Airport News

Below are news items relating to specific airports

 

Mexico has just decided to scrap huge airport project, already half built, due to corruption, over-spending etc

A hugely expensive airport project in Mexico City has been abandoned, more than halfway built.  Mexico's president-elect says he will respect the result of a referendum that rejected (70%) a partly built new airport, effectively ending the $18.35 billion project.  It had been mired in over-spending and corruption, and was started with what critics said was little real environmental study by current President, who leaves office on December 1st.  Organisers of the referendum reported just over one million people voted. The vote has been criticised in part as only about one of every 90 registered Mexican voters participated.  It is unclear what will be done with the enormous foundations already built on the site, a former lake bed known as Texcoco. Much environmental damage has already been done. Critics of the cancellation had said it might affect investor confidence in Mexico. However, the president-elect wants to add 2 commercial runways to a military air base in the town of Santa Lucia, about 45km from Mexico City, involving journeys from the existing airport for transfers etc. The existing city airport was built in the 1940s and is considered to be working at near capacity; it would have been closed had Texcoco been built. Cancelling the Texcoco airport would save Mexicans, allegedly, about $7 billion. 

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Councils need to be bold enough to oppose all new runways, not try to pass the buck on to others

While rightly opposing the expansion of Heathrow airport, with its hugely negative noise and air pollution impacts on hundreds of thousands of Londoners, and its unacceptable increase in aviation carbon emissions, many London councils still want to see the pain inflicted on people affected by Gatwick instead. With increasing awareness that we cannot meet climate targets, of keeping a global rise of 2C - let alone 1.5C - we need to prevent any new runways. After all, logically, not increasing the extent of the aviation carbon problem, before trying to deal with it, is a sensible approach. The most effective, easiest and cheapest way to stop increasing demand is not to expand airport infrastructure. [eg. if someone badly needs to go on diet to lose 4 stone, for their health, no responsible doctor would first advocate gaining another 2 stone, and starting the weight loss after that ....]  Gatwick's hopes to use its emergency runway to add more annual flights will be devastating to people already suffering Gatwick's noise, traffic etc impacts. We really need councils to be bold and wise enough to opt for no new runways anywhere, to help protect citizens and residents everywhere, not only those in their narrow patch.  Interesting if more Gatwick flights would have a negative impact on Heathrow's finances, making the financial case for a 3rd runway even more shaky (negative).

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What would happen to two “Immigrant Removal Centres” close to Heathrow, if its 3rd runway plans go ahead?

There has not been any discussion, in the plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway, of the detention centre, that would be demolished - and where it would be moved to. To the north of the current airport boundary are two “Immigration Removal Centres” (IRC) which, together, form the UK’s biggest immigration detention complex, with space for 1,065 prisoners. They are run by the private contractor Mitie in a £240 million deal set to run until 2022. The DfT's NPS explains that “continuous service provision of the IRCs at Heathrow is necessary”, and so “replacement facilities in substitution for the affected IRCs should be provided prior to any works”. ie. they would build new replacement centres, which would have to be ready before the old ones are shut. Four possible sites (Jan 2018 document) are suggested, two further north and two further south, close to the airport, all on green belt (so special planning permission is required.) There will be local opposition. Spelthorne (which backs the runway plan) has already come out “categorically” against rehousing the prisons, and refuse to have the centre on their land.  The Heathrow scheme cannot proceed (if at all) before the judgement on the legal challenges, some time next year (early summer?) at the earliest. The Home Office is unlikely to do much on new detention centre plans until that is certain.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says Uttlesford DC planners’ recommendation is just an uncritical rehash of MAG’s claims

The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning.  As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted, in return for approving the application. SSE say the UDC officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. They say UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved - thought that would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year.  But UDC say this "would not result in significant adverse impacts.”  It is now for UDC councillors on the planning committee to decide.  This case seems too large and complex for a small team of planning officers in a small local authority, without the necessary resources or expertise.

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Local group SHE advises residents they should NOT be intimidated by, or respond to, Heathrow demands for their household information

Residents living in the CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) area for the proposed Heathrow 3rd runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed runway. Local group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) says this repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment. In a long, detailed article here SHE gives information on what Heathrow is doing, what they ask for, and how residents do NOT have to give Heathrow any of the details they ask. The runway is NOT a done deal, and until it is, no resident is under any obligation to reveal personal information about themselves, their household members, their mortgage etc. The details are wanted by Heathrow, in order to facilitate future acquisition of the properties. The persistent propaganda by Heathrow, and the letters etc are having a demoralising effect (which suits the airport) on residents.  SHE advises residents that they should NOT feel under any obligation to help Heathrow, and they should "NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life."

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Edinburgh Airport flight path plan rejected by CAA, as it was not the same as in the consultation

A deeply unpopular plan to change a flight path at Edinburgh Airport has been rejected by the CAA. The proposed changes would have seen aircraft flying to the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth. The CAA said it could not approve the proposal due to "significant" differences between the final plan and the version developed in consultation with local communities. Had the correct information been in the consultation, it could have made people respond differently to the questions asked. It was the second set of plans submitted to the CAA after the industry regulator told Edinburgh Airport to do more work on the original proposal. Helena Paul, of Edinburgh Airport Watch, said: "On behalf of communities affected by these damaging proposals we are highly relieved the CAA have looked carefully and agreed the process was fatally flawed and could not be allowed to stand. Our hope now is the regulator does not allow Edinburgh Airport to continue using an outdated set of rules for any future consultations and instead enforces the new set of rules brought in for any consultations on new flight paths."  Further consultation would be necessary.  The airport said modernising the airspace was necessary for growth.

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Error in Gatwick Route 4 flight track-keeping figures undermines trust in airport

Local group, Plane Wrong, says Gatwick Airport have always maintained they are ‘good neighbours’ but it is becoming increasingly clear that - as a commercial enterprise - Gatwick have their own agenda and are single minded about achieving their growth and bottom line profit. Gatwick have been reporting that Route 4, the busiest departure route out of the airport to the west, heading north and then east, has significantly improved its track-keeping throughout 2018. The experiences of local supporters of campaign group, Plane Wrong, have suggested the contrary and that Gatwick's figures on track-keeping are wrong.  In fact, since January 2018 Gatwick has mis-calculated the percentage of aircraft flying outside the designated route. They have now admitted that instead of the 1-2% claimed and published on their website, the actual level of non-compliance was up to 8%. It is also a concern that Gatwick's noise and track-keeping monitoring group, NATMAG, failed to pick this up. In the past 4 years, the number of passengers using Gatwick has risen by about 25%, but there has been no consultation or no account taken of the impact on the health and well-being of local communities.

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New map reveals – Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of pollution caused by Heathrow expansion

Slough Borough Council has been told it must protect its residents after it was revealed the town would be right in the epicentre of increased noise and air pollution, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built.  The CAA map shows that Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of increased pollution, and community groups are very upset. The Colnbrook Community Association (CCA) said it was time for Slough Borough Council to ‘wake up and protect our residents’ following the publication. Slough Borough Council does not criticise Heathrow, as it hopes to get some benefits from the expansion, if it never complains. The Council says:  “We have been vigorously defending the local community not least in our cabinet discussions about road diversions through Colnbrook and securing a green envelope around Colnbrook."  The quality of life for many residents will be diminished by the 3rd runway, regardless of some businesses making more money. CCA said: “The trouble is that gullible Local Authorities, Councillors, MP’s and media peeps swallow this misinformation and accept it as truth. Residents know it’s fake news; Heathrow’s PR knows it’s fake news (they make it up); media knows its fake news – but it doesn’t make headlines.”

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Anger and despair in local communities as CAA backs London City airport flight path changes

Local residents in the East London area reacted with fury to the report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which backed the controversial changes London City Airport made to its flight paths two years ago.  In 2016 the airport narrowed all its flights paths, so they became more concentrated.  It resulted in a fourfold increase in complaints as people under these new concentrated flight paths experienced many more planes than before.  The new CAA report recommends that the concentrated flight paths remain in place. The new flight paths are not producing the fuel and CO2 savings that were expected, and plans are not flying the exact routes, but the CAA still approved them.  John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, the campaign body which gives a voice to residents experiencing the noise, said, “There is anger and despair that the CAA has backed the concentrated flight paths.  Many people hoped that today’s report would end two years of misery and they would be able to get their lives back.  This decision is a cruel blow for them.”

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Campaigners fighting Gatwick expansion issue “State of Emergency” for the Sussex countryside

CPRE Sussex has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “Countryside State of Emergency” in response to Gatwick Airport’s new expansion ‘Master Plan’, published on October 18th.  The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways. A 2nd runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway could result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex to/from the airport every year. A 3rd runway to the south - on the "safeguarded" land - would add millions more passengers and require “significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads”.  “This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Sussex Chair, David Johnson. “It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever - scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.” He commented: "It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans”. We need to give our National Parks and AONBs more, and better protection - not risk ruining them with the impacts of developing an airport about the size Heathrow is now. 

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