planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION


* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * *

Due to holiday absence, this website may not be updated much before mid September. 

How Heathrow’s new runway would be funded, (higher landing costs, more costs to taxpayer) – all unclear

Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway, and associated building, are due to cost the airport at least £18 billion (not including unexpected over-runs and engineering problems etc). Heathrow now wants the right to make airlines and passengers contribute to any unexpected higher costs. The CAA controls the amount Heathrow can charge airlines. Heathrow has asked the CAA to factor in a huge array of risks from building the 3,500 metre runway across the M25 into the charges it is allowed to claw back from carriers. Heathrow keeps insisting its landing charges would remain close to current levels, aviation experts said there are few credible alternatives to charging users more. IAG believes the huge construction costs will lead to charges doubling to landing charges per passenger, from about £40 now to £80 for a return ticket. Heathrow is mainly owned by overseas investors. As well as higher than expected costs of construction, there are risks such as lack of interest from airlines in taking up the new landing slots; financial markets turning against the airport, leading to a downgrade of its credit rating; higher debt costs; and politics. There is real fear that if the Heathrow expansion project was allowed, the costs – many £ billion – might fall on the taxpayer – if the enterprise becomes a bit of a white elephant. The Airports Commission and DfT have said little about this massive risk to the public finances.  [Links to many other recent stories on Heathrow’s funding problems at link below].

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Algal biofuel production is neither environmentally nor commercially sustainable – blow to aviation hopes

Modern biofuels have been touted as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel since the early 1900s. Professor Kevin Flynn, of Swansea University, says though it seems like a good idea on paper, and they do work – their use and production doesn’t come without problems. The first generation of biofuels – mainly ethanol made from plant crops – and second generation, derived from plant and animal waste streams, both led to concerns about competition for land and nutrients between biofuels production and food production. It was with a lot of hope, and hype, that production of the third generation of biofuels was started. Unlike their predecessors, these biofuels are derived from algae, and so in theory the food vs fuel dilemma of crop-based biofuels would be solved. Huge sums of money have been spent trying to get the algal marvel to work, refining the engineering process, electrically lighting the crop – which grows in a liquid suspension – harvesting and draining it. However the hype has been misplaced.  Research has found that the production of algal biofuels is neither commercially nor environmentally sustainable. The attainable production levels are a fraction of those that were claimed. The algae cannot produce enough oil, without vast areas, or vast input of fertilisers etc. The process cannot be scaled up adequately.

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Luton Airport plans further growth to 25 million passengers (not just 18 million) within 10 years

Luton Airport is planning to expand to 25 million passengers, in a move campaign groups are arguing could increase noise pollution above Hertfordshire. Luton is planning significant expansion, while NATS says the skies over south east England are overcrowded and close to saturation. Neil McArthur of local group, Harpenden Sky, submitted a Freedom of Information Request which revealed that the LLAL planning strategy is for steady growth to 25 million passengers within 10 years. This represents nearly a 40% increase over the current planning limit of 18 million passengers, which was agreed by Luton borough council.  Residents who live under flight paths in St Albans, Harpenden and elsewhere in Hertfordshire have made multiple complaints to the airport about plane noise, due to a new routing system which has narrowed the flight paths and concentrated the noise over a smaller area. Over the past year, noise complaints have increased from 191 in the first quarter of 2016, to 1,849 in the first quarter of 2017. Neil said the airport is not being properly managed, and changes are being rushed through too fast. Andrew Lambourne, from campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) said the airport’s focus is entirely on growth for airlines, giving no mention of making the :airport a better neighbour to local communities.

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Heathrow plans to cut building costs of its runway plan, to keep fares low, by not adding new terminal

Heathrow has said it will – allegedly – guarantee to effectively freeze passenger landing fees when [if] a 3rd runway is built, by scrapping plans for a new terminal. The cost for the whole planned expansion is about £17.6 billion, and Heathrow knows it will have trouble raising all this and paying for changes to surface access transport. The government does not want air fares to get any more expensive. So Heathrow now says it will knock “several billion” pounds off the cost of its plan by abandoning facilities such as an additional terminal. The terminal would require a huge subsurface baggage handling system and an underground passenger metro system, which was estimated to cost £1 billion alone. They instead suggest extending Terminals 5 and 2 and phasing the expansion work over as long as 20 years, to control costs. The main airline at Heathrow, IAG, is not prepared to pay higher charges to fund inefficient expansion, that is unnecessarily expensive. The amended expansion plans by Heathrow will be put out for a public consultation later in 2017.  The publication of the final Airports National Policy Statement [the consultation on it ended in May 2017] setting out the Government’s position, and a subsequent House of Commons vote, are expected in the first half of 2018 with the vote not before June. Heathrow hopes to cut costs in every way it can, and get in the necessary funds by attracting many more passengers, even if paying hardly more than they do now – about £22 landing fee – each.

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Anti 3rd runway campaign puts on “Bare necessities” display at Theresa May’s Maidenhead festival

Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), a local campaign group made up of residents opposing the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, attended the Maidenhead Festival 22 and 23 July. They had a fun but serious message – fighting for the ‘bare necessities’ that Heathrow expansion would threaten. The theme of the need for “the bare necessities of life” took centre stage at the group’s pitch to local residents at the annual festival, with essentials including: – the right to a settled home,  – air free from pollution,  – good health,  – quiet time for essential rest,  – a planet safe from climate change.   SHE believes all these would be put at risk with a 3rd runway, and to get the message across, three members wore distinctive bear costumes for the day – to highlight the ‘bare necessities’ theme.  The extra 260,000 planes per year that would use an expanded Heathrow would serious noise problems for tens  of thousands in the area, worse air pollution, and huge strain on local housing caused by the displacement of the two villages of Harmondsworth and Longford nearby. The negative impacts on her constituency should be a matter of concern to Theresa May, its MP. The previously opposed the runway, but is now prepared to sacrifice her residents’ quality of life, for the slightly desperate attempt by this weakened government to show “Britain is open for business” post-Brexit, by backing a highly dubious, costly, damaging, runway project.

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UK air traffic controllers NATS warn of over-crowded skies – so they must “modernise” systems

The skies in the south east of England are among the most crowded anywhere in the world. And the government wants a new Heathrow runway, and expansion in numbers of flights at all other airports. But NATS, the UK’s National Air Traffic Control Service, says their ability to deal with this surge is being stretched to the limit.  The air traffic controllers warn that UK skies are running out of room amid a record number of flights. Friday 21st July is likely to be the busiest day of the year, as Brits take off for their foreign holidays.Air traffic controllers expect to manage a record 770,000 flights in UK airspace over the summer – 40,000 more than last year.  NATS can only deal with the stunning number of flights anticipated if they get drastic modernisation in the way aircraft are guided across UK airspace. Otherwise there would be delays (and the industry does not like delays – they affect profits). The DfT has put out a consultation on how it will expand the UK aviation sector, and has had to mention noise as one of the inevitable consequences of the intended increase in numbers of flights.  NATS needs airspace to be modified, with more concentrated flight paths. But the DfT, the CAA and NATS still have no clear idea (other than platitudes) how to manage the increased noise, without creating noise “ghettos” or noise “sewers” where the amount of aircraft noise is, frankly, above what people should be expected to tolerate.

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Cross-party MPs form new APPG group to question the case for Heathrow 3rd runway

A new cross-party group of MPs against the expansion of Heathrow Airport has been launched in Westminster. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been set up to bring together politicians opposing a 3rd runway and scrutinise the issues related to proposed expansion.  Reflecting the cross-party opposition, the group is co-chaired by Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park – and Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, with Vince Cable MP for Twickenham as treasurer and Baroness Jenny Jones as vice chair.  Zac Goldsmith says the group will “question the case for a 3rd runway at Heathrow.”  He added: “The political support for the campaign against expansion is growing and the delay to the vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) reflects the concern the government has about the possibility of defeat.”  Ruth Cadbury does not believe expansion is “deliverable” and there are “… far too many unanswered questions on key issues that affect our communities including the complete absence of information about flight paths, the questionable quality of the noise mitigation offer, the costs of the surface access improvements and the financial liabilities that will ultimately be picked up by taxpayers.”  The vote in the House of Commons on the Heathrow NPS will not be until about June 2018, due to the setback for the Tories of the June general election.

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DfT launches consultation on its Aviation Strategy, out to 2050 – closes 13th October

The DfT has launched – for consultation – its plans to develop a new UK Aviation Strategy, “to help shape the future of the aviation industry to 2050 and beyond.”  The DfT strategy is to support future growth in the aviation industry (which it claims “directly supports 240,000 jobs and contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy each year.” With no mention of the money it takes out of the UK too …]  One issue is possible new forms of compensation for noise or designing targets for noise reduction. The document looks at how all airports across the country can make best use of existing capacity, and expand the industry. Chris Grayling said: “Our new aviation strategy will look beyond the new runway at Heathrow and sets out a comprehensive long-term plan for UK aviation. …. [it] also recognises the need to address the impacts of aviation on communities and the environment.”  The consultation closes on 13th October.  ie. a large part of it is over the summer holiday period. On environment it just says the strategy “will look at how to achieve the right balance between more flights and ensuring action is taken to tackle carbon emissions, noise and air quality.” Consultations on various aspects of the strategy will run throughout 2017 and 2018 and will be followed by the publication of the final aviation strategy by the end of 2018.

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Aviation to be a key priority for UK government in run up to Brexit

Ministers consider aviation as a “top priority” in Brexit negotiations, and the UK government hopes to get new flight rights with 44 countries to replace the EU framework governing where airlines can fly. There will be a new UK aviation strategy (there is currently no proper UK aviation policy, with the government hoping to get a 3rd Heathrow runway first, before working on policy for all UK airports). Access to the aviation markets of the EU countries, the US and Canada, where market access is via EU-negotiated agreements. The aviation industry is very concerned about what agreements on aviation will be made, post-Brexit, on where airlines can fly etc. They face huge risks to their businesses and profits.  It has also emerged that UK aviation safety is controlled by EASA, a European body under the jurisdiction of the European Court. The government said its aviation strategy will consider the [alleged] need for further growth beyond expansion at Heathrow, and noted that “a number of airports have plans to invest further” to cater for air passenger growth. The DfT wants more intensive use of existing capacity at all UK airports, and says airports with planning restrictions hoping to take forward plans to develop beyond those restrictions will need to submit a planning application, with environmental issues such as noise and air quality taken into account.

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DfT confirms numbers of night flights – till 2022 – at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will not be cut

Changes to the night flights regime, at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted have been delayed for several years. The DfT has now produced its Decision Document on the issue. Anyone expecting meaningful cuts in night flights, or noise from night flights will be disappointed. There is no change in numbers, and just some tinkering with noise categories.  The DfT says night flights from Heathrow will continue until (if) the airport is expanded, and it just hopes airlines will be using slightly less noisy planes. Pretty much, effectively, “business as usual.” Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said he had to “strike a balance between the economic benefits of flying and the impact on local residents.” The DfT objective is to: “encourage the use of quieter aircraft to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night, while maintaining the existing benefits of night flights”. But it says: “Many industry responses welcomed the recognition by government of the benefits night flights offer and highlighted the importance of night flights to the business models of airlines, for instance by allowing low-cost airlines to operate the necessary minimum amount of rotations a day, or the benefits to the time-sensitive freight sector through enabling next day deliveries.”

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Vote on Heathrow 3rd runway delayed (due to election that went so wrong for the Tories) till probably June 2018 – not end of 2017

A vote by MPs on the 3rd Heathrow runway has been postponed until 2018, due to the disruption caused by the snap General Election in June. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the publication of the final Airport’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out the position of the government and the ensuing House of Commons vote will not take place until 2018.  The original intention had been to get the vote in December, or perhaps January 2018. Grayling said:  “The timing of the election, in particular the need to re-start a select committee inquiry into the draft Airports NPS means we now expect to lay any final NPS in Parliament in the first half of 2018, for a vote in the House of Commons.” He added that a further update would be provided following the House of Commons summer recess.  The Co-ordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Rob Barnstone, representing MPs, local authorities and campaign groups opposed to Heathrow expansion said: “Postponing this decision once again shows that the government are worried not only about losing a parliamentary vote, but also that their aviation strategy will simply be in tatters. As the weeks and months go on, we’re seeing even greater support for our campaign against Heathrow expansion. By the time this vote comes before Parliament, if at all, we are confident that MPs will vote it down. Heathrow expansion is not deliverable.”

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Airport hotel tycoon, Surinder Arora, wants Heathrow runway built soon – but a bit cheaper

A wealthy hotel tycoon, Surinder Arora, has submitted plans for a 3rd Heathrow. He has been a long time backer of a runway, and says his plan would be £5 billion cheaper than what Heathrow is offering (costing £17.5 billion). He has put his proposal to the government’s public consultation on Heathrow (the NPS consultation actually closed on 25th May.) Heathrow has been trying to find ways to make their runway + terminal scheme cheaper, as the airlines are not keen on paying the higher charges that would be needed. Ticket prices would rise. (ie. lower airline profit). The Arora Group’s proposals include altering the design of terminal buildings and taxiways, and reducing the amount of land to be built on.  They know the alterations to roads, including the M25 and the junction of the M25 and the M4, are massive problems and “threaten deliverability” of the runway project. They therefore want to “shift the runway”. Where to?  All this shows how very uncertain the runway plan has become, and the immense doubts – especially on money. Heathrow said they would welcome views on various options  “in the public consultation later this year.” The plans must first be assessed by the Commons transport committee, be amended by the DfT and then voted on in Parliament …. it is not a quick process.

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Heathrow plans to charge motorists £15 to enter ‘congestion cordon’ around airport to tackle toxic air

Heathrow knows it has an insuperable problem with air pollution if it was allowed a 3rd runway. Levels of NO2 are already often illegal, in many places. Now Heathrow is considering imposing a new “H-charge” on motorists who arrive or leave the airport by car. This is intended to reduce air pollution, and get more passengers to travel by rail (already pretty crowded). The idea is for a charge of £10 – 15 for everyone, including taxis and public hire vehicles, for each trip.  Not surprisingly, avid backers of the Heathrow runway like Sir Howard Davies and Lord Adonis think the charge is a great idea. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to believe that some form of low emission zone around the airport will be needed. The government has made (rather hard to believe) assurances that a 3rd runway would only be allowed to operate if it can do so within air quality limits. (Which it cannot). Most of the NO2 and particulate pollution in the area is from road vehicles; a high proportion of those are Heathrow associated; a proportion comes from planes. The exact proportions are not known – yet. Heathrow likes to give the impression hardly any is from planes (not true). Heathrow airport says it will consult on the proposals for charging, and details of how it might work  – but it is seen as a “last resort” to tackle its air pollution problems. It would be very, very unpopular with travellers and taxi/Uber drivers.

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Stop Stansted Expansion warn people not to be hoodwinked by deceptive displays about airport’s growth plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has issued a warning to residents across the region not to be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s smoke-and-mirror exhibition and biased consultation survey on its further expansion plans. Both appear designed to trick people into thinking that further Stansted expansion in passenger number will be painless and sustainable. They make these claims, even before the environmental impacts have been assessed. The displays are deliberately misleading, and SSE says people should be very sceptical. Brian Ross, SSE’s deputy chairman, said the displays are all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives.” People attending the exhibitions need to ask searching questions, like explanations about the proposed increase in flight lights compared to today. And  and passenger movements compared to the position today.  This, say SSE, reveals a very different picture from the one being put forward by Stansted’s bosses who have been making the false claim that the extra passenger numbers will only lead to “approximately two extra flights an hour”.  In reality the proposal would mean an extra 2,000 flights a week compared to today’s levels – 285 per day.  That means an increase from on average of a plane every 2¼ minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds.  Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport says it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million.

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71% of votes in the election, in constituencies affected by Heathrow, were for anti- 3rd runway candidates

Analysis of the 8th June general election results, done by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, in constituencies affected by Heathrow, found that over 70% of votes were cast for anti-3rd runway candidates. The analysis also confirms that 68% of votes cast for the Conservatives, and 65% for Labour, were for candidates who oppose the Heathrow runway.  Plans for the runway have been thrown into serious doubt since Theresa May failed to win a majority she was expecting. The breakdown of the election results underlines just how unpopular Heathrow expansion really is – not just by a large number of Mrs May’s own Tory MPs but by the majority of voters too. Two key Cabinet ministers — Boris Johnson and Justine Greening — are fiercely opposed to expansion plans, as are most Conservative MPs in London seats. With the majorities of both Boris Johnson and Justine Greening severely slashed at this election, these new figures suggest both Cabinet Ministers could lose their seats next time if Theresa May were to press ahead with Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston, is one of the most vocal campaigners against a 3rd runway. His seat was the only Conservative gain in London at this election – narrowly winning with just 45 votes. Were the Government to press ahead with Heathrow expansion, his would be another seat that the Conservatives could very likely lose.

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Letter sent by ChATR (Chiswick) to all new Cabinet members expressing concern on Tory backing for 3rd runway

ChATR, Chiswick Against the Third Runway, have written to all the new Cabinet ministers since the election, to express their grave concern at the Conservative manifesto promise to build a Third Runway at Heathrow – and to urge them not to support these proposals. They ask: “How can this government lend support to a development that knowingly harms public health? There is a weight of evidence against the Third Runway showing the adverse effects of noise, pollution and sleep deprivation. It seems utterly bizarre to us that this government has endorsed a scheme that benefits foreign shareholders at the expense of millions of Londoners who will suffer these very serious and well documented health consequences.” … They say:  “Poorer communities nearer the airport and working families under new & existing flight paths, trapped by debt, mortgages, stamp duty costs or other reasons will suffer the most. It seems quite wrong that the inequalities and injustices of airport expansion, which have been repeatedly raised by the affected communities, are being simply brushed aside for an, as yet unproven, marginal economic gain.”  And the DfT now acknowledge that the economic benefit (without including the carbon costs) of Heathrow is only about £6-7 billion over 60 years. Read the whole letter.

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Gatwick continues to press for 2nd runway, taking advantage of government weakness on Heathrow runway

Gatwick is again saying it wants a 2nd runway, after it has increased its annual number of passengers to over 44 million. Gatwick hopes to exploit possible indecision by government over the Heathrow 3rd runway, continuing to claim (very dubiously) that its 2nd runway would be “financeable and deliverable”. Gatwick said its number of passengers has risen, so far this year, by 7.7% compared to the same time last year. The vast majority of Gatwick travellers are on short haul leisure trips to Europe, but it hopes to get more long haul holiday travellers to the USA and the middle east or far east. It remains largely a “bucket and spade” airport. Gatwick wants to persuade government that its 2nd runway would be a useful alternative to Heathrow, which is used by most business travellers to destinations in the Far East and the Middle East. Since the June 2017 election and the loss of a proper Tory majority, the government will have increasing problems pushing through an unpopular Heathrow runway, with opponents such as Boris Johnson – and Jeremy Corbyn. Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, says he can build long haul routes and they can see future passenger demand and “we stand ready to deliver should the government give us the go-ahead.” In reality, Gatwick is in the wrong place, and has surface access transport far below the standard that would be needed for a 2 runway airport.

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Lord Adonis: Hard Brexit could halt Heathrow runway plans, as investors won’t risk the money in UK

National Infrastructure Commission chairman, Lord Adonis, says UK must maintain ties with EU to save key projects such as Heathrow 3rd runway and HS2.  He said a hard Brexit would spell the end for the 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow airport was keen, before the referendum in 2016, for the UK to remain in the EU. While Heathrow, since the referendum, has argued that Brexit makes its 3rd runway ever more important, Andrew Adonis said private investment in infrastructure would be off the table unless Britain could maintain ties with the EU. He said that a host of major projects including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3 rail links between northern cities, as well as universal broadband and mobile services, would be under threat but particularly those that rely on private funding.  “These decisions on Brexit have a crucial bearing on infrastructure. Business will not invest for the long term if they think Britain is going down the tube. It’s as simple as that.” And “If we were to go for a hard Brexit which severs Britain’s trading ties with the continent I think we could be heading for a calamity as a country.”  The cost of the expansion at Heathrow would be about £17.5 billion (with Heathrow only paying about £1 billion towards surface access). They are trying to find cost savings. The money needs to come from its range of foreign investors, the biggest two of which are a Spanish Ferrovial (25%) consortium and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund (20%).

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Andrew Adonis, Chair of National Infrastructure Commission, urges government to get on with Heathrow runway

Lord Andrew Adonis, chair of the UK National Infrastructure Commission, has urged the government to show it is committed to getting a 3rd Heathrow runway built.   He wants to reassure backers of the runway that the current woeful political instability in government will not delay the project. The FT says Lord Adonis (a long time backer of the runway) considers it “essential” – but though it was in the Tory election manifesto, it was not mentioned in the (watered-down) Queen’s Speech. The Airports National Policy Statement is due to be considered by the Transport Select Committee (when it is re-convened) and then voted on in the House of Commons – perhaps early 2018. Andrew Adonis has urged Theresa May to get the vote as early as possible; that would be May 2018 “to send out a positive signal to business”… that “Britain is open for business.”  He considers (with the problems on Hinckley Point C power station) that getting the runway built would be “the “acid test” of the government’s commitment to infrastructure investment.”  But the parliamentary vote is far less certain that before the election, and Theresa May is not likely to remain Prime Minister for long. If Boris Johnson became PM, he has always been vehemently opposed to the runway. There remains huge uncertainty about the whole scheme.

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Mayor of London publishes draft Transport strategy for consultation – not in favour of Heathrow runway

The Mayor of London has published his draft Transport strategy for consultation.  It states: “A three-runway Heathrow, however, would have severe noise and air quality impacts and put undue strain on the local public transport and road networks, and alternative airport expansion options should be considered. London’s growth is important, and it must be made to work for all of the city’s current and future residents.”  And  Policy 20: “The Mayor will continue to oppose expansion of Heathrow airport unless it can be shown that no new noise or air quality harm would result and the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities. Any such expansion must also demonstrate how the surface access networks will be invested in to accommodate the resultant additional demand alongside background growth.”  Also Proposal 96: “The Mayor will seek a commitment from Government to fund and deliver within an appropriate timescale the extensive transport measures required to support the expansion of Heathrow.”   The consultation closes on 2nd October 2017.  It can be found here.  People responding do not have to answer every question, but can say if they agree or disagree, and whether the Mayor should consider other aspects.

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Stop Stansted Expansion brands airport expansion plans as premature and opportunistic

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has condemned Stansted Airport for insulting the intelligence of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and the community at large by claiming that its latest expansion proposals will have “no significant adverse environmental effects”.  SSE’s Chairman Peter Sanders has further stressed the need for the council not to be hoodwinked by the airport’s spurious claim and to ensure a comprehensive, honest and thorough assessment of all the environmental impacts that would result from major expansion.  The statement comes following the airport’s formal notification of its intention to submit a planning application later this year to seek permission to grow to an annual throughput of 44.5 million passengers and 285,000 flights. This compares to last year’s throughput of 24 million passengers and 180,000 flights.  If approved, this would mean an extra 20 million passengers and an extra 104,000 flights every year blighting the lives of thousands across the region. Stansted hasn’t even started to make use of its 2008 permission to grow from 25mppa to 35mppa.  Even by its own projections, the airport doesn’t expect to reach 35mppa until 2024 although the credibility of its forecasts is questionable given its wildly inaccurate record on this front.

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New report shows Scot Gov plan to cut aviation tax will damage Scotland and mainly benefit frequent fliers

A new report published by Scottish Green MSPs shows that the Scottish Government’s plan to cut aviation tax will cost the Scottish public purse hundreds of millions of pounds and put £47.3million into the pockets of businesses.  It also shows wealthy frequent fliers stand to gain hugely more from the tax cut than regular travellers.  This week the Scottish Greens will make a final attempt to amend the Air Departure Tax Bill at Holyrood so that instead of rewarding wealthy households and corporations and a highly-polluting industry, any new tax regime encourages a reduction in aviation and a shift towards cleaner forms of transport. The report finds that much of the benefit of the planned cut will accrue to those living in Scotland’s central belt; only 6% of all international flights by UK residents are taken by children, so the SNP’s claim that this policy will help “families” is highly misleading; such a generous tax subsidy for business flights within the UK will harm rail travel by incentivising a shift towards air travel; and reducing the cost of air travel will lower the cost of taking holidays outside of Scotland relative to holidays within Scotland, “cannibalising” holidaymakers from Scotland’s domestic tourism industry and worsening the deficit between what we spend abroad and what visitors spend here.

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Campaigners point out that cutting Scottish air tax benefits rich households and corporations the most

Plans by the Scottish Government to reduce and then abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland are “predominantly a tax giveaway for Scotland’s wealthiest households and corporations”, according to a new report. The study by the Fellow Travellers campaign group against high carbon emitting air travel found 70% of Scotland’s richest households stand to benefit from the proposed cut, compared to 30% of the poorest.  A Scottish air departure tax is set to come into force from April 2018 if passed by parliament, replacing APD. The SNP wants the tax cut by half by the end of this parliamentary term, with the charge to be scrapped when resources allow, claiming it will improve connectivity and create economic benefits. However, the Fellow Travellers report found that, based on official figures, halving the tax would lead to £189 million in lost revenue for Scotland by 2021/22.  It says:  “The SNP’s commitment has fired the starting gun for a race to the bottom on air passenger taxes in Great Britain. Any competitive advantage conferred on Scotland’s airports from a reduction in these taxes will be short-lived.” …. “This is predominantly a tax giveaway for Scotland’s wealthiest households and corporations.”  APD currently brings in about £300 million per year. That could pay to employ 11,500 nurses. Or fund a year of childcare for 54,000 children. Or convert every bus in Edinburgh to being fully electric.

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Tory MPs say Heathrow runway ‘not going to happen’ following hung parliament

Conservative MPs have warned that a manifesto pledge to expand Heathrow will not go ahead, following Theresa May’s failure to secure a majority in the election.  As many as 40 of the Prime Minister’s own MPs are against the building of a 3rd runway.  Labour are divided on the issue and their election manifesto only committed the party to expand Britain’s airport capacity, with four conditions; the proposed Heathrow runway cannot meet those conditions. Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond – re-elected in June – tweeted: ” Heathrow expansion… not going to happen.”  He told The Sun: “Heathrow expansion already faced huge obstacles, not least a very strong legal challenge by Local Authorities and appalling air pollution implications.” Both Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, are ardent opponents of a Heathrow third runway. The campaign, No 3rd Runway, canvassed candidates before the election and found 31 out of London’s 73 MPs were opposed to the runway, many posing for photos endorsing their pledge to oppose it.  The number of opponents would far outweigh Mrs May’s waver thin Commons majority potentially provided by the DUP.The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is opposed to it. The new Minister for London, Greg Hands, is opposed to it.

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Election fallout: will government plan to get 3rd Heathrow runway be hit?

The Conservatives are set to form a minority government, which could affect a range of transport issues from Heathrow expansion to road schemes even if the Conservatives remain in Government. Although Theresa May intends to continue as prime minister, with the support of the DUP, we are now entering a time of uncertainty. Anti-Heathrow expansion campaign group HACAN has done its own research on MPs, showing that 31 of the capital’s 73 MPs are known to oppose the runway. HACAN chair John Stewart said: ‘Once the views of all London’s MPs are known, it is highly likely that a majority will be opposed to Heathrow expansion. Of themselves they may not stop it but they could act as a very awkward bloc to a new runway ever seeing the light of day, particularly given the fact that the new Government doesn’t have a majority of seats in Parliament.’ Rob Barnstone, coordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, the group representing residents opposed to the project, claimed the failure of the Conservatives to win a majority in the Commons has created less certainty on issues including the third runway at Heathrow. He said: “The Government were relying on a large parliamentary majority, including many new and loyal backbenchers, to push through a third runway. “Now that Theresa May’s gamble has rendered her anything but a conquering hero, the future of the project looks much less certain and potentially in jeopardy.”

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Around 42% of London MPs (since the election) oppose a 3rd Heathrow runway

List from John Stewart, Chair of Hacan, (the main residents’ group working on Heathrow noise issues) of the MPs known to be, or believed to be, opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. So far they number 31 MPs out of the total of 73, and more details may be added when the information is known. In the 2005 election, the Conservatives had 306 seats. In the 2010 election they had 330 seats. Now in the 2017 election, the Conservatives have 318 seats. The party wants to get the 3rd Heathrow runway built. The Conservatives may form an alliance with the Irish DUP, which has 10 MPs and is a firm backer of the 3rd runway. That alliance would take the Tories to 328 MPs, which is 3 above the key number of half the MPs in the Commons (650). The hung parliament will make it harder for the government to force through highly contentious, and widely unpopular polices like the runway.

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Heathrow now considering (not tunnel or bridge) but cheaper series of “viaducts” over M25

Heathrow has a huge problem in how to get a runway over the busiest, widest stretch of the M25. The original plan was a full 14-lane tunnel about 2,000 feet long. Then there were plans for a sort of bridge over the road. Even those would be prohibitively expensive (Heathrow says it would only pay £1.1 billion on roads etc). Now there are plans, by Phil Wilbraham, who oversaw the construction of Heathrow’s terminals 2 and 5, to build a cheaper system. It would be 3 parallel bridges across the M25, with narrow ones for taxiways at the side, and a wider one for the runway in the centre. The plan is for a 2 mile long runway, to take even the largest planes. The main airline at Heathrow, British Airways, suggested a runway about 1,000 feet shorter, that would not need to cross the motorway, but that might not be able to take A380s, and would mess up the flight patterns. The earlier “bridge” concept would have meant the runway would be on a slight slope, to get over the motorway. The cost of moving the thousands of tonnes of earth would be immense, and it is thought Heathrow has had to reconsider. The airlines do not want to have to pay for the building costs of roads etc associated with a 3rd runway. The government does not want to force Heathrow to pay, as this would mean increasing the cost of flying – and reduce demand at Heathrow.

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Another response by Sir Jeremy Sullivan on the NPS, showing his oversight is not satisfactory

ir Jeremy Sullivan was given the task, by the government, of monitoring the DfT consultation on the draft Airports NPS. People can write to him with concerns about the process. Some very unsatisfactory responses have been received. One person wrote to say: “One of the boards at the consultation displays said the following: “Expanding Heathrow is estimated to deliver additional benefits to passengers and the wider economy up to £61 billion over 60 years.” In the absence of explanation, any normal person (one who has not obtained and studied the detailed evidence) would take this to mean that there is an overall economic benefit from Heathrow expansion. In fact this is not the case. The £61bn is GROSS benefits, the benefits without any of the costs being subtracted. If costs are subtracted the NET economic benefit, according to the DFT, is £0.2bn to £6.1bn. That is, 10 to 300 times smaller. …. This is not a matter of content, which you have stated you will not consider. It is a matter of balance, objectivity and not misleading the public in a consultation.” And the reply? “Whether statements such as those which you mention in your email are/are not ‘misleading’ is a matter of opinion. This is precisely the kind of point that you can make in response to the consultation.” ie. washing his hands of his responsibilities in this task. Nobody else is overseeing his overseeing of this very poor consultation.

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Client Earth taking UK government back to court for 3rd time over inadequate air pollution plans

Environmental lawyers who have defeated ministers twice, on UK air pollution improvements, are going back to court to try to remove ‘major flaws’ from government’s air quality plans. Environmental lawyers, Client Earth, are taking the government to the high court for a 3rd time. They have inflicted two humiliating defeats on the government over previous plans, which the court ruled did not meet legal requirements. ClientEarth had requested improvements to the latest plan (published on 5th May) from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) but were refused, prompting the new court action. James Thornton, chief executive of Client Earth, said: “The law requires the final plan to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the shortest time possible. These flaws seriously jeopardise that timetable. These are plans for more plans, what we need are plans for action.” Client Earth says the most effective way to reduce NO2 pollution is by discouraging polluting vehicles from entering cities and towns. However, the DEFRA consultation states that charging zones should only be the option of last resort, after measures such as removing speed bumps and encouraging cycling have been tried. However, those measures would have insufficient effect. Government is reluctant to penalise drivers of diesel vehicles, who bought them in good faith.

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No mention of backing for Heathrow runway in SNP manifesto (despite backing last year)

The SNP manifesto has come out, and despite the party saying last year that it backed the 3rd runway at Heathrow, there is no mention of it this time. There is a whole section on aviation policy, (p. 26 ) but no mention of the runway. This is significant, coming only 7 months after the memorandum of understanding the SNP signed with Heathrow. (October 2016). The manifesto outlines that the SNP will press the UK Government to commit to the Open Skies Agreement in the Brexit negotiations, expand direct international connectivity, protect existing connections within the UK and press the UK Government to secure an exemption from air passenger duty on flights to and from the Highlands and Islands. On airspace policy, the SNP back the need to reform UK airspace and more community engagement in the formation of flight paths in future. The SNP backing for the Heathrow runway was based on economic forecasts that were wildly exaggerated and misleading, (the “up to £147 billion benefit to all the UK over 60 years” claim )and which even the DfT knows were wrong. The actual benefit to the UK is more likely perhaps £6 billion (over 60 years). The promises of new jobs etc are also now seen to have been inflated and misleading. Why would an independent Scotland want to depend on air freight going via Heathrow?

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British Airways could have to pay £100m compensation bill to passengers due to its huge IT failure

British Airways could face a bill of at least £100 million in compensation for its passengers affected by the cancellations and delays caused by its IT systems failure. The problem, perhaps caused by a loss of electric power, which then lead to most systems not working, resulted in BA flights around the world being unable to take off, passengers unable to check in, even the website not working. The problem affected Heathrow the most in England, as the largest base for BA. Gatwick was also affected. In total about 1,000 flights were affected, with problems likely to last several days more, while systems are fixed and planes get back into the right places. As this computer fault is entirely the fault of BA (and not any sort of “act of God”) BA will be liable to pay full compensation, to anyone delayed over 3 hours. The airline was particularly busy as it was the start of the school half term, and also a Bank Holiday weekend, with people flying for weekends away. The GMB union said the problem had been caused in part because BA made many good IT staff redundant in 2016, to save money. They instead outsourced the work to India. Besides the huge cost of compensation (and improving its IT resilience) BA will have suffered serious reputational damage, with many saying they would avoid ever flying with BA again.

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IAG warns the “costs and complexity” of bridging M25 could be major problem for Heathrow runway plans

British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG) estimates bridging the M25, close to the M4 junction, would cost £2 billion-£3 billion. The Airports Commission suggested the cost could be higher, with £5 billion for local road upgrades, including the tunnel. The Commission said Heathrow should pay for these, as part of the cost of building its runway. The cost and complexity of somehow putting the runway over the busiest, widest section of motorway in the UK are considerable. IAG, as by far the largest airline at Heathrow, does not want to be charged for this work, which would mean putting up the price of its air tickets. IAG says there is no detailed risk and cost analysis of the airport’s plans on what to do with the M25, though a bridge is cheaper than a tunnel. Willie Walsh said: “Airlines were never consulted on the runway length and they can operate perfectly well from a slightly shorter runway that doesn’t cross the M25.” He wants Heathrow to build a shorter runway of 3,200m rather than 3,500m that does not require going over the M25. But that would mean the motorway directly at the end of the runway, in the worse danger zone. IAG says: “We will not pay for a runway that threatens both costs and delays spiralling out of control and where critical elements of the project could be undeliverable.”

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Enough is enough when it comes to aircraft noise say community groups from across the UK

Statement delivered to Number 10 Downing Street

A large number of community groups, representing hundreds of thousands of UK residents, delivered a statement to Number 10 demanding that the next government takes action to reduce aviation noise and emissions. The groups are seeking a new policy on aircraft noise and tough regulation of the aviation industry that balances the interests of people living near airports and under flight paths with the demands of the industry for more flights. Charles Lloyd of the Aviation Communities Forum said: “Anyone who lives near an airport expects some noise. But the changes caused by new concentrated routes – motorways in the sky – and the growth in flight numbers are having unacceptable affects on people’s lives, up and down the country. … For far too long the aviation industry has been unaccountable and able to do virtually what it wants in the skies. The industry has little interest in its impact on people on the ground and there’s no proper regulation to hold it to account. The Government’s hands-off attitude needs to change: communities near airports and under flight paths are no longer willing to be ignored. … Frustration is reaching a boiling point: people can’t sue the industry because its exempt from noise laws, there’s no noise regulator to turn to, the industry plays pass-the-parcel if you try to get things changed and they don’t even have to pay compensation if they destroy your health or the value of your house.” Read the full statement.

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Heathrow and Crossrail in legal dispute over how much TfL would have to pay to use 5 miles of track

Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) is a £15 billion train line designed to cross London from west to east, bringing relief for commuters, but it seems it may not now stop at Heathrow because of a legal row with the airport’s owners over fees. Heathrow has its lucrative Heathrow Express service runs partly on a 5-mile stretch of track, built and paid for (over £1 billion) by the airport. The Crossrail link into Heathrow would run on this section of track. It is an expensive (£25 per ticket) route, and Heathrow’s foreign owners want to recoup past spending on the private train line with an “investment recovery charge” of £570 for every train that uses the track, plus extra fees of about £107 per train. But the Elizabeth line, by contrast, will be in line with the fares that apply across the rest of the capital’s transport network. The opening of the new Crossrail service to Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 is expected to throw the financial sustainability of the existing Heathrow Express into question, though Heathrow insists it would continue to run alongside the Elizabeth Line. Heathrow’s owners are now in dispute with the Office of Rail and Road, which sets track access charges, over the amount that TfL, which runs the Elizabeth Line, will need to pay to use the track. The hearings were held earlier this year and a High Court judgment is expected within weeks.

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Boris Johnson says he disagrees with Tory plan to build Heathrow runway – as “very difficult to deliver”

Boris Johnson, who once pledged to lie down in front of the Heathrow bulldozers to block the 3rd runway, has been completely silent on the matter, since being made Foreign Secretary. But he has now made a short comment expressing his opposition to it – the constituency he wants to win back, Uxbridge & South Ruislip, is badly affected by Heathrow flights. He said that the runway would be ‘very difficult to deliver’ because of noise and pollution concerns. “I don’t think it’s the right solution. I’ll be honest with I think it’s very difficult to deliver. I just think noise pollution, the vehicular pollution, the air pollution, these are things that really have to be addressed.” The Tory manifesto says they “… will continue with the expansion of Heathrow Airport.” He told LBC that “The position is the one I was arguing as Mayor and as Foreign Secretary. That remains unchanged.” LBC’s Political Editor then asked him: “Has Theresa May got it wrong?” But Mr Johnson was whisked away before he could answer. In October 2016 Theresa May told all Cabinet Ministers “…. 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.”

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Heathrow fares badly in party manifestos – small, limited reference in Tory manifesto

By inserting only a small and limited reference to Heathrow expansion in the Conservative Manifesto (published on 18th May) is interpreted as meaning the Tories are leaving themselves room to drop the proposed runway, if necessary. The manifesto only says: “…We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and we will ensure that these great projects do as much as possible to develop the skills and careers of British workers.” The No 3rd Runway Coalition, set up earlier this year, includes over a dozen campaign groups, parliamentary candidates, local authorities and NGOs, working together to oppose Heathrow expansion. The Coalition believes the weak reference could indicate recognition of the insurmountable challenges that expansion at Heathrow faces including poor air quality, climate change, noise reduction, surface access difficulties and costs to the public, and the demolition of thousands of homes. The Labour manifesto only said the party “recognised the need for additional capacity in the south east” and it would “guarantee that any airport expansion “adheres” to Labour’s four tests. The LibDems made an explicit commitment not to support a 3rd Heathrow runway, or one at Gatwick or Stansted.

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UK government must not use international climate deal as a “smokescreen” with which to force through Heathrow runway

WWF is urging the next UK Government to come up with a credible climate plan for aviation – not just offsetting. They say the UK should not merely depend on the ICAO deal (very weak) as a “smokescreen” to pave the way for adding a 3rd Heathrow runway. The proposed new runway would make Heathrow the UK’s largest single source of greenhouse gases and increase emissions 15% over the limit for aviation advised by the Government’s independent expert advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The UK government hopes the ICAO deal for a global offsetting scheme agreed in Montreal last October – called CORSIA – would allow it to ignore aviation CO2. But the new WWF report Grounded explains ten problems with this approach. These include a weak target well short of the ambition of the Paris climate agreement and ignoring the non-CO2 pollution from planes, which probably almost doubles their overall global warming impact. The ICAO CORSIA scheme is no panacea for limiting the climate change impacts of airports expansion. The CO2 emissions from use of a new runway cannot just be offset. Instead government Ministers need to come up with a credible plan for limiting UK aviation emissions before making any decisions on allowing an extra (intensively used) runway (largely used for long haul flights). Otherwise, with no plan to deal with the huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions poses a very real threat to the UK’s legally binding climate change commitments.

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The Institute of Directors want government to allow two new runways – not just Heathrow

The Institute of Directors (IOD) are firmly convinced that people should fly more, and so the south east needs more runway capacity. They appear to be entirely convinced by the publicity Heathrow has put out about the alleged benefits a 3rd runway would bring. But they want more than just one runway. The IODs wants the government, after the 8th June election, to build two more runways, and a follow-up Airports Commission be established. They want a fast-track commission be set up immediately to recommend locations for two additional runways within a year. Plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway need the draft National Policy Statement to be voted through parliament, perhaps early in 2018 and then several years of planning process. At the earliest the runway might be in use some time after 2025. Numbers of air passengers are rising quickly, as flying is so cheap and the moderately affluent in the UK get richer. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also called for the next government to enable a 2nd runway at Gatwick to help create a “megacity”. While Gatwick was shortlisted as a candidate for a new runway by the Airports Commission, other airports such as Stansted and Birmingham would be likely to push hard should a future opportunity emerge.

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Stop Stansted Expansion calls on CAA and NATS to reverse 2016 flight path change, that are causing noise misery

SSE says National Air Traffic Services (NATS), who develop flightpaths for Britain’s airports, should reverse changes made last year. The changes to flightpaths are causing “noise misery.” The changes, introduced in February 2016, have led to a doubling of flights using the easterly Clacton departure routes and led to more than four times the number of complaints about aircraft noise (4,000 in 2016 compared to 760 in 2015). NATS and the CAA are conducting a review of the changes, to assess the impacts and benefits against what was expected when the plans were introduced. SSE noise adviser, Martin Peachey, said: “Whenever there are changes to flight paths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines. There must be more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery.” The changes were opposed by residents at public consultation, with 82% of those who responded, but were nevertheless approved by the CAA and implemented in February 2016 because there were judged to be benefits for airlines, in terms of fuel savings and time saving. Any minor benefits for airlines are far outweighed by the additional noise misery being inflicted upon local communities. SSE is urging local residents to make their views known to NATS.

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Inadequate draft DEFRA air quality plan remains silent on Heathrow 3rd runway impact on NO2

Defra’s new, very weak (due probably to trying not to upset owners of diesel cars in the run-up to the election) air quality plan is not likely to achieve air within legal NO2 limits in parts of London before 2030. A 3rd Heathrow runway would increase levels of NO2 in an area that has remained persistently in breach of legal limits. However, the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) point out that the draft plan does not mention the airport, with emissions associated with a 3rd runway apparently not even modelled. AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said, while we are waiting to see what legal action is taken on UK air quality: “In the meantime ministers are hoping to lock in parliamentary support for Heathrow expansion by the end of the year, despite new forecasts indicating that London may still be non-compliant with air pollution limits by 2030, and despite knowing that a third runway, due to open mid-2020s, would make the problem worse. The process for approving Heathrow expansion should be halted immediately, and reconsulted on only once an effective and legally compliant air quality plan is in place, so that the impact of a third runway can be properly assessed.” Forecasts from both the Airports Commission and the DfT show that expansion would act to further increase NO2 due to extra emissions from aircraft as well as associated passenger and freight traffic on the roads.

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Draft Government plans to cut NO2 pollution are woefully inadequate, having limited impact

The government was forced to publish its draft Air Quality Plan consultation (closes 15th June) on 5th May, having tried to delay it till after the election. It has not impressed campaigners for lower NO2 in our air. The plan has been criticised for being “woefully inadequate” and containing measures that would make only slight improvements. There is a planned scrappage scheme for a year, but this would only be for 15,000 vehicles (9,000 diesel and 6,000 petrol). The plan would replace these vehicles with electric Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs). It would cost the government money. There are plans to get more vehicles retrofitted, with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology for buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and LPG technology for black cabs. But it would only be for around 6,000 buses, 4,400 black cabs, and 2,000 HGVs by 2020. Across the UK. There could be more incentives to buy both battery operated and plug-in hybrid electric ULEVS.  And also hopes to change driver behaviour to drive more smoothly, remove speed humps, or cut speed limits.  All sound sensible ideas, but would have minimal impacts on the vast numbers of UK road vehicles. There are around 160,000 vehicles per day on the M4 near Heathrow, and around 263,000 on the M25 near Heathrow. It will take more than the government’s current proposals to make more than a tiny dent in all that NO2 air pollution. There is no mention of airports in the Defra document.

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Govt under pressure on 3rd runway air pollution – Heathrow just “confident” on future “exciting breakthroughs”

The UK Government is under increasing pressure to clarify how a 3rd Heathrow runway could be delivered without breaching air quality and CO2 dioxide emissions targets. In February the parliamentary EAC issued a report that called on the Government to produce a new air quality strategy “to determine whether Heathrow Airport expansion can be delivered within legal air quality limits”. It also said the Government “must not allow our air quality standards to be watered down as a result of leaving the EU”, and urged clarification on what a post-Brexit air quality national plan would look like. The UK needs to ensure EU air quality targets won’t be quietly dropped. The government’s draft NPS has made vague assurances that “final development consent [for a third Heathrow runway] will only be granted if the Secretary of State [for Transport] is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements”. However, there is no clarity on what that means. They surely would not prevent Heathrow using its runway, after spending so much money building it. Heathrow just says “Although we don’t have all these solutions yet we have a strong history of innovation and we’re confident that the next 10 years will hold even more exciting breakthroughs than the last.” ie. fingers crossed it all just – possibly – might be OK ….

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LibDem Leader Tim Farron says voting Tory “sends relaxed message over 3rd Heathrow runway”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called on Londoners not to give the Tories a free pass to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Mr Farron claimed that a vote for the Conservatives in the general election would send a “relaxed message” about the most significant construction project in the capital since the Second World War. “If the Conservatives win in south-west London that would be taken as a message from local people they were happy and content with where we were with Heathrow,” he said. Reaffirming his party’s position as anti-Heathrow expansion, Mr Farron said his MPs would block every vote on the issue in the Commons. Pressed on how he would solve the shortage of runway capacity for the anticipated rise in air passengers, he said was about providing alternatives and making use of the other runway capacity around the country, especially in places like the Midlands. Meanwhile it is expected that the Conservative manifesto will again (as in 2015) avoid any mention of the runway issue, in order not to cause problems for local MPs like Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening (not to mention Theresa May herself, in Maidenhead) getting re-elected, despite their difficult positions of not standing up for their constituents on this matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8th April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Major new coalition launched to fight Heathrow 3rd runway

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

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Four Select Committees launch an unprecedented joint inquiry into air pollution

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

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

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

16 January 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TfL Heathrow fully utilised road trips

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

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

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

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

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

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Supreme irony of the hottest July day on record at Heathrow


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

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


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

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

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

8 NGO logos for Airports Commission letter

November 1, 2013      

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

Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

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

Committee on Climate Change.

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

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

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