* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * * *
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.
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’.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Dr Tania Mathias calling for a Bill in Parliament to make aircraft noise a statutory nuisance
In the 1920s aviation was a nascent, struggling industry, and governments gave it a lot of support to get going. One of the benefits it got was in the Air Navigation Act 1920, which provided the basis of the UK’s aviation noise regulation regime, by exempting aviation from nuisance sanctions, in order to stimulate the new industry. This was reaffirmed in the Civil Aviation Act 1982, which says citizens have no recourse against aircraft noise nuisance: “No action shall lie in respect of trespass or in respect of nuisance, by reason only of the flight of an aircraft over any property at a height above the ground ….”. Unlike almost any other noise nuisance source, there is nothing anyone can do about aircraft noise that disturbs them. Now Dr Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham, has called for a Bill in Parliament to make aircraft noise a statutory nuisance. She has put down: “That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to make noise caused by aircraft a statutory nuisance, and for connected purposes.” Tania says an average food blender makes a noise of about 80 decibels, and plane noise in homes in Twickenham can be up to 83 decibels. It is an unacceptable anachronism that while the noise nuisance from model aircraft is recognised in law, the noise of real planes is not. She believes we need the law to provide a means of making it better when noise goes beyond what is reasonable or safe.
Research confirms traffic pollution responsible for triggering asthma in previously healthy children
Researchers at Leeds University have found that traffic pollution is responsible for previously healthy children developing asthma. The huge study, looking at about a million children, found that black carbon — oily soot particles emitted by diesel engines — is the main cause, with NO2 and particulates. All are emitted by road vehicles. It is already known that higher levels of air pollution trigger asthma attacks in people who already have it, but the role of traffic pollution in initiating the condition in healthy children had not been confirmed before. A large number of schools in the UK are in areas with air quality below EU standards. The pollutants attack the lining of children’s lungs, initiating an inflammatory reaction that leads to asthma. Once triggered, the asthma reaction can happen again and again, causing numerous attacks through a person’s life. The research combined data from 41 epidemiological studies from countries including England, Holland, Germany, Sweden and the US. There are around 1.1m children in the UK with asthma, a near-threefold rise over the past 60 years. Also around 4.3m adults. On average 3 people die each day from it and costs the NHS about £1 billion per year. Long-term exposure to air pollution in childhood is known to stunt lung growth and brain development. The asthma findings will cause further concerns about permitting increases in local air pollution, eg, with a 3rd Heathrow runway, or the government’s £11bn road-expansion programme.
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.”
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.
Up-beat and determined rally organised by Zac Goldsmith, in Richmond, against Heathrow 3rd runway
In addition to the protest against a 3rd runway near Heathrow, with two sections of nearby roads closed by activists linked together with arm locks, lying on the ground, there was also an entirely law abiding protest near Heathrow. Earlier in the day there was a large, energetic and very positive rally in Richmond, organised by Zac Goldsmith – as part of his re-election campaign. Zac had always said that if the government backed a 3rd runway, we would resign. As soon as they did, he did – keeping his word to his electorate. The by-election was caused by the Heathrow issue, and that is what Zac intends to be returned to Parliament on. The LibDems want to get a 2nd MP in parliament, and so are hoping the by-election will instead be largely about Brexit. The rally was compered (brilliantly) by Giles Brandreth, and addressed by numerous well informed speakers, including the Leaders of the 4 councils now embarking on legal action against the government on the runway decision, and the ex-President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, as well as spokespeople from the Richmond Heathrow campaign, Teddington Action Group, Stop Heathrow Expansion, and Chiswick residents. It was made very clear that Zac has the necessary years of political experience as an MP to take this issue back to Parliament, get change, and ensure the runway is opposed – in every way.
15 people arrested in protest against proposed 3rd runway, blocking two roads close to Heathrow
In addition to a rally held on Richmond Green, organised by Zac Goldsmith, against the planned 3rd Heathrow runway there were two other protests near Heathrow. Zac’s rally had a host of speakers, including the leaders of the four councils bringing a legal challenge to the government, and the ex-President of the Maldives – with the aim of ensuring Zac is returned to Parliament in the by-election on 1st December. A short while later, there was an action by climate protesters, organised by RisingUp! close to Heathrow itself. They got onto the M4 spur road to the airport at a traffic lights when the traffic had stopped. Within seconds five had locked themselves together with arm locks, blocking the road. Another Heathrow road, the East Ramp, was also blocked, for a short time, with some road trips slightly delayed, but no flights were affected. Fifteen arrests were made for obstructing the highway or public order offences. Many others protested, though without blocking a road. A spokesman for Rising Up! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.” One of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, Genny Scherer, 70, said: “It’s one or the other: new runways or a safe climate. I want my nephews and nieces to grow up in a safe climate, just like I was able to.”
Lawyers send letter to government warning of legal challenge in 2 weeks
Councils and campaigners take first step towards legal challenge against government support for Heathrow runway
Solicitors Harrison Grant acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident have (17th November) sent a letter, under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol, to the Secretary of State for Transport. The letter gives the Government a period of 14 days in which to withdraw its decision, issued on the 25 October to support a 3rd runway at Heathrow. If it fails to do so, judicial review proceedings will be commenced in the High Court, without further notice to the Government, on the basis that the Government’s approach to air quality and noise is unlawful and also that it has failed to carry out a fair and lawful consultation exercise prior to issuing its decision. The 33 page pre-action letter sets out comprehensive grounds for legal challenge, drawing on a broad range of statute and legal precedent, as well as highlighting the many promises and statements made by senior politicians confirming that the third runway would not be built. The move comes shortly after the Government’s air quality plans were overturned in the High Court, putting ministers under greater pressure to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in places like Heathrow. The latest court ruling rejected the current government plans to tackle emissions as inadequate and based on over optimistic assumptions.
Sadiq Khan backs councils’ legal action against Heathrow 3rd runway – and TfL will offer help
Sadiq Khan has announced at Mayor’s Question Time that he was officially supporting legal action against a 3rd Heathrow runway. He has instructed Transport for London (TfL) to help 4 local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead) and Greenpeace, which are together bringing the case against expansion. The involvement of TfL was met with delight from many Assembly Members. TfL is expected to be named as an “interested party” in the action. It is believed that the intervention of TfL will strengthen the case of the local authorities’ challenge. In the previous Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan said he wasn’t able answer the question on legal action until the government decision had been made. It was made on 25th October. Though Sadiq Khan had in the past backed a Heathrow runway, he changed his mind in 2015 when the extent of the noise and air pollution impacts became clear. He has now said, addressing the full London Assembly: “I promised I wouldn’t just stand by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution a third runway would cause. That’s why I’ve directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support” the councils.. “and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.” TfL has the most expertise on matters relating to impacts of Heathrow expansion on London’s transport network.
Seven more purely, unashamedly, low cost leisure destinations for 2017 from Heathrow (so much for Heathrow “connecting Britain to global growth” …
So much for the claims that Heathrow is ensuring Britain is “open for business” and creating “trading links to the growing markets of the world” or “connecting Britain to global growth”. The reality is that many of the landing slots at Heathrow are in reality used for leisure flights, and many are for cheap European leisure flights. British Airways has announced 7 new routes from Heathrow for 2017. These are to Murcia, in “stunning” southern Spain “known for its world renowned golf courses”. There is also Brindisi, in Italy “ideal for holidaymakers looking for some sun to soak up in.” And Nantes, in western France, which is a “gateway to Brittany and Loire Valley as well as being home to the world famous Muscadet wines.” Also Montpellier, in southern France, with “a blend of the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Pyrenees”. Also Pula, in Croatia “an increasingly popular destination for families who want a cheap summer holiday, replacing the likes of Spain and France.” Then there is Tallinn, in Estonia, which is cheap and “one of the most preserved medieval cities in Europe”. And Zakynthos “This Greek island in the Ionian Sea is nicknamed the flower of the East. It is home to the Navagio beach, the most famous landmark on the island which is a stunning setting for a day lounging in the sun. Price: from £65″. There are also flights for cheap holidays to Menorca. This demonstrates, yet again, that Heathrow is not full of flights to vital, far flung, business-related destinations. It has flights that make money. ie. cheap holidays.
Even with 55% of Heathrow passengers using public transport there could be 15 million more passenger trips per year by car by 2040 than now
The government claims Heathrow can meet air quality standards in future, even with a new runway and 50% more passengers, because it will (among other changes) ensure that there are no more road vehicles than now – and by around 2031 about 55% of passengers would use public transport. So is that likely? Looking at passengers only, not freight, and the work done by Jacobs for the Airports Commission, it seems that (2012 data) there were about 70 million passengers, about 20 million of whom were transfers (ie. they did not leave the airport). That meant slightly below 50 million passengers travelled to and from the airport, using surface transport. In 2012 about 59% of these travelled by car (ie. about 29.5 million), 41% came by public transport (28% by rail and 13% by bus or coach). But by 2030 with a new runway, there might be around 110 million passengers, and around 33% would be international transfers. That leaves around 74 million passengers, and if 55% of them use public transport, that means about 34 million using cars. By 2040, the number using cars might be about 45 million (ie. about 15 million more per year than now). And about 9 million using bus/coach – which is of course also on the roads. There would have to be dramatic increases in electric vehicles and improved engine technology to ensure no higher emissions in the Heathrow area. And that is not counting freight vehicles. Or staff. Or other increased vehicle traffic associated with the 3rd runway.
Difficult to see how Heathrow could prevent rise in staff road trips to/from airport with 3rd runway
Heathrow has told the DfT that there would be no higher a number of car trips to and from the airport with a 3rd runway than now. But is that actually credible? Neither the DfT nor Heathrow produce easy-to-find figures, but they be located with a bit of digging. There are probably about 76,000 staff at the airport at present. The October 2014 Jacobs report done for the Airports Commission said: “Headline employee commuting mode share was assumed to be 43% public transport and 47% private vehicles (ie. about 35,700 came by car, and Jacobs states: “with the vast majority of those undertaken as single occupancy car trips.”) …” and of the 43% using public transport, about 35% used bus and 12% used rail. There are various estimates of how many on-airport staff there might be with a new runway. The Commission’s Carbon Traded Assessment of Need scenario anticipated the number of staff to be around 90,000, and their highest growth scenario anticipated about 115,000 staff. Heathrow said by 2030 trips by both staff and passengers to the airport will be 53% by public transport, and still 47% by car. Nowhere is there anything to indicate that below 47% of airport employees would get to and from work by car. With 90,000 staff at Heathrow, if 47% travelled by car that would be 42,300 people, (or if 43% came by car it would be 38,700). If there were 100,000 on-airport staff, and 47% came by car, that would be 47,000 people (and if 43% came by car, 43,000). Those numbers are higher than today. This is not including people travelling to newly increased numbers of jobs in the area.
How the government hopes air pollution will not be a block on a Heathrow 3rd runway
The Government has produced claims that adding a 3rd Heathrow runway would be compatible with air quality limits for NO2. The DfT statement on 25th October stated that the government had done more work, since the Airports Commission, and this “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” That air quality plan has since been judged inadequate by the High Court ruling in the case brought by ClientEarth. The DfT also said: “Heathrow’s scheme includes plans for improved public transport links and for an ultra-low emissions zone for all airport vehicles by 2025. The government will make meeting air quality legal requirements a condition of planning approval.”Lawyers Bircham Dyson Bell comment: “would you build, or invest in, a new runway if you weren’t sure it could be used?” Heathrow and the government hope that, by 2040, 55% of Heathrow passengers will be using public transport, but there is no guarantee whatsoever that legal air quality limits would in reality be met. Currently [2012 data] about 41% of Heathrow passengers use public transport (about 28% by rail and 13% bus/coach – on the road). Heathrow hopes 43% will use rail by 2030. That is estimated to mean an extra over 56 million passengers annually using public transport compared to around 29 million today, and 6 million more passengers travelling to and from the airport by car.
Zac Goldsmith: The too close relationship between Heathrow & Government borders on corrupt – recent examples
Former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has accused the Government and Heathrow Airport of having a relationship that “borders on the corrupt”. He said the closeness of the interaction between the airport and Whitehall was “rotten”. Examples recently of this are that the Chairman of Heathrow since March 2016 (succeeding Sir Nigel Rudd) is Lord Paul Deighton. Between 2013 and 2015 he held the position of Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, some of the roles of which are described as “infrastructure policy, including working with Infrastructure and Projects Authority and National Infrastructure Commission” and “working with the rest of government to promote the UK as a destination for foreign direct investment.” Another recent revolve of the door is Vickie Sherriff, who has since September 2015 been the Head of Communications at Heathrow, having earlier worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. She went to the DfT and then Diageo in 2014. Then there is Simon Baugh, who in March 2015 because the group director of communications at the DfT, having previously been the director of PR at Heathrow. And Nigel Milton. And there are many earlier cases too. Zac commented: “And that’s why you’ve always had this default position in favour of Heathrow.” The DfT naturally rejected any suggestion of corruption.
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.
High Court win by ClientEarth on air pollution casts more doubt on the possibility of adding a Heathrow runway
The environmental law group, ClientEarth, has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. The judge agreed that the UK government had failed to take measures that would bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible” and ministers knew over optimistic pollution modelling was being used. AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) says this failure by the government to get NO2 levels down discredits the air quality plan that formed the basis for the Government’s argument that a new runway at Heathrow would neither cause not exacerbate legal breaches in NO2 levels. Required to publish an updated plan for UK air quality, Defra produced one in December 2015. This brought forward the anticipated date of compliance to 2025 for London – just in time for the opening of a new runway according to the Airports Commission’s anticipated timeline. But the plans appeared to rely on new, more optimistic forecasts of emissions from diesel vehicles without presenting substantive policy proposals to actually deliver improvements. A new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would lead to higher levels of air pollution, and the new court ruling confirms that compliance should not be based on over optimistic modelling – and government needs instead to take action to cut pollution levels.
IAG’s Willie Walsh doubts current Heathrow management could build runway to budget
The chief executive of IAG, Heathrow’s biggest customer, has said he has no confidence in the airport’s management to deliver a new runway cost-effectively. Willie Walsh did not believe Heathrow would build the new runway within the cost constraints on charges to airlines, set out by their regulator, the CAA, under its current management with John Holland-Kaye. Perhaps they could with different management. Willie Walsh has said for years that he is not prepared to pay up-front higher charges, to help Heathrow pay for their runway during its construction. Heathrow has made the odd comment that it will “hold its charges steady on average over the period up to 2048” but that they may go up in some years and down in others. IAG has about half of Heathrow’s take-off and landing slots. The Financial Times believes IAG is likely, according to aviation insiders, to win only around a quarter of slots on the new runway – so it will face more competition. Heathrow’s charges are controlled by the CAA, which wrote to John Holland-Kaye on 25th October, confirming that the airport would not be allowed to raise its charges, and passengers should not have to pay more. The government’s aspiration is that charges should remain close to their current levels. Heathrow would have to to work with airlines and have “productive engagement” with them.
Heathrow 3rd runway: Harmondsworth residents link decision to Brexit
The Huffington Post interviewed people in Harmondsworth a few days after the news that the government intends to give approval for a Heathrow runway. That will mean around half of the village being destroyed, and all of Longford, with the new runway perimeter fence half way down the village. People gathered in the Five Bells Pub in Harmondsworth on 25th October, to watch the TV and get the news together. Some of the people interviewed were Roy Barwick, who has lived there all his life, and whose family has lived in the area for nearly six generations. He spoke of how the small landing strip beside fields his family worked grew to become the giant hub it is today. “My children, my grandchildren and myself occupy four houses in the villages and all of them are earmarked for demolition.“Losing one’s home is a trauma second only to bereavement. I’m not going anywhere. I shan’t leave.” Neil Keveren is a long-standing campaigner, to try to save his village. He believes that Brexit is being used to force the runway through, and it is opportunistic messaging. He spent money improving his home, when Cameron promised there would be no 3rd runway – and the irony is that as parts of Harmondsworth are a conservation area, he had to use specially approved materials. The runway fence will be just outside his property. For some, no amount of money can make up for the memories that may be lost under the tarmac of the new runway.
Truckers warn work for 3rd runway on M25 will cause serious problems, while Highways England expects “excessive customer frustration”
Stark warnings have been issued by the Road Hauliers Association (RHA) and Highways England that construction traffic for a Heathrow 3rd runway could bring everything to a complete standstill, for years. Highways England says: “There will be a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption, first while any Heathrow works are done and then while our works are completed within the wider area.” There will also be the problems from extensive changes to the local roads in Colnbrook and Poyle. RHA’s CEO Richard Burnett said: “We need to have clarity on the plans for the additional necessary road infrastructure during construction work. We also need to know the timescale of the proposed work. Although there will be considerable long-term benefits – increased cargo etc, the immediate impact on the adjacent motorway network – the M25, M4 and M3 will also be considerable”…. “The M25 in particular is already operating to maximum capacity – the addition of construction vehicles will only add to the burden.” A new Highways England document, Airports Commission Surface Access Works, was published by the DfT on 25th October. It makes no mention of the bridge idea.
Teddington Action Group commence judicial review proceedings against government re. Heathrow runway decision
Residents group, Teddington Action Group (TAG) has started judicial proceedings against the government, on its recommendation for a Heathrow runway. The Judicial Review process requires that a Letter of Claim is served on the interested parties, in accordance with “Pre-action Protocol”. This was sent on 27 October. Sir Howard Davies, Chair of the Airports Commission, steered it towards its conclusion to back Heathrow. One of the key claims in the 27 page TAG document relates to the “apparent bias” of Sir Howard, from his remunerated roles at GIC Private Ltd (GIC), one of Heathrow’s principal owners. TAG says from 2009, Sir Howard was a paid adviser to the Investment Strategy Committee of GIC (formerly known as the Singapore Government Investment Co.), advising them on “new growth opportunities”. From 2011, he was appointed to the International Advisory Board of GIC, a board on which he was still sitting on the day of his appointment as “independent” Chair of the AC. Sir Howard only resigned these remunerated roles with GIC, when his appointment to the role as unremunerated Chair of the AC had been confirmed by the government in 2012. At the time of his appointment to the AC, GIC owned 17.65% of Heathrow, was represented on Heathrow’s main Board (as it still is), and was pursuing their shared goal of Heathrow expansion. Sir Howard did not disclose his roles with GIC in the AC’s Register of Interests.
Draft timeline from the DfT of how they hope the Heathrow runway will proceed to completion
The DfT has put forward its anticipated timeline, of how it envisages the various stages progressing. This will start with a draft Airports National Policy Statement being published early in 2017 – followed by a consultation for 16 weeks. There will be a series of local and regional events around the country and in the vicinity of Heathrow. The NPS then goes to a Commons Select committee (which one is not yet known …) which scrutinises it and presumably gives MPs the opportunity to present evidence to the committee. The Select Committee makes its report to Parliament. The Government reviews all the responses to the consultation. It should revise the NPS according to the consultation responses. By now it is autumn 2017. By perhaps late autumn Government publishes final NPS in Parliament, with a subsequent debate, followed by a vote. [Probably goes to the Lords as well as the Commons?]. There could be legal challenges at various stages, which might hold things up. (This is not yet clear). If the NPS is voted through, it is then “designated” (ie. comes into force) by the Transport Secretary. That might be by the start of 2018. Once the NPS is agreed, then Heathrow can begin the formal process of seeking planning permission, which includes further consultation with local communities. The DfT has this down as perhaps 3 years, 2018 – 2021 or 2022. There will be a General Election by May 2020, perhaps in the middle of this. The DfT hope the runway would be operational by some time after 2025 or the late 2020s.
Possible plan to put runway and taxiways on a bridge over M25 (not a tunnel) to save money
The Airports Commission (that cost almost £20 million) looked -in theory – at everything in great detail, and its (allegedly) incontrovertible recommendations have now been followed by government. It talked about the M25 needing to be tunnelled under the runway. It did not mention any sort of bridge. But Heathrow was asked by government to cut the cost of its scheme (in order not to raise costs to passengers, to keep demand for flights high) so it came up recently with the idea of a bridge over the motorway. There is a bridge for one of the runways (+ taxiways) at Schiphol, so it is possible. However, there are enormous questions, not the least of which being that nobody has seen any details (cost, practicality, level of disruption, safety, terrorism danger etc) let alone been consulted. The section of motorway that might be bridged is the busiest on the M25, one of the busiest (it might be the busiest) in Europe, and the busiest in the UK. DfT figures show around 263,000 vehicles per day on the Junction 14-15 stretch in 2014. The runway would need to be raised about 8 metres in order to get over the motorway. Heathrow has only said it would spend a total of £1.1 billion for surface access infrastructure. The cost of tunnelling was estimated by the Airports Commission at £3.2 billion. Chris Grayling said absolutely nothing in his announcement, or in Parliament, about how much of the TfL estimate of £18 bn for surface access work the taxpayer would have to fund.
Professor Alice Larkin: Expanding Heathrow flies in the face of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Professor Larkin, an expert on climate policy, says measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel, such as the 3rd Heathrow runway, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and are inconsistent with tackling climate change. In the past we have slightly limited the growth in UK aviation CO2 by having constraints on Heathrow and Gatwick runway capacity. The government now wants to remove that constraint. Professor Larkin says: “Researchers will need to raise their voices to new levels given this week’s decisions. The upcoming call from the Environmental Audit Committee for evidence of the impacts of the 3rd runway is a welcome opportunity on the horizon, but the government have to be willing to sit up and pay attention to the evidence of climate change scientists and prove their commitment to the Paris Agreement.” It is not enough to depend on future improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency, which have only been incremental. There have been no new, groundbreaking technical solutions to decarbonise the aviation sector. An increase in air travel cannot somehow be compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goals. All this suggests that climate change science is being overlooked by the UK government to an even greater extent than it was before.
CAA writes to Heathrow setting out its expectations, including preventing airline cost rises
Andrew Haines, the CEO of the CAA, has written to John Holland-Kaye to tell him that airport charges should be kept down, despite the huge costs of the runway and terminal etc. The CAA is the body that controls Heathrow’s charges to airlines. Mr Haines said the CAA “expects to see constructive engagement between the airport and its airline customers to drive value for money and efficiency.” The CAA will soon publish (November) their proposals on how Heathrow can recover planning and construction costs. The letter to Heathrow says: “But a new runway project cannot simply be treated as ‘business as usual’ and it will require airport-airline engagement to be taken to a deeper and much more productive level by both sides.” And “You will have seen the Government’s aspiration that airport charges should remain close to current levels, indeed the Secretary of State was clear on this being a goal inches announcement.” And the CAA is keen to work with Heathrow, the airlines and other interested parties on the appropriate framework for the recovery of future construction costs, and their immediate priority is a clear timetable for this. There will also be a CAA consultation on key options for the economic regulation framework, to be published by the end of June 2017. There will also be a series of consultation documents through 2017 in which the CAA “will seek to build and expand on its regulatory principles.”
DfT finds alleged £147 billion economic benefit to UK (over 60 years) of Heathrow runway more like “up to £61 billion”
It appears the economic benefits of a Heathrow runway have been exaggerated wildly. [We have been saying that for a year and a quarter …. as have numerous critics of the runway – but the media and the government preferred to believe the exaggerated numbers]. The government announcement on 25th October only says the benefit of the Heathrow runway would be £61 billion, for the whole of the UK, over 60 years. The earlier figure had been “up to £147 billion” (both for a carbon-traded scenario). The Airports Commission used economic modelling for its projections, which was criticised as being unreliable, by its own economic advisors, Professor Peter Mackie and Mr Brian Pearce (May 2015) which warned of double counting, and questioned the “robustness and reliability” of the method. Heathrow then took an even higher figure, of £211 billion (UK benefit, over 60 years) from part of the Commission’s analysis, and promoted this widely. Many, unfortunately, were misled. One of the ways the AC forecasts were to high is including benefits to non-UK residents. Another is double counting all sorts of spin-off activities, that are already accounted for in other sectors. DfT says given the uncertainties, “various calculation approaches have been proposed over time. Ongoing engagement with external experts means that the preferred methodology continues to evolve, and is likely to continue doing so after the publication of this report.” ie. these figures may change again (downwards??)
New DfT report indicates number of local jobs from Heathrow 3rd runway about 37,700 by 2030 – not “up to 77,000”
The Airports Commission’s Final Report said the Heathrow NW runway would lead to an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [direct, indirect and induced jobs – ie. supply chain etc] in 2030 for local people. Indeed, Heathrow “astroturf” lobby group got membership partly on the strength of the jobs claims. But now, having looked at the details, the DfT has come up with much lower figures. While the statement on the DfT website on 25th October still says “up to 77,000” local jobs, its more considered assessment “review and sensitivities” document accepted these figures were exaggerated. Instead they now say, using a more accurate method, the number of local jobs might be 37,740 by 2030, not 77,000. By 2050, the DfT now estimate the number of jobs might be 39,100 – while the Commission expected 78,360. The DfT say the 2050 figure is the cumulative total, and cannot be added to the number of jobs created by 2030. The DfT “assessment and sensitivities” report states that it had “identified a number of uncertainties with the approach taken” to assessing jobs by the Commission, which used job multipliers from the airports. These “could lead to significantly different results”. The new DfT figures use Berkeley Hanover Consulting Ltd (BHC) and Optimal Economics Ltd survey data rather than airport assumptions to generate estimates of the indirect job multipliers, which are likely to be more robust.
Possible plan to put Heathrow runway and taxiways on a bridge over M25 (not a tunnel) to save money
The Airports Commission (that cost almost £20 million) looked -in theory – at everything in great detail, and its (allegedly) incontrovertible recommendations have now been followed by government. It talked about the M25 needing to be tunnelled under the runway. It did not mention any sort of bridge. But Heathrow was asked by government to cut the cost of its scheme (in order not to raise costs to passengers, to keep demand for flights high) so it came up recently with the idea of a bridge over the motorway. There is a bridge for one of the runways (+ taxiways) at Schiphol, so it is possible. However, there are enormous questions, not the least of which being that nobody has seen any details (cost, practicality, level of disruption, safety, terrorism danger etc) let alone been consulted. The section of motorway that might be bridged is the busiest on the M25, one of the busiest (it might be the busiest) in Europe, and the busiest in the UK. DfT figures show around 263,000 vehicles per day on the Junction 14-15 stretch in 2014. The runway would need to be raised about 8 metres in order to get over the motorway. Heathrow has only said it would spend a total of £1.1 billion for surface access infrastructure. The cost of tunnelling was estimated by the Airports Commission at £3.2 billion. Chris Grayling said absolutely nothing in his announcement, or in Parliament, about how much of the TfL estimate of £18 bn for surface access work the taxpayer would have to fund.
Some of the innumerable comments and articles about the Heathrow runway decision
The government decision to give its backing to a 3rd Heathrow runway has been greeted by massive press coverage, and comments in their hundreds by commentators of all sorts. Below is just a small selection of some of the points that are of interest, taken as extracts from the coverage. There are some of the comments from a huge range of people and organisation. These include people in Harmondsworth, about the frightening prospect of having their homes compulsorily purchased, and being forced to move – to they know now where. And comments by Greenpeace, Client Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation and Friends of the Earth. And bits on the plan not to tunnel the M25, but build a bridge with a small hill for the runway, over the motorway. Also comments by Zac Goldsmith, on his resignation and imminent by-election; comments from Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, Tania Mathias, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Ruth Cadbury. And from Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Also from Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor Maidenhead councils, and WWF UK and Plane Stupid and Reclaim the Power. As well as some pro-runway comments by the CBI, and Willie Walsh, Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary. And a comment from Gatwick. With apologies for cutting short some of the comments, for the requirement of brevity ….
Government decides on new runway at Heathrow – with no certainty on air pollution, noise or CO2
The government has made its announcement that it backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow, using the north west option (not the extended northern runway). It has decided to entirely follow the recommendation of the Airports Commission, by backing one runway only. The statement from Chris Grayling is on the DfT website, with a list of supporting documents. The government glosses over details of how it could ensure the runway did not cause worse air pollution, or worse noise, or higher CO2 emissions. Neither the DfT statement, nor Chris Grayling’s contributions in the House, give any clarity or reassurances on most of the problems that a 3rd runway will create. There will be a consultation, starting in early 2017, on the National Policy Statement, which has to be agreed by both House of Parliament before Heathrow could go ahead with the planning stages for its runway. The government’s statements say things like: “Despite the increase in flights Heathrow Airport Ltd has made firm commitments to noise reduction. The government will propose that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights …” And “the government proposes new legally binding noise targets, encouraging the use of quieter planes, and a more reliable and predictable timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path.” And new work “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place”….. ie. vague waffly aspirations, with zero practical details.
Environment Audit Cttee will be calling Ministers to give evidence on Heathrow runway environmental impacts
The Environment Audit Committee has announced (already) that, after the government’s announcement that it backs a Heathrow runway, it will be calling Ministers to scrutinise how environmental concerns are being mitigated. The EAC has scrutinised the Airports Commission in the past, on environmental problems of a Heathrow runway. The EAC wants assurances from the Government that a new runway will comply with key environmental conditions. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said it would be necessary to look at what the runway means for local residents, on air quality and noise standards and also on carbon emissions. She said: …”we need a clear plan to reduce emissions from aviation to meet our climate change targets. … The Government must ensure that current legal EU air pollution limits are retained after we leave, to protect the health and wellbeing of local people. We wait to hear what the airport’s plans are for covering the costs of local transport. … On noise we welcome Heathrow’s announcement that it will accept a ban on night flights. Ministers must ensure that local communities receive predictable respite from planes flying over their homes.” The EAC report, published in November 2015, called upon the Government and Heathrow to demonstrate how issues were to be dealt with. They are not persuaded by the replies.
Government back Heathrow 3rd runway. Not Gatwick
IATA forecasts UK air passengers by 2030 perhaps 25 million below DfT – so no need for a runway by 2030
IATA, the airlines’ trade association, expects that with a “hard Brexit” the number of UK air passengers could be 25 million fewer than government forecasts. 25 million passengers is about the entire annual throughput of Stansted. Though all forecasts are bound to be inaccurate, the problems of the weaker £ and changes to the relationship with the EU are likely to cut demand for air travel in the coming decade. Heathrow etc are keen to claim (having been totally against Brexit before the Referendum) that the UK now needs even more airport capacity. The reality is more than demand may fall, after 4 years of rapid growth before the EU referendum. IATA expect a hard Brexit (more likely) could cause air traffic to be 8-9% lower than with a soft Brexit (less likely). IATA’s forecast of 257 million UK flyers would equate to a total of just over 290 million passengers, including transfers, by 2030. (About 251 million in 2015). The Airports Commission believed, based on DfT forecasts, that a new runway should be constructed in the UK by 2030, predicted an increase to 315 million passengers by 2030. With the lower forecasts, that would not be till 2040. IATA’s revised forecasts indicate air passenger demand near the lower limit of the DfT forecasts.
Runway decision by Cabinet due 25th October, no Commons vote, and NPS consultation for new runway all next year
The Cabinet met today (18th October) and did not come to a formal agreement on backing a Heathrow runway. However it is widely believed to be the preferred option of Mrs May and most of the Cabinet. There will be another meeting of the Cabinet next Tuesday, and after that a statement will be made by Chris Grayling in the House of Commons, on which runway location is chosen. There will not be a vote in Parliament soon afterwards, as had been speculated. Instead – as had always been known – there will be consultation next year on the Airports National Policy Statement, which is needed before a development as large as a runway – a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project – can be applied for. The government hopes to have the Airports NPS completed, put to Parliament to vote on, and finally published (designated) by around the end of 2017 or early 2018 . She has written to all Cabinet Ministers laying out what they can, and cannot do, in terms of opposing the Cabinet runway decision. Ministers opposed to her decision have to ask her approval first to be permitted not to toe the line …. This is aimed especially at Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Mrs May says: “…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”
Heathrow opponents take inspiration from 5 years of noise protests after 3rd Frankfurt runway
With a decision by government expected shortly, and the likelihood of a Heathrow runway being approved, 3 Heathrow campaigners went to join in one of the massive (almost) weekly demos at Frankfurt airport. Back in October 2011 a 3rd Frankfurt runway was opened. The local residents had not been informed just how much worse the plane noise they suffer would become, with new routes and alterations to old routes. About a million people in the area are affected. Since then they have held hundreds of protests, almost every Monday evening, against this reduction in their quality of life, the noise intrusion they suffer, and the drop in the prices of their homes. The Frankfurt area residents say they will never give up. The Heathrow campaigners said something very similar would happen to noise, with a 3rd Heathrow runway. Speaking to the crowd of many hundreds of protesters in the terminal, John Stewart said: “What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. We will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.” Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, said: “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath, I am pretty sure they are going to get the same sort of response at home.”
Stansted will fight if Gatwick & Heathrow both get new runways – as they did not get opportunity to make their case
Amid rumours that the government might be intending to approve runway plans for both Heathrow and Gatwick, rather than just one or other, the owner of Stansted – Manchester Airports Group – says it would launch a legal challenge if that happened. They say the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, only fully examined the case for one new runway to be built before 2030. That is what its final report in July 2015 recommended. The Commission was aware that within CO2 constraints, it would be difficult to justify adding a 2nd runway. It said any case for a 2nd new runway would “need to be closely scrutinised in the light of climate-change policy”.However, it concluded two runways might be needed to if air travel demand by 2050 was to be met, and that could be assessed later on. Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said that MAP would have to legally challenge because other airports had not been given the opportunity to present their own cases for the second phase of UK airport expansion post-2030. If there were to be two new runways approved, there would need to be a whole new process before government could make that decision. That would also include the loser this time round (Heathrow or Gatwick). Stansted did not put forward a case for a new runway to the Commission in 2012-13, as its single runway was nowhere near full.
Little new on aviation in CCC advice after Paris Agreement – STILL waiting for Government policy on aviation CO2 (they want to get in another runway first)
The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice to government on UK climate action following the Paris Agreement last December. It sees aviation as a “challenging” or “hard to treat” sector from which to cut emissions. The CCC advocates greenhouse gas removal options (e.g. afforestation, carbon-storing materials, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) to help deal with these CO2 emissions. It is aware that the option for these measures is limited, though it suggests 10% use of biofuel in aircraft eventually (and reduced red meat consumption in diets as a solution …) The CCC suggests shifting demand to lower emissions alternatives (e.g. virtual conferencing in place of international air travel). The CCC say government should develop strategies for greenhouse gas removal technologies and reducing emissions from the hardest-to-treat sectors eg. aviation. The CCC continues to say UK aviation CO2 emissions should not be above 37.5MtCO2 by 2050. They have said (Nov 2015) that government should publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions by autumn 2016. This has NOT happened. While international aviation is not yet included in UK carbon budgets, the CCC said in Nov 2015 that it would “provide further advice following the ICAO negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.” No mention of that yet.
New Civil Engineer believes Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham set to get go ahead for runways – others say just one runway …
The NCE believes government will give the go ahead to new runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick – on 18th October. The NCE expects Heathrow would be allowed a runway immediately, and Gatwick could build a 2nd runway within the next 5 years. NCE also understands the government will urge Birmingham airport to plan a 2nd runway. The reason for this decision, other than the difficulties in making it, is ascribed to the forecasts of air passenger numbers being inaccurate. (Forecasts are, of course, usually inaccurate … and air passenger numbers depend on many variables, including oil price, and the strength of the £ and UK and global economy). The DfT produced very bullish passenger forecasts in 2007, which were way too high and knocked back by the recession. Lower forecasts were produced in 2011, and then lower again in 2013. The Airports Commission did its own forecasts, over a range of scenarios – and took account of the fact that aviation expansion would be constrained by the annual cap on CO2 emissions of 37.5 MtCO2. Because air passenger numbers have recovered to their pre-recession levels, it is believed by some that this rapid growth will continue and the forecasts are too low. The “predict and provide” scenario would require more runways. This sort of growth in UK aviation challenges our legally binding UK carbon targets under the Climate Change Act 2008.
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.” ”
Thousands (20,000?) march to the ZAD at Notre Dame des Landes, planting their sticks symbolic of opposition to new Nantes airport (western France)
At Notre-Dame-des-Landes, where a new airport for Nantes is planned, there was a massive mobilisation on Saturday 8th October against it. Somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 people from many distant parts of France walked to the ZAD (zone à défendre), with sticks to symbolise their determination that this land will not be built on for the airport, which they are sure is not necessary. The sticks rang out on the roads surrounding the planned airport site, as the walkers arrived – and they planted the vast number of staffs in the soil, as an expression that they will be back to defend the site against the forces of the state. The only way the government, and the airport developer, Vinci, can take the site is by force – using huge numbers of riot police. They would have to take back a large area (1650 hectares), and keep it defended against zadistes for a long time. Might they try to take and hold part of the site? This situation is difficult, expensive and risky for the government. There have been violent clashes in the past, over the defence of the ZAD. At another protest site, the Sivens Dam, a protester – Rémi Fraisse – died after being hit by a police flash grenade. It is hoped the police would not use force for the evictions. The airport project got a small vote in its favour in June in a public consultation, though the fairness of that is questioned by objectors. There were delays waiting for legal permissions to destroy water vole habitat and wetlands, but these have now been approved.
New research on Heathrow meeting air pollution standards with 3rd runway is highly speculative and not convincing
The BBC published a story about work, funded by NERC and led by a Cambridge professor, on Heathrow air pollution levels. The work is ongoing and not yet published, but the BBC made the claim that it showed a Heathrow 3rd runway would not breach NO2 levels. The timing of the story by the BBC, one or two weeks before it is expected the Cabinet will make an announcement, may be due to Heathrow manipulation. The study in reality is looking at modelling of future air pollution, based on a range of assumptions – nothing new. Its projections are only as good as its modelling inputs. If assumptions that vehicles will rapidly convert to lower-NO2 engines, or the uptake of electric vehicles will be fast, then forecasts of NO2 can be low. But this is highly speculative. Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the AEF, said: “The assumption would have to be that, over the next decade, we’d move from having something like 57% of London’s vehicles being diesel vehicles to instead having ultra-clean electric vehicles throughout the capital. There just isn’t evidence to suggest that’s going to happen.” Client Earth’s CEO James Thornton said: “When making the decision on Heathrow the government has a moral and legal duty to protect people’s health and ensure they have the right to breathe clean air. It shouldn’t base its decision on optimistic modelling at best and a naive view of the car industry that has proven time and time again it can’t be trusted to bring levels of air pollution down.” The study did not look at increases in road traffic, or what proportion would be associated with the new runway.
ICAO’s aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further to cut CO2. It does not solve the CO2 problem of a new UK runway
A deal was finally agreed by ICAO on 6th October. It was progress, in that there had never been any sort of agreement on global aviation CO2 emissions before. But it was not a great deal – and far too weak to provide the necessary restriction on the growth of global aviation CO2. It came in the same week that the Paris Agreement crossed its crucial threshold to enter into force, but the ICAO deleted key provisions for the deal to align its ambitions with the Paris aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees with best efforts to not exceed 1.5 degrees C. Tim Johnson, Director of AEF and the lead representative of The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) – the official environmental civil society observer at the global negotiations, said in relation to the UK: “But while today’s deal is applauded, this international effort falls well short of the effort required to bring UK aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act. With a decision on a new runway expected later this month, the UK’s ambition for aviation emissions must match the ambition of the Climate Change Act, and not simply the ICAO global lowest common denominator of carbon neutral growth from 2020. The ICAO scheme could make a contribution towards the ambition of the Climate Change Act, but it does not solve the whole problem.”
ASA uphold Teddington Action Group’s complaint about 4th misleading Heathrow advert
The Teddington Action Group complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) back in July about misleading information put out by Heathrow, implying that “A majority of MPs support expansion”. Heathrow got a Comres poll done, of 150 MPs, and said that of these 65% supported a 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow then generalised this result to claim the same support across all 650 MPs. The ASA has upheld TAG’s complaint against the Heathrow claim “A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion” was misleading as it was based on a survey of only 150 MPs and the geographical make-up of the MPs surveyed meant a bias in the result; and The advert did not provide sufficient clarity on where the claim that “Expanding Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn of economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across Britain” was sourced. The only evidence for the claims in the ads is a link to the Airports Commission, in tiny print – and no indication of the caveats on those figures – or that the economic benefits are over 60 years). The ASA agreed the advert had breached the Advertising Codes. To avoid negative publicity, Heathrow agreed to make the required changes to the advert and the case was informally resolved by the ASA. This is the fourth such ruling in 18 months against adverts claiming support for Heathrow expansion.
Reclaim the Power #staygrounded die-in flashmob at Heathrow against runway, and Critical Mass cycle ride
Two spectacular “Stay Grounded” protests took place at Heathrow, against a possible third runway. Both were organised by Reclaim the Power, which is a grassroots organisation taking action with local communities on environmental, economic and social justice issues. The protests at Heathrow were against aviation expansion, partly due to its carbon emissions and also local air pollution, and to highlight the social injustice of climate change impacts around the world. Hundreds of activists staged a “die-in” flashmob in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, and there was a Critical Mass bike ride of about 150 risers wearing red, which circled the area, visiting Harmondsworth Detention Centre and Longford village, and briefly obstructing traffic by circling the main roundabout on Bath Road. The “die-in” involved over 100 people, many of whom wore masks to symbolise the pollution from aviation. Testimonies from communities already affected by climate change were read out, including from Pacific islands that are suffering from sea level rise. Street theatre at the protest showed high income frequent fliers, checking in and drinking champagne (being critical of the “irresponsible” environmental protesters ….) There was also a flashmob action at Gatwick, and others as part of a global wave of actions opposing airport expansion (including Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey), timed to coincide with the major ICAO conference aiming to address the emissions impact of aviation.
Heathrow more likely to get MPs’ backing as Jeremy Corbyn suggests Labour MPs could have free, unwhipped, vote
Jeremy Corbyn has suggested it would not be easy to whip Labour MPs to vote against a 3rd runway at Heathrow, despite his personal opposition to it, largely on environmental grounds. He has not yet decided whether to hold a free vote, but it could be difficult to get his MPs to agree that the runway and expansion would cause harmful air pollution and noise impacts. A vote in favour of Heathrow expansion is more likely to go through if Labour MPs are allowed to vote with their conscience. This matters as the Conservative majority is small, and there are dozens of Conservatives MPs who are against it. The decision on whether to build a runway, and if so, at Heathrow or Gatwick, is set to be put to a free vote of Conservative MPs in the coming weeks, to allow Cabinet ministers to vote against Heathrow, without having to resign – avoiding the need for collective responsibility. Mr Corbyn told The Guardian that there was a “huge debate in the party about it” and that his shadow cabinet would have to “have a discussion and debate” to work out a way forward. He said, of his rebellious MPs: “What I’ve discovered is whipping Labour when Labour doesn’t want to be whipped is not an easy thing to do.” Heathrow has worked hard to persuade MPs in the regions that its new runway would mean more domestic flights and more economic prosperity for them – however uncertain that is in reality. MPs whose constituencies are not affected across the country hope for local benefits.
FT reports Tories feel they have enough backing in Parliament to push through Heathrow runway
The Financial Times says the Conservative Party Chairman, Patrick McLoughlin, has done a vote assessment, and found that there would be enough support in Parliament for a Heathrow 3rd runway. It is considered possible that the Cabinet’s runway sub-committee -chaired by Theresa May – will come to a runway location decision on the 11th or the 18th October. The Cabinet would need to agree to the decision by the sub-Committee, and it would then be announced in Parliament, by Chris Grayling. There could be a Parliamentary vote soon afterwards, perhaps only be a week later. The government would not want to risk a vote on this, unless they knew they would get a majority. The FT understands that Heathrow would easily win enough votes, but there is not enough backing for a Gatwick runway. Though there is massive opposition to a Heathrow runway due to its widespread and seriously negative impacts, and therefore it is likely Theresa May would allow a free vote. It is unlikely the Labour leadership would try to whip hostile MPs on the runway issue, at a time of wider party disunity, though Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are against the Heathrow runway. The FT reports that one insider cautioned it is “not a foregone conclusion” that Mrs May will back the Heathrow runway — or even that there would be a vote. An aviation executive said the prime minister “is like a sphinx on this”. ie. inscrutable.
Heathrow proposals for pre-runway 25,000 / year flight increase from 2021, to try and win Government backing for 3rd runway
Heathrow will be putting forward some proposals at the Conservative party conference, to be allowed to start increasing the annual number of flights from 2021 by 25,000 per year (about 68 more per day). “New technology and better use of existing runways will achieve this.” (ie. largely loss of runway alternation part of the day, and narrow flight paths?). Heathrow is selling this as a way to start to give a quick “Brexit boost”, even before its hoped for 3rd runway is operational. Heathrow is claiming that the “environmental constraints” will all be met (it is unclear how this will be done) with no more noise problems, no more air pollution problems etc. All that is proposed is more money for home noise insulation, (£60 million – it has already said it will spend £700 million) and a congestion charge – no details – for vehicles travelling to and from Heathrow. The plans will be subject to consultation and Government approval. There is a mention of talks with government in future to perhaps delay the start of scheduled flights to 5.30am from the current 4.30am. The main thrust of Heathrow’s plans is to say the extra flights will be vital for the economy, with slots set aside for domestic flights. There would be a £10 domestic passenger discount to support “small and large exporters, boosting competition.” There are claims of 5,000 more local jobs over 5 years by this pre-runway expansion, and extensive economic benefits for all the UK …. £1.5 billion in the period 2021 – 2015.
ONS data shows rising monthly tourism deficit, with more Brits holidaying abroad and spending more (most by air)
The ONS (Office for National Statistics) produces monthly data on the numbers of UK residents who travel abroad, and for what reason. Also the number of overseas residents who travel to the UK, and for what reason. They also record how much the UK residents spend on their trips abroad, and how much overseas visitors spend in the UK. The net balance, between the two amounts is called the Tourism Deficit. It is always a deficit, as much more is spent by British outbound visitors, than by visitors coming into the UK. The ONS data for July show that, in the year to the end of July 2016 – UK residents made 67.8 million visits abroad, up +7% compared to the year before. Overseas residents made 36.6 million visits to the UK in that period, up + 4% on the year before. UK residents spent £40.8 billion on these visits during the year, which was +9% more than the same period a year earlier. But the overseas residents spent £21.8 billion on their visits to the UK, which was -1% less than the year before. The deficit grew significantly between July 2014 and July 2016, from £0.93 billion to £1.76 billion, for just that one month. The UK tourism deficit for all of 2015 was £16. 9 billion. Of all the trips made by UK residents abroad, the proportion to Europe is around 79 – 80% of the total, and 20% to the US and the rest of the world. Of all the trips to the UK, about 72 – 73% are from Europe, and about 28% are from the US and the rest of the world. Most trips other than to nearby Europe are by air.
Treasury Select Committee Chairman writes to Chris Grayling and Philip Hammond to question economic benefits of runway
Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Committee, wrote to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, on 14th September, questioning the economic case for HS2 and airport expansion. Andrew Tyrie says in his letter: “The economic case to support the conclusions of the Davies report lacks crucial information.” On 27th November 2015, he tabled 15 parliamentary questions on details of the economic justification [all copied on link below]. These have yet to be answered 10 months later (they just had a standard holding reply from Robert Goodwill). Andrew Tyrie says: “For the fifth time I am attaching these questions. Failure to answer them will lead people either to conclude that this work has not been done – in which case it would be unacceptable for a decision to be made without the evidence to support it – or that it has been done, and gives answers that do not necessarily support the conclusions of the Davies report. I do not suggest that either of these are the case. The best way to answer these concerns is to public the information immediately. As we discussed, I have written in similar terms to the Chancellor.” “Without this information, the evidence in support of any decision that the Government takes on airport capacity will be incomplete.” His Parliamentary Questions focus, in particular, on Table 7.1 in the Airport Commission’s Final Report, of July 2015. (Table copied above). Mr Tyrie spoke to Chris Grayling on 15 August 2016.
Tania Mathias MP calls for Grayling to step in over proposed £3 billion cuts to Heathrow plan – re-consultation necessary?
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been asked by Dr Tania Mathias MP to intervene on Heathrow’s £3 billion cost-cutting proposals it announced last week. In order to cut costs, and perhaps get a runway built faster, Heathrow’s Chairman Lord Deighton suggested that changes to plans would be made – though nothing has been put forward yet, but they might be in the next weeks. The cuts would mean scrapping plans to (expensively) tunnel the 14 lane M25 under the runway, and a transit rail system around the airport. Conservative MP Tania Mathias, whose Twickenham constituency is under Heathrow flight paths, said the new plan had caused local people “considerable anxiety.” She has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, asking him to demand the plan goes back out to public consultation and scrutiny by the Airports Commission (though that has been disbanded). Dr Mathias also wants Chris Grayling to make public any official talks on the late changes, between the airport and government departments. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith also wrote to Lord Deighton that the revised plan would cause Londoners “more environmental misery”. The changes to the roads are not clear, and cutting cost could lead to gridlock on the busiest stretch of the M25. The DfT just said the Government “will continue to consider the commission’s evidence.”
West Midlands business & political leaders write to Theresa May urging support for regional airport expansion
Business and political leaders from across West Midlands have signed a letter to Theresa May, well before the government is due to make an announcement on building a new south east runway (or expanding airport capacity in some other way). West Midlands business and political leaders want the government to support the growth of a competitive network of airports in the UK, rather than expanding still more in the South East. They want local airports that “can act as drivers for local growth in their regions.” They say: “Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.” Among the signatories of the letter are the chief executives of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Marketing Birmingham and Birmingham Airport as well as MPs and educational leaders. Earlier this week, it emerged the Prime Minister was considering the possibility of expanding Birmingham Airport as a way of increasing UK airport capacity. Birmingham people hope they will benefit from HS2, in 10 years’ time, when the fast rail link would increase their catchment area and speed the link to London. The Midlands plan to boost their economy and need government to make decisions that rebalance the UK economy.
Times reports that Heathrow is hoping to get 50 more flights per day 2020 – 2024 before 3rd runway
Heathrow flights are capped at 480,000 flights per year – which was set as a condition of the Terminal 5 planning consent in 2001.Heathrow now wants to increase the number of flights by about 19,000, giving a total of about 499,000 per year – which means about an extra 50 planes per day, taking off or landing. This would happen relatively soon, and about 4 years before a 3rd runway was operational – during its construction stage. The cap of 480,000 can only be lifted if there is a planning application for a 3rd runway, and that could take several years to start – maybe not till 2020. Heathrow is attempting to gloss over the inevitably increased noise by its chairman Lord Deighton saying the increase “would be accompanied by sweeping mitigation measures outlined by the airport in May, including a ban on night flights.” If that was true, it is likely to mean the loss of the half day of respite people east of the airport get, from runway alternation, when runways switch at 3pm each day. This is hugely valued by tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Its reduction or removal would be fiercely opposed. Heathrow is trying to persuade government etc that more flights is vital to “show that Britain was “open for business” after the Brexit vote. They repeatedly play the Brexit card nowadays.
Times reports that Heathrow plans to offer to cut costs and build runway scheme faster
The Times reports that it has learned how Heathrow is planning to cut up to £3 billion (out of about £17.6 billion) from its plans for a 3rd runway, in order to persuade Theresa May and the Cabinet that the runway could be delivered – and delivered a year earlier. Revised plans include potentially scrapping plans to tunnel the M25 under the 3rd runway, not building a transit system to carry passengers around the airport (using buses instead) and smaller terminal buildings. The aim is not only to get the runway working by 2024 but also -with reduced costs – keeping charges for passengers a bit lower. The Airports Commission estimated the cost per passenger would need to rise from £20 now to £29. Airlines like British Airways are not prepared to pay such high costs, and especially not before the runway opens. BA’s Willie Walsh has described Heathrow’s runway plans as “gold-plated”. The Times expects that Heathrow will announce its new “cheaper, faster” plans by the end of September. There is no mention of the “Heathrow Hub” option of extending the northern runway – a slightly cheaper scheme than the airport’s preferred new north west runway. There is no clarity on quite what Heathrow plans for the M25, if they cannot afford to tunnel all 14 lanes (at least £ 5 billion). Lord Deighton said it might be “diverted” or have “some form of bridge.”
Document spotted on Tube shows Government considering a free vote on runway issue
Channel 4 News has reported that a Cabinet Office memo seen – and photographed – on the tube which reveals that the Government is considering a free vote in Parliament following an announcement on the runway decision. A tube passenger filmed a very senior Cabinet Office civil servant holding the paper that discussed “potential waiving of collective responsibility.” The document was addressed to Cabinet Office official Sue Gray, from another official, Sharon Carter. It did not confirm if a free vote would be granted, but it focused more on how it might work as an option. It is certainly a possibility, especially if the decision is for Heathrow. A free vote would allow Cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, who are deeply opposed to the 3rd runway, to vote against it without needing to act on collective responsibility where ministers are expected to publicly support government policy, even if they disagree with it in public. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “It is unprecedented for a free vote to be granted on anything other than a constitutional issue or a matter of conscience. The fact that the Government is considering one on a third runway reveals once again the strength of the opposition within the Cabinet.” It certainly shows the problems the government has with this “politically toxic and financially unviable” decision.
GACC denounces the “obscene” bonus of up to £5 million for Wingate if he gets the 2nd runway
GACC is appalled to read the Sunday Times report that Gatwick boss, Stewart Wingate, is in line to receive a bonus of up to £5 million. Brendon Sewill chairman of GACC commented: “If Gatwick gets a new runway, he walks off with an obscene bonus while hundreds of thousands of people will suffer more noise; 50,000 will suffer worse pollution; thousands of motorists will be stuck in traffic jams; thousands of rail passengers will have to stand; Sussex countryside will be diminished by a new town the size of Crawley; 17 historic buildings will be demolished; and worse climate change damage will cause misery across the world.” All that misery and Wingate swans off with his bonus – but with the curses of thousands ringing in his ears. GACC is also fascinated to learn that Gatwick has spent almost £40 million on its runway publicity campaign, on advertising, planning for the 2nd runway and undermining its rivals. Brendon Sewill says: “An American company has been using American style advertising and lobbying tactics But all the evidence is that British Cabinet Ministers, British MPs and British civil servants are not easily bought. We have a proud tradition that Government decisions need to be taken on a rational analysis of the evidence. So all those expensive lunches may actually prove counterproductive.”
London City Airport runway blocked by protesters in support of “Black Lives Matter”, who got there by dinghy
Flights at London City Airport were disrupted this morning after a group of protesters occupied the runway. Earlier reports said they were from Plane Stupid, but later reports say they are in support of “Black Lives Matter”. Police were called to the airport at 5.40am to reports of demonstrators getting onto the runway. They got to the runway by using a small rubber dinghy to get across the Royal Docks. A statement released by the group said: “This morning activists in support of Black Lives Matter UK shutdown London City Airport… This action was taken in order to highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally. As the largest per capita contributor to global temperature change and yet among the least vulnerable to its deadly effects, the UK leads in ensuring that our climate crisis is a racist crisis.” The protesters were chained together, as the Plane Stupid group were in their protest occupation of the runway at Heathrow (13th July 2015). All flights due to land at London City airport were diverted to Southend and Gatwick airports. The runway was closed for around 6 hours, and a number of passengers had inconvenient delays to their travel. All 9 protesters were arrested and held in police custody. Black Lives Matter have carried out other protests recently.
Desperate to persuade MPs to back its runway, increasingly improbable claims by Heathrow of its benefit to the UK. Dodgy claim of “£24,500 benefit per family” and ability to cut VAT by 2.5% by 2060 due to runway (sic)
Heathrow is making all possible efforts to persuade as many MPs as possible to back its 3rd runway bid, before the government (Chris Grayling) makes a statement on the matter – probably in October. Heathrow has now commissioned and paid for a “study” by CEBR, perhaps by Vicky Pryce with a foreword by her, that aims to give the impression that the 3rd runway will make an immense financial contribution to the UK. The study would not pass peer review. Its methodology is not given, and there is no justification for any of its claims. Heathrow says (it tries to avoid making it clear this is over 60 years) its runway would boost GDP by “£24,500” per family. It omits to say how many families it is considering, or the total GDP benefit. A bit of simple mathematics shows Heathrow is claiming a GDP boost of £458 billion over 60 years, as the ONS says there are 18.7 million families in the UK (2015). The Airports Commission’s most optimistic scenarios gave a maximum benefit, over 60 years, of £211 billion. Its main forecast was for a UK benefit of £147 billion. This was seriously questioned as being exaggerated, even by the Commission’s own financial advisors. This £458 billion figure, apparently plucked from thin air, is well over double that. And Heathrow says there will be so much benefit that by 2060 (with no rationale given) we could cut VAT by 2.5% due to the runway.
Flood of complaints from people upset by newly concentrated flight paths at London City airport
London City Airport’s decision to concentrate all its flights paths earlier this year, with changes from 4th February, has resulted in a flood of complaints. HACAN East, which speaks for residents under the flight paths, has launched a short report outlining some of the complaints they received in just one month. With hot summer weather and people being outdoors more, or opening their windows more, the problem of aircraft noise is at its worst as people are most aware of it. HACAN East said the newly concentrated flight paths have brought complaints from many areas for the first time. The complaints have come from vast swathes of east and south east London. Hundreds of people have said they did not have flights in the past, but now get them sometimes as often as every 3 minutes. People who moved to the area are now subjected to a level of noise they could not have expected, and they are affected by Heathrow arrivals as well as London City flights. People are especially upset if they moved from a noisy area, hoping they had moved to a quieter one. John Stewart said that HACAN East has met airport representatives who said they “have not closed their mind” to looking again at the concentrated flight paths but will not do so until next year after the Government (DfT) has issued its forthcoming consultation on national airspace policy.
Richmond Heathrow Campaign letter to the PM: Contrary to the Airports Commission’s recommendation, the Commission’s evidence demonstrates Heathrow should not be expanded
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) has done a lot of detailed work, checking through the voluminous details of reports for the Airports Commission. The headline statements by the Commission, with its enthusiasm for a Heathrow northwest runway, are often not in accord with other figures in their documents. The RHC has written both to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary, setting out a lot of concerns about a 3rd runway, and facts and figures from the Commission itself that show the case for a runway is very weak. The RHC make the points that adding a new Heathrow runway would be contrary to the Government’s aim for re-balancing the UK economy across the regions, as it can only be done by reducing the market for other UK airports. It would add a very small extra number of long-haul destinations at Heathrow but take these away from regional airports so there is no increase in the number of destinations from the UK, compared to no Heathrow expansion. And it would result in a very high number of international-international transfer passengers using Heathrow, rather than improving air links overall. The RHC say that instead of expanding Heathrow, there is a need to make better use of the capacity of Heathrow and other UK airports and to improve surface access to London’s five airports. The letter is reproduced below and, in support of the evidence in the letter, a schedule linking the letter to the Airports Commission’s evidence is also provided.
Windsor councillor concerned about unknown extent of local additional housing demand from Heathrow runway
A Windsor councillor, Malcolm Beer, has written to the government to express his concerns about the impact on local housing demand, if a 3rd Heathrow runway was approved. The Airports Commission gave very unsatisfactory and mixed information on new homes needed. It said in November 2014 that its “modelling suggests that in 2030 the range of additional households associated with the scheme (direct, indirect and induced) falls within the range of 29,800 and 70,800 (dependent on the scenario). The additional housing at the upper end of this range – which equates to an average of some 500 homes per year in each of 14 local authorities – may be challenging to deliver, especially give that many local authorities struggle to meet current housing targets.” Then by its final report in July 2015, the Commission said a “high proportion of new jobs may be expected to be taken up by people already living in the area and the additional capacity is not expected to result in an insurmountable requirement for additional housing” and words to the effect that no extra houses would be needed as 100,000 unemployed in West London could fill the additional jobs. Cllr Beer is concerned that the entire area is already far too congested to find land for more housing, schools, offices, road improvements and other needs associated with a hugely enlarged airport.
New runway would push up air fares due to carbon emissions, and restrict regional airports – new report
A new report for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has analysed the Airports Commission’s backing for new runway in relation to carbon emissions, and says the necessary carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050. The Commission was aware that UK aviation is expected to far exceed the cap set for the sector’s CO2 emissions (37.5MtCO2) before 2050. Adding another runway only makes the situation far worse, by exacerbating the problem. The only way to keep aviation emissions down, with a new runway, is greatly increased cost of flights, trying to reduce the demand that has been increased by adding capacity. This means a carbon price massively higher than today – at several hundred £s. The report, by Leo Barasi and Leo Murray, say that as well as making flights expensive (perhaps pricing out those on low pay) the addition of a new SE runway means growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded London capacity. Dame Julia King, who was on the Airports Commission and is on the Committee on Climate Change, admits that regional airports would need to be restricted in order to allow growth in the south east. There has been far too little assessment and acknowledgement of the CO2 implications of a runway. The government should not rush into approving a runway until this has been fully accepted.
Archive material reveals the extent of new Prime Minister’s opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow over many years
Campaign group HACAN has unearthed archive material, from Theresa May’s website, which reveals that the new Prime Minister has been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, for many years. Her comments on Heathrow since 2008 are copied here. For example, in January 2009 in response to the decision by the Labour Government to give the go-ahead to a 3rd runway, she 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. …. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.” And “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.” In March 2008 she said: “The Government needs to show that expansion is consistent with national targets for tackling climate change and cutting CO2 emissions,” She has also consistently expressed concern about night flights.
Howard Davies makes more dodgy, unjustifiable, claims about necessity of building a 3rd Heathrow runway, regardless of Brexit
After the Brexit vote, there are very real uncertainties about the demand for air travel in future decades. Agreements need to be worked out between the UK and Europe, and this includes the Open Skies agreement between the UK and the US. These could take several years to work out. The Airports Commission gave absolutely no consideration to the possibility of Brexit. However, instead of sensibly deciding to delay a runway decision, Sir Howard Davies (as ever appearing oblivious of the many and serious deficiencies of his Commission’s report) is pushing hard, in the media, for a Heathrow runway. These claims are dangerous. Howard Davies says the economic case for a 3rd runway has been strengthened by the Brexit vote; “there are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset.” .. The UK “needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry….will soon need the work.” Some businesses see not building the runway as “a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world.” He says a Brexit choice is “presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible… ” … “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”
Ground-breaking seminar on aircraft noise and mental health to be held in House of Commons
A ground-breaking seminar discussing the impact of aircraft noise on mental health was held in Parliament on 4th July. The seminar, by HACAN and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) explored the issue. Hosted by Dr Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham, the seminar heard from Dirk Schreckenberg, one of the authors of the seminal NORAH study which looked at the link between noise and health at Frankfurt Airport. The study found negative effects on both mental well-being and on depression, from plane noise – especially in people experiencing increased levels of noise. A resident from West London, Chris Keady, spoke about his own history of mental problems, and the impact of high levels of aircraft noise on him. Not enough is known about the impact of exposure to aircraft noise, especially loud noise, often repeated, at different times of day and night, on mental health and stress levels. The evidence suggests that people who already have mental health issues can find aircraft noise particularly disturbing. There is a real problem if there is no escape from the noise, and people feel powerless and impotent against this imposition. We need a constructive dialogue involving noise experts, politicians, campaigners and the aviation industry to give proper consideration to this issue. Matt Gorman from Heathrow Airport also spoke at the event.
Government announces that a runway decision is postponed, and left to the next Prime Minister
The government has announced that the decision on whether to build a new south east runway will be left to his successor as Prime Minister. It is believed that this means Heathrow will not be getting a 3rd runway, any time in the foreseeable future. Downing Street sources say David Cameron sees no point in making a runway decision that would almost certainly be overturned by a successor. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, said in the Commons: “Being realistic, given recent events, I cannot now foresee that there will be an announcement until at least October.” He and George Osborne wanted David Cameron to take the decision in favour of Heathrow before leaving office. Boris had been expected to stand as a candidate to be Prime Minister, but has not done so. The most likely next PM may be Theresa May, whose position on Heathrow is described as “nuanced.” The Times understands that civil servants in the DfT recommended a Heathrow runway, having believed the (flimsy and guarded) promises by Heathrow on noise and NO2. Gatwick may feel it has a slightly better chance, but with Brexit the demand for air travel may be lower in coming years. There will be several years of negotiation to establish arrangements for UK airlines with the EU, and Gatwick deals mainly with cheap European holiday flights. Replies were made in the Commons to MPs’ questions, by Patrick McLoughlin.
IATA warns UK air passengers could decline 3% – 5% by 2020 due to airline uncertainties and fall in the £
Following the UK’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union, IATA said preliminary estimates suggest UK air passengers could decline 3%-5% by 2020, following an expected economic downturn and predicted falling £ exchange rates. IATA’s evaluation of the impact of Brexit notes that there is considerable uncertainty on details and timescale. A weak £ could make trips to the UK cheaper, but as there are far more outbound trips from the UK than inbound, and foreign trips for Brits going abroad will cost more, the net impact is lower numbers of passengers. A possible future path for the UK aviation sector would be membership in the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA).That would enable the UK to have continued access to the Single Aviation Market. However, it requires acceptance of EU aviation law across all areas, limiting the UK’s policy freedom. IATS says: “The same would apply to regulations more generally if the UK were to join the European Economic Area. For example, the strongest legal impediment to airport expansion comes from EU local air quality rules which would still apply to the UK if EU membership were exchanged for EEA membership.” IAG’s share price fell immediately, and easyJet wrote to the UK government and the EC to ask them to prioritise the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market. BMI said it might “have to review” its bases in the UK.
Unconfirmed leak that 7th or 8th July possible dates for government runway announcement – but that was before Brexit ….. so now highly unlikely ….
23.6.2016 PoliticsHome learned that “Ministers are planning to announce their decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow in two weeks’ time” (no mention of Gatwick by PoliticsHome.)
[The announcement] “has been pencilled in for 7th July – the day after the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War – although it could be moved to 8th July. Sources close to the process have told PoliticsHome the Prime Minister is eager to make the announcement before parliament rises for its summer recess on 21st July. However, publishing it the day after the 2.6 million-word Chilcot report comes out could be seen by some as trying to bury the controversy while the public’s attention is elsewhere.” Link
24.6.2016 All rather overtaken by events ….
Manchester Airport rubbishes claims Heathrow expansion is crucial for Northern Powerhouse to succeed
The boss of Manchester Airport, Ken O’Toole, has rubbished Heathrow’s claims that a new London runway is crucial to the Northern Powerhouse. He argues that Manchester is an international airport in its own right with many direct long-haul routes. He says Manchester airport could make up any long haul capacity gap over the next 15 years and beyond “if the country adopts a culture of healthy competition.” Manchester started a direct service to Beijing last week, giving the North its first ever non-stop flight to mainland China. But Heathrow continually tries to persuade that, without a third Heathrow runway, northern businesses would lose “up to £710m” per year. Manchester airport believes it can have a range of long haul flights, not only to tourist destinations – mentioning important markets like “Singapore, Hong Kong, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston and, from next March, San Francisco.” If people can get flights to these destinations direct from Manchester, they do not need to – inconveniently – travel via Heathrow. Ken O’Toole says some 22 million people live within two hours’ drive of Manchester Airport. They have a huge amount of spare capacity on their two runways. Heathrow is very nervous of losing the transfer traffic it cannot manage without, to either other hubs like Schiphol or Dubai – or the growth of airports like Manchester.
Heathrow protesters found guilty of graffiti subvertising misleading pro-3rd runway billboards (later ruled against by ASA
Two protesters in March 2015 subvertised two Heathrow advertising hoardings, and removed one Heathrow poster from a bus stop. They changed one massive hoarding, on a road close to Heathrow, that said “Those living around us are behind us” to say “Those living around us are CHOKING.” Another billboard with the slogan “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by up to £211 billion” was changed to say “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by destroying homes.” The two men, Larry Rose and Joe McGahan, were tried at Isleworth Crown Court and found guilty. They were charged with criminal damage. They pleaded not guilty, and defended themselves using the defence of lawful excuse. They had attempted to alter Heathrow’s fraudulent billboards in order to portray a more accurate reality of the harm and misery Heathrow’s expansion would bring to local residents and the environment. They cited evidence of the health impact of air pollution around Heathrow, and the increased carbon emissions that an extra runway would cause. The two were given conditional discharges and fines totalling £2,640 – of which £1,200 was to Heathrow to pay for cleaning up. Both adverts were subsequently found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority, and Heathrow was told to withdraw them.
AirportWatch calls on the Advertising Standards Authority to take action to remove misleading ads speedily
A bizarre court case has seen two environmental campaigners landed with a bill for more than £2,600 after they “corrected” a Heathrow Airport billboard promoting a new runway – even though the Advertising Standards Authority subsequently ruled that Heathrow’s claims were indeed incorrect. Lawrence Rose and Joseph McGahan were found guilty of defacing Heathrow billboards near the airport, and in their view correcting misinformation on the adverts in March 2015. The adverts about local support and about benefits to the UK economy were referred – in March or April 2015 – to the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled in September 2015 that these adverts were misleading. Larry and Joe were given suspended sentences, after a jury trial, and fines including a cost of £1,200 to Heathrow airport for the cost of tidying up the damage to their incorrect and misleading adverts. They were also fined £1,440 of court costs. For many months in 2014 and 2015, Heathrow placed these misleading advertisements in very public places. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of people will have seen the ads. Though the Advertising Standards Authority eventually ruled against them, the process took many months so by that time Heathrow had had extensive publicity and been able to convey misinformation. AirportWatch believes this is wrong. The process by which incorrect adverts are removed should be improved to ensure unsubstantiated claims by huge companies, like airports, are not left in place for months after being challenged.
Stop Stansted Expansion prepares to launch legal proceedings against Stansted airport, over compensation delays
Stansted Airport faces legal action on behalf of thousands of local residents denied compensation over devaluation of their property caused by airport expansion. The cost to the airport could run to hundreds of millions of pounds. Stansted failed to meet a deadline (31st May) to make a public statement agreeing to introduce a compensation scheme for local residents after years of prevarication. Since 2002, Stansted has used the excuse that it has no legal obligation to pay compensation until it has completed everything listed in its 1999 Phase 2 planning consent. Completion of a small part of these works, the Echo Cul-de-Sac, has been repeatedly postponed – most recently until the mid-2020s – and has thus been branded the ‘golden rivet’ loophole. Stansted lawyers finally accepted this, but then immediately put forward a new excuse for rejecting compensation claims – that claims were now time-barred under the Limitation Act. This gave rise to withering criticism from the judge who remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late.” Due to Stansted stalling, SSE are now taking legal action, to safeguard the interests of local residents. SSE’s preparations for a legal challenge ,on the airport’s use of the Limitation Act, are underway. They have appointed and briefed its legal team, which includes two expert barristers and one of the country’s foremost planning solicitors. SSE presentation with prevarication details
Anti-3rd runway campaigners hold their own alternative “celebration” of Heathrow’s 70th birthday
To “celebrate” Heathrow’s 70th Birthday, on 31st May, anti-3rd runway campaigners and local village residents gathered in Harmondsworth – to express their opposition to the airport’s plans for expansion. With festivities centred around the historic “Five Bells” pub, there were 70 “No 3rd Runway” balloons, tours of the historic buildings including the historic, Grade 1 listed, tithe barn, enthusiastic chants of “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway, and a walk of part of the course of the proposed runway. To represent each of the houses earmarked for demolition for the runway, 783 small black planes were planted on the green. The cake was cut by representatives of some of the protest groups, including Hacan, Stop Heathrow Expansion, CHATR, TAG, RAAN, and Grow Heathrow. People had thought up entertaining presents for Heathrow, including the cheque from ratepayers – a big fat zero for infrastructure, a Mr Noisy book, a toy demolition truck, a Thomas the Tank Engine, a D-lock, a Pinocchio, and an alarm clock with its hands stuck on 4.30am. The day was a fun event, with a very serious purpose. With 783 homes to be demolished for a runway, and many more made uninhabitable by the proximity to an expanded Heathrow, many hundreds face the total loss of their homes and their community.
Click here to view full story… Plenty of photos
Heathrow sets out vague, unenforceable, offers to boost links to regions with 3rd runway (with easyJet’s help?)
Heathrow is trying to put more heavy pressure on the government, to back its 3rd runway plans, if there is an announcement in the next few months (EU referendum permitting). Heathrow are aware that it is not considered likely that the regions will get much benefit from a 3rd runway, so it now says it will “improve connectivity, with better air, rail and bus connections from Heathrow to every major town and city – North, East, South and West.” No details, and not things done by Heathrow itself. It says its runway means the creation of “up to 180,000 new jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships across the UK” (no time scale given, so pretty useless statement). And that: “A third runway will boost the economy by up to £211 billion, with the benefits spread across the country.” The £211 billion claim is very suspect. Even the Airports Commission’s most optimistic (criticised by its own advisors) was a maximum of £147 – and that is up to 2080, so over 60 years. Heathrow says it will increase flights to airports like Liverpool, Humberside and Newquay, if it got a new runway. And it might create a “new £10 million Route Development Fund which will provide start-up support for any potential new domestic destinations.” The Airports Commission realised that unless government subsidises (taxpayers’ money) domestic routes from Heathrow, the number would end up being lower than the number now.
Britain had £16.9 billion Tourism Deficit in 2015 – which is 17.6% of UK total balance of payments deficit
Data from the ONS shows that in 2015, the Tourism Deficit (the difference between how much overseas visitors spend on their trips to the UK, and how much Brits spend on their trips abroad) rose to the 2nd highest level ever. The deficit was £16.9 billion in 2015, and £20.5 in 2008, but it fell during the years of the recession. It was around £13.7 billion in each year, 2012, 2013 and 2014. It has now increased again very significantly – by over £3 billion in one year. That makes up a large slice (17.6%) of the UK’s overall balance of payments deficit of £96.2 billion in 2015.The number of trips by UK residents abroad increased by 9.4% last year, the largest rise since 1998, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In 2015, UK residents took 65.7 million foreign holidays or business trips (business trips were only 10.9% of the total, while back in 2005 they were 12.9% of the total). In 2015 the number of trips by foreign visitors to the UK rose by 5.1%, to a record high of 36.1 million. But while foreigners spent £22.1 billion on visits to the UK, Brits spent £39 billion abroad. The French were the biggest visitors to the UK, with 4 million trips. Spain was the country with most visits by UK residents – with 13 million trips, nearly 20% of UK travel.
Sunday Times obtains details of £10.4 million bonus scheme, in stages, for Heathrow execs if they get 3rd runway
It emerged on 16th May that Heathrow executives were in line for large bonuses, if they managed to get a 3rd runway. Now the Sunday Times has details. They say eight executives could share a £10 million bonus pool. It appears they have already achieved £414,000 of the bonus, by getting the Airports Commission to select Heathrow in July 2015. Details of the bonus scheme are that the sums increase, based on the success of the executives’ lobbying. The next bonus payout would be, between the eight, £622,000 if they “create a climate of political support that enables the government to give its backing to expansion”. ie. if there is a government announcement this summer or autumn. Then they would get £829,000 if Heathrow is judged to be “on course to win planning approval” for its runway. There would be another £829,000 of the bonus if Heathrow can get the CAA to allow Heathrow much higher landing charges in future, to pay for the runway (the CAA controls its charges). The whole £10.4 million bonus is the airport’s “share in success” incentive, and includes other measures not related to a 3rd runway. It is to be paid out in 2019. The existence of the bonus scheme was initially denied by the airport. But it creates strong personal gain motives for senior staff, in pushing through the runway, regardless of its adverse impacts.
HACAN new briefing shows how a 3rd Heathrow runway will not deliver for the regions
Heathrow has made repeated claims that its 3rd runway would be essential for the UK economy, and indeed, that it would be a vital boost to the economies of the regions. HACAN has set out, in a short briefing and in a video, how the claims are not justified. In reality, another Heathrow runway would have negative impacts on regional airports – not to mention huge costs for taxpayers across the country. HACAN says of Heathrow’s various promises that they are not guaranteed: ✈ Better connections are not guaranteed. ✈ Instead, ever more resources will be concentrated in London and the South East. ✈ Heathrow expansion may preclude aviation growth elsewhere. ✈ A 3rd Runway may be undeliverable. The Airports Commission itself found that, rather than reversing the decline in domestic flights between Heathrow and the regions, these will fall (from 7 now to 4 with a 3rd runway) unless they are subsidised, which could breach EU regulations. Due the cap on UK aviation carbon emissions, if a Heathrow runway is built (and it has to be used extensively, largely for high carbon long-haul flights)it is likely to mean restriction of the growth of flights from regional airports. A totally dominant Heathrow, eclipsing other UK airports, would make it difficult for long haul routes from the regions to be profitable.
Heathrow senior executives would get large bonuses if they manage to get 3rd runway
The Guardian has revealed that Heathrow’s annual report (December 2015) show that its top executives would benefit personally if the airport gets a 3rd runway. This is despite past denials that there were any financial incentives, not least when senior executives at Gatwick were found in February to have huge financial incentives if they manage to get a 2nd runway. Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd states: “During the year a new bonus scheme was launched based on EBITDA, passenger service (as measured by independent ASQ – Airport Service Quality – scores) and airport expansion over the Q6 period….” [Q6 is the 5 year regulatory period 2014 – 2019]. A Heathrow spokesman said the runway bonus would only be a small part of a payout for meeting the strategic requirements of the business, hitting the profit targets etc. CEO John Holland-Kaye earned £2.06m last year, more than doubling his basic salary of £885,000. However, he could add even more to that should a 3rd runway be approved. The annual report states that while a bonus scheme linked to expansion was launched in 2015, “as the performance in respect of this scheme is so uncertain at this stage, no value in relation to these awards is included” in his 2015 earnings package. The Guardian says John Holland-Kaye is believed to be the architect of the new bonus scheme. The airport cut its wider wage bill by cutting 333 jobs last year (6,714 compared to 7,047 in 2014), but directors’ pay rose. Directors’ remuneration was up by £366,000 in 2015, to £3,555,000 from £3,189,000 in 2014).
Lord True, Richmond Council leader and Conservative peer, describes Heathrow promises as ‘worthless’ and asks David Cameron to deny expansion immediately
The leader of Richmond Council, Lord True, has called Heathrow’s pledge to ban night flights a “feeble attempt to bribe London.” He described Heathrow’s promises as “worthless” and said on the ending of night flights: “This so-called pledge falls short of what the Davies Commission requests and the Heathrow PR men simply cannot be believed. If they can stop pre-5.30am flights, why don’t they do it now? Rather than spending billions of pounds doing it?” On Heathrow’s claims about air quality improvements, Lord True commented:: “They cannot comply with EU air quality limits and their ‘jam’ promises are worthless…..if people’s health comes first – big Heathrow is dead in the water.” He said Heathrow had just made some token alterations to their original proposals. Richmond Council, along with Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor & Maidenhead councils, have already made it clear that should the Government give a 3rd Heathrow runway the go-ahead – they would together launch legal action opposing the plans. Lord True: “I say to Mr Cameron – hundreds of thousands of Londoners remember your promise – “no ifs, no buts,” ….We expect our Prime Minister to keep his promise….”
Heathrow makes guarded, carefully worded, offers to meet Airports Commission conditions for 3rd runway
Heathrow knows it has a difficult task in persuading the government that it can actually meet the (unchallenging) conditions put on its runway plans by the Airports Commission. Now John Holland-Kaye has written to David Cameron, setting out how Heathrow hopes to meet some conditions. They make out they will even exceed the conditions, in some cases. On Night flights, they say they will introduce a “legally binding ban on all scheduled night flights for six and a half hours (as recommended by the Airports Commission) from 11 pm to 5:30 am when the third runway opens.” [Note, scheduled – not late arrivals etc]. And they will “support the earlier introduction of this extended ban on night flights by Government as soon as the necessary airspace has been modernised after planning consent for the third runway has been secured.” [ie. full of caveats]. They dodge the issue of agreeing not to build a 4th runway, saying if the government makes a commitment in Parliament not to expand Heathrow further, then Heathrow will “Accept a commitment from Government ruling out any fourth runway..” [Words carefully chosen]. On noise and respite, Heathrow say “We will ensure there will be some respite for everyone living under the final flight path by using advances in navigational technology. We will consult and provide options on our proposals to alternate use of the runways.” [ie carefully chosen words, avoiding giving much away].
Willie Walsh says cheaper Heathrow runway option “Heathrow Hub” should be considered again, as cheaper
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ owner IAG, says ministers should not be bound to the Heathrow third north-west runway proposal. He wants the Heathrow Hub option (extending the northern runway to the west) given proper consideration, as it would be cheaper. BA operates the majority of flights (just over 50%) at Heathrow, but Walsh has repeatedly said he is not prepared to pay exorbitant costs – in order to pay for a “gold plated” runway scheme, with all the add-ons. The Heathrow Hub scheme is understood to still be considered by the DFT, as is the Gatwick runway. (All have very serious environmental and economic problems, which is why the government has not been able to come to a rapid decision – largely knowing it would face well informed legal challenges). Walsh believes the Heathrow Hub option would be cheaper, though the costs of surface transport etc to fall on the taxpayer, would be similar. Willie Walsh contrasted Heathrow’s costs with a similar scheme in Dublin, the base of one of BA’s sister airlines in IAG, Aer Lingus. “The airport is talking about building a second runway at a tiny fraction of the cost of the Heathrow third – £350m against £23bn.” He has considered moving more BA planes to Dublin, if and when its 2nd runway is built.
Transport Select Committee wants rapid decision on runway location – then sort out the problems later …..
The Commons Transport Select Committee, chaired by Louise Ellman (for years a strong advocate of a larger Heathrow) has published a report that wants the government to make a rapid decision on the location of a new south east runway. Ms Ellman says Patrick Mcloughlin should set out a clear timetable of the decision making process. He should also set out what research the government has already done and what remains to be done. The Committee wants a decision in order to, in its view, remove uncertainty for business so companies can be planning and investing. The report is entirely of the view that a runway is needed for links to emerging markets. It ignores the reality that most journeys are for leisure, and it ignores the huge costs to the taxpayer, of either scheme. The Committee wants a location decision, and somehow believes that all other environmental and infrastructure problems will then (magically?) be sorted out. They say: “… we believe that the noise and environmental effects can be managed as part of the pre-construction phase after a decision has been made on location, as can the challenge of improving surface access.” So decide first – with what is likely to be a bad decision – and work out how to deal with the intractable, and inevitable, problems later. Is that a sensible course of action for a responsible government?
Research sets out clearly how the need to take climate change seriously rules out any new UK runway
A new research study by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) shows that the need to take climate change seriously rules out any new runway – at Heathrow or at Gatwick. The study, commissioned by GACC, particularly shows that, for the UK to play its part in making December’s Paris Agreement on climate work, must mean cancelling plans for a new UK runway. The Airports Commission’s work shows they were well aware of the problem of UK aviation emissions exceeding their cap level of 37.5MtCO2 per year, but this was brushed under the carpet. Even with no new runway, while all other industries in the UK are – by law – due to decrease their CO2 emissions by 85% on average (by 2050 compared to their 1990 level), aviation is permitted to increase its pollution by 120%. If a new runway is built, that would be even higher. The hope of an effective world-wide CO2 emissions trading scheme succeeding in limiting emissions looks impossible to achieve. Big tax increases on flights, in order to limit demand when there has been expansion with a new runway, would be political dynamite. Limiting growth at regional airports, to permit full use of a new south east runway, would not be helpful to the regions. “It is time for the Government to stand up to the lobbying by the aviation industry, and tell them that there will be no new runway.” A new runway means storing up unnecessary problems in future. “Climate Change and a new Runway”
Heathrow anti-3rd runway campaigners play aircraft noise in Central London to mark International Noise Awareness Day
Marking International Noise Awareness Day, Heathrow anti-third runway campaigners brought aircraft noise to the streets of Central London to illustrate the fact that London is the most overflown city in Europe. Campaigners from a range of organisations accompanied a lorry – blaring out loud aircraft noise through loudspeakers – at around the level people experience under the approach flight path – outside Europe House in Smith Square. This was to highlight the fact that already 28% of the people who are affected by aircraft noise right across Europe live under the Heathrow flight paths. After Smith Square, the lorry headed off back towards Heathrow, blaring its noise, approximately along the course of the arrivals flight path for a the new northern runway that Heathrow wants. European Commission’s figures show that over 725,000 people (see source and fact check below) are impacted by noise from Heathrow flights and another 25,000 by flights using London City airport. That is nearly a third of all people affected by aircraft noise right across Europe. John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, said that on noise grounds alone a new runway at Heathrow should be ruled out. Adding an extra 250,000 Heathrow flights per year is not a reasonable proposition.
While Heathrow try to claim cost of surface access needed for 3rd runway is just £2.2 billion, TfL estimates cost of £18.4 billion
Heathrow’s management have claimed that only £1.2bn of public funds would be needed to upgrade local road and rail links, for its 3rd runway, while Heathrow itself would spend a further £1bn, making £2.2bn. The Airports Commission estimated the cost to be around 5.7bn, to include widening the M4 and tunnelling the M25 under the runway. But now TfL has come up with figures showing the total cost would be about £18.4bn, which is hugely more. TfL believes Heathrow and the Commission have substantially underestimated the amount of increased congestion the runway would cause on the roads, and on trains due to 30 million more annual passengers. They also did not take freight into account. The government has said whichever airport might be allowed a runway would have to meet all the costs which arise due to a new runway, and from which the airport would directly benefit. TfL has added the cost of other vital transport infrastructure, such as improving bus services, traffic management measures and alterations to the South West and Great Western Main Lines. TfL says none of the schemes in its £18.4bn figure are already committed, funded or planned. The Campaign for Better Transport said the money would be better spent elsewhere eg. on the Northern Powerhouse.
2nd runway at Dublin airport threatens Heathrow’s position as main IAG hub
Heathrow may face more competition for hub traffic from Dublin, if there is a 2nd runway in 2020 – and airlines prefer using Dublin rather than Heathrow. This might mean Heathrow being partly sidelined. In May 2015 Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, was bought by IAG (International Airlines Group) – which owns British Airways. As part of IAG’s takeover there was the benefit of new routes and more long-haul flights from Dublin, where Aer Lingus is one of the two main airline customers, along with Ryanair. Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO, said in 2015 that owning Aer Lingus would allow IAG “to develop our network using Dublin as a hub between the UK, continental Europe and North America, generating additional financial value for our shareholders”. Willie Walsh believed that buying Aer Lingus was a wise move, as it was “inevitable” that Dublin would get a 2nd runway in the next few years. IAG believes that it can expand the group’s flights via Dublin or Madrid – especially if there is no new runway at Heathrow. It could have the impact of removing business from Heathrow – British Airways is the largest airline there with around 50% of the slots.
Mayor reveals cost to public health from noise due to Heathrow 3rd runway would be £20 – 25 bn over 60 years
A new report “Landing The Right Airport” published by the Mayor of London and TfL has revealed that the long term health effects of exposure to the extra noise – due to a 3rd Heathrow runway – would be valued at a staggering £20 to 25 billion over 60 years. The figure is derived using methodology from the WHO, which values each lost year of healthy life at £60,000. That reflects the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and other disorders shown to be linked to prolonged exposure to aircraft noise. TfL calculate that while there are now about 766,000 people affected by an “annoying” level of noise from Heathrow, if the speculative improvements in noise exposure proposed by the Airports Commission do not actually happen, there could be as many as 986,600 affected. There could also be between 98,900 and 277,100 people newly affected by plane noise for the first time. The runway would also expose 124 more schools and 43,000 school children to a level of aircraft noise proven to be damaging to learning. TfL also says the number of daily journeys to Heathrow by passengers and staff is expected to rise from 200,000 to 430,000 by 2050. “At some locations, non-airport passengers will be unable to join rail services because of crowding exacerbated by passengers travelling with luggage towards central London.”
AEF analysis of the ITC report: its “conclusion that environmental impacts should be no barrier to expansion is unfounded”
A new report published by the Independent Transport Commission (ITC), a think tank supported by Heathrow and Gatwick, has argued that environmental concerns should not prevent a new runway being built. Now the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)has come out with a damning assessment. The report argues that “it is foreseeable that a range of solutions will enable forecasts of future growth to be delivered within acceptable environmental boundaries even without a “step-change” in technology”. AEF points out that what “acceptable environmental boundaries” are not clearly defined. On CO2 emissions AEF says the ITC has put too much faith in future market based measures to trade emissions, and used unjustifiably optimistic forecasts of fuel efficiency improvements (1.6% per year, when others expect 0.8% at best). On noise AEF says the ITC does not even consider health impacts, uses implausibly optimistic assumptions and some unclear use of noise measurements. On air pollution, the ITC argues this is largely not the airports’ responsibility and hopes levels will improve soon. AEF concludes: “Without clearer definitions of what constitutes “acceptable environmental boundaries”, and evidence that these can be achieved, the report’s conclusion that environmental impacts should be no barrier to expansion is unfounded.”
New academic paper shows how “Technology myths” are unduly influencing aviation climate policy
A new research study by a group of academics from a range of countries has looked at claims made by the aviation industry that it will achieve substantial carbon savings in future. They conclude that many of these claims could be described as “myths” as they have often just been used to give favourable publicity to the industry, before rapidly being proven to be over-hyped. Some of these technologies are alternative fuels, such as animal fats or jatropha; also solar power planes; or new forms of aircraft. None of these hoped-for technologies have any likelihood of making more than small contributions to future fuel efficiency. At best, they will be small improvements per plane – set against far larger growth of the industry – resulting in a large overall increase in carbon emissions. The authors make the point that the hype and the positive media coverage that the “myth” technologies permit are damaging. The unrealistic hopes for low carbon flying in future convinces politicians (who maybe happy to be so persuaded) to give the industry the benefit of the doubt, and permit its continuing growth – ever hoping for a marvellous new technology, just around the corner, which will lead to “sustainable” flying. The unjustifiably optimistic PR of the industry has implications for decisions such as that of a new runway in the south east.
Short briefing on why the #Heathrow13 are so concerned about the carbon emissions caused by a new runway
Briefing setting out key facts about Heathrow, a 3rd runway, carbon emissions – and why the #Heathrow13 took action. The carbon arguments against a runway are compelling. Briefing: New-Runway-and-CO2
Airport noise community groups write to David Cameron calling for review of airspace policy
In an open letter to David Cameron, which was co-ordinated through the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), community groups concerned about the impacts of flight path changes have called on the Government to bring forward a review, both of airspace policy and the process for consultation and engagement. The letter describes the current approach for making airspace changes as “not fit for purpose” and demands that a moratorium on flight path trials and airspace decisions is introduced until a new policy is put in place. Flight path trials over the last few years have led to significant community disturbance around major airports across the UK, especially where communities have been overflown for the first time. In many cases, flight path trials were cancelled early following vociferous reactions from the public. The Government and the CAA were expected to consult on proposals to change the policy and process for making changes to flight paths early this year. However, this has been delayed until at least the summer, when the Government will make a statement on a possible new runway. The letter’s 24 signatories stress that the airspace policy review is required urgently to address existing problems and should be independent of any future decisions on airport capacity.
Witness statement by Prof Alice Bows-Larkin for Heathrow 13 trial clearly shows CO2 problem of a new runway
Alice Bows-Larkin, a Professor in Climate Science and Energy Policy at MACE at Manchester University, gave written evidence at the trial of the Heathrow 13, for their action at Heathrow in July 2015. Her witness statement (11 pages + references) is a closely argued and highly expert assessment of the need for the emissions from aviation to be restricted. It is well worth reading. Just a few of the points she raises are that the UK has signed up to the ambition of the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees C. This is not consistent with an increase in the CO2 emissions from UK aviation above their capped level. There is no justification for international aviation to be excluded for global ambitions to limit CO2. Even if there is some carbon trading scheme, aviation needs to be fully included. If ‘negative emission sources’ that can remove CO2 from the air (unlikely) “do not materialise in time, ‘well below 2°C’ will only be achieved by a wholesale shift away from fossil fuel combustion. This would mean that CO2 produced by the aviation sector would also need to be reduced to near zero. This … would be largely uncontested.” Prof Larkin says in ther view the Government’s intention to build a new runway, raising UK aviation CO2 emissions, “implies a misunderstanding by UK Government of the scale of CO2 mitigation that a 2°C goal relies upon – let alone a ‘well below’ 2°C target.”
Her witness statement: Heathrow13-evidence-from-Prof-Alice-Bows-Larkin Jan 2016
Figures reveal that passenger journeys to and from Heathrow are increasingly been made by road
New statistics from the DfT reveal that passenger journeys to and from Heathrow airport are increasingly been made by road. The figures, issued in response to a FoI request made by the Teddington Action Group (TAG), show that passenger journeys by car and taxis rose by 2,000,000 in 2014 (the last year for which figures are available). In 2013, the aggregate number of private car and taxi/minicab journeys was 25 million. In 2014 they had risen to 27 million (an increase of nearly 10%). TAG says this trend would appear to call into question the assertion made by John Holland Kaye (CEO of Heathrow) on 4th November 2015 to Parliament’s EAC, that there has been no increase in polluting vehicular journeys in the vicinity of the airport. He had been asked how Heathrow could meet Air Quality targets with a 3rd runway (when an increase of up to 54% in passenger journeys to and from the airport might be anticipated). Heathrow has a show-stopper problem for its runway plans, from air pollution. It needs to get its passengers and its staff to get to (and from) the airport by rail. In 2014, 59% of passengers arrived by car, taxi or minicab. Another 13% arrived by bus or coach. 28% arrived by rail or by Tube. Getting passengers out of their cars will be hard. The air pollution from Heathrow’s air freight is already a problem, let alone if volume was doubled.
Andrew Tyrie, Chair of Treasury Select Committee, says economic case for a new runway unclear and based on “opaque” information
Proper research may show the UK does not need a runway at all. The letter Andrew Tyrie, is the chairman of the influential Commons Treasury select committee. He has now said parliament and the public had been left partly in the dark on the case for a new runway, because the Airports Commission’s analysis is not good enough. He said the decision on airport expansion is being taken on the basis of information that was “opaque in a number of important respects.” Mr Tyrie said the robustness of the Airports commission’s conclusions could not be determined from the information in its report. “Parliament has demanded more transparency over the environmental case. At least as important is the economic case.” Mr Tyrie said it was impossible to tell if the potential economic benefits for the UK of the proposals by Heathrow or Gatwick differed significantly from one another, or even if the benefits of building either are significantly different from not building any new runways. “A decision as controversial as this — one that has bedevilled past governments for decades — requires as much transparency as reasonably possible.” Andrew Tyrie has written to George Osborne calling for more details of the calculations that led to the Commission recommending a Heathrow runway. He also also called for the process to be moved from the DfT to the Treasury.
AEF report finds UK’s out-of-date aircraft noise policies putting the health of over one million people at risk
A new report by the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has identified that the Government’s aircraft noise policies are risking the health of over one million people and an urgent policy rethink is needed ahead of runway decisions in 2016. Aircraft noise is associated with increased risk of increased blood pressure, and higher risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke. Health is also detrimentally affected through sleep disturbance and annoyance. Aircraft noise impedes the memory and learning ability of school children. The UK’s aircraft noise policy has not been updated in line with this mounting evidence base, with some noise policies based on studies dating back to the early 1980s. The Government’s lack of response to emerging evidence on noise may be costing the UK £540 million each year.The noise problem is particularly acute at Heathrow, including many affected schools, but there are serious problems at many other airports too. The health burden is not just experienced close to airports, with high levels of noise miles from the runway. The current policy on flight paths does not consider the impact of sudden changes, or the health impacts of newly affected communities. The report calls for the Government to act now to reduce the health burden from aircraft noise. Long-term noise targets are needed to protect health, and all noise policies should be reviewed in the light of these targets. A new runway should only be permitted if the noise burdens are reduced.
The report: “Aircraft Noise and Public Health: the evidence is loud and clear”
Sunday Times reports how Heathrow has paid its owners dividends of £2.1 billion since 2012 – but just £24 million in Corporation Tax
The Sunday Times reports that Heathrow has paid its owners back £2.1 billion in dividends, starting in 2012. But it has only paid a total of £24 million in corporation tax since 2006, with that payment being last year. Heathrow’s owners are rewarded whenever the value of the airport increases. If new airport infrastructure is built, the passengers pay for it through the £20 cost on their ticket (and other spending), and the owners benefit.. The CAA calculates how much is spent on investment, and allows Heathrow’s investors to earn a return on the total. The more Heathrow spends, the more its backers can earn. If Heathrow was to spend £17.6 billion on its expansion, the value of the airport would be considered to have increased that much. Due to the huge debts Heathrow has (£12.5 billion out of the £16 billion Ferrovial paid in 2006) the airport’s banks prevented dividends to owners, until 2012. They got £240 million in 2012, which has risen to £2.1 billion. Some of the proceeds of the sale of Gatwick, Edinburgh etc has been used for dividends. The Sunday Times says: …”with a debt-to-assets ratio of about 85% is one of the most heavily indebted airports in the world.” Heathrow will have to recoup the money by high passenger charges, years before the runway is built and open, as otherwise Heathrow’s massive investors are not prepared to take the financial risk. Heathrow is no longer a company quoted on the stock exchange, but that could happen in future.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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….”
TfL confirms extent to which Airports Commission underestimated Heathrow runway impact on surface access
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.
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.
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).
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.
Green organisations tell Sir Howard Davies that allowing another runway jeopardises UK climate goals
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 ….. . . .