New EAC report says government has given no guarantees that air quality targets will be met with Heathrow 3rd runway

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will not increase air pollution. The EAC says the government’s air quality analysis is over-optimistic. “The effectiveness of the Government’s new air quality plan will be integral to determining whether Heathrow expansion can be delivered within legal limits. We are concerned that the timing of the draft National Policy Statement consultation means the Government will be unable to carry out a comprehensive re-analysis of the air quality impacts, using the new air quality plan, before the [NPS] consultation process is complete.” … “The Government must publish such an assessment alongside the final NPS, it must work towards a scenario in which all road likes affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins.” ….”Since the Government intends to withdraw the UK from the EU before April 2019, there is no certainty about what our legally binding air quality limits will be after 2019. We are disappointed that these limits are not clearly laid out in the Draft NPS.” And there is much more ….

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New EAC report  Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise Seventh Report of Session 2016–17

23.2.2017

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in the House of Commons has been a key means of holding the DfT, Heathrow and the government to account on the environmental impacts of aviation expansion.

There are reports and associated evidence on all its inquiries, on the EAC website.

In November 2015 the EAC published an interim report on the Airports Commission’s recommendation for airport expansion in the South East of England. In October 2016 the Government announced its support for a third runway at Heathrow, in line with the Commission’s recommendation. The Government has since published a draft Airports National Policy Statement.

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report.  It deals with air pollution (including surface access), carbon emissions and noise.

The EAC heard oral evidence from Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, and Caroline Low of the DfT, on 30th November 2015.

In the summary of the new report, the EAC say:

“We have seen little evidence so far of the “step change” in the Government’s approach to environmental mitigation which we called for in our interim report. To inform the National Policy Statement process, the Government needs to set out new modelling on air quality following the High Court’s latest ruling and a new approach to air quality post 2019; an emissions reduction strategy that will allow the UK’s carbon budgets to be met and effective noise mitigation measures enforced by an Independent Aviation Noise Authority. The Government must not allow our air quality standards to be watered down as a result of leaving the EU.”

Below are just the sections from the February 2017 EAC report on air pollution.

 

The Airports Commission Report Follow-up: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise Seventh Report of Session 2016–17

23.2.2017

 

Air pollution

To inform the National Policy Statement process, the Government needs to set out new modelling on air quality following the High Court’s latest ruling and a new approach to air quality post 2019.

The Government must not allow our air quality standards to be watered down as a result of leaving the EU. On air quality, the Government must produce a new air quality strategy, following the latest High Court judgement, to determine whether Heathrow Airport expansion can be delivered within legal air quality limits. It should set out how it will avoid an increase in the number of serious breaches of EU air quality limits.

On needing the UK to ensure that the UK has an equivalent or better level of environmental protection after we leave the EU, the EAC says the UK’s air quality standards, which derive from EU legislation, are no exception, and the Government should set out in response to this report, and during the National Policy Statement process, how it plans to maintain or improve upon current air quality standards.


There is a long section on air quality – too long to copy here.

It can be seen at https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/840/84005.htm#_idTextAnchor007


The air quality conclusion:

32.

The UK has already breached legal NO2 limits in London for 2017. The High Court has ordered the Government to produce a new plan to tackle air pollution by July 2017, the conclusions of both of the Government’s air quality re-analysis studies are based on the previous, over-optimistic plan. The effectiveness of the Government’s new air quality plan will be integral to determining whether Heathrow expansion can be delivered within legal limits. We are concerned that the timing of the draft NPS consultation means the Government will be unable to carry out a comprehensive reanalysis of the air quality impacts, using the new air quality plan, before the consultation process is complete. The Government must publish such an assessment alongside the final National Policy Statement, it must work towards a scenario in which all road links affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins.

33.

Since the Government intends to withdraw the UK from the EU before April 2019, there is no certainty about what our legally binding air quality limits will be after 2019. We are disappointed that these limits are not clearly laid out in the Draft National Policy Statement. We encourage the committee scrutinising the NPS to consider this report and its recommendations, and urge the Government to clarify its position in its response to this report.

34. We are concerned about the Government’s apparent reliance on low emission technology to solve the problem of air quality. We do not consider encouraging people to buy ULEVs an adequate response to the significant health impacts of air pollution and we have no confidence that the Government will meet its 60% target. The Government should work with Defra on an air quality alert system for people who are especially vulnerable to the effects of short-term exposure to pollutants.


Conclusions and recommendations

Air Quality

1. The UK has already breached legal NO2 limits in London for 2017. The High Court has ordered the Government to produce a new plan to tackle air pollution by July 2017, the conclusions of both of the Government’s air quality re-analysis studies are based on the previous, over-optimistic plan. The effectiveness of the Government’s new air quality plan will be integral to determining whether Heathrow expansion can be delivered within legal limits. We are concerned that the timing of the draft NPS consultation means the Government will be unable to carry out a comprehensive re-analysis of the air quality impacts, using the new air quality plan, before the consultation process is complete. (Paragraph 32)

2. The Government must publish such an assessment alongside the final National Policy Statement, it must work towards a scenario in which all road links affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins. (Paragraph 32)

3. Since the Government intends to withdraw the UK from the EU before April 2019, there is no certainty about what our legally binding air quality limits will be after 2019. We are disappointed that these limits are not clearly laid out in the Draft National Policy Statement. (Paragraph 33)

4. We encourage the committee scrutinising the NPS to consider this report and its recommendations, and urge the Government to clarify its position in its response to this report. (Paragraph 33)

5. We are concerned about the Government’s apparent reliance on low emission technology to solve the problem of air quality. We do not consider encouraging people to buy ULEVs an adequate response to the significant health impacts of air pollution and we have no confidence that the Government will meet its 60% target. (Paragraph 34)

6. The Government should work with Defra on an air quality alert system for people who are especially vulnerable to the effects of short-term exposure to pollutants. (Paragraph 34)

7. The Government has not yet published a comprehensive assessment of the infrastructure requirements of an expanded Heathrow, including an outline of costs, responsibilities and accountability. (Paragraph 44)

8. The Government must publish such an assessment and consult on it before publishing a final National Policy Statement. (Paragraph 44)

9.We reiterate that we foresee legal and commercial risks down the line if clear responsibilities and accountability for meeting air quality targets are not set out at the beginning of the process. For example, Heathrow have said there will be “no more cars on the road” as a result of expansion. (Paragraph 45)

10.There needs to be clarity over how this pledge will be delivered and monitored, the consequences if it is not met and the implications of that for local authorities’ responsibilities to deliver air quality compliance. (Paragraph 45)

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And they say:

Surface access

Surface access is widely considered the main contributor to airport related pollution. There is no agreement about the costs of required access improvements between the Government, Transport for London and local authorities.

The Government must produce a fair assessment of the costs of expected transport improvements needed. We foresee legal and commercial risks if monitoring and responsibility for delivering measures such as Heathrow’s “no more cars on the road” pledge are not clearly set out.

Such measures will only have credibility if they are legally enforceable.

In our report, ‘The Future of the Natural Environment after the EU Referendum’, we called on the Government to ensure that the UK has an equivalent or better level of environmental protection after we leave the EU.


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See the EAC report 

 


 

The Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Mary Creagh, heard oral evidence from Chris Grayling, and Caroline Low (Dft) on 30th November.

“The Airports Commission Report: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise, HC 840 Wednesday 30 November 2016

Members present: Mary Creagh (Chair); Peter Aldous; Caroline Ansell; Glyn Davies; Caroline Lucas; Mr Gavin Shuker.

Questions 1 – 133 Witnesses: Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, and Caroline Low, Director of Airport Capacity, Department for Transport.

 

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environmental-audit-committee/the-airports-commission-reportcarbon-emissionsair-quality-and-noise/oral/44113.pdf

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RHC challenges economic need for night flights at Heathrow, when slots can be provided during the day

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has submitted a detailed response to the night flights consultation. One particularly interesting point they make is that Heathrow does not actually need flights between 11pm and 6am or even 7am. The airport proposed adding 25,000 more flights per year, if it is given planning consent for a new runway, before the runway is built. That means there can be 25,000 more flights per year – around 68 more per day, or about 4 – 5 per hour more (half take offs and half landings). Heathrow says it is full, but would be able to fit in these extra flights, if it wants to. Therefore, if these slots are possible, some of the flights currently in the night period could be moved into the day period. However, there are concerns that the extra 25,000 flights per year would mean loss or runway alternation, that is seen as vital for those currently overflown by Heathrow approach flight paths. The RHC believes late running flights and increased numbers of flights between 6 and 7am are largely ignored by the consultation and people may wish to comment. For the sake of people’s health, the noise disturbance to sleep has to be ended, with no flights before 7am. There needs to be a ban on scheduled and unscheduled night flights starting by 2020, irrespective of any decision on a 3rd runway.
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Richmond Heathrow Campaign response to Night Flights consultation – challenges economic need for them, when slots can be provided during the day

21.2.2017

[From the RHC website and consultation response (extracts below selected by AirportWatch]

The current agreement on limiting night flights expires in October 2017 and the Government has issued a consultation. It largely ignores the evidence and views of residents. The proposal is for a five year regime to 2022 with no attempt to materially reduce night time noise.

The Government’s proposals for Heathrow continue to limit the number of flights to 16 between 11:30pm and 6am.  Controls are extended to quieter aircraft and noise limits are reduced to current actual levels – neither of which in practice will reduce noise. A suggestion to tighten the controls each year may slightly reduce noise over the 5 years. It is important residents show strength of feeling on night flights.

We encourage as many people as possible to respond. To have greatest impact, we suggest you may wish to focus your response on the following issues:

1. Night flight noise affects a large number of people – over 400,000 people around Heathrow.

2. There is no end in sight for those suffering from the noise. Government proposals for restrictions over the last 10 years have had little or no impact on night time noise and the current proposals will have little impact.

3. Each of us will have our own personal experiences of aircraft noise at night, which may be
raised in responses.

4. For many the night extends from 11pm to 7am. The issue is not just about the core night period from 11:30pm to 6am. Late running flights and increased numbers of flights between 6 and 7am are largely ignored by the consultation and people may wish to comment.

5. Richmond Heathrow Campaign seeks a ban on all flights between 11pm and 7am. We make the case that there is no loss from re-timing night flights into the day and there is daytime capacity to absorb all night flights. There is no other remedy for the high cost on peoples’ sleep and health.


GENERAL COMMENTS

We are disappointed that the Government has not faced up to the challenge and proposed material changes to reduce the excessive noise blight across London from Heathrow’s night flights. The Consultation proposes minimal changes to the restriction on night flights at Heathrow.

Over 400,000 people are affected and only a 10% reduction is forecast over the next 35 years and this is 50 years after restrictions were introduced.

The number of people affected increased by 8% between 2006 and 2015. [Largely due to increased population in the areas affected by Heathrow noise. AW comment].

Seventeen years after the WHO Guidelines were published there is still no measurement of the gap between these Guidelines and the far higher noise metrics used by the Government, let alone any attempt to meet the Guidelines.

For most of the first half of the 21 century, according to the Airports Commission, there is unlikely to be any significant reduction in night time noise 23:00-07:00, and given the lack of controls between 06:00 and 07:00 there is a risk noise levels will increase over this period.

The Government needs to get a grip on the pollution affecting so many people and stop making excuses for rolling over the regimes unchanged since 2006 until 2022. Firm action is needed now.

The thesis of our response is that:

1. there is no need for Heathrow night flights 23:00-07:00,

2. there are at least 25,000 day-time slots a year to absorb all re-timed night flights 23:00-07:00,

3. the Balanced Approach to noise management is inadequate in this case, and

4. night time noise levels are too high and reducing too slowly, especially in the early morning shoulder period, so that the only solution is a night time ban on all flights from 23:00 to 07:00.

Annex A sets out the evidence and case demonstrating that shifting to the day of around 16 flights arriving at Heathrow between 23:30 and 06:00 and around 25 arrivals between 06:00 and 07:00 and 40 departures in this hour can be achieved with minimal net commercial or economic cost. We believe the Airports Commission supports this assessment, at least for the period 23:00 to 06:00, and evidence is provided to that affect.

Annex B sets out the evidence demonstrating there is sufficient day time capacity at Heathrow to absorb a shift of all the night flights into the day. This is based on scheduled hourly use of Heathrow and the efficiencies being introduced to prevent delays and improve punctuality and resilience. Heathrow announced in September 2016 it can increase traffic by 25,000 flights a year without increasing delays.

Annex C demonstrates the failure of the Balanced Approach to sufficiently reduce night time noise, notwithstanding additional proposals made by the Consultation and by ourselves. Benefits from less noisy aircraft through fleet change and operational performance are partly offset by population growth. Land use planning is of limited benefit in reducing the impact of aircraft noise. Restrictions, such as additional QC bans and quota point limits have relatively small impact and none on the early morning shoulder period (06:00-07:00), which is a major contributor to the noise from night flights.

Annex D sets out the Environmental Imperative for a for a Night time Ban at Heathrow from 23:00 to 07:00. It is the only viable alternative and given the minimal value of retaining night flights and the feasibility of using day time capacity instead, it is the option we strongly recommend the Government now implement. We believe there should be a staggered introduction of a ban on scheduled and unscheduled night flights starting in the year 2020, irrespective of any decision on a 3rd runway.

Since the recommendation for a ban on night flights by the Richmond Heathrow Campaign and others on several previous occasions has not been fully addressed by the Government then or in this Consultation, we can only suppose a ban would not be implemented at the start of the next regime in October 2017. Nevertheless, we urge the Government to take steps to evaluate our proposals with a view to changes being made within the 5 year regime. We note that Directive 2002/30/EC governs rules on the adoption of operating restrictions before 13 June 2017, such as the night flight regime, and requires them to be no more restrictive than is needed to achieve the environmental objectives for each particular airport. Due to the delay in renewing the current regime, changes are now out of time for the transitional arrangements. But we expect the Government still to be able to introduce a ban in the next 5 year regime.

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See the full RHC consultation response at

http://www.richmondheathrowcampaign.org/RHC_Night_Flights_Response_to_DfT_Feb_2017.pdf


 

Government Night Flight Consultation 2017
Deadline Tuesday 28 February

The Department for Transport is currently carrying out its consultation on the Night Flight regime for five years to 2022.

The Government’s consultation

The Government’s questionnaire for your response

For more detail, see the Richmond Heathrow Campaign  Night Flights page.

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5 arrested for blocking Heathrow tunnel – traffic chaos with tunnel closed 2 hrs 30 mins

Protesters from the Rising Up group caused tailbacks on the M4 heading towards Heathrow airport, in their latest action against plans to build a third runway. A video posted by the group shortly before 8.30am shows a car blocking the Heathrow Tunnel that accesses Terminals 2 and 3. They draped a sign reading ‘No new runways’ over the car,  and there was an activist lying next to the vehicle, locked to it, on the road. The Met police said officers attended the scene at 8.25am and arrested two people for obstructing a highway. The police said five people were arrested. Three protesters were locked to one of the vehicles and two were drivers of two cars. The tunnel was closed for over two hours, and the M4 spur road was also temporarily closed, while police worked with Heathrow Airport staff to remove the people locked to the third car. A contra-flow was put in place in the outbound tunnel to facilitate the movement of traffic around the blocked tunnel. There were delays in surrounding roads.  Transport for London said just after 11am the tunnel re-opened. The protest follows a flashmob the group held at Heathrow on the weekend.  
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Protesters arrested after Heathrow Airport tunnel blocked

21.2.2017  (BBC)

Protest at Heathrow AirportImage copyrightRISING UPThe tunnel approach to Terminals 2 and 3 and the M4 spur road was closed

The main approach tunnel to Heathrow Airport was blocked by protesters objecting to plans for a third runway.

Three cars were parked across the road, with protesters chaining themselves to one of the vehicles at about 08:30 GMT.

The tunnel, which accesses Terminals 2 and 3, was shut for more than two hours while the M4 spur road was also temporarily closed.

Five people have been arrested on suspicion of obstructing a highway, the Metropolitan Police said.

One of the protesters who was chained to the vehicle was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The disruption caused widespread delays, as traffic was diverted to the outbound tunnel at the airport.

A spokesman for the Rising Up campaign group said it was protesting against the impact a proposed third runway could have on climate change and the local area.

Heathrow Airport said: “Heathrow supports the right to peaceful protest within the law, but the safety and security of our passengers, aircraft and colleagues together with the smooth running of the operation is paramount.”

Campaign group Back Heathrow said the actions of the protesters were “selfish, short-sighted and counter-productive”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-39038128

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and from the Guardian report on this: 

A four-month public consultation into the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow is under way. Rising Up, which staged a similar protest last November, says if the runway goes ahead it will allow an extra 250,000 flights a year, causing carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the whole of Kenya’s.

Simon Bramwell, one of the activists involved in Tuesday’s action, said in a statement released by Rising Up that he also participated in the previous protest.

“I am breaking conditions imposed on me by the courts, following road blockades in November, but the government is not listening to the science or to our concerns,” he said. “They have left us with no alternative but to keep taking action. We will not stop until plans to build another runway are fully and finally shut down.”

A Rising Up spokesman told the Guardian: “History has shown that unless we can disrupt the status quo, the powers that be will say the right thing and kick doing the right thing down the road for as long as they can.”

He added: “The inconvenience of some people missing their flights is absolutely nothing compared to the inconvenience of your country being flattened by a typhoon.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/21/heathrow-protest-climate-activists-closes-m4-motorway

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See earlier, other protests blocking the tunnels

 

5 arrests after Plane Stupid block Heathrow tunnel for 3 hours using a van + activists locked onto it

The main road entrance tunnel to Heathrow’s Terminals 1 and 2 was blocked by climate change activists from Plane Stupid, for about 3 hours, from 7.40 this morning. Three activists parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked themselves to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron’s election promise in 2010: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”. Five people were arrested, and the tunnel was finally cleared and the road re-opened by 1.30pm Some travellers may have been delayed or could have missed flights. Local resident Neil Keveren, a builder from Harmondsworth, whose house would be bulldozed for the 3rd runway, was fined after blocking the same tunnel with his van for half an hour on 2nd July, the day after the Airports Commission announcement. Neil said: “No one wants to do this. They feel they have to. People feel they have no choice. After we campaigned for years, David Cameron was elected promising ‘no ifs, no buts: no third runway’. …. We have tried every other option. We have been forced to be disobedient just to be heard. To save our homes and our planet.” There is already airport capacity for families taking a couple of trips per year, or wealthy foreign visitors to the UK, but a new runway would be for the most wealthy to take multiple leisure trips each year. Plane Stupid apologised for causing inconvenience, but believe the strong arguments against a Heathrow runway must be heard.

Click here to view full story…

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Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour

A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that  the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow.  This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”.  The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic.  Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell.

Heathrow tunnel blocked 2.7.2015

Full story at  http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/07/26823/

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With Dublin airport (state-owned) 2nd runway work to start, a 3rd terminal (privately owned) to be considered

A new review of airport capacity will look at the potential of establishing a third, privately-operated, terminal at Dublin Airport, according to the Minister for Transport. A forthcoming review, in the next few weeks, will examine the longer-term capacity needs of Ireland’s 3 State airports will include an option for a 3rd terminal. However, the chief executive of DAA, the State-owned company that owns Dublin and Cork airports, said the idea of an independent terminal was theoretical, costly and inflexible. It had been tried in only two major airports in Europe and North America, and had failed and been reversed at both. The DAA said the delivery of the new 2nd parallel runway and other infrastructure to support growth at Dublin airport should be a priority as a third terminal was a long way down the line. The industry is hoping the number of passengers would double in the next 20 years, and this could be helped by Brexit. However, Brexit could cause problems with the liberalisation of the air transport market – so Ireland wants the market to remain fully liberalised and deregulated. Opponents of the runway (and terminal) say there is no consideration of carbon emissions, and much of the public see the airport’s expansion as a “no brainer.”
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After a delay of several years due to the global financial crisis and predictions of falling consumer demand, it was announced in April 2016 that the new runway would start construction in 2017 and to be completed by 2020.


Option of third terminal at Dublin Airport to be examined

Shane Ross says review of capacity will consider privately-operated terminal

20.2.2017

By Martin Wall (Irish Times)

A new review of airport capacity will look at the potential of establishing a third, privately-operated, terminal at Dublin Airport.

A new review of airport capacity will look at the potential of establishing a third, privately-operated, terminal at Dublin Airport, the Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said.

Speaking at a civil aviation conference in Dublin on Monday he said: “Is a State monopoly at Irish airports in the interest of the users, the tax-payer or the travelling public? I think I know the answer.”

The Minister said a forthcoming review which will examine the longer- term capacity needs of the country’s three State airports “will include an option for a third, independent terminal at Dublin airport.”

He said the review would get underway within weeks.

Meanwhile, DAA chief executive Kevin Toland said the idea of an independent terminal was a theoretical model which was costly and inflexible.

He said it had been tried and had failed and been reversed in only two major airports in Europe and North America.

Mr Toland, who was speaking in a subsequent panel discussion at the aviation conference, said the delivery of the second new runway and other infrastructure to support growth at Dublin airport should be a priority as a third terminal was a long way down the line.

Mr Ross welcomed the decision by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to proceed with the development of a second parallel runway at Dublin airport.

He said the demand for air travel was forecast to double over the next 20 years.

“With that growth, there should be opportunities for airlines, new routes and services as well as in aviation recruitment and software development for the industry.”

The Minister said Brexit “was the most significant development with likely negative impacts on the liberalisation of the air transport market”.

“The only solution for Ireland is that the market should remain fully liberalised and deregulated, and that existing traffic rights should be preserved.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/option-of-third-terminal-at-dublin-airport-to-be-examined-1.2982113

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Dublin ranked as fastest-growing airport in Europe

Airport records an 11.5 per cent rise in passengers numbers to almost 28 million

Europe’s airports welcomed a record-breaking 2 billon passengers last year with Dublin ranked the fastest-growing major one following an impressive 11.5 per cent rise in passenger numbers in 2016.

New figures released by ACI Europe, the trade association for European airports, ranked Dublin airport first in the major airport category, followed by Barcelona’s El Prat and Amsterdam’s Schiphol with growth of 11.2 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively.

Copenhagen and Madrid’s Barajas airports round out the top five fastest-growing major airports last year after recording 9.1 per cent and 7.7 per cent rises in passenger numbers.

Major airports are defined as those attracting more than 25 million passengers a year. Dublin airport recorded almost 28 million passengers in 2016, up 2.8 million on the previous year.

Passenger growth

The passenger growth at Dublin airport was aided by the launch of 19 new routes last year, while additional capacity was added on 31 existing services.

“Almost all our airline customers increased their operations at Dublin in 2016 and we’d like to thank them for their business during the year,” said Dublin airport managing director Vincent Harrison.

Passenger traffic across the European airport network showed strong momentum last year, posting an average growth of 5.1 per cent with airports in the euro zone seeing passenger volumes increasing by 6.7 per cent despite the impact of terrorist attacks in mainland Europe.

Traffic at non-EU airports posted an average 0.9 per cent decrease, primarily due to a 6.6 per cent decline in passenger numbers at Turkish airports caused by terrorism and political instability.

Biggest airport

Europe’s biggest airport overall last year was London Heathrow with 75.7 million passengers. It was followed by Paris Charles de Gaulle with 65.9 million passengers, Amsterdam Schiphol (63.6 million), Frankfurt (60.7 million) and Istanbul Ataturk (60 million).

In December, passenger traffic grew by 10.9 per cent ,with Europe surpassing Asia-Pacific to become the fastest-growing world region.

Dublin was ranked the fourth fastest-growing major airport for the month, with passenger volumes up 13.3 per cent year-on-year, placing it behind Moscow SVO, Barcelona and London Gatwick but ahead of Paris Orly.

Freight traffic grew across Europe’s airports by 4.1 per cent, the best performance since 2010.

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/dublin-ranked-as-fastest-growing-airport-in-europe-1.2979117

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Air pollution from PM2.5 particulates implicated in increasing risk of premature births

Reducing air pollution from the tiny particles, PM2.5 may help to prevent 2.7 million premature births per year worldwide, according to a study published in Environment International. These particles come from sources such as diesel powered vehicles, fires and other sources. Worldwide about 10% of births are classed as preterm, and for these babies there can be significant short and long-term health implications – depending on how early the baby was born. Problems associated with prematurity are the top cause of death among children under 5 years old, and has also been associated with learning and developmental disabilities as well as an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. The number of premature births caused by this air pollution in the UK per year might be as much as 4,500.  The worst problems are in south and south east Asia, including India and China.  The study considered that about 18% of all pre-term births were associated with the particulate pollution in 2010. Other factors linked to pre-term birth are maternal age (young and old), multiple pregnancy (twins etc.), social and personal/lifestyle factors such as poverty, maternal education, prenatal care, physical activity, diet, and alcohol and drug consumption.
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The study can be found here 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412016305992

 

Air Pollution Linked To Millions Of Premature Births Around The Globe

Africa and Asia were the worst affected.
By Carolyn Gregoire (Huffington Post)

18.2.2017

If protecting the environment alone wasn’t reason enough to take measures to reduce air pollution, the massive global health implications of rising preterm birth rates certainly should be.

Each year, 15 million babies around the world ― that’s roughly 1 in 10 infants ― are born prematurely, according to the World Health Organization.

Along with factors like poverty and maternal health status, new research suggests that air pollution is a major risk factor for births occurring at 37 weeks or earlier.

The findings, published last week in the journal Environment International, showed that 2.7 million preterm births across 183 countries in 2010 were associated with a common air pollutant known as fine particulate matter, or PM.

PM is a dangerous form of air pollution consisting of tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and can cause air to appear hazy. Primarily released from sources like diesel vehicles and agricultural waste-burning, PM can penetrate deep into the lungs and contribute to the development of health problems.

“This study highlights that air pollution may not just harm people who are breathing the air directly ― it may also seriously affect a baby in its mother’s womb,” Dr. Chris Malley, a researcher at the University of York and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Preterm births associated with this exposure not only contribute to infant mortality, but can have life-long health effects in survivors.”

For the study, researchers from Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. looked at data on air pollution levels in different countries, analyzing PM levels by region. Then, they compared PM levels with what scientists know about a mother’s risk of having a preterm baby based on her level of air pollution exposure.

Countries in Africa and Asia were the most deeply affected by pollution-related preterm births, with 75 percent coming from South and East Asia. India alone accounted for roughly 1 million of the 2.7 million pollution-related preterm births.

In terms of overall preterm birth rates globally, India ranks number one, followed by China, Nigeria, Pakistan and the United States.

A woman living in urban India or China may inhale as much as ten times more air pollution than someone living in rural England, for example, the study’s authors note.

The researchers admit that it’s difficult to determine the exact causes of preterm birth, and that more research is needed, especially in places like India and China, to more clearly determine the risk factors.

Preterm birth can have significant short and long-term health implications. It’s the top cause of death among children under five years old, and has also been associated with learning and developmental disabilities as well as an increased risk of psychiatric disorders.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/premature-births-air-pollution_us_58a725b2e4b07602ad5422d1

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Read more »

Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve says constituents should respond to NPS consultation, as parts of borough negatively impacted

Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve has written in the local Bucks paper to advise his constituents of respond to the DfT consultation on the Heathrow NPS.  He says that because of the proximity of the airport, communities in the constituency will be directly affected by the proposals.  He toes the government line about the runway being [allegedly] good for the UK economy and the Buckinghamshire economy, with more local jobs.  But communities like the Richings Park area around Iver will face direct, adverse environmental impact from noise. Burnham has also been pinpointed as an area likely to have increased aircraft noise. He also mentions concerns about air pollution because limits “have been exceeded at the current levels of activity, prior to the expansion which is proposed.”  There is a DfT public consultation event on Saturday, March 11th in Gerrards Cross. Dominic Grieve says residents will be able to go through the consultation documents (not that easy a job) and make their own minds up. Deadline for responses is 25th May 2017.  In October 2016 he said there were problems with vehicle movements, and air pollution, and quality of life of residents is being adversely affected in an unacceptable fashion. He said “the government and developers must demonstrate that they can address these issues fully.”
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The main DfT consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement (for a 3rd Heathrow runway) is at 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/589082/consultation-on-draft-airports-nps.pdf

and the supporting documents etc are at

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/heathrow-airport-expansion

 

Dominic Grieve: Have your say on harmful proposals for Heathrow

17.2.2017
Bucks Free Press
Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

Heathrow Airport borders onto the Beaconsfield constituency. In fact, it is within walking distance, although the number of travellers making their way there on foot must be a very tiny number out of the tens of thousands who arrive by road, rail or air.

The proximity of the airport means that communities in my constituency will be directly affected by the proposals for expansion.

When the government announced, last October, that the third runway at Heathrow was the preferred option, I said at the time that there would be mixed feelings about this.

It has the potential to bring increased prosperity to Buckinghamshire’s economy, as well as that of the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State for Transport said that there could be tens of thousands of additional local jobs, of which South Buckinghamshire would have its share.

Increasing capacity and choice for passengers and for shipping freight could bear dividends and make more companies decide to make their headquarters in the area.

But, in my constituency, communities like the Richings Park area around Iver will face direct, adverse environmental impact.

Burnham has also been pinpointed on maps of areas where there could be increased aircraft noise. I have concerns about pollution limits because these have been exceeded at the current levels of activity, prior to the expansion which is proposed.

On February 2, the government announced a 16-week public consultation, which runs until May 25. One of the public events, open to people from across the South Buckinghamshire area, will be held on Saturday, March 11 at the Colston Hall, in Gerrards Cross.

Call 0800 689 4968 for details.

The Heathrow Airport consultation gives the opportunity to residents to make their views known on all the implications of this plan.

Those who want to go through the consultation documents and weigh up the arguments for themselves can do so by visiting the consultations page at gov.uk.

I’m sure that many local people want to go through the consultation documents – which can be found via the consultations page on gov.uk – can weigh up the arguments for themselves and to contribute to the debate.

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/15100945.MP__Have_your_say_on_HARMFUL_proposals_for_Heathrow/

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On 25th October 2016, when the government announced it backed the north west runway option at Heathrow, Dominic Grieve said:

25.10.2016

“Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve’s reaction is mixed”

He said: “The announcement that the Government intends to support a third runway at Heathrow, will be met with very mixed feelings in the Beaconsfield Constituency.

“Many will welcome the economic advantages which it can bring. But it also has the capacity to create a profound adverse environmental impact on parts of my constituency and in particular in the Iver and Richings Park area.

“This is already under great strain from pollution and excessive vehicle movements linked to poorly or unplanned developments over past decades.

The lack of adequate infrastructure and planning strategy has created conditions in which the quality of life of residents is being adversely affected in an unacceptable fashion.

“If the Heathrow Third Runway goes ahead it can only be on the basis that the government can meet the pollution limits in the area, which are currently being exceeded.

“No scheme will be acceptable that does not include the proper infrastructure investment that is required to reconcile growing economic activity with the needs of local residents.

“I will do what I can to support the local community on these issues.

“My attitude to the proposal will entirely depend on whether or not the government and the developers can demonstrate that they can address these issues fully.”

http://www.getbucks.co.uk/news/local-news/heathrow-expansion-welcomed-local-government-12076115

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See also

 

DfT hold 20 consultation events in areas near Heathrow, plus 13 around the UK promoting Heathrow 3rd runway

The DfT is holding a large number of consultation events in the coming two months, both in areas affected by Heathrow, and after that, across the UK. The first event locally was on 13th February and the final one is 20th April in London. The DfT backs the runway, and so the information given out is very much in support of the runway. The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets about the consultations, with simplified text backing the runway (and ignoring any negative impacts) – which look like Heathrow’s own PR about their expansion plans. The events locally are from 11am to 8pm on weekdays (10 – 5pm on Saturdays). People have to register to attend events outside London. Due to the very short notice between the announcement of the NPS consultation (2nd February) and the first event on 13th February, it is difficult for local campaigners against the runway to attend all of them. The DfT has paid staff to man them all. People are encouraged to attend the events, and ask the DfT staff questions. Some suggested questions are shown below. People are also advised not to make their responses in the consultation events, but do them in a considered manner, from home, when they have had time to assess all the information, both for and against the 3rd runway.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Opponents in Austria delighted by court decision to ban Vienna 3rd runway due to CO2, but airport may appeal

Austria’s Federal Administrative Court has blocked Vienna airport’s plans for a 3rd runway because of the extra greenhouse gas emissions it would have caused, and unacceptable loss of agricultural land.  The airport and its allies are furious and have sworn to break this ruling. Legally they should not be able to because ordinary appeal was excluded. They must overcome the very high hurdles of an extraordinary appeal, but opponents fear they will try to get this. The appeal would have to make transparent what is at stake:  is Austria going to take climate change seriously or not? In the UK we have the same problem, but our courts are clearly not mandated in the same way in relation to climate change (air quality is separate). Calculations show the 3rd runway, with its traffic projections, would have been by far the most polluting project in terms of GHG-emissions, and would have destroyed several hundred hectares of agricultural land – needed to grow food. Some of the Austrian media are taking the line that such a decision is not to be made by the court but by politicians, and that the Austrian economy should be more important than the climate. So the airport and Vienna city (20% shareholder of the Vienna airport stock corporation) want to appeal. Opponents are worried.
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Opponents of the runway say:

[The comments may not be fully accurate, as there are complex legal arguments, but this is the understanding of the local group].

 

They are nervous that all the pressure could finally lead to an approval of the runway.

The court sentence is only in German so far, but trying to summarise it – it says

The decision is based on § 71 Luftfahrtgesetz (aviation law), which says that an airport approval shall be given if:  “… d) it is not in conflict with other public interests.“

This gives the judges the mandate to balance interests – something which wasn’t done in the first round of the environmental impact assessment at the court of lower Austria (which also has a 20% share of the airport).

The court ruled that the interest of climate mitigation and preservation of agricultural land was more important than the one of economic growth and jobs.

It lists in its argumentation the political decisions around this: the signature of Kyoto and Paris, regulations from federal and state constitutions, the Austrian climate mitigation strategy (2012) which demands to “take into account possible effects of climate change in all relevant planning and decision making processes on the national until the local level“.

Austria’s climate mitigation law sets yearly targets for GHG-emissions, also by sector. The court decision says: “In the transport sector GHG emissions should decrease from 22,2 to 21.7%, which would be a decrease of 2,25%. The construction and operation of the third runway would cause an increase of 1.79% or rather [bzw.] 2,02 % of the whole GHG-emissions in Austria.“

This means that the runway would attack Austria’s own climate strategy, which is the reason for not accepting the construction. Especially, since the airport itself cannot compensate for the emissions itself (which may be interpreted to mean that if the airport used more offsetting, the verdict could have been different …).

Regarding the agricultural land and forest aspect: The verdict says there is no possibility of compensation (biodiversity offsetting) of areas nearby – and compensation of forest would lead to even less agricultural land.  State regulations demand a restriction of the destruction of arable land, but the runway would lead to a destruction of an area of land which in the recent rate takes 2 months (11.5 ha of arable land are consumed for transport and construction projects in Austria daily).

Opponents of the runway hope that this court case can be an example for other high carbon emission projects – and that it doesn’t get over-ruled .]

If you want to support the Austrian campaigners,  use Twitter (hashtags #HeißeLuft and #DrittePiste) and like/share/comment their Facebook page .

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Court in Austria blocks 3rd runway at Vienna airport, as climate harm outweighs a few more jobs

A court in Austria has ruled that Vienna Schwechat Airport cannot be expanded with a 3rd runway, on climate change grounds. It said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. The court said the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. It also said it was important to conserve valuable arable land for future generations to provide food supplies. The airport will appeal. It is using the same false arguments that the DfT and Heathrow are using here – that building a 3rd runway would (allegedly) reduce the amount of carbon emissions and noise because they claim (against common logic) that “fuel consumption and the noise are reduced, because the waiting times of the aircraft would be avoided at peak times.” The airport hopes the runway would bring more tourists into Austria to spend their money, and would be needed by 2025. The airport had 22.8 million passengers in 2015.  It is a mystery how such a low number of passengers could require 3 runways, when there is barely enough to fill one, let alone two, runway.

Click here to view full story…

Climate change worries halt Vienna airport’s third runway

(The Local – Austria)

10 February 2017

A court has blocked Vienna airport’s plans for a third runway saying it would have resulted in greater greenhouse gas emissions, in a verdict described by lawyers as a first.

Austria’s Federal Administrative Court said in a ruling published late on Thursday that the “positive aspects of the project cannot justify the high extra carbon dioxide pollution.”

A third runway would result in a “significant” rise in greenhouse gas output, contravening the country’s domestic and international undertakings to reduce emissions, a statement said.

“The airport’s possibilities to reduce CO2 emissions through its own measures (such as the installation of solar panels and changing its vehicles to electric cars) were insufficient,” it added.

“As far as I know this is unique that climate protection is used as an argument to block a concrete plan,” Christian Schmelz, a lawyer for the airport, told the newspaper Die Presse.

Erika Wagner, head of the Environmental Law Institute at Linz University, called it a “landmark ruling”.

http://www.thelocal.at/20170210/climate-change-worries-halt-vienna-airports-third-runway

 

 

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Richmond criticises the 1.5 million DfT leaflets promoting 3rd runway as inadequate on noise problems

Lord True, the leader of Richmond Council, has complained (as have thousands of other people) that the information being put out in the DfT consultation on the Heathrow NPS is inadequate.  He said: “The leaflet that was sent out last week it propaganda in its finest. And, the more we read into the full consultation material the more concerned we are at the Government’s selective presentation of the third runway’s impacts. They should be proactively informing flight path communities about major changes like the loss of daytime respite periods but that’s not been their approach.  In the next few weeks there will be a number of resident consultation events, coordinated by the Department of Transport. I urge all concerned people to go and have their say and let the government know if they are not giving the information we need.”   The DfT is not making it clear that areas like Richmond would be overflown for around 75% of the day, rather than around 50% of the time now. The leaflet makes no mention of noise, other than a carefully worded offer of 6.5 hours with no SCHEDULED flights at night.  It is not made easy for members of the public to find data on noise changes, with a 3rd runway. There will be no details of flight paths for several years – so the whole NPS consultation is being done, deliberately by the DfT, in the absence of noise information needed by residents.
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Government accused of hiding facts in Heathrow third runway consultation booklet

Richmond Council has said it is concerned the negative impact of a third runway is not being communicated to residents

Richmond Council has said it is concerned the negative impact of a third runway is not being communicated to residents

16.2.2017 

By Ben Weich (Local Guardian)

The Government has been accused of hiding the fact that respite time of flights over homes in the borough will be dramatically cut if a third Heathrow runway is built.

Examination of Heathrow expansion consultation documents shows communities under flight paths would be flown over for about 75% of the day if the airport is expanded.  Currently planes fly over these areas about 50% of the time.

Richmond Council criticised the Department for Transport (DfT) for failing to mention this in its consultation leaflet, recently delivered to more than a million homes.

It said it feared the negative impacts of a third runway will not be communicated effectively with residents.
Lord True, the leader of Richmond Council, said: “The leaflet that was sent out last week it propaganda in its finest. And, the more we read into the full consultation material the more concerned we are at the Government’s selective presentation of the third runway’s impacts.
“They should be proactively informing flight path communities about major changes like the loss of daytime respite periods but that’s not been their approach.
 

“In the next few weeks there will be a number of resident consultation events, coordinated by the Department of Transport. I urge all concerned people to go and have their say and let the government know if they are not giving the information we need.”

A spokesman for the DfT said the Government is considering a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled night flights, and repeated its commitment to providing a “world class” compensation for affected communities.

He said: “We are acutely aware of the impact that aircraft noise has on people living close to flightpaths.“(The compensation package) will include noise insulation for homes and schools and improvements to public facilities.”Richmond Council, along with Wandsworth, Hillingdon, Windsor and Maidenhead councils, are still examining the consultation material in detail.

http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/local/richmondnews/15100672.Government_accused_of_hiding_facts_in_Heathrow_third_runway_consultation_booklet/

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What the draft NPS says

The section on noise in the draft National Policy Statement document is at (Pp 50 – 54)
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/588764/draft-airports-nps-web-version.pdf
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It is very vague, and effectively says nothing that would limit the 3rd runway. There are no specific standards, no thresholds above which noise would not be acceptable etc.
The DfT says:  “… the Government expects the applicant to make particular efforts to avoid significant adverse noise impacts and mitigate other adverse noise impacts as a result of the Northwest Runway scheme and Heathrow Airport as a whole.” 
and 
“The applicant should put forward plans for a noise envelope. Such an envelope should be tailored to local priorities and include clear noise performance targets. ” [A noise envelope is just a way of describing what is happening on noise, and does not attempt to restrict growth by the industry. AW comment].
and 
“The applicant should put forward plans for a runway alternation scheme that provides communities affected with predictable periods of respite (though the Government acknowledges that the duration of periods of respite that currently apply will be reduced). Predictability should be afforded to the extent that this is within the applicant’s control. “
and so on.
There is nothing to control noise in any meaningful way, for those to be newly overflown, or overflown more than they are now.
and more worryingly:
“…the Airports NPS must be used as the primary policy on noise when considering the Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme, and has primacy over other wider noise policy sources.”
That means over-riding any other UK noise legislation or controls.
See
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/588764/draft-airports-nps-web-version.pdf

Other supporting documents from the DfT to the NPS consultation

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/heathrow-airport-expansion

One of these is the draft Sustainability Appraisal 

There is mention of noise in the Sustainability Appraisal document  Pages 75 –  79 at
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/588754/aos-draft-airports-nps-main-report.pdf

That just looks at numbers within 57 dB noise contours, and the theoretical reductions over time as planes are expected to become very slightly less noisy.


Below is the comment by the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) on what the government’s NPS says on noise:

What the National Policy Statement says about noise

The Government makes a big deal about its various proposed measures for noise mitigation. But aside from the fact that none will bring noise levels down to anywhere near the level recommended by the World Health Organisation, many are problematic and misleading.

Key measures include:

  • A six and a half hour night flight ban for scheduled flights.

For those communities who have been suffering from night noise for decades and who have campaigned relentlessly for a night flight ban this will feel like a step forward. But 6 and a half hours is a long way short of the 8 recommended by WHO, and a proposed curfew for ‘scheduled’ flights doesn’t prevent late-running flights from being pushed into the night period, or from being scheduled in the late evening and early morning, times when some people find their sleep is most likely to be disrupted.

  • The introduction of a “legally binding” noise envelope

While this may sound powerful, the detail of how it will work is left for Heathrow itself to work out, with the danger being that the airport only commits to noise limits that are easy to achieve. Defining limits in a way that actually benefits local communities, while adding 260,000 more aircraft to the local skies, will be a challenge. While the 57 Leq noise ‘footprint’ of the airport has, for example, been reducing over time as a result of the introduction of quieter aircraft, there is no evidence that there has been a commensurate fall in noise annoyance. In fact annoyance from aircraft noise at a national level has been increasing.

  • The provision of predictable periods of respite from noise.

Providing more reliable respite periods had been cited by the Airports Commission, without much explanation, as a possible benefit to communities from expansion. But the Government specifies that predictability should be afforded only “to the extent that this is within the applicant’s control”, and noise respite will in fact be less on average with an expanded airport than is the case today.   

http://www.aef.org.uk/2017/02/15/the-nps-for-heathrow-expansion-a-brief-tour/


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See also

Critique of 11 claims by DfT, in its 1.5 million pro-Heathrow runway leaflets, for NPS consultation

The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets to households in areas not too far from Heathrow. The leaflets make no attempt whatsoever of balance, and are merely advertising the runway plans and promoting them. Many of the claims are misleading, or so abbreviated as to be unclear. Below there is a critique of the claims, point by point, and links to evidence backing up the criticisms. If anyone has received a leaflet, and wonders about the facts, this webpage may give some useful information. Just a few examples of the dubious statements in the leaflet: the figure of £61 billion economic benefit is given, leaving out the proviso that this is over 60 years. There is much made of the generosity of the compensation to be given for compulsory purchase, but in reality anything much below 125% would be derisory, and way below world standards. The claim about six and a half hours of no scheduled night flights omits to mention how many flights, scheduled before 11pm, often take off almost to midnight. And though there may be 6 more domestic links from Heathrow, these are likely to be unprofitable and may not last for long. The loss of long haul routes from other UK airports, due to a larger Heathrow, is conveniently ignored.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Ice block (presumably off plane approaching Heathrow) damages roof just west of Windsor

There have been a number of incidents, at many airports, of lumps of ice falling off planes overhead, coming in to land. Ice can form naturally on aircraft flying at high altitudes, and this can break away and fall off when the plane comes down through warmer air. There is another recent incident of this, to someone under the approach path into Heathrow, just west of Windsor.  On 10th February (some time between 7 am and 8.30am) some ice crashed through the roof of a house in Oakley Green Road near Windsor. The owners of the house were not hurt, though there is substantial damage to the roof. This is another incident where it is fortunate the ice fell onto a roof, and not onto people. Such a large object falling onto someone would kill or seriously injure them.  Builders secured the property before the weekend and repairs were set to begin the next week. The CAA says this sort of incident is “‘relatively rare” and the CAA website says: “As the safety regulator for UK civil aviation, the CAA requires UK aircraft operators to minimise the risk of ice falls by performing regular maintenance to prevent leaks and take prompt corrective action if a defect is found. The CAA is unable to investigate the potential origin of an ice fall, but does record reports of this nature.”
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Oakley Green man ‘lucky to be alive’ after ice block smashes through roof

By Will Taylor (Maidenhead Advertiser)

16 February 2017

See link for photos  

A business owner from Oakley Green has been left feeling lucky to be alive after a block of ice fell from the sky and smashed a hole into the roof of his house.

Wahram Manoukian, 69, left his home at 7am on Friday morning to use the gym at Oakley Court in Windsor Road, but returned at about 8.30am to find a hole in his roof with tiles and bits of ice strewn around his grounds.

Mr Manoukian, who lives in Oakley Green Road, and his wife, 66-year-old Beverley, have stored the chunks of ice in a freezer in anticipation of an investigation.

He believed it could have fallen from a plane, though this has not been confirmed.

Mr Manoukian, who works in the property industry, said he worried about what could have happened if it had fallen when he had been leaving the house an hour earlier.

“I could have been killed,” he said. “It could have been anyone.

“It must have been a big chunk that has hit the roof.”

He was concerned that, if it had fallen at a different time, his grandchildren could have been harmed.

“They come around after school and during the weekends they come around to us,” he said. “I was fuming.”

Builders secured the property before the weekend and repairs were set to begin this week.

Mr Manoukian has contacted the Civil Aviation Authority, which says ice can form on aeroplanes at high altitudes and fall off when it descends to a warmer height, but is ‘relatively rare’.

A spokesman for the CAA directed the Advertiser to its website, which states: “As the safety regulator for UK civil aviation, the CAA requires UK aircraft operators to minimise the risk of ice falls by performing regular maintenance to prevent leaks and take prompt corrective action if a defect is found.

“The CAA is unable to investigate the potential origin of an ice fall, but does record reports of this nature.

[The location of the ice fall, directly under the Heathrow approach path, makes it look very unlikely the source is anything other than a plane. The CAA seems keen to suggest the ice might have come from somewhere else …..?  where …?  And it is not clear whether Heathrow pays for the damage, or if householders have to get their insurance company to pay. Can they reclaim from the airport?  AW comment]

“Falling ice which is clear and uncontaminated may not have originated from aviation activity.

“Indeed there have been reports of falling chunks of ice which date back to before the existence of aircraft.

“Research into the phenomena is ongoing by scientists across the world but is controversial.”

http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/gallery/maidenhead/111295/oakley-green-man-lucky-to-be-alive-after-ice-block-smashes-through-roof.html
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See a year earlier:

Block of ice from a passing plane crashes through roof of home in Twyford

An elderly couple, in Twyford, Berkshire (under a Heathrow flight path) had the unpleasant experience of a block of ice, which appeared to have fallen from a passing plane, crash through their roof.  The two foot long block cracked the ceiling. Luckily it hit the roof in a different part of the house from where the couple were. They said they were lucky not to have been injured. There have been many other incidents over the years of blocks of ice falling – associated with frozen water from aircraft lavatories.  Had the ice block fallen onto the road, it could have hit a car or a passer-by.  Had it fallen onto a busy road like a motorway, it could have caused a serious accident.  The elderly couple had to be assisted by their son in sorting out insurance, and getting the roof repaired. As the insurance company was slow, being a Sunday morning, the local fire brigade helped to patch up the damage and confirm the water and electricity supplies to their house were undamaged. Water (from a lavatory?) from the ice block was dripping through the (now sagging) damaged ceiling. The couple have kept a sample of water, so it can be tested, to identify if it is from a lavatory.  Other reports of earlier incidents of items falling from planes can be seen here.  Twyford is about 30 km west of Heathrow, on the landing flight path during easterly operations.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/01/block-of-ice-from-a-passing-plane-crashes-through-roof-of-home-in-twyford/

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and

Block of ice (from plane?) crashes through edge of roof of family home in Chelmsford

People living under flight paths not infrequently suffer from objects that fall from planes, the most common of which appears to be lumps of ice. Now (on 4th March) there has been yet another incident where a block of ice has landed on a house, narrowly missing people.  The house is under a Stansted flight path, in Chelmsford, Essex and is the home of a couple and their two teenage children. The ice block, described as perhaps football size, crashed through the overhang of their roof, missing going through the bedroom ceiling by just a few feet. That part of the bedroom is where the couple sleep.  The ice block left a gaping hole in the roof. Members of the family were asleep at the time, and were woken by a noise they thought was a bomb going off.  The couple now face a repair bill of thousands of pounds.  Had the block been only a few inches closer to the window, the couple fear it would have impacted the window, which would have shattered it – with the bed just feet away. The CAA have been contacted, to ascertain if the ice is indeed from a plane. Ice can form naturally on aircraft flying at high altitudes which falls when the plane descends into warmer air and the ice breaks away. The CAA says it is not liable for damage due to an ice fall.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/03/block-of-ice-from-plane-crashes-through-edge-of-roof-of-family-home-in-chelmsford/

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and

Other incidents of objects, including ice, falling from planes.

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Read more »

Critique of 11 claims by DfT, in its 1.5 million pro-Heathrow runway leaflets, for NPS consultation

The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets to households in areas not too far from Heathrow. The leaflets make no attempt whatsoever of balance, and are merely advertising the runway plans and promoting them. Many of the claims are misleading, or so abbreviated as to be unclear. Below there is a critique of the claims, point by point, and links to evidence backing up the criticisms. If anyone has received a leaflet, and wonders about the facts, this webpage may give some useful information. Just a few examples of the dubious statements in the leaflet:  the figure of £61 billion economic benefit is given, leaving out the proviso that this is over 60 years.  There is much made of the generosity of the compensation to be given for compulsory purchase, but in reality anything much below 125% would be derisory, and way below world standards. The claim about six and a half hours of no scheduled night flights omits to mention how many flights, scheduled before 11pm, often take off almost to midnight. And though there may be 6 more domestic links from Heathrow, these are likely to be unprofitable and may not last for long. The loss of long haul routes from other UK airports, due to a larger Heathrow, is conveniently ignored.
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The information below may be useful in interpreting, and reading critically, the DfT promotional leaflet for the 3rd Heathrow runway

 

The DfT leaflet that has been sent out to 1.5 million households, especially those in areas where there is a consultation event.

See larger version of the leaflet here 

 

Below are the claims made in the leaflet, and some explanation about why these are incomplete or misleading:

DfT Claim 1. 

The government has been clear that a world-class package of measures should be put in place to support local communities (meaning those whose homes are compulsory purchased, or otherwise have to move).

The rates of compensation are not especially generous. They will have been set at 125% because anything lower would cause uproar. See the comment below:

[The article talks first of the inadequacy of an offer of just 110% for HS2.]

“In the US, the government forcibly taking someone’s home is seen as the most fundamental violation by the state of an individual’s rights, and the non-stop subject of emotional national debate (they call it “eminent domain”). In France, the government takes a practical view and offers such generous compensation that people are glad to move. The UK government’s meanness on compulsory purchase compensation is not just an insult to thousands of homeowners, but it is also ultimately self-defeating. By failing to recognise the real cost of being forced to move home, it ensures that homeowners along the HS2 route will feel they have no option but to do everything they can to block the new train line. The government is more likely to realise it plans if it does what the French do, and just buy off the opposition of those most directly affected. And that means compensation of at least 25%.”   Link 

 

DfT Claim 2.

Expansion can be delivered within existing air quality requirements, and this will be a condition of planning approval.

All Heathrow has offered to do is try to get 55% of passengers to travel to the airport by public transport.  (Public transport includes buses …. currently many powered by diesel).  See link

They hope to get more staff to travel to work by public transport.   See link

They hope society will change, and overall there will be fewer diesel vehicles. That is not under Heathrow’s control.   For example, see link

They plan to use more electric vehicles on the airport, and make some changes to slightly cut NO2 emissions by planes, airport vehicles etc.   See link    These changes are not likely to make a huge difference, and electric vehicles are not a “silver bullet”.  See link

The government hoped they would not be breaching EU law if there was somewhere else in the London area that had even worse air quality than Heathrow. That argument is not acceptable legally.  See link

Heathrow has no control over the vehicle use by businesses that may choose to locate near Heathrow, and which would use local roads.

There are plans to get more staff (and some passengers ….!) to cycle to the airport.  Realistically that is not going to make a big dent in air pollution.   See link


DfT Claim 3. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because of tens of thousands of additional local jobs by 2030.

The Airports Commission said there might be up to 77,000 jobs around Heathrow. Their final report said:

“Expansion at Heathrow would drive a substantial increase in employment at and around the airport, generating an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [ie. additional direct, indirect and induced jobs] in 2030 for local people and for the fast-growing wider population in London and the South East, ….”  See link

However, by October 2016 the DfT had reduced this number. They had been using Heathrow’s estimates, but decided in 2016 to use assessments by others. The new figure was given as up to 37,700.   See link 

However, the DfT continues to use the “up to 77,000” claim.   Note: “Up to” is vague; it could be as low as almost none.  However, the DfT depends on lazy journalists omitting the “up to” part of the statement, so the 77,000 figure becomes the accepted wisdom.  Unjustifiably.

It is likely that some jobs might relocate to the Heathrow area from elsewhere. So they are not a net gain in jobs for the UK, just shifting them around.


DfT Claim 4. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because expected economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion.

The leaflet craftily omits to say that this is to all the UK, over 60 years. Yes, over 60 years. That means up to around 2085, when a lot of us will no longer be around.

The original figure by the Airports Commission was for a maximum of £147 billion over 60 years.  That was found to be using very dodgy methodology.  The government was warned about this repeatedly but continued to use it.

Heathrow used to use the claim of £221 billion for the UK over 60 years.

In October 2016, the DfT admitted the more likely figure would be £61 billion (not £147 billion).

Other estimates, using conventional ways to assess large projects, puts the benefit to the UK (taking all the costs into account, and not only adding up the benefits – as the DfT has done) of almost nothing.

The Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee in Parliament has repeatedly (at least 4 times over the past year or so) asked for explanations of the figures. He has not yet received an adequate reply.  See link (Dec 2016) and link (Sept 2016)


DfT Claim 5. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because £114 billion value of freight to non-EU countries in 2015. This was more than all other UK airports combined.

Bearing in mind that Heathrow has the vast majority of all the flights from the UK to non-EU destinations, and many airports hardly do any air freight, that is scarcely a surprising fact. Most flights to leisure destinations from airports other than Heathrow probably do not deal with a lot of freight, and most of those only go to holiday spots in the US, or Thailand etc.

There are few flights to the Far East, other than from Heathrow. Manchester is the only other airport with flights to China.


DfT Claim 6. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because Heathrow Airport Limited pledge to create 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2030.

It is nice that they plan to create some apprenticeships.  What is now known is how many of those are for genuinely unemployed young people, and how many are just retraining existing employees.  That is not quite so good.  See link 


DfT Claim 7. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because Heathrow proposes 6 new domestic routes.

It is remarkable that with so many airports in the UK, Heathrow will only be adding links to 6 more of them. These links have been cut in the past, as they are less profitable than longer haul routes.  They generally make a loss, like Virgin’s Little Red.  See link

The new routes would only be viable for airlines if they are subsidised in some way. If they are not viable, there is no guarantee they will be kept.  See link

BA has said it is not interested. See link

What the DfT is careful not to say is that the Heathrow runway will have the effect (as they know and as the Airports Commission knew well) of making long haul flights to many destinations from UK regional airports less successful. There is likely to be a reduction in the long haul routes from non-Heathrow airports, which will not be popular with them.  See link


DfT Claim 8. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because a package of measures to support people near the airport has been proposed, including total compensation package for the local communities most affected by expansion worth up to £2.6 billion.

They already mentioned the world class compensation, so are having to repeat themselves.

What this actually means is that Heathrow has to buy up 783 homes, and demolish them for the runway.  And pay 125% of the price, plus stamp duty and costs.

The other 3,500 or so homes may also be bought, on the same terms. However, these do not need to be demolished.

Heathrow is likely therefore to do them up, maybe knock some down and build more flats on the site, etc.  If they can make back nearly as much as they paid, by improving the properties, their overall loss may be very small.

It may take a few years to get this money back, but overall Heathrow is not likely to lose much money, if it is clever with its property portfolio.   Some calculations here


DfT Claim 9.

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because a package of measures to support people near the airport has been proposed, including a 6 and a half hour of scheduled night flights.

This is very disingenuous.

The key word is “scheduled”.

It does not mean there would be no flights between 11pm and 5.30am.  It merely means there will be late planes taking off, well past 11pm, and none scheduled before 5.30am.

There are currently no flights scheduled to leave Heathrow after 11pm. But night after night, many do. On some days, if there have been delays for some reason, they continue to take off till midnight. It is not known if that will be stopped. It is highly unlikely.

Only a real ban of no planes taking off or landing after 11pm would really qualify as a real night ban. But can anyone imagine Heathrow saying to a plane, with passengers boarding at 10.45pm, that they are sorry, but they will all have to go back to the terminal and find hotel bedrooms for the night – before taking off in the morning?  It is not, realistically, going to happen.

The Airports Commission said there should be a ban from 11.30pm to 6am.   Heathrow would not accept this, and will only consider 5.30am.  See link

For good health, adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night.  Those older and younger need even more.  A short break with no noise for perhaps 6 hours, (taking account of the late departures) is not enough for health.  See link

It is likely that there would be a large number of flights in the “shoulder period” from 5.30am to 7am or so. This is when people are still trying to sleep, and people tend to then be sleeping less deeply – and have more trouble getting back to sleep, if woken.


DfT Claim 10. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because a package of measures to support people near the airport has been proposed, including a package of over £700 million on noise insulation for homes.

The figure of £700 million is very low indeed, when the number of people who would be affected by high levels of intrusive plane noise is considered.

The estimate is that160,000 homes might be within the 55 decibel Lden noise contour, with the worst affected homes getting the full cost of noise insulation paid and others getting up to £3,000 to pay for the work.

People who live in noisy areas have said that even with all that is provided by the airport, there is still noise. And if windows are opened at night in summer, the insulation is of no use.

Huge numbers of people suffering from plane noise would be excluded.  HACAN estimated the cost of really doing proper insulation for everyone needing it might be more like £1.8 billion.  And the insulation is not all going to be done quickly – some could take years.  See link.


DfT Claim 11. 

The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because a package of measures to support people near the airport has been proposed, including £40 million to insulate and ventilate schools and other community buildings.

That would be nice.  However, the airport’s track record of getting school insulation  done is lamentable.  It took 10 years for them to just £4.8 million of work – and that was only done in a rush (April 2015), to try to impress the Airports Commission before they published their (pro Heathrow) decision in July 2015.  See link

Heathrow has put adobe buildings, to give the illusion that children are playing “outside” in some of the worst affected schools, to try to alleviate the massive problem. This is a true sticking plaster sort of solution. See link

 

 Claim 12 ???

– there is no claim on carbon, or noise, or spending on roads or rail …..  see below …



What is NOT mentioned in the leaflet

1. Heathrow’s carbon emissions

The inquisitive may wonder why there is no mention in the DfT leaflet about Heathrow and how it will meet carbon targets.

This is because the DfT has given up on this one.

Statements from the DfT and Chris Grayling now either make no mention of carbon emissions, or say they will ignore the advise from the (Government advisors) the Committee on Climate Change, about them.

The government knows it cannot expand Heathrow without breaching the recommended cap on carbon from UK aviation. That means it is unlikely the UK could meet its legally binding 2050 carbon target.  See link


2. Hugely increased noise

There is no mention of noise, which is rather surprising as the consultation events – and the leaflet target areas – are those that suffer from aircraft noise associated with Heathrow.

Having said earlier that Heathrow can increase the number of flights by 50% and there would be no increase in noise, (see link) perhaps the government realises that this statement is not credible. The only way this could be true is by clever manipulation of flight paths to keep the area and the number of people within the 57dB average noise contour constant. This is NOT a true measure of noise, or the number of people affected.

The DfT no longer seems to be trying to persuade people there will be no more noise, and is giving the public the credit for not being gullible idiots.

There are no soothing statements in the leaflet on noise, because it is inevitable there will be hugely more noise, and it will affect tens or hundred of thousands of new people.  It will also affect many of those currently overflown worse, because of the way flight paths with 3 runways will have to alter. For example, while people currently living under the approach flight paths from the east now get a break from noise for half a day, this would reduce to about a quarter of a day with the 3rd runway.


3. Heathrow paying for surface transport infrastructure

The government does not want the cost of flying to rise, as that might cut demand (and Heathrow might not be able to repay the immense £17 billion or so cost of its expansion).

So the DfT is not mentioning the massive cost of improving road and rail links to Heathrow, that would be needed for the expansion.  These links are struggling to cope already, with a 2 runway airport and the huge, growing population in the area.

With an extra 50% of total Heathrow passengers (maybe a third of them would be transfer passengers, never leaving the airport) there will be more pressure on public transport. That is especially the case as Heathrow says 55% of its passengers will use public transport, and more of its staff.

While the Airports Commission assessed the cost of surface infrastructure at about £5 billion for Heathrow to pay, Transport for London estimated up to about £18 billion.  (See link)  That would be to try to keep the quality of the service for all passengers (not just Heathrow passengers) at a decent level, where there are enough seats etc.

But Heathrow has only said it would spend £1.1 billion on surface access.  (See link) No more. The rest of the cost would be borne by the UK taxpayer. That means taxpayers across the country, many of whom would derive absolutely no benefit from Heathrow.

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