Airport News

Below are news items relating to specific airports

 

No 3rd Runway Coalition blog: Still no clarity on Heathrow finances for its expansion

In a blog, from the Chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness, he says that serious concerns remain about how Heathrow might fund its hoped-for 3rd runway. The CAA has written to the DfT asking for clarity, as it does not have adequate or detailed information from Heathrow. As Nils Pratley highlighted in the Guardian “in most industries, a rebuke from the regulator would be met with an immediate promise to do better. Heathrow’s response, however, amounted to a shrug of the shoulders". In Heathrow's "Scoping Report" to the Planning Inspectorate in May they said, buried deep within the highly technical documents, that it seeks ‘early release of capacity’ that would be created by a 3rd runway. In short, Heathrow are trying to secure an additional 25,000 flights each year, (68 per day) above the current cap of 480,000, years before the 3rd runway opens. The current cap was a key condition of the T5 planning permission. Heathrow wants the income from these extra flights to help pay for the runway. Nobody knows who would be affected, or what noise, pollution, congestion etc impacts there would be. There has been no assessment. Read the full blog. 

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Lasham Gliding Society applies for Judicial Review of CAA Farnborough airspace decision

The CAA decided to grant the airspace to TAG Farnborough on 11th July. After taking legal advice, Lasham Gliding Society decided to fight this decision and instructed its lawyers to draw up a claim for leave for a Judicial Review in the High Court. Lasham Gliding Society is strongly opposed to the CAA’s decision. It considers that the decision to introduce new controlled airspace has not been justified by the CAA, because it will create a choke point, it does not represent an efficient use of the airspace, and it does not properly or reasonably balance the needs of all users. Lasham Gliding Society says: “The consequence of the implementation of this large volume of controlled airspace, at the request of a small airfield which has around 28,000 annual (non-public) movements, will be to displace many times more transiting flights and to cause significant congestion of general aviation movements outside the controlled airspace.”  The application for the JR was lodged on 10th October. The CAA has produced its reply, and the judge will decide if it can proceed. The cost will be at least £100,000 and Lasham hopes it will be of relevance to other general aviation airfields.

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New structure for GACC Committee as they continue longstanding fight to protect residents from Gatwick airport

GACC, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, announces a new structure to better utilise the dedicated long standing GACC Committee, with the aim of being more agile and responsive in its work to counter the threat from Gatwick Airport and its expansion master plan. Brendon Sewill, having being the Chairman of GACC for over 6 decades and hugely respected, is now GACC President.  Lisa Morris, after 5 years on the GACC committee, becomes Chairman, and said “I am honoured to be entrusted with the role of Chairman at a time when GACC seeks to fight Gatwick’s master plan for a 3 runway airport. The GACC committee is poised to use its combined forces of knowledge, expertise and sheer determination, to challenge Gatwick’s master plan, which includes bringing the emergency runway into routine use and safeguarding land in the Gatwick vicinity for a 3rd runway”.  Peter Barclay, Brendon’s successor last year, steps down from his role as Chairman to take on the important role of Vice President in addition to continuing to be the GACC lead with Gatwick, nationally and regionally.  GACC will be further strengthening and enlarging the Committee, to fight on behalf of all communities negatively affected - and not only from noise - by Gatwick airport.

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Response by Government to PQ on Heathrow road traffic indicates a 29% increase with a 3rd runway

In a Parliamentary Question by Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith), he asked the Secretary of State for Transport, "what assessment he has made of the number of (a) light goods vehicles, (b) heavy goods vehicles and (c) private cars that access Heathrow airport on a daily basis." The reply by Jesse Norman, Minister of State at the DfT, said the figures for goods vehicles come from the Airports Commission [now fairly out of date] and the other figures for highway and public transport trips are from an October 2017 DfT document. Heathrow has often said there would be no more vehicles on the roads with a 3rd runway than currently. But the DfT figures indicate the trips by passengers and employees, by cars and taxis,  would be around 60 million in 2030 with no new runway, and about 77 million in 2030 with a 3rd runway. The numbers would be about 66 million by 2050, with no new runway; and about 85 million with a 3rd runway.  ie. a massive rise of around 29% above the number with no new runway, both in 2030 and in 2050. Mr Norman said, to try to overcome this difficulty,  "it will be for an applicant for development consent for the Heathrow Northwest runway scheme to submit a surface access strategy to the Planning Inspectorate alongside their application."

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Replies to PQs on Heathrow – possible review of NPS after CCC climate report in spring 2019?

In recent Parliamentary Questions, Zac Goldsmith asked the Climate Minister (BEIS) Claire Perry: "what assessment she has made of the effect of the expansion of Heathrow Airport on the ability of the UK to meet the net-zero emissions target by 2050." The response said "The Committee [on Climate Change] will also publish a report on aviation in Spring 2019. ... this will include consideration of the potential to reduce aviation emissions over the period to 2050 and beyond. The Government will consider carefully the Committee’s advice .... Subject to this review, the Government will consider whether it is appropriate to review the Airports National Policy Statement, in accordance with Section 6 of the Planning Act 2008."   Zac also asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "what level of capital funding he plans to allocate for the delivery of improvements to rail access related to the expansion of Heathrow Airport." The reply by Liz Truss said (avoiding replying properly) the Government "will consider the need for a public funding contribution alongside an appropriate contribution from the airport on a case by case basis." And "The Government is supporting Heathrow Surface Access schemes subject to the development of a satisfactory business case and the agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry." (sic)

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Aircraft noise at smaller airports, likely to have negative mental health impact if they have night flights

Aircraft noise from large airports has been frequently linked to harm to mental health, as well as physical health, but it is not known whether the same is true for smaller airports. In this blog, Dr David Wright, lead author of a recently published article in Environmental Health, looked at how much aircraft noise around a smaller airport - Belfast City - affected mental health.  It has about 40,000 annual flights, compared to Heathrow 475,000.  There is growing evidence that noise generated by large airports also affects the mental health of local residents (see NORAH and HYENA, the two largest studies). As more airlines are flying direct between smaller airports, no longer using hubs, this is an important issue. The study looked at individual and household characteristics, overlaid with noise contours. It found there was a correlation of worse mental health in areas near the airport, under the flight path. But these areas were often poorer, and poverty increases the risk of mental ill-health - so wealth rather than aircraft noise best explains the findings.  However, Belfast City airport does not have night flights (21:30 to 06:30), and it is noise that disturbs sleep that has the main impacts on mental health. "Setting sensible curfew hours would strike a balance between the economic benefits and health risks of living close to an airport."

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Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow - to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now).  If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels.  The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against.  Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote - so he gets 2 votes.  Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people.  UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary - of an increase by 10 million annual passengers.  SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.

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Government, not content with ONE new runway breaching UK carbon targets, is now planning for TWO

The Government will open the door for another new runway by 2050, in addition to the plans for expansion at Heathrow, in a consultation to be launched next month.  The DfT's "Aviation Strategy Green Paper" will consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050, according to Sarah Bishop, DfT's Deputy Head of Aviation Policy. This would be in addition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, and perhaps Gatwick making use of its emergency runway. Ms Bishop says there could be a "need" (sic) for more expansion, to meet air travel demand. Classic outdated "predict & provide" thinking.  [The DfT gives the impression it is entirely unaware of of global climate breakdown, or the UK's responsibilities on its carbon emissions]. It remains unclear how even ONE further runway (perhaps Heathrow) could be delivered within the UK's legally binding CO2 emission targets - which require the aviation sector to keep its CO2 emissions to their 2005 level by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change warned as recently as June 2018 that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about even ONE new runway (let alone two). The No 3rd Runway Coalition believes the possibility of yet another runway being approved by the DfT would cause concerns for investors in Heathrow.

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London City airport to introduce £600 fines for the noisiest planes breaching noise limits

London City Airport is going to fine airlines £600 each for breaching noise limits, after a surge in complaints from residents (due to the concentrated flight paths that started in February 2016).  It has started a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. The noise is now concentrated, as planes try to cut fuel use, to save money; therefore the same people get overflown all the time, creating highly unpleasant noise pollution. Many residents, from Leyton to Lewisham, have complained about the noise since the changes. This new charging emerged at a hearing at the London Assembly, when AMs questioned London City airport and Heathrow staff about the environmental impacts (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions) of their airports. Tessa Simpson, environment manager at City airport, told the Assembly yesterday: “We have set noise levels that are some of the most stringent in the country."  They have to, as the airport is located in, and surrounded by, densely populated areas.  The money will go into a "community fund" to be "shared amongst community projects.”

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Birmingham airport unveils draft Master Plan, for huge growth over next 15 years

Birmingham Airport has unveiled its draft Master Plan, with its hopes of expansion over the next 15 years. There is a consultation till 31st January. It wants to increase its capacity by 5 million passengers a year (mppa)  Much of the intended spending will be for a larger departure lounge with a mezzanine floor, new retail and restaurant units, more toilets and seating. Also more self-service desks (ie. fewer jobs...) and "the latest bag-drop technology and a new back-of-house baggage sorting area aimed at improving efficiency." (ie. fewer jobs). This has been seen by the airport's consultative committee on 5th November.  There is no plan for a 2nd runway, but the expansion will cause more environmental damage, more CO2 emissions etc. - of which, no mention is made. (The usual airport attitude is " the majority of emissions are from planes in the sky and that is nothing to do with us…"). In the 2006 Master Plan the forecasts were for 25mppa by 2030; now they have reduced that to 18mppa by 2033. There were 12.9 mppa in 2017. Local campaigners suspect this will not be encouraging shareholders to fund expansion plans till the runway situation in the south east is sorted out. The airport is claiming the increased number of passengers will boost the local economy by £xx billion, and increase jobs by yyy.  (These claims never materialise). 

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