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Latest news stories:

Resident affected by Heathrow noise has given notice to seek Judicial Review against DfT re. runway

Neil Spurrier, a resident in Teddington, a member of the Teddington Action Group (TAG) has given notice that he is seeking a Judicial Review, in the event of Parliament voting in favour of the Airports NPS, to give consent to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Teddington is already very badly affected by noise, when the airport is operating on easterlies. A 3rd runway would make the noise problem far worse. Neil's letter to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, says:  "I am intending to bring a claim for Judicial Review should the National Policy Statement be put before Parliament and subsequently designated as a National Policy Statement in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act 2008."  The Matter being challenged is:  "The Designation of the National Policy Statement of new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England and in particular the choice of Heathrow airport for expansion with a third runway. I would intend to ask the Court for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and would ask for a prohibiting order prohibiting the continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement." 

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Jonathan Ford (FT) on the serious financing doubts: “Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn 3rd runway?”

With the vote on a possible 3rd Heathrow runway expected on 25th June, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer write, in the Financial Times, of the very serious doubts over how the runway could be funded. They say: "Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the 3rd runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 -7%." And ..."investors have been pulling out more in dividends than Heathrow has been earning. Last year they received a payout of £847m even though post tax profits were just £516m, implying that the corporate debt was used, in part, to fund these returns." ... And "A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019." ... The Airports Commission said it could saddle Heathrow with up to £27 billion of debt.  Ford also questions the opaque structure of Heathrow, with at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited ....and shareholders."

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Calls for SNP to re-think support for Heathrow runway, ahead of crunch vote on 25th

The No 3rd Runway Coalition will be at the Scottish Parliament on 21st June, to urge the SNP to change their position on supporting the Heathrow third runway proposal and to send the UK Government a message to 'think again'. Campaigners will be joined by MSPs from Scottish Greens, Labour and Lib Dems, to highlight the environmental damage to Scotland and the rest of the UK that building a third runway would mean, as well as the fact that Scottish airports would suffer as a result.  Campaigners also believe that the SNP appear to be too trusting of UK Government promises – particularly in relation to the impact on Climate Change commitments - as revealed by Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, in response to a question from Patrick Harvie MSP in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation seriously calls into question the economic case – using the Department for Transport’s own measures; and this is before taking into account the economic impact of Brexit.  Expansion at Heathrow will negatively impact Scottish airports, as any growth will be routed through London and not direct to international markets that could instead be served.

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Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham MP) quits government – on principle over May’s 3-line whip voting on Heathrow expansion

Junior trade minister Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham)has resigned from the Conservative government to oppose expansion of Heathrow. The vote in Parliament on whether to build the runway  will be on Monday. Greg said he had pledged to his electorate to oppose a 3rd runway, at the 2017 election, and he would keep his word and honour his pledges.  The borough would be badly over-flown if Heathrow was allowed to expand.  It had been thought that ministers with constituencies directly affected could have been allowed to miss the vote. However, the Government will be whipping the vote. The highest profile opponent of Heathrow expansion in the cabinet is Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it happening. However, in a cowardly and discreditable manner, he is shirking his responsibilities to stand up to his claims, by engineering an overseas appointment on Monday, to be out of the country. [Snout too firmly in trough, and enjoying his important high kudos job ....] Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson suggested on Twitter that Mr Hands' resignation should prompt the prime minister to allow her MPs a free vote. Greg has, in the past, held a range of other responsible ministerial roles.

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Mayor, Sadiq Khan, ready to join legal action by Councils against 3rd runway at Heathrow

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join the legal action brought by local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead)against Heathrow expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a 3rd runway on 25th June. (Hammersmith and Fulham Council has also recently indicated they would join.)  Sadiq has reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and emphasised the significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils. The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, and TfL (Londoners) would have to find the money. The comprehensive recommendations on the NPS by the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.

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Labour says Heathrow runway does NOT meet the 4 vital tests – calls on all parties to have a free vote on the NPS

The Labour Party has announced that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet Labour’s Four Tests for Heathrow expansion.  Their support for a 3rd Heathrow runway has always been conditional on 4 well-established tests being met. These are (1). That increased capacity will be delivered. (2) That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments. (3) Minimise noise and local environmental impact. (4). Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of the UK, not just the South East and London.  Labour’s analysis of the NPS finds that none of these tests have been met. Labour is therefore calling for a free vote for all parties on the issue (likely on 25th June).  Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project." Some Labour MPs back the runway, as do unions like Unite, that are always in hope of any prospect of jobs.

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Heathrow’s lobby group “Back Heathrow” PR material in local papers criticised – putting some facts straight

"Back Heathrow", the lobby group that is (massively) funded and staffed by Heathrow Airport, while pretending it is a "grassroots" campaign, has again paid for expensive newspaper wraps for papers around Slough, Windsor etc. The wraps claim all the usual benefits of a 3rd runway, ignoring the huge public costs and environmental damage. Local resident Paul Groves has written to his local paper, in an attempt to get some balance - against the huge spending power of "Back Heathrow" - and give readers some more factual information. He explains the fallacy of the numbers of jobs Heathrow persists in claiming (based on the maximum "up to" figure from the Airports Commission) its runway would generate, and warns that despite a promise of 6,000 jobs from Terminal 5, in reality the total number employed at Heathrow has declined from around 79,000 in 2008 to around 76,000 by 2014, a reduction of around 3,000. As for the real economic benefit of the runway to the UK, the Net Present Value is now shown, by DfT data, to be around zero - even over 60 years. The DfT have progressively revised this downwards to now from “+£2.9bn to - £2.5bn” in their latest National Policy Statement. This compares with the UK national GDP of £1,700 billion per annum.

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Scientists identify enzyme responsible for vascular damage caused by aircraft noise during night/sleep

A lot of different studies have shown there are negative health impacts on people exposed to aircraft noise at night, when people sleeping should be experiencing many hours of quiet. Now a study from Germany shows that this may be caused by an enzyme (phagocytic NADPH oxidase) they have identified.  Aircraft noise during the hours people are trying to sleep leads to an increased development of cardiovascular diseases in the long term. Studies have shown that simulated nocturnal noise increases the stress hormone epinephrine, reduces sleep quality, and damages the vascular system, causing endothelial dysfunction. There is increased oxidative stress, and inflammatory processes in the vessels as well as a marked change in the expression of genes in the vessel wall. This damage is not seen in the absence of the enzyme. The scientists now also examined the effects of aircraft noise on the brain, looking at neuronal nitric oxide (NO) synthase, the function of which is impaired when there is aircraft noise during the night period that should be quiet. The study shows it is important to protect the night's sleep from noise, with a period of 8 hours (10pm to 6am) protected from noise. Heathrow's airlines do NOT want a proper ban on night flights even for six and a half hours, let alone more.

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On what we are doing to the environment (eg. planning a Heathrow runway) Caroline Lucas says the apocalypse is happening already

In a recent interview with Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, she said she was incredulous that in Chris Grayling’s Commons speech - saying the government supported a 3rd Heathrow runway - he did not even mention climate change. This omission attracted negligible attention from most journalists till Caroline tweeted about it.  She said: "We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers.” On the prediction that Boris Johnson, who is meant to be forcefully against the runway, conveniently absenting himself on the day of the NPS vote, she said: “I think it would be despicable. He’s promised to stand up for something; he’s gone to the polls and said: ‘This is what I stand for.’' Does she think she can defeat the Heathrow runway? “I think there’s a perfectly good chance we’ll defeat it.”  Would she bet £1,000 on it?  "Bet £1K on it? Because I’m a bit of a risk-taker, I’ll put my thousand pounds on it not happening.”

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DfT, always trying to make aviation growth look “green”, to pay £434,000 to fund waste-to-jetfuel project

A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) "sustainable" jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK.  This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste - otherwise destined for landfill - and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of "sustainable" fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). 

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FT reports apparent DfT claims that Heathrow MIGHT face criminal charges if it fails on environmental targets while building runway

The Financial Times reports that it believes the DfT (Aviation Minister Baroness Liz Sugg) is saying that Heathrow could face criminal charges if it does not meet environmental targets when building its 3rd runway.  [This is NOT any DfT press release]  These might relate to noise, air pollution and compensation to local homeowners. The FT believes Liz Sugg is expected to say:  “Important measures to protect local people and comply with the legal requirements set by the government will be written into the development consent order, and Heathrow would face serious penalties if they do not stand by these commitments.”  She wants MPs to vote in favour of the runway (ie. the Airports NPS) without it containing the proper safeguards and details on these matters. The alleged promise to hit Heathrow hard on these is very flimsy indeed - few would want to place their trust in it. Anti-expansion campaigners are very critical of the announcement, saying penalties for Heathrow were yet to be decided. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said it seemed to be a panicked attempt by the DfT to shore up parliamentary support for the vote. He added: “If they were so keen to ensure these environmental commitments were met, why were legally binding measures [not] put forward in the National Policy Statement when it was published earlier this month?”

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Uttlesford District Council to delay decision on Stansted’s expansion application – details needed on noise, air pollution & surface access

Plans to increase the number of passengers Stansted Airport handles, along with other infrastructure, have been delayed after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) asked for more information.  Stansted's application to expand the number of passengers allowed per year from 35 million to 43 million was due to be heard by UDC on July 18th.  But it is unlikely to be heard before at least one more consultation and one more public meeting.  A spokesperson from the council said: "The council has been examining the robustness of the evidence supplied within the application, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality.  Ongoing discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders including Highways England, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Natural England and engaged consultants, and further work is being undertaken."  Additional information is needed from the airport to ensure that the Planning Committee has all it needs in order to make an informed decision on the application.  UDC has also announced that the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), an agreement that fast tracks the application in return for monetary payments to UDC's planning officers to cover the costs of processing the applications, will be re-negotiated.

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Justine Greening: Government must rethink Heathrow expansion plans, with a proper national aviation policy

Justine Greening, writing in the Yorkshire Post, says it is unacceptable for the government to be pressing ahead with the Heathrow runway, despite logic - and without a UK aviation policy. She says: "...there’s nothing national about the Airports “National Policy Statement” proposed by the DfT. The third runway proposal at Heathrow is a 20-year-old hub proposal that’s entirely unrelated to the world of direct, point to point flights we live in today." ... It's bad for northerners. "Pay more to get to Heathrow, then pay more to get on a plane at an expensive expanded Heathrow. ... It’s a triple whammy for the Northern Powerhouse and Yorkshire region, because a bigger Heathrow means smaller regional airports. ...The DfT’s own analysis ... shows that regional airports – Leeds Bradford, Doncaster and Manchester – will lose over 26,100 international flights every year by 2030 because of Heathrow expansion....And there’s a 4th whammy. Heathrow Airport will consume £10-15bn of transport spend" for surface transport for Heathrow.  She concludes: "MPs need to look at the detail locally and nationally, ask questions to Ministers as to why this proposal so badly undermines our crucial regional airports, vote against it and then demand a proper UK-wide airports strategy that works for all of us, wherever we live."

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Hunger strike against Heathrow runway continues, with die-in in Parliament and trip to lobby SNP

The five hunger strikers from the group "Vote No Heathrow" began their hunger protest on Saturday 9th June. They hope, health permitting, to continue until there is a vote in Parliament on the 3rd runway. As well as staging protests outside the offices of the Labour Party, and the Unite trade union, and a die-in in the Central Lobby in Parliament on 13rh June, they have travelled to Scotland to protest to the SNP.  They want them to vote against the runway, when the vote in Parliament happens some time before 9th July. Heathrow and the DfT have misled Scottish MPs into believing there would be a lot of economic benefit from a 3rd runway, with "promises" of thousands of jobs and more direct flights. The 35 SNP MPs currently plan to vote as a block in favour of the runway. The campaigners care passionately about climate change, and the huge increase in UK aviation carbon emissions that would be generated by a 3rd runway. Each month there is more evidence of the serious impact of climate change. The Committee on Climate Change, the government's official advisors, have written to Chris Grayling to express their concern about how - unacceptably - the issue of carbon emissions has largely be glossed over, and ignored, in government plans for the runway.

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CCC writes to Grayling to remind him of UK’s climate commitments, expressing concern about NPS silence on allowing rising aviation CO2 emissions

The Committee on Climate Change have written to Chris Grayling to reiterate that the UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act, and the Paris Agreement. They say: "We were surprised that your statement to the House of Commons on the NPS on 5 June 2018 made no mention of either of these commitments. It is essential that aviation’s place in the overall strategy for UK emissions reduction is considered and planned fully by your Department."  Under the CCC's advice, the aviation sector would be allowed to keep its CO2 emissions at no more than their level in 2005, by 2050. That means aviation's share of total UK CO2 emissions would already increase from about 2% to around 25%. Even that means "all other sectors must reduce emissions by more than 80%, and in many cases will likely need to reach zero....Higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors". The CCC say: "We look forward to the Department’s new Aviation Strategy in 2019, which we expect will set out a plan for keeping UK aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels by 2050. To inform your work we are planning to provide further advice in spring 2019."

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Government accused by Councils of ignoring Transport Select Committee recommendations in final Heathrow NPS

Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Windsor &Maidenhead, and Richmond Councils have accused the government of misleading MPs on the Heathrow runway plans (the Airports NPS). They say the government has only incorporated 3 out of 25 of the recommendations by the Transport Select Committee (TSC) recommendations into the final NPS, while trying to give the impression it has taken far more account of them. Chris Grayling told the Commons (5th June) that 24 of the 25 recommendations had been "acted upon" and that expansion at Heathrow had been agreed by the Cabinet. The 4 councils are calling on Mr Grayling to return to Parliament and explain to MPs why the TSC advice has been brushed aside. The Councils need to see a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to plane noise, by a 3rd runway. Among their demands, they want assurance that planning approval would only be granted if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met.  Also a more stringent interpretation of air quality compliance including 'headroom' to manage future increases in pollution - and clarity on how the requirement for 15% of new slots will be secured for domestic connections, rather than just warm, woolly wording.

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Gatwick have a £1.11 billion investment programme up to 2023, when they want 53 million annual passengers

After losing to Heathrow, in all probability, for the chance to build a new runway, Gatwick airport says it is planning to spend £1.11bn in a plan to “make best use of all its existing infrastructure.” It is believed that Gatwick never really wanted all the hassle of building a 2nd runway, and was only bumped into contending for the permission by the fear they would lose a lot of business, to a 3 runway Heathrow. It is widely believed that all Gatwick's owners, GIP, want is to increase the price of the airport and sell it, when they can. Gatwick hope they can handle even more passengers than now, and they can "improve resilience and harness technology”. They are hoping to have 53 million annual passengers by 2023 - compared to 45.6 million in 2017.  Their 5 year spending plan is from 2018 to 2023. They intend to spend £266m in the year 2018/19 alone. [Back in August 2017 their plan was for £1.2 billion up to 2022 ...] If they spend the £1.1 billion it would mean the airport has spent £3.14bn since the airport changed ownership in December 2009, when GIP bought it for £1.5 billion. One of the projects planned, showing how keen Gatwick is to get passengers to use public transport, is adding an extra 1,200 car parking spaces by summer 2018.

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Hammersmith & Fulham Council will join the 4 councils’ legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has vowed to keep fighting plans for a third runway at Heathrow, even if Parliament votes in favour of it. The council has said it will seek to join any legal challenge against a decision in favour of expanding the west London airport – a move the council says would subject residents to a mire of misery and pollution. Council Leader Stephen Cowan said:  “We absolutely refuse to sit back and let such a potentially catastrophic decision be made without a fight, We’ve made our stance very clear; a third runway at Heathrow would mean more noise for residents already suffering noise disturbance, more pressure on our roads and an unacceptable increase in air pollution. If we need to take legal action, we will, as the environmental cost of meekly accepting a decision in favour of expansion, would be far worse.” In 2014, H&F Council set up a resident-led commission to investigate the potential effects of expansion on residents’ lives. It reported back that the overall impact of Heathrow expansion would be negative, with any benefits unlikely to be felt by those in H&F.

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Richmond Borough Council shows Heathrow 3rd runway could cost UK economy another £25 billion over 60 years

Government claims for the economic benefit of expanding Heathrow do not include the costs of the improved public transport links needed to keep road traffic at current levels.  A 3rd runway is expected to add around 100,000 trips per day. Heathrow has pledged (though how they could achieve that is not clear) that road traffic levels will not increase with a 3rd runway. This would mean 70% of journeys to and from the airport being made by public transport. Today’s figure is 40%. A 3-runway Heathrow might have 26 million more passengers per year when full, than a 2-runway airport. That means the current cost projections for new public transport links (to cater for a 2-runway airport) are insufficient. That would mean more delays for passengers arriving at the airport whether by road or rail. Using the Government’s own approach these delays could cost the economy around £25bn over a 60-year period. This would reduce the DfT's claimed benefit from a 3rd runway from its current £74bn (which already excludes most costs) to £49bn. The DfT's own assessment shows the actual economic benefit of the runway not to be £74bn to be more like zero (£-2.5 to +£2.9 bn over 60 years for whole UK).

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FT’s Jonathan Ford on massive doubts over Heathrow’s ability to fund its runway – without huge subsidy from taxpayers

Jonathan Ford, the City Editor of the Financial Times (who knows a thing or two about finance) on the Heathrow runway scheme. It would cost at least £14 billion (probably more with inevitable over-spends), and as Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in Europe, its ability to claw back money is limited - anyway, it cannot get airlines and passengers to pay until the runway is built and operating. Despite sales of some of its airports, totalling more than £4bn, its debt was still £13.4 billion in 2017.  And "Heathrow’s 2017 accounts record a dividend of £847m for shareholders last year on after-tax profits of just £516m, implying that dividends were partially funded by taking on yet more corporate debt." Shareholders are not going to be happy to receive almost no dividend for several years. "Heathrow might try to ease the burden by discreetly pressing for public subsidy, figuring that once the state is committed to the 3rd runway it will not want to see the project come off the rails. The government should stand firm. Its decision to pick the most expensive of three runway options on the table was always predicated on the idea that all could be financed without state support."

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UN plans for aviation biofuels (ie. much from palm oil) & carbon offsets condemned by 89 organisations worldwide

89 organisations from 34 countries have called on the UN’s International Civil Aviation Agency (ICAO) to ditch plans for aviation biofuels and carbon offsets, as the Agency’s governing body convenes in Montreal to finalise proposals for a controversial “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme”.  An Open Letter by the groups warns that ICAO’s proposal could incentivise airlines to use large quantities of biofuels made from palm oil in order to meet greenhouse gas targets – even though member states rejected biofuel targets last autumn amidst concerns about palm oil. Proposed biofuel targets for aircraft were rejected by member states in October 2017, but groups fear that the proposed new rules will introduce large-scale biofuel use ‘by the backdoor’.  On sustainability certification for palm oil, “none of the schemes has been effective at slowing down deforestation, peatland draining or the loss of biodiversity”. On carbon offsets, the organisations say “There is no way of reaching the goal to limit global warming to 1.5oC unless all states and sectors rapidly phase out their carbon emissions. This means that there can be no role for offsets”. Instead the growth of the aviation sector needs to be limited - rather than depending on greenwash.

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London Assembly reaffirms strong opposition to Heathrow 3rd runway

The London Assembly has reaffirmed its opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway. It has agreed unanimously on a motion asserting its opposition. Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) who proposed the motion said: “The case for a 3rd Heathrow runway is based on a number of false claims, ... a 3rd runway will create noise disturbance for a further 300,000 people and add to higher levels of air pollution in parts of London where air pollution already exceeds illegal levels. We can ensure we retain international connections without following the foolish option of the incredibly expensive third Heathrow runway.  A third Heathrow runway comes at a huge price that is simply not worth paying for.” Léonie Cooper (Labour) said the runway would "have a far-reaching impact on almost a million London households within the next 30 years....the current plans to mitigate its adverse effects on the surrounding environment and the health and social wellbeing of local communities are inadequate. It is clear that the potential costs and risks to Londoners outweigh the projected economic benefits of the expansion ... the Government’s decision should be robustly opposed”. The Assembly "asks the Mayor to join with us to ensure that this threat to the health and environment of Londoners does not materialise.”

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Anti-Heathrow protesters stage hunger strike against Heathrow 3rd runway plans, asking people to lobby their MPs to vote against it

On Saturday 9th, campaigners from the Vote NO Heathrow campaign started a hunger strike, to draw attention to the huge risk that MPs might vote in favour of a 3rd Heathrow runway. The vote is likely in the next two weeks. Over 30 campaigners gathered outside the London HQ of the Labour Party in Victoria Street, for the start of the hunger strike by 5 of them. They intend to continue not to eat for as long as their health permits, and if possible until the vote in Parliament.  Earlier in the week, 8 campaigners were arrested outside the building for using chalk spray on the pavement and the glass windows, to highlight their message. The vote of the Labour party is crucial, and it is hoped that MPs will appreciate that the runway fails the 4 tests Labour has set for it, and impose a 3-line whip. The Tories may impose a 3-line whip in favour of the runway. The Vote NO Heathrow campaign wants as many people as possible to write to their MP - of whichever party - to ask them to vote against the runway. There are many important arguments, why the runway should be opposed (more details below) but these could be summarised as economic problems, UK region problems, noise, air pollution and increased carbon emissions. 

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Political fight over Heathrow brewing for the SNP in Scotland

With the final vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway expected within about 2 weeks, the political fight is intensifying, as the SNP have their conference on 8th and 9th June. It is important for the Heathrow vote, as the SNP (with 35 MPs) hold a potentially critical role - if they were to vote against the runway, it might be stopped - or only won by a tiny margin. Heathrow continues to throw money and the weight of its corporate lobbying at the SNP, schmoozing them at the conference, with an invitation-only event - as it has done at the other political conferences, trying to buy support and persuade MPs. By contrast with the hospitality and honey-tongued words by Heathrow in the conference, 3 residents who would lose their homes if the expansion goes ahead, drove for 13 hours overnight from Harmondsworth - to focus on engaging with SNP party members and politicians going into the conference. They spoke to several hundred, putting the case that the SNP should not be led astray by the promises of Heathrow - and many expressed concern at the party’s position of support for the runway,  due to environmental concerns and a preference to see the development of further direct air links from Scottish airports, and a dedicated air freight hub in Scotland.

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Simon Jenkins on Heathrow: Government support for this polluting 3rd runway is macho folly

Characteristically brilliant and incisive article by Simon Jenkins. Well worth reading it all. Just a few snippets here:  "The building of a third runway at Heathrow must be the worst decision taken by a British government in modern times. There is nothing in it but private profit for a Spanish company that appears to have the British cabinet in thrall. That a rich European city should expand rather than contract a major airport in a built-up area defies belief. ... The project will further congest and pollute what is already one of the most choking parts of the capital. Its air quality is illegal. The runway will suck economic activity into London, and away from the provinces. It will cost billions in public money. It is so expensive that even Heathrow’s old ally, British Airways, now opposes it. ... Air travel is overwhelmingly for leisure. Airports talk of “business use” because they are ashamed being part of the tourism industry, which Grayling never once mentioned. ...Grayling promises that the new runway will not go ahead if Heathrow does not “meet the UK’s air quality commitment”. But he knows it won’t. He knows neither his department nor Heathrow has ever kept a promise of this sort. ... [runway decision] resting not on its merits, but on whether Theresa May had the guts to push it through."

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Comment by the AEF on the government’s attempt to ignore CO2 emissions due to Heathrow 3rd runway

In the final version of the NPS, together with updated versions of the draft of papers and analysis that accompany it, the DfT claims to have implemented 24 out of the 25 recommendations of the Transport Committee, which provided official parliamentary scrutiny of the proposals. But it is hard to spot much change in the final NPS than the earlier version - especially on the key environmental challenges to expansion. The AEF comments that the climate change impact of Heathrow expansion was not even mentioned in Grayling’s statement to the House of Commons. Yet the project is in fact no easier to reconcile with climate change targets now than it was in 2010, when a court ruled that it would be “untenable in law and common sense” for the Government to continue to uphold its policy to build a third runway without showing how this would be compatible with the climate change legislation passed in 2008. While current plans to achieve the Climate Change Act are built around an assumption that aviation emissions will be no higher than 37.5 Mt by 2050, with a 3rd Heathrow runway CO2 emissions nationally would be  over 40 Mt,  under the DfT's policy of support for growth at other airports. The Government has just ignored the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

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Heathrow expansion will mean less direct international flights for Yorkshire, analysis shows

The Government faces considerable uncertainties in trying to push through the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, and get enough MPs to vote for it. Labour may oppose the plans, and  analysis showed northern airports will lose out on thousands of international flights if Heathrow got a 3rd runway. The government hopes they can mislead the SNP with pledges of huge benefits from the runway, based on out-of-date figures for possible economic benefit from the runway, and crazily calculated (back of envelope, starting with the wrong number) calculations about possible future jobs. It is likely that Leeds Bradford Airport would see 4,449 fewer international flights a year by 2030 if the 3rd runway went ahead. Doncaster Sheffield Airport would lose 1,413 while the North’s major hub - Manchester - would lose 20,258.  Keighley MP John Grogan, who requested the figures from the Commons Transport Committee, said Heathrow expansion would mean Britain’s regions losing out. The Labour MP also questioned the Government’s pledge to ring-fence 15% per cent of slots on the new runway for domestic connections to the rest of the UK. This can only happen if they are subsidised, and these flights almost always run at a loss.

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Surprise ! Former Airports Commission chair and Sir John Armitt urge MPs to back Heathrow 3rd runway in vote

The former Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, and a Commissioner on the Airports Commission, Sir John Armitt, have written to MPs urging them to vote in favour of a 3rd runway at Heathrow after the Cabinet approved the government's plans earlier this week.  Neither of them has been working on aviation issues recently and, frankly, their letter illustrates that they probably have not kept up with the details. But MPs will probably be persuaded, by this further lobbying on behalf of the government and Heathrow. They gloss over, as of course, does the DfT, the difficult issues of noise, air pollution, impact on the regions, cost to the taxpayer, carbon emissions etc. Their only focus is that the runway might prevent the UK being "inward-facing" after Brexit, and that it "meets the test of the national interest" (glossing over local impacts). To show just how ill-informed their letter is, that "In respect of aviation noise, our analysis indicated that the number of people affected by an expanded airport would be fewer than at Heathrow today."  A letter with a good chance of being put straight into hundreds of MPs' waste (recycling) bins?

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SNP “promised” 16,000 new jobs if it backs 3rd runway – but that figure is crazily inflated – as Heathrow & DfT well know

The Conservative government may need the SNP’s support if some of its MPs rebel against the new Heathrow runway - which is likely. The SNP will demand guaranteed extra slots for Scottish flights into London in return for the party’s support for the 3rd runway.  Ian Blackford, the head of the SNP’s parliamentary group in London, said the party had not taken a decision on runway yet - and would only do so if Scotland stood to benefit. Their backing may not be guaranteed, though that had been assumed - particularly after Keith Brown, Scotland’s infrastructure secretary, believed there might be 16,000 Scottish jobs, created by the project. That figure of 16,000 jobs is what Heathrow has, for several years, been peddling. Along with similarly inflated claims for all the regions. The number was derived by a consultancy called Quod, in a flimsy little 4 page paper, with no methodology, no date, no author etc. It is based on the assumption that Heathrow would provide an economic benefit (NPV) to the UK, over 60 years, of £147 billion. That number is now known to actually be about £3.3 billion, at best (if not a negative number). The SNP would be very ill-advised to believe Scotland will benefit; in reality its airports would be damaged by allowing the runway. Tragic if they vote in favour of it, because they have not checked out the facts properly.

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Labour knows the Heathrow 3rd runway plans fail their 4 tests – so may vote against the NPS

Theresa May’s plans for Heathrow expansion are facing an unpredictable Commons vote after Labour indicated that the runway plans do not pass its four key tests. These require (1). noise issues to be addressed, (2). air quality to be protected, (3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and (4). growth across the country supported.  Labour may refuse to vote for the plans when they come before MPs for a vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) - ie. the runway  - in the next 3-4 weeks. With Boris Johnson expected to be (so convenient ...) "out of the country" and several Tory MPs voting against it, the government needs Labour and the SNP to vote in favour. However, Jeremy Corbyn’s office said the issues of air pollution, noise for residents, regional connections and greater capacity were crucial. The revised NPS, published on 5th June, is barely changed from the draft and does not include measures that convincingly pass the 4 tests. This suggests that Labour could either whip a vote against the 3rd runway plans or at least order its MPs not to back the Government. The SNP has not so far indicated if it will vote in favour, though they have become aware that the Heathrow runway is likely to damage Scotland and its airports. Labour and SNP MPs are concerned about yet more money being spent on London, rather than in the regions, and on the possible vast cost to taxpayers.

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Government deal to bail out Heathrow if runway plan fails – possible massive cost to taxpayers

Back in October 2016, the government did a deal (The Statement of Principles) with Heathrow (HAL), in which there are clauses implying the government would bail out any costs to the airport, if it does not finally get government approval to expand. There is no end date for the agreement. Though the document states it is non-binding, the wording is ambiguous - a gold-mine for lawyers? Justine Greening revealed this massive risk to taxpayers in Parliament, saying Heathrow "have somehow managed to get a poisoned pill agreed by DfT that means the taxpayer has to cover all their costs if things go wrong.  Isn’t this the worst kind of nationalisation? The public sector and taxpayers bearing all the Heathrow downsides and risks but the private sector owning all of the upside and financial returns.” The Statement of Principles says:  “HAL reserves its rights (including but not limited to its rights to pursue any and all legal and equitable remedies (including cost recovery) available to it under law) in the event of: .... The withdrawal of the Government’s support for aviation expansion for Heathrow Airport only after the Secretary of State has stated that HAL’s Scheme is the scheme it prefers in accordance with paragraph 1 of Part 1.”  This was only mentioned in passing in the NPS and Justine is seek urgent clarity of the clause, in order to give an opportunity for the issue to be discussed in the House of Commons before MPs vote on the NPS proposal - within 3 weeks. 

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Transport Secretary admits Heathrow 3rd runway would be bad for Birmingham Airport

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, in announcing formal backing by the government for the 3rd Heathrow runway, has admitted that this will be bad for business at Birmingham Airport.  He said Birmingham would face “greater competitive pressure” as a result of Heathrow having a 3rd runway.  The line Grayling is taking, to try and reassure regional airports, is that the 3rd runway will encourage more domestic flights. However, he knows perfectly well that it is up to airlines, not airports or government, to determine which routes they fly - unless given hefty public subsidies to keep unprofitable routes in operation. His assurances to regional airports are all qualified by statements like Heathrow will try, government will support etc. Nothing concrete. But as Birmingham Airport is so close to Heathrow, there  will not be domestic flights to Heathrow, and all that will happen is Heathrow takes passengers away from Birmingham, and long haul destinations will increasingly be served exclusively by Heathrow. The government is well aware of this harm an expanded Heathrow will do to long haul services from other UK airports.

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As expected, Government approves outline plan for a 3rd Heathrow runway – which will then face legal challenge

Cabinet ministers have today given the official go-ahead for Heathrow expansion. This was never in doubt, as it is government policy. The NPS (now no longer a draft) was "laid before" Parliament, so now MPs will have to vote on them within 21 Parliamentary sitting days. ie.  before Monday 9th July. Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor and Maidenhead borough council, said a coalition of four local authorities and Greenpeace would seek a legal review of the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, if MPs vote for the plans, as they are. approve unchanged plans. The councils (Windsor & Maidenhead, Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon - some of the boroughs worst affected by Heathrow noise and other impacts) want the government to "satisfactorily address concerns" over noise and air pollution. Mr Dudley said the councils will look at the proposals to see whether their significant concerns on flight paths, "respite",  night flights and air pollution have been addressed. If they have not, there will be a legal challenge. Greenpeace and the authorities contend new evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution makes the expansion of Heathrow far less likely to pass a review.

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Cabinet economic committee set for Heathrow 3rd runway decision, followed by Cabinet decision, followed by vote in Parliament within 21 working days

Controversial plans (the draft Airports NPS) for a 3rd Heathrow runway are set to be approved by ministers today, with the Cabinet’s economic sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May, signing off the plans. These would then be approved by the full Cabinet. Then the NPS is laid before Parliament, with a vote on it within 21 […]

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Call for the Competition & Markets Authority to investigate Heathrow

The No 3rd Runway Coalition has written to Lord Andrew Tyrie, the new chair of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), asking why the proposed expansion of Heathrow has not been scrutinised by the competition authorities. Heathrow is, by far, already the largest and busiest airport in the country. And with even proponents of the scheme accepting that Heathrow expansion would impact significantly on the smaller regional airports in the market, the letter suggests that competition authorities have been inactive. This is particularly surprising because the Competition Commission (the antecedent authority of the CMA) had stated that Heathrow already enjoyed such “substantial market power” that it would require further review and regulation, in future - even without a third runway. That situation would be far worse with a 50% larger Heathrow.  Back in 2008, the then BAA had to sell off airports because it was seen to have too much market power - it sold Gatwick in October 2009, Edinburgh April 2012 and Stansted in January 2013 . The current government proposal to expand Heathrow would simply recreate that monopoly position, perhaps in an even worse form.

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Airlines do not want Heathrow to have control of building a 3rd runway – perhaps a “Buildco” instead?

British Airways and other airlines are hoping to take over building the possible 3rd Heathrow runway from the airport’s owner, because they do not want costs to escalate.  They do not think the government or CAA has enough control over Heathrow to ensure it controls the costs of the massive expansion project. Passenger charges and investor returns are based on the total value of Heathrow's assets, (RAB) and this gives the perverse incentive for the airport not to keep its spending low.  The more it spends, the more its owners can earn. An investigation by The Sunday Times in March highlighted widespread concerns over Heathrow's bloated spending. Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) told the Transport Committee's inquiry in February that he had “zero” confidence that Heathrow’s operating company would deliver the project on time and on budget. He said it would be foolish to sign a “blank cheque”. To try to calm the airlines' fears, and get them behind the runway plans, the airlines are proposing a special-purpose company, known as a "Buildco", to deliver the project; Heathrow and the airlines would buy stakes in it. The government is trying to reassure the airlines by slightly increasing the CAA's remit and powers.

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A 3rd Heathrow runway would benefit the few, not the many: Labour should oppose it

The government has apparently committed itself to backing the Heathrow 3rd runway, which will destroy local communities and make Heathrow far and away the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Labour has prevaricated and not yet taken a position on the runway issue. But it is now high time Labour took a stand against it. A hangover from the New Labour era is that there remain a number of Labour MPs who see backing a third runway as party policy. They support the runway for historic reasons and are reluctant to listen to the increasingly disparaging analysis of the project. Due to the huge rise in UK aviation CO2 emissions the runway would help generate, and its disproportionate social impacts, Labour should be opposing it. The runway cannot satisfy Labour’s four tests which the party has stipulated as the necessary basis for any support – so Labour should be obliged to oppose Heathrow expansion. The party should stick by its values, looking after citizens, rather than being driven by financial profit and more holidays for a privileged few. People are encouraged to write to their MP and ask them to oppose Heathrow expansion at the vote in June. Everyone is welcome to the Vote No Heathrow open meeting on 12 June in London to learn more.

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Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson & Justine Greening are threatening to rebel over Heathrow 3rd runway

The Times has published a list, by Justine Greening MP, of 8 key reasons why there should NOT be a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Times journalists also comment that it is likely the government will present the revised draft Airports NPS  (ie. Heathrow runway proposal) to Parliament within two weeks.  MPs then have to vote on the NPS within 21 sitting days - so in order to get all this through Parliament before the summer recess (starts 20th July) they have to start soon...  Once the NPS has been approved, and adopted, the legal challenges against it can start. Only if Heathrow wins those can it start on details of planning its expansion. Justine Greening has been a long-term vociferous opponent of the runway. Boris Johnson has also been deeply opposed to it, but has not dared say anything publicly since being elevated to being Foreign Secretary.  When there is a vote, Theresa May might be forced to rely on opposition parties to pass the runway plan, though Labour is also threatening to withhold support. The vote will come soon after a series of bruising debates over the EU Withdrawal Bill, with Downing Street reluctant to expend political capital on anything other than Brexit.

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Heathrow expansion under more scrutiny as Grayling broadens CAA’s oversight, trying to reassure airlines on runway costs

The Government has put more pressure on Heathrow to limit its expansion costs after broadening powers which enable the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the aviation industry regulator, to more closely scrutinise the airport’s plans. The airlines, and IAG in particular, are deeply sceptical about the cost of the 3rd runway, and how expensive it will be for them. They have no faith in Heathrow to be able to build its runway etc, for a reasonable price. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the CAA would now be able to seek views on the expansion of Heathrow from a wider range of stakeholders, and would also be able to benchmark the price of the project against international comparisons. The CAA's oversight powers will see the regulator able to get the views of airlines which don’t yet operate from Heathrow, but hope to do so in future. Heathrow has already tried to make £2.5 billion savings in its plans, as the airlines refuse to stomach the £17 billion price. Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) said: “Heathrow is a monopoly with a history of gold-plating facilities and very high airport charges .... Benchmarking its cost proposals against similar schemes is critical and very welcome. It is imperative that Heathrow provides a full, detailed cost breakdown for expansion before Parliament votes on it this summer.”

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Shipping sector notes that its CO2 targets are far tighter than for aviation sector

Now that shipping has been set its first ever CO2 reduction targets, the sector has taken a swipe at its aviation cousins who remain the last large unregulated greenhouse gas emitter. Speaking last week at the annual Summit of Transport Ministers, hosted by the OECD International Transport Forum inLeipzig, Simon Bennett (deputy secretary general at the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) commented: “As well as being consistent with the 1.5 degree climate change goal, the IMP targets are far more ambitious than what has so far been agreed for aviation, or indeed the commitments made by governments with respect to the rest of the global economy under the Paris Agreement.”  In April this year, IMO member states voted to slash shipping’s CO2 emissions by half by 2050 from levels recorded in 2008. Also of note in the speech given by Bennett last week was his belief that the IMP targets “can realistically only be achieved with the development and global roll out of genuine zero CO2 fuels”.

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Stansted long-haul flights could quadruple as airlines decide against waiting for slots at Heathrow

Stansted is planning to quadruple the number of long-haul flights it offers, as delays and uncertainty continue on whether there will be a Heathrow's 3rd runway. Stansted, as London’s 3rd largest airport, is already expanding the number of long-haul services it offers, as it begins to shift away from being a traditional hub for short-haul tourist flights. Fly Emirates will start a daily service from the airport to Dubai next week, and Primera air has also announced four new transatlantic routes from Stansted to New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington that will start this year. Stansted wants others too and its Chief Executive Ken O’Toole said that up to 25 long-haul routes had been earmarked that eventually might take the total to 33 direct long-haul destinations.  It is building a new £130 million arrivals terminal, which will be complete in 2021. It is also applying to Uttlesford district council to lift the existing cap on passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million per year - about the same size as Gatwick. Stansted airport, owned by Manchester Airports Group, believes that airlines were being attracted to Stansted due to becoming frustrated with constraints at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

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Heathrow and Grayling get business to lobby Theresa May (yet again) for fast decision in favour of 3rd runway

A number of business lobby groups have signed a letter to Theresa May, saying the government needs to "get on with expanding the UK's airport capacity". The letter has only been sent, due to Heathrow - and Chris Grayling - lobbying the companies to send it.  The same business groups have lobbied many times before, in favour of the 3rd runway. The claim is that, (despite all the financial uncertainties, the fact Heathrow is in the wrong location, and its immensely damaging environmental impacts) the runway will somehow help Britain cope with the problems Brexit will cause. The groups that put their name to the letter were the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, the EEF - The Manufacturers' Organisation, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and airport expansion lobby group London First. The timing of the letter, which has been published by Heathrow, is particularly important, because Heathrow wants the required vote to approve the draft Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow 3rd runway) to go ahead as planned before September because then MPs will be more pre-occupied with Brexit. .

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Consultancy AvGen finds, yet again, Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet & Green” programme comes up with weird, incorrect, results

Heathrow has published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for 2018 Quarter 1.  Unfortunately it seems determined to persist with the flaky arithmetic and absence of logic and common sense that characterised the results for previous quarters (which remain unaltered). For Q1, as with previous quarters, league table scores have again been inflated, this time by an average of around 44% compared to the results that are produced when Heathrow's own published methodology and performance rankings are used.  Once again that increase has not been applied uniformly across all 50 airlines (a number of them have been awarded more than double the number of points that they merit), with the result that the relative league table positions are significantly altered. Below are some examples, from consultancy, AvGen, showing the arbitrary results – which do not appear to be based on much logic – of airlines being put into higher and lower rankings, based on their noise and emissions. By contrast with the Heathrow figures, those from AvGen show the greenest airline is Aer Lingus - not Scandinavian. The second greenest is Finnair, not LOT Polish Airlines. Curious that Heathrow does such odd things with the data ....

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Noise pollution is one of the biggest health risks – often given insufficient attention – in city life

Research indicates that noise is one of the biggest pollutants in modern cities but the risk is often overlooked despite being linked to an increased risk of early death. "Noise produces a stimulus to the central nervous system and this stimulus releases some hormones," said Dr David Rojas from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain. ‘(This) increases the risk of hypertension, and hypertension has been related with many other cardiovascular (and) cerebrovascular diseases like infarction (heart attacks) and strokes.’ Dr Rojas, an environmental health researcher, says that despite the fact that noise pollution is a major public health problem in cities – and, in fact, beats air pollution as a risk factor in Barcelona – there is a tendency to overlook the problem because we can tune it out.  "When we have a background noise, the brain has the capacity to adapt to this noise, and you don’t see it as an annoyance so much and you start to accept and adapt. But even if you are not conscious of the noise, this is still stimulating your organic system."  ..."When you are in the city, we are not exposed to a single pollutant, we are exposed to a mix of things"... (air pollution, noise, the absence of green spaces and plants). 

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Heathrow referred to Competition and Markets Authority because it refused to consider the Hub runway idea

Heathrow Hub, the rival plan to the controversial proposed third runway expansion, is formally complaining to the Competition and Markets Authority about the behaviour of the airport. It claims Heathrow “abused its dominant market position” to get Government backing for the third runway, by simply refusing to consider the Hub. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said he couldn’t back the Hub option because Heathrow would not guarantee to work on commercial terms to help build it. That is the heart of Hub concept originator, Jock Lowe’s, complaint. The  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the UK’s competition authority it carries out market and competition investigations. It is also the body to which airports or other persons with a qualifying interest can appeal the CAA’s price determinations.  It was the CMA's predecessor, the Competition Commission, that ordered the break up of BAA, as it  then was, as the company had too much control over London's airports. That ended up with Gatwick, and then Stansted, being sold. The current government's desire to expand Heathrow would lead to an almost exactly similar situation - Heathrow being almost a monopoly for long haul destinations in the south east.

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Beyond ICAO’s CORSIA: It will NOT deliver the necessary aviation CO2 cuts, and more ambition is needed for it to be effective

In a useful paper, Chris Lyle (with a long, impressive academic and industry pedigree) writes of how the ICAO'S CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) - that rather implausibly aims for "carbon-neutral growth" from 2020 onward - cannot produce a reduction in global aviation CO2 emissions. He instead suggests ways in which CORSIA needs to be modified, in order to more more ambitious - and achieve carbon reduction cuts from the sector. He suggests that the legal and governance framework and the implementation process of CORSIA should require the aviation CO2 emissions of each country to be part of their obligations under the Paris Agreement, and there should be a more a direct role for the UNFCCC in determining eligibility of emission units and alternative fuels. Much more ambition is needed, and even if the aviation industry manages to find "alternative" fuels that are genuinely environmentally sustainable (doubtful at any scale ....) they will not provide the carbon emission cuts required. Aviation should not be one of the only industries allowed to continue to increase its CO2 emissions, year after year. [Unfortunately, the UK is trying to claim it need not be concerned about aviation CO2, as it is all being adequately dealt with by the CORSIA scheme. It is not.]

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Ofsted monitoring report highly critical of apprenticeship provider, Mooreskills, at Heathrow and apprenticeship quality

Heathrow has tried hard to persuade MPs that its 3rd runway would almost eradicate youth unemployment, and its scheme for more apprenticeships would be fantastically effective. One of Heathrow’s most often repeated claims as benefits for a 3rd runway is taking on 5,000 more apprentices, taking the number up to 10,000, by 2030. Now an assessment of its apprenticeship programme by Ofsted shows that  its apprenticeships were “not fit for purpose”. Inspectors found “insufficient progress” had been made in establishing and maintaining high-quality apprenticeship provision.  The report said progress of the vast majority of current apprentices is slow, and many who should have started in February had still not begun. Leaders had failed to ensure “they have sufficient training staff” with the “required competencies and skills to deliver the programmes”....“Far too many of the apprentices” at Heathrow were adversely affected by this shortage of qualified training staff. Many apprenticeships were in retailing and wholesaling.  Many were found to be “not fit for purpose”, and most received “a poor standard of training”.

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Heathrow Hub wants Grayling to make changes to Airports NPS to include their extended north runway scheme

Heathrow Hub is not giving up, and keeps pressing for the government to approve its concept of an "Extended Northern Runway" (ENR).  It has now submitted amended draft legislation to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, so that its ENR proposal can be implemented instead of Heathrow Airport’s north-west runway (NWR).  The backers of the Hub (who stand to make a lot of money, if their scheme was chosen) say the ENR scheme would be cheaper, simpler and "quieter" than the NWR. And they say it can be built in phases. Phase 1, costing £3.9bn and delivering 70,000 additional aircraft movements annually, would begin operations as soon as 2026, possibly 4 years ahead of the NWR scheme. There are differences in the numbers of homes needing to be demolished, and the number of people who would be forced to leave their homes. The amount of plane noise would be much worse for those currently under flight paths, but there would probably be fewer people newly exposed to aircraft noise.  Heathrow Hub's lawyers have drafted suggested amendments to the National Policy Statement (NPS), due to be considered by Parliament in the summer.

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EU ETS carbon market emissions rose overall by 0.3% in 2017 – but those from aircraft (intra-European) rose by 5%

Final data from the European Commission show that carbon dioxide emissions from all operators covered by Europe’s Emission Trading System (ETS) rose by around 0.3% in 2017, compared with 2016.  This was the first rise in emissions regulated under Europe’s carbon market in 7 years.  Preliminary data was released in April.  Verified emissions from stationary installations amounted to […]

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Bristol Airport plans to increase size of terminal, build more car parks, and double passenger numbers

Bristol airport has revealed its aspirations for long-term growth. It is hoping for expand to 12 million annual passengers, up from about 8.2 million in 2017, and then up to 20 million by the mid-2040s. It is putting forward proposals - out to consultation - for the next stage in its phased development ahead of a planning application, to North Somerset Council by this autumn,  to increase capacity to accommodate 12 million passengers a year.In November, there was an earlier consultation. to which over 1,750 responses were made.  The expansion plans would mean more surface access, more surface level car parking, a new multi-storey car park, changes to the road layout and highway changes. The airport says: "Proposals will also be developed to address impacts on the local community and environment, including in key areas such as aircraft noise, where no increase in annual night flights will be sought." So the impacts of the expanded airport would inevitably have a worse environmental impact, in many way, on those living near enough to be affected.  Planning permission is already in place for facilities to handle up to 10 million passengers per annum, and £160 million has been invested in infrastructure improvements since 2010.

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European Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution – referring UK to the European Court of Justice

The European Commission is stepping up its enforcement against 7 Member States who have breached agreed EU rules on air pollution limits.  It has now referred France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the UK to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to respect agreed air quality limit values and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The Commission is also issuing additional letters of formal notice to Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom on the grounds that they have disregarded EU vehicle type approval rules.  On NO2 pollution the UK, in 16 air quality zones, among them London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow air pollution limits were exceeded (with annual concentrations reported in 2016 as high as 102 µg/m3 in London).  In total, there are 13 NO2 level infringement cases pending against Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and the UK.  Today's decision on Germany, France and the UK are the first ones to be referred to the Court. Suggestions to improve air quality are air quality standards, national emission reduction targets, and emission standards for key sources of pollution such as vehicles and industry.

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Residents around 6 Dutch airports set up new group opposing aviation expansion

The people living around 6 Dutch airports joined forces to fight against what they consider the undesirable growth of aviation in the Netherlands. On Tuesday they established a national residents' council on aviation called LBBL (National Residents' Council on Aviation  - in Dutch Landelijk Bewonersberaad Luchtvaart). It is calling on the government to prioritise the health of people, the environment and the climate in their plans for aviation in the country. They want train connections with competitive prices, that will make short European flights unnecessary. The LBBL was formed by residents associations from areas around Schiphol, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Lelystad Airport, Maastricht Aachen Airport, Eindhoven Airport and Groningen Airport Eelde. LBBL already has a first action day planned - on June 23rd, with a national protest against aviation growth in various cities across the Netherlands.

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Edinburgh airport overtakes Heathrow on number of domestic air passengers, though numbers falling overall for both

Heathrow has been trying to curry favour with regional airports, implying that they will get links to Heathrow if there is a 3rd runway. The reality is that many domestic flights are not profitable, and can only be maintained if subsidised by the industry or by government. Now figures show that Heathrow no longer has the largest number of domestic air passengers, having fallen behind Edinburgh. In the past 12 years the number of passengers on domestic flights, to or from Heathrow, has fallen by 28% - while overall passenger numbers rose by 26% (Heathrow and the airlines prefer to use the slots for more profitable flights). In 2017 it handled just over 13,000 domestic passengers per day, compared with over 18,000 in 2005. It now subsidises domestic passengers by £15 per trip. There has been a fall in domestic passengers using Edinburgh too, but only of 14% - so it has overtaken Heathrow.  Eight domestic airports are currently served from Heathrow. The only route to have been lost since 2005 is Durham Tees Valley, though frequency has dropped on many routes. Edinburgh airport says with its 12 direct long haul destinations, more passengers can avoid having to travel via Heathrow. Edinburgh airport (owned by GIP) is opposed to a Heathrow 3rd runway.

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Unknown airport operator company ‘very interested’ in talks with Tees Valley Mayor about running Durham Tees Valley

In a key election pledge of the Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, to take an airport into public ownership is now another step closer to becoming reality. Mr Houchen said a confidential agreement is in place with a private "well-known established airport operator" which is "very interested" in running Durham Tees Valley Airport. There have been discussions with the current majority owner of the airport, Peel, that have progressed so far that a "non-disclosure agreement" has been signed, indicating that negotiations have reached a detailed and delicate stage.  Mr Houchen said: "It is all in the balance at the moment - we are making some really serious progress with Peel, and the significance of that and signing the non-disclosable agreement shows we are in an advanced stage of talks. ... we have to make sure we have an experienced well-established airport operator to actually run it, and we do have that confidentially agreement in place with a well-established private sector operator who is very interested in coming along on the journey with us to make sure Teesside Airport is what we all think it should be."

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Local campaign gets Glasgow airport to pay up to £8 million to sound insulate 800 badly affected homes

Glasgow Airport is to pay out up to £8m over the next 5 years to help with noise insulation costs for the 800 homes near its runway. The assistance packages, worth around £10,000 per home, will be used to help pay for triple glazing and loft insulation.  Recent studies showed aircraft noise levels experienced at night by residents in some areas exceeded substantially the safe levels approved by the World Health Organisation.  However they were deemed not high enough to allow properties to qualify for compensation. The airport's owner, AGS Airports, has agreed to reduce the qualifying level for support to homes experiencing the noise, from 66 decibels to 63dB.  The effort to improve the situation, particularly in Whitecrook, Clydebank, where the worst levels were recorded, has been driven by a long running campaign by SNP MSP, Gil Paterson. Allegedly the insulation in the loft cut the noise level in a bedroom below to 50dB. when it had been 63dB, with the noise outside at 84dB. It is claimed that upgrading double glazing to triple glazing further cut the noise to 45dB (as long as no window opened ..... and still deafening in the garden ....)

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Residents near Heathrow face MONTHS of noise as over 1,000 boreholes will be drilled – even before a 3rd runway gets government go-ahead

People living near Heathrow are facing 4 months of "noise and disruption" as more than 1,000 boreholes are drilled into the ground to see if it is suitable for building a third runway, investigating the water table etc.  Hillingdon Council has issued the warning to residents living in the south of the borough they will have to put up with the drilling, even before a decision to approve expansion has been made by the government. There is a presumption that Heathrow will be given permission to expand, though this has not even been voted through in Parliament yet. The council says it has sought to prevent the proposed works on its land on behalf of residents, but its protest was overruled by the Secretary of State (Chris Grayling). The council said: “There will be increased noise and disruptive activity by Heathrow Airport contractors working on borehole sites on land identified for possible Heathrow expansion." Work was due to begin on April 30 and last for approximately four months. It is to be carried out by Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) and involves ground investigations in Harmondsworth and  Sipson.   The drilling does not require planning permission to proceed and each borehole will be worked on for a maximum of 4 days. 

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Possible £1m of public money in Durham Tees Valley Airport deal to bring in new flights

A £1m deal sweetener to attract airlines to Durham Tees Valley Airport has been recommended for approval. Dubbed the “Air Connectivity Facility”, the deal requires airlines bid for a seven figure sum in return for strengthening ties with the beleaguered airport.  The money would be paid out by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) over three years, if the plan is given the green light this week. The money is being offered to help strengthen ties with airlines, and get more flights using the airport. A meeting of the TCVA discussed the possibility of a deal in February with public money earmarked to help reduce the risks for airlines looking to branch out. The importance of flights to Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) from the airport were stressed. Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen backed the deal, saying this was a key part of his "longer-term plan if we get hold of the airport.” Passenger numbers are tiny, and fell from 140,902 people in 2015 to 132,369 in 2016. A report on the £1m fund proposal pointed out the airport’s perilous predicament with the continuing decline of the airport labelled a “significant risk” to the region’s economy.

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Sonia Sodha: A radical way to cut emissions – ration everyone’s flights

As people get richer, and the pull of cheap flights and increasing numbers of holidays and short breaks gets ever stronger, we need some way to curb the growth in demand for air travel. People will never voluntarily cut their trips. Sonia Sodha, knowing she and others need to be forced to do so, suggests an individual flights limit, that people can trade with others - along the lines of trading carbon allowances. She says "‘We’re only going to make a dent in climate change by doing something pretty radical." ... "Everyone could be given an air mile allowance – say enough for one long-haul return flight a year, or three short-haul flights, so people with families on the other side of the world could see them once a year. If you don’t want to use your allowance, you could sell it off in a government-regulated online marketplace. If you’re keen to do a holiday a month, you’ll have to buy your allowance from someone else." Mind you, the amount she suggests per person is very high (far beyond what the climate could tolerate, and far beyond the ambition of keeping global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees C. But at least it is getting this concept discussed ....

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Gordon Dewar (CEO of Edinburgh airport): MSPs mistaken to back Heathrow ‘monopoly’ that harms Scottish airports

Gordon Dewar (CEO of Edinburgh airport, with same owners - GIP - as Gatwick, so not a fan of Heathrow expansion) says the Scottish Government made a mistake when it supported Heathrow’s third runway, which will create a “huge monopoly” in the South East and undermine Scotland’s airports. He says while Heathrow is spending a lot of time and money trying to get Scottish backing for its 3rd runway, the  reality is that allowing Heathrow to become bigger would be "to the detriment of Scotland’s airports and Scottish travellers, and those around the UK for that matter." He says while - in order to secure the Scottish Government’s support - Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye made a number of promises "about the appointment of Scottish suppliers and the use of Prestwick Airport as a logistics hub. He also promised 16,000 jobs, £200m of construction spend and £10m of cash to support route development in and out of Scotland." ....Dewar says those backing Heathrow's runway should "ask how those promises are being delivered and what safeguards are in place to ensure that they are." (None?)

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Boss of Dubai Airports shows just how callous his industry is: wants Heathrow open 24/7 regardless of noise…

Heathrow and its airlines are extremely unwilling to get rid of night flights, regardless of how much health damage (and reduction in quality of life) they cause to people overflown. Now Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, shows clearly just how little the industry cares about the welfare of residents, or the opinions of those negatively affected by his industry. Talking to the Independent, he asked: "Why is the UK persisting with all these restrictions on operating hours? .... imagine all that investment, all that amazing infrastructure sitting idle for a third of the day [which, of course, it is not - flights operate till after 11pm and start at 4.30am...] " He seems to want people to believe that new "quieter" aircraft (only marginally less noisy than those now) will make all the difference ...  He also wants Heathrow to work in “mixed mode” for both runways, to get the maximum number of flights.  The naked, uncaring, unreconstructed capitalism is stark.  MPs take note - this is the sort of man who runs airlines, and wants Heathrow to do their bidding, at the expense of Londoners etc. [Akbar Al Baker, Heathrow board member and CEO of Qatar Airways, did the same in 2014 - to Heathrow's embarrassment...]

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German study shows link between aircraft noise (day or night) and atrial fibrillation

With an increasing level of noise, the incidence of atrial fibrillation also increases dramatically. From a study of 15,000 men and women aged 35 to 74 in Germany, scientists found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in subjects who reacted to noise with extreme annoyance increased to 23%, compared to 15% without the noise. Looking at the proportion of sources of extreme noise pollution, aircraft noise came first with 84% during the day and 69% during sleep. The results were published recently in the International Journal of Cardiology. Other studies have shown the link between noise (that may be causing anger, disturbed sleep, exhaustion or stress) that impairs wellbeing, health (including cardiovascular disease), and the quality of life. There is probably a link between cardiac impacts and noise, even when the person is not aware of being made irritated or angry by the noise. The increase in atrial fibrillation may be the reason why there is a connection between noise and strokes. The ban in night flights at Frankfurt from 11pm to 5am did not lead to less noise annoyance, but more - as the overall number of flights did not reduce. Noise was worse than before between 10-11pm and 5-6am.

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DfT started search for companies to bid for 2 construction projects to link Heathrow to the Great Western Mail Line (WRLtH)

The government has begun the search for companies to finance and construct a £900m rail line linking Heathrow to the Great Western Main Line.  The DfT has published a prior information notice for companies to deliver two construction packages that will make up the proposed 6.5 km Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH). Package A requires the construction of two twin-bored tunnels and a 5 km line that will connect to Heathrow T5’s existing rail tunnels. A DfT notice was sent out to gauge market appetite for the construction, finance and maintenance of package A, showing the government favours a public-private partnership (PPP). A second package involves the construction of a tunnel at Langley Junction near Stevenage that will connect the line to the existing Great Western Main Line. Package B is expected to be funded and managed conventionally through Network Rail.  The DfT is aiming for work to begin during Network Rail’s CP6 funding period, which runs from 2019 to 2024. The project is expected to complete by 2027.

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Election candidates line up to support campaign against Heathrow expansion

150 candidates standing for the local elections on Thursday 3 May have lined up to back the campaign opposing expansion Heathrow.  The election pledge issued by No 3rd Runway Coalition, to candidates, called for their support for the campaign against Heathrow expansion - if they are elected later this week.  81 candidates from Hillingdon and 65 candidates from Hounslow have had their pictures taken with the anti-expansion pledge. Support is strong across all the political parties, including the Conservatives and Labour in both boroughs. The Liberal Democrats and Green parties are national, long-standing opponents of the expansion plans. According to campaigners, the keenness of the large number of election candidates to have their picture taken with the pledge echoes the recent referendum on Heathrow expansion held in Richmond and Hillingdon, which saw voters reject the plans by 72%, with just 28% in favour. Election candidates realise there is low support for a 3rd runway in their boroughs, and not only in Hillingdon and Hounslow but far more widely - in boroughs such as Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kingston and well beyond.

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Heathrow now claiming (!!?) its 3rd runway would cut number of suicides in the regions, (due to a few short term jobs…).

Heathrow somewhat "scraping the bottom of the barrel" here.  Heathrow is trying to make out that providing a little work for people, currently with insecure jobs, in the regions, will reduce the suicide risk. Heathrow says components will (sic) be assembled off-site at one of the hubs before being transported in consolidated loads to Heathrow as they are needed. Heathrow Airport expansion delivery director Rob Ewen told the New Civil Engineer Airport’s conference that rebalancing workers’ quality of life could address the industry’s suicide rates, which are higher than any other trade.... Bit of a long shot ..... ?  Heathrow has dangled the carrot of four "manufacturing hubs" in the regions, where some materials for the expansion of the airport, would be made or assembled etc.  To do this, the regions trying to be chosen for the hub sites have to support Heathrow expansion, be uncritical of it etc.  Out of all the dozens of applicants, probably only four will be chosen - with no decision made any time soon. Fair enough, a few short term jobs would be created. But does this really justify a claim about suicides?   Would the jobs be secure, long-term, well paid, with a career structure?  Time will tell. Just another of the claims made about jobs .... which often fall far short of what is anticipated ...

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Swansea and Cardiff want long-haul flights, but they would be unlikely if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway

Swansea airport hopes it could benefit from an air link to a Chinese city.  It hopes to be able to boost the airport, and possibly provide business benefits locally. Swansea and Pembrey have been earmarked as potential locations for Chinese business development, with the aim of cutting travel times to key cities.  However, a leading transport expert cast doubts over Swansea's suitability as a regional airport, especially if Cardiff nearby - the main regional airport - has a link to Qatar.  If there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the chance of long haul flights to countries like China, from regional airports, would be diminished - even DfT data indicate that, as Heathrow would focus the most profitable routes. The leader of Swansea council, Rob Stewart said: "Cardiff Airport is still our national airport but we need regional airports to support that ....We want to be able to service the business people to London and the Northern Powerhouse.  With the links we have with China and Cardiff Airport with the Middle East [Qatar Airways], I think there's potential for investment into a regional airport.  Air links were one of the things discussed during one of the recent visits to China."

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IATA claims Heathrow night flight ban would ‘damage’ UK economy – meaning a proper night ban is unlikely with a 3rd runway

Heathrow has always been very resistant to any effective ban on night flights, other than for a brief period in the middle of the night - it has never supported a period long enough to enable those overflown to get 7 or 8 hours of quiet in order to have a peaceful full night's sleep. Now the aviation industry global trade lobby, IATA says a "total ban on night flights at ­Heathrow would “seriously damage” the UK’s economic competitiveness by hitting important export industries and regional growth." IATA does not want any impediment to air cargo, which increasingly relies on overnight delivery, or reduced connecting flights that are used by some business passengers. The DfT currently allows Heathrow 5,800 flights per year between 11.30pm and 6am - about 16 per night on average. These flights are deeply unpopular, especially those touching down from 4.30am, heard over much of London up to 20 minutes earlier. The idea that flights could be rotated, at night, between three runways, is being used to try to persuade people that night flights should be permitted. Rotating flights between runways would NOT provide the quiet 7 - 8 hour period needed, for tens or hundreds of thousands overflown by Heathrow planes.

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Drivers for miles around Heathrow could face £15 congestion charge, to TRY and keep to legal air pollution limits

Holidaymakers who drive to Heathrow could soon be hit with a congestion charge, as the airport needs to try to persuade tourists - those going on holiday or visiting friends and family - to leave their cars at home, in order not to make local air pollution any worse. Critics have said the proposed move is unfair because as much as 80 miles of roads, in the Heathrow vicinity, could be impacted. This would inevitably have a very negative impact on road users who are not associated with the airport, going about their usual activities. The level of the proposed charge is unknown - it would have to be quite high in order to sufficiently deter travellers, (up to £15 perhaps?) for whom air travel demand is "inelastic" ie. not much affected by price.  Reacting to this proposal, Robert Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: "This latest additional Heathrow charge simply highlights a critical problem with expanding Heathrow: air pollution targets would be so difficult to meet that the airport will have to whack travellers and families with a £15 charge for accessing the airport by car." Without drastic measures to restrict road traffic in the  areas, significantly worsened air pollution is likely - where limits are already regularly beached. 

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Stansted Airport expansion plans will ‘ambush local communities and residents,’ according to Uttlesford Liberal Democrats

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats say that Stansted Airport is seeking to 'ambush local communities and residents' with its plans to become the UK’s 2nd biggest airport. They say the submitted planning application is “unravelling under the pressure of public scrutiny” and Stansted is not being ‘open’ with local residents. Thaxted Councillor Martin Foley said public opinion is not being taken into account, nor is there enough consideration in regards to the additional traffic following the expansion, branding plans too “simplistic”. The airport is "not being open and transparent in their application to expand its capacity to 43+ million passengers per annum." ...“Firstly, they have buried their demand for the removal of current restrictions on night flights at Stansted in an appendix to their main application." Public consultation events have not been properly promoted, and the airport's "assessment of the impact of the additional traffic generated by the expansion is simplistic and rudimentary.” Implausibly, the airport's CEO tries to make out there will be a lower noise impact, even with 8 million more annual passengers (35 million up to 43 million). 

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Even keen runway supporter, Slough Council, want assurances from Heathrow on damage to borough

Frustrations had been raised at Slough Borough Council (a keen supporter of the 3rd runway) after Heathrow seemingly ignored planning requirements it had set out, that would have ensured a ‘green envelope’ around Colnbrook, into which Heathrow would not intrude. Instead, the consultation set up by Heathrow showed plans for major new road developments within Colnbrook, and a taxiway that was just a few hundred meters from Pippins School. However, council leader, James Swindlehurst, said he had reached agreement with Heathrow that they will ‘review alternatives’ to the currently proposed roads for Colnbrook. They have also agreed to set up a workshop along with the council to explore other options. Heathrow has also announced that they are ‘committed’ to working with Pippins School to mitigate the impact of the expansion. [That probably means very little indeed, in reality].  The airport also pledged funding for a Historic Area Assessment for Colnbrook, which will work to identify buildings and landmarks with historical significance and determine what additional protections they need. [Any protection, other than the only effective one - not to build a massive airport in very close proximity to them]. 

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Stop Stansted Expansion raises night flights and ‘noise nightmare’ concerns over airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says the airport wants to change conditions which have prevented it from lobbying government for more night flights. The plans were “buried” within its planning application to expand its annual throughput of passengers from 35 million to up to 43m. It claimed it was “a clandestine attempt to betray the community”, as it raised concerns about sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights. “For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region,” said SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey. “Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next 10 years as a condition of expansion.” The airport says it is not seeking any change to current night flight limits, [as the limit is already set above current usage.]  SSE are also concerned that the long haul and freight aircraft which airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is hoping to attract to Stansted are “typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there” and with less stringent night noise controls, these could become a serious noise problem for local residents.

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Spelthorne sets out list of demands for Heathrow to protect its residents – if there was a 3rd runway

Spelthorne Council has been a backer of Heathrow expansion for some time, as has its MP, Kwasi Kwateng. Now the council has set out a list of 10 demands from Heathrow, if there is a 3rd runway, n its response to its recent consultation.  These include a  requirement that residents in Stanwell Moor and Stanwell join the Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) and that no immigration centre is built in the borough. They want to "secure the best possible outcomes for our residents and businesses, in particular those most affected in Stanwell Moor and Stanwell." Some of the demands are that residents will be able to either stay in the area or sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Also that Heathrow will pay for the introduction of a Controlled Parking Zone across Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, so residents would not have to pay for a fee for their annual parking permit. The Council wants community legacy benefits so Heathrow will "fully mitigate and compensate for the disruption, loss of open space, additional traffic, air quality and noise impacts, and removal of community buildings." They want Heathrow to build an "enhanced multi-purpose community hall" and a new leisure centre for the community. And demands on surface access, noise, air quality, Staines Moor and much else besides.

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IMO: Shipping sector agrees to tackle its CO2 but faster action needed to meet Paris climate goals (aviation still avoiding real CO2 cuts)

International shipping and international aviation are the two sectors omitted from the Paris Agreement. But now the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has agreed on an initial strategy to decarbonise international shipping and reduce CO2 emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050. The agreement keeps a window open for the sector to help meet the Paris climate goals. Though a welcome first step, the IMO must now build on the agreed minimum target of 50% reductions in subsequent reviews to comply with its fair share of emissions under the Paris Agreement. Aviation still only intends to offset the carbon emissions from its anticipated fast future growth, rather than actually reduce them. Kelsey Perlman, speaking for the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) said:  “Today’s outcome puts international shipping ahead of aviation ... [it] should light a fire under ICAO, which has been dragging its feet for over a decade on a vision for long-term decarbonization, arriving only at the mid-term emissions target of carbon neutral growth from 2020 levels. The agreement on shipping emissions today should make people question whether aviation’s emissions should be allowed to grow with no concrete plan to decarbonize.”

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AEF comment on the DfT’s Aviation Strategy – environmental impacts must be central to policy, not an add-on

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has commented on the Government's Aviation Strategy, produced on 7th. They say that while the UK aspires "to be a world leader in aviation when it comes to facilities and services, the same cannot be said for environmental protection, at least when it comes to climate change. A world-class package of environmental protection doesn’t currently seem to be on the agenda." They say "The Aviation Strategy objectives should include an environmental objective that is not wrapped up in a commitment to growth, and the implications of this objective should be considered from the start." AEF reiterate that aviation's "unlimited growth is incompatible with achieving environmental commitments" and the DfT is not even questioning whether aviation growth was a positive outcome to aim for. Instead of the 3 separate consultations on aspects of UK aviation policy over the next 18 months, (with environment at the end) there will be a single Green Paper this autumn. The AEF hopes this allows for environmental impacts to be considered throughout the period of policy development and not as an afterthought (as it originally appeared). The DfT policy is focused on airline passengers and improving the service to them, but it should instead be in the interest of the whole population, including those affected by airports and aircraft.

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Queen jokes that noisy plane ‘sounds like President Trump’ during chat in Windsor with Sir David Attenborough

The Queen and Sir David Attenborough, were recording for a programme in Windsor. Their genial chatter was marred by the overhead din of aircraft or helicopters. The Queen could not contain her irritation. “Why do they go round and round when you want to talk?” she pondered aloud. Poking fun at the noisy aircraft favoured by US leaders, she joked: “Sounds like President Trump or President Obama.” It is not the first time the monarch has expressed frustration about living under a flight path. Last year, she bemoaned the increasing “noise from the air” that disturbs the peace when she is enjoying the gardens at Frogmore House in Windsor. “These days there is more noise from the air than in 1867, but Frogmore remains a wonderfully relaxing environment.” Heathrow airport is barely a seven mile drive from Frogmore House and its flight path passes very close to the royal retreat. It was suggested in 2015 that the monarch could receive millions of pounds in compensation to soundproof Windsor Castle due to the noise of planes from an expanded Heathrow.

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GIP may be considering selling its 42% stake in Gatwick airport

Investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners is considering the sale of its 42% stake in  Gatwick Airport, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It is believed that GIP plans to initially seek buyers for its stake among existing shareholders before reaching out to other potential buyers, but this is still speculation. It is not clear if any banks have been hired for the transaction, and GIP may change its mind.  Representatives for GIP and Gatwick declined to comment. While GIP is the largest shareholder in the airport, its other owners include funds from Abu Dhabi, California and South Korea. GIP, which manages about $40 billion in assets, bought Gatwick with the consortium of investors in 2009 for about $2.5 billion. Gatwick handled 45.6 million passengers in 2017 and continues to lobby the UK government for permission to build a 2nd runway, to take trade away from Heathrow. GIP, founded in May 2006, manages assets ranging from ports and pipelines to multiple airports and a vast wind farm in the North Sea. Over 10 years, GIP has expanded its roster of backers to include some of the world’s biggest sovereign funds and various US pension funds.

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CAA data, only obtained through FoI request, shows about 2.2 million people would be affected by noise from a 3 runway Heathrow

Over 2 million people could be affected by noise from an expanded Heathrow according to secret documents obtained by campaigners. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had previously claimed in October 2016 that an expanded Heathrow (up to 50% more flights) would be quieter in 2030 than today. This claim (obviously ludicrous) was not repeated in the revised draft consultation on the Airports National Policy statement (NPS) published in October 2017. This predicted that 92,700 additional people in the area around Heathrow would be exposed to noise by 2030 as a consequence of the 3rd runway. Now, following an FOI request for the noise data contained in the CAA’s economic analysis, a new figure emerges of 972,957 households who would experience greater noise by 2060. This is the time frame for the full introduction of ‘quieter’ (= slightly less noisy) planes. Based on CAA assumptions on household size this figure is equivalent to 2.2 million people. The third runway, if approved, is expected to be fully open by 2028. At this point it is claimed that a maximum of 90% of the aircraft fleet would have been updated.  This excludes many of the noisier four-engine planes. It is likely therefore that at this point the numbers of people experiencing increased noise would be significantly higher.

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Reality Check: Why politicians should reject the 3rd Heathrow runway. By Sally Cairns and Carey Newson

For a masterful summary (2 pages with all references) of the reasons why the UK government should not be persuaded into allowing a 3rd Heathrow runway, see this briefing by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson, from Transport for Quality of Life. They sum up all the ways in which the business case for the runway is flawed and the environmental case rests on hugely optimistic assumptions. They list these as: "planes will get cleaner and quieter at a faster rate than has previously been expected; cars and vans will also get dramatically cleaner; freight movements will somehow be optimised; the latest National Air Quality Plan will deliver all anticipated air quality improvements; the fledgling international aviation carbon offsetting scheme will generate a high enough carbon price; the national Aviation Strategy (not yet written) will come up with cost-effective mechanisms for constraining aviation emissions further; the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise will prove effective; a review of airspace (that has not taken place for over 40 years, as it is so controversial) will take place soon; HS2, Crossrail and the Piccadilly line upgrades will attract air passengers and airport staff in sufficiently large numbers; funding will be found for Western and Southern rail access; etc. It seems very unlikely that all of these will fall into place." 

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Government Aviation Strategy put back from “end of 2018” to “first half of 2019”

The Government's Aviation Strategy will now not be presented to Parliament until summer 2019 despite the initial consultation in July 2017 promising the full strategy to be presented to Parliament "before the end of 2018".  The reason for the delay is unclear but campaigners say the strategy could in fact be put in jeopardy because of its reliance on Heathrow expansion – a project which has major parliamentary and legal hurdles to overcome. Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:  "This strategy is written on the basis that Heathrow expansion is a done deal. It is in fact very uncertain with parliamentary and legal hurdles which it will struggle to overcome. The Government seems hell-bent on expanding Heathrow, despite evidence that alternative options for growth in the sector would bring a greater benefit to regions across the UK and not just in the south east, as usual."  It has always been profoundly unsatisfactory, and illogical, for a key part of the UK aviation sector - Heathrow airport - being decided upon BEFORE the UK aviation policy for the whole sector.  Rationally, it would be the other way round - aviation policy first, and then decide on whether Heathrow should expand.

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DfT publishes Aviation Strategy, with focus on growth and helping passengers – little on environmental impacts

The government has published its Aviation Strategy, which the DfT says "will set out the longterm direction for aviation policy to 2050 and beyond." The first phase of its development was the publication of a call for evidence in July 2017. The Aviation Strategy says it will now "pursue 6 objectives, which are unchanged following the consultation." It is very much focused on the passenger, the passenger experience, helping the aviation industry, expanding aviation and "building a global and connected Britain."  The Strategy "sets out further detail on the challenges associated with these objectives and some of the action that the government is considering and which will form part of further consultation later in the year." The DfT says:  "The government will continue the dialogue that has already begun on these issues. The next step will be the publication of detailed policy proposals in a green paper in the autumn of 2018. This will be followed by the final Aviation Strategy document in early 2019." There is mention of the environmental problems (carbon, noise, air pollution) but they are given scant attention, and it is presumed they can all be reduced - even while the sector has huge growth. A new runway at Heathrow is assumed to happen.

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Residents alarmed at proposed changes to Glasgow Airport flightpaths using PBN

Planned new flightpaths into Glasgow airport will see planes flying over some of Scotland's wealthiest suburbs, so there can be slight fuel use reductions and the airport can handle increased passenger numbers. The changes to the routes will see flights take off or land over areas such as Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and East Renfrewshire to cut down on the time it takes planes to reach international flightpaths. The proposals are aimed at "modernising" Glasgow's airspace to handle increasing passenger numbers, larger aircraft and (allegedly) greenwash the plans and "to make flying less harmful to the environment."  Community groups in affected areas are worried about the impact on their communities and are urging the airport to rethink the plans, which are out to consultation till April 13th. The system will change from older ground navigation, to new satellite systems (PBN), and will enable flight paths to be concentrated, so particular areas get intensified plane noise, as plane after plane follows the same track. One village that fears it will be badly affected is Uplawmoor, which currently is tranquil, where residents are angry they were not consulted until "very late in the day". People want a more open and honest consultation, and for the CAA to ensure that happens. 

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