planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION


* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * *

400 mile walk Harmondsworth to Holyrood: Neil takes his anti-Heathrow runway message to the SNP

Neil Keveren, a builder who lives in one of the villages that would be partially destroyed by the construction of Heathrow’s proposed 3rd runway, has completed a 400-mile walk from Heathrow to Edinburgh, in protest at the SNP’s backing for the plans. Neil arrived at the Scottish Parliament 23 days after leaving his home in Harmondsworth on 4th April, having covered about 20 miles every day. Neil was born in the village of Sipson, which is also facing partial demolition if the expansion goes ahead. For Keveren, the expansion of Heathrow is deeply personal. His house in nearby Harmondsworth is located only 54 paces from the enlarged airport’s boundary fence, while his 82-year-old uncle Ray (his support driver on the walk) also stands to lose his home. The SNP block of 54 MPs formally backed the Heathrow bid, in the probably mistaken belief it would bring significant strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, including the very dubious indeed figure of “up to 16,000 new jobs” – over many years. Neil had appointments with a number of SNP MPs during the day, and had the opportunity to give them more information about the runway. So far most of them have only received very biased information from Heathrow, and they were interested to learn some of the inaccuracies and exaggerations in what they have been led to believe. Neil’s amazing walk proved the opportunity to talk to the SNP and correct misapprehensions.

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Government cannot delay air pollution plan – must be published by 8th May

The UK Government has lost a court bid to delay publication of its air pollution strategy, and must now release it before the 8th June election. Courts had given the government until Monday 24th April to set out draft guidelines to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. Late last week, ministers lodged an application to delay their release until after the general election saying publication would fall foul of election “purdah” rules. But now the High Court ordered the draft plans to be published on 9th May, five days after the local elections, but long before the general election on 8th June. The date for publication of the final air pollution strategy document remains unchanged on 31st July. The government’s lawyers said publication now would drop a “controversial bomb” into the mix of local and national elections. But the High Court said purdah was a convention only and did not override legal obligations to clean up the air. Additionally, the impact on public health would exempt it from the purdah rules anyway. This is the latest development in a long-running legal action brought against the government by environmental lawyers, ClientEarth. This at least means that there will be some idea of the air pollution proposals before the end of the draft Heathrow NPS consultation. Had they been delayed, there would not have been. .

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Councils that have spent £350k fighting Heathrow expansion plans ‘doing taxpayers a favour’

Local authorities that are badly affected already by Heathrow are having to spend large amounts of money, in trying to oppose a 3rd runway. The cost to the boroughs if the runway was in operation could be huge (road costs, housing, health, noise, congestion, social impacts etc etc). The councils may have to spend £350,000 on a joint legal challenge against the government’s plans for the runway. Though this may sound a lot, it is probably dong taxpayers a favour, in trying to save massive future costs. A FoI request revealed Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon councils spent £300,000 from their general funds, and Windsor and Maidenhead Council spent £50,000 from its development fund. Hillingdon Council has also earmarked a contingency budget of £200,000 in case of future legal action regarding the expansion, and Wandsworth Council has set aside £25,000. The government spent £3.8 million over 18 months on consultants, working on 3rd runway plans. The anticipated cost of necessary surface access infrastructure for the runway could be £15 billion, and that is likely to have to be paid by taxpayers (across the UK, not merely in London or the south east). Robert Barnstone, coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “These 4 local authorities are in fact doing British taxpayers a favour trying to stop this overwhelmingly burdensome amount of money being spent.”

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Voters in Maidenhead need proper representation in opposing the negative effects of 3rd runway

With an unexpected election, residents in the Prime Minister’s constituency – Maidenhead – have the chance to elect an MP who opposes the Heathrow 3rd runway. Back in 2009 Theresa May on numerous occasions voiced her avid concerns about its impact on her constituency. In May 2010, when the runway was stopped by the coalition government, she said: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow……and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.” But that was all reversed, and Mrs May U-turned on the issue. Two letters in the local paper express the frustration and disappointment of constituents. One writes: “… since her elevation to Prime Minister, Maidenhead residents no longer have a voice for their views.” … Maidenhead needs an MP who opposes the necessity for the local council to spend tens of thousands of £s on legal action against the proposed runway. … “Also the Department for Transport in their “Sensitivities” report outline that the Net Benefit to the country, after construction costs etc is only from £0.2bn to £6.1bn over 60 years, i.e. divide this by 60, so a miniscule percentage of the UK Economy” ….We need an MP who “properly represents the interests of Maidenhead constituents.”

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Day 17 of Neil’s walk to Scotland – through the Northumberland National Park

21st April: Day 17 of Neil Keveren’s 400 mile walk from Harmondsworth to Edinburgh. Neil is less than a week away from his destination, Edinburgh. His body is holding up but he is facing the toughest part of his walk, with the weather forecast next week talking about Arctic winds (headwinds) and thunderstorms! Neil has blogged about what it has been like walking through the Northumberland National Park. “Strong winds today and I have my waterproofs on. It’s so hilly! I’ve been on this same road now for days and it takes some getting used to. When I look at the road ahead I’m aware that I have to walk as far as the eye can see. When I look behind me I see a vast stretch of road that I’ve walked. …The landscape is stunning. A bonus on this walk has been absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. … It’s also been good to have so much support on the road – not just from Ray in the van. Drivers beep me and people on the street stop to wish me well. A few people have walked along for a while to keep me company and have chat. Perhaps the most unusual though was a flock of sheep who walked their boundary with me – I think they liked my hi-vis. … Today was a tough walking day, with serious hills on one long, mostly Roman, route.”

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Easter: Neil makes it to 200 miles to York, halfway to Scotland – with support from Rachael Maskell MP  #walktoscotland  #no3rdrunway

Day 12 saw Neil cross the halfway point on his 400-mile walk from Harmondsworth, the main village that would be demolished with a 3rd Runway, to Edinburgh. He is seeking to raise awareness of the campaign and speak with Scottish politicians, as the SNP is intending to vote as a block in favour of the runway. He wants to ask they why they are prepared to destroy his home, community and the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, for vague pledges of help for Scotland and more air freighted salmon and whisky. In York, Neil was met by Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central,at the iconic York Minster, Rachael offered her support to Neil and the campaign, commenting: “It’s great to be here today with Neil … to raise awareness of the impact that a third runway at Heathrow would have. It’s fantastic he’s made it so far on this journey about what’s going to happen to housing, air pollution issues, noise pollution and of course the cost of the project. I’ll be taking his message out into the city, do a public meeting and ensure that people understand the real impact on the local community on a third runway…. Whilst we hear so many jobs will be created, what’s really important is the community voice is also part of the consultation and people understand the consequences of what will happen if a third runway actually goes ahead.”

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Freight train to China leaves UK – carrying whisky, pharmaceuticals etc – not needing air freight

The first rail freight train from China to the UK arrived three months ago, carrying imports. Now the first return trip is being made, on 9th April, leaving Essex, on the 7,500 mile trip. Thirty containers contain British produced goods including whisky, soft drinks, vitamins, baby products and pharmaceuticals. The DB Cargo locomotive leaves the DP World London Gateway rail terminal in Stanford-le-Hope for the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province, eastern China. After going through the Channel Tunnel the train will pass through France, Belgium, Duisburg in Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, arriving at Yiwu on 27th April. The operators say it is cheaper to send goods by train than by air and faster than by sea. The service is part of China’s One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West. The train link means products can be both imported and exported from the UK, as well as ship – with both being far lower carbon modes of transport than air. Heathrow claims it is vital to the UK economy because of its exports of items like pharmaceuticals and whisky. But it makes better sense to ship these by rail, rather than use so much fuel getting them up to 38,000 feet …. Items that are non-perishable do not need to be air freighted. Frozen fish (Scottish salmon) can be carried by rail.

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Neil Keveren making great progress up England, about a quarter of the way to Edinburgh after 4 days

8th April 2017

Neil is doing a fabulous job, on his walk north, taking his NO 3rd Runway message on a 400 mile walk, up to Edinburgh (to talk to the SNP and ask why they plan to back the Heathrow 3rd runway.  #walktoscotland  On Saturday 8th he walked from Olney to Corby, via Kettering.  He made a short film clip this morning, in the van – before breakfast (with his support driver, Neil’s lovely uncle Ray). It touches on the huge issue – about which the government and the DfT stay totally silent – of the massive cost to taxpayers across all the UK, of the Heathrow 3rd runway. See Neil’s short film.  Though Heathrow will itself pay for all the on-airport work (perhaps £17 billion +) it is not prepared to make more than token payments for all the necessary upgrades to surface access infrastructure (roads and rail links). There is also the problem of having to tunnel, or bridge, the 8 lane M25.

Transport for London (TfL) has said the necessary works could cost up to about £18 billion. Heathrow has said it will pay £1.1 billion, maximum. Chris Grayling does not want to make Heathrow pay for more. That might make it hard for Heathrow to raise the money. And it might need the price of air fares to rise (government wants flying to get cheaper …)   That means, while already there is about x6 as much spent per person in London on transport infrastructure, than in the north, this would only get far worse. Neil is explaining, on his travels, how this is unjust to taxpayers who are not in the south east, or deriving any benefit from Heathrow.

Neil Keveren set off on 400 mile walk, explaining along the way why there should be NO 3rd Runway

A lively group in Harmondsworth village saw Neil off on his one-man long walk north, to Scotland, as he set off on the first day’s stretch to Chesham. Councillor Ray Puddifoot attended the gathering, and spoke about the significance of Neil’s trip, and the importance of persuading MPs across the country, and particularly the SNP, to vote against the runway. The 54 SNP MPs in the House of Commons are likely to vote, en block, for the runway having been dubiously persuaded to believe in huge benefits it would bring Scotland. Ray said the runway was nonsensical, as well as illegal – in causing breaches of air pollution standards. He said Neil was representing the interests of tens or hundreds of thousands of people, taking his message across the country, that the 3rd Heathrow runway should not be built. Zac Goldsmith also attended the send-off party, saying in the middle ages – to avoid undue bloodshed and loss of men – armies would sent out their best and bravest fighters to do battle on behalf of everyone. So it is with Neil, courageously setting off to speak up for everyone whose lives would be made worse by the impacts of the runway, and especially those in Harmondworth who face losing their homes, their village and their community, in act of wanton destruction for an unnecessary, and high carbon venture.

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Night flight noise likely to increase risk of Type 2 diabetes for those living under flightpaths

Research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel has shown that people who live below an airport flightpath are more than 80% more likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who live in quieter areas. The findings have led scientists to suggest that aircraft noise, rather than air pollution, could be to blame. The noise of the planes overhead, when they are low and loud, is likely to have a devastating effect on the body’s metabolism, leading to increased blood sugar levels. The effect is largely from noise at night, confirming that night flights are damaging to health. The cost to the health of over-flown populations needs to be properly taken into account, and given enough significance against small economic benefits of night flights to airports and airlines (which is how the DfT assesses the issue at present). Heathrow already has – by an order of magnitude – the most people affected by night flights, with over 700,000 living within the 55 Lden noise average contours. The link to diabetes is through the body’s reaction to stress, raising blood pressure. Noise stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis, leading to increased blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, limb amputations and blindness. It affects over 3 million people in the UK.

Click here to view full story…    Ironic, bearing in mind the news story below ….

Willie Walsh adamant Heathrow must have arrivals well before 5.30am – then full on for next 2 hours. He won’t accept a six and a half hour ban on scheduled night flights, let alone unscheduled.

International Airlines Group (IAG), which is Heathrow’s biggest customer, has submitted its evidence to the Transport Committee, to its inquiry into the Airports NPS. IAG does not agree there should be a ban on night flights of six and a half hours, that the NPS and the DfT are proposing – hoping that would overcome local opposition to the runway. The WHO says for good health, people need 7 – 8 hours sleep, and more for some age groups. Therefore even six and a half hours is not enough. But IAG says …”the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.” … from small changes IAG has made “Local communities have therefore benefited … from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.” … if Heathrow opened at 7am, that would be 2 hours later than Frankfurt … to make the best use of the new runway, increase connectivity etc … “the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.”

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Willie Walsh and IAG: Work out cost of crossing M25 before Heathrow runway plan

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, says pushing through Heathrow’s 3rd runway should be suspended until there are proper plans of how the airport is going to bridge the M25. The section of the M25 that the runway would have to go over is about the busiest stretch of motorway in the UK, and it is unclear if there would be some sort of bridge (a cheaper option, about 8 metres above the road surface), or a proper tunnel (more expensive for Heathrow). IAG, and British Airways, are concerned the extra cost would mean higher charges by Heathrow, so higher ticket prices. Heathrow says landing charges would remain as close to flat “as possible” but Walsh fears they could double and they raised their concerns in their submission to the inquiry by the Commons Transport Committee, into the draft NPS. There are a few airports globally that have some sort of bridge, with planes taxiing above the road, clearly visible to traffic. None over such a wide, busy section of motorway. In October, when the bridge idea was first suggested (the Airports Commission always presumed a tunnel) papers from Highways England showed it described the scheme as “high risk”, warning of a “a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption”. IAG is also deeply opposed to Heathrow ending night flights between 11pm and 5.30am, as that risks flights going instead to airports like Frankfurt, losing IAG money.

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One man’s 400-mile, 3 week, walk London to Scotland, to save his village from Heathrow bulldozers

On Tuesday 4th April Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot and others well-wishers will gather in Harmondsworth at 11am as local man Neil Keveren sets off on a marathon 400-mile walk to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to ask Nicola Sturgeon why the SNP is backing a 3rd runway at Heathrow and destruction of his home and village in the process. Neil aims to finish his walk on Thursday 27th April at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. There will be a theme for each day and a number of campaigners and politicians will join Neil for sections of the walk. The route can be found here and covers places within Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland, Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh. Neil Keveren, who was born in Harmondsworth’s neighbouring village of Sipson, has lived in the area all his life; he hopes that his walk will highlight the reasons a third runway should not go ahead. Keveren, who built up a successful building business in the area, said: “I am not one of nature’s natural walkers but I felt I had to do this for my family, my village and the wider campaign.” Neil will also use Facebook Live to provide daily updates of his progress and any highlights of that particular day. Further updates will be available on the Stop Heathrow Expansion twitter page @StopHeathrowExp.

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London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Mayor criticises DfT’s lack of answers to fundamental questions on Heathrow

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has submitted evidence to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into the DfT’s draft NPS on a 3rd Heathrow runway. The Mayor said there would be unacceptable consequences for London; it would hamper efforts to improve London’s air quality; 200,000 more people would be exposed to noise while scheduled night flights could increase by at least a third; and there are no credible plans to maintain traffic levels or commitment for infrastructure to support 250% increase in public transport trips. He said ministers’ plans were based on the 3rd runway not being fully utilised – playing down the real impact. The government had ‘completely failed’, and was his duty to Londoners to oppose a third runway. He said: “The government has completely failed to demonstrate how Heathrow can be expanded without a severe noise, air quality and transport impact on London. The government’s position appears to be to simply hope for the best, with unproven plans that look to take advantage of unrelated improvements being made to air quality and public transport. It’s simply not good enough for one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, and it leaves me even more concerned about the prospect of Heathrow expansion on London and the UK.”

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Residents face just 4 hours free from aircraft noise if 3rd Heathrow runway goes ahead (Grayling avoids saying so)

Sarah Olney, the new MP for Richmond Park, has criticised the Department for Transport for not being open with residents that a 3rd runway at Heathrow could mean just 6 or 4 hours per day respite from aircraft noise. Currently residents under many of Heathrow’s flight paths can expect up to 8 hours without being disturbed by incoming and outgoing flights from Heathrow. However, hidden away in the public consultation on a third runway (the draft NPS) is an admission from the Government that whilst residents can expect more ‘certainty’ over when respite periods will be, the number of hours they can expect to be free from aircraft noise will drop to just 6, or even 4, hours. Sarah Olney raised the issue in the House of Commons on 30th March, asking the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to explain why the consultation did not make this evident. Responding for the Government, he failed to answer the question, stating only that the consultation “set out in broad terms the impact of the changes”. Speaking after their exchange in the House of Commons Sarah Olney commented that the government is treating local residents with contempt. If Chris Grayling cannot even give a proper reply in Parliament, either he isn’t aware that residents will suffer from more noise (if not, why not, if he is Minister in charge of the process), or he isn’t willing to admit it. [No questions of ministers on Heathrow are ever answered properly – always evasively].

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Major new coalition launched to fight Heathrow 3rd runway

A major new coalition has been launched to fight the proposed 3rd runway at Heathrow. The coalition is formally backed already by 18 local campaign groups, including to name a few, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), HACAN, Teddington Action Group (TAG) and recently formed BASH Runway 3 (based in Brentford). More groups are expected to join in the coming weeks. The coalition also has the support of 5 local authorities as well as leading politicians from all main parties. The aim of the coalition is to put additional pressure on the Government to drop plans for the runway, building upon the work of existing opponents including campaign groups, local authorities and MPs. It will provide opponents of the runway a platform, allowing them to work effectively together – including support from MPs to the heroic local Councils challenging Heathrow in the courts. The coalition will work to highlight issues – including noise, air pollution and economics – with the DfT’s current, deeply flawed, consultation on the Heathrow National Policy Statement (NPS). Though the DfT has held 20 consultation exhibition events across west London, Berkshire and Surrey, considerable numbers of residents were left disappointed that there was no information on locations of new flight paths, and that will not be presented until much later in the process.

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Four Select Committees launch an unprecedented joint inquiry into air pollution

MP’s from four Parliamentary select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots. The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution. The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits. Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee (dealing with the draft NPS on Heathrow), said emissions from vehicles are a significant problem and the standards that governments have relied on have not delivered the expected reductions.: “We will be asking what more can be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles as well as to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.”

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Heathrow 2.0: a ‘sustainable airport’ that pretends no one has to choose between planes and pollution

A thoughtful article, by two leading academics in public policy and ideology, casts huge doubts on the claims of Heathrow to have solutions to the increased environment problems of a 3rd runway. It is well worth reading it all. A few extracts: “Heathrow expansion has become an emblematic issue in the fight against climate change. … An airport that exists above politics gives the illusion that no one has to choose between planes and pollution … its “cake and eat it” narrative, in which we could fly more and still cope with rising CO2 … the plans lack clarity and ambition. Strategic priorities like a ‘noise envelope’ … are often stated, but not accompanied with clear targets … As Heathrow itself accepts, the airport cannot deliver on most of the claims it makes …The airport is simply trying to fill the void left by Theresa May and Chris Grayling, who have abandoned their responsibility to offer policy leadership … this absence of leadership betrays the emergence of a new “post-sustainable” aviation, designed to accommodate the challenges of Brexit … people are increasingly urged to believe that human progress and innovation are enough to meet environmental challenges. … In this emerging discourse, the demands of economic growth trump those of the environment and social well-being.”

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Runway opponents stage a brief take-over of Maidenhead DfT Heathrow event, filling in info gaps

The Maidenhead DfT information display – pushing the Heathrow 3rd runway – was taken over for its last 20 minutes by an invasion of anti- runway protesters. The DfT events are intended to give information to members of the public who want to know more about the runway plan. Unfortunately the displays are very focused on the alleged benefits of the runway, with very little information on its negative impacts. Generally the DfT staff who man the events are unable to answer questions about negative effects of the runway, in any detail. Campaigners from SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) with representatives from around 8 other groups, held a brief session to show up some of the gaps in information that the DfT is giving the public at these (20) sessions. Neil Keveren (SHE) pointed out some of the omitted information (like how little change to night flights is actually proposed, the effect of those whose homes will be compulsorily purchased, the health impacts of air pollution and the cost to the taxpayer of improvements to surface infrastructure). There is no info on any of those in the DfT panels. Others then chipped in with other information that the DfT should be including. The session ended with rousing chants of “No New Runways” and “Theresa May, What would your father say, NO 3rd runway” – and Neil singing, accompanied by his guitar, the song “This is our home, and we will stay. No 3rd runway”.

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Investigation reveals Heathrow airport staff are set targets to get passengers to spend money in shops

The Sun has used an undercover reporter to work as one of Heathrow’s Passenger Ambassadors, whose job is to boost retail sales in the terminals. There is a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on this, also showing how airport passengers are getting a raw deal from changing money. In 2016 the airport made a record £612 million in retail income, which is rent from retailers and from car parking charges. This was up 7.7% compared to 2015, while aeronautical income remained unchanged at £1,699 million. Heathrow’s retail division now makes up 22% of its revenues – £612 million out of £2,807 million. The 150 Passenger Ambassadors help travellers once they are through security, and are set strict targets about persuading them to visit shops and spend money. These are between £2,500 to £4,000 per day, and the most successful senior ambassadors claim to hit £10,000 per day. They are told: “The majority of the role will involve interacting with passengers, persuading them to shop if they had not planned to, or encouraging them to spend more by talking to them about offers and promotions across the Terminal….The average spend per passenger must go up as a result of your presence on the terminal floor.” The job description says: “A minute should not pass without a conversation with one or more passengers.”

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Willie Walsh and aviation insiders think Heathrow hopes of getting planning consent by 2020 are unrealistic

The Times reports that Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent company IAG, (Heathrow’s biggest customer), said that Heathrow’s target for its runway plans were over optimistic. He did not think the timetable of getting the support of MPs in the Commons within 12 months and then getting the planning process completed – through all the legal and planning hurdles – in a further 2 years was realistic. Those timings are highly optimistic, but Heathrow is preparing to start work on a 3rd runway in three years from now – in 2020. An airline insider told The Times that DfT officials had privately told industry bosses that planning permission would not be won until 2021. There will be legal challenges, and those could mean the timetable could slip even further. Heathrow wants to get its runway built by 2025, so it could increase the number of flights by 50% by 2030, compared to the number now. Heathrow has said it wants to apply to raise the number of flights from its legal cap now, of 480,000 per year, to 505,000 from 2021 – if it has been granted planning approval for the runway. That might involve one or two fewer flights in the night period, but a loss of some runway alternation during the day – perhaps softening people up for the worse noise, and shorter respite periods, there would be with a 3rd runway.

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New damning Environmental Audit Committee report: “Government must mitigate environmental impact of new Heathrow runway” – current plans do not

The Environmental Audit Committee report on plans for a Heathrow runway show huge failings by the government, on noise, CO2 and air pollution, even after several years of trying to gloss over them. The EAC report warns that proposed safeguards surrounding noise and pollution are inadequate, and just how inadequate the current NPS consultation on the 3rd runway is. The report warns that the proposed ban on night flights between 11pm and 5.30am would, in reality, result in only 4 arrivals being rescheduled each day. At present the airport is limited to about 16 night flights in a 24-hour period, with most scheduled just before 6am, which would not be affected by the new ban. The report criticises ministers for effectively giving Heathrow the green light without “concrete policy proposals” covering the environment. There is no proof that Heathrow could be expanded without an increase in the number of polluting cars being driven to the airport. The runway is likely to increase aviation CO2 by 15% above a previously agreed limit, with no plans for how other sectors of society could compensate with deeper CO2 cuts (or even that they have been advised of the problem). Noise would become worse for many areas, and the independent aviation noise watchdog proposed would be inadequate, with no powers and just an “advisory function”. And much, much more.

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New EAC report highly critical of government lack on clarity on aircraft noise targets

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances on noise targets and its low level of ambition in limiting noise in future. The EAC says: “We are concerned that the Government’s National Policy Statement has provided no further clarity on how predictable respite will be achieved or on the specific timings of a night flight ban.” … “The Government must carry out further work on respite which should form part of the NPS process, alongside plans for a live timetable of respite to be published beginning when the new runway is operational. We welcome the Government’s commitment to a 6.5 hour night flight ban. … it would appear inconsistent to reject its key recommendation on the precise timing of a night flight ban.” … and …”The stated goal of “fewer people […] affected by noise from Heathrow by 2030 than are today” shows a lack of ambition. Without Heathrow expansion, local communities would have seen a decrease in aircraft noise as new technology and airspace management techniques were developed.” … and “We are concerned with the inconsistency of the metrics used to measure noise attitudes. The Government has recognised that the level of significant annoyance has reduced and the number effected increased, yet it bases its conclusions on the out of date 57 dB LAeq 16hr contour.” And much more.

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New EAC report says government must provide clarity about its intentions on Heathrow CO2 emissions

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will meet carbon limits. The EAC says: “The Government claims that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within “the UK’s climate change obligations”. The Government has not set out what it means by “obligations”, let alone how it will meet them. It has not decided whether to accept the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation on limiting emissions from international aviation. It has not decided on whether to follow the CCC’s advice on offsetting. The Airports Commission told us the appropriate body to make recommendations on managing aviation emissions is the CCC. It would not be a credible position for the Government to claim that it can deliver Heathrow expansion within emissions limits whilst rejecting independent advice as to what those limits should be and how they should be met.” … The EAC says though Chris Grayling said told them the Government had not decided whether it intended to work towards the planning assumption [of limiting UK aviation to 37.5MtCO2 by 2050], when asked if he “had consulted other Ministers or sectors over the higher emissions reductions that they might be required to make if the planning assumption was not met. He said he had not yet done so.” And much more ….

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New EAC report says government has given no guarantees that air quality targets will be met with Heathrow 3rd runway

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will not increase air pollution. The EAC says the government’s air quality analysis is over-optimistic. “The effectiveness of the Government’s new air quality plan will be integral to determining whether Heathrow expansion can be delivered within legal limits. We are concerned that the timing of the draft National Policy Statement consultation means the Government will be unable to carry out a comprehensive re-analysis of the air quality impacts, using the new air quality plan, before the [NPS] consultation process is complete.” … “The Government must publish such an assessment alongside the final NPS, it must work towards a scenario in which all road links affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins.” ….”Since the Government intends to withdraw the UK from the EU before April 2019, there is no certainty about what our legally binding air quality limits will be after 2019. We are disappointed that these limits are not clearly laid out in the Draft NPS.” And there is much more ….

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Transport Committee announces start of its inquiry into (Heathrow) Airports NPS (24th March deadline for evidence)

When he was Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin told the Transport Select Committee that there would be a 3 month inquiry, by a select committee, into the draft National Policy Statement for a Heathrow runway. He said in February 2015 that the inquiry would take place after the end of the NPS consultation. Now the Transport Select Committee has announced, just 20 days after the publication by the DfT of the draft NPS consultation, the start of their own inquiry into the NPS. They are only taking written evidence until the deadline of 24th March. The committee’s website does not say what happens next, if or when witnesses would be called, etc. The Committee says they are interested to hear more about a variety of issues including: “How well the proposal reflects government policy on airports and aviation more generally” … “The suitability of the Government’s evidence and rationale in support of a north-west runway at Heathrow” … “How well the proposal takes account of other aspects of the Government’s transport strategy.” … “How comprehensive the proposal is in terms of the supporting measures for affected communities” … “How well the proposal takes account of sustainability and environmental considerations and the adequacy of relevant documentation and information published alongside the draft proposal.” And so on.

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5 arrested for blocking Heathrow tunnel – traffic chaos with tunnel closed 2 hrs 30 mins

Protesters from the Rising Up group caused tailbacks on the M4 heading towards Heathrow airport, in their latest action against plans to build a third runway. A video posted by the group shortly before 8.30am shows a car blocking the Heathrow Tunnel that accesses Terminals 2 and 3. They draped in a sign reading ‘No new runways’ over the car, and there was an activist lying next to the vehicle, locked to it, on the road. The Met police said officers attended the scene at 8.25am and arrested two people for obstructing a highway. The police said five people were arrested. Three protesters were locked to one of the vehicles and two were drivers of two cars. The tunnel was closed for over two hours, and the M4 spur road was also temporarily closed, while police worked with Heathrow Airport staff to remove the people locked to the third car. A contra-flow was put in place in the outbound tunnel to facilitate the movement of traffic around the blocked tunnel. There were delays in surrounding roads. Transport for London said just after 11am the tunnel re-opened. The protest follows a flashmob the group held at Heathrow on the weekend. The DfT opened its 4 month consultation on the 3rd runway on 2nd February. The degree of bias, and absence of balance or information on negative impacts of the expansion, in the consultation, has angered many people.

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Critique of 11 claims by DfT, in its 1.5 million pro-Heathrow runway leaflets, for NPS consultation

The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets to households in areas not too far from Heathrow. The leaflets make no attempt whatsoever of balance, and are merely advertising the runway plans and promoting them. Many of the claims are misleading, or so abbreviated as to be unclear. Below there is a critique of the claims, point by point, and links to evidence backing up the criticisms. If anyone has received a leaflet, and wonders about the facts, this webpage may give some useful information. Just a few examples of the dubious statements in the leaflet: the figure of £61 billion economic benefit is given, leaving out the proviso that this is over 60 years. There is much made of the generosity of the compensation to be given for compulsory purchase, but in reality anything much below 125% would be derisory, and way below world standards. The claim about six and a half hours of no scheduled night flights omits to mention how many flights, scheduled before 11pm, often take off almost to midnight. And though there may be 6 more domestic links from Heathrow, these are likely to be unprofitable and may not last for long. The loss of long haul routes from other UK airports, due to a larger Heathrow, is conveniently ignored.  Click here to view full story ….

DfT hold 20 consultation events in areas near Heathrow, plus 13 around the UK promoting Heathrow 3rd runway

The DfT is holding a large number of consultation events in the coming two months, both in areas affected by Heathrow, and after that, across the UK. The first event locally was on 13th February and the final one is 20th April in London. The DfT backs the runway, and so the information given out is very much in support of the runway. The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets about the consultations, with simplified text backing the runway (and ignoring any negative impacts) – which look like Heathrow’s own PR about their expansion plans. The events locally are from 11am to 8pm on weekdays (10 – 5pm on Saturdays). People have to register to attend events outside London. Due to the very short notice between the announcement of the NPS consultation (2nd February) and the first event on 13th February, it is difficult for local campaigners against the runway to attend all of them. The DfT has paid staff to man them all. People are encouraged to attend the events, and ask the DfT staff questions. Some suggested questions are shown below. People are also advised not to make their responses in the consultation events, but do them in a considered manner, from home, when they have had time to assess all the information, both for and against the 3rd runway.

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Court in Austria blocks 3rd runway at Vienna airport, as climate harm outweighs a few more jobs

A court in Austria has ruled that Vienna Schwechat Airport cannot be expanded with a 3rd runway, on climate change grounds. It said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. The court said the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. It also said it was important to conserve valuable arable land for future generations to provide food supplies. The airport will appeal. It is using the same false arguments that the DfT and Heathrow are using here – that building a 3rd runway would (allegedly) reduce the amount of carbon emissions and noise because they claim (against common logic) that “fuel consumption and the noise are reduced, because the waiting times of the aircraft would be avoided at peak times.” The airport hopes the runway would bring more tourists into Austria to spend their money, and would be needed by 2025. The airport had 22.8 million passengers in 2015.  It is a mystery how such a low number of passengers could require 3 runways, when there is barely enough to fill one, let alone two, runway.

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AEF comments on DfT airspace “modernisation” consultation: it provides little future noise reduction

The DfT has a consultation on managment and modernisation of UK airspace. It ends on 25th May. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has now had the chance to read it in detail. AEF comments that though proposed new powers – in a very limited way – for the Secretary of State to “call in” plans for some planned flight are welcome, there is little ele to give real benefits to people overflown. On proposals for more consultation and engagement etc, the AEF says: “Improvements to the process in terms of transparency and communication won’t tackle the underlying need to reduce noise.” They comment: “…the introduction of quieter aircraft and a reduction in stacking … will only have a marginal impact given the likely increase in the number of aircraft.” And the SoNA study (2014) now published shows people are more annoyed by aircraft noise than they were in the past, despite technological improvements. That means noise must be taken seriously. On the plans to set up an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) AEF says while this will provide advice, verify noise data etc, with “no requirement to deliver a noise reduction strategy, and without enforcement powers, or the teeth to make binding recommendations, the Commission’s effectiveness may be limited.” Anyone affected by aircraft noise should read the whole AEF comment.

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Government allows ending of Cranford Agreement, so Heathrow planes can take off to the east from north runway

On 2nd February, later in the day after the announcements on the NPS and the airspace consultation, the DfT added news that the government has agreed to end the Cranford Agreement. This would have been a major announcement in itself, but craftily buried with the other news. The Cranford Agreement was an undertaking, set up about 60 years ago, that planes taking off towards the east would only use the southern runway, not the northern runway. This protects people in Cranford from appalling noise. The ending of the agreement means less noise from arrivals (when the airport is on easterlies – about 30% of the year) from the west – so places like Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle – under the northern runway approach path – could have half as many arrivals per day (around 330 rather than 630). But areas like Old Windsor, Wraysbury and Stanwell Moor could see the number of arrivals on easterlies from 26 to 328 a day (on the southern runway). For take offs, areas south west of the southern runway will see fewer planes, but areas north east of the northern runway will have more planes. It is likely some people in the very noisiest areas might be able to get some insulation from Heathrow, but not a lot. There are also implications for the distribution of air pollution from the planes. A condition of the planning permission gives Heathrow three years to enact the new infrastructure to implement the changes.

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Heathrow NPS – SUMMARY of the main (probably) insuperable obstacles the runway faces

The government hopes to get a 3rd Heathrow runway approved, but it realises there are a large number of massive obstacles. The purpose of the NPS (National Policy Statement) consultation is to attempt to persuade the country, and particularly the MPs who must ultimately vote on it, that these obstacles can be successfully overcome. At present, there are no apparent solutions to many of the problems. Below are some very brief outlines of what some of the insuperable hurdles are – and why the government is a very long way from resolving the difficulties. The issues listed here are the three main environmental issues – noise, carbon emissions, and air pollution. The economics is complicated, but there is a note on that too. When Chris Grayling makes bland PR statements about the runway, or the papers regurgitate undigested blurb from the DfT, it may be useful to remember how very thin some of these statement are, and how far the government would have to go, in order to find even partial solutions.

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Government publishes draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation, to pave the way for Heathrow runway

The government has announced the start of the DfT’s consultation on the draft “Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England”. It is the necessary first stage in the process of getting consent for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The consultation will last for 16 weeks, and end on 25th May. The text associated with the draft NPS says little new, that we had not heard before. It is rich in statements like: “..proposals show this Government is not only making the big decisions but getting on with delivering them” and “…will ensure Britain seizes the opportunity to forge a new role in the world after Brexit ….” No real practical, enforceable constraints appear to be placed upon Heathrow, other than it will have to put in place “measures to mitigate the impacts of noise including legally binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled [note, scheduled only] night flights” … and “implementing measures to deliver on its commitments of no increase in airport related road traffic…” And that: “Planning consent will only be granted if the new runway can be delivered within existing air quality limits and climate change obligations.” The only noise body offered is the “Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise” – ie. a Commission, with no powers, not an Authority with powers.

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Court rules that legal challenge by 4 councils cannot be heard until final Heathrow NPS published

Four councils that a negatively affected by Heathrow, plus Greenpeace and a local resident, applied for a legal challenge against the DfT because of its plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The case has now been struck out, at the High Court, by Mr Justice Cranston, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim, because of the provision in the Planning Act 2008 which said that proceedings may only be brought in a six-week period that followed once the NPS was adopted, or if later, published. The claim is “precluded” until the NPS is published, and that might be the end of 2017 or early 2018. The court can then consider the challenge. The legal claim is because there was a failure by government to consult residents before going back on promises made repeatedly that a 3rd runway would not be built. John Sauven (Greenpeace) said: ‘Today’s ruling was about the timing of our legal challenge, not its merit. It doesn’t change the fact that ministers have no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems caused by a third runway.” Ravi Govindia (Wandsworth) said “The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality. Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting.”

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In the 4 councils’ legal challenge, lawyers say Government plan for Heathrow runway is ‘unlawful’ because people believed repeated promises

Four Conservative councils affected by Heathrow (with Greenpeace, and a local resident) are bringing a legal challenge against the government, because of the plans for a third runway. They say the plan is “unlawful” because locals bought houses and sent children to schools due to repeated Tory promises it would not happen. The councils argue that their residents had a “legitimate” expectation” the project would not be approved, due to assurances received. They have identified 19 “broken promises” made by David Cameron, Theresa May and other political figures saying the 3rd runway would be scrapped. One is by Theresa May in 2009, telling her constituents she will fight the 3rd runway. The lawyers, Harrison Grant, say such promises are not in law to be treated as mere “empty gestures” but legally significant promises. People had, reasonably enough, believed them. There was a hearing at the High Court on 19th and 20th January, and a ruling may be given this coming week. This will decide whether the councils can bring forward their judicial review claims. The DfT has tried to get the case thrown out or delayed till after there is a parliamentary vote on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow – probably around the end of this year.

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Government likely to ignore climate advice by CCC, turning just to carbon trading, to try to push Heathrow runway through

Chris Grayling and the government plan to ignore the assessment of the government’s own independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, on how to manage the CO2 emissions from a 3 runway Heathrow. The Environmental Audit Committee wrote to Grayling on 19th December, asking how he planned to square the CO2 emissions and the CCC advice with DfT plans. His response shows there is no way it can be done, and building the 3rd runway means not meeting the UK aviation cap – recommended by the CCC – of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, meaning about 60% passenger growth above 2005 level. Grayling says ministers “have not taken a view on whether to accept the CCC’s planning assumption,” ie. rejecting the advice. He goes on to note that “a future global carbon market would allow emissions reductions to be made where they are most efficient across the global economy”. Then he says “measures are available” even if the aviation sector grows by more than 60%. This goes against the CCC’s own calculation that these levels of growth would mean “all other sectors will have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.” Grayling hopes carbon trading will cut emissions – but in reality there are no effective carbon trading mechanisms that would do this well enough.

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Text of speech by Chris Grayling to Airlines UK expressing total support for aviation growth for decades

Chris Grayling gave a speech to Airlines UK (used to be called BATA), giving the industry his strongest support for its growth. Some of his comments: (on Brexit) “… positive expression of our desire as a country to raise our ambitions and look beyond the EU. To strengthen our position as a global country. With the global connections and gateways to make that possible.” … “We already have the largest aviation network in Europe. Direct services to over 370 destinations abroad. … (bit on routes added) … And demand for flights continues to grow. … though we’re awaiting the final figures, the signs are that 2016 will break [the 2015] record once more. … Over the next 20 years, the industry estimates a doubling of the world’s aircraft fleet. That’s another 33,000 aircraft – quieter, cleaner, more efficient aircraft that can actually deliver a fall in carbon emissions. ( sic ! ) … And as the world increasingly embraces aviation in the coming decades, in return, aviation will increasingly drive the globalisation of trade and commerce. …. We are currently working on our new aviation strategy. It’s a long-term framework covering airports, safety, security, competitiveness, consumers, regulation and capacity. [Note, no mention of environment at all !] …It’s part of our plan to build on the momentum of the Heathrow decision – so the whole of Britain can benefit from new aviation capacity.” … and so on …

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Zac’s back: Goldsmith to lead four-borough campaign against Heathrow runway

Former Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith has been appointed spokesman and organiser of the anti-third runway campaign by Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. The appointment was announced at Richmond Council’s full council meeting on 17th January. A revised motion put forward by leader Lord True read: “(This council) endorses the appointment of Zac Goldsmith as spokesman and organiser for the public and legal campaign being waged by Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead and Hillingdon councils against the expansion of Heathrow and calls upon all elected representatives to give full assistance to Mr Goldsmith in this campaign.” Richmond’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Gareth Roberts said he would support Mr Goldsmith’s appointment. Mr Goldsmith’s role is an unpaid one. Lord True’s motion also rejected the government’s recommendation to build a third runway, and reaffirmed the council’s commitment of £50,000 to an “initial fighting fund” against Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith lost the local election, which he had called because the government backed the runway, on 1st December – to LibDem Sarah Olney, who fought the election on Brexit, rather than on Heathrow. Sarah Olney is also deeply opposed to the runway.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says DfT plans on night flights do not go nearly far enough

Following the publication of the DfT’s night flight regulation consultation, SSE is urging urging local district, parish and town councils and individual local residents to respond, to try to get the noise impacts of Stansted night-time flights reduced.  Stansted currently has permission for 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow. The 12,000 annual limit applies only to the 6½ hours from 11.30pm to 6.00am whereas the normal definition of ‘night’ is the 8 hours from 11.00pm to 7.00am. Moreover, a large number of Stansted’s night flights are large, noisy cargo aircraft, many of which are very old. Unsurprisingly, these give rise to a disproportionately high level of noise complaints. SSE welcomes the DfT intention to remove the current exemption for less noisy aircraft and adjust the movements limit accordingly – but the DfT proposes to maintain the present night limit on Stansted aircraft movements.  The number of exempt aircraft has been increasing, and they need to be included in totals. SSE wants an unequivocal Government commitment to phase out all night flights at Stansted by 2030, except in the case of genuine emergencies. SSE also wants the annual flight limit  to apply, not just from 11.30pm to 6.00am, but from 11.00pm to 7.00am, so that ‘night’ truly means ‘night’.

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DfT publishes disappointing consultation on night flight regime at Heathrow, Gatwick & Stansted

The long awaited consultation on Night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted has now finally been published, for the 5 years to October 2022 (well before any new runway). It has been delayed for 3 years. Many people whose sleep is disturbed by night flights had been hoping for real prospects of the number of night flights being reduced. However, the consultation (that ends on 28th February) merely suggests keeping the numbers of flights between 23:30 and 06:00 the same at Heathrow and Gatwick, but increasing the number at Stansted. [“Night” is defined as 2300-0700 local time].  At Heathrow the number would remain at 2,550 in the winter and 3,250 in the summer (seasons based on dates the clocks change to/from summer time). That is an annual total of 5,800 which averages as 16 per night through the year. The figure at Gatwick is 3,250 in the winter and 11,200 in the summer, making an annual total of 14,450 which averages as 40 per night through the year. However, the DfT proposes reducing the total noise quota (points based on the noise of planes at night) at Heathrow Airport by at least 43% in the winter and 50% in the summer, ie. a reduction of at least 1,740 in the winter to 2,340 (from 4080) and 2,560 in the summer to 2,540 (from 5100). The cut in quota count at Gatwick would be 17% in winter and 21% in summer., ie. a reduction of at least 345 in the winter to 1655 (from 2000) and 1,330 in the summer to 4870 (from 6200).

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Hacan shows numbers of Heathrow flights over London boroughs – Hounslow & Richmond the worst

HACAN has produced a short paper looking at just how much the London boroughs, to the east of Heathrow, are affected by its noise. Using figures from Heathrow’s own data, it can be worked out how many planes (take offs and landings) fly over each area in a year. The study did not look at areas west of Heathrow, like Windsor, which are also very badly affected – largely by take offs. The wind blows approximately 70% of the time from the west, so that is when Heathrow is on “westerly operations”. HACAN’s research shows – predictably – that Hounslow is the most overflown. It gets the noise from all arrivals from the east, on both runways. It also gets all departures towards the east. That is around 240,000 per year – ie. half of all flights using Heathrow. Richmond is close behind in second place, with nearly as many (slightly fewer take offs). The boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lambeth are close behind. A map of the London boroughs shows why this is. Other boroughs in London get not only the noise of Heathrow arrivals, but planes using London City airport too. These boroughs – especially Waltham Forest, and Southwark – suffer from both, and are therefore high on the list of the areas suffering the most planes overhead per year.

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Chair of Treasury Cttee, Andrew Tyrie, again asks Hammond and Grayling about unclear Heathrow economic benefits

An influential Tory MP has questioned the evidence behind Heathrow expansion, suggesting the Government may have gone to exceptional lengths to find a methodology that made the case. In a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond and transport secretary Chris Grayling, the chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, said the Treasury has specifically requested the rarely used ‘net public value’ investment measure be included in its assessment. Mr Tyrie pointed out that of the 4 investment measures used to evaluate the 3 runway proposals, only this seldom-used “net public value” measure presents a clear case for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. He asked the ministers where this measure has been used before on major infrastructure. Mr Tyrie also said that the DfT document published on 25th October acknowledged that ‘the Net Present Values (NPVs) for some of the options could potentially be negative under some demand scenarios… ” but the DfT is only considering one scenario. And he asks that figures are produced for all the scenarios [but does not say if he wants carbon capped as well as carbon traded], not just one. He also says assessing demand growth for a period of over 20 years, or even 30 years, is ‘not in line with the guidance issued by the Department for Transport’. He asks that figures with demand capped at 20 and 30 years should be produced.

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Four councils + Greenpeace have served legal papers on Government over Heathrow runway decision

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon, have today served legal papers on the government for unlawfully supporting the expansion of Heathrow. In a legal submission to the High Court, the ‘coalition’ is seeking a Judicial Review of the government’s decision to support the expansion of the airport – something that which the Government previously promised would never happen. Harrison Grant Solicitors, on behalf of the coalition have filed a formal request for a judicial review. If successful, it is hoped the case will be heard in the High Court early next year. Together, the claimants argue that the Government has failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality impacts and that the consultation held to make the decision was fundamentally flawed. Therefore, the expansion of the airport cannot go ahead. In addition, the legal challenge seeks to hold Government to the promise that a third runway would never be built. If the request is successful, and the coalition wins the judicial review, the decision to proceed with the runway would be overturned. Ray Puddifoot said “There are two grounds of challenge at this stage. In addition to our claim that there has been a significant breach of established air quality laws, we have also claimed that the Government has acted contrary to our legitimate expectation that it would honour its repeated promises not to expand Heathrow.”

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Elmbridge Council votes to officially oppose Heathrow expansion

Elmbridge councillors have officially voted against Heathrow expansion after months of deliberation. Councillors voted by a clear majority to oppose a 3rd runway, at the full council. Elmbridge Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Task Group, dealing with Heathrow expansion, had recommended Elmbridge oppose the plans on the basis of health concerns. More than 800 people had responded to the council’s survey on the plans and many said they had serious concerns about how the construction would damage the borough. A persuasive case for opposing the runway was made by councillor Christine Elmer, chair of the task group, Cllr James Browne and Cllr Tony Popham. Cllr Ellmer believed Heathrow was already a serious issue for the borough, because of high – and worsening – levels of aircraft noise, which continues late into the night. “The fact is that larger planes are flying lower than ever before in Elmbridge and there are no guarantees that this will desist. It cannot be right for residents, as one who wrote to me this week, to have to go to bed wearing earmuffs.” The runway would mean worse road congestion. Cllr Browne said he had not seen any “convincing or independent evidence” to suggest any economic benefits from expansion would benefit the UK and the borough. Local campaign group, Residents Action Group Elmbridge (RAGE) were delighted with the council vote.

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Sarah Olney wins Richmond seat from Zac Goldsmith, on anti-Brexit agenda – while both strongly oppose Heathrow runway

When the Conservative government announced it was backing a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith (MP for Richmond) resigned. He had said even before the May 2010 election that he would do this, and as a matter of principle, he did so. The by-election was therefore triggered on the issue of Heathrow, largely because Richmond is badly affected by plane noise from landings every few minutes, for over half of each day. The Liberal Democrats, with only 8 current MPs, fought the seat on the issue of Brexit, and their candidate, Sarah Olney has now with a margin over Zac of around 1,800 votes. (Richmond was a held by the LibDems until 2010). Sarah Olney, who only joined the LibDems in 2015, is also very much opposed to Heathrow expansion, so will carry on the fight against the runway. Her primary focus, however, has been Brexit. Richmond is one of the constituencies that voted most strongly for the Remain campaign, and so this election became one about Brexit – with everyone appreciating that all candidates (except one minor one) were against the runway. Those who backed Zac will be saddened that his principled stand, which is regrettably rare in politics, has been hijacked in order for the LibDems to get another MP. Zac is widely acknowledged to have been an excellent MP. Opposition to the runway will continue in Richmond, as the area would lose half of its “respite” period without planes overhead, it the expansion was allowed. Tania Mathias, who leads local MPs against Heathrow, has already congratulated Sarah on her win, and said she looks forward to working with her.

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TfL hits back defending their estimate of £15 bn for Heathrow surface access, that Grayling said was “ludicrous”

Chris Grayling criticised Transport for London’s (TfL) predicted costs for improving road and rail links for the Heathrow expansion. Giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on Heathrow’s 3rd runway, the transport secretary said he considered it “ludicrous” that TfL (who are the experts on transport in London) calculate the necessary work as about £15 billion. He said it looked to him as if “somebody has taken every possible transport improvement in the whole of metropolitan London and thrown it into the mix.” While the Airports Commission estimated that surface infrastructure changes would cost £5bn, TfL estimated the costs of keeping transport flowing – even with a 50% larger Heathrow – to be around £15m-£20m. Heathrow said it would pay for just £1.1 billion. TfF have responded saying. “Expansion at Heathrow will significantly increase demand for access to the airport. Our expert analysis indicates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed beyond what is already committed and the key component of this is a new southern rail link from Waterloo to Heathrow. Thus far, the government have given no commitments to deliver this new rail link, despite the Airport’s Commissions recommendation to do so and, without such a commitment, the aspirations for no increase in road traffic are not credible.”

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Government abandoning commitments to restrict aviation CO2 risks UK failure on carbon cap in Climate Change Act

Plans to build a third Heathrow runway have suffered a setback after the government’s official climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned ministers the project risked blowing a hole in the UK’s legally binding carbon targets. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, wrote to Greg Clark at BEIS to raise “concerns” about the plans. Lord Deben said the central business case ministers made in October when they agreed to back a 3rd Heathrow runway would mean greenhouse gas emissions from aviation were about 15% higher than their target level by 2050. This cap is 37.5MtCO2, which is the level of UK aviation emissions in 2005. The CCC has repeatedly said that aviation emissions should stay at 2005 levels until 2050 if the legally binding UK targets are to be met. If aviation is allowed to miss, by 15%, its already very generous allowance, this would necessitate CO2 cuts from all other sectors to be 85% of their 1990 level by 2050. Lord Deben said that would require “significantly more action”to slash carbon pollution from other sectors, which is likely to be impossible. Doug Parr, chief scientist of Greenpeace, said: “What ministers know full well but don’t want to admit is that a third runway means other sectors of the economy will have to bear the costs of further carbon cuts, whether it’s regional airports or the manufacturing and steel industries. … it’s time ministers came clean about it with those concerned and the British public.”

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Chairman of CCC writes to BEIS to query why DfT appears to no longer use the 37.5MtCO2 cap for UK aviation – but intends to allow higher emissions

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been giving the UK government the advice, since 2009 (when government was trying to get a 3rd Heathrow runway) that UK aviation should emit no more CO2 than its level in 2005 (which was 37.5MtCO2) per year by 2050. This has tacitly been accepted by government since then. But the DfT “sensitivities” document put out on 25th October, said that this cap on UK aviation carbon was “unrealistic” and its assessments were only now looking at the carbon traded option. That means UK aviation CO2 well above the target. The Chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, has now written to Greg Clark, Sec of State at BEIS (Dept of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, now in charge of UK carbon emissions, since DECC was scrapped) to point out that the DfT seems to no longer see the constraint of 37.5MtCO2 as being important, and its forecasts and business assumptions are all now based on higher CO2 emissions by UK aviation. Lord Deben says: “If emissions from aviation are now anticipated to be higher than 2005 levels, then all other sectors would have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.” Even if UK aviation stuck at 37.5Mt CO2 by 2050, this would mean “an 85% reduction in emissions in all other sectors”. The CCC does not have confidence that cuts of over 85% could be made. That implies the UK would miss its legally binding CO2 target.

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SNP misled by Heathrow inflated claims of number of jobs for Scotland due to a 3rd runway

The SNP decided to give its backing to a Heathrow runway, rather than one at Gatwick – having been led to believe that the only choice on offer was between these two. They were led, by Heathrow PR, to believe there would be greater benefits for Scotland. The SNP hoped to get exports from Scotland (salmon and razor clams) shipped through Heathrow. The Airports Commission came up with a figure of economic benefit from a Heathrow runway of UP TO £147 billion to all the UK over 60 years. Heathrow got a consultancy called Quod to work out the number of jobs. They came up with the figure of 16,100 jobs for Scotland (over 60 years) from the runway. The DfT has now downgraded the £147 billion figure, as it included various speculative elements, and double counted benefits. The new figure (also still far higher than the reality) from the DfT is UP TO £61 billion for the UK over 60 years. That, pro rata, would mean up to about 9,300 jobs for Scotland – not 16,100. It is unfortunate that the SNP were misinformed, as were other MPs, Chambers of Commerce etc across the regions. Heathrow also pledged benefits for Scotland such as using its steel for construction, and using Prestwick as a base. The Scottish Green party see the SNP backing of a Heathrow runway as a betrayal of those badly affected by it, and of Scotland’s climate commitments.

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Blast from the past … January 2009 …                            from Theresa May’s own website

“Theresa speaks out against government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow

16 January 2009

Theresa May has spoken out against the Government’s plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which were approved by the Transport Secretary yesterday. The plans will result in an increase in flights over the local area, affecting thousands of people in Maidenhead and the surrounding area.

The Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, has stated that an additional 125,000 flights would be allowed each year but failed to rule out even bigger increases. Speaking in the House of Commons, Theresa questioned Mr Hoon, saying:

“As a result of today’s announcements, my constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service in Crossrail. I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that as a result of today’s announcement, nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again. On a very specific point, when terminal 5 was announced, the then Secretary of State promised us a cap on the number of flights a year of 480,000. The Government have now broken their word, and this Secretary of State is playing the same game. In today’s statement he says: ‘I want there to be a limit on the initial use of the third runway so that the increase in aircraft movements does not exceed 125,000 a year’. That is an aspiration, not a commitment. Will he now say that it is a commitment, how it will be put in place and why my constituents should believe him today any more than they believed the previous Transport Secretary who put a cap on flights?”

Commenting afterwards, Theresa said: “I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets.”

“As I suspected all along, the Government paid no attention to the opinions expressed by members of the public and have decided to push ahead with expansion despite all the environmental warnings. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.”

Theresa welcomed the Government’s decision not to proceed with ‘mixed mode’ operations at Heathrow, which would have increased the number of flights even before a third runway is built. She said, “Although this decision is welcome there are no guarantees as to how long the Government’s commitment will last, particularly given the way in which previous promises have been broken.” ”  

Click here for link to article on Theresa May’s website …

EAC REPORT   Environmental Audit Committee says government should not permit Heathrow runway without strict conditions

The EAC report’s conclusions say: “The Government should not approve Heathrow expansion until Heathrow Ltd. can demonstrate that it accepts and will comply with the Airports Commission conditions, including a night flight ban, that it is committed to covering the costs of surface transport improvements; that it is possible to reconcile Heathrow expansion with legal air pollution limits, and that an expanded Heathrow would be less noisy than a two runway Heathrow. In each case – climate change, air quality and noise – it needs to set out concrete proposals for mitigation alongside clear responsibilities and milestones against which performance can be measured. It should report regularly to Parliament, through this Committee and others, on progress. The Government should not avoid or defer these issues. To do so would increase the risks of the project: delay through legal challenge, unquantifiable costs resulting from unclear responsibilities, economic risks through constraint of other sectors to meet increased aviation emissions and longterm costs to public health from the impact of air pollution and noise.”

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EAC on PAYING FOR SURFACE ACCESS  Environmental Audit Committee says Heathrow must fund the infrastructure improvements necessary

One of the conditions that the Airports Commission suggested should imposed on a Heathrow runway was that the airport should pay most of the cost of the additional surface transport infrastructure. Heathrow has repeatedly said it is not willing to pay more than about £1 billion, though the costs are estimated by Transport for London to be £15 – 20 billion. The Environmental Audit Committee report says: “Before the Government decides to go ahead with Heathrow expansion it should set out its assessment of what would be required in terms of infrastructure improvements, agreed responsibilities for funding and milestones for completion. This should be part of a wider transport strategy for West London to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. The Government must make a binding commitment that Heathrow will fund the infrastructure improvements necessary to accommodate an expanded Heathrow.” The government has said it will not pay, with Richard Goodwill stating in October that: “…. the Government has been clear that it expects the scheme promoter to meet the costs of any surface access proposals that are required as a direct result of airport expansion and from which they will directly benefit.”

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EAC on NOISE Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure a 3-runway Heathrow is genuinely no noisier than with 2 runways

The Environmental Audit Committee report looked at noise, as one of the issues that need to be revolved, if the Government wants to approve a Heathrow runway. The EAC says the current metrics that average noise are inadequate. They do not account for peak noise events, and may “ignore a swathe of people who are overflown infrequently but loudly.” “These metrics need to be measured against international standards such as WHO recommendations and inform a change in Government policy on aviation noise.” A new Independent Aviation Noise Authority will “need a more up to date understanding of people’s attitudes to noise if it is to be credible. One of the first tasks of such a body should be to undertake a survey of people’s attitudes to aviation noise.” The EAC says the government has to show “whether an expanded Heathrow would be noisier or less noisy than a two runway Heathrow at the same point in time.” On night flights the EAC says: “The Government should publish a plan, including a series of binding milestones, to deliver the proposed ban as part of any announcement to proceed with expansion at Heathrow…” And even if there is no 3rd runway, an Independent Aviation Noise Authority and a Community Engagement Board should be set up, to address the rock-bottom level of trust local people have in the airport.

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EAC on AIR QUALITY Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained

The Environmental Audit Committee report on a Heathrow runway, says in relation to air pollution: “Before the Government makes its decision, it should make its own assessment of the likely costs of preventing an adverse impact on health from expansion at Heathrow and publish it.” Also that the government should not consider a new runway merely if air quality could be worse elsewhere in London than in the Heathrow area. The government will need to demonstrate that legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained “even when the expanded airport is operating at full capacity. Heathrow’s existing air quality strategy should also be revised to meet the new targets. Failing this, Heathrow should not be allowed to expand.” As for not using the new runway if air quality is too poor: “The Government should not approve expansion at Heathrow until it has developed a robust framework for delivery and accountability. This should have binding, real-world milestones and balance the need for investor certainty with assurances that a successor Government cannot set the conditions aside if they become inconvenient.” In distinguishing pollution from the airport, or from other sources: “The Government must establish clearly delineated responsibilities for meeting air quality limits before deciding to go ahead with the scheme” to avoid future legal and commercial risks.

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EAC on CARBON  Environmental Audit Committee says Government must act by 2016 to ensure aviation carbon cap is met

The Environmental Audit Committee report says the Airports Commission said the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) was the expert in this area, not it. Therefore the EAC says: “The Government cannot credibly rely on the Commission’s analysis as evidence that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within the limits set by the 2008 Act …..We recommend that the Government give the CCC the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s forecasting of aviation emissions and the feasibility of its possible carbon policy scenarios. The Government should act on any recommendations they make. … Before making any decision on Heathrow expansion, the Government should publish an assessment of the likely impact on the aviation industry – particularly regional airports – and wider economy of measures to mitigate the likely level of additional emissions from Heathrow. …any Government decision on airport expansion should be accompanied by a package of measures to demonstrate a commitment to bringing emissions from international aviation within the economy-wide target set by the 2008 Act. They should also, as a minimum, commit to accepting the CCC’s advice on aviation in relation to the 5th carbon budget, introducing an effective policy framework to bring aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 no later than autumn 2016….”

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TfL confirms extent to which Airports Commission underestimated Heathrow runway impact on surface access

TfL Heathrow fully utilised road trips

On 10th November, the GLA Transport Committee had a session looking at the implications for surface access – road, rail and Tube – if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway. There was a presentation by Richard De Cani (Transport for London’s Managing Director – Planning). The meeting was described as a “well mannered mugging” of the Airports Commission’s (AC) analysis of the situation. The AC did not assess the impact of a fully utilised 3rd runway, with 148 mppa; instead they only looked at the situation in 2030 with 125mppa. That might mean 70,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC.They also did not take into account how recent employment forecasts will increase demand even further, or increased vehicles needed for expanded air freight capacity. TfL estimates it would cost between £15 and £20 billion to improve the transport infrastructure needed to get all passengers to and from Heathrow, with a 3rd runway. Unless this is spent, the road congestion and the rail congestion even by 2030 would be “some of the worst that we currently see in London.” It would “impact quite significantly on the whole performance of the transport network across west and south west London.” If there was a congestion charge, the impact on public transport would be even higher (perhaps 90,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC).  See the full presentation. 

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Analysis by AEF shows economic impact of Heathrow runway likely to be minimal, or negative. Not £147 billion (over 60 years)

The Airports Commission has claimed,in its final report (1st July) and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new north-west runway at Heathrow would deliver up to £147 billion benefit for the UK (over 60 years). Now the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has done some critical analysis of the Commission’s various documents and figures, to elucidate what the actual economic impact on the UK economy might be. This is complex stuff, and making sense of the various facts (often in different documents at different dates) is not for the faint hearted. However, AEF shows that claims of £147 billion do not take into account the environmental or surface access costs associated with a new runway. The Commission’s own economic advisers have criticised the analysis (not done with the usual “WebTAG” model used by government) for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity. Using WebTAG, it appears – using the Commission’s own data – that there could be a net cost to the UK economy of – £9 billion over 60 years. Not a benefit at all, once all environmental and surface access costs are factored in. With some ‘wider economic benefits’ included, the benefit over 60 years would still be only £1.4 billion (not £147 billion), as quoted in the Commission’s own final report.

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Forget “vital business connectivity” – Air travel makes you happy, says the Airports Commission. That’s why we need another runway

The Airport Commission (AC) changed its arguments sharply between its 2013 interim report and the final document. Initially the idea was that there was a need for a runway because of a rising need for business air travel, and vital business routes. Interestingly, in its final report, the AC – realising that the demand for business flights is not growing – has switched to saying it is good for leisure travellers. At Heathrow only at most 30% of passengers are on business, the majority are on holiday, and the rest visiting friends and relatives (VFR). The AC says because air travel and holidays make people happy, put them in a better of mind and give a feeling of well-being, a runway is needed so we can fly even more than we already do. This runway if ever built would, unavoidably, be mainly used for ever more leisure trips. Nothing to do with emerging economies or connectivity, unless the business people help make fares cheaper for the tourists, and vice versa. Having an annual holiday is associated with greater happiness. Whether taken by plane or other modes of travel. Nobody will be surprised. People who are able to take holidays tend to be happier than those that do not. (People involuntarily living with the adverse impacts of an airport may have lower well-being and be less happy).

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Supreme irony of the hottest July day on record at Heathrow


Hottest July day on record as temperatures reach 36.7C at Heathrow. The previous record was 36.5 °C on 19th July 2006 in Wisley, Surrey. Roads melted and trains were cancelled. Urgent health warnings were issued and paramedics dealt with a surge in calls amid fears the hot weather could result in deaths. Wimbledon recorded the hottest day in its history as players sweltered in the searing heat of Centre Court. The London Ambulance Service said it had seen call-outs to people fainting increase by more than a third (35%) compared to the same day last week. Britain’s trains were blighted by delays and cancellations as Network Rail imposed speed restrictions on some lines amid fears the metal tracks could buckle under the searing heat.

And yet, as a supreme irony, this was the day the Airports Commission advocated building a 3rd runway at Heathrow, knowing the extra carbon emissions this will generate will mean putting the UK’s climate targets at risk. The heat wave is the sort of weather that scientists expect would be come increasingly common, as global CO2 levels rise.


CCC confirm UK air passenger rise of 60% by 2050 only possible if carbon intensify of flying improves by one third

The Committee on Climate Change has reported to Parliament on progress on the UK’s carbon budgets. They say: “Under the current rate of progress future budgets will not all be met.” Carbon budgets do not currently include emissions from international aviation and shipping, but these are included in the 2050 carbon target. The government will review aviation’s inclusion in carbon budgets in 2016. In 2012 the UK’s international aviation emitted 32 MtCO2, and domestic aviation 1.6 MtCO2. The CCC and the Airports Commission say a new runway can fit within climate targets, but their own figures show aviation growth exceeding the target for decades. Growth in passengers of “around” 60% above 2005 levels could only fit within the carbon target if there is an improvement in the carbon intensity of aviation of around one-third by 2050. The Airports Commission’s own interim report says there can only be 36% growth in flights by 2050, to stay within targets. They say any more growth than that should not happen, “unless and until” there are the necessary technology improvements, cutting aviation emissions. But neither the government, nor the CCC, nor the Airports Commission can pin down what these will be, or when they will happen. UK aviation emissions remain the highest in Europe. CCC and AC aviation CO2 projections to 2050

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Green organisations tell Sir Howard Davies that allowing another runway jeopardises UK climate goals 

8 NGO logos for Airports Commission letter

November 1, 2013      

Eight of the key environmental organisations in the UK have written an open letter to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, to express their concern about the Commission’s “emerging thinking” that more runway capacity is needed for the south east, as expressed in Sir Howard’s speech on 7th October. They have serious concerns about how adding a new runway could be compatible with UK climate targets, and they call on the Commission to demonstrate how its recommendations will avoid gambling on our future ability to meet the UK climate target. The NGOs say the Committee on Climate Change’s analysis concluded that stabilising UK aviation’s emissions at their 2005 level could translate to a maximum 60% growth in the number of passengers at UK airports. They set out 4 key arguments why no new runway capacity is needed even if passenger numbers are permitted to grow by up to 60%. They also urge the Commission to retain a “no new runways” option in its deliberations as the best way of achieving the targets set in the UK Climate Change Act. The eight green NGOs which have signed the letter are: Aviation Environment Federation; Campaign for Better Transport; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; RSPB; Stop Climate Chaos; The Woodland Trust; WWF-UK. Click here to view full story…

Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

Work by the IPCC now estimates that aviation accounted for 4.9% of man-made climate impacts in 2005. This contrasts with the 2% figure that is constantly quoted by aviation lobbyists, and 3% which the same authors quoted two years ago. They have now revised their estimates with 2 important changes: including for the first time estimates of cirrus cloud formation and allowing for aviation growth between 2000 and 2005. The effect of these is to increase aviation’s impacts to 3.5% without cirrus and 4.9% including cirrus. 23.5.2009  More  …

Committee on Climate Change.

4th Carbon Budget UK should commit to a 60% cut in emissions by 2030 as a contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

Aviation emissions must be no higher in 2050 than in 2005, and to do this, all other sectors must cut by 85% by 2050 to allow aviation to grow by 60%

The Committee on Climate Change today recommended a Carbon Budget for 2023-27 and a target for emissions reductions in 2030 – halfway between now and 2050. The recommended target for 2030, to cut emissions by 60% relative to 1990 levels (46% relative to current levels), would then require a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act. The Carbon Budget says international aviation and shipping should be included, and it is vital that UK aviation emissions in 2050 are no higher than in 2005.  Also that, as technologies to cut aviation emissions are not readily available, other sectors of the economy will need to cut by 85% in 2050 in order to let aviation grow by 60%.  7.12.2010  More ….. . . .