views yesterday was to issue the usual boilerplate quote attributable to ‘a Heathrow spokesperson’ that Government needs to do more:

“Road traffic, the most serious issue for London’s air quality, needs to be urgently tackled by government and the Mayor’s office – and Heathrow is willing to do more to play its part. Through investments in public transport use, and electric vehicle infrastructure, Heathrow has already reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by 16% over five years.”

But on being pushed further on whether it was misleading to state so categorically that that the M4 nearest Heathrow will be compliant with EU air quality standards by 2020 in spite of the opposing statements in the “new analysis”:

… this is analysis by defra so questions around their methods and comments on the confidence in their findings should be directed to them

Needless to say Heathrow has opted not to highlight the conflicting statements itself.

Colnbrook Views has taken the Heathrow Press Office’s advice and passed these questions on to defra, including Heathrow’s claims, and is awaiting clarification.


Read more »

John Holland-Kaye again will not commit to no Heathrow night flights (11.30pm to 6am) at EAC hearing

When the Airports Commission final report was published on 1st July, one of the conditions of a 3rd Heathrow was that there should be no night flights. The report stated: “Following construction of a third runway at the airport there should be a ban on all scheduled night flights in the period 11:30pm to 6:00am” and “the additional capacity from a third runway would enable airlines to re-time very early morning arrivals.” Already by its statement on 6th July, Heathrow was trying to cast doubt on the conditions, with John Holland-Kaye saying: “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Asked directly again, at the Environmental Audit Committee session on 4th November, if Heathrow would accept no night flights, he said Heathrow “we are not in a position to do that yet.”  It had not yet accepted a ban on night flights, and the airport was “confident we will be able to find a way forward”  in discussions with airlines and government, and it could “significantly reduce” night flights.  Mr Holland-Kaye instead talked of the alleged economic benefit to the UK of flights between 4.30 and 6am. He was asked by Committee members whether the government should agree to a Heathrow runway, (perhaps by December) before Heathrow firmly committed to the no night flights condition.  Mr Holland-Kaye could not give an answer.


Environmental Audit Committee

Inquiry into:  The Airports Commission report: Carbon emissions, air quality and noise inquiry

Scope of the EAC inquiry

The Environmental Audit Committee is holding an inquiry into the implications for Government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted.

Full terms of reference

Link to EAC website     

Link to all written evidence submitted to the EAC   

The full EAC session on 4th November can be viewed live on Parliament TV at

The full transcript of the 4th November session is available at

Witness(es):John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd Matt Gorman, Director Sustainability & Environment Director, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd

Sir Howard Davies, Former Chairman, Airports Commission Phillip Graham, Former Secretary, Airports Commission Julia King, former Commissioner, Airports Commission Eirik Pitkethly, Former Deputy Head of Secretariat, Airports Commission

The earlier session was on 14th October 2015

The transcript of that is at

  • | Published 19 Oct 2015  Evidence given by Dr Andy Jefferson, Director, Sustainable Aviation, and Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director, Aviation Environment Federation;
  • Lord True CBE, 2M Boroughs, Daniel Moylan, Board Member/Mayor’s Adviser on Aviation and Crossrail 2, Richard de Cani, Managing Director, Planning, Transport for London, and Councillor Amrit Mann, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment, London Borough of Hounslow (at 3.00pm).


John Holland-Kaye and Sir Howard Davies give evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee

The Environmental Audit Committee is holding an inquiry into the implications for Government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted. It is holding its second evidence session, hearing from John Holland-Kaye and Matt Gorman, of Heathrow – and Sir Howard Davies and Phil Graham, from the (now closed) Airports Commission. They will be asked questions on noise, air pollution and CO2. The Airports Commission, in their final report on 1st July and in supporting documents, gave unsatisfactory answers on all these. There are no details of flight paths from a new runway, with no information on which areas would be newly overflown. There is no certainty that levels of NO2 around the airport, already sometimes over EU legal limits, would not rise with a 50% increase in the size of the airport, and massive increase in road traffic. There is no satisfactory answer on how the UK could meet its aviation carbon target, while building a new runway. Heathrow has put forward various ideas on how it might slightly reduce its noise and NO2 impacts, many speculative (eg. marginally less noisy planes). The airport is not keen on ceasing night flights (11pm to 6am) though that was one of the Commission’s suggested conditions for a runway.

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Heathrow resistance to ban on night flights raises fears over expansion

Extracts  …..

Any sign that Heathrow might be seeking to amend the conditions laid down by Sir Howard Davies’ inquiry is likely to be seized on by the airport’s opponents as grounds for the government to reject the commission’s findings that Europe’s busiest airport should be expanded.

Some of the difficulties with a ban on night flights revolve around issues beyond Heathrow’s control, according to the airport, such as the need to alter bilateral treaties governing access to the UK market. Airlines are also expected to argue against a night flight ban as this would make certain long haul routes more problematic.


While Mr Holland-Kaye would not commit to a ban on night flights, he said he was confident an expanded airport would be able to meet EU air quality limits. He said Heathrow would only release capacity from the new runway if it would not delay compliance with the targets.

Alistair Watson, head of planning at Taylor Wessing, a law firm, said the business case for a third runway was likely to rely heavily on continuing night flights and early morning arrivals.

“These are high value flights for Heathrow, which is precisely why it is getting agitated about the ban,” he said.

Boris Johnson………. said

“As so often with Heathrow in the past, it is all take and no give,” he said. “It also makes it politically impossible for the government now to endorse the airport commission’s recommendation.”

Full FT story at


See earlier: 

Heathrow wants “discussions with government” to negotiate runway conditions set by Airports Commission

The Airports Commission recommended a 3rd runway at Heathrow, subject to a number of conditions (noise, compensation, local consultation, air quality etc). But Heathrow is not keen on these conditions, and now says it is “seeking discussions with government ” on them. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said Heathrow “would have to consider” the demand from the Commission that there should not be night flights, and that there should be a legal prohibition on a 4th runway. The point of conditions is that they are, well as they say, conditions. But Heathrow says: “We will work with the government to make sure we have a solution that can be delivered. I am not saying today that we will accept all the conditions that have been put down.” Airlines would not like night flights, as they make long haul routes less profitable and problematic. Heathrow’s hope of getting conditions, all recommended for good reasons, removed or reduced will only increase the level of hostility towards the airport by its opponents. Whitehall sources say the government will state its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be November?) — but will then launch a fresh consultation.

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John Holland-Kaye reluctant to accept conditions on Heathrow runway set by Airports Commission

The Airports Commission, in recommending a 3rd runway at Heathrow, set out a short set of conditions Heathrow would have to meet, to be allowed to build the runway. These conditions are not very onerous. These included a ban on all flights between 11.30pm and 6.00am, better air quality, a legally-enforced “noise envelope”, and that Heathrow should be held to its pledge to spend over £1bn on community compensation. And no 4th runway ever. But now, just days after the Commission’s report, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, says the airport is “still assessing” the conditions, and “We’ll have to see how it fits into all the other things we’re doing,” and “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Quite why conditions to be imposed on a runway to protect the public need to be agreed by the airport itself, not just imposed on it, is a mystery. Lord Adonis said the noise envelope, which the commission said might stipulate that there should be “no overall increase above current levels”, was one of the “weaknesses” of the Commission’s report. It is not even clear what it even means – “total incidence of noise, high levels of noise, noise in particular communities”. when manifestly adding another 50% more planes will increase the overall amount of noise.

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Heathrow third runway unanimously recommended by Airports Commission, but with conditions

The Airports Commission has recommended that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow, but only if it can meet stringent conditions on noise and air pollution. Those conditions should include a ban on night flights, legally binding caps on noise and air quality – and legislation to rule out ever building a 4th runway [unlikely to be effective?] .The Commission has said their view was “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow’s plan was the strongest case for a runway, delivering the greatest strategic and economic benefits, and they hoped the conditions would make the airport a “better neighbour” than today. The conditions are: – A ban on all scheduled night flights from 11.30pm to 6am….- No fourth runway – the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand further. Davies states: “There is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway.”….- A legally binding “noise envelope”…..- A noise levy on airport users to compensate local communities…. – A legal commitment on air quality (details to be announced, compliant with EU limits)…. – A community engagement board to let local people have a say…. – An independent aviation noise authority to be consulted on flightpaths and operating procedures at airports….- Training and apprenticeships for local people. The government must now decide whether to act on the recommendation – by autumn, or before Christmas.

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