Heathrow Airport News

See also Hillingdon Times on Heathrow, for a local perspective

HACAN blog for comment 

Colnbrook Views, for local insights for the area

Minutes of the Heathrow Consultative Committee  HACC  


SAS raises $75 million from Heathrow slot sale – Virgin uses its slots as collateral

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has sold two pairs of Heathrow slots to an undisclosed buyer, raising $75 million from the transaction. Before the sale, SAS had the 6th largest Heathrow slot portfolio with 19 daily slot pairs. This has now been narrowed to 17 pairs, although under the deal SAS can continue to use the two pairs for up to three years. “The intention is to maintain the seat capacity to/from London Heathrow through the use of larger aircraft on remaining departures.” This is not the first time SAS has sold off part of its Heathrow slot portfolio. In 2015, the airline sold a pair of slots to Turkish Airlines and—in a separate transaction—transferred a pair to an unknown major airline. Whilst the cost of landing at Heathrow is determined by the CAA and Heathrow Airport Holdings, the allocation of landing slots to airlines is carried out by Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL). IAG, which includes BA, has around 54% of the slots. Virgin has the second highest number (around 3%?) and uses them as collateral, taking the total value of the loan notes it has issued since 2015 against Heathrow slots to £252 million. Many other airlines have small percentages of slots. Details are not readily publicly available, and trading goes on behind closed doors.

Click here to view full story…

Fears on how Tory party want post-Brexit bonfire of EU “red tape” on environment etc regulations

Brexit comes with immense uncertainties, one of the main ones for anyone concerned with the state of the environment, air pollution, water pollution, or carbon emissions, is how much European legislation will be dumped. The Telegraph writes of how keen it, and many in the government, are to get rid of tiresome regulations that hold back business and economic growth, for no better reason than environmental protection. There are comments like these: the “Telegraph calls on the Conservative Party to promise a bonfire of EU red tape” … Iain Duncan Smith thinks the Tories should promise at the next election to “whittle away” unnecessary rules, reducing the “burden” on businesses and citizens. … “we can reduce the cost on business and on individuals by reducing regulations which will improve our competitiveness, our productivity and therefore ultimately our economy” … Lord Lawson (prominent climate denier) says UK must swiftly seize the chance to “transform the British economy” by cutting “massive” numbers of EU regulations. … “Builders have been frustrated by rules on preserving newts, which are classed as “endangered” in Europe even though they are thriving in the UK” [probably due to years of protection] …. The Green Alliance is working to ensure proper environmental protections survive. Read their blog here.

Click here to view full story…

IPPR says apprenticeship levy will deepen north-south divide – with areas like Heathrow benefitting

One of Heathrow’s most often repeated claims as benefits for a 3rd runway is taking on 5,000 more apprentices, taking the number up to 10,000, by 2030. In reality, much of the training for apprentices comes from the government, so companies benefit. Many of the apprentices are not young people entering a first job, but existing staff improving their skills. Heathrow would benefit, and get money back, that they have to pay into the levy. Now analysis from the Thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests the new £3 billion levy on larger employers, starting in April 2017, will raise less money and have smaller impact on areas that need it most – in the regions. Instead it will deepen Britain’s north-south divide, with London and the south-east benefiting most, as this is where there is the highest number of big employers. The areas where it is most needed are those that have been hit by deindustrialisation and suffer from low levels of qualifications, low productivity and low pay. Not the Heathrow area. The levy is to be paid by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3m and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual wage bill (ie. perhaps nearly £3bn per year.) The IPPR said: the government should analyse the regional impact of its new apprenticeships policy, so it does not leave unemployment hotspots in the north-east or Yorkshire with proportionately less funding.

Click here to view full story…

Virgin likely to be in the red again, and wants lower charges if Heathrow gets a 3rd runway

Virgin Atlantic wants Heathrow to reduce its passenger charges once (perhaps that should say IF) its 3rd runway opens. Virgin CEO Craig Kreeger said charges are already too high. Virgin, naturally, wants flying to be as cheap as possible – or growth in numbers is slower (less profit). Virgin is not doing very well at present. The Times reports that Virgin Atlantic’s pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional items, rose by 2.2% to £23 million last year – the 3rd successive year it has been in the black. However, it may make a loss this year, because it faces competition from British Airways and increasing capacity in the North Atlantic market. BA will start low cost transatlantic flights from £86 this summer, on a new airline called Level, from Barcelona.They also have to contend with lower air fares, rising fuel prices, fears of London terrorism and currency fluctuations that will hit profits. Virgin faces weak consumer confidence since the £’s fall against the US $, making trips from the UK to the US, its main route, more expensive. Virgin has to pay more for its fuel and new planes now, as these are bought in dollars. It is not yet known if many US tourists will be wary of coming to London, after the killings in Westminster. Virgin’s air cargo turnover fell 15.9%, due to weaker sterling and overcapacity in the market.

Click here to view full story…

Packed first public meeting of new anti-Heathrow expansion group, BASHR3 in Hounslow

Nearly 200 residents packed out a church hall to attend the launch meeting of a new local anti-Heathrow expansion group – BASHR3. The first public meeting of Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASH Runway 3) meeting on March 21st was a lively event, with speeches from Ruth Cadbury (Brentford & Isleworth MP), John Stewart of HACAN, and Maggie Thorburn, from Friends of the Earth. Putting profits and pollution before people were high on the agenda and there were serious concerns that tens of thousands more people in Brentford , Isleworth, Osterley, Chiswick and Hounslow will be affected by a third runway. Ruth Cadbury was adamant that the threat of a third runway would be eradicated, and many claims made by Heathrow of how they would deal with problems such as noise, air pollution and carbon emissions were “laughable.” …Ruth believes that “Together, we’ll see off the threat to our area for good.” The 3rd runway means the massive intrusion of aircraft noise into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, who not currently under a flight path. Being overflown for the first time would come as a deeply unpleasant shock for many, and the DfT has made no attempt to give out information about who would be affected. Air pollution will also become worse across the constituency as a result of the traffic generated by the extra cars and lorries on the local and motorway road network.

Click here to view full story…

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.

Click here to view full story…

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.”

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

DfT report says widening the M25 on its south-west quadrant would not be the right solution

The M25 South West Quadrant Strategic Study (M25SWQ), has been published by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England. It claims to “identify and appraise options for improving performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant”. It has concluded that the M25 should not be widened (beyond what is already committed) in the SW quadrant, because that would have “significant (negative) effects on surrounding communities” and would not be effective in reducing congestion”. The study was looking at the section of the M25 between, and including, junction 10 for the A3 at Wisley and junction 16 for the M40 in Buckinghamshire. This is the busiest section of the M25, close to Heathrow. The report says future work on the M25 should not focus on widening it, but reduce the pressures and recommends further work to “Explore options for new or enhanced highway capacity, separate but parallel to the M25.” “This should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes. … But the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.” There could be upgrades for existing roads, and options for roads to fill in the gaps.

Click here to view full story…

New anti-airport expansion group formed in Hounslow – BASHR3 – after launch of DfT’s NPS consultation on 3rd runway

A new anti-airport expansion group has been set up by residents of Hounslow and Brentford. The group, Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASHR3), has been launched in the wake of the government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) consultation on proposals for a northwest runway at Heathrow. There are serious concerns in the borough about the increased noise, traffic and air pollution – amplified by the recent report by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, that is highly critical of the government’s implausible assurances on these issues. Brentford resident Dave Waller has helped set up the new campaign group as many more lives will be blighted by another flightpath. BASHR3 is urging people to attend the DfT consultation events, and submit their responses. Dave Waller commented on the air pollution issue: “If the third runway goes ahead, it is sure to get worse and we will be forced to move out of the area. Our lives will also be blighted by an increase in noise caused by the new flightpath, which will cut across Brentford.” People concerned about Heathrow health impacts are encouraged to join BASHR3. Website and on Twitter at @bashrunway3 The first consultation event for Hounslow residents is February 27th at Hounslow Civic Centre from 11am to 8pm.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Council leaders attack ‘dishonest’ Heathrow promotional leaflet, circulated widely by DfT

Conservative town hall leaders have accused the Government of “misleading” up to three million people over the impact of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and a “dishonest approach.” The leaders of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead council tore into the DfT over the “shamelessly one-sided” consultation leaflet sent to around 1.5 million households and businesses (an estimated 3 million people). The leaders say the leaflets fail to include any details of proposed new flight paths, or the extra numbers of flights, or the reduction in “respite” periods that would happen, due to the 3rd runway. There is also no proper information on likely increases in traffic, and therefore in air pollution.The leaflet is instead ecstatic about alleged economic benefits it might bring, and unashamedly bigs up pledges of home price compensation for compulsory purchase, future insulation schemes (over up to 20 years?), and some apprenticeships. The leaders believe the leaflet is intended to mislead, and its dishonest approach is undermining the fragile trust residents have in politics. Areas that are already badly overflown by Heathrow planes, such as Clapham, Lambeth, Pimlico, Marylebone, Westminster, Streatham, Mayfair and Kennington were not included in the consultation exercise. Lord True commented: “The Government need to stop the spin.”

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

RHC challenges economic need for night flights at Heathrow, when slots can be provided during the day

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has submitted a detailed response to the night flights consultation. One particularly interesting point they make is that Heathrow does not actually need flights between 11pm and 6am or even 7am. The airport proposed adding 25,000 more flights per year, if it is given planning consent for a new runway, before the runway is built. That means there can be 25,000 more flights per year – around 68 more per day, or about 4 – 5 per hour more (half take offs and half landings). Heathrow says it is full, but would be able to fit in these extra flights, if it wants to. Therefore, if these slots are possible, some of the flights currently in the night period could be moved into the day period. However, there are concerns that the extra 25,000 flights per year would mean loss or runway alternation, that is seen as vital for those currently overflown by Heathrow approach flight paths. The RHC believes late running flights and increased numbers of flights between 6 and 7am are largely ignored by the consultation and people may wish to comment. For the sake of people’s health, the noise disturbance to sleep has to be ended, with no flights before 7am. There needs to be a ban on scheduled and unscheduled night flights starting by 2020, irrespective of any decision on a 3rd runway.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Ice block (presumably off plane approaching Heathrow) damages roof just west of Windsor

There have been a number of incidents, at many airports, of lumps of ice falling off planes overhead, coming in to land. Ice can form naturally on aircraft flying at high altitudes, and this can break away and fall off when the plane comes down through warmer air. There is another recent incident of this, to someone under the approach path into Heathrow, just west of Windsor. On 10th February (some time between 7 am and 8.30am) some ice crashed through the roof of a house in Oakley Green Road near Windsor. The owners of the house were not hurt, though there is substantial damage to the roof. This is another incident where it is fortunate the ice fell onto a roof, and not onto people. Such a large object falling onto someone would kill or seriously injure them. Builders secured the property before the weekend and repairs were set to begin the next week. The CAA says this sort of incident is “‘relatively rare” and the CAA website says: “As the safety regulator for UK civil aviation, the CAA requires UK aircraft operators to minimise the risk of ice falls by performing regular maintenance to prevent leaks and take prompt corrective action if a defect is found. The CAA is unable to investigate the potential origin of an ice fall, but does record reports of this nature.”

Click here to view full story…

Particulate emissions from electric cars as bad as conventional – due to more tyre and brake wear

While electric vehicles are a welcome technology, enabling a cut in local air pollution from diesel and petrol cars and vans, (as long as the electricity they use has been sustainably produced) they are not wholly a “silver bullet” solution. A new study shows that much of the particulate air pollution in cities comes from from vehicle tyres and brakes, and road surface wear and resuspension of road dust. There is a positive relationship between vehicle weight and these non-exhaust emissions – the heavier the vehicle, the more wear on tyres and brakes. As electric vehicles tend to be around a quarter heavier, for the equivalent size, than their conventional equivalent internal combustion engine counterparts they produce more of this pollution. Therefore electric vehicle PM emissions – overall – are comparable to those of conventional vehicles. The study found that these non-exhaust sources account for around 90% of PM10 and 85% of PM2.5 from traffic. They conclude: “Future policy should consequently focus on setting standards for non-exhaust emissions and encouraging weight reduction of all vehicles to significantly reduce PM emissions from traffic.” Heathrow is pinning its hopes for cutting air pollution on more use of electric vehicles.

Click here to view full story..

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow airport workers might get financial payout to encourage those with diesel cars to scrap them, to cut NO2

It is rumoured that workers at Heathrow may be offered around £2,000 each, to replace their diesel cars with less polluting electric or petrol models, to try to overcome the problem of NO2 air pollution. Staff at Heathrow are estimated to drive around 27,000 diesel vehicles. Detailed proposals are still being worked up, with talks due to take place with airlines, retailers, cargo operators and other airport employers. Discussions are understood to have taken place about the possibility of a pilot diesel scrappage scheme, by the DfT, in various areas of the UK with the worst pollution (perhaps Heathrow is one) before a nationwide rollout. An earlier Government scrappage scheme to get older, more polluting vehicles off the roads involved motorists being offered £2,000. Half of this came from the government, and half from the motor industry which benefited from more new car sales. Heathrow wants the M4 out to the M25 to be included in the Low Emission Zone to clamp down on polluting lorries and vans. It hopes that by cutting this pollution (much of which is from vehicle trips associated with Heathrow) it can be allowed a 3rd runway, keeping air pollution just within legal levels. Meanwhile, the EC is expected to soon take the next step in legal action against Britain for failing to cut illegal NO2 levels.

Click here to view full story…

Pope: CO₂ compensation for air travel is hypocrisy

Pope Francis has denounced the CO₂ compensation for air travel as hypocritical. He said: “The planes pollute the atmosphere, but with a fraction of the sum of the ticket price trees are planted to compensate for the damage inflicted.” If this logic were extended, one day it would come to a point where armaments companies set up hospitals for those children who fell victim to their bombs. “This is hypocrisy.” He said this was one of the greatest ethical problems of today’s capitalism, that industries were producing waste and then trying to conceal it or treat it to make it invisible. He demanded an economic system that would not only reduce the number of victims, but also require no sacrifices or offsets at all. He was speaking to about 1000 entrepreneurs from around the world who are committed to the social economy. With offset schemes for air travel, passengers can transfer money to so-called compensation agencies. The amount of the sum is generally determined by the distance, consumption and seating class. The agencies then invest the money in climate protection projects in developing countries. Critics see in this practice a modern form of indulgences, which leads to increased flights.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

CAA publishes SoNA study, showing high levels of annoyance from aircraft noise well below 57dB

On 2nd February the CAA published a report on a survey about attitudes to aircraft noise, done in 2014. It is called SoNA (Survey of Noise Attitudes). This follows the ANASE study done several years earlier, that was shelved by government, as its methodology was questioned, and it showed high levels of annoyance in response to plane noise. The SoNA study findings are that some adverse effects of plane noise annoyance can be seen to occur down to 51dB LAeq 16hr. The conventional level of averaged noise considered a problem is 57 dB LAeq, and noise is measured on a logarithmic scale. The SoNA report also found sensitivity to aircraft noise has increased, with the same percentage of people being highly annoyed at 54dB LAeq 16hr in SoNA as there was at 57dB LAeq 16hr in the ANIS study that was done in 1985. This gives further evidence to the demand that the government no longer uses the 57dB LAeq metric as its main noise measure. The debate continues about the merits of averaged noise over 16 hours in summer, with metrics measuring the number of plane noise events in a given time. The study says “there is insufficient evidence to link chronic health outcomes with event-based noise metrics, and SoNA 2014 found these performed less well than LAeq 16hr as a predictor of annoyance.” But the findings may show “it may be appropriate to use N65 as supplementary measure for daytime noise…”

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Airlines may decide to leave Heathrow for cheaper rivals, if costs of 3rd runway passed on

February 4th 2017 (Graeme Paton in The Times)

Major airlines may drop Heathrow for rival airports such as Amsterdam amid concerns over a steep rise in landing charges to pay for a third runway. Rafael Schvartzman, European vice-president of IATA, said that airline backing for the project was “conditional” on fees remaining at today’s levels. It has emerged that Heathrow had already taken the first steps to pass its expansion costs on to airlines, which could in turn push up prices for passengers. It has been given permission by the CAA to translate £10 million of early planning costs for a 3rd runway into its day-to-day running expenses. This means that airlines could be liable to cover these costs in exchange for using the airport. Heathrow has said that charges will remain flat on average in real terms.  Times link 


Heathrow villages set for destruction get no consultation event from DfT

Residents, community representatives and local MP John McDonnell are outraged that the public consultation on the DfT’s draft National Policy Statement on expanding Heathrow does not have a public exhibition event in any of the Heathrow Villages. The villages face the prospect of being demolished to make way for the runway. Though 20 local events are planned by the DfT, in areas not far from Heathrow and affected by it, the nearest one to the Heathrow villages is in West Drayton, not easy to reach by public transport from many of the villages. Previous public consultations on Heathrow expansion have always included exhibition events for those who would lose their homes. Local MP John McDonnell commented: “Quite frankly the Government are having a laugh by not holding a consultation event in the Heathrow villages. My constituents face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life if this runway goes ahead.” …“I will be organising a further series of public meetings across the constituency over the coming weeks to ensure that local people and community organisations are fully informed and are able to fully participate in the Governments consultation process. I am confident that yet again we will defeat these disastrous proposals.”

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Wandsworth Council raises concerns about absence of flight path details for Heathrow runway

The DfT published its draft National Policy Statement (NPS) on a Heathrow 3rd runway on 2nd February. This was announced alongside a consultation on “modernising” airspace, to use it more intensively, so more flights can be accommodated. There is no detail in the NPS of flight paths for an expanded Heathrow, and it was confirmed at the Heathrow Community Noise Forum that there would be no details of flight paths until the end of the airport’s Development Consent Order process – several years away. For tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people living within perhaps 30 miles of Heathrow, the flight path details are vital – otherwise they have no idea how they will be affected by noise. Wandsworth councillors have expressed concern about the secrecy. Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “What millions of Londoners want to know above anything else is whether the new flight paths will go over their homes, schools or communities. There is no justification for keeping this vital information a secret. The Government seems to be consulting on the benefits of expanding this airport but not the drawbacks. This renders the whole exercise meaningless. This is more like marketing than consultation and the transport secretary is damaging already fragile trust in politics.”

Click here to view full story…

How will people who would ultimately be – newly – intensely overflown by new Heathrow flight paths know they need to make their voice heard?

There is a considerable problem with the DfT consultations on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow, and their Airspace modernisation consultation. If there is a 3rd Heathrow runway, tens or hundreds of thousands of people – who are not currently overflown – would be. They would also be likely to be overflown intensively – as the intention of the airspace management industry is to use narrow routes, and have planes directed down these accurately. That means the same people would get plane after plane overhead, often most of the day, perhaps on most days or on many days per year. However, many of these people have no idea yet that this threat may await them. They will neither be aware there is a consultation to which they should respond, nor of the severity of the noise burden to which they may be subjected. No flight path details are yet known, and probably will not be know for another couple of years. There is a considerable risk (as at Frankfurt with their 4th runway) that people could find themselves, once a runway opens, with a level of noise they had been warned of, and for which they were not prepared. The DfT is sending out 1.5 million leaflets for its NPS consultation. But how will the relevant households know that this might be a matter of real significance for them in the future? Unless people are fully informed, with proper information, the consultation is not adequate.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

One noise sufferer’s struggle to cope with the noise burden of Heathrow flights under 3,000 feet overhead

Someone who is now dealing with depression has contacted AirportWatch about the difficulties they have with high levels of Heathrow aircraft noise – living 7-8 miles from the airport. There are flights nearby or overhead at under 3,000 ft, on easterlies. Some extracts from the letter are copied below (with their permission): “We are on Easterly Winds until Sat, meaning we have so much noise to come. I am doing my best to cope, but the thought of this much noise is hard to take. … It is not fair. … The thing I loved doing the most has been taking away from me – to be able to sit and read a book or study something new in peace, in my own home. I can’t do this anymore. It is so sad, as with the noise, I never will be able to sit in my garden and have dinner in the summer months. I brought my house and it was so lovely and quiet – now this has happened. … The noise is just getting too much for me. … Why this the government allowing this to happen? I have no support, no protection. My MP is in favour of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, and is unhelpful. … I didn’t choose to live under this. This government, and earlier governments, have brought this to me. I just can’t understand why it is allowed to continue. … When will it stop?” A letter received from the Dept of Health was unhelpful – just advising visiting the GP ….

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

New anti-3rd runway group forms in Hammersmith & Fulham, concerned about worse Heathrow impacts

A new campaign group fighting plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway has been formed in Hammersmith and Fulham. The “H&fnothirdrunway” group was formed by concerned local residents Victoria Timberlake and Christina Smyth. Christine was chairman of Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s resident-led commission on airport expansion, which submitted a 56-page report on the 3rd runway proposals to the Airports Commission. The group is urging residents to attend its first public meeting on January 30th, an anyone is welcome to come along, whether they are members or not.”It’s time to get involved.” [At Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Road, Hammersmith and begins at 7.30pm] Hammersmith and Fulham Council has repeatedly opposed a 3rd Heathrow runway. In July 2015 the Council Leader, Steve Curran said the runway would have an adverse impact overall on the borough. Many local residents already have their sleep shattered by aircraft noise, which could only get worse. There would be extra pressure on our roads and more air pollution. “No amount of mitigation could make this acceptable. “We are urging the government not to support proposals which would be a nightmare for residents and make no financial sense.”

Click here to view full story…

Chris Grayling’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on noise – in relation to Heathrow runway

Chris Grayling was questioned by the Environmental Audit Committee on 30th November 2016. Below are the parts of the questions, and answers by Chris Grayling and Caroline Low (DfT) on the subject of noise. Mr Grayling reveals only a very partial understanding of the problems, and of the noise levels – and a somewhat trusting belief in how “quiet” new aircraft are going to be. He says the UK should not impose restrictions on noisy aircraft of developing countries, as it would be unfair on them. He admits that people who currently get “respite” from Heathrow noise will get less, and there will have to be new flight paths – means unknown numbers of people will get noise for the first time, and not a lot of “respite”. His aspiration is for no scheduled flights for six and a half hours per night. He believes (mistakenly) that slightly steeper landings would help. He manages to repeat the mantra that despite 50% more flights “noise levels will be lower than they are at the moment.” He places unjustified trust in an “independent noise authority (or commission)” sorting out a lot of insoluble noise problems in future. Much that he could not give proper replied to depends on consultations in 2017. He will “look at” the issue of when insulation of affected homes is done – over up to 20 years, rather than right away. A worrying performance, for those affected by Heathrow noise.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Chris Grayling’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on climate – in relation to Heathrow runway

Chris Grayling, and Caroline Low from the DfT, gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on 30th November. Chris Grayling was not able to give the committee satisfactory assurances on how much UK aviation emissions would rise, due to a new runway. Nor was he able to comment on the CO2 cuts needed by other sectors, to accommodate aviation CO2 rise. He said: “Of course in the case of carbon emissions, there is no law of the land that requires us to meet any particular target.” When asked by Mary Creagh when we could see the aviation emissions strategy, Grayling could give no answer other than an evasive: “documentation on that expansion will be published in the new year.” Grayling’s responses indicate only an incomplete grasp of the facts on carbon, avoiding specific answers to questions, but with the intention of allowing aviation expansion (and perhaps later trying to sort out the problem). He hides behind the CCC as much as possible. On the issue of non-CO2 impacts, he says “there is no international evidence at the moment”for this” – and then some half-digested waffle about cutting CO2 by more direct routing of flights. He also hopes biofuels will make a difference in future, despite this being unlikely to provide more than a tiny % of fuel. Grayling makes it clear he has no intention of letting aviation CO2 get in the way of a 3rd Heathrow runway.

Click here to view full story…

NATS realise the importance of good sleep for their controllers’ alertness – but not for those overflown at night?

In an article on the importance of sleep (and of taking naps in the day, if people need them) the BBC happens to have focused on NATS (he UK’s national air traffic control service). They say how important it is for their air traffic controllers to not be tired, and get enough shut-eye. NATS says staying alert for them “can be a matter of life or death” and they have an “entire department dedicated to this question” because they are “responsible for one of the busiest stretches of airspace in the world, over London.” At their centre at Swanwick there is a “dormitory room where those on night duty are encouraged to get two hours’ kip in the early hours.”We want them to be at the very top of their game at 5-6am, when the arrivals are starting to come into Heathrow.” And that is all great. Except it ignores the inconvenient fact that the work NATS does is routing planes late at night (sometimes until 11.30pm or midnight) at Heathrow, and again from 5am (with a few even before 5am. That is sleeping time for most people living under flight paths, whose sleep is being disturbed. By the activities of NATS. The negative impacts of not getting enough sleep are many, including poor concentration, depression, reduced alertness, less good memory – and many other impacts. Ironic?

Click here to view full story…

Rivals Frankfurt and Heathrow airports are both resistant to more controls on noise

Heathrow is reluctant to agree to a proper ban on night flights – what it has offered is only on SCHEDULED flights, rather than any flights. It fears its airlines would lose money, and that rivals do not have such a ban. But Frankfurt has had, since 2012, a ban of flights between 11pm and 5am (and restriction of only 133 flights between 10pm and 11pm, and 5am to 6am per day). Airlines using Frankfurt also do not like the night flight ban, and complain it damages the competitiveness of Frankfurt. The Hessian Ministry of Economy and Transport has presented plans for noise ceilings, including a limit on the number of takeoffs and landings if noise limits are not achieved for two years in a row. A spokesperson for BARIG (the airlines) described the proposals as incomprehensible. This all sounds so like Heathrow: “The plans regarding noise ceilings are jeopardising the role of Frankfurt and Germany as important aviation locations … The consequence of further restrictions would be that airlines have to evaluate more critically than before whether Frankfurt remains to be part of their network in the future.” And so on. So Heathrow and Frankfurt would be similar – but each is scared of the other airport doing better.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow bullish about how fast it could get its runway Development Consent Order through

Colnbrook Views reports that Heathrow has begun geeing up airport workers in the past few weeks with internal messages that suggest it hopes it could get its Development Consent Order for a new runway approved as early as 2020. The announcement, to employees and contract workers, implies that the airport believes it could still see a new runway opening within 10 years – by 2027. Heathrow has started work on its development consent application and intends to make a submission in 2019. This has to come after the government gets approval for its National Policy Statement (NPS) – which will go for consultation very soon. The NPS process will take at least a year, depending on hold ups. Heathrow plans to do 2 public consultations, looking at the benefits and impacts of the runway project before submitting an application for DCO “sometime in 2019”. It anticipates a 6 month sprint through the DCO approval process, which will be carried out by the Planning Inspectorate, before a decision by the Secretary of State for Transport (currently Chris Grayling). Heathrow would like this before the 2020 General Election …. By contrast, the DCO for the M4 Smart Motorway took 18 months, March 2015 to final decision in September 2016.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow intent on getting kids (+ parents) into the habit of multiple plane-dependent holidays per year

Heathrow has been working on its PR by giving figures on how much parents spend on air travel and holidays (some exotic) for their children. They hope to give the impression to parents that they need to provide these luxuries to their children, as part of being good parents …. more consumerist pressure …. Heathrow says in 2016 an unbelievable 19% of children (presumably in the UK, or those passing through Heathrow?) took at least 7 trips trips per year; 5% go on more than 10 trips per year, taking into account family holidays, school trips and holidays with friends. And the “dream destinations” (ie. long haul ones that make more profit for airlines and Heathrow) for under 16 year olds were “Australia, Hawaii, Everest and Thailand”. (Really? Everest? Is this a joke?) Heathrow says the average cost per trip for a child (those under 16 pay no Air Passenger Duty) is about £616 – and on average parents will spend about £30,000 for the holidays of their children, up to the age of 16. Heathrow says “The current generation of kids are dreaming of Bondi Beach, kangaroos and the Outback, with nearly a quarter (23%) of children citing far-flung Australia as their dream destination for 2017.” And on it goes …. Heathrow’s future customers. “Get ’em young” … So THAT’s why we need another Heathrow runway, with all its public expense and negative impacts over vast areas within perhaps 20 miles of the airport.

Click here to view full story…

Back Heathrow complains Hillingdon has to spend money fighting runway – refuses to say how much funding it gets from Heathrow

The “astroturf” group (not actually a real community group) Back Heathrow gets its funding from Heathrow. It refuses to say how much money it gets from the airport. John Holland-Kaye has in the past also refused to say how much it contributes. Back Heathrow is complaining that Hillingdon borough has spent a lot of money on its campaigns against the 3rd runway. This is money that the borough is being forced to spend, because of the activities of Heathrow, against which it has to defend its residents. The account for Back Heathrow show it has around 154,000 in the bank; it has assets of around £653,000; it gives its net worth as about £482,000; its current liabilities are shown as – £171,000; and it only has one employee, Rob Gray. No activity is reported, and no turnover is reported. Back in December 2014 the Sunday Times revealed that Back Heathrow had had at least £100,000 from the airport, but no details are ever given. Back Heathrow says, rather bizarrely, that ‘It would not be fair to publish the amounts given’. Their next accounts will be published on 31st March 2017. Being private companies, the sums cannot be extracted through FoI. Hillingdon Council makes its figures public, and has defended its campaigning, saying it is representing the views of residents.

Click here to view full story…

China starts rail cargo link from Shanghai to London (Barking) – cheaper than air freight, faster than sea

China has launched its first freight train to London, travelling from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China (near Shanghai) to Barking. The trip will take around 18 days to travel over 7,400 miles (about 6,200 miles, as the crow flies). The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, on the way to London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city. There are hopes that it will strengthen China- UK ties. The railway is a major strategic development to assist Xi Jinping’s multi-billion dollar ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy. The plan is to create a trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Road trading routes. There are currently 39 routes linking 16 Chinese cities to 12 European cities. The train to London carried a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items. In October a train arrived in Hamburg from China after a 13 day trip. Its 45 containers carried consumer goods, furniture, clothes, lamps and electronics, which were then transported to various European cities. The trains returning to China have carried items such as German meat products, Russian woods and French wines. Transporting goods by rail is a much cheaper and lower carbon method than air freight via Heathrow, and faster than sea cargo.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Advertising Standards Agency confirms that Heathrow and Gatwick aren’t actually in London

A complaint was made (it is not clear by whom) against an advert by London City Airport in June 2016. The advert stated that “Business or pleasure, time is on your side when you fly from London City Airport … Fly with British Airways or Flybe from Edinburgh, or from Glasgow with British Airways, to the only airport actually located in the city of London….” etc. The complaint was its claim that London City is the only airport in the city of London. It is, of course, not in the square mile of the City of London. The ASA accepted that “the city of London” was intended to refer to inner London, as opposed to the “square mile” City of London. City airport has an E16 postcode, which Heathrow has a TW6 postcode. The ASA said the primary message of the ad was the time that could be saved by flying from or to London City Airport, which they accepted. They therefore said the ad would not mislead, dismissed the complaint, and it was not in breach of advertising codes. Many airports call themselves “London” airports, regardless of the length of journey to get to them from central London.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow air cargo includes “80 million animals per year” – and largest import is fresh beans

In a long and breathlessly excited and impressed account, a writer for the Daily Mail records his trip to Heathrow cargo warehouses. There are some interesting insights. He says Heathrow handles 80 million animals per year, including “280,000 reptiles, 28 million fish, 16,000 cats and dogs, 2,000 birds and 200 horses every year.” … and “including bears, lions, penguins, elephants and tigers.” (There may be good reasons to question the environmental sustainability or morality of shipping non-domestic animals in this manner …) Some of the animals in the Animal Health Centre in Feltham have been seized from smugglers, such as number of African pygmy hedgehogs. Apart from the animals there are vast amounts of flowers and perishable goods. Huge amounts of bell peppers, cucumbers and salmon are shipped to the Far East and the US every day. Some 100 tonnes of salmon, “from countries such as Scotland and Norway” are flown overseas each day. Luxury cars are shipped by air, and ship parts. Drugs are sent when needed urgently. One of the most daft shipments was “ice cubes sent from London for a swanky cocktail party in Korea” … “The biggest import into the UK are fresh beans, but also berries, asparagus and exotic fruits.”

Click here to view full story…

Government spent ‘eye-watering’ £10k a day (£3.8m so far…) on legal etc consultants over 3rd runway

The Government has been criticised for the DfT spending an average of £10,000 per day on consultants and law firms to decide if a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. The DfT is reported to have spent more than £3.8million on external firms since the Airport Commission published a report in July 2015, saying Heathrow was the best location for a new runway. A FoI request by the Press Association showed that the lion’s share of the money has gone to financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, who filed 4 invoices totalling £1.46 million, which were paid between July last year and October 2016. Law firm DLA Piper UK was also paid £1.09 million between August 2015 and October 2016, while Allen & Overy received £152,955.60 between January and September this year. Professional services firm Ernst & Young filed 2 invoices worth £138,765 for consultancy work, paid between March and August 2016. New MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, said: “These are eye-watering sums, over £10,000 a day, to pay consultants for an airport people don’t want.” For this runway “the people lose out and the only gainers are highly paid consultants.” Taxpayers’ money has been wasted by the DfT despite deciding “long before it was going to be Heathrow whatever the evidence”. Far, far more public money will also be spent, if the runway went ahead.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow hopes to pay homeowners to get access to their properties, in order to do required surveys, to speed runway

Bloomberg reports that Heathrow is offering homeowners cash to take part in a nature study. This is to get studies on local biodiversity done fast, so Heathrow can get its dreamed of 3rd runway through quickly. Heathrow is apparently offering hundreds of homeowners a £1,000 reward if they take part in environmental studies, needed for its runway planning. The letter from Nigel Milton says “This may require a visit from our team…” The legal position is that Heathrow has no right of entry on to anyone’s property without their consent. Local campaign SHE is concerned some householders may feel pressured into giving Heathrow access. The owners of houses and farmland where the 3rd runway would be built will apparently qualify for the payment in return for agreeing to several visits over about two years, to assess biodiversity. Heathrow will soon be knocking on doors, hoping people will agree to the “free” cash. [Getting this access from people overcomes the problems of getting onto private land – which otherwise could take time, and hold back the runway plans]. Heathrow have to get enough owners to sign up, to get enough information on bats, newts etc. Agricultural land and rivers must also be surveyed. Normally some fairly inadequate mitigation measure is put in place, if wildlife habitat is destroyed. Heathrow will be hoping no wildlife or other biodiversity issue causes them any delays.

Click here to view full story…

Flybe starts flights from Edinburgh and Aberdeen to Heathrow from March 2017

New regular flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh to Heathrow, starting on 26th March 2017, have been announced by Flybe. These will be Flybe’s first flights to Heathrow. There will be 4 flights from Edinburgh on weekdays, and 3 from Aberdeen, making a total of 40 weekly flights per week. They will be using slots made available to Flybe at the insistence of the European Commission, after the takeover of BMI. Airlines hope to get Scottish passengers to link into long haul flights from Heathrow, with all the usual claims about economic benefits etc. Simon Calder says Flybe will inherit the dormant Heathrow slots and will challenge British Airways on the Edinburgh and Aberdeen routes. The fares may fall due to the competition. But the BA flights will be faster. The air fares could be around £85 to £130 for a return ticket.

Click here to view full story…

Advertising industry anticipating a bonanza of increased ad possibilities from expanded Heathrow

The advertising industry is salivating about the advertising opportunities it hopes will come from a new Heathrow terminal and runway. There are hopes for hugely more hoardings and outdoor adverts around the airport, as well as in terminals. By the time the expansion might take place, after 2026, “through vastly increased computing processing power and more easily accessible data sets, the opportunities available to airport advertisers will most likely be multi-sensory, integrated, ultra-targeted communications, far beyond what’s available today. Through this development, brands will find a way to be a seamless part of the traveller’s experience.” … “targeting will go beyond the airport as those travelling by coach to catch a flight could be served with ads for holiday insurance along the motorway.”…”advertisers must also consider the unique mind-set of the airport traveller. Consumers are both enjoying down time away from the daily routine, and simultaneously anticipating the excitement of a departure. This unique state of mind, combined with dwell time, opens up opportunities for brands to offer key life moment purchases, for example a new car or mortgage.” And yet more nauseating consumer stuff, generating more excess consumption in association with more air travel.

Click here to view full story…

“Back Heathrow” tries to blame councils for having to spend money, defending themselves against its runway plans

The lobby group funded and staffed by Heathrow, “Back Heathrow”, has had the (ill judged) nerve to criticise councils for spending money to oppose their expansion plans. Back Heathrow has attacked Hillingdon Council for spending more than £800,000 between 2007 and August 2016 on fighting the 3rd runway, while cutting public services. Back Heathrow say Hillingdon is having to make cuts of £309,000 in early support service and children’s centres, with the threat of £100,000 more cuts next year. And they complain that Richmond has spent nearly £109,000 opposing Heathrow expansion between 2007 and 2014 – and so on with other councils. Heathrow is trying to give the impression that residents in these boroughs want the runway, and councils are wasting money. They ignore the inconvenient fact that there is huge opposition to the runway within these councils, and the councils can see not only the effect of noise, air pollution and congestion the runway would cause, but also the social and infrastructure stresses – for example, on housing demand. Heathrow’s plans are costing, and could continue to cost, these councils a great deal of money. Heathrow is responsible for a lot of public money that taxpayers would have to fork out, to deal with the impact of its expansion.

Click here to view full story…

Teddington Action Group on the new NATS, airlines etc campaign – “Sky’s the Limit” or Pie in the Sky?

In their blog, the Teddington Action Group (TAG) say the intention of the aviation industry to vastly increase the numbers of flights, while miraculously reducing the number of people affected by noise, is nonsense. TAG says the Government needs to stop, take stock and remember that aviation demand must be managed rather than increased. Recently the ‘Sky’s the Limit’ campaign was launched by NATS (the partly privatised air navigation service) with airlines and airports. It hopes people will believe that the UK airspace is facing gridlock because the projected number of flights per year could be 3 million by 2030. But, don’t worry folks, the problem can be solved by airspace modernisation or the Future Airspace Strategy (FAS). By designing new routes with steeper climbs and descents, and aircraft flying routes with greater accuracy (i.e. concentrated flight paths), NATS will be able to pack in more and more flights (= more profit) – with fewer people impacted by noise. NATS keeps very quiet about the impact on those unfortunate enough to live under the concentrated routes whose lives and communities will be blighted. Do we really want children in schools round Heathrow having to shelter in earthquake huts in their playgrounds, to avoid the deafening roar of aircraft? The demand of frequent flyers for more choice and cheaper flights cannot justify the burden of noise inflicted on affected communities along Heathrow flight paths.

Click here to view full story…

HACAN signs up to a joint statement with Heathrow airport on an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA)

HACAN and Heathrow have set out their support for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA). The Government has said it would support the introduction of the IANA and will consult on its role and scope in 2017. Before that, Hacan and Heathrow have put out a “summary of common ground” on a joint position on the role and structure of the IANA, at first looking only at Heathrow. They have together written to Chris Grayling, backing the concept of an IANA. They hope it will “oversee efforts to reduce aircraft noise in communities around Heathrow,” and that it will “provide an impartial source of expert advice on noise, coordinate independent research, adjudicate on noise complaints that can’t be managed locally and ensure that communities have access to information…” They say IANA should have no enforcement powers, or be part of the CAA or DfT. Hacan and Heathrow say the main role of the IANA should be to provide an impartial source of expert advice, and then take on additional tasks such as to “establish a framework for noise management which is rooted in best practice”. It could also take on ombudsman functions, such as to investigate “complaints that have not been resolved locally.” John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, hopes an IANA could “bring reassurance to local communities but can also encourage airports to take their noise responsibilities seriously.”

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow extends compensation offer (value +25%) to small businesses with rateable value below £34,800

Heathrow has said this month that it WILL, after all, extend its limited compensation offer to small businesses. Small businesses within the compulsory acquisition zone with a rateable value less than £34,800, would be eligible for the same terms as the property offer set out to homeowners, which is full value + 25%. For larger businesses with a rateable value greater than £34,800, compensation will be provided in accordance with statutory requirements. That means some local businesses could still be excluded, as the offer has not been extended to the same zone as the householder scheme. Also, only those directly facing demolition or compulsory acquisition by the airport will be eligible. With the Colnbrook By-pass itself set to be closed and rerouted, that could mean some businesses forced to close with no compensation at all. Heathrow said: “We do not currently intend to start purchasing properties until development consent has been received from the Government. Our current expectation is this will be sometime in 2020.” It will be contacting each business affected over the coming months to hold individual meetings. It also says it is looking at measures that it might be able to put in place to assist with business relocation. People can only apply for compensation once the construction of the runway starts, and until only one year after the runway is operational.

Click here to view full story…

Hundreds of Heathrow villages residents attend public meetings against 3rd runway plans

Hundreds of local residents attended 2 public meetings held by John McDonnell (MP for Hayes and Harlington) on 8th and 9th December, about the proposed 3rd runway at Heathrow. At the meeting at Harlington Baptist Church Hall local people spoke about the threat to Harlington that a new runway would bring – such as being situated at the end of the runway, bringing unbearable new noise levels to the village. At the meeting at Yiewsley & West Drayton Community Centre, residents were particularly concerned about increased traffic congestion and air pollution, from the airport boundary being much closer to them. It would be just 200 metres from some West Drayton residents. John McDonnell said: “The message from these public meetings couldn’t be clearer: local residents are going to fight this runway all the way. A third runway at Heathrow is undeliverable and I believe we will stop it from ever being built. … The decision by this Government to build a third runway was shameful and remains a huge threat to local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life. And when you add in the air pollution, noise and climate change concerns then it becomes even more obvious that this runway makes no sense.” More public meetings are expected in Hayes in January.

Click here to view full story…

How intense plane noise inflicted on sensitive people can be intolerably cruel. Read the blog

In a blog, written for HACAN, someone who is very badly affected by aircraft noise shares his story. It makes shocking, and very sad, reading. The writer moved somewhere 10 miles from Heathrow, about 10 years ago, and at that time there was no plane noise issue. Now the controllers of airspace have changed the way flight paths are used, so planes leaving Heathrow generally fly on very narrow, concentrated routes. This means that noise which would previously have been spread out over about 3km is now channelled down a track just a few hundreds of metres wide. Plane after plane after plane flies down this one track, causing a level of noise that can be life-changing for those unlucky enough to be below. The author expresses his misery and despair at finding his home now bombarded by intense, almost continuous noise, when the winds are from the east. He has had to leave his job, as the lack of sleep, the depression, the anxiety and the disruption to his life has had too great an impact on him. He says on one day, in utter despair with tears rushing down his face “the only thing that stopped me was my dog had come up to me and pushed my hands away from my face with his nose. I looked at him, gripped his lead, run with him to the car and drove off to the countryside, just to get away from the noise.” Industry – take note. The noise from planes at Heathrow can have serious impacts on people. It is time this was properly acknowledged by government, and not conveniently ignored for political convenience.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Elmbridge Council votes to officially oppose Heathrow expansion

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

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow appoints 7 firms to design plans for its expansion, with 4-year contracts

Heathrow has announced seven firms have been contracted to design plans for its expansion plans (which it presumes it will be going ahead … eventually). The group – Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Atkins, Grimshaw, Mott MacDonald, Jacobs and Quod – will now be known as the Integrated Design Team. Back in March this year, Heathrow said following “a competitive process Arup, CH2M, MACE and Turner & Townsend have been chosen to work alongside” the airport to deliver its expansion as “partners in the Programme Client Team”. Now the four newly announced have been awarded 4-year term contracts. Barry Weekes, Head of Design at Heathrow, said: “With their institutional knowledge of Heathrow, and proven record in building complex infrastructure projects, the members of the Integrated Design Team will allow us to hit the ground running to deliver Heathrow expansion.” Amec Foster Wheeler will “continue to assist Heathrow with its sustainability strategies and Environmental Impact Assessment.” Arup will “utilise its engineering expertise as well as continuing to lead Heathrow’s passenger experience and baggage improvement programmes.” Mott MacDonald brings knowledge developing airport masterplans, as well as its significant engineering expertise. Quod will “offer its town and country planning consultants expertise and extensive knowledge on making successful DCO applications.”

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Evidence by Mayor of London to Env Audit Cttee on Heathrow expresses grave concerns on health impacts

The Mayor of London has submitted evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, on Heathrow’s environmental impacts. The Mayor believes Heathrow expansion could have a very detrimental impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. The submission says: “It is regrettable that Government has decided to take forward Heathrow expansion in spite of the clear evidence of its serious environmental impacts in terms of air quality and noise and, perhaps of greatest concern, what it would mean for public health.” … “It is yet to be demonstrated that an expanded Heathrow could operate without exceeding legal limits for NO2.” … “Delivering significant mode shift will be critical to limiting highway traffic and helping tackle air pollution; but no new rail infrastructure is deemed by Government or the Heathrow Airport Limited to be required for expansion, rendering such an aspiration simply not credible.’ … “Little consideration has been given to the impact expansion will have on the growth in highway trips associated with air freight and induced economic activity…” … “A three-runway Heathrow would result in an increase in the number of people exposed to significant aircraft noise (at 55dBLden) of over 200,000, compared to a two-runway Heathrow…” and “Even with the partial night flights bans being proposed, the proposals are likely to lead to a net increase in flights across the night period (11pm-7am) of at least 30%.” … and there is more …

Click here to view full story…

April 2016: Holland-Kaye says “shocking” to see the problems air freight operations are causing neighbours

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has described as “shocking” the problems that the airport – and its freight especially – causes the local community, following a bike ride through Colnbrook with Poyle with Parish Council chair Peter Hood in April 2016. He used Heathrow airport’s intranet to tell employees about the “shocking” impact of ancillary operations, and the “haphazard way” in which huge cargo sheds and smaller warehouses have sprung up in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. He said “it was shocking, and there is no one organisation you can hold accountable”. He recognised that villages such as Colnbrook, Bedfont, and Feltham were already being hit with “congestion, pollution and antisocial behaviour” as a result of activities associated with “keeping Britain’s trade flowing”. He added: “So it is up to us to bring together cargo companies, landowners, councils and residents to stop lorries messing up local communities. It won’t be easy, but if we take a lead, we can be a good neighbour to Colnbrook and other villages.” No specific actions have so far been announced yet, however.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Mayor Sadiq Khan warns Waterloo to Heathrow rail link, needed to get airport passengers off the roads, may be impractical

Sadiq Khan has welcomed the potential for direct train services from Waterloo to Heathrow Airport but warned that there may not be enough capacity on the rail network for such a service to be introduced. The Mayor said: “While the potential for a new connection between Heathrow and Waterloo is welcome, the proposals face a serious capacity challenge. Rail lines between Windsor and Waterloo are severely constrained and the multiple level crossings on the route limit the ability to accommodate additional trains. Any new airport service cannot be at the expense of existing and planned services or the network’s ability to meet forecast growth in background demand. If the Government is to take forward a third runway at Heathrow airport, it needs to demonstrate that there is both the rail connectivity and capacity to enable expansion and achieve the airport’s stated aspiration of a zero increase in passenger and staff highway trips. The Southern Rail Access proposals, reliant on the rail lines between Windsor and Waterloo, cannot provide the capacity to support an expanded Heathrow.” … “While the Airports Commission identified Southern Rail Access as the only rail scheme required for Heathrow expansion, it emerged last month that the Government now deems no new rail infrastructure essential for an expanded Heathrow. Such an approach is deeply concerning and risks worsening congestion on the roads and a further deterioration of air quality around Heathrow.”

Click here to view full story…

Government backed Heathrow 3rd runway ‘using old air pollution data’

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has admitted the Government backed a 3rd runway at Heathrow without fully understanding the implications of ground-breaking new evidence on vehicle emission standards. Ministers insist Heathrow can expand within EU limits on air pollution, which are currently being widely breached in the capital. But a study for the Government, supporting its third runway decision, was not based on the latest international analysis by experts, which showed emissions from some diesel vehicles are worse than previously claimed. Mr Grayling is to appear before the EAC on 30th November to give evidence on Heathrow and its environmental issues. In a letter to the Environmental Audit Cttee (EAC), Mr Grayling said: “Further work is needed to understand the implications of this evidence. … But our initial assessment suggests that revised forecasts would be likely to be within the range of scenarios already considered by our re-analysis [on air quality].” However, EAC chairwoman Mary Creagh said: “We will want to hear from the minister how the Government can meet air quality standards given what we now know about real-world emissions, which are higher than used in the Government’s business case [for a third runway]. We are also concerned that the plans for low-emission vehicle uptake and improvements in public transport are over-ambitious.”

Click here to view full story…

Dr Tania Mathias debate in Parliament on Heathrow – hoping in vain for government assurances on air pollution

Dr Tania Mathias, Conservative MP for Twickenham, secured a debate on Heathrow and its air pollution problem. She made persuasive and important points, and received only inadequate responses from John Hayes, the Minister of State, DfT. A few quotes are copied here: …”the WHO has said that for PM2.5 “no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.”… “within just over a week of the Government being found guilty in the courts of not having an adequate plan to address air quality, they decided to approve Heathrow expansion. The expansion will involve perhaps 50% more planes. … with nearly 250,000 more flights planned, there will be thousands more passengers and staff, and they will not be walking to and from Heathrow airport.” … “£799 million will be spent on car parks at an expanded Heathrow.”.. My question to the Minister is simple: if the Government support Heathrow expansion, how will they get air quality within legal targets? I have asked two Prime Ministers, two Secretaries of State for Transport and a Minister from DEFRA how they can expand Heathrow airport without increasing air pollution. Thus far, I have been assured that it will happen, but I have not been told how. I hope that today, at the 6th time of asking, I will be told.” [She was not].

Click here to view full story…

Willie Walsh says Heathrow charges rule out more UK domestic links, and he will not be told where to fly

Chris Grayling and the DfT were eager to point out how a 3rd Heathrow runway would increase links to the regions, and increase the number of routes from Heathrow from 8 now to 14 in future. And these links might have to be ensured by payments. Heathrow, in trying to persuade government this was possible, said it would create a new £10m Route Development Fund. The Airports Commission said there should be a Public Service Obligations on an airport-to-airport basis, to encourage these unprofitable routes. Now Willie Walsh has confirmed that there is “zero chance” of British Airways operating any new domestic flights from an expanded Heathrow. He will not be told, by government or an airport, where to fly. He says the high landing charges, inevitable to pay for the expansion, made it impossible to deliver an increase in domestic air links. He would refuse to run these links even if Holland-Kaye “begs me to do it” because it would not be profitable. He said Heathrow was “fat, dumb and happy” and that it attracted large numbers of airlines but that many failed to make a profit. He also said with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would price out most airlines. Holland-Kaye is hoping he can get easyJet, Flybe and BMI Regional to take on potential regional routes. Mr Walsh said the current charge of £40 for a return trip would double to £80 per passenger with a new runway.

Click here to view full story…

Willie Walsh not happy IAG/BA HQ to be demolished for 3rd runway (and IAG will partly have to pay)

This is not April Fools news. Willie Walsh has only learned, from looking at an Airports Commission map, that the head offices of BA are to be demolished to make way for the Heathrow 3rd runway. Walsh is CEO of IAG, which owns British Airways – and BA has more than half the flights using Heathrow. The head office of both IAG and BA is at Waterside, in Harmondsworth – and would be under the 3rd runway. Walsh said he received no formal warning of the proposed demolition of his headquarters, which only opened in 1998 at a cost of £200 million and sits in a 115-hectare (280-acre) manmade park. Walsh said the HQ was “a fantastic environmental achievement on our part”. Walsh’s grievance over his doomed HQ has been compounded by the prospect of being effectively charged for the compensation bill. IAG will receive compensation, but this will largely come from charges to airlines – so IAG would largely have to compensate itself. The scale of increased charges to airlines, because of the cost of building the new runway, terminal etc, will be determined by the CAA. Walsh said: “That compensation goes into the regulatory asset base and we end up paying 56% of that. We can’t have a situation where I end up paying for the destruction of my own head office.” This office fiasco may have contributed to Wash’s antipathy to Heathrow’s plans. At the recent AOA conference he described Heathrow as “fat, dumb and happy.” at the Airport Operators Association conference in London.

Click here to view full story…

Chairman of CCC writes to BEIS to query why DfT appears to no longer use the 37.5MtCO2 cap for UK aviation (in order to get a 3rd Heathrow runway, that means breaking CO2 target)

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

Click here to view full story…

High court gives ministers deadline of April for draft of tougher air pollution plan and final by 31st July 2017

On 2nd November, environmental lawyers ClientEarth inflicted a humiliating legal defeat on the UK government (the 2nd in 18 months) when the high court ruled that DEFRA plans to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in many parts of the UK were unlawful. The court gave the government 7 days to agree on the next steps, but it rejected the proposal from ClientEarth for an 8 month timetable for the improvements, saying it needed till September 2017. Now the high court judge, Mr Justice Garnham, has ruled that DEFRA must must publish a stronger air quality draft plan by 24th April 2017 and a final one by 31st July 2017. The judge also ordered the government to publish the data on which it will base its new plan. In his judgement on 2nd, the judge said it was “remarkable” that ministers knew they were using over-optimistic pollution modelling, based on flawed lab tests of diesel vehicles rather than actual emissions on the road, but proceeded anyway. He also ruled that ClientEarth can go back to court if it deems the government’s draft plan, due in April 2017, is once again not good enough to cut pollution rapidly. Alan Andrews, ClientEarth’s air quality lawyer, said: “We will be watching on behalf of everyone living in the UK and will return to court if the government is failing.” ClientEarth believes measure such as a diesel scrappage scheme and other measures that would cost money, that the Treasury has been unwilling to approve.

Click here to view full story…

Reduction in business rates for Heathrow means it will pay about £10 million less per year for next 5 years

The revaluation of business properties usually happens every 5 years but was controversially delayed by 2 years as a result of the economic downturn. The last revaluation was 1st April 2010 based on the property market at 1st April 2008.It is just a matter of weeks since the Government adjusted the Rateable Values of every business property in England and Wales to reflect changes in the property market. New Rateable Values for tens of thousands of businesses in England and Wales were announced in September, based on values on 1st April 2015. These values will be used to determine the basis of the tax calculation for rates next April and for the next 5 years. Properties that have out-performed equivalent ones will pay more, and those whose properties have underperformed can expect to see their bills fall. While Heathrow remains the highest payer of business rates in the country, its bill is to fall. The Government reduced its property assessment by £32.5 million – from £247.5m to £215 million. On average over the next 5 years, Heathrow will probably pay £118.02 million per year in business rates bills, compared to £127.96m in the previous List; a 5 year saving of £49.7 million. There has been a further £6.49m reduction in property tax assessments at two cargo centres at Heathrow Airport too.

Click here to view full story…

Up-beat and determined rally organised by Zac Goldsmith, in Richmond, against Heathrow 3rd runway

In addition to the protest against a 3rd runway near Heathrow, with two sections of nearby roads closed by activists linked together with arm locks, lying on the ground, there was also an entirely law abiding protest near Heathrow. In addition, earlier in the day there was a large, energetic and very positive rally in Richmond, organised by Zac Goldsmith – as part of his re-election campaign. Zac had always said that if the government backed a 3rd runway, we would resign. As soon as they did, he did – keeping his word to his electorate. The by-election was caused by the Heathrow issue, and that is what Zac intends to be returned to Parliament on. The LibDems want to get a 2nd MP in parliament, and so are hoping the by-election will instead be largely about Brexit. The rally was compered (brilliantly) by Giles Brandreth, and addressed by numerous well informed speakers, including the Leaders of the 4 councils now embarking on legal action against the government on the runway decision, and the ex-President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, as well as spokespeople from the Richmond Heathrow campaign, Teddington Action Group, Stop Heathrow Expansion, and Chiswick residents. It was made very clear that Zac has the necessary years of political experience as an MP to take this issue back to Parliament, get change, and ensure the runway is opposed – in every way.

Everyone who spoke was utterly determined that, with sufficient work and concerted, united opposition over the coming years, the highly unsustainable and damaging plan for a 3rd runway at Heathrow will be blocked.

Click here to view full story…

15 people arrested in protest against proposed 3rd runway, blocking two roads close to Heathrow

In addition to a rally held on Richmond Green, organised by Zac Goldsmith, against the planned 3rd Heathrow runway there were two other protests near Heathrow. Zac’s rally had a host of speakers, including the leaders of the four councils bringing a legal challenge to the government, and the ex-President of the Maldives – with the aim of ensuring Zac is returned to Parliament in the by-election on 1st December. A short while later, there was an action by climate protesters, organised by RisingUp! close to Heathrow itself. They got onto the M4 spur road to the airport at a traffic lights when the traffic had stopped. Within seconds five had locked themselves together with arm locks, blocking the road. Another Heathrow road, the East Ramp, was also blocked, for a short time, with some road trips slightly delayed, but no flights were affected. Fifteen arrests were made for obstructing the highway or public order offences. Many others protested, though without blocking a road. A spokesman for Rising Up! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.”   One of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, Genny Scherer, 70, said: “It’s one or the other: new runways or a safe climate. I want my nephews and nieces to grow up in a safe climate, just like I was able to.”

Click here to view full story…


Environmental Audit Cttee finds Treasury failing to take long-term environmental costs into account

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has done an investigation into the role of the Treasury in relation to sustainable development and environmental protection. The EAC is calling for the Treasury to “green-check” all its decisions, after its major investigation found that the Treasury puts short term priorities over long term sustainability – potentially increasing costs to the economy in the future. [The Treasury has been a key promoter of a new south east runway, with Treasury staff helping the Airports Commission.] EAC Chair, Mary Creagh, said: “The Treasury is highly influential and uniquely placed to ensure the whole of Government works to promote sustainability. But we have seen considerable evidence that it fails to do this.The Treasury tends not to take full account of the long term environmental costs and benefits of decisions which would reduce costs for taxpayers and consumers in the long run. On the carbon capture and storage competition and zero carbon homes we saw the Treasury riding roughshod over departments, cancelling long-established environmental programmes at short notice with no consultation, costing businesses and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. With a week to go until the next Autumn Statement, we hope our inquiry will be a wake-up call to the Treasury.”

Click here to view full story…

Councils and campaigners take first step towards legal challenge against government support for Heathrow runway

Solicitors Harrison Grant acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident have (17th November) sent a letter, under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol, to the Secretary of State for Transport. The letter gives the Government a period of 14 days in which to withdraw its decision, issued on the 25 October to support a 3rd runway at Heathrow. If it fails to do so, judicial review proceedings will be commenced in the High Court, without further notice to the Government, on the basis that the Government’s approach to air quality and noise is unlawful and also that it has failed to carry out a fair and lawful consultation exercise prior to issuing its decision. The 33 page pre-action letter sets out comprehensive grounds for legal challenge, drawing on a broad range of statute and legal precedent, as well as highlighting the many promises and statements made by senior politicians confirming that the third runway would not be built. The move comes shortly after the Government’s air quality plans were overturned in the High Court, putting ministers under greater pressure to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in places like Heathrow. The latest court ruling rejected the current government plans to tackle emissions as inadequate and based on over optimistic assumptions.

Click here to view full story…

Sadiq Khan backs councils’ legal action against Heathrow 3rd runway – and TfL will offer help

Sadiq Khan has announced at Mayor’s Question Time that he was officially supporting legal action against a 3rd Heathrow runway. He has instructed Transport for London (TfL) to help 4 local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead) and Greenpeace, which are together bringing the case against expansion. The involvement of TfL was met with delight from many Assembly Members. TfL is expected to be named as an “interested party” in the action. It is believed that the intervention of TfL will strengthen the case of the local authorities’ challenge. In the previous Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan said he wasn’t able answer the question on legal action until the government decision had been made. It was made on 25th October. Though Sadiq Khan had in the past backed a Heathrow runway, he changed his mind in 2015 when the extent of the noise and air pollution impacts became clear. He has now said, addressing the full London Assembly: “I promised I wouldn’t just stand by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution a third runway would cause. That’s why I’ve directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support” the councils.. “and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.” TfL has the most expertise on matters relating to impacts of Heathrow expansion on London’s transport network.

Click here to view full story…

DfT publishes proposed route of northern section of HS2, including property compensation details

The DfT has announced the second phase of HS2, north of Birmingham. It is intended to go to Leeds, Manchester, Wigan etc. which would mean journeys to and from London from these areas could be faster than they are now. That would reduce the demand for domestic flights, for connections to Heathrow. Many homes would be demolished to make way for the rail route, and there are compensation arrangements to help those affected. The DfT says compensation (by the government) measures would apply immediately, including a premium on compulsory purchases and moving costs. By contrast with Heathrow, which says compensation (the airport pays) would only start once they have full planning consent – and if their compulsory purchase is agreed in their development control order – which could be another 4 years away. The compensation is un-blighted price + 25% + stamp duty and costs for those in the “Express Purchase” scheme, and un-blighted price + 10% with no costs for the “Need to sell” scheme. The DfT documents say the compensation schemes are the same as the southern part of HS2, and “Two of these schemes will enter into operation from today on an interim basis – these are Express Purchase and Need to Sell, and if confirmed by the government, all the schemes will be in place until 1 year after the railway is fully operational.”

Click here to view full story…

Lib-Dems quiz Chris Grayling on ‘discredited’ Heathrow Airport data

By KATE PROCTOR (Evening Standard)   14.11.2016

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been urged to explain why the Government continues to rely on “discredited” air quality data to justify a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Liberal Democrats, including former secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey, and former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable, say the Government has been warned that modelling used by the DfT to calculate air pollution is out of date.  Sir Vince said: “The Government is relying on discredited modelling to claim EU air pollution limits could still be met. Chris Grayling must clarify whether he still stands by these estimates. If not, we need to know how EU limits that protect people’s health will be met.” They say unless the DfT reassesses the data, expansion plans should be dropped.  A Government spokeswoman said a third runway at Heathrow “will comply with UK air quality limits.” [That is largely wishful thinking, as much of the air pollution in the local area is largely outside the control of the airport. AW note]  She also defended their use of data. The Government’s national air pollution plans were deemed illegal by the High Court and it found a use of flawed modelling. The same system has been used for Heathrow.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/libdems-quiz-grayling-on-discredited-heathrow-data-a3394876.html


Seven more purely, unashamedly, low cost leisure destinations for 2017 from Heathrow

So much for the claims that Heathrow is ensuring Britain is “open for business” and creating “trading links to the growing markets of the world” or “connecting Britain to global growth”. The reality is that many of the landing slots at Heathrow are used for leisure flights, and many are for cheap European leisure flights. British Airways has announced 7 new routes from Heathrow for 2017. These are to Murcia, in “stunning” southern Spain “known for its world renowned golf courses”. There is also Brindisi, in Italy “ideal for holidaymakers looking for some sun to soak up in.” And Nantes, in western France, which is a “gateway to Brittany and Loire Valley as well as being home to the world famous Muscadet wines.” Also Montpellier, in southern France, with “a blend of the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Pyrenees.. Also Pula, in Croatia “an increasingly popular destination for families who want a cheap summer holiday, replacing the likes of Spain and France.” Then there is Tallinn, in Estonia, which is cheap and “one of the most preserved medieval cities in Europe”. And Zakynthos “This Greek island in the Ionian Sea is nicknamed the flower of the East. It is home to the Navagio beach, the most famous landmark on the island which is a stunning setting for a day lounging in the sun. Price: from £65”. There are also flights for cheap holidays to Menorca. This demonstrates, yet again, that Heathrow is not full of flights to vital, far flung, business-related destinations. It has flights that make money. ie. cheap holidays.

Click here to view full story…

Speculation about a congestion charge around Heathrow, to cut air pollution and deter traffic

The Airports Commission recommended measures such as a congestion charge on roads around Heathrow, in order to keep levels of air pollution at legal levels, and prevent traffic congestion gridlock with a 3rd runway. The Times reports that the congestion charge may be imposed, with the effect of forcing people to use public transport instead of cars. The central London congestion charge is £11.50 per day. What the money would be spent on is not known. The charge might be levied on some 80 miles of road, to keep NO2 and particulates down. The impact on road users who are not related to Heathrow is not known, or the costs to the local economy of this burden. The charge may have to be agreed through the development consent order process. Chris Grayling said, on 25th October, that the runway could be delivered “within air quality limits.” But little in the DfT’s documents gives any firm reassurances that measures will be put in place that could actually keep the levels of NO2 low enough. Further questions emerged last week when the High Court ruled that the government was failing to tackle air pollution quickly enough, and its air quality plan was based on over-optimistic forecasts. Heathrow insists that the number of public transport routes (which is is not prepared to pay towards) will increase, with new direct rail links helping Heathrow out. The worst air pollution in the area is near junctions 3 and 4 of the M4, where up to 16% of the traffic is related to Heathrow.

Click here to view full story…

Action to combat UK illegally high air pollution delayed again – judge will decide on timetable for action

On 2nd November, ClientEarth won its High Court case against the Government’s slowness in tackling illegal levels of UK air pollution. Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan was not adequate, and said it was “remarkable” that ministers knew they were using over-optimistic pollution modelling, based on flawed lab tests of diesel vehicles rather than actual emissions on the road, but proceeded anyway. It was agreed that both parties would return to court in a week to agree on the next steps. Now Ministers have rejected the court proposal to deliver an effective plan within 8 months, as ClientEarth suggested. The case will now return to court at an unknown future date, when the judge will determine what happens next. An earlier government plan to tackle air pollution was declared illegal in April 2015 and ministers were ordered then to produce a new strategy, which it did in December. But that new plan is the one that was found to be illegal on 2nd November. ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “We are disappointed that we have been unable so far to agree on the timetable for the new plan, or on the future role for the court in overseeing compliance with the order. We have made our written submissions and await the court’s decision.” Defra said it would be setting out further measures next year.

Click here to view full story…

T&E highlights air pollution problem of particulates from petrol vehicles without correct filters

One of the most significant environmental problems of Heathrow, in relation to wanting to add a 3rd runway, is its ability to keep air pollution on local roads down to legal limits. We hear most about Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) but there is also significant particulate pollution. The tiny particles, especially the smallest (PM2.5) can penetrate deep in to the lung and cause damage. Heathrow has local air pollution monitors, and regularly limits for PM10 and PM2.5 are breached. A recent report, by Ricardo, for the Heathrow area in 2015, said at the LHR2, Green Gates and Harlington sites 3 exceedances were recorded. At another site, Oaks Road, registered 5 exceedances. The AQS (Air Quality Strategy) objective is a daily mean limit value of 50 µg m-3 for PM10 should not to be exceeded. Now clean transport campaigners, Transport & Environment, say we could be on the verge of a “petrolgate” scandal, not unlike the “dieselgate” one, due to inadequate filters to prevent the emission of particulates from petrol cars. T&E say they have obtained documents showing that governments and car makers are delaying ensuring petrol cars have these €25 filters (most diesel cars have them). Governments are using theoretical particle emission, rather than the higher real world ones. T&E says the car industry is lobbying to be allowed to overshoot particle limits, and not to have to install filters.

Click here to view full story…

CAA consultation on whether airlines will pay £10 million (or more) per year of Heathrow’s planning costs

The issue of how much Heathrow can pass the costs of its expansion onto airlines is much disputed. Airlines such as IAG have been vociferous in refusing to pay for anything up-front. The amount Heathrow can charge airlines is laid down by the CAA, which has now put out a consultation on this subject. There are three categories of cost. Category A is lobbying, advertising etc, to get the runway approved. The CAA says Heathrow must pay this itself. Then Category B costs are those incurred to obtain planning permission through the development consent order, for the runway etc. It is Category B costs the CAA is consulting about. (Category C costs are those of actually building the added capacity – and may include costs like buying up thousands of properties in the villages. The treatment of these costs is not yet agreed by the CAA). The CAA consultation is proposing that of the Category B costs (ie. planning costs) Heathrow can get back £10 million per year from airlines through higher costs. For planning costs of over £10 million per year, the CAA propose these would be capitalised and rolled into HAL’s existing Regulatory Asset Base (RAB). These costs would then be be paid by a “risk-sharing mechanism” between airlines and Heathrow. If HAL succeeds in getting planning consent, they can get 105% of the costs over £10 million per year back through higher charges to airlines. If they do not get planning consent, they can only get 85% back. The consultation on this ends on 12th December. Details below.

Click here to view full story…

Hounslow Council wants Heathrow runway negative impacts reduced – Chamber of Commerce wants “a slice of the action”

Hounslow Chamber of Commerce said that is was “extremely happy” about the Government support for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The Chamber has claimed it will ensure businesses in the borough get a “slice of the action” from Heathrow expansion. CEO of Hounslow Chamber, Stephen Fry, has signed a declaration to work with Heathrow to develop plans, and says his priority will be to secure jobs and investment in the Hounslow community. He wants to ensure that a larger airport “will benefit our economy by growing existing businesses and kick starting new start-ups thereby creating new jobs around the country.” He hopes that “while Heathrow airport already procures some £1.7 billion of products and services every year from local, regional and national businesses; we can expect this to increase substantially. Hounslow suffers intense noise from Heathrow over flights. Leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran, reiterated the council’s position on 26th October, saying: “Our position as a Council has not changed, we want a better, not bigger Heathrow Airport. We will however, work with Heathrow on behalf of our residents and businesses, many of whom are employed directly at Heathrow or are part of the supply chain, to ensure the best possible outcome and to reduce any adverse effects of the decision.”

Click here to view full story…

Even with 55% of Heathrow passengers using public transport there could be 15 million more passenger trips per year by car by 2040 than now

The government claims Heathrow can meet air quality standards in future, even with a new runway and 50% more passengers, because it will (among other changes) ensure that there are no more road vehicles than now – and by around 2031 about 55% of passengers would use public transport. So is that likely? Looking at passengers only, not freight, and the work done by Jacobs for the Airports Commission, it seems that (2012 data) there were about 70 million passengers, about 20 million of whom were transfers (ie. they did not leave the airport). That meant slightly below 50 million passengers travelled to and from the airport, using surface transport. In 2012 about 59% of these travelled by car (ie. about 29.5 million), 41% came by public transport (28% by rail and 13% by bus or coach). But by 2030 with a new runway, there might be around 110 million passengers, and around 33% would be international transfers. That leaves around 74 million passengers, and if 55% of them use public transport, that means about 34 million using cars. By 2040, the number using cars might be about 45 million (ie. about 15 million more per year than now). And about 9 million using bus/coach – which is of course also on the roads. There would have to be dramatic increases in electric vehicles and improved engine technology to ensure no higher emissions in the Heathrow area. And that is not counting freight vehicles. Or staff. Or other increased vehicle traffic associated with the 3rd runway.

Click here to view full story…

How the government hopes air pollution will not be a block on a Heathrow 3rd runway

The Government has produced claims that adding a 3rd Heathrow runway would be compatible with air quality limits for NO2. The DfT statement on 25th October stated that the government had done more work, since the Airports Commission, and this “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” That air quality plan has since been judged inadequate by the High Court ruling in the case brought by ClientEarth. The DfT also said: “Heathrow’s scheme includes plans for improved public transport links and for an ultra-low emissions zone for all airport vehicles by 2025. The government will make meeting air quality legal requirements a condition of planning approval.”Lawyers Bircham Dyson Bell comment: “would you build, or invest in, a new runway if you weren’t sure it could be used?” Heathrow and the government hope that, by 2040, 55% of Heathrow passengers will be using public transport, but there is no guarantee whatsoever that legal air quality limits would in reality be met. Currently [2012 data] about 41% of Heathrow passengers use public transport (about 28% by rail and 13% bus/coach – on the road). Heathrow hopes 43% will use rail by 2030. That is estimated to mean an extra over 56 million passengers annually using public transport compared to around 29 million today, and 6 million more passengers travelling to and from the airport by car.

Click here to view full story…

Zac Goldsmith: The too close relationship between Heathrow & Government borders on corrupt – recent examples

Former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has accused the Government and Heathrow Airport of having a relationship that “borders on the corrupt”. He said the closeness of the interaction between the airport and Whitehall was “rotten”. Examples recently of this are that the Chairman of Heathrow since March 2016 (succeeding Sir Nigel Rudd) is Lord Paul Deighton. Between 2013 and 2015 he held the position of Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, some of the roles of which are described as “infrastructure policy, including working with Infrastructure and Projects Authority and National Infrastructure Commission” and “working with the rest of government to promote the UK as a destination for foreign direct investment.” Another recent revolve of the door is Vickie Sherriff, who has since September 2015 been the Head of Communications at Heathrow, having earlier worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. She went to the DfT and then Diageo in 2014. Then there is Simon Baugh, who in March 2015 because the group director of communications at the DfT, having previously been the director of PR at Heathrow. And Nigel Milton. And there are many earlier cases too. Zac commented: “And that’s why you’ve always had this default position in favour of Heathrow.” The DfT naturally rejected any suggestion of corruption.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Lakeside incinerator plant would need to move, at Heathrow’s expense, if runway is built

Grundon and Viridor’s Colnbrook incinerator at Lakeside Road would have to be demolished for a Heathrow north west runway. This, as well as local roads and the M25, are significant obstacles to the runway plan. The issue of how much Heathrow will pay for this is being negotiated. Early in 2015, Heathrow was reported to have struck a deal with Grundon and Slough Borough Council to overcome the risk to delivery of a runway, agreeing that the incinerator would be moved a short distance away, onto (Green Belt) land already owned by Grundon. It is not clear this is correct. Heathrow said it was preparing a “joint feasibility study”. Heathrow said in 2015 that “NATS have given an initial opinion that the site is suitable for accommodating the height of flue stack required (75m).” Three of the four lakes at Colnbrook Lakeside are now set to be lost, due to the runway. In order that the incinerator remains open all the time, with no gap, building would need to start at least 3 years before being operational. But the runway might never get the go ahead … It is reported that discussions are taking place on payment of the multi-million costs of relocation. Adam Afriyie revealed in Parliament in 2015 that the government would not be paying. Robert Goodwill said it would be “a matter for the airport to take forward with the owners of the site.”

Click here to view full story…

DfT’s own study reveals just how tiny the possible economic benefits of Heathrow or Gatwick runway would be to UK

The economics figures by Airports Commission were always dubious, and their methodology was questioned by their own advisors. The Commission did not use the Webtag method that is normally used to cost transport projects. The Commission added in a range of possible future benefits for Heathrow, and for Gatwick – most purely speculative. Benefits of trade were added, even though these were effectively double counted as already taken account of by other sectors. The AC also counted in economic benefits to non-UK residents of flights to or from the UK. The recent DfT document entitled “Further Review and Sensitivities Report – Airport Capacity in the South East” has had to look more carefully at the figures. It has removed some of the wild claims of benefits from trade, and has looked at the benefits just to UK passengers. Its figures show little difference in the alleged future economic benefit to the UK between Heathrow and Gatwick, and that these benefits are actually tiny. Even when measured over 60 years. The DfT document mentions a large number of the aspects they looked at as being of “low analytic assurance”, meaning very uncertain.

The new DfT figures give the total benefit (NPV) of a Heathrow north west runway being just £0.2 – £6.1 billion over 60 years, and the figure for Gatwick being £3.1 – £4.5 billion. The equivalent figures by the Airports Commission were £11.4 billion and £10.8 billion. So current estimates are all even lower than before.

The new DFT figures give the NPV for all the UK of the Heathrow  north-west runway, excluding Wider Economic Impacts, are only from  minus (yes, minus) – £1.8 billion, up to plus £2.3 billion, over 60 years.  The NPV figure for a Gatwick 2nd runway would be plus £1.7 – £1.8 billion, over 60 years.

Click here to view full story…


Average of 283 noise complaints to Heathrow per day so far this year, from around 4,280 people

Figures from Heathrow of the number of noise complaints received in the period 1st January 2016 to 24th October 2016 have been released. Heathrow does keep all complaints data. The figures show there were complaints made by a total of 4,282 people over the period, and a total of 87,201 noise complaints. The Telegraph reports that 1,209 people complained only once about plane noise during the period. The BBC reported that since the start of 2016, an average of 72 people complained every day. The total number of complaints received was an average of 283 per day. Much is made by the media of some people who make a very large number of noise complaints each. Heathrow confirmed that these were not computer generated. The highest number of complaints in a day was 673 on 8th June (with 235 people complaining), and 672 on 10th October 2016 (128 people). The lowest number of complaints was 91 on 1st August (87 people). Data sheets here. Many people give up complaining, as it is a futile process, and the airport does nothing about the problem. It takes time and energy to keep complaining. If people are upset by the plane noise, and make repeated complaints they are regarded as eccentric, odd, bored, neurotic, over-sensitive etc. But if there are no complaints, the airport says there is no problem – proved by the fact no-one contacted them. Catch 22. Or win-win for the airport.

Click here to view full story…

ClientEarth wins air pollution case in High Court, that government action has been too slow

ClientEarth has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. In a damning indictment of ministers’ inaction on killer air pollution, Mr Justice Garnham agreed with ClientEarth that the Environment Secretary had failed to take measures that would bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible” and said that ministers knew that over optimistic pollution modelling was being used. In his ruling, the judge questioned Defra’s 5 year modelling, saying it was “inconsistent” with taking measures to improve pollution “as soon as possible.” Defra’s planned 2020 compliance for some cities, and 2025 for London, had been chosen because that was the date when ministers thought they’d face European Commission fines, not which they considered “as soon as possible.” The case is the second the government has lost on its failure to clean up air pollution in two years. In the judgment he handed down Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan failed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling or relevant EU Directives and said that the government had erred in law by fixing compliance dates based on over optimistic modelling of pollution levels. Future projections of compliance need to be based on real emissions, not discredited lab tests.

Click here to view full story…

AEF:  High Court win by ClientEarth on air pollution casts more doubt on the possibility of adding a Heathrow runway

The environmental law group, ClientEarth, has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. The judge agreed that the UK government had failed to take measures that would bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible” and ministers knew over optimistic pollution modelling was being used. AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) says this failure by the government to get NO2 levels down discredits the air quality plan that formed the basis for the Government’s argument that a new runway at Heathrow would neither cause not exacerbate legal breaches in NO2 levels. Required to publish an updated plan for UK air quality, Defra produced one in December 2015. This brought forward the anticipated date of compliance to 2025 for London – just in time for the opening of a new runway according to the Airports Commission’s anticipated timeline. But the plans appeared to rely on new, more optimistic forecasts of emissions from diesel vehicles without presenting substantive policy proposals to actually deliver improvements. A new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would lead to higher levels of air pollution, and the new court ruling confirms that compliance should not be based on over optimistic modelling – and government needs instead to take action to cut pollution levels.

Click here to view full story…

Friends of the Earth warn Chris Grayling that DfT process is pre-determining approval of Heathrow runway

Friends of the Earth (FoE) have sent a letter to Chris Grayling at the DfT, highlighting concerns over the way approval of a Heathrow runway is being done. The letter accused the government of ‘substantive procedural flaws’. It raises concerns that Heathrow had been named as the selected site for the major development without the decision undergoing the legal planning process. FoE the government decision ‘pre-empts the will of parliament’ and ‘predetermines the outcome of any planning application’. FoE’s Head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton, said that the PM had ‘announced the decision as if it was a done deal, but there are many MPs who recognise the devastating effect expanding Heathrow will have on our climate, who will want to vote against these proposals’. If FoE does not receive what it deems to be sufficient assurances over how the government came to its decision, it could be the basis of a legal challenge in the future. The letter says “the decision (as quoted) risks illegality in two respects, namely: a. pre-empts the will of Parliament (by assuming that a planning application will follow parliamentary consideration of the NPS – parliament may resolve the reject the NPS) and b. predetermines the outcome of any planning application submitted concerning the development of the third runway (since it states that “construction will follow” the determination of the application by yourself).”

Click here to view full story…

Estate agents anticipate considerable falls in property values, in many areas, due to Heathrow 3rd runway

There is already speculation about how much house prices will fall in areas affected by aircraft noise, if there was a Heathrow 3rd runway. The founder of eMoov believes that property prices will be as much as 20% lower in areas such as affected parts of Hounslow, Kew, Windsor and Maidenhead, due to air pollution as well as noise. Another property business, dealing in buy-to-let mortgages, expects that flats and smaller houses will fare better as workers move to the area for work. “Any expansion of Heathrow would be good news for landlords who run their business in close proximity to the airport.” But he expected that having a plane overhead every few minutes would not help increase the price of mansions. The cut in price due to the 3rd runway could even create a pocket of almost affordable housing, if the average house price in Hounslow and Hillingdon fell to around £330,000, from around £407,000 now. Areas nearer the centre of London will also be affected, including Richmond, Westminster, and Hammersmith and Fulham, as the arrival flight paths would go straight over huge areas of west London. The effect on the economy? But one west London estate agent cautioned home owners being too concerned yet, or acting too fast, as the runway cannot be approved for at several years.

Click here to view full story…

No confirmation by government that taxpayer won’t have to fund surface access transport for Heathrow 3rd runway

Transport for London calculated the costs of upgrading and improving surface access, to deal with the extra passengers using a 3 runway Heathrow could be up to about £18 billion, over several years. Heathrow has only offered to pay a total of £1.1 billion. Stephen Hammond, a former transport minister, (2012 – 14) asked Chris Grayling about the costs, as did other MPs. The responses were evasive. Stephen Hammond believes the transport work is likely to cost the taxpayer (= us) at least £5-10 billion, and the government is misinforming the public by announcing that: “Expansion costs will be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer.” Asked about the costs, Grayling replied that Heathrow …”will be held to a plan that: first, does not increase the current level of road transport to the airport; and, secondly, increases public transport access to the airport to 55% of those using it. Those will be obligations that it will have to fund. The Government’s financial advisers have said that that is viable and investible. There are question marks about what schemes are actually part of the surface access. Some of them we have to do anyway. For example, we are about to start improvements to the M4, which will benefit Heathrow and improve access, but they are not solely about Heathrow.” ie. no clarity at all, and sounds as if government realise Heathrow cannot even build the runway etc without raising landing charges, let alone all this work. So is not insisting on it …?

Click here to view full story…

CAA writes to Heathrow setting out its expectations, including preventing airline cost rises

Andrew Haines, the CEO of the CAA, has written to John Holland-Kaye to tell him that airport charges should be kept down, despite the huge costs of the runway and terminal etc. The CAA is the body that controls Heathrow’s charges to airlines. Mr Haines said the CAA “expects to see constructive engagement between the airport and its airline customers to drive value for money and efficiency.” The CAA will soon publish (November) their proposals on how Heathrow can recover planning and construction costs. The letter to Heathrow says: “But a new runway project cannot simply be treated as ‘business as usual’ and it will require airport-airline engagement to be taken to a deeper and much more productive level by both sides.” And “You will have seen the Government’s aspiration that airport charges should remain close to current levels, indeed the Secretary of State was clear on this being a goal inches announcement.” And the CAA is keen to work with Heathrow, the airlines and other interested parties on the appropriate framework for the recovery of future construction costs, and their immediate priority is a clear timetable for this. There will also be a CAA consultation on key options for the economic regulation framework, to be published by the end of June 2017. There will also be a series of consultation documents through 2017 in which the CAA “will seek to build and expand on its regulatory principles.”

Click here to view full story…

IAG’s Willie Walsh doubts current Heathrow management could build runway to budget

The chief executive of IAG, Heathrow’s biggest customer, has said he has no confidence in the airport’s management to deliver a new runway cost-effectively. Willie Walsh did not believe Heathrow would build the new runway within the cost constraints on charges to airlines, set out by their regulator, the CAA, under its current management with John Holland-Kaye. Perhaps they could with different management. Willie Walsh has said for years that he is not prepared to pay up-front higher charges, to help Heathrow pay for their runway during its construction. Heathrow has made the odd comment that it will “hold its charges steady on average over the period up to 2048” but that they may go up in some years and down in others. IAG has about half of Heathrow’s take-off and landing slots. The Financial Times believes IAG is likely, according to aviation insiders, to win only around a quarter of slots on the new runway – so it will face more competition. Heathrow’s charges are controlled by the CAA, which wrote to John Holland-Kaye on 25th October, confirming that the airport would not be allowed to raise its charges, and passengers should not have to pay more. The government’s aspiration is that charges should remain close to their current levels. Heathrow would have to to work with airlines and have “productive engagement” with them.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow 3rd runway: Harmondsworth residents link decision to Brexit

The Huffington Post interviewed people in Harmondsworth a few days after the news that the government intends to give approval for a Heathrow runway. That will mean around half of the village being destroyed, and all of Longford, with the new runway perimeter fence half way down the village. People gathered in the Five Bells Pub in Harmondsworth on 25th October, to watch the TV and get the news together. Some of the people interviewed were Roy Barwick, who has lived there all his life, and whose family has lived in the area for nearly six generations. He spoke of how the small landing strip beside fields his family worked grew to become the giant hub it is today. “My children, my grandchildren and myself occupy four houses in the villages and all of them are earmarked for demolition.“Losing one’s home is a trauma second only to bereavement. I’m not going anywhere. I shan’t leave.” Neil Keveren is a long-standing campaigner, to try to save his village. He believes that Brexit is being used to force the runway through, and it is opportunistic messaging. He spent money improving his home, when Cameron promised there would be no 3rd runway – and the irony is that as parts of Harmondsworth are a conservation area, he had to use specially approved materials. The runway fence will be just outside his property. For some, no amount of money can make up for the memories that may be lost under the tarmac of the new runway.

Click here to view full story…

Truckers warn work for 3rd runway on M25 will cause serious problems, while Highways England expects “excessive customer frustration”

Stark warnings have been issued by the Road Hauliers Association (RHA) and Highways England that construction traffic for a Heathrow 3rd runway could bring everything to a complete standstill, for years. Highways England says: “There will be a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption, first while any Heathrow works are done and then while our works are completed within the wider area.” There will also be the problems from extensive changes to the local roads in Colnbrook and Poyle. RHA’s CEO Richard Burnett said: “We need to have clarity on the plans for the additional necessary road infrastructure during construction work. We also need to know the timescale of the proposed work. Although there will be considerable long-term benefits – increased cargo etc, the immediate impact on the adjacent motorway network – the M25, M4 and M3 will also be considerable”…. “The M25 in particular is already operating to maximum capacity – the addition of construction vehicles will only add to the burden.” A new Highways England document, Airports Commission Surface Access Works, was published by the DfT on 25th October. It makes no mention of the bridge idea.

Click here to view full story…

Difficult to see how Heathrow could prevent rise in staff road trips to/from airport with 3rd runway

Heathrow has told the DfT that there would be no higher a number of car trips to and from the airport with a 3rd runway than now. But is that actually credible? Neither the DfT nor Heathrow produce easy-to-find figures, but they be located with a bit of digging. There are probably about 76,000 staff at the airport at present. The October 2014 Jacobs report done for the Airports Commission said: “Headline employee commuting mode share was assumed to be 43% public transport and 47% private vehicles (ie. about 35,700 came by car, and Jacobs states: “with the vast majority of those undertaken as single occupancy car trips.”) …” and of the 43% using public transport, about 35% used bus and 12% used rail. There are various estimates of how many on-airport staff there might be with a new runway. The Commission’s Carbon Traded Assessment of Need scenario anticipated the number of staff to be around 90,000, and their highest growth scenario anticipated about 115,000 staff. Heathrow said by 2030 trips by both staff and passengers to the airport will be 53% by public transport, and still 47% by car. Nowhere is there anything to indicate that below 47% of airport employees would get to and from work by car. With 90,000 staff at Heathrow, if 47% travelled by car that would be 42,300 people, (or if 43% came by car it would be 38,700). If there were 100,000 on-airport staff, and 47% came by car, that would be 47,000 people (and if 43% came by car, 43,000). Those numbers are higher than today. This is not including people travelling to newly increased numbers of jobs in the area.

Click here to view full story…

Teddington Action Group commence judicial review proceedings against government re. Heathrow runway decision

Residents group, Teddington Action Group (TAG) has started judicial proceedings against the government, on its recommendation for a Heathrow runway. The Judicial Review process requires that a Letter of Claim is served on the interested parties, in accordance with “Pre-action Protocol”. This was sent on 27 October. Sir Howard Davies, Chair of the Airports Commission, steered it towards its conclusion to back Heathrow. One of the key claims in the 27 page TAG document relates to the “apparent bias” of Sir Howard, from his remunerated roles at GIC Private Ltd (GIC), one of Heathrow’s principal owners. TAG says from 2009, Sir Howard was a paid adviser to the Investment Strategy Committee of GIC (formerly known as the Singapore Government Investment Co.), advising them on “new growth opportunities”. From 2011, he was appointed to the International Advisory Board of GIC, a board on which he was still sitting on the day of his appointment as “independent” Chair of the AC. Sir Howard only resigned these remunerated roles with GIC, when his appointment to the role as unremunerated Chair of the AC had been confirmed by the government in 2012. At the time of his appointment to the AC, GIC owned 17.65% of Heathrow, was represented on Heathrow’s main Board (as it still is), and was pursuing their shared goal of Heathrow expansion. Sir Howard did not disclose his roles with GIC in the AC’s Register of Interests.

Click here to view full story…

Draft timeline from the DfT of how they hope the Heathrow runway will proceed to completion

The DfT has put forward its anticipated timeline, of how it envisages the various stages progressing. This will start with a draft Airports National Policy Statement being published early in 2017 – followed by a consultation for 16 weeks. There will be a series of local and regional events around the country and in the vicinity of Heathrow. The NPS then goes to a Commons Select committee (which one is not yet known …) which scrutinises it and presumably gives MPs the opportunity to present evidence to the committee. The Select Committee makes its report to Parliament. The Government reviews all the responses to the consultation. It should revise the NPS according to the consultation responses. By now it is autumn 2017. By perhaps late autumn Government publishes final NPS in Parliament, with a subsequent debate, followed by a vote. [Probably goes to the Lords as well as the Commons?]. There could be legal challenges at various stages, which might hold things up. (This is not yet clear). If the NPS is voted through, it is then “designated” (ie. comes into force) by the Transport Secretary. That might be by the start of 2018. Once the NPS is agreed, then Heathrow can begin the formal process of seeking planning permission, which includes further consultation with local communities. The DfT has this down as perhaps 3 years, 2018 – 2021 or 2022. There will be a General Election by May 2020, perhaps in the middle of this. The DfT hope the runway would be operational by some time after 2025 or the late 2020s.

Click here to view full story…

Ealing Council, that has avoided opposing Heathrow runway, wants £150 million to compensate residents

Last time round when there was nearly a 3rd Heathrow runway, in 2008- 2009, Ealing Council was part of the 2M group of councils opposing it. In the intervening years, there are only 4 councils really taking forward the opposition. Ealing has increasingly been seen as changing its stance, to luke-warm support for the runway. In July 2015, rather than restate its anti-runway stance the Labour group passed a motion “demanding answers” from the Conservative government on what it intended to do at Heathrow, if expansion is permitted. Its MP, Virendra Sharma, who had been against the runway, announced in August that he now supported it. Now the council leader (Labour) Julian Bell says he wants demanding £150 million, so Ealing can cope with the environmental impact of the runway at Heathrow. “”While we welcome the jobs and economic benefits of Heathrow, a 3rd runway will inevitably cause more noise, pollution and traffic that will damage the quality of life of local people. …Straight talking and tough negotiating is what is needed if this goes ahead and I will continue to demand Heathrow Airport provides the best compensation deal for the people of Ealing.” Slough Council got a deal with Heathrow early on in 2015, to try to get financial benefits from the airport, in exchange for not opposing it.

Click here to view full story…

Berwin Leighton Paisner and Pinsents advise Heathrow on planning stages and process to get a 3rd runway

Pinsent Masons and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) have advised Heathrow Airport on the planning process up to the government’s decision on 25 October to approve a third runway, with more legal advisers likely to be appointed. Pinsents, which has a place on Heathrow’s panel, advised the airport on its plans. BLP confirmed it has also advised the airport’s in-house team. Meanwhile the government has appointed former senior president of tribunals Sir Jeremy Sullivan to oversee the process of the NPS on aviation, covering the Heathrow runway. In addition, there are likely to be several legal challenges to the decision, including a joint legal action already mounted by Greenpeace UK alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. Greenpeace UK and the councils are jointly instructing Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors, specialists in public, environmental and planning law and human rights. In 2010, the campaigners worked together to successfully overturn the Labour governments backing for a third runway in the High Court. Heathrow has a team of around 30 in-house lawyers and typically instructs Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for finance and corporate, Allen & Overy (A&O) on financing for lenders, Herbert Smith Freehills for litigation, Eversheds for employment and Berwin Leighton Paisner for planning.

Click here to view full story…

New DfT report indicates number of local jobs from Heathrow 3rd runway about 37,700 by 2030 – not “up to 77,000”

The Airports Commission’s Final Report said the Heathrow NW runway would lead to an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [direct, indirect and induced jobs – ie. supply chain etc] in 2030 for local people. Indeed, Heathrow “astroturf” lobby group got membership partly on the strength of the jobs claims. But now, having looked at the details, the DfT has come up with much lower figures. While the statement on the DfT website on 25th October still says “up to 77,000” local jobs, its more considered assessment “review and sensitivities” document accepted these figures were exaggerated. Instead they now say, using a more accurate method, the number of local jobs might be 37,740 by 2030, not 77,000. By 2050, the DfT now estimate the number of jobs might be 39,100 – while the Commission expected 78,360. The DfT say the 2050 figure is the cumulative total, and cannot be added to the number of jobs created by 2030. The DfT “assessment and sensitivities” report states that it had “identified a number of uncertainties with the approach taken” to assessing jobs by the Commission, which used job multipliers from the airports. These “could lead to significantly different results”. The new DfT figures use Berkeley Hanover Consulting Ltd (BHC) and Optimal Economics Ltd survey data rather than airport assumptions to generate estimates of the indirect job multipliers, which are likely to be more robust.

Click here to view full story…

Possible plan to put runway and taxiways on a bridge over M25 (not a tunnel) to save money

The Airports Commission (that cost almost £20 million) looked -in theory – at everything in great detail, and its (allegedly) incontrovertible recommendations have now been followed by government. It talked about the M25 needing to be tunnelled under the runway. It did not mention any sort of bridge. But Heathrow was asked by government to cut the cost of its scheme (in order not to raise costs to passengers, to keep demand for flights high) so it came up recently with the idea of a bridge over the motorway. There is a bridge for one of the runways (+ taxiways) at Schiphol, so it is possible. However, there are enormous questions, not the least of which being that nobody has seen any details (cost, practicality, level of disruption, safety, terrorism danger etc) let alone been consulted. The section of motorway that might be bridged is the busiest on the M25, one of the busiest (it might be the busiest) in Europe, and the busiest in the UK. DfT figures show around 263,000 vehicles per day on the Junction 14-15 stretch in 2014. The runway would need to be raised about 8 metres in order to get over the motorway. Heathrow has only said it would spend a total of £1.1 billion for surface access infrastructure. The cost of tunnelling was estimated by the Airports Commission at £3.2 billion. Chris Grayling said absolutely nothing in his announcement, or in Parliament, about how much of the TfL estimate of £18 bn for surface access work the taxpayer would have to fund.

Click here to view full story…

Caroline Lucas: “The expansion of Heathrow is unforgivable – we will fight this decision”

Caroline Lucas, a long standing opponent of aviation expansion due to its carbon emissions, has expressed her anger at the government’s decision to back Heathrow. She says: “This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year – this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly.” … “the Government is ignoring the abundant evidence. .. For those of us who care about Britain’s role in combating climate change, and for people living in west London, today’s decision is a disaster.” … “We are living under a Government that says it wants to allow people to “take back control”, yet it is pressing ahead with a decision that will inflict more noise and pollution on a local community that’s already suffering…” … “average CO2 levels are now more than 400 parts per million. The effects of burning more and more dirty fossil fuels are well known…” … “Theresa May knows all of this of course and, at times, she appears to really care. Earlier this year she proudly told the House of Commons that the UK is the “second best country in the world for tackling climate change”. That’s why her decision back expansion at Heathrow is so unforgivable. ” … “today’s decision puts a wrecking ball through the UK’s climate change commitments.” … “we need practical proposals [like aa frequent-flyer levy] to keep aviation at levels that are compatible with fighting climate change, and which require no new runways.”

Click here to view full story…

Standard: “Official: Heathrow Airport expansion threatens to worsen London’s air quality”

The Standard reports that according to the government’s own analysis, a 3rd runway at Heathrow threatens to worsen air quality in central London. The focus on whether a 3rd runway would worsen breaches of NO2 levels has been on the area around the airport. But a study (by Parsons Brinckerhoff) for the DfT highlighted that adding a runway risks increasing pollution in central London too. The impact would not be large, but it is more likely, in some scenarios, to push NO2 levels even closer to the legal limit or worsen breaches which may still be happening in 2025 due to traffic levels in central boroughs. This is because the wind is westerly for around 60 – 70% of the year in the south east. The new DfT study also raised doubts over whether another Heathrow runway could be opened in 2025 without breaching EU legal limits on NO2. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said that meeting air quality legal requirements is a condition of planning approval, but has no concrete proposals to indicate how this could be done. He hopes the 2015 Air Quality Plan by Defra, and new measures around Heathrow, would keep levels down. ClientEarth are currently embroiled in a Judicial Review against the Government on the plan, as it will not improve air quality fast enough (partly due to cost saving). The Defra study was before the truth the “dieselgate” scandal was fully appreciated, or new analysis showing NO2 from diesels is worse than had been thought.

Click here to view full story…

John Sauven: The decision to back a 3rd Heathrow runway is a grotesque, cynical, folly

Writing in the Guardian, the Director of Greenpeace UK – John Sauven – explains why the government approval of a Heathrow runway is so cynical. The reality, which is well known by the government, and the “independent” Airports Commission, is that UK aviation carbon emissions are on target to far exceed the level at which they need to be, under the 2008 Climate Change Act. Adding an extra runway only exacerbates that problem. If the UK was half serious about its global obligations to cut CO2 (which it does not appear to be) the simplest solution would be not to build a new runway – which needlessly raises emissions. But instead, as the job of the Commission was to get a Heathrow runway to appear possible and desirable, they made some obscure assumptions (well hidden in endless supporting documents) which were not intended to be understood. Realising CO2 would be too high, they postulated a sky high price of carbon. That would mean the price of air tickets would rise dramatically, cutting exactly the extra demand the runway had been built to cater for. Otherwise, either the emissions of the regional airports would have to be cut, to let the monster Heathrow continue to expand – or else the UK just abandons any pretence of an aviation carbon target. Both are cynical, demonstrating the absence of any credible aviation carbon policy. It demonstrates that the government is at best half hearted on climate commitments.

Click here to view full story…

Some of the innumerable comments and articles about the Heathrow runway decision

The government decision to give its backing to a 3rd Heathrow runway has been greeted by massive press coverage, and comments in their hundreds by commentators of all sorts. Below is just a small selection of some of the points that are of interest, taken as extracts from the coverage. There are some of the comments from a huge range of people and organisation. These include people in Harmondsworth, about the frightening prospect of having their homes compulsorily purchased, and being forced to move – to they know now where. And comments by Greenpeace, Client Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation and Friends of the Earth. And bits on the plan not to tunnel the M25, but build a bridge with a small hill for the runway, over the motorway. Also comments by Zac Goldsmith, on his resignation and imminent by-election; comments from Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, Tania Mathias, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Ruth Cadbury. And from Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Also from Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor Maidenhead councils, and WWF UK and Plane Stupid and Reclaim the Power. As well as some pro-runway comments by the CBI, and Willie Walsh, Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary. And a comment from Gatwick. With apologies for cutting short some of the comments, for the requirement of brevity ….

Click here to view full story…

Simon Jenkins: Expanding Heathrow will be a monumental blight on west London

Another of Simon’s brilliantly written pieces. Just a few extracts: the runway decision is “…a result of that blight on modern government, lobbying. If anyone complains about public cynicism towards politics, just say Heathrow.” …”We should remember that 10 years ago Heathrow’s owners planned to shift their future expansion to Stansted because they expected no government would allow anything as polluting as more Heathrow.” … “Heathrow may be full. So are Paddington and Victoria stations, so are the M25 and M40, so are Barts and Guy’s hospitals. Supply does not have to answer demand. Price can take the pressure. We no longer “predict and provide” the supply of roads or houses or even hospitals.” …”London now faces two decades of controversial mega-project disruptions, for Heathrow, HS2 and Crossrail 2.” … “Suppose the proposed “year of consultation” yields an overwhelmingly hostile response, leading to furious public inquiries, Supreme Court hearings, civil rights claims and global warming protests? The smart money already is on this being, in reality, a do-nothing decision.” … “The one overwhelming case against it is that in the 21st century it should be inconceivable to send vast, noisy jets screaming over the heads of millions of people”. … “For passengers it is mostly a luxury service. Barely 20% of London air travel is for “business”, the rest being tourism and leisure, overwhelmingly for Britons going abroad. That does nothing for exports. ”

Click here to view full story…

AEF damning assessment of Heathrow recommendation and its environmental impacts

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) is the main group in the UK assessing UK aviation policy for its environment impacts, with several decades of expertise. They have had a first look at the government’s Heathrow decision, and are underwhelmed. Some of their comments: On CO2 the DfT says that keeping UK carbon emissions to within the 37.5 MtCO2 cap while adding a Heathrow runway effectively cannot be done. AEF says the DfT now has no commitment to the 37.5 MtCO2 cap, and just includes vague references to the ICAO global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management -though both measures are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling. On air pollution, the DfT says “a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” But AEF says Government appears to have little idea what those mitigation measures will be, and the deliverability of the plan has already, therefore, been questioned through the courts. And on noise AEF says the noise impact will depend heavily on the precise location of flight paths, which are unknown.

Click here to view full story…

Government decides on new runway at Heathrow – with no certainty on air pollution, noise or CO2

The government has made its announcement that it backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow, using the north west option (not the extended northern runway). It has decided to entirely follow the recommendation of the Airports Commission, by backing one runway only. The statement from Chris Grayling is on the DfT website, with a list of supporting documents. The government glosses over details of how it could ensure the runway did not cause worse air pollution, or worse noise, or higher CO2 emissions. Neither the DfT statement, nor Chris Grayling’s contributions in the House, give any clarity or reassurances on most of the problems that a 3rd runway will create. There will be a consultation, starting in early 2017, on the National Policy Statement, which has to be agreed by both House of Parliament before Heathrow could go ahead with the planning stages for its runway. The government’s statements say things like: “Despite the increase in flights Heathrow Airport Ltd has made firm commitments to noise reduction. The government will propose that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights …” And “the government proposes new legally binding noise targets, encouraging the use of quieter planes, and a more reliable and predictable timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path.” And new work “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place”….. ie. vague waffly aspirations, with zero practical details.

Click here to view full story…

Environment Audit Cttee will be calling Ministers to give evidence on Heathrow runway environmental impacts

The Environment Audit Committee has announced (already) that, after the government’s announcement that it backs a Heathrow runway, it will be calling Ministers to scrutinise how environmental concerns are being mitigated. The EAC has scrutinised the Airports Commission in the past, on environmental problems of a Heathrow runway. The EAC wants assurances from the Government that a new runway will comply with key environmental conditions. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said it would be necessary to look at what the runway means for local residents, on air quality and noise standards and also on carbon emissions. She said: …”we need a clear plan to reduce emissions from aviation to meet our climate change targets. … The Government must ensure that current legal EU air pollution limits are retained after we leave, to protect the health and wellbeing of local people. We wait to hear what the airport’s plans are for covering the costs of local transport. … On noise we welcome Heathrow’s announcement that it will accept a ban on night flights. Ministers must ensure that local communities receive predictable respite from planes flying over their homes.” The EAC report, published in November 2015, called upon the Government and Heathrow to demonstrate how issues were to be dealt with. They are not persuaded by the replies.

Click here to view full story…

BA scraps service to Chengdu, cited by airport expansionists as key, because not enough demand

Heathrow is keen on emphasising the importance of routes to countries like China, or the emerging markets. It likes to give the impression that there is huge pent up demand for these services, and if only Heathrow could be much bigger, there would be numerous flights to all these places. It is just the absence of a 3rd runway holding them back ….. But now the service by BA to Chengdu, about which Heathrow was very proud, is to be cut after just over three years, in January. There is just not enough demand to make it pay. It is not commercially viable, even with smaller planes. So nothing to do with a runway then. Chengdu was where British business would fly to and build trade links if only Heathrow was big enough, according to prominent backers of airport expansion. From September 2013 there were 5 return flights per week, but that was later trimmed down to fewer. BA’s 787 plane and Heathrow slot will be used to fly to New Orleans instead – spare slots are always used for the more lucrative leisure market destinations. The links to China were a key part of Heathrow’s submission to the Airports commission in November 2012. Heathrow led the Commission to believe in the need for such links. Time after time, when slots become available at Heathrow, they are used to add capacity on profitable North American or European routes.

Click here to view full story…

Letter in the Guardian, from climate-aware organisations, on the disastrous impact of a new runway

In an open letter, a large number of environmental and climate-aware organisations have written about the disastrous impacts of allowing the expansion of the UK aviation sector by building a new runway. The letter says: “With the scrapping of vital decarbonisation policies and funding, the UK is already way off-track to meet our climate change commitments. The impacts of any new runway will be devastating to people’s lives and to the planet. … the biggest tragedy of the government’s failure is a global one. … The push for more runway space is not about demand from business – that has been dropping for over a decade. Nor is it about people taking one or two annual holidays. Growth is being driven by the frequent leisure flyers taking weekend breaks and shopping trips by plane. Half of the UK population don’t fly in any given year, yet all of us subsidise the holidays of the rich. The UK must not abandon our commitments under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act for the convenience of binge flyers. We will not allow our government to ignore the promises they have made to us and to the world.” There are also statements by Professor Kevin Anderson and Professor Alice Larkin, on how building a new runway is entirely incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate. Kevin described adding a runway as demonstrating “a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement.”

Click here to view full story…

“If you think climate change activists like me will take the decision over airport expansion lying down, you’ve got another thing coming”

Leo Murray, who was one of the founders of the activist group, Plane Stupid, has written eloquently in the Independent, about the opposition – for climate change reasons – to a Heathrow 3rd runway. Leo himself took part in numerous actions, against aviation expansion because the UK government had no effective way of limiting the sector’s CO2 growth. Now he says, “Here we go again.” Heathrow expansion is back, “rising remorselessly like a zombie from the grave. …Why won’t it stay buried?” Heathrow and Gatwick have reportedly spent over £30m each on PR and lobbying, to conjure up an “airport capacity crisis” for London, for their own ends – making out that a new runway is in the national interest. To meet carbon targets, UK aviation cannot increase its CO2 to more than its 37.5MtCO2 cap. Leo says: “The solution is clear, but horrifies politicians: we will have to have policy to manage the growth in demand. There is simply no other way.” Government will have to grasp the nettle of demand management for air travel. In the meantime, people will just have to rise up once more against the green light – if that is given next week. “Heathrow is set to become a lightning rod for radical climate activists all over the country and the old networks from the former alliance are starting to light up again for the first time in years. Once more, dear friends, once more – but let’s make sure it’s really dead this time.”

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow says it won’t raise landing charges while building 3rd runway – IAG not convinced that’s true

The main customer of Heathrow IAG, which owns British Airways, has been adamant that it will not pay exorbitant landing charges at Heathrow well before a new runway opens. Now in a last ditch attempt to win them over (and anticipating a decision by the government to back their 3rd runway) Heathrow is claiming it can keep landing charges down till the runway opens. Heathrow’ CEO John Holland-Kaye says: “Through the planning and build period, we can keep prices flat on average compared to today. …What that means is that there will be some years where they are going down, some where they are going up.” Whatever that means. IAG has feared that landing charges would rise from about £20 now to around £40 per flight. Heathrow already has some of the world’s most expensive landing charges. But Mr Holland-Kaye’s words did not impress IAG and the company said the average was calculated over a period stretching up to 30 years, and “Their figures cannot deliver their stated aim of making Heathrow and the UK competitive. ” Last week, Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways, urged Heathrow’s shareholders to finance the construction from their own funds, rather than by increasing charges to passengers and airlines. Heathrow’s 9 month financial statement showed increasing debt for the company, and a huge hole in the pension scheme.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow’s dividends to shareholders grow, but profits have plunged, pension deficit grows, and net debt grows

Heathrow has released financial figures for the first 9 months of 2016, to the end of September. They show a drop in profits compared to a year earlier. There is a pre-tax loss of £293 million, compared to a £552 million profit in the same period in 2015, due to various exceptional items. Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn. Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Heathrow’s pension fund dropped from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote etc. If this size of deficit continues, Heathrow will be required to put more money into its pension scheme. The Sunday Times recently said that Heathrow and Gatwick had each spent about £30 million on advertising and promoting their runway bids. The 9 month accounts show £13 million on “intangible assets” (probably advertising etc) this year, and £11 million in 2015. They also show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and Dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.

Click here to view full story…

Cameron aide said government was “exposed on Heathrow” over air quality and “did not have the answers”

A memo sent by a Downing Street policy advisor, to David Cameron in September 2015 shows that the government were aware of the air pollution problem at Heathrow. The advisor, Camilla Cavendish, wrote that the air pollution plans by Liz Truss (then Environment Secretary) were inadequate and would not restrict the levels of NO2 around Heathrow. Camilla said: “There are three problems with Liz’s clean air plan as currently written. First it is still very much a draft which quotes initiatives that are likely to be abolished … Second it both over-claims and underwhelms. … It says we want the cleanest air in the world but does not even begin to tackle the fundamental question of how we might help people to shift away from diesel cars. Third, it leaves us exposed on Heathrow where we don’t yet have an answer on air quality.” Cameron said in December 2015 that the government would undertake more work on the Heathrow air pollution issue. Defra published its national air quality plan in December 2015 with no mention of Heathrow and has not said more on this publicly since. Cavendish, who is now a Conservative peer, has now said she believes “successive governments have failed the public on air quality. Too many people in Whitehall and parliament think they can play it down because it’s invisible.”

Click here to view full story…

Possible timescale for consultations and processes needed for a new runway

If the government makes an announcement that it proposes to build a new runway at its preferred location, on Tuesday 25th October, that is merely the start of a process. And it could be a very long process, that may ultimately not end in a runway being built. Looking at the possible timescale, Patrick McLoughlin set out in evidence (Feb 2015) to the Transport Select Cttee, how he expected the timescale to work. This would all take probably at least two years, if there were not hold-ups at all, and no legal challenges. It is expected that the process could take at least four years in reality – getting past the next election (if that is in May 2020). The steps might be approximately: (1). A draft National Policy Statement published for consultation and laid in Parliament, at least 4 weeks after the announcement. (2). The consultation might be 4 months. (3). A Commons Select Cttee will examine the draft NPS and hold a 3 month public inquiry. (4). The Commons Select Cttee will then submit a report to the Secretary of State for Transport. (5). Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happen within 21 sitting days of the House. (6). There might be more changes needed to the NPS and another vote. (7). The developer submits a development consent order to the planning inspectorate. (8). Then a planning inquiry and examination for 6 months. (9). The planning inspector will report to the Sec of State within 3 months. (10). The Sec of State will consider the report and announce a decision in 3 months. And this is not counting legal challenges, at any stage.

Click here to view full story…

                                                   

Runway decision by Cabinet due 25th October, no Commons vote, and NPS consultation for new runway all next year

The Cabinet met today (18th October) and did not come to a formal agreement on backing a Heathrow runway. However it is widely believed to be the preferred option of Mrs May and most of the Cabinet. There will be another meeting of the Cabinet next Tuesday, and after that a statement will be made by Chris Grayling in the House of Commons, on which runway location is chosen. There will not be a vote in Parliament soon afterwards, as had been speculated. Instead – as had always been known – there will be consultation next year on the Airports National Policy Statement, which is needed before a development as large as a runway – a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project – can be applied for. The government hopes to have the Airports NPS completed, put to Parliament to vote on, and finally published (designated) by around the end of 2017 or early 2018 . She has written to all Cabinet Ministers laying out what they can, and cannot do, in terms of opposing the Cabinet runway decision. Ministers opposed to her decision have to ask her approval first to be permitted not to toe the line …. This is aimed especially at Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Mrs May says: “…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”

Click here to view full story…

PM faces Tory problem if Zac Goldsmith stands as anti-Heathrow candidate in by-election (and beats a Conservative candidate)

The Standard reports that Theresa May faces an awkward problem, if she backs a 3rd Heathrow runway, if Zac Goldsmith resigns his Richmond Park seat and causes a by-election. Zac held a private meeting of the Conservative group at Richmond Park where he confirmed he is ready to run as an independent. The group also voted in a secret ballot to support Zac rather than an official Conservative candidate, if one stood for the seat. Also Twickenham MP, Tania Mathias, who is also fiercely against the runway, agreed to also support Zac, even though it is strictly against the party’s rules for an MP to back anyone standing against an official party candidate. For a Conservative not to stand, or to be beater significantly, would be very awkward for Mrs May. It it believed that the runway announcement will be made on Tuesday 25th October. At the Cabinet meeting on 18th October, ministers were allowed to discuss the runway issue for the first time — though critics of a 3rd Heathrow runway, such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, were only invited to comment and not to vote. The government is understood to plan a vote in Parliament (Commons, not Lords) within a week or so of the decision, to get the endorsement of MPs for the decision. Zac would probably resign after that. The Government is widely expected to approve a Heathrow runway, despite the obstacles.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow opponents take inspiration from 5 years of noise protests after 3rd Frankfurt runway

With a decision by government expected shortly, and the likelihood of a Heathrow runway being approved, 3 Heathrow campaigners went to join in one of the massive (almost) weekly demos at Frankfurt airport. Back in October 2011 a 3rd Frankfurt runway was opened. The local residents had not been informed just how much worse the plane noise they suffer would become, with new routes and alterations to old routes. About a million people in the area are affected. Since then they have held hundreds of protests, almost every Monday evening, against this reduction in their quality of life, the noise intrusion they suffer, and the drop in the prices of their homes. The Frankfurt area residents say they will never give up. The Heathrow campaigners said something very similar would happen to noise, with a 3rd Heathrow runway. Speaking to the crowd of many hundreds of protesters in the terminal, John Stewart said: “What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. We will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.” Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, said: “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath, I am pretty sure they are going to get the same sort of response at home.”

Click here to view full story…

Greenpeace to join with 4 councils in legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a joint legal challenge against Heathrow expansion. More claimants could join the alliance in the coming days as media reports have suggested a final decision has now been delayed until 25th October. Greenpeace and the four local authorities say both Heathrow expansion schemes would be unlawful due to their unrivalled environmental impacts, which include exacerbating illegal levels of air pollution, increasing Europe’s worst aircraft noise footprint and stretching the local transport network beyond breaking point. The councils jointly instructed Harrison Grant Solicitors to prepare their legal strategy last year and Greenpeace will now share costs and bring new environmental expertise to the partnership. The campaigners also worked together back in 2010 to successfully overturn the Brown Government’s backing for a 3rd runway in the High Court. Later that year the scheme was emphatically ruled out by the incoming Cameron Government. Heathrow current expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. New evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.

Click here to view full story…

Stansted will fight if Gatwick & Heathrow both get new runways – as they did not get opportunity to make their case

Amid rumours that the government might be intending to approve runway plans for both Heathrow and Gatwick, rather than just one or other, the owner of Stansted – Manchester Airports Group – says it would launch a legal challenge if that happened. They say the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, only fully examined the case for one new runway to be built before 2030. That is what its final report in July 2015 recommended. The Commission was aware that within CO2 constraints, it would be difficult to justify adding a 2nd runway. It said any case for a 2nd new runway would “need to be closely scrutinised in the light of climate-change policy”.However, it concluded two runways might be needed to if air travel demand by 2050 was to be met, and that could be assessed later on. Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said that MAP would have to legally challenge because other airports had not been given the opportunity to present their own cases for the second phase of UK airport expansion post-2030. If there were to be two new runways approved, there would need to be a whole new process before government could make that decision. That would also include the loser this time round (Heathrow or Gatwick). Stansted did not put forward a case for a new runway to the Commission in 2012-13, as its single runway was nowhere near full.

Click here to view full story…

Richmond, Merton, Kingston & Croydon councils write to PM to stop Heathrow runway, and choose Gatwick

In addition to the four councils that will legally challenge the government if it decides on a Heathrow runway (Windsor & Maidenhead, Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth) now four councils have written to the Prime Minister to oppose a Heathrow runway decision. Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils, calling themselves the South London Partnership, made the case to Theresa May to approve a Gatwick runway instead. All these councils know the highly adverse impact of the noise of Heathrow flights on their residents, and would prefer that noise burden to be pushed to others (who do not have the opportunity to vote them out – as with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also backs a Gatwick runway. They also say: “One thing in particular on which we want to contribute is ensuring the transport links to Gatwick and connectivity more widely, including into our area, central London and with other key corridors, are developed to support the full potential of airport expansion.” Presumably they appreciate that the transport links to Gatwick are very poor, and would not be able to cope with a doubling in the number of air passengers. Conservative Richmond Council leader Lord True said the government should “stand up for ordinary families, rather than ‘big business’”.

Click here to view full story…

British Airways CEO confirms his airline will not pay exorbitant Heathrow fees to build new runway scheme

Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, (which is part of IAG) said the airline would oppose any move by its main airport, Heathrow, to raise its charges if it gets permission to build a 3rd runway. Mr Cruz said that although there was an “overwhelming case” for expanding capacity at Heathrow, this should not be at such high cost, and “Any notion that the cost will be borne by airlines is not acceptable.” He said that though IAG (BA produced about 75% of IAG’s 2015 profit), would not leave Heathrow altogether if costs were too high, it would look at expanding operations elsewhere. IAG also has hubs in Dublin and Shannon for Aer Lingus, in Madrid for Iberia, and Barcelona for Vueling – so it has lots of possible options. IAG does not want to pay in advance for the future runway and terminal, the extravagant design of which it has described as “gold plated.” Alex Cruz, like IAG boss Willie Walsh, was critical of a 2nd Gatwick runway, saying there was “no business case” for it, and “There is simply not sufficient demand from either customers or airlines….Experience shows that the majority of long-haul airlines that start operations at Gatwick either quit and leave London altogether or go to Heathrow as soon as possible.” Mr Cruz said that Heathrow’s shareholders should bear the cost of building a 3rd runway from the start. “Heathrow’s investors do pretty well out of its monopoly hub status.”

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow accused of not ensuring all cleaners are paid living wage – while paying huge dividends

Cleaners at Heathrow say that low pay is damaging their families’ lives. They have have complained to the airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye that they are not getting the London living wage, which was agreed as a condition by the Airports Commission, as part of plans for a 3rd runway. Heathrow had agreed to pay £9.40 per hour, (about £19,500 per year). But the airport workers say this is paid only to directly employed staff and not those working through agencies. They say low wages and long hours deny them “dignity” and the chance to spend time with their children. (John Holland-Kaye himself earned £2.06m in 2015, more than doubling his basic salary of £885,000. He stands to get a huge bonus if he can get consent for a 3rd runway). While directly employed staff are paid £9.40 per hour, those who are employed through contractors might only get £7.20. In October 2015 the FT reported that by the end of 2018, Heathrow aims to have about a third of its employees on salary packages that are about 30% lower than existing terms and conditions. It will also introduce an annual cap of 2% on future increases to pensionable pay for active members, resulting in a one-off reduction of £236m in the scheme’s liabilities. In January 2016 the Sunday Times reported that Heathrow had paid its owners dividends of £2.1 billion since 2012 – but just £24 million in Corporation Tax.

Click here to view full story…

New Civil Engineer believes Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham set to get go ahead for runways

The NCE believes government will give the go ahead to new runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick – on 18th October. The NCE expects Heathrow would be allowed a runway immediately, and Gatwick could build a 2nd runway within the next 5 years. NCE also understands the government will urge Birmingham airport to plan a 2nd runway. The reason for this decision, other than the difficulties in making it, is ascribed to the forecasts of air passenger numbers being inaccurate. (Forecasts are, of course, usually inaccurate … and air passenger numbers depend on many variables, including oil price, and the strength of the £ and UK and global economy). The DfT produced very bullish passenger forecasts in 2007, which were way too high and knocked back by the recession. Lower forecasts were produced in 2011, and then lower again in 2013. The Airports Commission did its own forecasts, over a range of scenarios – and took account of the fact that aviation expansion would be constrained by the annual cap on CO2 emissions of 37.5 MtCO2. Because air passenger numbers have recovered to their pre-recession levels, it is believed by some that this rapid growth will continue and the forecasts are too low. The “predict and provide” scenario would require more runways. This sort of growth in UK aviation challenges our legally binding UK carbon targets under the Climate Change Act 2008.  Details of the various forecasts on the link below.

Click here to view full story…

UK and China renew bilateral deal so each could have 100 return flights (up from 40) per week

The DfT has renewed the bilateral aviation agreement with China, to allow more weekly flights between the two countries. Until now, the limit had been 40 flights by UK airlines to China per week, and 40 flights by Chinese airlines to the UK. This has been raised to 100 flights each. There will be no limit on the number of all-cargo services (but most Heathrow freight goes as belly hold, not separate freighter). Currently Chinese airlines operate 38 flights a week between the two countries, and UK airlines operate 29. (Not enough demand for the 40). The only UK airports that have flights to China are Heathrow and Manchester. The earlier deal was that any UK airline could serve a maximum of 6 separate airports in China. Now UK airlines can operate to anywhere in mainland China. Laying on the hype, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said the deal was a “big moment for the UK”. However, airlines will have to decide whether it makes sense to use the extra capacity to offer new Chinese flights to and from China, with doubtful demand, when transatlantic routes are more profitable. The hope is probably for more UK business and UK exports. The DfT ignores the problem that the UK imports from China more than twice as much as it exports to China. More flights may exacerbate that. House of Commons Library data says that: “In 2014, UK exports to China were worth £18.7 billion. Imports from China were £38.3 billion. The UK had a trade deficit of £19.6 billion with China.” Flights to and from Hong Kong are in a separate bilateral deal.

House of Commons Library on UK trade with China, and the trade deficit  here 

Click here to view full story…

Teddington Action Group prepares for “first of many” judicial reviews of Government decision on Heathrow runway

Teddington Action Group (TAG) has re-stated its commitment to launch Judicial Review (JR) proceedings of a Government decision on airport expansion – should one of the two Heathrow options be chosen. TAG issued a pre-action letter of claim (the first step in the JR process) back in June 2015, on the eve of the Airports Commission’s recommendation for a new runway at Heathrow. Proceedings were then put on hold pending a Government decision on the 3 runway options. TAG has now re-confirmed its commitment to continue proceedings, with a key ground for its JR being the “apparent bias” of the Chair of the Airports Commission itself, Sir Howard Davies, due to his roles at GIC Private Ltd, owner of a 11.9% share in Heathrow Airport Holdings. In 2009, Sir Howard was appointed as an adviser to the Investment Strategy Committee of GIC Private Limited (formerly known as the Singapore Government Investment Co), advising them on “new growth opportunities”. In 2011 he was appointed to the International Advisory Board of GIC Private Ltd, a board on which he was still sitting on the day of his appointment as “independent” Chair of the Airports Commission. He never disclosed these roles in the Airports Commission’s Register of Interests. He then accepted the Chairmanship of RBS, Heathrow’s main banker, while still steering the Commission to its conclusion. This puts the Commission’s “independence” into question.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow manages to persuade SNP to back its runway, with hopes of 16,000 jobs (?)

Heathrow have received a boost after the Scottish government announced its backing for its runway plan, which it claimed would create up to 16,000 jobs across Scotland. Environmental campaigners and Green politicians decried the move as “a disaster for climate change”, and questioned whether the promised jobs would ever in fact materialise. The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, believes there would be more benefits for Scotland from a Heathrow runway than a Gatwick one. A series of commitments, including on jobs, investigating the use of Glasgow Prestwick airport as a potential site for a logistics hub for building the 3rd runway, and a reduction of £10 per passenger on landing charges paid by airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland, are apparently included in a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Heathrow airport and the SNP government on Monday 10th. Opponents are surprised by this move, as GIP owns both Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, and the SNP are behind the growth of Edinburgh airport. What Scotland wants is more of direct international air routes, not necessarily routes via Heathrow, for business and for cargo (imports and exports). More flights will mean more money taken out of Scotland on leisure trips – something airport expansion advocates always ignore. The current Scottish tourism deficit is already around £1.5 billion per year.

Click here to view full story…

The truth about economic benefits of Heathrow expansion – new detailed analysis from FoE

A new briefing on the economics of a 3rd Heathrow runway makes interesting reading. MPs, councils, Chambers of Commerce and others have been subject to a barrage of propaganda from Heathrow, urging them to support a new runway, for massive economic benefits. But the actual evidence – instead of hype, sound bites and corporate propaganda – shows there is virtually no economic benefit for the country. Furthermore, the regions lose out to the south east. The most important single table from the Airports Commission’s final report shows a total benefit, to all of the UK over 60 years, of just £1.4 billion – in the carbon capped scenario (£11.4 billion in the carbon traded scenario). Compare this to the figure of £211 billion that Heathrow is using is its PR. The Commission also showed that without a third runway at Heathrow, growth in necessary air traffic goes to other airports where there is lots of spare capacity. With a Heathrow runway, the flights at regional airports will end up being substantially reduced. It is very hard to see how losing traffic and destinations from regional airports to Heathrow is good for the economy of the regions. In addition, Heathrow is only prepared to contribute £1.1 billion to surface access infrastructure, leaving the taxpayer to fund as much as £17 billion.

Click here to view full story…

Theresa May at odds with her Maidenhead council and local Tory party chairman over Heathrow

The Chairman of Theresa May’s local Maidenhead Conservative Association is part of a group threatening to sue her government if it approves the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Cllr Geoffrey Hill sits on a council warning it will launch legal action within days if Heathrow expansion is backed. Senior Windsor & Maidenhead council figures believe increasing capacity at Heathrow would blight their residents with even more noise and pollution -and are determined to stop the project. Theresa May is widely expected to back Heathrow over Gatwick when she makes a decision on airport expansion – perhaps on Tuesday 18th October (or 11th?). The Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead, which she has represented since 1997, is badly overflown by Heathrow planes. Mrs May voiced her concerns about a 3rd runway before the 2010 election but has since made little public comment on the development. (See her comments from 2010 and 2009 below). Windsor and Maidenhead council is one of 4 local authorities threatening to challenge any decision to build a Heathrow runway through the courts. Simon Dudley, the Tory leader of the council, said their judicial review could see the case in the courts for years, delaying or preventing the runway’s construction. The council has put aside £30,000 to fight the legal battle. Maidenhead councillors campaigned on opposing an extension of Heathrow locally before the 2015 election.

Click here to view full story…

Boris and Justine may be “unavoidably away” to avoid embarrassment on Cabinet runway vote

The Observer expects that the meeting of the runway sub-committee of the Cabinet will be on Monday 17th October, with the Cabinet decision on 18th – and the announcement in Parliament. But that may still be speculation …. The Observer also says that to avoid “embarrassment” to Boris Johnson and Justine Greening (fierce opponents of a Heathrow 3rd runway), it is likely they would both be “unavoidably away” when the Commons votes on the issue. They would therefore not have the awkward situation of being in Cabinet ….“Boris can easily be arranged to be on tour and Justine could be researching grammar schools in Malawi, or some such,” said a government source … (is this ethical or democratic?) Though it is likely there would be a free vote in Parliament, to endorse the Cabinet decision on a runway location, the Cabinet would probably be required to support of the government’s position. Boris will not resign if there is a vote for a 3rd runway, but may believe even if approved by Theresa May, the runway may never in reality go ahead. Journalists appear to believe, or have been told by Whitehall sources, that Heathrow is the preferred location. Zac Goldsmith has warned that taxpayers could end up paying for Heathrow’s expansion, as the airport has significant debts and could be forced to turn to the government for financial support.

Click here to view full story…

New research on Heathrow meeting air pollution standards with 3rd runway is highly speculative and not convincing (did not look at future traffic growth, or how much is Heathrow-related, or increase in lorries for freight …)

The BBC published a story about work, funded by NERC and led by a Cambridge professor, on Heathrow air pollution levels. The work is ongoing and not yet published, but the BBC made the claim that it showed a Heathrow 3rd runway would not breach NO2 levels. The timing of the story by the BBC, one or two weeks before it is expected the Cabinet will make an announcement, may be due to Heathrow manipulation. The study in reality is looking at modelling of future air pollution, based on a range of assumptions – nothing new. Its projections are only as good as its modelling inputs. If assumptions that vehicles will rapidly convert to lower-NO2 engines, or the uptake of electric vehicles will be fast, then forecasts of NO2 can be low. But this is highly speculative. Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the AEF, said: “The assumption would have to be that, over the next decade, we’d move from having something like 57% of London’s vehicles being diesel vehicles to instead having ultra-clean electric vehicles throughout the capital. There just isn’t evidence to suggest that’s going to happen.” Client Earth’s CEO James Thornton said: “When making the decision on Heathrow the government has a moral and legal duty to protect people’s health and ensure they have the right to breathe clean air. It shouldn’t base its decision on optimistic modelling at best and a naive view of the car industry that has proven time and time again it can’t be trusted to bring levels of air pollution down.

Click here to view full story…

Academic research funded by NERC looking at better scientific data on Heathrow area NO2 pollution (BBC wrongly said this implied a 3rd runway would not breach pollution limits – a story not justified by the research so far not even peer reviewed, or published

The NERC (National Environment Research Centre) has funded independent research by a group of university academics into the NO2 air pollution. Heathrow has not paid for it. They have been using a larger number of pollution sensors, in different places, to contribute scientific data on levels of air pollution. They hope to be able to distinguish between NO2 from Heathrow itself, and from road traffic or that blown in from elsewhere. At several sites, the levels of NO2 are already above EU limits (40 µg/m3 over a year). The aim of the research is to test models to ensure they accord with reality. Past work done for the Airports Commission relied on estimates, whereas this latest work used more accurate, real-world measurements. The research is ongoing and there is no report yet, but it is likely that in a month or so the findings will be submitted to one or other journal, for peer review before publication. The study is on NO2 and has not looked at particulates in the same detail. One of the authors said the study does not say anything new – it is merely looking at the situation in an independent, purely scientific way, rather than (as has been done in the past) just extrapolating and predicting by modelling. The existence of the work, is being interpreted by others to mean that air pollution from road vehicles will reduce (less NO2 from new diesels, and there will be more electric vehicles) in future, so a 3rd Heathrow runway might not lead to illegal NO2 levels. The authors say they have just done research – interpretation is for others.

Click here to view full story…

IAG Cargo plans a new London premium temperature-controlled freight facility, double the size of the present one

IAG Cargo (which contains 4 airlines) is to build a new £55 million temperature controlled freight facility at Heathrow, to help it grow a “higher yielding” part of its business. IAG Cargo hopes this will be completed in 2018 and that the new building will be twice the size of the current IAG Cargo Premia facility (at about 8,500 square metres). The temperature controlled facility will be for expensive “premier” airfreight, for goods like perishable seafood – making more profit than many other sorts of cargo. IAG Cargo has not been doing well for the past two quarters, with commercial revenue down compared to a year earlier – down by 12% for Q2 2016 and down -1.8% in Q1. Some of the capacity will be for exports, but it is likely that the volume of imports will be larger (though Heathrow and the freight industry never draw attention to this publicly – just talking about exports). IAG Cargo say there is an expansion in demand from China, with the newly affluent middle classes wanting more sea food. They say razor clams and salmon from Scotland and Ireland are profitable exports. Apparently about 400 tonnes of Scottish razor clams were air freighted by IAG to China. [It is questionable how environmentally sustainable it is to grow these sea foods in the UK, to ship almost half way around the world – in biological terms as well as carbon]. IAG Cargo also handles fresh fruit and vegetables that are increasingly air freighted – as imports to the UK. More air freight mean more heavy lorries and vans, powered by diesel, around Heathrow.

Click here to view full story…

Zac Goldsmith likely to quit politics, rather than stand again as Richmond MP, if May approves Heathrow runway

The Evening Standard reports that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, has said he would resign as an MP if Theresa May decides to approve a Heathrow 3rd runway. He has said for a long time that he would resign, and perhaps stand again as an independent. Zac’s constituency is heavily over-flown by Heathrow, and with a 3rd runway, people would lose a large part of the time they currently have “respite” from the noise, due to the current runway alternation. Heathrow has admitted that people would probably only get perhaps 4 hours per day without planes, rather than about 8 hours at present. But now Zac is understood to feel it would be wasting his constituents’ time to stand again at a by-election, and he would instead step down. His current majority is 23,000 (with about 43,000 votes out of around 58,000). The Liberal Democrats have held the seat in the past. The departure of Zac could be a worry for Theresa May as the Conservative party’s working majority is only 16. (The Conservatives have 329 MPs, out of 650). They cannot comfortably afford to lose any. Though Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are both deeply opposed to the runway, they have both said they would not resign, and give up their Cabinet positions, on the issue.

Click here to view full story…

ASA uphold Teddington Action Group’s complaint about 4th misleading Heathrow advert

The Teddington Action Group complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) back in July about misleading information put out by Heathrow, implying that “A majority of MPs support expansion”. Heathrow got a Comres poll done, of 150 MPs, and said that of these 65% supported a 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow then generalised this result to claim the same support across all 650 MPs. The ASA has upheld TAG’s complaint against the Heathrow claim “A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion” was misleading as it was based on a survey of only 150 MPs and the geographical make-up of the MPs surveyed meant a bias in the result; and The advert did not provide sufficient clarity on where the claim that “Expanding Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn of economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across Britain” was sourced. The only evidence for the claims in the ads is a link to the Airports Commission, in tiny print – and no indication of the caveats on those figures – or that the economic benefits are over 60 years). The ASA agreed the advert had breached the Advertising Codes. To avoid negative publicity, Heathrow agreed to make the required changes to the advert and the case was informally resolved by the ASA. This is the fourth such ruling in 18 months against adverts claiming support for Heathrow expansion.

Click here to view full story…

Zac Goldsmith likely to quit politics, rather than stand again as Richmond MP, if May approves Heathrow runway

The Evening Standard reports that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, has said he would resign as an MP if Theresa May decides to approve a Heathrow 3rd runway. He has said for a long time that he would resign, and perhaps stand again as an independent. Zac’s constituency is heavily over-flown by Heathrow, and with a 3rd runway, people would lose a large part of the time they currently have “respite” from the noise, due to the current runway alternation. Heathrow has admitted that people would probably only get perhaps 4 hours per day without planes, rather than about 8 hours at present. But now Zac is understood to feel it would be wasting his constituents’ time to stand again at a by-election, and he would instead step down. His current majority is 23,000 (with about 43,000 votes out of around 58,000). The Liberal Democrats have held the seat in the past. The departure of Zac could be a worry for Theresa May as the Conservative party’s working majority is only 16. (The Conservatives have 329 MPs, out of 650). They cannot comfortably afford to lose any. Though Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are both deeply opposed to the runway, they have both said they would not resign, and give up their Cabinet positions, on the issue.

Click here to view full story…

Reclaim the Power #staygrounded die-in flashmob at Heathrow against runway, and Critical Mass cycle ride

Two spectacular “Stay Grounded” protests took place at Heathrow, against a possible third runway. Both were organised by Reclaim the Power, which is a grassroots organisation taking action with local communities on environmental, economic and social justice issues. The protests at Heathrow were against aviation expansion, partly due to its carbon emissions and also local air pollution, and to highlight the social injustice of climate change impacts around the world. Hundreds of activists staged a “die-in” flashmob in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, and there was a Critical Mass bike ride of about 150 risers wearing red, which circled the area, visiting Harmondsworth Detention Centre and Longford village, and briefly obstructing traffic by circling the main roundabout on Bath Road. The “die-in” involved over 100 people, many of whom wore masks to symbolise the pollution from aviation. Testimonies from communities already affected by climate change were read out, including from Pacific islands that are suffering from sea level rise. Street theatre at the protest showed high income frequent fliers, checking in and drinking champagne (being critical of the “irresponsible” environmental protesters ….) There was also a flashmob action at Gatwick, and others as part of a global wave of actions opposing airport expansion (including Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey), timed to coincide with the major ICAO conference aiming to address the emissions impact of aviation.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow more likely to get MPs’ backing as Jeremy Corbyn suggests Labour MPs could have free, unwhipped, vote

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested it would not be easy to whip Labour MPs to vote against a 3rd runway at Heathrow, despite his personal opposition to it, largely on environmental grounds. He has not yet decided whether to hold a free vote, but it could be difficult to get his MPs to agree that the runway and expansion would cause harmful air pollution and noise impacts. A vote in favour of Heathrow expansion is more likely to go through if Labour MPs are allowed to vote with their conscience. This matters as the Conservative majority is small, and there are dozens of Conservatives MPs who are against it. The decision on whether to build a runway, and if so, at Heathrow or Gatwick, is set to be put to a free vote of Conservative MPs in the coming weeks, to allow Cabinet ministers to vote against Heathrow, without having to resign – avoiding the need for collective responsibility. Mr Corbyn told The Guardian that there was a “huge debate in the party about it” and that his shadow cabinet would have to “have a discussion and debate” to work out a way forward. He said, of his rebellious MPs: “What I’ve discovered is whipping Labour when Labour doesn’t want to be whipped is not an easy thing to do.” Heathrow has worked hard to persuade MPs in the regions that its new runway would mean more domestic flights and more economic prosperity for them – however uncertain that is in reality. MPs whose constituencies are not affected across the country hope for local benefits.

Click here to view full story…

FT reports Tories feel they have enough backing in Parliament to push through Heathrow runway

The Financial Times says the Conservative Party Chairman, Patrick McLoughlin, has done a vote assessment, and found that there would be enough support in Parliament for a Heathrow 3rd runway. It is considered possible that the Cabinet’s runway sub-committee -chaired by Theresa May – will come to a runway location decision on the 11th or the 18th October. The Cabinet would need to agree to the decision by the sub-Committee, and it would then be announced in Parliament, by Chris Grayling. There could be a Parliamentary vote soon afterwards, perhaps only be a week later. The government would not want to risk a vote on this, unless they knew they would get a majority. The FT understands that Heathrow would easily win enough votes, but there is not enough backing for a Gatwick runway. Though there is massive opposition to a Heathrow runway due to its widespread and seriously negative impacts, and therefore it is likely Theresa May would allow a free vote. It is not clear the Labour leadership would try to whip hostile MPs on the runway issue, at a time of wider party disunity, though Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are against the Heathrow runway. The FT reports that one insider cautioned it is “not a foregone conclusion” that Mrs May will back the Heathrow runway — or even that there would be a vote. An aviation executive said the prime minister “is like a sphinx on this”. ie. inscrutable.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow proposals for pre-runway flight increase, to try and win Government backing for runway

Heathrow will be putting forward some proposals at the Conservative party conference, to be allowed to start increasing the annual number of flights from 2021 by 25,000 per year (about 68 more per day). “New technology and better use of existing runways will achieve this.” (ie. largely loss of runway alternation part of the day, and narrow flight paths?). Heathrow is selling this as a way to start to give a quick “Brexit boost”, even before its hoped for 3rd runway is operational. Heathrow is claiming that the “environmental constraints” will all be met (it is unclear how this will be done) with no more noise problems, no more air pollution problems etc. All that is proposed is more money for home noise insulation, (£60 million – it has already said it will spend £700 million) and a congestion charge – no details – for vehicles travelling to and from Heathrow. The plans will be subject to consultation and Government approval. There is a mention of talks with government in future to perhaps delay the start of scheduled flights to 5.30am from the current 4.30am. The main thrust of Heathrow’s plans is to say the extra flights will be vital for the economy, with slots set aside for domestic flights. There would be a £10 domestic passenger discount to support “small and large exporters, boosting competition.” There are claims of 5,000 more local jobs over 5 years by this pre-runway expansion, and extensive economic benefits for all the UK …. £1.5 billion in the period 2021 – 2015.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow rushes out scheme for increased number of flights BEFORE 3rd runway built – HACAN reaction

Heathrow under pressure from Government to deliver expansion as quickly as possible post-Brexit, has released details of a scheme to increase capacity in advance of a 3rd runway. It will be officially launched at the start of the Conservative Party Conference (2-5 October). Amongst Heathrow’s key proposals are – by 2021: – Increasing the number of flights on the existing runways by up to 25,000 a year. – Increasing passenger numbers by 4 million. – Introducing a night flight ban from 11pm to 5.30am. – Putting more money into noise insulation schemes. – Introducing a possible congestion charging scheme around the airport to manage traffic levels and pay for future rail improvements. The extra 25,000 flights per year, starting well before the 3rd runway is open, would require Heathrow to seek planning permission to exceed the current 480,000 cap on flight numbers (imposed as a condition of Terminal Five being allowed, in March 1999). Heathrow expects to have the measures in place by 2021 if it gets permission for a 3rd runway. Residents have regarded this cap of 480,000 flights as sacrosanct, and vital, for the levels of noise around west London. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said this offering by Heathrow has been rushed out to try to address government’s problems with Brexit. Heathrow knows its scheme is more expensive, and would take more time to complete, than the Gatwick runway or the Heathrow Hub scheme.

Click here to view full story…

Anti-Corbyn Labour backbenchers plan party vote – to back Heathrow runway

The Parliamentary Labour Party has various committees, one of which is on Transport. This is chaired by the young MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker. The membership of this backbench committee does not appear to be publicly available. There is nothing online about the committee or its work. Mr Shuker says his committee has now produced (or is about to produce) a report that proposes Labour should back a Heathrow runway. They plan to present this report to a meeting of Labour MPs and peers, when Parliament returns after the party conferences. Mr Shuker has been critical of Jeremy Corbyn for the past year or more, and he now wants to get the Labour party to reverse his opposition to a Heathrow runway by getting a vote on the issue within the party. Gavin Shuker said the vote could be the day after the Labour meeting. As well as Jeremy Corbyn, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, is deeply opposed to a Heathrow runway as his constituency would be badly affected by it. Mr Shuker wants the party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn on a number of policy issues. Heathrow is just one of many, and is a symptom of party disunity. On the same day, it was revealed that the Heathrow-funded and sponsored group, Back Heathrow, had asked for John McDonnell’s constituency boundary to be redrawn, to exclude Heathrow – to help their case. Amazing.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow investors snub Chris Grayling’s request for their funding of Heathrow Hub scheme

Some of Heathrow’s leading shareholders have snubbed a request from the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to back the Heathrow Hub scheme, that involves adding another runway at the western end of the northern runway. Sky News understands that big investors in FGP Topco, Heathrow’s parent company, are refusing to give a written commitment to funding the rival scheme. Heathrow argues that it has not done sufficient due diligence to justify giving its backing to Heathrow Hub. Mr Grayling made the request at a meeting with the two runway promoters last month, since when further talks have been held between executives at Heathrow and Heathrow Hub. While it is understood John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, would accept the Hub plan if he cannot get his north-west runway, the airport’s leading shareholders are refusing to back it. They believe future financial returns would be lower with the Hub scheme than the NW runway scheme. Sky News has been told that Mr Holland-Kaye had been told by his shareholders that acknowledging any support for the Hub scheme would be a tactical error, at a time they believe is so close to an announcement by the Government. Both Heathrow schemes have offered cut-price versions of their proposals in a bid to convince ministers of their merits. FGP Topco’s shareholders are Ferrovial (25% stake), and sovereign wealth and pension funds from Australia, Canada, China, Qatar and Singapore.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow Hub says, to match Heathrow’s offer, it would cut price of its runway scheme by £2 billion

The backers of the Heathrow Hub scheme, to lengthen Heathrow’s northern runway towards the west, have now said they could cut the price of their scheme by £2 million. This offer comes just days after Heathrow’s Chairman, Lord Deighton, said their north west runway scheme could be cut by up to £3 billion. The Heathrow north-west runway scheme is expected to cost £17.5 billion (or £14.5 billion with the cheaper scheme) – and the Heathrow Hub scheme is expected to cost £12 billion according to their website (or £10 billion with the cheaper scheme). But Heathrow Hub are now telling the press that their scheme could cost £7.5 million. Their Factsheet of November 2014 said the cost of the runway itself would be £9.2 billion, with £2.8 billion for surface access improvements. In November 2013 they anticipated the cost of diverting the M25 for the runway would be £0.7 billion. Heathrow Hub also proudly say there would be no cost to the public. In reality, Transport for London said (February 2015) of a larger Heathrow, not differentiating between the two schemes: “Our assessment estimated that in order for a fully developed Heathrow (149 mppa) to achieve all of the above surface access objectives in the long term (2040-50), costs would be around £15-20 billion*. The Heathrow Hub scheme is privately funded, and hopes to license its scheme to Heathrow airport for up to £5m a year for 20 years, if successful.

Click here to view full story…

John Redwood, MP for Wokingham, says Theresa May should drop Heathrow plan

John Redwood, the Conservative MP for Wokingham about 25 km west of Heathrow and under some of its flight paths, has said that the government should drop the three very huge projects they inherited from Gordon Brown and David Cameron. ie. Hinkley, HS2 and Heathrow. Each is expensive, highly contentious, and has been much delayed by indecision, argument and opposition. John Redwood was Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation, from May 2005 to December 2005, and Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, from June 1999 to February 2000. He believes all 3Hs should be scrapped, and there are many other good local projects that should be paid for instead. “I’m all for spending on better trains, power stations and airports, but I don’t want to throw too much money at projects that are so mired in rows and costs.” On Heathrow noise he says: “Unfortunately Heathrow has recently with NATS changed the routes and noise corridors, annoying many more residential areas near it. There was no proper consultation. When you want to expand you need to do better at showing you are a good and considerate neighbour.” …”More capacity can be provided through Northolt, Gatwick and other London area airports. Smaller quicker schemes could alleviate the pressures.”

Click here to view full story…

Treasury Select Committee Chairman, Åndrew Tyrie, writes to Chris Grayling and Philip Hammond to question economic benefits of runway

Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Committee, wrote to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, on 14th September, questioning the economic case for HS2 and airport expansion. Andrew Tyrie says in his letter: “The economic case to support the conclusions of the Davies report lacks crucial information.” On 27th November 2015, he tabled 15 parliamentary questions on details of the economic justification [all copied on link below]. These have yet to be answered 10 months later (they just had a standard holding reply from Robert Goodwill). Andrew Tyrie says: “For the fifth time I am attaching these questions. Failure to answer them will lead people either to conclude that this work has not been done – in which case it would be unacceptable for a decision to be made without the evidence to support it – or that it has been done, and gives answers that do not necessarily support the conclusions of the Davies report. I do not suggest that either of these are the case. The best way to answer these concerns is to public the information immediately. As we discussed, I have written in similar terms to the Chancellor.” “Without this information, the evidence in support of any decision that the Government takes on airport capacity will be incomplete.” His Parliamentary Questions focus, in particular, on Table 7.1 in the Airport Commission’s Final Report, of July 2015. (Table copied above). Mr Tyrie spoke to Chris Grayling on 15 August 2016.

Click here to view full story…

Tania Mathias MP calls for Grayling to step in over proposed £3 billion cuts to Heathrow plan – re-consultation necessary?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been asked by Dr Tania Mathias MP to intervene on Heathrow’s £3 billion cost-cutting proposals it announced last week. In order to cut costs, and perhaps get a runway built faster, Heathrow’s Chairman Lord Deighton suggested that changes to plans would be made – though nothing has been put forward yet, but they might be in the next weeks. The cuts would mean scrapping plans to (expensively) tunnel the 14 lane M25 under the runway, and a transit rail system around the airport. Conservative MP Tania Mathias, whose Twickenham constituency is under Heathrow flight paths, said the new plan had caused local people “considerable anxiety.” She has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, asking him to demand the plan goes back out to public consultation and scrutiny by the Airports Commission (though that has been disbanded). Dr Mathias also wants Chris Grayling to make public any official talks on the late changes, between the airport and government departments. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith also wrote to Lord Deighton that the revised plan would cause Londoners “more environmental misery”. The changes to the roads are not clear, and cutting cost could lead to gridlock on the busiest stretch of the M25. The DfT just said the Government “will continue to consider the commission’s evidence.”

Click here to view full story…

Times reveals, from leaked document, members of Cabinet sub-committee on runway issue

The Times says it has seen a leaked document showing the membership of the Cabinet sub-committee, the “Economy and Industrial Strategy (Airports)” sub-committee, that would make a decision on a runway. The list omits Ministers most critical of Heathrow’s expansion, Boris Johnson, (Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, Education Secretary). But Sajid Javid (Communities Secretary), who is a Heathrow supporter, keeps his place on the sub-committee, as does Patrick McLoughlin, (Conservative Party Chairman) – who as Transport Secretary was a strong supporter of Heathrow. Theresa May herself will chair the sub-committee, (David Cameron chaired it previously). Other Ministers on the sub-committee are Philip Hammond, (Chancellor), Greg Clark, (Business and Energy Secretary), Andrea Leadsom, (Environment Secretary), David Mundell, (Scottish Secretary), and the chief whip Gavin Williamson. [The previous members were: David Cameron, George Osborne, Sajid Javid, Patrick McLoughlin, Liz Truss, David Mundell, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, Oliver Letwin and Mark Harper.] It is not known if there will be a free vote on the issue, suspending the normal Cabinet “collective responsibility” as was suggested last week, to overcome the problem of so much opposition to Heathrow. The Times believes that the announcement might be on Tuesday18th October.

Click here to view full story…

Possibly resignation of Zac Goldsmith at Richmond MP over Heathrow threatens May’s slender majority

Theresa May’s slender Commons majority risks being cut even further if she backs a third runway at Heathrow, because Zac Goldsmith may resign the Tory whip and fight a by-election as an independent in his Richmond Park seat. Zac has said in the past that he might resign if the government favoured a Heathrow runway, as the airport has highly negative noise impacts on his constituency. Zac has a majority of more than 23,000, but he voted for Leave in the EU Referendum. His popularity could be reduced by a Brexit backlash or if the Tory vote splits. While Zac’s views on Heathrow expansion are in tune with many voters in his seat, almost 70% of people who voted in Richmond upon Thames on June 23 backed Remain. The Lib-Dems – who held the seat before Zac – said they would put Brexit at the centre of any by-election contest in the constituency. Brexit and Heathrow are two of the most important issues in Richmond. Mr Goldsmith is understood not to have made up his mind yet whether to stand as the Tory contender, an independent or quit Parliament. Mrs May has a Commons majority of twelve.

Click here to view full story…

Steelworkers and their MPs press for Heathrow expansion, to save steel industry jobs

Heathrow has had a new report done by a consultancy called QUOD, on the amount of steel that would be needed for its new runway and terminals – and the number of jobs this might create directly and indirectly, for the steel industry. Heathrow says they would be using 370,000 tonnes of steel ( this would not be the smaller scheme now in prospect, to cut costs, but the original). There are hopes that this might generate around 400 direct steel jobs – if Heathrow used only UK steel – over 2 – 3 years. There might be another 300 indirect jobs – making a total of 700 jobs. This would be some time around 2021 to 2026. The 370,000 tonnes of steel would be the equivalent of nearly 10% of UK steel produced for domestic use in 2015. Seven Labour MPs (Kevin Barron, Tom Blenkinsop, Sarah Champion, Kevan Jones, Jonathan Reynolds, Angela Smith and Anna Turley) representing steel communities (such as Scunthorpe, and Teesside) across the North and south Wales have called on Business Secretary Greg Clark to “get on with” Heathrow expansion. Steel workers have for years lived with the threat of devastating job losses as firms threaten to close down unprofitable UK steel plants. The UK steelworkers’ union Community backs the 3rd Heathrow runway, hoping it gives respite to their industry for many years. The MPs’ letter says: “By backing Heathrow you will be making a statement of intent, a decision in the national interest, and a first step in reviving a modern and sustainable British steel sector.”

Click here to view full story…

Legal & General’s Nigel Wilson suggests government “should abandon all the big infrastructure projects beginning with the letter H”

Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson has suggested that the government “should abandon all the big infrastructure projects beginning with the letter H” – ie. Hinkley, HS2 and Heathrow. He thinks that instead of these, the UK would get much better value spending its limited resources in areas such as social housing, renewables and more mundane but much-needed projects. Legal & General, an insurance company, is a large and important investor, and accustomed to assessing the prospects of long term projects. Anthony Hilton, writing in the Standard, says Theresa May’s head of policy at No.10 is John Godfrey, who was until July 2016, the head of policy at Legal & General, and thinks along the same lines as Nigel Wilson. He considers HS2 is probably the easiest to ditch, as there are better ways to increase rail capacity between London and Birmingham – and the saving of 25 minutes is not vital. “If, for prestige reasons, we need another high-speed train, then let’s put it where it is needed and link Liverpool toManchester, Leeds and Newcastle, with a southern spur through Sheffield and Nottingham to Birmingham.” There are numerous reasons not to to ahead with Hinkley. And Heathrow costs far too much, with the final sum being perhaps £36 billion, of which around £18 -20 billion to be paid by taxpayers. It is also fiercely opposed and “resisted to the bitter end by some very vociferous people.” There would be inevitable years of legal wrangling and planning to secure it.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow’s compensation pledges may be £1 billion too low to match its claims

The difference between Heathrow Airport’s pledges to residents and its commitment to funding those pledges could be hundreds of millions of £s.  Campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion has checked up on the figures and found a funding shortfall in the airport’s compensation proposals for local residents. With what little information Heathrow has provided, and using best estimates to fill in the blanks, it seems likely there would be a HUGE shortfall. Heathrow has said there would be “over 160,000” homes eligible.  But the Airports Commission found that over 220,000 households could be in the Lden 55 db zone.  Heathrow’s property compensation has already been criticised as inadequate, offering little potential for those displaced homeowners to find similar alternative accommodation further away from the airport where property prices have relentlessly increased.  Heathrow’s “Our Manifesto for Britain” dated 23.5.2016 has the figure of £1 billion, but that is – Heathrow has confirmed – to cover both property sales, as well as noise compensation.  The £1 billion consists of the £700 million Heathrow has often said it will spend on noise insulation – and just £300 million for home loss compensation. And if (Heathrow’s own figure) this was up to 3,750 homes, as well as the 780 being demolished, that does not work out as much for each. Heathrow presumes it will make a lot of money by re-selling the homes it buys up.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow residents who fear losing their homes for 3rd runway take 1,000 petition cards to 10 Downing St

Residents who face losing their homes to make way for a 3rd runway at Heathrow delivered 1,000 Petition cards to 10 Downing Street. Harmondsworth residents and anti-3rd runway campaigners were joined by Labour MPs John McDonnell and Ruth Cadbury, as the final decision approaches on airport expansion in the south-east (probably in October, when Parliament resumes after the party conferences). The petition cards were signed over two days at two local events in west London recently and called on Prime Minister Theresa May, who represents nearby Maidenhead, to oppose the 3rd runway. The visit to Downing Street sends a strong reminder to the Prime Minister that residents around Heathrow are firmly opposed to its expansion – whether it is on the grounds of the destruction of thousands of homes, noise, air pollution, over-crowded road and rail transport, costs to the taxpayer for the infrastructure or climate change. People fear that compensation from Heathrow, if the villages were flattened, would not be enough and “how will money soothe those who stand to lose everything they hold dear?” The cards should be a reminder to Theresa May of the reality, in human terms, of the loss and dislocation people would suffer, due to the destruction caused to build a 3rd runway.

Click here to view full story…

Times reports that Heathrow is hoping to get 50 more flights per day 2020 – 2024 before 3rd runway

Heathrow flights are capped at 480,000 flights per year – which was set as a condition of the Terminal 5 planning consent in 2001.Heathrow now wants to increase the number of flights by about 19,000, giving a total of about 499,000 per year – which means about an extra 50 planes per day, taking off or landing. This would happen relatively soon, and about 4 years before a 3rd runway was operational – during its construction stage. The cap of 480,000 can only be lifted if there is a planning application for a 3rd runway, and that could take several years to start – maybe not till 2020. Heathrow is attempting to gloss over the inevitably increased noise by its chairman Lord Deighton saying the increase “would be accompanied by sweeping mitigation measures outlined by the airport in May, including a ban on night flights.” If that was true, it is likely to mean the loss of the half day of respite people east of the airport get, from runway alternation, when runways switch at 3pm each day. This is hugely valued by tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Its reduction or removal would be fiercely opposed. Heathrow is trying to persuade government etc that more flights is vital to “show that Britain was “open for business” after the Brexit vote. A card they repeatedly play nowadays.

Click here to view full story…

Times reports that Heathrow plans to offer to cut costs and build runway scheme faster

The Times reports that it has learned how Heathrow is planning to cut up to £3 billion (out of about £17.6 billion) from its plans for a 3rd runway, in order to persuade Theresa May and the Cabinet that the runway could be delivered – and delivered a year earlier. Revised plans include potentially scrapping plans to tunnel the M25 under the 3rd runway, not building a transit system to carry passengers around the airport (using buses instead) and smaller terminal buildings. The aim is not only to get the runway working by 2024 but also -with reduced costs – keeping charges for passengers a bit lower. The Airports Commission estimated the cost per passenger would need to rise from £20 now to £29. Airlines like British Airways are not prepared to pay such high costs, and especially not before the runway opens. BA’s Willie Walsh has described Heathrow’s runway plans as “gold-plated”. The Times expects that Heathrow will announce its new “cheaper, faster” plans by the end of September. There is no mention of the “Heathrow Hub” option of extending the northern runway – a slightly cheaper scheme than the airport’s preferred new north west runway. There is no clarity on quite what Heathrow plans for the M25, if they cannot afford to tunnel all 14 lanes (at least £ 5 billion). Lord Deighton said it might be “diverted” or have “some form of bridge.”

Click here to view full story…

Document spotted on Tube shows Government considering a free vote on runway issue

Channel 4 News has reported that a Cabinet Office memo seen – and photographed – on the tube which reveals that the Government is considering a free vote in Parliament following an announcement on the runway decision. A tube passenger filmed a very senior Cabinet Office civil servant holding the paper that discussed “potential waiving of collective responsibility.” The document was addressed to Cabinet Office official Sue Gray, from another official, Sharon Carter. It did not confirm if a free vote would be granted, but it focused more on how it might work as an option. It is certainly a possibility, especially if the decision is for Heathrow. A free vote would allow Cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, who are deeply opposed to the 3rd runway, to vote against it without needing to act on collective responsibility where ministers are expected to publicly support government policy, even if they disagree with it in public. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “It is unprecedented for a free vote to be granted on anything other than a constitutional issue or a matter of conscience. The fact that the Government is considering one on a third runway reveals once again the strength of the opposition within the Cabinet.” It certainly shows the problems the government has with this “politically toxic and financially unviable” decision.

Click here to view full story…

Desperate to persuade MPs to back its runway, increasingly improbable claims by Heathrow of its benefit to the UK.

Dodgy claim of “£24,500 benefit per family” and ability to cut VAT by 2.5% by 2060 due to runway (sic)

Heathrow is making all possible efforts to persuade as many MPs as possible to back its 3rd runway bid, before the government (Chris Grayling) makes a statement on the matter – probably in October. Heathrow has now commissioned and paid for a “study” by CEBR, perhaps by Vicky Pryce with a foreword by her, that aims to give the impression that the 3rd runway will make an immense financial contribution to the UK. The study would not pass peer review. Its methodology is not given, and there is no justification for any of its claims. Heathrow says (it tries to avoid making it clear this is over 60 years) its runway would boost GDP by “£24,500” per family. It omits to say how many families it is considering, or the total GDP benefit. A bit of simple mathematics shows Heathrow is claiming a GDP boost of £458 billion over 60 years, as the ONS says there are 18.7 million families in the UK (2015). The Airports Commission’s most optimistic scenarios gave a maximum benefit, over 60 years, of £211 billion. Its main forecast was for a UK benefit of £147 billion. This was seriously questioned as being exaggerated, even by the Commission’s own financial advisors. This £458 billion figure, apparently plucked from thin air, is well over double that. And Heathrow says there will be so much benefit that by 2060 (with no rationale given) we could cut VAT by 2.5% due to the runway.

Click here to view full story…

Grayling gives consent for M4 to have hard shoulder converted into 4th lane, over 32 miles

Plans to convert the M4 hard shoulder (both directions) into a 4th lane of traffic have been given the go-ahead by Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, for the Government. The proposals would see a 32-mile stretch of the M4 widened from three to four lanes from Hayes, west London, to Theale, Berkshire. That goes all the way past Heathrow, where there is already a serious air pollution problem. This stretch of road, from junction three to 12, would also be subject to variable speed limits under the scheme. Chris Grayling said there is a “critical need to improve the existing national road network” and the plans will “increase capacity, improve traffic flow and reduce journey times, thereby supporting economic development”. Environmental and transport groups are outraged at the decision and claim having no hard shoulder will be a hazard for motorists. There are concerns about breakdowns, with no hard shoulder and more risk to breakdown operatives when trying to assist motorists by the road. The loss of the hard shoulder has been criticised as expanding motorways on the cheap, instead of investment in alternative options, including better rail. Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said the move will lead to more traffic, more NO2 air pollution where levels already break legal health limits – this just increases traffic without solving congestion.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow retail revenue in 2015 around 20-21% of total, at £568 million (£7.58 per passenger)

Heathrow Airport reported a retail revenue increase for the year ending 31st December 2016 of +8.4% in 2015 to £568 million. The revenue per passenger rose by +6.2% above the level in 2014, to reach £7.58. (The Moodie report said the figure was about £7.14 in 2014, £6.21 in 2012, £5.95 in 2011, and £5.64 in 2010). Over the year, Heathrow had an overall growth in revenue of +2.7% to £2,765 million in 2015. EBITDA was £1,605 million, up +3.0%. Heathrow also announced a +2.2% increase in passenger traffic in 2015 to 75 million. Then for the figures for the first 6 months of 2016 Heathrow said its retail revenue had risen by 7.7% year-on-year, to £280 million – and retail revenue per passenger rose +7.1% to £7.84. Of this, duty and tax free shops contributed £62 million, a +3.3% increase. Heathrow said that for the first 6 months of 2016, it made £62 million from duty and tax-free; £51 million from airside specialist shops; £24 million from bureaux de change; £22 million from catering; £55 million from car parking – with total retail revenue at £280 million. i.e. of total retail revenue 19 – 20% was car parking. Income from parking was £99 million in 2014 and £107 million in 2015. For the first half of 2016 the retail (including car parking) income was about 21% of total revenue.

Click here to view full story…

Chris Grayling talks to airport proposers – amid speculation Cabinet critics would not resign over Heathrow 3rd runway

The Telegraph reports that the new transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has had meetings at the airports with the bosses of Heathrow and Gatwick, and the Heathrow Hub proposers. He will have been told their arguments for expansion, and is hardly surprising as the government has indicated it intends to make some decision perhaps in October (September 5-15th probably unlikely?). The government had probably intended, before the EU Referendum, to make the announcement on 7th or 8th July. Before the Brexit vote derailed that. The government is being lobbied by sections of the business world to approve a runway. There are hopes in government and in business that building a runway would give the economy a boost, when Brexit may cause economic woes, and that approving a major infrastructure project would “show that the UK is open for business” despite Brexit, especially after Mrs May delayed the Hinkley Point nuclear project. The Telegraph believes that neither of Heathrow’s fiercest opponents in Cabinet, Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary) or Justine Greening (Education) would actually resign if the Cabinet approved a 3rd Heathrow runway. Boris might believe it is “reasonable for different members of Parliament to have different takes on regional policy, which is what this is.”

Click here to view full story…

Theresa May to personally chair Cabinet sub-committee on possible new runway

The decision by the Cabinet on what to do about a new runway is to be taken by a sub-committee, named the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This was set up in July 2015. Its members then were David Cameron, George Osborne, Sajid Javid, Patrick McLoughlin, Liz Truss, David Mundell, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, Cabinet Oliver Letwin and Mark Harper. At that time, MPs with possibly compromised positions, or those against a Heathrow runway, were left off it – explained by their departments not being the relevant ones for inclusion. These were Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Justine Greening. Since the arrival of Theresa May, everything has changed. It has been announced that she will personally chair the committee (Cameron chaired it before) and that its new membership will be announced shortly. The constituencies of Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson (PM, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary) are all intensely affected by Heathrow. Theresa May has been very guarded in her comments over the past 6 years. However in May 2010 she welcomed the cancellation of the Heathrow runway and added: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”

Click here to view full story…

RHC Letter to the PM: Contrary to the Airports Commission’s recommendation the Commission’s evidence demonstrates Heathrow should not be expanded

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) has done a lot of detailed work, checking through the voluminous details of reports for the Airports Commission. The headline statements by the Commission, with its enthusiasm for a Heathrow northwest runway, are often not in accord with other figures in their documents. The RHC has written both to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary, setting out a lot of concerns about a 3rd runway, and facts and figures from the Commission itself that show the case for a runway is very weak. The RHC make the points that adding a new Heathrow runway would be contrary to the Government’s aim for re-balancing the UK economy across the regions, as it can only be done by reducing the market for other UK airports. It would add a very small extra number of long-haul destinations at Heathrow but take these away from regional airports so there is no increase in the number of destinations from the UK, compared to no Heathrow expansion. And it would result in a very high number of international-international transfer passengers using Heathrow, rather than improving air links overall. The RHC say that instead of expanding Heathrow, there is a need to make better use of the capacity of Heathrow and other UK airports and to improve surface access to London’s five airports. The letter is reproduced below and, in support of the evidence in the letter, a schedule linking the letter to the Airports Commission’s evidence is also provided.

Click here to view full story…

New video from Windsor reveals – Olympic style – the worst plane noise the borough suffers. Why have health impacts been downplayed?

A new short video has been produced by Wisdom da Costa, who has been a councillor in Windsor, and was chair of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA). In the spirit of the Olympics, it looks in a light hearted way at the noise from Heathrow planes that his borough has to suffer. He measured the noise (using an iPhone 6 and the Uplause App) from a range of planes that flew over Windsor at about 1,800 feet. Windsor gets landings for about one third of the year, and take offs for two thirds of the year and is around 8 km from the end of the runways. Ranking the noise produced by short haul planes, the B757 was noisiest (80 dB) with the A320 at 79dB and the A321 third at 74dB. Ranking the medium haul planes, the noisiest was the A330 at 88dB, with the B767 and B787 at about 85dB. Then for the largest, long haul planes, the winner – the very noisiest – was the B747 at 89dB followed equally by the A380 and the B777 at about 85dB. Noise levels of 80 – 90 decibels are compared to blow-dryer, or a kitchen blender/food processor. A lot of noise studies have shown continuous exposure to this sort of noise has negative effects on human health. Wisdom says this, contrary to the Olympic comparison, is not just a bit of fun. It is a serious problem. And he asks “Why have human health impacts been suppressed?’ in relation to a Heathrow runway.

Click here to view full story…

Windsor councillor concerned about unknown extent of local additional housing demand from Heathrow runway

A Windsor councillor, Malcolm Beer, has written to the government to express his concerns about the impact on local housing demand, if a 3rd Heathrow runway was approved. The Airports Commission gave very unsatisfactory and mixed information on new homes needed. It said in November 2014 that its “modelling suggests that in 2030 the range of additional households associated with the scheme (direct, indirect and induced) falls within the range of 29,800 and 70,800 (dependent on the scenario). The additional housing at the upper end of this range – which equates to an average of some 500 homes per year in each of 14 local authorities – may be challenging to deliver, especially give that many local authorities struggle to meet current housing targets.” Then by its final report in July 2015, the Commission said a “high proportion of new jobs may be expected to be taken up by people already living in the area and the additional capacity is not expected to result in an insurmountable requirement for additional housing” and words to the effect that no extra houses would be needed as 100,000 unemployed in West London could fill the additional jobs. Cllr Beer is concerned that the entire area is already far too congested to find land for more housing, schools, offices, road improvements and other needs associated with a hugely enlarged airport.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow Airport clear winner at the Noise Olympics, for the largest number affected by plane noise!

Heathrow was the clear winner of the Noise Olympics staged by campaign group HACAN in Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith. The event was a 100 metres race, with 8 runners (representing the 7 European airports which overfly most people plus Gatwick), each wearing t-shirts with the airport name and the number living within the 55 Lden noise contours. Heathrow received its medal, in the form of golden ear-defenders, from the local MP Andy Slaughter. The silver ear-defenders went to Frankfurt and the bronze to Charles De Gaulle. Heathrow won the race because it overflies more people than any other airport in Europe. According to European Commission figures over 725,000 residents are overflown which is 28% of all people in Europe disturbed by aircraft noise. That figure is from 2006, which is the most recent data available, though another estimate was 756,000. However, many people are affected by plane noise outside that contour, making the real numbers even higher. HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This was a fun way of showing that Heathrow is already in a noise league of its own. Residents are very worried what a 3rd runway with an extra 250,000 flights a year will mean.” There are estimates of how many more would be affected with expansion – perhaps another quarter of a million people, but until detailed flight path routes are known, this can only be an estimate.

Click here to view full story…

Richmond Council leader dismisses Heathrow’s claims that neighbouring boroughs support its expansion

Richmond Council leader Lord True has laughed off Heathrow’s suggestion there is support for the airport’s expansion in neighbouring boroughs as “nothing more than PR spin.” Heathrow has recently claimed that in a new poll the majority of residents living in the 12 neighbouring constituencies support its 3rd runway. Heathrow’s line is to ignore the serious environmental (noise, air pollution, CO2) impacts and the local congestion and social impacts, and focus on claims about jobs etc. Heathrow hopes to persuade government that the runway will provide huge numbers of jobs in building and related to the airport, apprenticeships and also benefits to the regions. Heathrow also constantly repeats the mantra that it has “met or exceeded” the environmental conditions set by the Airports Commission – which it actually has not. Heathrow’s sound bite is that “people living nearby can feel confident that Heathrow can be bigger and better.” Lord True says only 34% in Richmond and 38% in Twickenham favour a 3rd runway. Both Heathrow and Gatwick have been polling, with each producing results claiming to show support for their runway in London. Both are trying to capitalise on the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, and the UK’s future international links with EU and Non-EU countries.

Click here to view full story…

Heathrow unveils some minimal, largely cosmetic, noise reduction measures to try to reduce runway opposition

Planes landing at Heathrow are being told to delay the lowering of landing gear as part of attempts to cut the amount of plane noise. Pilots are being told not to lower the wheels until about 4.6 miles from the runway, instead of the average of 8 miles now, and this would not pose any safety risk. Planes will thus be slightly less noisy for those from around 8 – 4.5 miles from the runway. Heathrow is trying to find ways – and they are all tiny ways – to give the impression it is cutting plane noise, in its attempts to persuade the government that it can deal with the added noise burden with a new runway and 50% more flights. Heathrow has also said it will reduce the landing charges for the latest, less noisy aircraft, phasing out older noisier planes eventually. It also plans to install 50 more noise monitors around the airport (which, of course, do not in themselves reduce noise at all). Heathrow calls its new package a Blueprint for Noise Reduction, with 10 supposed measures. These include the launch of a “web based tool xPlane for residents to access flight data specific to their locations”, again in the hope that measuring the noise and giving residents information, somehow make the noise go away. And Heathrow plans to introduce an unspecified “voluntary Quiet Night Charter” – no details, but no reduction in night flights.

Click here to view full story…

Claims that Heathrow runway delay “costs UK £6 million per day” shown to be massively exaggerated

Claims have been made about how important it is for the government to make a runway decision fast, and how massive amounts of money are being (allegedly !) lost to the UK economy every single day of delay. A new grouping – the “British Infrastructure Group” – BIG – led by Tory MP Grant Shapps suggests the sum is up to £6 million per day”. Fact Checker” has looked into this, and how the claims are calculated, and they find them to be very dodgy indeed. It’s complicated economics, but at heart they looked at the possible maximum benefits that the Airports Commission said a Heathrow might generate, over 60 YEARS. Then they worked out that, backwards, to a sum per day. There are various assumptions that should, and should not, be made when working out that sort of calculation and assessing possible future values. Their sum of “£6 million per day” depends on Heathrow producing a national benefit of £147 billion over 60 years. But the Airports Commission’s own figures show that if the costs of carbon in the carbon capped scenarios reduce the possible national benefit of a Heathrow runway to around (amazingly tiny) just £1.4 billion over 60 years. That, divided up by day, is an insignificant amount (up to £64,000). Full Fact says: “Any precise figure will be uncertain.”

Click here to view full story…

New runway would push up air fares due to carbon emissions, and restrict regional airports – new report

A new report for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has analysed the Airports Commission’s backing for new runway in relation to carbon emissions, and says the necessary carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050. The Commission was aware that UK aviation is expected to far exceed the cap set for the sector’s CO2 emissions (37.5MtCO2) before 2050. Adding another runway only makes the situation far worse, by exacerbating the problem. The only way to keep aviation emissions down, with a new runway, is greatly increased cost of flights, trying to reduce the demand that has been increased by adding capacity. This means a carbon price massively higher than today – at several hundred £s. The report, by Leo Barasi and Leo Murray, say that as well as making flights expensive (perhaps pricing out those on low pay) the addition of a new SE runway means growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded London capacity. Dame Julia King, who was on the Airports Commission and is on the Committee on Climate Change, admits that regional airports would need to be restricted in order to allow growth in the south east. There has been far too little assessment and acknowledgement of the CO2 implications of a runway. The government should not rush into approving a runway until this has been fully accepted.

Click here to view full story…

For earlier news about Heathrow, see