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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."
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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”.
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.
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. .
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 ....
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).
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.
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.]
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”.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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 ....)
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.
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.
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 ....
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?)
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...]
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.
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.
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.
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 ...
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."
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.
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.
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).
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].
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Heathrow appoints Rachel Cerfontyne as Chair of its “Community Engagement Board”
The Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB) has announced Rachel Cerfontyne as its new Chair. The HCEB, the successor body to the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee, initiated an open hiring process for a new Chair at the end of 2017. A selection panel made up of representatives from the new HCEB, Heathrow, the Department for Transport and a local residents group, the HASRA (Harmondsworth & Sipson Residents Assn), agreed that Rachel "would provide the necessary open and independent leadership to evolve the work of the new Board and represent the interests of all communities associated with Heathrow Airport." She will focus on "building trust between Heathrow and its communities, holding the airport to account when it comes to delivering on its commitments today and into the future." There is a history of serious distrust of the airport by many, after decades of broken promises, misleading statements, half truths etc. Rachel was Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, where she has spent 9 years trying to improve public confidence in the police complaints system.
New study shows dramatic increase in Heathrow flight numbers (= noise) over parts of SE London
A new study Corridors of Concentration, published by HACAN and Plane Hell Action, reveals a dramatic increase in the number of flights over many areas of South East London in recent years. It also found that flight paths have become more concentrated. The study was carried out to highlight the current impact of aircraft noise on south east London and to influence the policy debate by feeding into Heathrow’s recent consultation on future flight path design. Over a dozen areas from Clapham Common to Greenwich were surveyed, and the number of aircraft audible from each location recorded. The study found that the area is heavily overflown, with typically 38 planes an hour audible to many communities. This could rise to over 40 during busy periods. Due to increasing concentration, some communities are especially badly hit. The study concluded many more planes are joining their final approach corridors further east than before and are more concentrated within those corridors. People living south of the Thames are experiencing an increased density of turning aircraft over their homes. The study recommends that flight paths need to be varied more, and the practice of concentrating night flights over particular communities should be avoided. See the whole study for details.
Andy Slaughter: The case against Heathrow expansion keeps getting stronger – but will the government listen?
The publication of the Transport Select Committee (TSC) report into the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) has been interpreted by the government and Heathrow as a green light for expansion to proceed. Whilst the TSC recognised the strategic case for a third runway, the real story is the significant shift in position from a select committee that has long been supportive of a expansion to one that is highly critical of the lack of detail in the plans. The robust list of recommendations in the TSC report highlights areas where significant work is still required before the government bring the final NPS to parliament for a vote. The TSC report also includes several additional conditions of approval to be included in the final version of the NPS on air quality, surface access, connectivity, costs and charges, noise, community impacts, resource and waste management. The NPS is the document against which the Heathrow planning application will be judged, and if it lacks sufficient detail on these key issues then it will not be strong enough to hold the airport to account. There is little evidence to suggest that parliament can have confidence in simply trusting Heathrow. I "urge my parliamentary colleagues to read the report. Those who do will understand why they should vote against the NPS when it is brought to parliament."
CAGNE writes to Chief Medical officer on health dangers of approx 14,000 annual Gatwick night flights
CAGNE, (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions), has written to the Chief Medical Officer Health of the Department of Health and Social Care, Professor Dame Sally Davies, asking for research to be undertaken to the true cost to health of night flights on communities surrounding Gatwick. Gatwick currently has permission to fly 14,250 flights at night per year with no restrictions on the number of arrivals and departures they are permitted to fly over sleeping rural communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent during the hours of 11.30pm and 6am. CAGNE said: “There has been international research into the health impacts of night flights and the conclusions have shown that aircraft night movements have serious ramifications on the wellbeing of communities. And yet Gatwick is allowed to fly the most night flights of any airport in the UK today with no cost evaluation to the NHS budgets or wellbeing of people who suffer sleep deprivation due to aircraft movements at night.” Gatwick has the most night flights of any UK airport. It has only made token gestures to reduce the night noise over rural communities that surround it. Residents have a normal expectation of having a full night’s sleep of 8 hours sleep as recommended by Sleep Foundation, but for too many this is not possible.
Heathrow 3rd runway: CO2 emissions still the elephant in the room, which MPs should not ignore
The Transport Select Committee (TSC) recently released their report on the government's plans to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow. It shows how the plan is completely incompatible with the UK's climate obligations. Yet the carbon emissions from a 50% larger Heathrow were given the briefest of mentions in the summary, and crucial issues are tucked away in the final annex of the TSC report. The Campaign Against Climate Change has explained some of the dubious assumptions being made by the DfT, in order to imply carbon is not a key limiter of the scheme. One assumption is that CO2 emissions from air travel can be excluded from calculations of economic impact - but the CO2 from flights is over 96% of emissions resulting from aviation. Then there is the assumption that carbon trading is an effective way of compensating for the increase in aviation emissions. The DfT hopes - unjustifiably - that aviation CO2 can be ignored, since they will be completely removed through carbon trading. The Committee on Climate Change has consistently warned against relying on carbon trading. And there is the assumption that biofuels could be used to reduce aviation CO2. The only economically viable fuel would be palm oil, with devastating environmental impacts. MPs voting on the NPS need to be aware of these facts.
How Heathrow is happy to pay way over the odds, to increase its RAB, allowing more revenue
The City Editor of the Financial Times, Jonathan Ford, has written about how the reasons for Heathrow's anticipated costs for its possible 3rd runway. The cost of £17 billion, or now £15 billion are exceptional. But Jonathan explains how Heathrow's investors seem happy to spend so much. It is because of the curious incentives that operate in the topsy-turvy world of utility financing. As with most ventures that have monopolistic aspects, Heathrow is not subject to ordinary restraints on capital expenditure. The principal check is the willingness of the airport’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to sign off on the mechanism by which these costs can be recovered from captive airline customers through passenger charges. Heathrow often pays far above the going rate for building, new technology etc, because this adds to the airport’s regulated asset base (RAB) on which it gets an allowed return, and thus permits it predictably to expand its own revenues. Since taking over BAA in 2006, Ferrovial has been extremely active, tripling Heathrow’s RAB to £15bn. It is a system that has allowed the airport’s owners to finance these expansions with vanishingly little equity capital. Heathrow is encouraged to fund everything with debt by a regulatory system that allows it to keep the gains from financial engineering. Heathrow's owners hope to shrug off the risks of completion, but transfer them on to customers.
“Deliberately misleading” on Heathrow economics. It’s not NEF but the Dept for Transport…
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has published a report on the economics of the Heathrow 3rd runway. They looked at the DfT's figures (all publicly available material) and have concluded that the runway is a very bad bet economically for the UK. Using the Government’s own formula for assessing transport schemes, Heathrow expansion along proposed lines would be rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value for money. At best, in net present value (NPV) terms, building the North West Runway (NWR) at Heathrow would yield an economic benefit of £3.3 billion. At worst, in net terms there would not only be no economic benefit whatsoever, but a significant financial cost of up to £2.2 billion, to be borne either by the airport, its investors, airlines, passengers or perhaps even government (ie. then taxpayers). Andrew Pendleton, one of the authors of the report, commented: "it is not us that now forecast a worst-case scenario for Heathrow expansion of £2.2 billion of net costs, but the DfT. Similarly, it isn’t NEF that has thrown out a whole set of models produced for the 2015 Airports Commission, but the Government’s own analysts at the DfT." If Heathrow has to satisfy the caveats required in the Transport Committee report, the costs of the runway would be even higher (and net benefit even lower). The DfT and the government continue to push for the runway - but NEF says they should think again.
Negative impacts of Heathrow expansion to economy and the regions highlighted in new report
A report on Heathrow’s third runway plans has revealed that the impact on the economy is likely to be negative with significant concerns about potential costs falling on taxpayers. Indeed, using the Government’s own methodology the scheme would be rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value. The report "Flying Low: The True Cost of Heathrow’s Third Runway", by the New Economics Foundation, was commissioned by the No Third Runway Coalition to examine the Government’s own data and analysis that has been used to justify their position of support for the north west runway at Heathrow. It found that airports outside London would experience a reduction in aviation traffic which would, in turn, at the very least lead to “grow more slowly” and could in fact lead to lead to a reduction in jobs at airports in regions across the UK, through displacing of jobs from other (regional) airports, as well as from other sectors. The report also identified that a ‘more targeted’ approach was needed to support a UK-wide air freight strategy. Chair of the Coalition, Paul McGuinness commented: “Further, it must be unacceptable for Heathrow to claim their proposals will be privately financed whilst seeking protections from the public purse for potential delays in construction and inaccuracies in passenger demand forecasts.”
Transport Committee MPs demand strict limits on Heathrow noise and pollution due to a 3rd runway
Heathrow’s third runway should be blocked unless the government introduces tough new restrictions on costs, pollution, aircraft noise and night flights, according to MPs. The transport select committee said that safeguards designed to protect local residents and airport passengers had to be strengthened before the plans are approved. The cross-party group ultimately supported the proposed northwest runway, concluding in a report that it was the best option for airport expansion in the southeast. However, it said the NPS should only be passed by MPs if crucial new conditions were imposed on the airport to limit its environmental and economic impact. In a series of recommendations, the report said approval should only be granted if Heathrow can guarantee not to worsen air quality in west London or increase the number of polluting cars being driven to the airport. The MPs called for the proposed existing six-and-a-half-hour ban on night flights to be extended to seven hours. The report also said that the government’s previously lenient assessment of aircraft noise should be rerun to provide a “fair view of the range of possible noise impacts”. They demanded more clarity on the funding and timing of road and rail links, and much more. The government is expected to respond to the report before drafting its final NPS.
Transport Committee demands serious changes to Government’s Heathrow case before any vote in Parliament
The Commons Transport Committee has produced the report on its inquiry into the Draft Airports NPS (ie. on the proposal for a 3rd Heathrow runway). The report states: "Once costs are considered, the net economic benefits for the NWR [North West Runway] scheme are relatively small at a maximum of £3.3 billion over 60 years and in fact, may be negative if future demand falls." It highlights the absence of a large amount of necessary material from the Government’s draft NPS; it demands that evidence must be presented to show that the scheme is both affordable and deliverable - before any vote is put to MPs. The report contains a highly critical assessment of the cost to the taxpayers, passengers and airlines of expansion. There was also expression of major concerns about the lack of clarity on surface access proposals and costs on the rerouting of the M25, the methodology of calculating air pollution impacts and a considerably more radical approach on noise impacts. Though a NPS was expected to be put to Parliament before the summer recess in July, there must be evidence clarifying the number of areas of concern before MPs should be asked to vote. It is unlikely the necessary information could be obtained in time for an early summer vote - or even one in 2018.
Government confirms a Heathrow runway shorter than 3,500m invalidates the NPS (so why is HAL consulting on it?)
There was a Lords debate on the issue of Heathrow, and a possible 3rd runway, on Thursday 15th March. There were many important contributions from Baroness Kramer, Baroness Jones and many others. One point that emerged was that, while the Airports NPS (on which MPs are expected to vote in the summer) looks only at a 3rd runway 3,500 metres long, Heathrow has its own (inappropriately premature) consultation at present, in which it considers a shorter runway. Lord Tunnicliffe asked: "Heathrow is now consulting on a scheme with the third runway being 3,200 metres long. That is all over the web. If it presents a scheme for 3,200 metres, does paragraph 1.15 mean that the document is invalid? It seems to say that the only scheme that the Government will consider is one for 3,500 metres. .... Have the Government got themselves in a trap where their provisions and the newly preferred scheme by Heathrow are incompatible?" To which Lord Young of Cookham (Spokesperson for the Government, for the Cabinet Office) said: "... The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked me whether anything less than that would invalidate the NPS, and the answer is, yes, it would." There were also important contributions on other issues, including the very negative implications for regional airports, from a 3 runway Heathrow. .
Britain intends to stay in Europe’s ETS (including aviation) until at least 2020
Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Clare Perry, has confirmed that Britain intends to remain in Europe’s emission trading system (ETS) until at least the end of its 3rd trading phase (running from 2013-2020). The status of Britain’s participation in the scheme following the country’s exit from the European Union in March 2019 had been unclear until now. Formal agreement is still needed, but BEIS wanted to provide certainty for companies covered by the scheme until at least 2020. Currently aviation is included in the ETS, but after serious earlier opposition and difficulties, it covers only flights made within Europe, between European countries - none leaving, or entering, Europe. Clare Perry said Britain is committed to using a price on carbon as a means to reduce emissions but would use the country’s exit from the European Union to “take the opportunity to see if there are other opportunities” to achieve this.
Heathrow critics say it should face sanctions on broken promises if it tries to raise landing charges with a 3rd runway
Critics of Heathrow are calling for formal sanctions to be imposed on the airport if it fails to meet promises linked to its third runway expansion scheme. Airlines are very reluctant to pay higher landing charges at Heathrow, if there is a 3rd runway. Heathrow’s boss John Holland Kaye has claimed the amount airlines pay for each of their passengers to land at the airport will remain “close to current levels” once the new runway is built. But evidence provided to the influential Transport Committee of MPs in Parliament claimed there are “weak incentives placed on Heathrow to tackle costs aggressively”. Heathrow's landing charge per passenger now is about £22, but less for domestic flights. Heathrow also makes over £8 per passenger through retail and car parking. London's Deputy Mayor for Transport Valerie Shawcross has called for there to be a 'clear enforcement mechanism' against Heathrow if it breaks expansion pledges, including its hope of half its passengers to use public transport by 2030, (without any formal mechanism for enforcing this). ... “There is precedent [for a major infrastructure project] to be refused where particular thresholds or goals are not met and I believe this should be systematically applied to pledges made by both Heathrow and the Secretary of State [Chris Grayling],” ... “A clear enforcement mechanism should also be included for imposing a cap on flights when such pledges are breached.”
Alistair Osborne (The Times) on the nonsense of MPs voting for a Heathrow runway, in the absence of most necessary details
Alistair Osborne, Chief Business Commentator in The Times, has written scathingly about Heathrow's runway plans, and the lunacy of MPs being asked to vote on them - in the absence of just about all the key information they would need. He says: "MPs are always voting on things they don’t know much about. But you would think that, by now, a few facts would have been established ahead of this summer’s big vote — on the £14 billion third runway at Heathrow." And the main message from Heathrow's current consultation is "how much is still up in the air — a point you hope MPs on the Transport Committee will raise in their report [on the Airports NPS] due by Friday." ..."Yet it’s on the basis of these sketchy plans that MPs will vote for or against the project." Heathrow are not even sure of the length and exact location of their 3rd runway. That is, says Alistair "One reason, maybe, for one glaring hole in the consultations: no news on flight paths. Indeed, Heathrow admits that it will not even be consulting on “flight path options” until “around 2021” — years after the MPs have voted. Other things that won’t be resolved before the MPs vote: "the project’s cost, final design, safety case, road and rail links, noise and air quality. Or to put it another way, just about everything we need to know. After half a century in the planning, you’d think Heathrow could do better than that."
Slough council critical of damage to borough from Heathrow revised plans for runway
Slough Borough Council, which is supportive of a 3rd runway, even though the borough is very close to Heathrow, have now criticised plans in the airport's initial consultation. They say a local school, homes and businesses will have to be demolished under revised plans for the expansion. Slough Borough Council said Pippins School in Colnbrook would be closer to the runway than previously thought. They also fear changes to the M25 would also affect a local trading estate, and lead to increased congestion and pollution. Slough fear that raising the runway above ground level as it crosses the M25 could have "serious impacts" on Pippins School and nearby homes because of "worsening noise and air pollution". The school and nearby houses would be likely to be part of a compulsory purchase order, so Slough needs Heathrow to pay to rebuild the school at another, more suitable, location. The leader of Slough council, James Swindlehurst, said they were objecting to the wider proposals in the hope of "shaping the ideas" Heathrow were producing. Diverting the M25 by 150 metres to the west, he claimed, could involve the loss of homes at Elbow Meadow and buildings on the Galleymead Trading Estate in Colnbrook. In the past, Slough signed a gagging order with Heathrow, preventing it complaining about the runway plans, in order for anticipated benefits from the airport once a runway was built.
Mayor of London Transport Strategy opposes Heathrow runway, unless there are firm assurances on air pollution, noise and surface access
The Mayor of London has published the Transport Strategy for London, which sets out the Mayor’s policies and proposals to reshape transport in London over the next two decades. The Strategy is firmly opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. Its section on Heathrow states: "The demand generated by the current airport combined with local traffic already place considerable strain on the roads and railways serving the airport and contribute to levels of NO2 that are well in exceedance of legal limits. The Mayor considers that, as a result of the additional flights and associated traffic, any expansion at Heathrow would significantly impair London’s ability to meet international air quality obligations in the shortest possible timescale and would contribute to an overall worsening of air quality relative to the situation without expansion. Heathrow already exposes more people to significant aircraft noise than its five main European rivals combined, and the proposed increase in flights cannot avoid many people being newly exposed to significant noise. Moreover, it would be unacceptable if the air quality gains secured by the Mayor and the potential noise improvements as a result of new technologies were not allowed to accrue to local communities to improve public health, but were instead used to enable expansion of Heathrow airport."
Stop Stansted Expansion asks Government to call in the airport’s expansion plans, or face a JR
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) have written a 36-page letter to the Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajiv Javid MP, asking formally for call-in of the application by Stansted for expansion. They include District Council incompetence, bias and a series of statutory planning grounds, as reasons why the airport's expansion plans should be determined nationally - rather than locally by Uttlesford District Council (UDC). SSE has also made clear that refusal by the Secretary of State to call-in the application will trigger an application for Judicial Review in the High Court. SSE is concerned that UDC has taken a blinkered approach to the rules for considering the application in its desire to do the airport's bidding. UDC sees potential gain for itself, even though the planned expansion would be at the expense of not only the Uttlesford villages and market towns it is meant to serve, but communities further afield in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. SSE's barrister, a planning expert Paul Stinchcombe QC of 39 Essex Chambers has identified that UDC has erred in law in its interpretation of the rules by not recognising the application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. If the Stansted application was approved, it would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to 2017.
10 years of Terminal 5 lies ‘celebrated’ by Heathrow, whilst proposed sites for runway development shock residents
While Heathrow had a small, rather underwhelming, celebration of 10 years since Terminal 5 opened, residents whose lives would be devastated by a 3rd runway were unimpressed. For them, and thousands of others negatively affected by the airport, T5 just symbolises yet more of Heathrow's broken promises over the years. People were assured at the T5 public inquiry that it would NOT lead to a 3rd runway (that pledge was rapidly reversed). Local campaign Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) also points out the hollow promises of jobs from T5 - these never materialised. Local people are shocked at the number and location of sites that could be destroyed as part of Heathrow’s plans for third runway development. These include sites immediately below the M4 motorway could be used to house a new immigration centre and a 20,000-space ‘mega’ car park. The A4 could also be re-routed much closer to West Drayton, which would expose residents and children at Cherry Lane Primary School to even greater air pollution levels. A site close to Wise Lane, West Drayton, could be used for flood storage, whilst land next to Cherry Lane Cemetery could be used for ‘industrial and parking uses’. Jackie Clark-Basten, Chair of SHE, said: "Heathrow’s record of making and delivering promises is poor and cannot be trusted now or ever."
“If the government wishes to get serious on clean air, by adopting stronger measures … a 3rd Heathrow runway simply can’t proceed”
The Cross-Parliamentary EFRA Committee report on Improving Air Quality, released on 15th March, calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals on clean air that unify and update existing laws in a new Clean Air Act. This includes whether to adopt WHO air quality guidelines for all pollutants. The report also states that the latest air quality plan will not “deliver improvements at a pace and scale proportionate to the size of the challenge." The High Court agrees. Significant improvements to the plan, and to the Government’s wider approach to air quality, are needed to protect the public from toxic air and that the Government’s forthcoming action plan “must ensure air quality policies are properly aligned with public health and climate change goals.” Reacting, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “If the government wishes to get serious on clean air, by adopting stronger measures ... a 3rd runway at Heathrow simply can't proceed. As it is, Heathrow already regularly exceeds Nox and particulates targets. And even the government's best-case scenario for an expanded Heathrow expects there to be a "high risk" that air quality targets will be breached. If the government wishes to signal a purer intent on air quality, abandonment of this project would at least represent a meaningful start.”