General News

Below are links to stories of general interest in relation to aviation and airports.

 

Local residents launch new “HEATHROW’S PREFERRED DISASTERPLAN” campaign 

The group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), has launched a new campaign entitled “Heathrow’s Preferred Disasterplan”. The title of the campaign is a reference to the current Heathrow consultation on its “Preferred Masterplan” for expansion. Residents and campaigners against a third runway are strongly supported by Hillingdon Council, and  John McDonnell MP. The impacts of building a 3rd runway would be horrendous for those in areas facing compulsory purchase, or living close to the airport.  SHE has sent a booklet to all those living nearest to the airport. It is called "How a Third Runway Will Affect You and Your Family," and details some of the main impacts the expansion proposals would have in West Drayton, Hayes and the Heathrow Villages, without the gloss and spin of Heathrow consultation documents. SHE has organised 3 public meetings locally, so residents can learn more about traffic congestion, noise, pollution, the plan to relocate Harmondsworth Primary school to the Stockley by-pass.  SHE chair, Jackie Clark said: “The current Heathrow consultation is a Disasterplan for our area. It is left to us to provide the true scale of Heathrow’s monumental expansion proposals ...without Heathrow’s usual gloss and spin. Expansion is far from certain and the key message to residents is that it is can be stopped."

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£150 million (at least £100 million from the taxpayer) to fund improvements to Gatwick railway station – to deal with more passengers

The government has announced it will spend £100 million to upgrade Gatwick train station's facilities (total cost £150 million) including a larger concourse, 5 new lifts and 8 new escalators.  It says "holidaymakers and commuters to benefit" and "improvements set to reduce train delays and provide easier connections across the south-east." Chris Grayling said: "We want to see Gatwick Airport’s success continue to flourish and ensure that it is ready for even more passengers in the future. Through this £150 million investment, we will deliver vital upgrades to boost the station’s capacity and provide better, seamless journeys for all." The aim is to get more passengers using Gatwick.  But to get more of them using rail to get to and fro.  The DfT says "The number of people using Gatwick Airport station each year has grown by 6 million since 2010. Currently the station is not designed for the high volume of daily passengers, often carrying bulky luggage." Gatwick  will pay £37 million out of the £150, and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership will pay £10 million.  The £150 million budget is £30 million higher than originally estimated back in 2014.

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You have to laugh – Heathrow’s unwitting, foolish irony… climate change will make their runway harder to use!

Heathrow proposes increasing the number of flights, and hence its carbon emissions, by about 50% (though it tries to make out there will be no net increase, as all will magically be "disappeared" using novel technologies, which are not yet proven). But in its consultation, it worries about how climate change [that same problem its expansion is massively contributing to!] might affect its operations.  Heart bleeds ...Some of the problems they express concern about, and which might make it harder to get maximum use out of their new runway, are: higher average temperatures and more heatwave events, reduced summer rainfall, more frequent intense rainfall events; potentially increased extreme wind and storm events; and fewer extreme cold events.  These could cause increased flooding, construction sites being flooded, overheating in buildings and public spaces, failure of equipment in extreme temperatures or high winds, water shortages, operational disruption from storm events. More rain could affect the runway and underground foundations, structures etc. Increased summer temperature and increased winter temperature variability could cause damage to the tarmac and asphalt and affect operations. Oh dear, oh dear ...

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Heathrow’s ‘forgotten people’ – Those who rent stand to lose the most if the 3rd runway gets built

Many who live in the villages around Heathrow will be forced to sell their homes and businesses and relocate away from the lives they have known, if the 3rd runway is built. People who currently rent homes and businesses, rather than own them, face a particularly  uncertain future. They will get far less compensation than those who own their own property.  Homeowners are set to receive 125% of the unaffected market price for their property, along with the coverage of legal bills and stamp duty on a new home. Those who rent would receive only statutory compensation, set at £6,300 per household, though Heathrow will add reimbursement of reasonable legal fees, removal and other disturbance costs. Those who lease their business property face harsh criteria to qualify for enhanced compensation - including the length of their lease, and their location. Heathrow estimates 300 commercial properties will need to be acquired, for its expansion plans - plus about  760 homes in their Compulsory Purchase Zone (CPZ).  People are warned, by the local campaign, SHE, not to sell up until they knew whether expansion plans would go ahead. That happened in 2008 in Sipson, last time around - and it had left those who remained in a “ghost town” that was “devoid of community” and packed with short term rentals. Often those who rent do so because they could not afford to buy.

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Study highlights the non-CO2 climate warming impact of aircraft contrails, that is currently ignored by governments

The issue of how much global warming is caused by the contrails from aircraft is complicated, and there is no firm agreement about how it should be added to the climate impact of aviation - in addition to the CO2 itself.  Contrails are ice crystals that form high altitudes, in certain conditions, around sooty particles from burnt fuel - they then often become large areas of cirrus cloud, that can last for hours - trapping heat, (like a blanket) which does not radiate back out into space. A new study sheds more light on this issue, and says the contrails are having a bigger impact on global warming than usually recognised. While the CO2 from flights will stay in the atmosphere for decades or centuries, the impact of the increased cloud cover from contrails is quite short term. With the huge expansion of the aviation industry, that it is hoping for in future decades, this will only get worse. Its effects might triple by 2050. That is the year in which Britain is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions, though that includes only CO2 from domestic but not international flights. The UK currently takes NO account of the impact of contrails, which conveniently makes the overall climate breakdown impact of aviation appear smaller than it is, in reality. 

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Frozen body of Kenya Airways flight stowaway lands feet from man sunbathing in Clapham garden mid-afternoon

The frozen body of a suspected stowaway fell from a jet approaching Heathrow, into a garden in Offerton Road, Clapham - close to a man sunbathing in his back garden, in the afternoon. The man is understood to have fallen from the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow.  A plane spotter, who had been following the flight on a tracking app from Clapham Common, had seen the body fall, so knew it was from a Kenyan Airways flight.  A witness said the body was largely intact as it was frozen solid. It had fallen with enough impact to dent the grass. The problem lies with in adequate airport security, at airports like Nairobi, so stowaways get get themselves into the wheel arch. The question was raised whether, with the lax security, someone could equally insert a bomb, to be dropped later (eg. over London). There have been other cases of bodies falling from planes, as they approach Heathrow. Stowaways are generally dead before hitting the ground, due either to being crushed by the wheels when they are retracted on take-off, or lack of oxygen on the flight, or extreme cold (as cold as -50 C or more) at high altitude. Many are potential migrants, misguidedly hoping for a better life in the UK - unaware of the dangers of stowing away. 

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Over £500,000 needed to properly soundproof Megan and Harry’s house – not an option of ordinary people suffering the din

The bill to renovate Harry and Meghan’s home has been hugely increased by their wish to have the very best, most effective soundproofing - to block out the noise of planes using Heathrow. Their house, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, is about 5 miles from Heathrow, under a main flight path. Experts claim specialist insulation work could have cost between £500,000 and £1 million. This money comes from the Sovereign Grant, valued at £82.2 million this year and is profits from the Queen’s property portfolio (the Crown Estate), which are paid to the Government.  25% of these profits are paid to the monarchy to fund the upkeep of its property, travel, security and staff. While the Sovereign Grant isn’t taxpayer money, it is considered to be public funds. The work done on Frogmore Cottage includes extra layers above the ceilings, plus on about 12,000 sq ft of external walls. Also all exterior doors would need to be soundproofed and 68 windows upgraded to triple-glazing, at up to £1,000 each. Then there would be a new air-conditioning system, as the house would be so sealed up. Ordinary people living over 3 miles from Heathrow have to pay for all the sound insulation work themselves. Those nearer get basic payment only.

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Stansted planning application going back to the Uttlesford Planning Committee – SSE says it’s the right decision, legally, procedurally and democratically

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Friday 28 June to refer the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application - to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa- back to the Planning Committee for further consideration. Local campaign SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) said this is vital due to all the outstanding issues.  The proposal to refer the application back to the Planning Committee was tabled by 2 councillors from the Residents for Uttlesford ('R4U') party which took control of the Council in May.  R4U Leader John Lodge also supported the proposal as did the leader of the Liberal Democrats.  The proposal received overwhelming cross-party support with 31 councillors voting in favour, only one against and one abstention. There was loud applause from the packed public gallery when the result of the vote was announced in the Council chamber.  Many of those present had signed the residents' petition calling for the application to be referred back to the Planning Committee for further consideration - signed by 1,700 people. The application was initially approved, (only by the Chairman's casting vote) in a very unsatisfactory and flawed decision, in October 2018

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Research shows ultrafine particles from aircraft in the vicinity of Schiphol Airport negatively affect health

A thorough study of 191 primary school children who live near Schiphol Airport, in the Netherlands, shows that  high concentrations of ultra-fine particles from aircraft can affect health seriously. The research showed that when the wind blows in the ‘wrong’ direction children with respiratory complaints suffer more and use more medication. Complaints include shortness of breath and wheezing. These are the conclusions of new research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), in collaboration with Utrecht University and the Academic Medical Centre (AMC). There were 3 sub-studies: a study of 191 primary school children in residential areas near Schiphol, a study of 21 healthy adults immediately adjacent to Schiphol, and a laboratory study with lung cells. Such extensive research on ultrafine particles and health has never been carried out around airports before. The findings should alarm everybody responsible for the tremendous worldwide growth of aviation.  There are no indications that the health effects of air traffic are different from those of road traffic. The study is part of a long-term study of the RIVM.  In 2020 and 2021 they will research the effects of long-term exposure to ultra-fine particles from air traffic.

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RESIDENTS DISMAYED BY LONDON CITY AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS TO DOUBLE FLIGHT NUMBERS

London City's Master Plan has been released, for consultation, and it is very bad news for local residents who suffer from the noise of its planes.  It is proposing to double the number of flights by 2035; to end the break when currently there are no flights between 12:30pm on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday; and to bring in more planes in the early morning and late evening. Residents are dismayed by the London City expansion revealed in its Master Plan published today.  The airport wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. Last year there were just over 75,000 flights. John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, which gives a voice to residents under the airport’s flight paths, said, “For all its green talk, this plan would be disastrous for residents.  Flight numbers could double from today’s levels." Increasingly the airport caters for leisure passengers, not business. The consultation ends on 20th September.  The airport would need to go to a Planning Inquiry to get permission for any proposals it intends to take forward, after applying to Newham Council for its plans. Newham borough has pledged to make the borough "carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2050".  The airport will not be helping with that.

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