Heathrow Airport News

See also Hillingdon Times on Heathrow, for a local perspective

Colnbrook Views, for local insights for the area

Minutes of the Heathrow Consultative Committee  HACC  


Swedish flygskam (or flight shame) is spreading across Europe – Finland, Germany … Brits yet to catch on….

Fears about climate change have led many to rethink the way they travel and, in Sweden, there is a new word – flygskam (flying shame) – for the shame associated with flying, knowing the carbon emissions it causes. The subject has come higher up the agenda with the vast protests in Central London by Extinction Rebellion, since Monday 15th April.  And there are protests in many other cities and countries. The Swedes are now travelling a bit less by air, and a bit more by rail. But it’s not just the Swedes racked with guilt about their carbon footprints. The Finnish have invented the word “lentohapea”, the Dutch say “vliegschaamte” and the Germans “flugscham”, all referring to a feeling of shame around flying. Brits are lagging behind ...  In the UK, plans continue for a 3rd runway at Heathrow despite the airport already being the country’s biggest single source of CO2 emissions. The Swedish rail company reported 32 million passengers in 2018, a good increase. Many understand that flying has a huge negative climate impact, and there are other words associated with this: “tagskryt” (train bragging) and “smygflyga” (flying in secret). The 16 year old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, started the world wide movement of school strikes, to draw attention to climate change, only travels by train to meetings in other countries.

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Heathrow finally shortlists 18 areas as possible sites for its 4 “logistics hubs” – out of the original 65 possible areas

Heathrow has – for several years – been dangling the carrot of being one of 4 “logistics hubs” around the UK, for its expansion plans, to over 65 possible sites. It was a way to get local support from MPs, councils, business etc.  It has now made a list of 18 shortlisted sites that “remain in the running to help deliver the infrastructure project”. So that leaves 47 sites disappointed and let down.  Heathrow makes out that these are going to bring “jobs and economic opportunities up and down the country years before the additional trade and tourism that will follow from unlocked runway capacity.” And it will be “sustainable” due to “transporting assembled components in consolidated loads.” The sites shortlisted have “showcased a strong base of local support, their area’s thriving supply chain, convenient connectivity links and the potential to tap into a skilled workforce.” So those 18 shortlisted are still kept on tenterhooks, to see if they might get lucky, eventually.  In the autumn, they will have the opportunity to pitch to the airport for their chance to become one of the final 4 construction centres, to be announced early next year, ahead of work [possibly, bearing in mind all the legal and planning hurdles] “starting in 2021”.

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Kings College research: Teenage psychotic experiences more common in areas with high air pollution

A new study (in JAMA Psychiatry) by researchers at Kings College London has found it is likely that teenagers living on polluted roads are about 40% more likely to be psychotic. There seems to be a connection between the air pollution and why adolescents in cities are twice as likely to suffer psychosis as those in rural areas.  It is not proof that the pollution causes psychosis, but it adds to mounting evidence that NOx and particulates can do far-reaching damage to the brain and lungs. They may contribute to the development of dementia and depression, as well as possibly harming the unborn foetus, by entering the placenta.  The recent study used data on 2,232 teenagers in England and Wales who were asked about psychotic experiences, such as whether they heard voices or felt they were being watched. About a third had such experiences. While most will grow out of them, these teenagers are at higher risk of going on to suffer full-blown psychosis. The answers were compared with detailed modelling of pollution levels at the teenagers’ homes. The link remained significant even after adjusted for class, drug use, family history of mental illness etc. Heathrow is a huge source of air pollution, from its planes and associated road traffic.

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New AEF briefing: Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets)

The Government and Heathrow are trying to pretend that adding a 3rd runway, increasing the number of flights by around 50% (many or most to long-haul destinations) somehow is not a climate change impact problem. Now in an excellent new briefing from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), “Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets“, they explain how the carbon emissions cannot just be wished away and there are no mechanisms currently proposed to properly deal with them. Heathrow has a “roadmap” on how it aspires to be “carbon neutral”. AEF says the roadmap “does little more than recycle existing – inadequate – measures to limit aviation emissions” and their briefing sets out why the plan falls short. AEF says: “…almost all the proposed actions involve Heathrow riding on the coattails of other Government or industry initiatives.” ... and “The kind of offsetting that CORSIA will deliver …isn’t designed to deliver a zero emissions target but instead to reduce emissions, at best, to half of what they might have been. … the idea that offsetting makes a tonne of CO2 from aviation “neutral” is misleading.”

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Flybe’s Newquay link with Heathrow takes off courtesy of taxpayer PSO subsidy (£6.2m over 8 years)

From next weekend people flying between Newquay and Heathrow will get a £5 subsidy each, from UK taxpayers. There will be 4 flights per day both ways. Newquay airport is not particularly near anywhere – other than surfing beaches. The service will be Heathrow’s only subsidised service, run under a public service obligation (PSO).  PSOs are defined under European aviation regulations as “scheduled air services on routes which are vital for the economic development of the region they serve”.   That means for routes where there is not enough demand to even half fill a small regional aircraft and that to attract a commercial operator to fly the route, the government has to provide a financial incentive. The cost to the taxpayer over 4 years for this will be £3.4 million. (For 180,000 pax per year that works out at £5 each. But there were only <93,000 pax in 2013). The pendulum is swinging back to Heathrow, however.Heathrow has set aside a £10 million fund to incentivise domestic airline route development – needed to persuade regional MPs to back the runway.

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Heathrow’s Fly Quiet results reach new heights of improbability

Heathrow has this week (22nd March) belatedly published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for Q4 2018.  In this scheme Heathrow assesses 7 different aspects of environmental performance, but it only publishes a single, numeric “Fly Quiet points” score for each airline. That published score is the sum of the Fly Quiet points awarded to the airline for each of the 7 metrics. But that part that is far from transparent, with the 7 numbers per airline not made public. The results put out by Heathrow do not make any sense, and do not appear to properly reflect the actual noise. Rather, they appear to be manipulated to make  noise levels look lower than they really are. This time around instead of giving the airlines an average score of around 750 out of (optimum) 1000, as with previous quarters’ results (already grossly inflated), Heathrow has hiked the average score by over 8% to 813 points.  The expected average (mean and median) score should be around 500. But not content with inflating the scores even more than usual, Heathrow has also inexplicably excluded 5 (China Southern, El Al, Korean Air etc) of its 50 busiest airlines from the results – but added others instead.

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Summary of the hearings into the legal challenges against DfT approval of Heathrow 3rd runway

The hearings at the High Court, into the legal challenges against the government’s decision to press for a 3rd Heathrow runway, were complicated. They were hard to follow, even with daily transcripts – as there were constant references to text in documents in “bundles” that the public are unable to see. Neil Spurrier, who individually brought one of the legal challenges, and is a solicitor, has done a user-friendly summary of some of the key points that came up. Four of the challenges were largely on environmental grounds (the 5th was a rival runway builder, Heathrow Hub). Neil gives a brief summary of some of the points on noise, air pollution, carbon emissions, and economic benefit including comments on the response by the government’s barristers and their attempts to brush aside the criticisms. The judges may make their judgement in about May – there will probably be a few days notice before hand. As well as the summary, there are some notes made during the hearings, to help clarify some points.  The Résumé

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Grayling’s team at DfT deliberately tried to conceal information about Heathrow 3rd runway noise, which might have risked “further scrutiny”

A totally damning, ‘smoking gun’ memo has been located, showing how DfT staff in November 2017 were keen to avoid information showing how bad Heathrow noise would be – and how many people would be affected – with a 3rd runway. The Times reveals how DfT staff plotted to cover up warnings about the extra aircraft noise, with a 6-page document sent to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) recommending blocking a plan to tell millions of households (up to 13 million people) about the extra noise they could face from a 3rd runway. Grayling and the DfT claim publicly that a 3rd runway could be introduced with fewer people affected by plane noise even with 265,000 more annual flights – which, of course, beggars belief of anyone with half a brain. The DfT memo wanted to avoid alerting people to the noise problem, for fear that would cause “disruption” and “public debate” and “further scrutiny” and “unnecessary controversy” before the parliamentary vote on the NPS (in June 2018). The memo included a map that reveals DfT officials knew well how badly vast swathes of London and southern England (and Grayling’s own constituency) would be badly affected. Disgraceful DfT behaviour.

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Heathrow to start procuring contractors for demolition, site clearance, utility diversions etc by end of 2019

Heathrow’s expansion programme director Phil Wilbraham says the airport will begin procuring construction partners at the end of this year, [assuming it passes the hurdle of the legal challenges, which ended on 22nd March ….]with construction of the 3rd runway scheduled to begin in 202.  Contractors will be sought for a range of disciplines including demolition, site clearance and utility diversions.  The plan is to start to procure teams at the end of 2019:  “We are going to start in 2021, so we will need contractors on board next year to work with the designers and to ensure that the construction planning is done really well in advance of starting the main construction work. … Initially we will be starting with demolition, site clearance and utility diversions. Then we will go into a major civil engineering project which will be around things like earthworks. We have got a lot of earth to move around underneath the runway. We will be moving roads like the M25, the A4 and the A304. We are moving some rivers as well.” Heathrow is  “confident” legal challenges would ultimately fail and have no impact on the airport’s construction timetable.

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Hampstead and Highgate, with few flights overhead now, due to get bad levels of Heathrow noise

Heathrow wants to expand its operations to fly over areas with little aviation activity at present, including over north west London. The local paper for Hampstead and Highgate says that Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, (it wants an extra 25,000 flights per year in a couple of years from now – if permitted) it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft. The noise levels would be over 60 to 65 decibels (dB) – more than the level of background noise in a busy office – from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position. That might work out as a flight overhead every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm.  If there is then a 3rd runway, there could be a flight every minute, with the noise of most being above 65dB. The negative effects on health, (from noise and air pollution) and noise impacts on the education of children are well known. The paper says: “That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief.” While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, it is a serious concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day

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Evidence on air pollution, given to the High Court hearings on a 3rd Heathrow runway, by Neil Spurrier

Neil Spurrier, a solicitor from Teddington, made one of the 5 legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports National Policy Statement. The legal hearings from the councils, the Mayor of London, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Mr Spurrier took place between the 15th and 19th March. There are transcripts of each day’s proceedings here. Neil addressed the issue of air pollution in particular, and the emissions of NO2 and particulates from planes themselves. He made important points, such as that air pollution is known to spread much, much further from an airport than the 2 km that the DfT has tried to use. Also that there is evidence of possible damage to the foetus from particulates found in placentas of people affected by air pollution, and that the government should not be risking the health of future generations. He made the point, on ultrafine particles, that merely because they have not been specifically studied (being part of the wider category of PM 2.5, is no reason for the government to discount them or consider their impact to be negative. The absence of evidence is not enough to avoid the precautionary principle. Read the full transcripts for details.

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Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly (was Labour Transport Secretary) to its board

Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly to its board this week.  Ruth Kelly, the former Labour transport secretary, (2007 – 8) is to join the board of Heathrow Airport’s parent company as it attempts to clear the remaining hurdles to the construction of its £14bn third runway.  She will become a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings next month.  She briefly worked for HSBC Holdings after stepping down as an MP in 2010, now sits on the board of the Financial Conduct Authority.  “Her appointment will strengthen Heathrow’s political connections at a critical juncture”. This “revolving door” is just another to add to the long list:  In September 2015 Vickie Sheriff became head of communications for Heathrow airport, 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.   Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left the airport in 2015 to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications.  Earlier Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair  went to BAA as head of comms. There are several other examples.

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At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed

Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published “indicative flight paths.”  They say “The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were under-stated.”  Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne – and many more places – to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.

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Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing

The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.  Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase.  Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.  The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.

The transcript of the proceedings on the first day of the hearings, Monday 11th March, can be seen here:   https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/110319.txt

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Judicial reviews into government approval of Heathrow 3rd runway plans begins on 11th March

People are invited to join the protest gathering outside the Courts at 9am on Monday 11th March, and then (focused on climate change) on Wednesday 13th March too. 

London’s High Court will on Monday 11th March begin a judicial review into the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow airport, with local authorities, environmentalists and rival bidders arguing the £14bn scheme should be scrapped. Five legal challenges to the decision are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor & Maidenhead), Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access. The negative impacts of Heathrow already affect many councils, and those would get far worse with planned expansion to have 50% more annual flights.  John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Governments are very happy to talk the talk when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the climate we all share, but unfortunately getting them to walk the walk often takes legal action.” There is also a legal challenge by Heathrow Hub, which wants to build a 3rd runway by extending the current northern runway, rather than adding a runway further north. The hearings are expected to last about two weeks, with the judgment being reserved.

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Schedule (draft) of the legal hearings starting on Monday 11th March. Due to last 10 working days

How Heathrow has been getting away with paying so little tax to the UK government

UK tax rules have allowed airports like Heathrow to pay far less tax than they should. It is estimated that Heathrow’s foreign owners have been able to get a tax break of perhaps £120 million per year from the UK government. And the airport’s shareholders (which include the governments of China, Qatar and Singapore – with only 10% by the USS being British – .have paid themselves about £3 billion in dividends in 5 years. Rules on how firms can cut tax bills due to large debt interest payments began in 2017, but the Treasury has given an exemption for infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The think-tank, Taxwatch, said: “In the case of Heathrow, the benefits of the exemption appear to flow overwhelmingly to the owners of the company.” …“The company was bought using a huge amount of debt. Instead of paying back the debt themselves, the new owners managed to push this liability on to Heathrow, making the company liable for large interest payments… The large debt repayments wiped out the company’s pre-tax profit.” Revenues at Heathrow have risen to £2.9billion but its owners have paid little corporation tax, due to massive debts. Between 2007 and 2014 the group reported a total pre-tax loss of more than £2 billion, and paid just £15 million in corporation tax. In the past 3 years it declared pre-tax profits of more than £1 billion, leading to  corporation tax payments of £122 million (ie. £70 million in 2018 and £53 million in 2017).

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Heathrow issues €650m bond, to borrow more money, weeks before Brexit deadline

Heathrow Airport has placed a €650m (£558.9m) bond with only weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union.  The 15-year bond was backed by current and new investors, which were mostly European, and reached an order book in excess of €2.8bn (ie. there was demand of that amount). Heathrow said the high demand for the bond “shows investor confidence in Heathrow’s expansion plans and resilience ahead of Brexit.”  The bond means Heathrow hopes to extend the duration of its debt portfolio – ie. taking more time to pay it all back – for its 3rd runway expansion plans. It said the funds will be used on day-to-day corporate spending. The airport’s director of treasury and corporate finance, said:  “The transaction delivers on our strategy of further diversification, longer duration and stronger liquidity.”  Heathrow hopes, at the earliest, that the runway might open in 2026 – but it has a large number of hurdles to overcome before them, including the long DCO (Development Consent Order) process, that is the equivalent of a planning application, but for a vast project – with the decision taken out of the hands of the local authority, and made by government instead (a process devised to avoid the sort of long delays they had on Terminal Five).

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Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends highly critical response to Heathrow’s expansion plans – inflicting hugely more aircraft noise on them

Epsom & Ewell Borough is an area that is currently overflown by Heathrow planes at about 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow’s airspace change consultation, furious about the vastly worse noise burden with which the borough is threatened. The proposals would perhaps mean additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures.  Even the extra flights, in the short term, through IPA, could result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. Cllr Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said the changes could mean a four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality. Cllr O’Donovan complained at how bad the consultation was.  Residents are angry that their own MP, Chris Grayling, is pushing for these hugely damaging noise impacts on his own constituents and voters – with inevitable decrease in local quality of life.

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Heathrow in 2018 made 58.8% of total revenue from aeronautical; 24% from retail (which includes 4.24% – £126 million – from car parking)

Heathrow has reported a retail revenue increase of 8.6% to £716 million in the year ended 31 December 2018 compared to a year earlier. Total revenue in the period rose 3% to £2,970 million. Retail is 24.1% of that. It was 22.9% in 2017 and 22% in 2016). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017, which was up 4.5% on 2016. Heathrow says growth in retail income was due to increased passenger traffic in the period to 80.1 million (up 2.7% from 78 million in 2017, which was up 3.1% on 2016) and Heathrow’s new “call to gate initiative – which increases passenger dwell time in the departure lounge.”  The amount of income from car parking, which is included in retail, was £126 million in 2018, (up 5% on the £120 million in 2017, which was itself up 5.3% on 2016.)  Car parking made up 17.6% of total retail income in 2018, and 18% in 2017). Car parking income was £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015. Heathrow made £128 million in 2018 from “other retail” which “reflects a significant increase in advertising income from improved utilisation of advertising spaces.”That was up 17.4% from £109 in 2017, and £110 million in 2016.  Aeronautical income was  £1,745 million in 2018, 1.7% up from £1,716m in 2016. Aeronautical income was 58.75% of total revenue in 2018, and was 60.53% of total revenue in 2016 when it was £1,699 million.

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Heathrow’s shareholders get £500m as profits rise (including income of £126m from car parking)

IAG, the owner of British Airways, is angry that Heathrow has paid out  £500 million in dividends to its foreign investors while charging its airline customers more. IAG says the dividend payments – now totalling £3.5 billion since 2012 – make Heathrow more costly for airline passengers (so slightly deterring them from flying perhaps). Heathrow said “It is right that our shareholders receive returns in record years and it will ensure we expand whilst keeping airport charges close to 2016 levels.” Heathrow’s top shareholders include the Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore’s GIC and the China Investment Corporation. Its largest single investor is Spain’s Ferrovial. The only UK shareholder is the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) with a 10% stake.  Heathrow’s figures out last week show revenue growth of 3% to £2.97 billion in 2018 with 80.1 million passengers (up 2.7% from 78 million).  Car parking income was £126 million (up 5% from £120 million in 2017). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017). Total retail income was £716 million (up 8.6% from £659 million in 2017). Heathrow paid £70 million (2017: £53 million) in corporation tax.

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Council leaders say Grayling’s claim a 50% larger Heathrow, with new flight paths, will mean fewer people affected by plane noise is a giant con

Heathrow’s own noise maps in its current “consultation” show vast areas in and around London to be negatively affected by aircraft noise from Heathrow, if it was allowed 25,000 more annual flights or a 3rd runway. Many areas of the capital and the home counties that have not previously suffered jet noise, could be getting up to 47 flights per hour overhead.  Many areas not currently overflown could have planes over them as low as 3,000 feet. Some areas currently somewhat overflown will get more planes going over them, and at lower altitudes. Heathrow deliberately keeps the details vague. In October 2016 Grayling promised parliament that “fewer people will be affected by noise than is the case today” after the third runway was built – even though there would be than 250,000 extra flights a year, equivalent to bolting an additional airport almost the size of Gatwick onto the existing site. Affected councils are challenging the government decision in the courts, starting on 11th March. Ravi Govindia, the Tory leader of Wandsworth council, said the public had been the victims of a “giant con”: “It beggars belief that people will believe Chris Grayling in his assertion that no more people will be affected.”  The DfT commented that “We absolutely refute these claims and are confident that fewer people will be affected by noise pollution under the new flight paths planned.” (sic)

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Heathrow expansion plan involves large number of low planes over lovely, tranquil (now) Richmond Park

Richmond Park has been known for its rich wildlife and tranquil landscape for hundreds of years, but the proposed expansion of Heathrow would mean hundreds of aircraft flying at low altitude it. Maps of the new flight paths, from Heathrow’s consultation, show the extent of proposed air traffic over Richmond Park, with some aircraft flying as low as 300 metres (1,000ft). Current flight paths to Heathrow are not routed directly over the park. The consultation documents indicate that – with a 3rd runway – up to 47 arrivals per hour and between 17 and 47 departures would fly directly over the park (a SSSI and national nature reserve) at below 900 metres. Heathrow’s flights are currently capped at 480,000 a year, but it wants to increase this by 25,000 in 2021 and further to around 720,000 when/if the 3rd runway is built. The noise and pollution from the planes overhead would be disastrous for the sensitive wildlife and the tranquillity. The Park is visited by more than 5.5 million people per year. Thousands of nocturnal animals – including 11 of the UK’s 17 bat species, (all protected by law), as well as little owls and tawny owls – will be threatened. This is just another “price that Heathrow is demanding of residents, so that it can increase its operations” by 50%. It is “simply disproportionate and unacceptable.”

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Highways England warned Heathrow (spring 2018) about problems (including driver distraction) with the M25 being in a tunnel under the 3rd runway

Highways England has said that Heathrow’s possible 3rd runway over the M25 may lead to more accidents because of drivers being distracted by aircraft landing on a large bridge above them. The sight of huge passenger planes landing (or even taxiing) could cause motorists to take their eyes off the road. Highways England has told Heathrow to introduce measures to “reduce driver distraction” on the affected section of the M25, which is Britain’s busiest stretch of motorway – 6 lanes in each direction at that point. This could include lengthening the tunnel under the runway or simplifying the road layout. Heathrow was also told to consider the “landing zone of aircraft”, suggesting they should avoid arrivals directly over the road itself. The intention is to lower the M25 by 7 metres, while raising the runway slightly. Highways England is also concerned that there is a high risk of “fatigue damage” to the tunnel caused by aircraft as big as the A380 and Boeing 747, on the runway above it, so it could have a reduced lifespan. They also say the runway must be “raised enough to avoid the M25 having a gradient of more than 3% which would cause lorries to move slowly, leading to congestion. Heathrow was told this in spring 2018. The full details will be published for public consultation in June.

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Heathrow and airlines agree deal to increase load factors, so more passengers (more money towards expansion costs)

Heathrow has done a deal with airlines, to increase numbers and passengers and its profits. The deal will extend the current regulatory settlement to 2021 and includes an incentive for airlines to grow passenger numbers. Airline moves to fill their existing aircraft could result in further reductions to airport charges and will “help unlock affordable growth.” (Jargon!)  The aim is to get higher load factors for the planes, as Heathrow’s are below IATA averages. Getting more passengers per plane will mean there might be slightly lower costs per head, in landing charges – and more passengers in total. So Heathrow hopes to “share” the costs of its expansion plans between more people ie (jargon) “releasing funds to drive investment and growth.” The CAA has “supported the negotiation of the commercial arrangement and is expected to launch a public consultation on the solution in the coming weeks.” ” If airlines at Heathrow reached global averages for filling aircraft there is an opportunity to reduce passenger charges by 10-20% against what they might otherwise be, in addition to helping Heathrow meet the Government’s affordability target for expansion”. The CAA has said Heathrow must keep its landing charges low. This will help it do so. More passengers per plane.

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GMB union (keen on the 3rd runway) calls on Heathrow to force airport contractors to pay living wage (which they do not)

GMB – the union representing many staff at Heathrow (that strongly backs a 3rd runway) – has urged it to force contractors to pay their employees the living wage, after the airport announced the busiest year in its history.  Revenue climbed by 3% last year to £3 billion, and £2.3 billion was raised from private investors across 7 currencies (up from £1 billion in 2017). Adjusted profit before tax was £267 million, up 23% on 2017. The airport also said airport charges fell 1% to £21.78.  Last year, GMB welcomed the airport’s announcement that all contracted staff working at Heathrow will be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020.  But contractors have been slow to back the commitment. Over the past 3 years GMB have led the campaign for ensuring all staff at Heathrow, both direct and contracted, are paid the London Living Wage. GMB’s regional organiser for aviation and Heathrow, Perry Phillips said Heathrow’s profits mean “that success is built on the back of 1000s of workers who keep the airport clean, safe and operational. Yet despite these blockbuster results, many of them don’t earn enough to live on, enough to make sure their rent is paid and their families are fed. That can’t be right.

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Fungal blooms on the River Crane may be caused by pollution from Heathrow outfall

Local voluntary group, the Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE – or Citizen Crane) keep an eye on the river Crane, which flows past Heathrow. They monitor the water quality, oxygen levels and invertebrate numbers. It appears there is a current problem with  blooms of pale grey brown sewage fungus on the river bed found immediately downstream of the Heathrow outfall.  In the past there have been numerous incidents of water pollution caused by the use of glycol to de-ice planes. This then gets in to water balancing reservoir, and hence into the River Crane. Algal blooms are formed, due to the pollution, reducing the water’s oxygen and thus harming, or killing, creatures in the river. Heathrow is thought to have recently installed a £17 million water treatment system, and it had been hoped this would end the pollution incidents caused by glycol. However, it does not yet appear to be working as expected. FORCE will continue to monitor the situation closely and will also request a statement from Heathrow.

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A new site for the Colnbrook Lakeside incinerator located – how much is Heathrow going to pay?

A new site has been identified for a replacement facility for the UK’s largest residual waste incinerating facility, in Slough. Lakeside “Energy from Waste”, which is operated by Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, have announced plans to develop proposals for a replacement facility west of the Iver South Treatment Works, around 600 metres north west of the current location.  The owners of the site have been working with Heathrow to identify the new site. The facilities will need to be moved, as the current site would be demolished to make way for a possible third runway.   Site studies and environmental assessments are being carried out, which will form a part of the planning application. Upon completion, more information will be presented at a public consultation in the spring. This consultation is separate from the current Heathrow Aerospace change consultation, and then the Heathrow Expansion consultation in June. The planning process will be a long one, needing new environmental permits etc.  It is difficult to get planning consent for an incinerator, as people dislike having potentially very harmful emissions (including dioxins) in their local air, from the burning of the vast range of substances in domestic etc waste. It is unknown how much Heathrow will pay for the relocation of the incinerator.

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Chiswick, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, etc residents horrified & stunned by likely impact of Heathrow proposed airspace changes

(and they only found out because of a No 3rd Runway Coalition meeting – the probable real impact of the changes is not made clear in the Heathrow documents or events….)

Residents from Chiswick, Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith were stunned to hear that their area would experience 25,000 extra flights by 2022  – and a further 260,000 by 2026 if a 3rd  Heathrow runway were ever to open. Over 300 residents turned out to a heavily over-subscribed meeting, organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to learn how the plans for airspace change at Heathrow will drastically impact their area.  The meeting also heard from local MPs Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Stephen Cowan, as well as local campaign groups Chiswick Against the Third Runway, Bedford Park Society and Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway.  The airport is currently consulting across west London (and wider) on how future operations at the airport would work with a 3rd runway, with a range of options put forward for consultation. By the end of the meeting there was outrage as people understood the impacts, and the extent of the noise nuisance, that is proposed for the communities of Chiswick, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. Those changes could start within a few years. It is vital that people who will be newly, and very negatively affected, respond to the consultation, stressing their strong opposition.

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Heathrow court case won’t be live-streamed but there will be transcripts and maybe link into another court

An application to live-stream a legal proceedings at the High Court on the expansion of Heathrow has been refused at a hearing on 5th February. Justice Hickinbottom ruled that the trial by five claimants, versus the Secretary of State for Transport – set to begin on 11 March for two weeks – could not be live-streamed as the law dating from 1925, and 1981, did not allow for proceedings within the court to be recorded. The Judge agreed that the case was of considerable public interest, and being able to watch hearings live would be a benefit to many people. However, the court will seek to provide another large and accessible additional courtroom for members of the public wishing to watch the proceedings who won’t be able to fit in Court 76. Tweeting from both courtrooms is also to be permitted. Additionally, on application, screening of the proceedings in other courts around the country will be considered, an acknowledgment that the case is of wide public interest, allowing those from other parts of the country to avoid considerable costs of attending the hearings in London – a point acknowledged by Justice Hickinbottom. Transcripts of proceedings will also be published, online, although it remains to be decided as to how costs of these scripts will be apportioned.

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Richmond Council reaffirms opposition to more Heathrow flights, as plans show there will be no escape from aircraft noise

Richmond Council voted to reaffirm its stance against Heathrow expansion last night, in a motion criticising the airport’s proposal to add an additional 25,000 flights a year, prior to expansion.  Last week the Council condemned Heathrow’s latest consultation which considers several issues, including; 25,000 flights added prior to expansion, noise, runway alternation and night-flying relating to its 2 existing runways, as well as the proposed controversial new 3rd runway. At the full Council meeting, members from all political parties were united in agreeing that the proposals were unacceptable and would prove disastrous for Richmond upon Thames. The impact from the additional flights would be felt across the whole borough, as curving flight paths may impact on areas that haven’t been impacted by aircraft noise before. By contrast, currently most aircraft noise from approaching aircraft is concentrated over the north of the borough including Barnes, Kew and Richmond. A key councillor said this 25,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. An extra runway would mean an additional 260,000 flights a year. That is unacceptable for our health, our sleep and our environment. It will ruin the lives of thousands of people.

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Driving tired, with under 6 hours of sleep per night, increases vehicle accident risk

In the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “drowsy driving” is responsible for a lot of vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries.  Evidence from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in the USA shows that getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less more than doubles your chances of falling asleep at the wheel.  It seems likely that most accidents to sleepy drivers happen between midnight and 6 am, although late afternoon also has a spike in incidents. Many UK airports are allowed night flights, eg. Gatwick, Stansted, East Midlands etc. This is going to increasingly be a problem for people affected by the noise from Heathrow planes. Already planes taking off, heading away, may be heard routinely till 11pm (often later) on some routes. Each morning planes can be hear arriving from about 4.20am. That does not leave anyone who is sensitive to the noise enough time for healthy sleep. There are many known health risks, of noise disturbance during the times people are sleeping, or trying to. The risk of more vehicle accidents, to those who are woken up an hour or two before they want to wake, is another cost of aircraft noise. The loss of quality of life, and the health costs, need to be part of the calculation of the economics of a 3rd Heathrow runway.

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Heathrow slammed for ‘by-passing Chiswick’ for one of its consultation events

Local MP Ruth Cadbury has joined Chiswick campaigners against Heathrow expansion who say they are angry at the airport’s failure to hold a local consultation on changes which will significantly affect W4, particularly north Chiswick. The airport’s current round of consultation events (Airspace And Future Operations ) features events in Hammersmith, Ealing and Hounslow Civic Centre, but none in Chiswick.  This is despite the fact that the area faces significant potential disruption by proposed changes to flight paths or changes to respite periods even without a third runway. With a 3rd runway, the area will be intensely overflown by planes arriving to the new north runway, from the east. Campaigners say the level of low flights directly over the North Chiswick area area could reach 47 per hour (almost 1 per minute). It is likely that, with a 3rd runway, an estimated 35,000 residents could be affected. They consider that Heathrow is avoiding holding events in areas where opposition is likely to be strong and forceful, to try and ensure a more positive overall response to the consultation. The Bedford Park Society (BPS) and local group CHATR are planning a public meeting in Chiswick instead.

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Wandsworth Council Leader criticises Heathrow Public Consultation event – just one for the borough, in a difficult location

Wandsworth Council Leader, Ravi Govindia, has urged residents concerned about the impact of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, to attend a Heathrow consultation event that the airport is hosting in the borough this week. They need to make their voice heard. He has criticised Heathrow for having just one such event in Wandsworth, at a location that will be difficult for many residents to access. That is even though the increased aircraft noise would affect hundreds of thousands of Wandsworth residents. The event is being held on 30 January and is open to residents from 2pm to 8pm at the University of Roehampton, SW15 5PH.  Councillor Govindia said residents know that a 3rd runway would have a serious impact on the borough. It would produce an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, damaging the environment and posing a risk to people’s health and well-being. The Council believes that the impact from additional flights would be felt most keenly in West Hill, Southfields, Earlsfield and Tooting. Currently most aircraft noise from is concentrated over the north of the borough including Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea. Many people will get intense plane noise for the first time.

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London Assembly report says Heathrow 3rd runway should be scrapped, due to ‘severe effects’ of aircraft noise

A report, by the London Assembly environment committee, calls for Heathrow expansion to be stopped, due to the effects of aircraft noise. The report has renewed calls for the 3rd runway to be stopped. The noise from aircraft negatively affects work, relaxation and sleep, with “severe effects” on health and wellbeing. Caroline Russell, chairman of the committee, said: “The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying. This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives.”  If Heathrow builds the new runway, the number of flights will increase from around 475,000 to 740,000 a year.  It is likely that around 200,000 more people will be badly affected by aircraft noise. Heathrow also plans to increase its flights by 25,000, to around 500,000 per year and change flight paths, including overflying new areas, even before any 3rd runway. Ms Russell added: “…aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”

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Report from London Assembly says due to noise, air traffic should NOT increase at Heathrow or London City airport

The London Assembly’s Environment Committee has produced a report on aircraft noise, particularly now that Heathrow not only wants a 3rd runway, but has also recently announced plans for 25,000 extra flights a year, bringing new areas of London under its flight paths. The noise is increasing the negative impact for those who have no choice but to live with a debilitating noise invasion. The report found that noise nuisance levels are unacceptable; it calls for a halt on all air traffic growth at Heathrow and London City airports. The report details the impact of altitude, flight paths and out-of-hours flights on the noise suffered by many Londoners. Among its recommendations are that the noise thresholds for disturbance should be lowered, to take account of people needing to open their windows. They say: “Air traffic at Heathrow and London City should not increase and Heathrow’s third runway should not go ahead.” It also says that planes should be kept higher, and the impacts of noise from both Heathrow and London City should be considered together, not separately. Night flights should be stoped, and there should be better restrictions on flights in the early morning.

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New study by London TravelWatch shows more airline passengers using cars or cabs to get to Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton

A new report has been produced by London TravelWatch. “Way to go: Improving public transport access to London’s airports”. It gives comprehensive details about the various components of surface access transport, with information on what works well and what does not for each airport, and current state of any improvements.  The report indicates that airline passengers are more likely to travel by car or taxi to catch flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton than they were 7 years ago, in a trend they say is “concerning”. Despite major investment in rail and coach links to the three airports, the proportion of passengers using public transport actually fell slightly between 2012 and 2016. But at Stansted, with accessibility improved by new coach connections, the use of public transport had improved. The proportion using public transport fell from 41% to 39.1% at Heathrow, 44% to 43.6% at Gatwick and 33% to 31.4% at Luton. Failings of public transport and the growth of taxi apps like Uber cited as reasons. Numbers using public transport rose at Stansted from 51% to 54.7% and at London City from 50% to 50.9%. Heathrow continues to encourage car parking, from which it earns huge revenues. Heathrow details from Pages 35 – 41.

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Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway

The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January.  In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’.  This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”.  The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.

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Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway

Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on  grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents.  It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was “confident” that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic.

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We need live-streaming of the Heathrow 3rd runway legal challenges.  

Please sign. Before the 14th January.

The various bodies that have brought legal challenges against the 3rd Heathrow runway are trying to get lots of signatures, in order to ensure the court proceedings in March are live-streamed.

You can sign here    Before the 14th January.

The legal challenges against the Government’s decision to back a 3rd Heathrow runway, will be heard for 10 days from 11th March.  This is a key legal case, and of relevance – in terms of aviation carbon emissions – for everyone, and not just those opposing the Heathrow runway. The climate change implications are of very general interest and concern.

At present the proceedings are due to be heard in the largest court available, at the Courts of Justice. The court knows there is huge interest, so are already arranging that the proceedings are streamed into a second court room. However, that would only be to about 150 people, in total, at most.

One of the legal challengers, Plan B, have organised a simple e-action, asking that people add their names to the request that the proceedings are live-streamed, so far more people can watch, and really understand what is going on.  Plan B will present the evidence of the numbers who want to watch the hearings, live-streamed, to the judge, Mr Justice Holgate. It is hoped that he will allow this. Plan B need to know the numbers before the first procedural hearing on 15th January. So please sign before the 14th January

You can sign here   It only takes a few seconds. Please encourage others to also sign, if that is appropriate.  More details here about the legal challenges


Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation – for unacceptable increases in noise and air pollution

Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent.” He said it was a bad case of the government “putting the cart before the horse” in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.

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Heathrow opens new consultation on airspace – including 25,000 more annual flights, by using IPA

Heathrow has opened another consultation – this on is on “Airspace & Future Operations”. It ends on 4th March. Not only is Heathrow planning for a 3rd runway, and up to 50% more flights eventually, it is also now trying to get another 25,000 flights (about 5% more). fairly soon. And it wants these extra 25,000 flights whether it gets its 3rd runway, or not. The current flight numbers cap is 480,000 per year, set after the Terminal 5 Inquiry. It is currently using about 475,000 – with the few spaces at unpopular times of the day or week. Heathrow plans to get the extra flights, added at times already very busy, by what it calls IPA – Independent Parallel Approaches, which mean planes can come in on two runways at once, at the same time. Currently if they do this, they have to be staggered, at slightly further distances apart than with IPA. Heathrow admits this will mean different flight paths, and people not currently being overflown, by narrow concentrated flight paths.  Planes on IPA would join the final approach path about 8 nautical miles from the runway. It will be important that the areas to be newly negatively affected are made aware of what is going to hit them. The extra flights would also give Heathrow more income in the short term, to help it pay the immense cost of its 3rd runway plans.

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Advice from Teddington TAG on Heathrow consultations on future flight paths

During January to March 2019, Heathrow Airport will be conducting a consultation in 2 parts, which people need to be aware of:  1. Airspace changes for the existing two runways to allow an increase in the number of flights. Heathrow want to increase the annual throughput by 25,000 ATMs.  2. Airspace changes for a 3 runway airport.   Later in the year, there will be a second consultation on Heathrow’s “preferred masterplan for Heathrow expansion.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that people respond to the consultation. One thing that we can be pretty sure of is that there will be more, not less, noise; for some people, this may be very significant.  For both 2 runways and 3 runways, Heathrow will be introducing PBN “Performance Based Navigation”, a form of “Satnav” which enables planes to be positioned in the sky much more precisely. This will bring about the further concentration of flight paths – to the detriment of people underneath them.  TAG is very much against the concentration of flight paths as it represents an unfair and extremely unhealthy burden upon those affected.

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New flight routes (NextGen or PBN) may save airlines time, but they damage health of those suffering the extra noise on the ground

More planes are flying directly over densely populated areas, due to airport computer systems that automatically chart the most “efficient” routes – so airlines can save fuel (= money).  A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concludes that the benefits of the reduced flight times are outweighed by the health effects on residents below, who suffer from the noise burden. Looking at the increase in noise pollution around New York City’s LaGuardia Airport since routes were changed when NextGen (concentrated, accurate routes, all planes along approximately the same line) was implemented in 2012, the researchers determined that people living in certain Queens neighbourhoods will lose an average of one year of good health over the course of their lifetimes, due to their heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and other ailments linked to stress. They looked at costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).  “Ideally, airports should be built farther away from urban centres,” says lead author Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management. “The next-best option is to use flight patterns that send planes over green space, waterways, and industrial areas.”

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Tahir Latif (PCS Union):  Trade Unions must demand jobs that protect our planet, not destroy it

The Trade Unions are divided on whether to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Unfortunately many have been led to believe, by the airport and its backers, that there will be wonderful jobs in future with expansion. And without it the jobs are in danger. The  reality of airport jobs is somewhat different.  In a new blog, Tahir Latif, President of the PCS Aviation Group, and NEC member, discusses the sorts of jobs that Trade Unions should be supporting, if we are to have a habitable planet in future. He comments: “Too often, trade unions are seen as part of the problem, desperate for jobs and therefore willing to support employers who are intent on blindly taking us towards disaster in the name of further profits. … But that does raise two important questions: (1) does our survival as a species trump the jobs argument and (2) does the jobs argument stand up to scrutiny anyway. … The impact of climate change can’t be underestimated. …The IPCC report puts us on notice: we HAVE to change. And if industries like aviation (and oil, coal, gas etc.) cannot continue their unchecked growth, then unions are NOT looking after their members long term interests by clinging to them. When change comes or is forced upon us, workers in those industries will be stranded in obsolete jobs without the skills or any plan for an alternative.”

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DfT consultation starts, on its aviation strategy green paper, for huge growth of UK airports

The Department for Transport will today publish a long-awaited aviation strategy that pledges to deliver “greater capacity at UK airports”. It intends airports other than Heathrow all growing and having more flights  – “if tough environmental and noise restrictions are met” (ignoring CO2, of course). The strategy also outlines plans for the biggest overhaul of Britain’s airspace in more than 50 years to create new flight paths into the biggest airports. There would be a considerable increase to the 600 or so dedicated flight paths in operation now, and will subject households directly beneath the flight paths to unbearable noise levels. The DfT hopes to offer a sop, in terms of being able to alternate flight paths, so people get periods of less noise, in compensation for periods of intense noise.  New flight paths are expected to be designed by the summer of 2020 and introduced in 2024 and 2025 subject to CAA approval (CAA gets its funding from airlines – so not dispassionate).  The strategy, which will go out for public consultation. The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has been created to police the system. NATS says the number of UK flights is expected to grow 700,000 to about 2.9 million by 2030.

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No 3rd Runway Coalition’s message loud and clear at London Climate March

At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force.  Many hundred people marched – 700 or more? – with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels.  The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march.  There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating “No 3rd Runway”, and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.

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“Heathrow unveils its plan for carbon neutral growth”: except there is no credible plan … not for a 50% increase in flights

Heathrow has set out a “plan” to (magically) help it to increase the number of flights by up to 50% but do this in a “carbon neutral” way. Needless to say, there is no detail of how it can actually do this.  There is plenty about how it will be investing in “sustainable” fuels. Plenty of blather, without any actual details, about how can achieve an entirely impossible goal. Heathrow says it is looking at action on 4 key areas including: cleaner aircraft technology, [by that it means more fuel efficient, not more clean]; improvements to airspace and ground operations; sustainable aviation fuels [none probably exist, without huge unintended side effects]; and carbon offsetting methods [ie. keeping on emitting, and paying to cancel out the carbon savings made by others elsewhere, postponing the evil moment when they actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions.] There is hype like how they will: “Make Heathrow a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels by providing the necessary airport infrastructure, and support for pilot projects” and how they are calling on “ICAO to develop global goals for the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels.”  And lots of hope about those peat bogs, which they are hoping will save their bacon ….

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No 3rd Runway Coalition blog: Still no clarity on Heathrow finances for its expansion

In a blog, from the Chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness, he says that serious concerns remain about how Heathrow might fund its hoped-for 3rd runway. The CAA has written to the DfT asking for clarity, as it does not have adequate or detailed information from Heathrow. As Nils Pratley highlighted in the Guardian “in most industries, a rebuke from the regulator would be met with an immediate promise to do better. Heathrow’s response, however, amounted to a shrug of the shoulders”. In Heathrow’s “Scoping Report” to the Planning Inspectorate in May they said, buried deep within the highly technical documents, it says that it seeks ‘early release of capacity’ that would be created by a 3rd runway. In short, Heathrow are trying to secure an additional 25,000 flights each year, (68 per day) above the current cap of 480,000, years before the 3rd runway opens. The current cap was a key condition of the T5 planning permission. Heathrow wants the income from these extra flights to help pay for the runway. Nobody knows who would be affected, or what noise, pollution, congestion etc impacts there would be. There has been no assessment. Read the full blog.

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Response by Government to PQ on Heathrow road traffic indicates a 29% increase with a 3rd runway

In a Parliamentary Question by Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith), he asked the Secretary of State for Transport, “what assessment he has made of the number of (a) light goods vehicles, (b) heavy goods vehicles and (c) private cars that access Heathrow airport on a daily basis.” The reply by Jesse Norman, Minister of State at the DfT, said the figures for goods vehicles come from the Airports Commission [now fairly out of date] and the other figures for highway and public transport trips are from an October 2017 DfT document. Heathrow has often said there would be no more vehicles on the roads with a 3rd runway than currently. But the DfT figures indicate the trips by passengers and employees, by cars and taxis,  would be around 60 million in 2030 with no new runway, and about 77 million in 2030 with a 3rd runway. The numbers would be about 66 million by 2050, with no new runway; and about 85 million with a 3rd runway.  ie. a massive rise of around 29% above the number with no new runway, both in 2030 and in 2050. Mr Norman said, to try to overcome this difficulty,  “it will be for an applicant for development consent for the Heathrow Northwest runway scheme to submit a surface access strategy to the Planning Inspectorate alongside their application.”

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Reply to PQs on Heathrow – possible review of NPS after CCC climate report in spring 2019?

In recent Parliamentary Questions, Zac Goldsmith asked the Climate Minister (BEIS) Claire Perry: “what assessment she has made of the effect of the expansion of Heathrow Airport on the ability of the UK to meet the net-zero emissions target by 2050.” The response said “The Committee [on Climate Change] will also publish a report on aviation in Spring 2019. … this will include consideration of the potential to reduce aviation emissions over the period to 2050 and beyond. The Government will consider carefully the Committee’s advice …. Subject to this review, the Government will consider whether it is appropriate to review the Airports National Policy Statement, in accordance with Section 6 of the Planning Act 2008.”   Zac also asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer “what level of capital funding he plans to allocate for the delivery of improvements to rail access related to the expansion of Heathrow Airport.” The reply by Liz Truss said (avoiding replying properly) the Government “will consider the need for a public funding contribution alongside an appropriate contribution from the airport on a case by case basis.” And “The Government is supporting Heathrow Surface Access schemes subject to the development of a satisfactory business case and the agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry.” (sic)

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Aircraft noise at smaller airports, likely to have negative mental health impact if they have night flights

Aircraft noise from large airports has been frequently linked to harm to mental health, as well as physical health, but it is not known whether the same is true for smaller airports. In this blog, Dr David Wright, lead author of a recently published article in Environmental Health, looked at how much aircraft noise around a smaller airport – Belfast City – affected mental health.  It has about 40,000 annual flights, compared to Heathrow 75,000.  There is growing evidence that noise generated by large airports also affects the mental health of local residents (see NORAH and HYENA, the two largest studies). As more airlines are flying direct between smaller airports, no longer using hubs, this is an important issue. The study looked at individual and household characteristics, overlaid with noise contours. It found there was a correlation of worse mental health in areas near the airport, under the flight path. But these areas were often poorer, and poverty increases the risk of mental ill-health – so wealth rather than aircraft noise best explains the findings.  However, Belfast City airport does not have night flights (21:30 to 06:30), and it is noise that disturbs sleep that has the main impacts on mental health. “Setting sensible curfew hours would strike a balance between the economic benefits and health risks of living close to an airport.”

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PhD study indicates flight ban until 6am could save £ millions on NHS prescriptions for health impacts

A PhD thesis by an economics researcher at Kings College London, Silvia Beghelli, looked at “The Health Effects of Noise and Air Pollution”. She looked at the medications prescribed to patients in areas affected by Heathrow planes, and the medical costs of the health impacts. She looked at a trial performed over 5 months at Heathrow in 2012, when planes did not fly over designated areas in the early mornings, between 4:30am and 6am. She found that  fewer drugs were prescribed for respiratory and nervous system conditions in areas with the reduced air traffic. Mrs Beghelli cross-referenced NHS data with the trial’s findings and found a link between air traffic and health, notably a 5.8% decrease in spending on pills including anxiolytics for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression in the no-fly zones. As well as meaning the quality of health of people in these areas must have been better, the lower prescribing saved the NHS money. She calculated that modifying flight schedules could save £5 million in NHS prescription costs. It could also cut demand for hospital appointments. The study suggests that early morning planes are causing people to need more prescriptions.

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Living near to a busy road or airport TRIPLES your risk of a heart attack and stroke because the noise triggers a harmful response in the body

More evidence – now from Massachusetts General hospital – is showing that living near to a noisy road or a busy flight path significantly increases risk of a heart attack or stroke. The added risk is in addition to risks of smoking and diabetes. It is thought that exposure to environmental noise alters the amygdala – a brain region involved in stress regulation and emotional responses.  This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed “a greater than three-fold risk” of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular event. People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. The study looked at 499 people, with an average age of 56 years old. None had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants’ home addresses government noise maps. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.

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“Back Heathrow” massively funded by Heathrow airport, tries to discredit Hillingdon, for their spending to protect residents

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Might Heathrow only be able to afford its 3rd runway scheme, by being allowed another 25,000 annual flights well before runway was ready?

The Times’ Chief Business Commentator, Alistair Osborne, has written on the deeply unclear finances of a possible Heathrow 3rd runway.  Alistair suggests, one way the airport could try and get in some extra cash, early in the building programme (when no airlines can use the new runway yet) is increasing the current numbers of flights and passengers. Heathrow loves to say it is full, but it is not. Each year the number of passengers creeps up – there is spare terminal capacity. But if instead of the current cap of 480,000 annual flights, Heathrow could get consent for an extra 25,000 (ie. to 505,000), it could add perhaps 6-7 million more passengers, up from the current 78 million or so.  That could bring in much needed income, to help fund the vast project – including what to do with the M25. But adding 25 million more annual flights means about 65 more per day. Heathrow hopes to appease the ire of badly impacted local residents, by saying they would start flying at 5.30am rather than the 4.30am start now. But there would then be plane after plane after plane then, when people are still trying to sleep. And the airlines don’t like the idea, as it upsets their lucrative long haul schedules, and causes less resilience if there are delays, at the peak periods.

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Heathrow regulator, the CAA, demands answers urgently on airport’s 3rd runway plan

The CEO, Richard Moriarty, of aviation watchdog body, the CAA, have written to the Department for Transport (DfT) asking that they should “decisively and urgently” address major concerns about the funding for the 3rd runway scheme – at least £14 billion, and doubtless more with cost over-runs and things not going to plan. They say Heathrow must “provide assurance that its revised timetable is realistic” and would “ensure timely delivery” of the expansion. The CAA threatens enforcement action against Heathrow to force it to provide clear evidence about how it would finance the scheme, while avoiding pushing up costs for airlines and passengers. The CAA says the project had been hit by a further delay, with a public consultation on detailed plans for the new runway now scheduled for June rather than in the first three months of next year. Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world, with landing charges of over £20 per ticket, and that is likely to rise – regardless of flimsy Heathrow assurances. Mr Moriarty said there is a  “lack of high quality and comprehensive information” about how Heathrow would keep costs down, while being commercially viable, and these concerns had “not been adequately addressed, despite repeated requests”.

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Cabbies say Heathrow does not care about air pollution, as they announce sky high taxi electric charging price

Heathrow has to try and get air pollution levels down, as they are already breaching legal limits. With a 3rd runway, they would only get worse. Heathrow has pledged, and tried to persuade the government, that it will do all it can to keep pollution levels down, and there will be (very, very hard to believe …) “no more” vehicles on the roads round Heathrow, associated with the airport, than now. One of the things Heathrow hopes will help is use of more electric vehicles, lowering local pollution. So one might have thought they would be keen to encourage taxis to use electricity as much as possible, to make their air pollution figures look better. Sure enough, there are now many electric charging points. But belatedly Heathrow has now announced that they will charge a very high price (31p per kW) for this charging. This is far higher than plug-in on street Polar for as little as 0.09p per KW, or even dedicated Transport for London taxi chargers at 22p per KW. Taxi drivers are saying they will not pay the 31p, and will instead use the petrol option on their hybrids for the trip back into London. By contrast, Gatwick has 8 charging points in short stay car parks, with free electricity, and free parking for up to 4 hours for this.

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Councils need to be bold enough to oppose all new runways, not try to pass the buck on to others

While rightly opposing the expansion of Heathrow airport, with its hugely negative noise and air pollution impacts on hundreds of thousands of Londoners, and its unacceptable increase in aviation carbon emissions, many London councils still want to see the pain inflicted on people affected by Gatwick instead. With increasing awareness that we cannot meet climate targets, of keeping a global rise of 2C – let alone 1.5C – we need to prevent any new runways. After all, logically, not increasing the extent of the aviation carbon problem, before trying to deal with it, is a sensible approach. The most effective, easiest and cheapest way to stop increasing demand is not to expand airport infrastructure. [eg. if someone badly needs to go on diet to lose 4 stone, for their health, no responsible doctor would first advocate gaining another 2 stone, and starting the weight loss after that ….]  Gatwick’s hopes to use its emergency runway to add more annual flights will be devastating to people already suffering Gatwick’s noise, traffic etc impacts. We really need councils to be bold and wise enough to opt for no new runways anywhere, to help protect citizens and residents everywhere, not only those in their narrow patch.  Interesting if more Gatwick flights would have a negative impact on Heathrow’s finances, making the financial case for a 3rd runway even more shaky (negative).

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What would happen to two “Immigrant Removal Centres” close to Heathrow, if its 3rd runway plans go ahead?

There has not been any discussion, in the plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway, of the detention centre, that would be demolished – and where it would be moved to. To the north of the current airport boundary are two “Immigration Removal Centres” (IRC) which, together, form the UK’s biggest immigration detention complex, with space for 1,065 prisoners. They are run by the private contractor Mitie in a £240 million deal set to run until 2022. The DfT’s NPS explains that “continuous service provision of the IRCs at Heathrow is necessary”, and so “replacement facilities in substitution for the affected IRCs should be provided prior to any works”. ie. they would build new replacement centres, which would have to be ready before the old ones are shut. Four possible sites (Jan 2018 document) are suggested, two further north and two further south, close to the airport, all on green belt (so special planning permission is required.) There will be local opposition. Spelthorne (which backs the runway plan) has already come out “categorically” against rehousing the prisons, and refuse to have the centre on their land.  The Heathrow scheme cannot proceed (if at all) before the judgement on the legal challenges, some time next year (early summer?) at the earliest. The Home Office is unlikely to do much on new detention centre plans until that is certain.

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Local group SHE advises residents they should NOT be intimidated by, or respond to, Heathrow demands for their household information

Residents living in the CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) area for the proposed Heathrow 3rd runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed runway. Local group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) says this repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment. In a long, detailed article here SHE gives information on what Heathrow is doing, what they ask for, and how residents do NOT have to give Heathrow any of the details they ask. The runway is NOT a done deal, and until it is, no resident is under any obligation to reveal personal information about themselves, their household members, their mortgage etc. The details are wanted by Heathrow, in order to facilitate future acquisition of the properties. The persistent propaganda by Heathrow, and the letters etc are having a demoralising effect (which suits the airport) on residents.  SHE advises residents that they should NOT feel under any obligation to help Heathrow, and they should “NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life.”

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New map reveals – Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of pollution caused by Heathrow expansion

Slough Borough Council has been told it must protect its residents after it was revealed the town would be right in the epicentre of increased noise and air pollution, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built.  The CAA map shows that Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of increased pollution, and community groups are very upset. The Colnbrook Community Association (CCA) said it was time for Slough Borough Council to ‘wake up and protect our residents’ following the publication. Slough Borough Council does not criticise Heathrow, as it hopes to get some benefits from the expansion, if it never complains. The Council says:  “We have been vigorously defending the local community not least in our cabinet discussions about road diversions through Colnbrook and securing a green envelope around Colnbrook.”  The quality of life for many residents will be diminished by the 3rd runway, regardless of some businesses making more money. CCA said: “The trouble is that gullible Local Authorities, Councillors, MP’s and media peeps swallow this misinformation and accept it as truth. Residents know it’s fake news; Heathrow’s PR knows it’s fake news (they make it up); media knows its fake news – but it doesn’t make headlines.”

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Teddington TAG shows London Assembly data proves Heathrow NOx travels far, far away from the airport (not just Grayling’s “2km”)

The Airports Commission had, as its study area for the effects of Heathrow expansion, an area of just 2 kilometres from the boundary of the expanded airport. Chris Grayling wrote to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the 23rd February 2018  letter saying that this area “captures over 98% of additional emissions that could occur from expansion”. Teddington TAG asks if this figure of 98% emissions captured within 2 km of the boundary is true. They located air pollution data from the London Assembly, available by Borough. It apportions how much of the NOx in different areas is from vehicles, aviation and other sources. This shows that in Richmond Old Deer Park, according to the Data Apportionment Tool, about 77% of the NOx is from aviation. In Kew / North Sheen, 11km from touch-down, about 57% is from aviation.  At Putney, which is under the flight path but is over 15 km from touch-down at Heathrow, about 33% of the NOx is from aviation. Putney is worse off than Kew as total emissions are greater. And all that is just from 2 runways! Aviation apportionment readings stretch back to Clapham Junction and beyond. So why did Grayling tell the Transport Committee that 98% was within 2km.  Ignorance of the facts? Failure to be properly informed?

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The 5 legal challenges against a 3rd Heathrow runway will be heard over 2 weeks in March 2019

Five legal challenges against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have reached the next legal hurdle and will proceed to a full judicial review in March 2019. Justice Holgate today (October 4th) confirmed, in a hearing at the High Court, that the cases lodged by five different parties would be heard over 10 days in March 2019.  Due to the size of the cases, amount of paperwork involved, and the public interest in the case, the hearings in March will be heard by two judges and will be heard in the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was also noted that a separate courtroom may have to be used as overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings, also due to level of interest. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These legal challenges are of the Government’s own making. It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review. In addition to the claim from several councils and the London Mayor, the four other claims raise some serious points of law. If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary.”

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WHO Europe publishes tough guidelines & recommendations for policymakers to cut aircraft noise

WHO Europe has now published its long-awaited environmental noise guidelines, (for aviation, road, rail, wind turbine and leisure noise) the first complete update of the guidelines launched in 1999. For aircraft noise, the relevant guidelines strongly recommend reducing noise levels to below 45 dB Lden during the day, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects.  For night noise exposure, they recommend reducing noise levels to below 40 dB Lnight, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. They say that to reduce health effects, policy-makers should “implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from aircraft in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure.”  Groups concerned about aircraft noise have long asked that WHO health guidelines are included in UK aviation policy documents, but they are not. There is no mention of WHO in the Government’s Aviation Strategy documents so far. Tim Johnson, AEF Director, said:  “The Government has the perfect opportunity to respond positively in its draft Aviation Strategy due later this year. Rather than electing to ignore the WHO’s advice on the basis that it is too challenging, it should use set out appropriate measures to tackle this issue.” 

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Heathrow electric plane greenwash – tiny subsidy for one plane …years ahead ….

Heathrow has made its latest greenwashing attempt. This time it is saying it is to let the first electric hybrid plane have a year’s free landing slots, when in regular service. This is quote “designed to encourage airlines to pursue clean growth and deploy their cleanest, quietest aircraft at Heathrow.” This is part of the oxymoron, “clean growth” which business is aiming for. (Clean – totally abused word with aviation sector – is probably meant to mean lower carbon, in this context.) So far there is – wait for it – a plane that can carry 2 passengers …. Heathrow is telling the government etc that it is helping to “drive sustainable change across the industry.”  The aviation industry hopes there might be electric aircraft carrying passengers by 2030 (so the Heathrow offer is not exactly imminent…) Here is a Heathrow quote, showing just how much carbon greenwash this is:  “With global air passengers expected to double by 2035, these changes will play a critical role in driving a sustainable future for the aviation sector and will support goals outlined in Heathrow’s own sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0.”  Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: “Our Aviation Strategy [consultation soon] will also consider further ways to support the development of cleaner, greener technology in the sector.”

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Legal proceedings against Heathrow expansion begin – groups against the 3rd runway welcome “decisive action”

Plans for Heathrow expansion will meet their first legal test on Thursday 4th October, as claimants against the proposals seek to proceed their cases to full judicial review.  Five parties have lodged judicial review claims against the plans including a consortium of 5 local authorities with Greenpeace and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Also Heathrow Hub Limited (promoters of a rival scheme to expand Heathrow), and Friends of the Earth. Also Plan B and a Twickenham resident, Neil Spurrier. The claims are against the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) – which only included Heathrow expansion – which Parliament voted on in June 2018, despite many unanswered questions about the projects legality and wider environmental impact. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Having ignored evidence, such as the report of parliament’s Transport Select Committee, the decision to expand Heathrow was always going to end up in the courts, under judicial review …”  Government lawyers have conceded that all applicants are likely to get permission to proceed with their applications for JR, they are unlikely to oppose the granting of permissions at this pre-trial hearing.

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AEF discusses how UK’s aviation strategy should effectively tackle climate change (and how adding a Heathrow runway fits into this)

The Government has promised that by the end of this year it will have laid out proposals to address one of the key policy gaps left by the Heathrow NPS, namely how UK plans to square its growth plans for aviation with its commitments on climate change.  In the second of their discussion papers on the key issues the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) want to see addressed by the Aviation Strategy Green Paper, and the AEF sets out – in some detail – why the current set of UK, regional and international policies fall short, why the Government’s carbon forecasts for aviation underplay the scale of the action needed, and just how big the challenge of fitting aviation into a net zero future is going to be.  AEF argues that the strategy should:  1. Show as much ambition on climate change as on safety, technology and customer service.  2. Make an unambiguous commitment to limit aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt by 2050 as a maximum level.  3. Map out a policy plan for ensuring that emissions do not exceed this level.  4. Consider the implications of the Paris Agreement for domestic aviation policy.  5. Set out a clear UK position in relation to international efforts. 6. Propose policies to address aviation’s non-CO2 emissions. Details

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Air pollution by NOx linked to much greater risk of dementia

Research published in the BMJ indicates there is an increase in the chance of developing dementia. About 131,000 patients in London aged between 50 and 79 were followed for 7 years, with air pollution exposure estimated by post code. People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to the data from London. The observational study cannot establish that air pollution was a direct cause of the dementia cases, but the link between higher pollution and higher levels of dementia diagnosis could not be explained by other factors known to raise risks of the disease.  Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness.  It is possible that perhaps 60,000 of the total 850,000 dementia cases in the UK may be made worse by air pollution.  This adds to the body of research on the wide-ranging effects of air pollution, including evidence that particles of pollutants can cross the placenta – an evidence from  China of a “huge” reduction in intelligence associated with breathing dirty air, equivalent to losing a year’s education.

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Heathrow pays towards peat bog restoration – but its contribution to offsetting Heathrow’s carbon is infinitesimal

Heathrow has invested in the restoration of UK peatlands, not just because it is a good thing to do, but to give the airport good PR, with an infinitesimal contribution to offsetting their CO2  emissions. Working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and DEFRA, Heathrow’s first restoration priority will be Little Woolden Moss, west of Manchester, which has been subject to commercial peat extraction for more than 15 years. Heathrow says [sic]: “The restoration of the UK’s peatland bogs forms part of Heathrow’s plans to be a carbon neutral airport by 2020. ” ….and, worryingly “Heathrow hopes to show that projects like this will make a good option for airlines’ CORSIA commitments.” Heathrow has (paid already probably?) about £94,000 towards the project. They omit to mention that Defra has already paid £334,000 for the project. Heathrow claims “the restoration of this project area could lead to savings of 22,427 tonnes of CO₂ over 30 years …” As Heathrow departing flights emit over 18 million tonnes CO2 per year, that comes to 540 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years (ignoring a possible 3rd runway, with emissions perhaps 50% higher). The 22,427 tonnes comes to all of 0.004% of that carbon. So in reality, irrelevant. But greenwash.

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Monbiot: “It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things” (eg. expanding aviation)

An excellent article by George Monbiot, includes these comments in relation to aviation: “There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things.“… “When a low-carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry. Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there.” …”Labour guarantees that any airport expansion must adhere to its tests on climate change. But airport expansion is incompatible with its climate commitments. Even if aircraft emissions are capped at 2005 levels, by 2050 they will account for half the nation’s carbon budget if the UK is not to contribute to more than 1.5C of global warming. If airports grow, they will swallow even more of the budget’ …Airport expansion is highly regressive, offending the principles of justice and equity that Labour exists to uphold. Regardless of the availability and cost of flights, they are used disproportionately by the rich…”

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Trade Unions sceptical about extravagant jobs claims for a Heathrow 3rd runway

The Trade Union movement appears split on the issue of Heathrow expansion, following a fringe meeting (organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition and the PCS) held at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester. Unions such as Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) spoke at a fringe meeting on the issue of transport, climate and jobs, highlighting their continued opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, despite other trade unions supporting the hugely environmentally damaging project. Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary, PCS), said though workers would not support the agenda to transition away from fossil fuels if their jobs were put in jeopardy, claims of large numbers of high quality jobs were hard to believe.  Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA), raised concerns that the transport sector was heading backwards in addressing the challenge posed by climate change, while the UK urgently needs to address the crisis of CO2 emissions. Paul Beckford of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said the role played by trade unions in helping the transition to a low carbon economy will be crucial.  Unions have to be clear about the reality of future jobs, generated by the runway.

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Heathrow airport is battling debt pile of £13bn – enough to build the third runway

Heathrow has blown more than £6bn in interest on its debts over the past 12 years, a Mail investigation has found.  It spends more than £500m a year on interest payments alone, accounts for Heathrow Airport Holdings show.  Meanwhile its debt pile has risen to £13.4 billion – about the cost of aa possible 3rd runway. Heathrow is planning to spend around £14 billion on the project, but its mammoth debts reveal just how stretched the airport has become. Airline bosses fear Heathrow may not be able deliver the runway on budget, and want Heathrow to guarantee not to increase these to pay for the runway.  While it has paid more than £6 billion in debt interest over 12 years, shareholders have extracted £3.6 billion in dividends.  Heathrow makes money by charging landing fees to airlines, which are passed on to passengers – around £22 for each fare.  The airport is planning to spend £33 billion on infrastructure in coming decades – including the runway and terminals to serve an extra 52m passengers a year. Most of the work is due to be completed by 2035, and there is growing concern that the airport will have to raise charges significantly to pay the bills.

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Data shows the NOx produced by Heathrow planes is over double that produced by road vehicles

There is a widely held belief that Heathrow’s NO2 air pollution is largely due to road vehicles, and as long as measures can be taken to reduce these a bit, then a 3rd runway could be allowed. However, research indicates that the aircraft are producing even more NOx than the road vehicles, and there is far less that can be done to cut these emissions. Indeed, if there were to be almost 50% more Heathrow flights, the amount of NOx generated by the aircraft alone would mean a massive increase locally. That is not taking into account all the extra road traffic that would inevitably be generated by a larger Heathrow, including businesses etc that locate near the airport and all their traffic. The 2013 figures from a study for Heathrow, by Ricardo-AEA Ltd show the amount of NOx emitted from planes up to 1000 metres altitude was 2761 tonnes NOx/ year, and 1524 tonnes from aircraft on the ground (ie a total of 4285 tonnes/ year). Also 274 tonnes/year from other airport sources. Then 350 tonnes/year from Heathrow associated trips on main roads in a 11km x 11km area, and 1661 tonnes/ year from non-Heathrow associated traffic in that 11x11km area. (ie. a total of 2011 for all road traffic). So the amount of NOx from planes is way over twice the amount from road vehicles. And that ignores the NOx from planes in the wider area, over 1000 metres altitude.

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Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS – on climate change

Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement, (NPS) which backs building a Heathrow 3rd runway, fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations. So they have started formal legal action at the High Court. The legal action challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the NPS, which gives the go-ahead to a 3rd runway.  Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of FoE, have filed papers with the High Court – asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. They argue the NPS  is illegal because  • it does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008; • it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C; • it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a 3rd runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions; and • it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations. A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this autumn.

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Climate Change charity Plan B begins legal action against Grayling over Government’s Heathrow expansion plans

Climate change campaign Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion.  Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change. Plan B join 4 other legal challenges against the runway plans (5 councils and Greenpeace UK, Heathrow Hub, a resident Neil Spurrier, and Friends of the Earth UK). Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens. Plan B says the NPS does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement. Plan B’s legal action focuses exclusively on climate change impact.

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Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have issued JR proceedings in the High Court re. Heathrow runway

Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.  The grounds of challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of the habitats directive and a flawed consultation process. Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “Once again we have a government that is trying to avoid applying both the correct legal process and common sense to the question of airport expansion. The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable.” The many flaws in the scheme need to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the legal process, and its serious failings exposed.

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Lillian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Committee, accuses Grayling of ignoring its Heathrow recommendations

The UK government has largely ignored recommendations from the Transport Select Committee, a key parliamentary body, about Heathrow’s 3rd runway scheme. The committee’s Chair, Lilian Greenwood, said this makes it more likely the courts will strike down the project. She said Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, “gave the impression that 24 of our 25 recommendations had been accepted”, but said his comments were just “rhetoric”. … “The reality was that only two or three of our recommendations were actually accepted. …“I suppose at best you could say that the government said they agreed with the spirit of our recommendations and would ensure those matters were dealt with in the [planning] process.” The committee’s recommendations, if the runway went ahead, included adopting stricter air-quality standards, setting a binding target to prevent more airport-related traffic and defining noise-pollution limits.  Now a Judicial Review of the government’s Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow runway) by 5 local councils and Greenpeace, with the backing of the Mayor of London, is starting. If the courts overturn the government’s decision, it will “make the economic case on which Heathrow expansion is predicated less favourable”.  ie. not good for investors.

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Heathrow runway rival – “Heathrow Hub” – launches legal challenge to DfT on its 3rd runway decision

The sponsor of a rival project to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Heathrow Hub, has started its challenge against the DfT for its decision to back the airport’s north-west runway scheme. Sky News has obtained a letter sent on Friday 27th July by lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, ‎which paves the way for it to seek a full judicial review of the Government’s decision. They have engaged Martin Kingston QC, a planning expert at No5 Chambers, and Robert O’Donoghue, a prominent figure in cases of competition law from Brick Court, to fight its case. In the pre-action letter, the law firm DAC Beachcroft accused the DfT of failing to provide information about the Heathrow decision-making process sought under freedom of information (FoI) laws. It requested that the DfT’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS)  be quashed on 5 principal grounds. These include a flawed understanding by ministers of the capacity for new air traffic movements created by extending the airport’s northern runway, to the west. Heathrow Hub also believes it was unlawful for the DfT to “effectively [give Heathrow] a veto” over their proposal (the airport always favoured their own scheme).  Heathrow Hub is a privately owned company, funded by a hedge fund manager. There is also the challenge by 5 councils and the Mayor London, and one by a private citizen, Neil Spurrier.

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Bill for even partly effective noise insulation for all households affected by 3rd runway would be huge – far above £700 m?

Many thousands of homes could get up to £3,000 of sound insulation (windows, loft insulation etc) from Heathrow, due to more noise from a 3rd runway. A source has told the Times that the number of households eligible could be 400,000, in line for compensation. That figure is a serious under-estimate. If there are 2.3 people on average per household, that comes to about 920,000 people being affected by noise bad enough that Heathrow can see it is a problem. Many are already blighted by the noise, and the real number of households affected is not yet known, as there are no details of where flight paths will be. In reality the number of households is more like 970,000 homes (meaning 2.2 million residents) being expected to put up with extra aircraft noise. That number is a CAA figure, released recently in response to an FoI request.  By law, Heathrow has to write to any property owner who could be entitled to make a compensation claim after being adversely affected by the plan. Any application for the insulation and funding would be subject to an independent assessment. The cost of £3,000 just for 400,000 homes (let alone 970,000) would be £120 million. Heathrow has said it will spend around £700 million. For 970,000 homes that comes to just £722 per home … (nowhere near “up to £3,000”).

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Heathrow and other airports want more driverless airport vehicles (ie. fewer jobs)

Aberdeen Standard Investment’s AIPUT fund (Airport Industrial and Property Unit Trust) has published a report detailing progress on autonomous transport and logistics technology. The technology of driverless vehicles is used throughout the UK’s airports, including Heathrow; AIPUT has 2 million sq ft of buildings at Heathrow, for freight and logistics. The report discusses how cargo-handling and logistics operations, as well as passenger transportation both to and within airports is made more “efficient” with the use of automated transport.The first trials of automated air-side vehicles have been completed at Heathrow in collaboration with IAG Cargo and Oxbotica. These vehicles do not need people to drive them. So this is another area in which there will be job cuts. Sadly, Heathrow and the trade union, Unite, were able to persuade a lot of MPs to vote in favour of the 3rd runway, through the Airports NPS, in late June. A letter co-signed by the Back Heathrow campaigner Parmjit Dhanda and Unite’s Len McCluskey said the runway would create hundreds of thousands of new unionised jobs at Heathrow, regional airports and on transport networks.

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Heathrow plans for 25,000-space car park near Stanwell ‘wholly disproportionate’, says Spelthorne council leader

Spelthorne Borough Council has expressed concerns at proposals (not yet firm plans) that could see “the world’s largest car park,” with 25,000 spaces, built on the doorstep of one of its villages. The Council has, however, always backed the 3rd runway plans – but now perhaps they are waking up to its local impacts. The car park could be build just north west of Stanwell village, and would generate alarming levels of traffic impact (rat-running, noise and air pollution) across the borough and specifically for Stanwell’s local population. Heathrow currently has no car parking spaces in Spelthorne borough, but if there is ever a 3rd runway, the demand for car parking would require more places. [Strange that, as Heathrow says there will be NO more road journeys with a 3 runway airport than now with two. So why are 25,000 more car parking spaces needed?]…  In a NIMBY manner, Spelthorne wants the carpark to be built at “sustainable transport interchanges” situated near motorways and as far away from built up neighbourhoods as possible. ie. just not near their residents (and remember, the council backs the 3rd runway ….). Plans for the carpark would be part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) that Heathrow has to have passed, rather than a conventional planning application that would be the case for a small development.

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Heathrow 2.5% rise in passengers in 1st half of 2018, 5% rise in retail income, 7% more on car parking income cf. 2017

Though Heathrow always says it is almost full, in reality it has terminal capacity for many more. Its latest half year results, to the end of June, show the number of passengers increased by 2.5% to 38.1 million (half year). There are more larger planes, and the load factors are higher, now up 1% to 76.9% on average. Revenues for the 6 months were up 2.3% to £1.4 billion. Retail profits were up 5% to £206 million, far outstripping many high streets. Income from bars, restaurants and cafés was up by 11.5%. While trying to persuade politicians etc that it is not going to worsen already very bad air pollution with a new runway, Heathrow made 7% more from car parking in this first half, at £62 million. Car parking is very lucrative to the airport, while passengers arriving by public transport are not. Income from the Heathrow Express (owned by Heathrow) rail link (very expensive) from Paddington, fell by £2 million to £61 million. Spending more on security and the “passenger experience” cut pre-tax profits from £102 million to £95 million now. The payroll bill rose by nearly 2% to £183 million; operational & maintenance costs rose by nearly 9% to £223 million.

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Heathrow increases its debt by almost £1 billion (total net debt £13.7 bn) to protect it from a worst-case scenario Brexit

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has raised nearly £1bn in debt to keep it going through a “worst-case scenario” following a hard Brexit. He said this was equivalent to 2 full years’ funding, to give the airport the level of financial resilience for a worst-case scenario. He said he expected “something close to continuity” through a Brexit agreement, but “our funding levels . . . mean we are protected. Even if we have no income for two months, we would be financially safe.”  The debt deals, primarily refinancing, total £981m and take Heathrow’s total net debt to £13.7bn. A financial commented that this was an attitude of “let’s raise it while we can”, and a hard Brexit might raise fears over access to financial markets. Heathrow’s first half financial results showed a 2.3% increase in total revenue to £1.4bn compared with the 2017, but a 7% fall in pre-tax profit to £289m. Heathrow had spent money on more  operational investment, such as in facilities for disabled passengers and in keeping the airport going during snows this winter. Passenger numbers rose 2.5% to 38.1m, its busiest ever first half, by use of higher load factors. Heathrow expects to spend £160m this year on the expansion project.

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Hillingdon Council Leader writes to residents to ensure they know the 3rd runway is not at all certain – despite HAL propaganda

Heathrow has been telling local residents that the 3rd runway is definitely going ahead, and people should act accordingly. However, now Hillingdon Council’s Leader, Ray Puddifoot, has written to residents to let them know that is not at all true. He says: “I have been informed by a number of residents in the Heathrow Villages that Heathrow Airport Ltd. (HAL) are producing  highly misleading and disingenuous propaganda regarding airport expansion that is causing unnecessary distress and  anxiety.  HAL are unashamedly frightening residents by informing them that Heathrow expansion will definitely be taking place  now that the Secretary of State has taken the decision, on 26th June 2018, to designate the Airports National Policy  Statement (NPS). For the avoidance of doubt Heathrow expansion is very far from certain. The designation of the NPS is not in any way tantamount to the grant of planning permission for Heathrow expansion. Instead, it acts as an umbrella’ for an  application for a Development Consent Order to be made by HAL. I can confirm that no such application has been made. In the circumstances, I would urge you and your fellow residents not to believe anything that HAL is saying and  certainly, no steps should be taken to market any properties in Heathrow Villages.”  And it continues ….

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DfT considering £10bn “HS4Air” proposal for high-speed rail linking HS1 and HS2 via Gatwick & Heathrow

A new high-speed railway route has been proposed from Folkestone, via HS1, via Gatwick and Heathrow, linking to HS2 and up north. The proposal is by London firm Expedition. It would link the existing HS1 with the planned HS2, via the two airports. Also included would be a connection to the Great Western Main Line railway (GWML). Along this planned route, passengers would be able to travel to either airport from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without the need to change trains; reducing road congestion, air pollution and travel times. It might take some freight.  The HS4Air rail link would bring direct international train services, from the Midlands and the North to Europe via the Channel Tunnel. The high-speed rail service to the city centre of Paris, from both Birmingham and Manchester, would be faster in comparison to flying.  The rail link would also suck potential air passengers from northern airports to Heathrow and Gatwick … The proposers say 20% of the line would be tunnelled “to avoid impacting the landscape” and would re-use the existing straight railway running between Tonbridge and Ashford. The whole thing might cost £10 billion. It is apparently now being looked at by the DfT.

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Councils notify Secretary of State that they will seek Judicial Review of Government’s decision to approve Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

A group of local authorities has formally notified the Secretary of State for Transport that it intends to seek judicial review of the Government’s decision to give policy support in the Airports National Policy Statement (‘NPS’) for a 3rd Heathrow runway. The councils are challenging the Government on the grounds of air quality, climate change, and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) including failing properly to deal with the noise consequences and surface access impacts. On air quality they say, amongst other things, that the Government has misunderstood and misapplied the law on air quality. On surface access the councils say, amongst other things, that the NPS fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and unacceptable effects from traffic pollution. The Government must now respond to the councils’ formal letter before action. If the Transport Secretary does not agree to quash the NPS, the local authorities will bring judicial review proceedings.The Boroughs taking the legal action are Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Windsor & Maidenhead Council, and Hammersmith & Fulham.The group has also been joined by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

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Legal challenges against Heathrow runway plans – first chance for proper assessment of the NPS details – plans delay inevitable

Although MPs voted to back the Heathrow 3rd runway, lawyers say legal challenges are likely to substantially delay – by at least a year – the start of construction, even if they cannot prevent it.  As well as the legal challenge by 5 London councils, and the Mayor of London, that has now started, there will be one by “Heathrow Hub”, the rival runway scheme. The challenges will go to the High Court and could take up to 6 months. The losing party could then appeal to the Court of Appeal, and even if they lose there, they could then appeal to the Supreme Court. The legal process is the first opportunity for Heathrow expansion opponents to take the proposal for a 3rd runway to the High Court, and have all the issues properly assessed – not merely depending on information provided by and for the Department for Transport. There will also be a second opportunity to challenge the plans after the development consent order (DCO) is completed. Under the current plans, Heathrow intends to lodge its development consent order with the secretary of state in 2021, ahead of a 2025 completion date – but that could be delayed due to the legal challenges. Then there must be a General Election by 2022, which Labour might win – with no guarantee they would not oppose the runway plans.

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Windsor & Maidenhead Council sets aside further £100,000 (adding to £50,000 already) for Heathrow legal battle

A further £100,000 will be set aside to fund the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s [the Prime Minister’s own constituency] legal challenge against a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Council Leader Cllr Simon Dudley said on Friday, following a meeting with legal counsel and a vote within the ruling Conservative Group, that councillors had overwhelmingly agreed to take a stand against the proposed expansion. The Royal Borough is taking part in the legal challenge, alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith & Fulham local authorities and the Mayor of London to challenge the Government’s decision. Cllr Dudley said: “We’re putting another £100,000 in which is right at the top end of what we’ll need. We don’t put spending taxpayer’s money lightly and I have been clear that we won’t be caught up in frivolous legal action.” The additional money will be taken from the council’s cash reserves and will be added on to the £50,000 that has already been set aside for a potential legal challenge. The Government has left itself ‘wide open’ over its air quality obligations, and there is no clarity how adding the runway would comply with air quality limits. The DCO to build the runway would be derailed if the pending judicial review succeeds.

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5 issues surrounding the expansion of Heathrow the Staines area still doesn’t have answers to

A local newspaper in the Staines area has set out 5 key areas on which there are no assurances that Heathrow expansion will not be bad for their area. Areas like Stanwell Moor and Stanwell would be seriously affected by the addition of a 3rd runway, and they are angry and frustrated at the lack of clarity on exactly what expansion will mean for them. One issue is the WPOZ (Wider Property Offer Zone) where people have the opportunity to sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Heathrow has remained tight lipped about the possible inclusion of the villages in the WPOZ, but has insisted all options remain on the table. On air and noise pollution, there is no clarity at all, and Heathrow continues (unsuccessfully) to try to give the impression there would be no increase to current amounts. On the Immigration Centre, the existing one in Harmondsworth would have to be demolished, but there is no indication where it might be relocated. Spelthorne Borough Council has insisted it is not built in the borough. There are also huge problems with the M25 and protection of the valuable Staines Moor SSSI area, which is home to endangered species of birds, and the possible diversion of the River Colne, which runs through the moor. Local MP Kwasi Kwateng, and Spelthorne Council still, despite all the negative impacts, back the runway …

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Heathrow trying to persuade doubters that it will not need public money to funds its plans and will not struggle to fund £14bn 3rd runway

Heathrow airport is denying it will struggle to fund its possible new £14bn runway, as there are concerns that taxpayers will have to help pay for one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects in decades. Paul Deighton, Heathrow’s chairman, has written to the CAA to “set the record straight” after noting “a continuing debate regarding the financials” of expansion. “We have an investment grade credit rating, and existing shareholders will invest equity to maintain this through the higher risk expansion period,” he said. “This is a very strong position from which to finance the expansion of Heathrow. There will be no cost to the taxpayer.”  [Don’t forget this comment!] However, it is likely to need higher landing charges and that taxpayers have to foot much of the bill. Heathrow is already £13.4bn in debt — not far shy of the £15bn value of its regulatory asset base. Equity was just £703m.  Much of the £14bn price of the runway would be borrowed money, and financing costs of that could be £2bn-£3bn over a 6-year construction period — might stretch the balance sheet to breaking point. These sums don’t include likely of cost overruns and legal claims.

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Opinion: We need a responsible attitude to flying, not another Heathrow runway

Responsible Travel customer director Tim Williamson asks:  “Do we really need another runway at Heathrow? At Responsible Travel we don’t think so.”… “At some point we have to face the fact that the IATA predictions for the growth of air travel are not sustainable and will be very detrimental to the planet. The ability to jump on a plane at a very affordable price for most of the developed world and get to nearly all places on earth in less than a day is a wonderful privilege but it’s not a right and each flight has a consequence and that’s the increasing damage to our environment from aviation.”…”What we can start doing now is thinking about each flight we take and ask is it really necessary? We should all be thinking now about that short city break by air and looking at alternatives, especially if our choice is also fuelling the new concept of over-tourism where tourists and locals suffer as result of too many tourists. If we are travelling to a conference – is it really necessary that we are there in person?” …”If we are travelling for work do we need to be there in person? I’m sure most meetings that include air travel would be far less attractive if the company that paid for the ticket collected the air miles and points rather than the individual.”

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Committee on Climate Change says DfT must publish a plan, by summer 2019, to limit aviation CO2

The CCC’s report says a key action needed from the UK government by the first half of 2019 is to: “Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”. They say the UK’s 2050 target requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions including the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping (IAS) emissions. But if IAS is not included, all other sectors would have to cut their CO2 emissions by around 85% (cf. 1990)by 2050 – which the CCC do not believe is possible. The CCC say: “The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy in 2019. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the 5th carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”  UK aviation CO2 emissions were already at 35.5 Mt CO2 in 2016, having risen by 1.2% in that year over 2015. Aviation emissions will continue to rise, and rapidly exceed the 37.5MtCO2 cap. Around spring 2019 the CCC will set out its thinking on whether the CORSIA is an appropriate mechanism for formally including international aviation CO2 in carbon budgets.

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Explanation by Prof Alice Larkin of why UK aviation must fit within UK climate commitments – and Heathrow runway makes that hard

Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science and Energy Policy at The University of Manchester, and Dr John Broderick say the proposed 3rd Heathrow runway jeopardises the UK’s long term legal carbon commitments, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, given the absence of a policy framework for establishing long-term decarbonisation of the sector. They say rising aviation CO2 would need to be off-set by fuel-efficiency gains, the use of alternative carbon-neutral fuels or additional reductions in other sectors. But there are no mechanisms in place to guarantee this within the UK’s climate policy framework. For the UK to try to meet Paris targets, UK aviation emissions need to be greatly reduced, along with all other sectors. Even if there were effective carbon credits available for aviation, they would become scarce in coming decades as further CO2 cuts are ever more challenging for all sectors to achieve. There are substantial concerns about the wider effects of biofuel production  including their carbon balance; synthetic fuels are necessarily energetically costly to produce and requiring additional zero-carbon energy generation capacity – so neither can effectively cut aviation’s CO2 emissions. And there are no “negative emissions” technologies that work.

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Ferrovial to move international HQ from UK to Amsterdam because of Brexit

The Spanish infrastructure firm that manages Heathrow and owns 25% of the airport is to relocate its international head office from the UK to Amsterdam as a result of Brexit.

“The reason for the move is to maintain these holdings under the umbrella of the EU’s legislation,” said a spokesman for Ferrovial, which also owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.  The company runs four international businesses – airports, construction, infrastructure and toll roads – from Oxford. It also operates in the US, Canada and Poland.  Its spokesman said the move of the international holdings to the Netherlands was under way.   The announcement comes just a day after MPs approved the construction of a third runway at Heathrow. The project has an estimated cost of £14bn.  Last week, the aerospace firm Airbus warned it could halt investment in the UK if the country leaves the European Union without a deal.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/26/ferrovial-to-move-international-hq-out-of-uk-because-of-brexit-heathrow-netherlands


Heathrow runway after being voted for in Parliament. NEXT STOP: COURT, for the legal challenges …

Campaigners vow to stop plans to expand Heathrow airport once and for all in court, following a parliamentary vote in favour of a 3rd runway. The vote was 415 in favour, 119 against, with a majority of 296. Despite claims that over 75% of MPs support the plans, the actual number was much lower, at 63%, with 3 out of the 4 main political parties adopted a position against expansion. Labour, whilst offering a free vote, adopted a recommendation to vote against expansion, saying the plans failed to meet the party’s 4 tests. The SNP decided to abstain in the vote, stating they were ‘unconvinced’ by the government’s case for Heathrow expansion, whilst the Liberal Democrats remained strongly opposed to the plans. From the Government benches, Greg Hands, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers voted against their party whip for the first time in 13 years. The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe that large infrastructure projects, which stretch well beyond the lifetime of one parliament, require strong cross-party unity in order to actually be delivered. The runway does not have that, and Heathrow’s shareholders will have noticed. There’s a long way to go before Heathrow can start knocking down villages or putting spades in the ground – the legal challenges can now begin …

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The government has won the Heathrow vote (Airports National Policy Statement) by 415 votes to 119.      Majority of 296.

Justine Greening MP asked the Speaker whether for such an important matter, a debate of just 4 hours was enough. Speaker said he expected there would be many more debates on the Heathrow issue…

No 10 ‘fixes’ Heathrow runway vote to deliberately get it before MPs can read damning report on CO2 by the CCC

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has scheduled the vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway just days before publication of a government report warning that surging aviation emissions would destroy Britain’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. It means MPs will have had no chance to read the report, from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on Thursday, before voting. The report will warn that aviation and other emissions are growing so fast that homeowners and businesses may have to sacrifice gas cookers, central heating boilers and petrol cars for Britain to meet its climate change targets. Andy McDonald, the Labour transport shadow secretary said this deliberately duplicitous timing was disgraceful.  Last year UK aviation emissions hit 37m tonnes, close to the pre-recession peak of 37.5m tonnes in 2005. The CCC says this must not be exceeded if the UK is to meet its 80% carbon reduction target. However, a report published on Grayling’s department website last week says aviation emissions will hit 43m tonnes of CO2 by 2030 if Heathrow expands. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, has written to Grayling, saying CO2 levels higher than 37.5MtCO2 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors.”

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Resident affected by Heathrow noise has given notice to seek Judicial Review against DfT re. runway

Neil Spurrier, a resident in Teddington, a member of the Teddington Action Group (TAG) has given notice that he is seeking a Judicial Review, in the event of Parliament voting in favour of the Airports NPS, to give consent to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Teddington is already very badly affected by noise, when the airport is operating on easterlies. A 3rd runway would make the noise problem far worse. Neil’s letter to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, says:  “I am intending to bring a claim for Judicial Review should the National Policy Statement be put before Parliament and subsequently designated as a National Policy Statement in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act 2008.”  The Matter being challenged is:  “The Designation of the National Policy Statement of new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England and in particular the choice of Heathrow airport for expansion with a third runway. I would intend to ask the Court for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and would ask for a prohibiting order prohibiting the continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement.” 

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Jonathan Ford (FT) on the serious financing doubts: “Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn 3rd runway?”

With the vote on a possible 3rd Heathrow runway expected on 25th June, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer write, in the Financial Times, of the very serious doubts over how the runway could be funded. They say: “Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the 3rd runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 -7%.” And …”investors have been pulling out more in dividends than Heathrow has been earning. Last year they received a payout of £847m even though post tax profits were just £516m, implying that the corporate debt was used, in part, to fund these returns.” … And “A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019.” … The Airports Commission said it could saddle Heathrow with up to £27 billion of debt.  Ford also questions the opaque structure of Heathrow, with at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited ….and shareholders.”

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Calls for SNP to re-think support for Heathrow runway, ahead of crunch vote on 25th

The No 3rd Runway Coalition will be at the Scottish Parliament on 21st June, to urge the SNP to change their position on supporting the Heathrow third runway proposal and to send the UK Government a message to ‘think again’. Campaigners will be joined by MSPs from Scottish Greens, Labour and Lib Dems, to highlight the environmental damage to Scotland and the rest of the UK that building a third runway would mean, as well as the fact that Scottish airports would suffer as a result.  Campaigners also believe that the SNP appear to be too trusting of UK Government promises – particularly in relation to the impact on Climate Change commitments – as revealed by Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, in response to a question from Patrick Harvie MSP in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation seriously calls into question the economic case – using the Department for Transport’s own measures; and this is before taking into account the economic impact of Brexit.  Expansion at Heathrow will negatively impact Scottish airports, as any growth will be routed through London and not direct to international markets that could instead be served.

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Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham MP) quits government – on principle over May’s 3-line whip voting on Heathrow expansion

Junior trade minister Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham)has resigned from the Conservative government to oppose expansion of Heathrow. The vote in Parliament on whether to build the runway  will be on Monday. Greg said he had pledged to his electorate to oppose a 3rd runway, at the 2017 election, and he would keep his word and honour his pledges.  The borough would be badly over-flown if Heathrow was allowed to expand.  It had been thought that ministers with constituencies directly affected could have been allowed to miss the vote. However, the Government will be whipping the vote. The highest profile opponent of Heathrow expansion in the cabinet is Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it happening. However, in a cowardly and discreditable manner, he is shirking his responsibilities to stand up to his claims, by engineering an overseas appointment on Monday, to be out of the country. [Snout too firmly in trough, and enjoying his important high kudos job ….] Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson suggested on Twitter that Mr Hands’ resignation should prompt the prime minister to allow her MPs a free vote. Greg has, in the past, held a range of other responsible ministerial roles.

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London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, ready to join legal action by Councils against 3rd runway at Heathrow

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join the legal action brought by local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead)against Heathrow expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a 3rd runway on 25th June. (Hammersmith and Fulham Council has also recently indicated they would join.)  Sadiq has reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and emphasised the significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils. The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, and TfL (Londoners) would have to find the money. The comprehensive recommendations on the NPS by the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.

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Labour says Heathrow runway does NOT meet the 4 vital tests – calls on all parties to have a free vote on the NPS

The Labour Party has announced that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet Labour’s Four Tests for Heathrow expansion.  Their support for a 3rd Heathrow runway has always been conditional on 4 well-established tests being met. The 4 tests are (1). That increased capacity will be delivered. (2) That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments. (3) Minimise noise and local environmental impact. (4). Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of the UK, not just the South East and London.  Labour’s analysis of the NPS finds that none of these tests have been met. Labour is therefore calling for a free vote for all parties on the issue (likely on 25th June).  Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project.” Some Labour MPs back the runway, as do unions like Unite, that are always in hope of any prospect of jobs.

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The DfT’s own figures show a Heathrow 3rd runway plan has no effective benefit to the UK. The benefit predicted has decreased each time it is re-calculated

This is taking the “Net Present Value” which is the correct measure to use, taking into account all benefits, and subtracting all costs (figures bandied about like £74 billion etc are benefits only – no costs deducted, so highly misleading).

The NPV was allegedly £+11.8 billion (for ALL the UK, over 60 years), in the Airports Commission’s Final Report assessment (Page 147) in July 2015.

It was down to £+0.2 to £+6.1 billion, in the Further Review and Sensitivities Report by the DfT (Page 39  Table 7.1) in October 2016.

It was then down again to between £-2.2 to £+3.3 billion in the DfT document of October 2017, the Updated Appraisal Report on the NPS (P.44 Table 9.2).

And now in the final version of the NPS, that the government wants MPs to vote on shortly, the benefit (NPV) is just between £-2.5 to £+2.9 billion, in the DfT’s Addendum to the Updated Appraisal Report (Page 10  Table 3.1).


Scientists identify enzyme responsible for vascular damage caused by aircraft noise during night/sleep

A lot of different studies have shown there are negative health impacts on people exposed to aircraft noise at night, when people sleeping should be experiencing many hours of quiet. Now a study from Germany shows that this may be caused by an enzyme (phagocytic NADPH oxidase) they have identified.  Aircraft noise during the hours people are trying to sleep leads to an increased development of cardiovascular diseases in the long term. Studies have shown that simulated nocturnal noise increases the stress hormone epinephrine, reduces sleep quality, and damages the vascular system, causing endothelial dysfunction. There is increased oxidative stress, and inflammatory processes in the vessels as well as a marked change in the expression of genes in the vessel wall. This damage is not seen in the absence of the enzyme. The scientists now also examined the effects of aircraft noise on the brain, looking at neuronal nitric oxide (NO) synthase, the function of which is impaired when there is aircraft noise during the night period that should be quiet. The study shows it is important to protect the night’s sleep from noise, with a period of 8 hours (10pm to 6am) protected from noise. Heathrow’s airlines do NOT want a proper ban on night flights even for six and a half hours, let alone more.

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Heathrow’s lobby group “Back Heathrow” PR material in local papers criticised – putting some facts straight – Letter to local paper

“Back Heathrow”, the lobby group that is (massively) funded and staffed by Heathrow Airport, while pretending it is a “grassroots” campaign, has again paid for expensive newspaper wraps for papers around Slough, Windsor etc. The wraps claim all the usual benefits of a 3rd runway, ignoring the huge public costs and environmental damage. Local resident Paul Groves has written to his local paper, in an attempt to get some balance – against the huge spending power of “Back Heathrow” – and give readers some more factual information. He explains the fallacy of the numbers of jobs Heathrow persists in claiming (based on the maximum “up to” figure from the Airports Commission) its runway would generate, and warns that despite a promise of 6,000 jobs from Terminal 5, in reality the total number employed at Heathrow has declined from around 79,000 in 2008 to around 76,000 by 2014, a reduction of around 3,000. As for the real economic benefit of the runway to the UK, the Net Present Value is now shown, by DfT data, to be around zero – even over 60 years. The DfT have progressively revised this downwards to now from “+£2.9bn to – £2.5bn” in their latest National Policy Statement. This compares with the UK national GDP of £1,700 billion per annum.

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FT reports apparent DfT claims that Heathrow MIGHT face criminal charges if it fails on environmental targets while building runway

The Financial Times reports that it believes the DfT (Aviation Minister Baroness Liz Sugg) is saying that Heathrow could face criminal charges if it does not meet environmental targets when building its 3rd runway.  [This is NOT any DfT press release]  These might relate to noise, air pollution and compensation to local homeowners. The FT believes Liz Sugg is expected to say:  “Important measures to protect local people and comply with the legal requirements set by the government will be written into the development consent order, and Heathrow would face serious penalties if they do not stand by these commitments.”  She wants MPs to vote in favour of the runway (ie. the Airports NPS) without it containing the proper safeguards and details on these matters. The alleged promise to hit Heathrow hard on these is very flimsy indeed – few would want to place their trust in it. Anti-expansion campaigners are very critical of the announcement, saying penalties for Heathrow were yet to be decided. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said it seemed to be a panicked attempt by the DfT to shore up parliamentary support for the vote. He added: “If they were so keen to ensure these environmental commitments were met, why were legally binding measures [not] put forward in the National Policy Statement when it was published earlier this month?”

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Justine Greening: Government must rethink Heathrow expansion plans, with a proper national aviation policy

Justine Greening, writing in the Yorkshire Post, says it is unacceptable for the government to be pressing ahead with the Heathrow runway, despite logic – and without a UK aviation policy. She says: “…there’s nothing national about the Airports “National Policy Statement” proposed by the DfT. The third runway proposal at Heathrow is a 20-year-old hub proposal that’s entirely unrelated to the world of direct, point to point flights we live in today.” … It’s bad for northerners. “Pay more to get to Heathrow, then pay more to get on a plane at an expensive expanded Heathrow. … It’s a triple whammy for the Northern Powerhouse and Yorkshire region, because a bigger Heathrow means smaller regional airports. …The DfT’s own analysis … shows that regional airports – Leeds Bradford, Doncaster and Manchester – will lose over 26,100 international flights every year by 2030 because of Heathrow expansion….And there’s a 4th whammy. Heathrow Airport will consume £10-15bn of transport spend” for surface transport for Heathrow.  She concludes: “MPs need to look at the detail locally and nationally, ask questions to Ministers as to why this proposal so badly undermines our crucial regional airports, vote against it and then demand a proper UK-wide airports strategy that works for all of us, wherever we live.”

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Hunger strike against Heathrow runway continues, with die-in in Parliament and trip to lobby SNP

The five hunger strikers from the group “Vote No Heathrow” began their hunger protest on Saturday 9th June. They hope, health permitting, to continue until there is a vote in Parliament on the 3rd runway. As well as staging protests outside the offices of the Labour Party, and the Unite trade union, and a die-in in the Central Lobby in Parliament on 13rh June, they have travelled to Scotland to protest to the SNP.  They want them to vote against the runway, when the vote in Parliament happens some time before 9th July. Heathrow and the DfT have misled Scottish MPs into believing there would be a lot of economic benefit from a 3rd runway, with “promises” of thousands of jobs and more direct flights. The 35 SNP MPs currently plan to vote as a block in favour of the runway. The campaigners care passionately about climate change, and the huge increase in UK aviation carbon emissions that would be generated by a 3rd runway. Each month there is more evidence of the serious impact of climate change. The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s official advisors, have written to Chris Grayling to express their concern about how – unacceptably – the issue of carbon emissions has largely be glossed over, and ignored, in government plans for the runway.

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CCC writes to Grayling to remind him of UK’s climate commitments, expressing concern about NPS silence on allowing rising aviation CO2 emissions

The Committee on Climate Change have written to Chris Grayling to reiterate that the UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act, and the Paris Agreement. They say: “We were surprised that your statement to the House of Commons on the NPS on 5 June 2018 made no mention of either of these commitments. It is essential that aviation’s place in the overall strategy for UK emissions reduction is considered and planned fully by your Department.”  Under the CCC’s advice, the aviation sector would be allowed to keep its CO2 emissions at no more than their level in 2005, by 2050. That means aviation’s share of total UK CO2 emissions would already increase from about 2% to around 25%. Even that means “all other sectors must reduce emissions by more than 80%, and in many cases will likely need to reach zero….Higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors”. The CCC say: “We look forward to the Department’s new Aviation Strategy in 2019, which we expect will set out a plan for keeping UK aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels by 2050. To inform your work we are planning to provide further advice in spring 2019.”

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Government accused by Councils of ignoring Transport Select Committee recommendations in final Heathrow NPS

Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Windsor &Maidenhead, and Richmond Councils have accused the government of misleading MPs on the Heathrow runway plans (the Airports NPS). They say the government has only incorporated 3 out of 25 of the recommendations by the Transport Select Committee (TSC) recommendations into the final NPS, while trying to give the impression it has taken far more account of them. Chris Grayling told the Commons (5th June) that 24 of the 25 recommendations had been “acted upon” and that expansion at Heathrow had been agreed by the Cabinet. The 4 councils are calling on Mr Grayling to return to Parliament and explain to MPs why the TSC advice has been brushed aside. The Councils need to see a definition of an acceptable maximum number of people newly exposed to plane noise, by a 3rd runway. Among their demands, they want assurance that planning approval would only be granted if the target for no more airport-related traffic can be met.  Also a more stringent interpretation of air quality compliance including ‘headroom’ to manage future increases in pollution – and clarity on how the requirement for 15% of new slots will be secured for domestic connections, rather than just warm, woolly wording.

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DfT’s own figures, (suitably hidden in an addendum, hard to find, not in the main NPS) shows effectively ZERO Net Present Value to the UK of a 3rd Heathrow runway

From this DfT document.  June 2018. Page 10.

The figure takes into account all the costs of the runway, in the proper government methodology, rather than just considering the benefits – ignoring costs (which is what the DfT does in its Heathrow promotional material, eg. the main NPS document).

DfT gives a figure of £74 billion benefit, knowing the NPV value is actually around ZERO

This kind of information is concealed, deliberately, by the DfT – as they know most politicians, business people, MPs etc will NOT have the time to read through all NPS associated documents. The figures the DfT want MPs to see are in the main June 2018 NPS document. That says (Page 23) …”total benefits (not including wider trade benefits) of up to £74 billion over 60 years for the Northwest Runway scheme.”

The details are always in subsidiary documents, that are very hard to locate, off the DfT website. Shocking.

The (June 2018)  -£2.5 bn up to a maximum +£2.9 bn is even lower than the figures of -£2.2bn up to +£3.3 bn from the equivalent  DfT document of October 2017. (P 44)


Hammersmith & Fulham Council will join the 4 councils’ legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has vowed to keep fighting plans for a third runway at Heathrow, even if Parliament votes in favour of it. The council has said it will seek to join any legal challenge against a decision in favour of expanding the west London airport – a move the council says would subject residents to a mire of misery and pollution. Council Leader Stephen Cowan said:  “We absolutely refuse to sit back and let such a potentially catastrophic decision be made without a fight, We’ve made our stance very clear; a third runway at Heathrow would mean more noise for residents already suffering noise disturbance, more pressure on our roads and an unacceptable increase in air pollution. If we need to take legal action, we will, as the environmental cost of meekly accepting a decision in favour of expansion, would be far worse.” In 2014, H&F Council set up a resident-led commission to investigate the potential effects of expansion on residents’ lives. It reported back that the overall impact of Heathrow expansion would be negative, with any benefits unlikely to be felt by those in H&F.

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Richmond Borough Council shows Heathrow 3rd runway could cost UK economy another £25 billion over 60 years

Government claims for the economic benefit of expanding Heathrow do not include the costs of the improved public transport links needed to keep road traffic at current levels.  A 3rd runway is expected to add around 100,000 trips per day. Heathrow has pledged (though how they could achieve that is not clear) that road traffic levels will not increase with a 3rd runway. This would mean 70% of journeys to and from the airport being made by public transport. Today’s figure is 40%. A 3-runway Heathrow might have 26 million more passengers per year when full, than a 2-runway airport. That means the current cost projections for new public transport links (to cater for a 2-runway airport) are insufficient. That would mean more delays for passengers arriving at the airport whether by road or rail. Using the Government’s own approach these delays could cost the economy around £25bn over a 60-year period. This would reduce the DfT’s claimed benefit from a 3rd runway from its current £74bn (which already excludes most costs) to £49bn. The DfT’s own assessment shows the actual economic benefit of the runway not to be £74bn to be more like zero (£-2.5 to +£2.9 bn over 60 years for whole UK).

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FT’s Jonathan Ford on massive doubts over Heathrow’s ability to fund its runway – without huge subsidy from taxpayers

Jonathan Ford, the City Editor of the Financial Times (who knows a thing or two about finance) on the Heathrow runway scheme. It would cost at least £14 billion (probably more with inevitable over-spends), and as Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in Europe, its ability to claw back money is limited – anyway, it cannot get airlines and passengers to pay until the runway is built and operating. Despite sales of some of its airports, totalling more than £4bn, its debt was still £13.4 billion in 2017.  And “Heathrow’s 2017 accounts record a dividend of £847m for shareholders last year on after-tax profits of just £516m, implying that dividends were partially funded by taking on yet more corporate debt.” Shareholders are not going to be happy to receive almost no dividend for several years. “Heathrow might try to ease the burden by discreetly pressing for public subsidy, figuring that once the state is committed to the 3rd runway it will not want to see the project come off the rails. The government should stand firm. Its decision to pick the most expensive of three runway options on the table was always predicated on the idea that all could be financed without state support.”

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Anti-Heathrow protesters stage hunger strike against Heathrow 3rd runway plans, asking people to lobby their MPs to vote against it

On Saturday 9th, campaigners from the Vote NO Heathrow campaign started a hunger strike, to draw attention to the huge risk that MPs might vote in favour of a 3rd Heathrow runway. The vote is likely in the next two weeks. Over 30 campaigners gathered outside the London HQ of the Labour party in Victoria Street, for the start of the hunger strike by 5 of them. They intend to continue not to eat for as long as their health permits, and if possible until the vote in Parliament.  Earlier in the week, 8 campaigners were arrested outside the building for using chalk spray on the pavement and the glass windows, to highlight their message. The vote of the Labour party is crucial, and it is hoped that MPs will appreciate that the runway fails the 4 tests Labour has set for it, and impose a 3-line whip. The Tories may impose a 3-line whip in favour of the runway. The Vote NO Heathrow campaign wants as many people as possible to write to their MP – of whichever party – to ask them to vote against the runway. There are many important arguments, why the runway should be opposed (more details below) but these could be summarised as economic problems, UK region problems, noise, air pollution and increased carbon emissions.

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London Assembly reaffirms strong opposition to Heathrow 3rd runway

The London Assembly has reaffirmed its opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway. It has agreed unanimously on a motion asserting its opposition. Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) who proposed the motion said: “The case for a 3rd Heathrow runway is based on a number of false claims, … a 3rd runway will create noise disturbance for a further 300,000 people and add to higher levels of air pollution in parts of London where air pollution already exceeds illegal levels. We can ensure we retain international connections without following the foolish option of the incredibly expensive third Heathrow runway.  A third Heathrow runway comes at a huge price that is simply not worth paying for.” Léonie Cooper (Labour) said the runway would “have a far-reaching impact on almost a million London households within the next 30 years….the current plans to mitigate its adverse effects on the surrounding environment and the health and social wellbeing of local communities are inadequate. It is clear that the potential costs and risks to Londoners outweigh the projected economic benefits of the expansion … the Government’s decision should be robustly opposed”. The Assembly “asks the Mayor to join with us to ensure that this threat to the health and environment of Londoners does not materialise.”

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Political fight over Heathrow brewing for the SNP (35 MPs in Parliament) in Scotland

With the final vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway expected within about 2 weeks, the political fight is intensifying, as the SNP have their conference on 8th and 9th June. It is important for the Heathrow vote, as the SNP (with 35 MPs) hold a potentially critical role – if they were to vote against the runway, it might be stopped – or only won by a tiny margin. Heathrow continues to throw money and the weight of its corporate lobbying at the SNP, schmoozing them at the conference, with an invitation-only event – as it has done at the other political conferences, trying to buy support and persuade MPs. By contrast with the hospitality and honey-tongued words by Heathrow in the conference, 3 residents who would lose their homes if the expansion goes ahead, drove for 13 hours overnight from Harmondsworth – to focus on engaging with SNP party members and politicians going into the conference. They spoke to several hundred, putting the case that the SNP should not be led astray by the promises of Heathrow – and many expressed concern at the party’s position of support for the runway,  due to environmental concerns and a preference to see the development of further direct air links from Scottish airports, and a dedicated air freight hub in Scotland.

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Comment by the AEF on the government’s attempt to ignore CO2 emissions due to Heathrow 3rd runway

In the final version of the NPS, together with updated versions of the draft of papers and analysis that accompany it, the DfT claims to have implemented 24 out of the 25 recommendations of the Transport Committee, which provided official parliamentary scrutiny of the proposals. But it is hard to spot much change in the final NPS than the earlier version – especially on the key environmental challenges to expansion. The AEF comments that the climate change impact of Heathrow expansion was not even mentioned in Grayling’s statement to the House of Commons. Yet the project is in fact no easier to reconcile with climate change targets now than it was in 2010, when a court ruled that it would be “untenable in law and common sense” for the Government to continue to uphold its policy to build a third runway without showing how this would be compatible with the climate change legislation passed in 2008. While current plans to achieve the Climate Change Act are built around an assumption that aviation emissions will be no higher than 37.5 Mt by 2050, with a 3rd Heathrow runway CO2 emissions nationally would be  over 40 Mt,  under the DfT’s policy of support for growth at other airports. The Government has just ignored the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

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Simon Jenkins on Heathrow: Government support for this polluting 3rd runway is macho folly

Characteristically brilliant and incisive article by Simon Jenkins. Well worth reading it all. Just a few snippets here:  “The building of a third runway at Heathrow must be the worst decision taken by a British government in modern times. There is nothing in it but private profit for a Spanish company that appears to have the British cabinet in thrall. That a rich European city should expand rather than contract a major airport in a built-up area defies belief. … The project will further congest and pollute what is already one of the most choking parts of the capital. Its air quality is illegal. The runway will suck economic activity into London, and away from the provinces. It will cost billions in public money. It is so expensive that even Heathrow’s old ally, British Airways, now opposes it. … Air travel is overwhelmingly for leisure. Airports talk of “business use” because they are ashamed being part of the tourism industry, which Grayling never once mentioned. …Grayling promises that the new runway will not go ahead if Heathrow does not “meet the UK’s air quality commitment”. But he knows it won’t. He knows neither his department nor Heathrow has ever kept a promise of this sort. … [runway decision] resting not on its merits, but on whether Theresa May had the guts to push it through.”

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Heathrow expansion will mean less direct international flights for Yorkshire, analysis shows

The Government faces considerable uncertainties in trying to push through the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, and get enough MPs to vote for it. Labour may oppose the plans, and  analysis showed northern airports will lose out on thousands of international flights if Heathrow got a 3rd runway. The government hopes they can mislead the SNP with pledges of huge benefits from the runway, based on out-of-date figures for possible economic benefit from the runway, and crazily calculated (back of envelope, starting with the wrong number) calculations about possible future jobs. It is likely that Leeds Bradford Airport would see 4,449 fewer international flights a year by 2030 if the 3rd runway went ahead. Doncaster Sheffield Airport would lose 1,413 while the North’s major hub – Manchester – would lose 20,258.  Keighley MP John Grogan, who requested the figures from the Commons Transport Committee, said Heathrow expansion would mean Britain’s regions losing out. The Labour MP also questioned the Government’s pledge to ring-fence 15% per cent of slots on the new runway for domestic connections to the rest of the UK. This can only happen if they are subsidised, and these flights almost always run at a loss.

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Surprise ! Former Airports Commission chair and Sir John Armitt urge MPs to back Heathrow 3rd runway in vote

The former Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, and a Commissioner on the Airports Commission, Sir John Armitt, have written to MPs urging them to vote in favour of a 3rd runway at Heathrow after the Cabinet approved the government’s plans earlier this week.  Neither of them has been working on aviation issues recently and, frankly, their letter illustrates that they probably have not kept up with the details. But MPs will probably be persuaded, by this further lobbying on behalf of the government and Heathrow. They gloss over, as of course, does the DfT, the difficult issues of noise, air pollution, impact on the regions, cost to the taxpayer, carbon emissions etc. Their only focus is that the runway might prevent the UK being “inward-facing” after Brexit, and that it “meets the test of the national interest” (glossing over local impacts). To show just how ill-informed their letter is, that “In respect of aviation noise, our analysis indicated that the number of people affected by an expanded airport would be fewer than at Heathrow today.”  A letter with a good chance of being put straight into hundreds of MPs’ waste (recycling) bins?

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Labour knows the Heathrow 3rd runway plans fail their 4 tests – so may vote against the NPS

Theresa May’s plans for Heathrow expansion are facing an unpredictable Commons vote after Labour indicated that the runway plans do not pass its four key tests. These require (1). noise issues to be addressed, (2). air quality to be protected, (3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and (4). growth across the country supported.  Labour may refuse to vote for the plans when they come before MPs for a vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) – ie. the runway  – in the next 3-4 weeks. With Boris Johnson expected to be (so convenient …) “out of the country” and several Tory MPs voting against it, the government needs Labour and the SNP to vote in favour. However, Jeremy Corbyn’s office said the issues of air pollution, noise for residents, regional connections and greater capacity were crucial. The revised NPS, published on 5th June, is barely changed from the draft and does not include measures that convincingly pass the 4 tests. This suggests that Labour could either whip a vote against the 3rd runway plans or at least order its MPs not to back the Government. The SNP has not so far indicated if it will vote in favour, though they have become aware that the Heathrow runway is likely to damage Scotland and its airports. Labour and SNP MPs are concerned about yet more money being spent on London, rather than in the regions, and on the possible vast cost to taxpayers.

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SNP “promised” 16,000 new jobs if it backs 3rd runway – but that figure is crazily inflated – as Heathrow & DfT well know

The Conservative government may need the SNP’s support if some of its MPs rebel against the new Heathrow runway – which is likely. The SNP will demand guaranteed extra slots for Scottish flights into London in return for the party’s support for the 3rd runway.  Ian Blackford, the head of the SNP’s parliamentary group in London, said the party had not taken a decision on runway yet – and would only do so if Scotland stood to benefit. Their backing may not be guaranteed, though that had been assumed – particularly after Keith Brown, Scotland’s infrastructure secretary, believed there might be 16,000 Scottish jobs, created by the project. That figure of 16,000 jobs is what Heathrow has, for several years, been peddling. Along with similarly inflated claims for all the regions. The number was derived by a consultancy called Quod, in a flimsy little 4 page paper, with no methodology, no date, no author etc. It is based on the assumption that Heathrow would provide an economic benefit (NPV) to the UK, over 60 years, of £147 billion. That number is now known to actually be about £3.3 billion, at best (if not a negative number). The SNP would be very ill-advised to believe Scotland will benefit; in reality its airports would be damaged by allowing the runway. Tragic if they vote in favour of it, because they have not checked out the facts properly.

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Government deal to bail out Heathrow if runway plan fails – possible massive cost to taxpayers

Back in October 2016, the government did a deal (The Statement of Principles) with Heathrow (HAL), in which there are clauses implying the government would bail out any costs to the airport, if it does not finally get government approval to expand. There is no end date for the agreement. Though the document states it is non-binding, the wording is ambiguous – a gold-mine for lawyers? Justine Greening revealed this massive risk to taxpayers in Parliament, saying Heathrow “have somehow managed to get a poisoned pill agreed by DfT that means the taxpayer has to cover all their costs if things go wrong.  Isn’t this the worst kind of nationalisation? The public sector and taxpayers bearing all the Heathrow downsides and risks but the private sector owning all of the upside and financial returns.” The Statement of Principles says:  “HAL reserves its rights (including but not limited to its rights to pursue any and all legal and equitable remedies (including cost recovery) available to it under law) in the event of: …. The withdrawal of the Government’s support for aviation expansion for Heathrow Airport only after the Secretary of State has stated that HAL’s Scheme is the scheme it prefers in accordance with paragraph 1 of Part 1.”  This was only mentioned in passing in the NPS and Justine is seek urgent clarity of the clause, in order to give an opportunity for the issue to be discussed in the House of Commons before MPs vote on the NPS proposal – within 3 weeks. 

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Transport Secretary admits Heathrow 3rd runway would be bad for Birmingham Airport

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, in announcing formal backing by the government for the 3rd Heathrow runway, has admitted that this will be bad for business at Birmingham Airport.  He said Birmingham would face “greater competitive pressure” as a result of Heathrow having a 3rd runway.  The line Grayling is taking, to try and reassure regional airports, is that the 3rd runway will encourage more domestic flights. However, he knows perfectly well that it is up to airlines, not airports or government, to determine which routes they fly – unless given hefty public subsidies to keep unprofitable routes in operation. His assurances to regional airports are all qualified by statements like Heathrow will try, government will support etc. Nothing concrete. But as Birmingham Airport is so close to Heathrow, there  will not be domestic flights to Heathrow, and all that will happen is Heathrow takes passengers away from Birmingham, and long haul destinations will increasingly be served exclusively by Heathrow. The government is well aware of this harm an expanded Heathrow will do to long haul services from other UK airports.

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Do listen to this remarkable bit of video – a caller to LBC Radio, from Windsor.

There is plane coming in to Heathrow, over her house, about one per minute. The call to the radio station very clearly shows just what level of noise people living there have to put up with.
The UK government is not bothered by the impact of a larger Heathrow on hundreds of thousands of people, who live under its flight path. It is unconcerned about quality of life of those residents whole lives are blighted, and whose health is at risk, from a larger airport.
 
But in its blind Brexit panic, the government hopes building another Heathrow runway will somehow – not clear how – sort out the post-Brexit problems for the UK.
 
Bonkers.


As expected, Government approves outline plan for a 3rd Heathrow runway – which will then face legal challenge

Cabinet ministers have today given the official go-ahead for Heathrow expansion. This was never in doubt, as it is government policy. The NPS (now no longer a draft) was “laid before” Parliament, so now MPs will have to vote on them within 21 Parliamentary sitting days. ie.  before Monday 9th July. Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor and Maidenhead borough council, said a coalition of four local authorities and Greenpeace would seek a legal review of the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, if MPs vote for the plans, as they are. approve unchanged plans. The councils (Windsor & Maidenhead, Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon – some of the boroughs worst affected by Heathrow noise and other impacts) want the government to “satisfactorily address concerns” over noise and air pollution. Mr Dudley said the councils will look at the proposals to see whether their significant concerns on flight paths, “respite”,  night flights and air pollution have been addressed. If they have not, there will be a legal challenge. Greenpeace and the authorities contend new evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution makes the expansion of Heathrow far less likely to pass a review.

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Cabinet economic committee set for Heathrow 3rd runway decision, followed by Cabinet decision, followed by vote in Parliament within 21 working days

5.6.2018

Controversial plans (the draft Airports NPS) for a 3rd Heathrow runway are set to be approved by ministers today, with the Cabinet’s economic sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May, signing off the plans. These would then be approved by the full Cabinet. Then the NPS is laid before Parliament, with a vote on it within 21 working day.  The timing is awkward, with Brexit issues dominant and divisions in government already, without adding this extra, deeply contentious, issue. Boris Johnson is the only Cabinet minister who is deeply opposed. But many Tory backbenchers are against it, and it is anticipated they will be complaining loudly in the coming weeks. Labour is divided on the issue, with many blindly accepting the myths of jobs and economic growth the runway (allegedly) might produce. Labour know the runway plans cannot pass the 4 tests they set for it.  The government doesn’t have a majority and remember, and wants to get this plan through the Commons by the end of June. If they can, it will be a demonstration of “look, we are getting on with things, it’s not just Brexit!”

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Call for the Competition & Markets Authority to investigate Heathrow, and its market power

The No 3rd Runway Coalition has written to Lord Andrew Tyrie, the new chair of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), asking why the proposed expansion of Heathrow has not been scrutinised by the competition authorities. Heathrow is, by far, already the largest and busiest airport in the country. And with even proponents of the scheme accepting that Heathrow expansion would impact significantly on the smaller regional airports in the market, the letter suggests that competition authorities have been inactive. This is particularly surprising because the Competition Commission (the antecedent authority of the CMA) had stated that Heathrow already enjoyed such “substantial market power” that it would require further review and regulation, in future – even without a third runway. That situation would be far worse with a 50% larger Heathrow.  Back in 2008, the then BAA had to sell off airports because it was seen to have too much market power – it sold Gatwick in October 2009, Edinburgh April 2012 and Stansted in January 2013 . The current government proposal to expand Heathrow would simply recreate that monopoly position, perhaps in an even worse form.

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Airlines do not want Heathrow to have control of building a 3rd runway – perhaps a “Buildco” instead?

British Airways and other airlines are hoping to take over building the possible 3rd Heathrow runway from the airport’s owner, because they do not want costs to escalate.  They do not think the government or CAA has enough control over Heathrow to ensure it controls the costs of the massive expansion project. Passenger charges and investor returns are based on the total value of Heathrow’s assets, (RAB) and this gives the perverse incentive for the airport not to keep its spending low.  The more it spends, the more its owners can earn. An investigation by The Sunday Times in March highlighted widespread concerns over Heathrow’s bloated spending. Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) told the Transport Committee’s inquiry in February that he had “zero” confidence that Heathrow’s operating company would deliver the project on time and on budget. He said it would be foolish to sign a “blank cheque”. To try to calm the airlines’ fears, and get them behind the runway plans, the airlines are proposing a special-purpose company, known as a “Buildco”, to deliver the project; Heathrow and the airlines would buy stakes in it. The government is trying to reassure the airlines by slightly increasing the CAA’s remit and powers.

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Heathrow expansion will increase landing charges. See these short video clip extracts from evidence given to the Commons Transport Committee on the draft Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow 3rd runway plans). Heathrow admits it is likely to put up costs.

More details of the evidence session at http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/02/airlines-tell-transport-committee-of-their-alarm-over-blank-cheque-for-heathrow-3rd-runway/ 


Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG (the main airlines using Heathrow) giving evidence at the Transport Select Committee, on the draft Airports NPS (National Policy Statement).  He and his airlines have NO confidence in the plans for a 3rd Heathrow, or the costs.

https://youtu.be/lTe0tZihSJA 

More details of the evidence session at http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/02/airlines-tell-transport-committee-of-their-alarm-over-blank-cheque-for-heathrow-3rd-runway/ 


Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson & Justine Greening are threatening to rebel over Heathrow 3rd runway – with draft NPS laid before Parliament by mid-June

The Times has published a list, by Justine Greening MP, of 8 key reasons why there should NOT be a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Times journalists also comment that it is likely the government will present the revised draft Airports NPS  (ie. Heathrow runway proposal) to Parliament within two weeks.  MPs then have to vote on the NPS within 21 sitting days – so in order to get all this through Parliament before the summer recess (starts 20th July) they have to start soon…  Once the NPS has been approved, and adopted, the legal challenges against it can start. Only if Heathrow wins those can it start on details of planning its expansion. Justine Greening has been a long-term vociferous opponent of the runway. Boris Johnson has also been deeply opposed to it, but has not dared say anything publicly since being elevated to being Foreign Secretary.  When there is a vote, Theresa May might be forced to rely on opposition parties to pass the runway plan, though Labour is also threatening to withhold support. The vote will come soon after a series of bruising debates over the EU Withdrawal Bill, with Downing Street reluctant to expend political capital on anything other than Brexit.

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A 3rd Heathrow runway would benefit the few, not the many: Labour should oppose it

The government has apparently committed itself to backing the Heathrow 3rd runway, which will destroy local communities and make Heathrow far and away the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Labour has prevaricated and not yet taken a position on the runway issue. But it is now high time Labour took a stand against it. A hangover from the New Labour era is that there remain a number of Labour MPs who see backing a third runway as party policy. They support the runway for historic reasons and are reluctant to listen to the increasingly disparaging analysis of the project. Due to the huge rise in UK aviation CO2 emissions the runway would help generate, and its disproportionate social impacts, Labour should be opposing it. The runway cannot satisfy Labour’s four tests which the party has stipulated as the necessary basis for any support – so Labour should be obliged to oppose Heathrow expansion. The party should stick by its values, looking after citizens, rather than being driven by financial profit and more holidays for a privileged few.

People are encouraged to write to their MP and ask them to oppose Heathrow expansion at the vote in June. Everyone is welcome to the Vote No Heathrow open meeting on 12 June in London to learn more.

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Heathrow expansion under more scrutiny as Grayling broadens CAA’s oversight, trying to reassure airlines on runway costs

The Government has put more pressure on Heathrow to limit its expansion costs after broadening powers which enable the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the aviation industry regulator, to more closely scrutinise the airport’s plans. The airlines, and IAG in particular, are deeply sceptical about the cost of the 3rd runway, and how expensive it will be for them. They have no faith in Heathrow to be able to build its runway etc, for a reasonable price. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the CAA would now be able to seek views on the expansion of Heathrow from a wider range of stakeholders, and would also be able to benchmark the price of the project against international comparisons. The CAA’s oversight powers will see the regulator able to get the views of airlines which don’t yet operate from Heathrow, but hope to do so in future. Heathrow has already tried to make £2.5 billion savings in its plans, as the airlines refuse to stomach the £17 billion price. Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) said: “Heathrow is a monopoly with a history of gold-plating facilities and very high airport charges …. Benchmarking its cost proposals against similar schemes is critical and very welcome. It is imperative that Heathrow provides a full, detailed cost breakdown for expansion before Parliament votes on it this summer.”

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Consultancy AvGen finds, yet again, Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet & Green” programme comes up with weird, incorrect, results

Heathrow has published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for 2018 Quarter1.  Unfortunately it seems determined to persist with the flaky arithmetic and absence of logic and common sense that characterised the results for previous quarters (which remain unaltered). For Q1, as with previous quarters, league table scores have again been inflated, this time by an average of around 44% compared to the results that are produced when Heathrow’s own published methodology and performance rankings are used.  Once again that increase has not been applied uniformly across all 50 airlines (a number of them have been awarded more than double the number of points that they merit), with the result that the relative league table positions are significantly altered. Below are some examples, from consultancy, AvGen, showing the arbitrary results – which do not appear to be based on much logic – of airlines being put into higher and lower rankings, based on their noise and emissions. By contrast with the Heathrow figures, those from AvGen show the greenest airline is Aer Lingus – not Scandinavian. The second greenest is Finnair, not LOT Polish Airlines. Curious that Heathrow does such odd things with the data ….

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Questions raised by MPs on the Transport Select Committee @CommonsTrans about plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, showing their serious doubts about its huge negative impacts, unknown costs to airlines & UK taxpayers and vanishingly small benefits to the UK.


Heathrow and Grayling get business to lobby Theresa May (yet again) for fast decision in favour of 3rd runway

A number of business lobby groups have signed a letter to Theresa May, saying the government needs to “get on with expanding the UK’s airport capacity”. The letter has only been sent, due to Heathrow – and Chris Grayling – lobbying the companies to send it.  The same business groups have lobbied many times before, in favour of the 3rd runway. The claim is that, (despite all the financial uncertainties, the fact Heathrow is in the wrong location, and its immensely damaging environmental impacts) the runway will somehow help Britain cope with the problems Brexit will cause. The groups that put their name to the letter were the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, the EEF – The Manufacturers’ Organisation, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and airport expansion lobby group London First. The timing of the letter, which has been published by Heathrow, is particularly important, because Heathrow wants the required vote to approve the draft Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow 3rd runway) to go ahead as planned before September because then MPs will be more pre-occupied with Brexit. .

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Noise pollution is one of the biggest health risks – often given insufficient attention – in city life

Research indicates that noise is one of the biggest pollutants in modern cities but the risk is often overlooked despite being linked to an increased risk of early death. “Noise produces a stimulus to the central nervous system and this stimulus releases some hormones,” said Dr David Rojas from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain. ‘(This) increases the risk of hypertension, and hypertension has been related with many other cardiovascular (and) cerebrovascular diseases like infarction (heart attacks) and strokes.’ Dr Rojas, an environmental health researcher, says that despite the fact that noise pollution is a major public health problem in cities – and, in fact, beats air pollution as a risk factor in Barcelona – there is a tendency to overlook the problem because we can tune it out.  “When we have a background noise, the brain has the capacity to adapt to this noise, and you don’t see it as an annoyance so much and you start to accept and adapt. But even if you are not conscious of the noise, this is still stimulating your organic system.”  …”When you are in the city, we are not exposed to a single pollutant, we are exposed to a mix of things”… (air pollution, noise, the absence of green spaces and plants).

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Heathrow referred to Competition and Markets Authority because it refused to consider the Hub runway idea

Heathrow Hub, the rival plan to the controversial proposed third runway expansion, is formally complaining to the Competition and Markets Authority about the behaviour of the airport. It claims Heathrow “abused its dominant market position” to get Government backing for the third runway, by simply refusing to consider the Hub. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said he couldn’t back the Hub option because Heathrow would not guarantee to work on commercial terms to help build it. That is the heart of Hub concept originator, Jock Lowe’s, complaint. The  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the UK’s competition authority it carries out market and competition investigations. It is also the body to which airports or other persons with a qualifying interest can appeal the CAA’s price determinations.  It was the CMA’s predecessor, the Competition Commission, that ordered the break up of BAA, as it  then was, as the company had too much control over London’s airports. That ended up with Gatwick, and then Stansted, being sold. The current government’s desire to expand Heathrow would lead to an almost exactly similar situation – Heathrow being almost a monopoly for long haul destinations in the south east.

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Ofsted monitoring report highly critical of apprenticeship provider, Mooreskills, at Heathrow and apprenticeship quality

Heathrow has tried hard to persuade MPs that its 3rd runway would almost eradicate youth unemployment, and its scheme for more apprenticeships would be fantastically effective. One of Heathrow’s most often repeated claims as benefits for a 3rd runway is taking on 5,000 more apprentices, taking the number up to 10,000, by 2030. Now an assessment of its apprenticeship programme by Ofsted shows that  its apprenticeships were “not fit for purpose”. Inspectors found “insufficient progress” had been made in establishing and maintaining high-quality apprenticeship provision.  The report said progress of the vast majority of current apprentices is slow, and many who should have started in February had still not begun. Leaders had failed to ensure “they have sufficient training staff” with the “required competencies and skills to deliver the programmes”….“Far too many of the apprentices” at Heathrow were adversely affected by this shortage of qualified training staff. Many apprenticeships were in retailing and wholesaling.  Many were found to be “not fit for purpose”, and most received “a poor standard of training”.

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Heathrow Hub wants Grayling to make changes to Airports NPS to include their extended north runway scheme

Heathrow Hub is not giving up, and keeps pressing for the government to approve its concept of an “Extended Northern Runway” (ENR).  It has now submitted amended draft legislation to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, so that its ENR proposal can be implemented instead of Heathrow Airport’s north-west runway (NWR).  The backers of the Hub (who stand to make a lot of money, if their scheme was chosen) say the ENR scheme would be cheaper, simpler and “quieter” than the NWR. And they say it can be built in phases. Phase 1, costing £3.9bn and delivering 70,000 additional aircraft movements annually, would begin operations as soon as 2026, possibly 4 years ahead of the NWR scheme. There are differences in the numbers of homes needing to be demolished, and the number of people who would be forced to leave their homes. The amount of plane noise would be much worse for those currently under flight paths, but there would probably be fewer people newly exposed to aircraft noise.  Heathrow Hub’s lawyers have drafted suggested amendments to the National Policy Statement (NPS), due to be considered by Parliament in the summer.

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Guardian letter on costs of Heathrow runway to taxpayer

21st May 2018

Letter in today’s Guardian from Christina Smyth, of Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway group https://handfnothirdrunway.org/@handfno3runway: Government is about to pour maybe £10 billion into the south east if Parliament supports Heathrow expansion, whilst projects in the north of England are cancelled.


Edinburgh airport overtakes Heathrow on number of domestic air passengers, though numbers falling overall for both

Heathrow has been trying to curry favour with regional airports, implying that they will get links to Heathrow if there is a 3rd runway. The reality is that many domestic flights are not profitable, and can only be maintained if subsidised by the industry or by government. Now figures show that Heathrow no longer has the largest number of domestic air passengers, having fallen behind Edinburgh. In the past 12 years the number of passengers on domestic flights, to or from Heathrow, has fallen by 28% – while overall passenger numbers rose by 26% (Heathrow and the airlines prefer to use the slots for more profitable flights). In 2017 it handled just over 13,000 domestic passengers per day, compared with over 18,000 in 2005. It now subsidises domestic passengers by £15 per trip. There has been a fall in domestic passengers using Edinburgh too, but only of 14% – so it has overtaken Heathrow.  Eight domestic airports are currently served from Heathrow. The only route to have been lost since 2005 is Durham Tees Valley, though frequency has dropped on many routes. Edinburgh airport says with its 12 direct long haul destinations, more passengers can avoid having to travel via Heathrow. Edinburgh airport (owned by GIP) is opposed to a Heathrow 3rd runway.

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Residents near Heathrow face MONTHS of noise as over 1,000 boreholes will be drilled – even before a 3rd runway gets government go-ahead

People living near Heathrow are facing 4 months of “noise and disruption” as more than 1,000 boreholes are drilled into the ground to see if it is suitable for building a third runway, investigating the water table etc.  Hillingdon Council has issued the warning to residents living in the south of the borough they will have to put up with the drilling, even before a decision to approve expansion has been made by the government. There is a presumption that Heathrow will be given permission to expand, though this has not even been voted through in Parliament yetThe council says it has sought to prevent the proposed works on its land on behalf of residents, but its protest was overruled by the Secretary of State (Chris Grayling). The council said: “There will be increased noise and disruptive activity by Heathrow Airport contractors working on borehole sites on land identified for possible Heathrow expansion.” Work was due to begin on April 30 and last for approximately four months. It is to be carried out by Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) and involves ground investigations in Harmondsworth and  Sipson.   The drilling does not require planning permission to proceed and each borehole will be worked on for a maximum of 4 days.

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Sonia Sodha: A radical way to cut aviation CO2 emissions – ration everyone’s flights, and if people want more they have to buy an allocation not being used by someone else

As people get richer, and the pull of cheap flights and increasing numbers of holidays and short breaks gets ever stronger, we need some way to curb the growth in demand for air travel. People will never voluntarily cut their trips. Sonia Sodha, knowing she and others need to be forced to do so, suggests an individual flights limit, that people can trade with others – along the lines of trading carbon allowances. She says “‘We’re only going to make a dent in climate change by doing something pretty radical.” … “Everyone could be given an air mile allowance – say enough for one long-haul return flight a year, or three short-haul flights, so people with families on the other side of the world could see them once a year. If you don’t want to use your allowance, you could sell it off in a government-regulated online marketplace. If you’re keen to do a holiday a month, you’ll have to buy your allowance from someone else.” Mind you, the amount she suggests per person is very high (far beyond what the climate could tolerate, and far beyond the ambition of keeping global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees C. But at least it is getting this concept discussed ….

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Gordon Dewar (CEO of Edinburgh airport): MSPs mistaken to back Heathrow ‘monopoly’ that harms Scottish airports

Gordon Dewar (CEO of Edinburgh airport, with same owners – GIP – as Gatwick, so not a fan of Heathrow expansion) says the Scottish Government made a mistake when it supported Heathrow’s third runway, which will create a “huge monopoly” in the South East and undermine Scotland’s airports. He says while Heathrow is spending a lot of time and money trying to get Scottish backing for its 3rd runway, the  reality is that allowing Heathrow to become bigger would be “to the detriment of Scotland’s airports and Scottish travellers, and those around the UK for that matter.” He says while – in order to secure the Scottish Government’s support – Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye made a number of promises “about the appointment of Scottish suppliers and the use of Prestwick Airport as a logistics hub. He also promised 16,000 jobs, £200m of construction spend and £10m of cash to support route development in and out of Scotland.” ….Dewar says those backing Heathrow’s runway should “ask how those promises are being delivered and what safeguards are in place to ensure that they are.” (None?)

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Boss of Dubai Airports shows just how callous his industry is: wants Heathrow open 24/7 regardless of noise…

Heathrow and its airlines are extremely unwilling to get rid of night flights, regardless of how much health damage (and reduction in quality of life) they cause to people overflown. Now Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, shows clearly just how little the industry cares about the welfare of residents, or the opinions of those negatively affected by his industry. Talking to the Independent, he asked: “Why is the UK persisting with all these restrictions on operating hours? …. imagine all that investment, all that amazing infrastructure sitting idle for a third of the day [which, of course, it is not – flights operate till after 11pm and start at 4.30am…] “ He seems to want people to believe that new “quieter” aircraft (only marginally less noisy than those now) will make all the difference …  He also wants Heathrow to work in “mixed mode” for both runways, to get the maximum number of flights.  The naked, uncaring, unreconstructed capitalism is stark.  MPs take note – this is the sort of man who runs airlines, and wants Heathrow to do their bidding, at the expense of Londoners etc. [Akbar Al Baker, Heathrow board member and CEO of Qatar Airways, did the same in 2014 – to Heathrow’s embarrassment…]

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German study shows link between aircraft noise (day or night) and atrial fibrillation

With an increasing level of noise, the incidence of atrial fibrillation also increases dramatically. From a study of 15,000 men and women aged 35 to 74 in Germany, scientists found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in subjects who reacted to noise with extreme annoyance increased to 23%, compared to 15% without the noise. Looking at the proportion of sources of extreme noise pollution, aircraft noise came first with 84% during the day and 69% during sleep. The results were published recently in the International Journal of Cardiology. Other studies have shown the link between noise (that may be causing anger, disturbed sleep, exhaustion or stress) that impairs wellbeing, health (including cardiovascular disease), and the quality of life. There is probably a link between cardiac impacts and noise, even when the person is not aware of being made irritated or angry by the noise. The increase in atrial fibrillation may be the reason why there is a connection between noise and strokes. The ban in night flights at Frankfurt from 11pm to 5am did not lead to less noise annoyance, but more – as the overall number of flights did not reduce. Noise was worse than before between 10-11pm and 5-6am.

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DfT started search for companies to bid for 2 construction projects to link Heathrow to the Great Western Mail Line (WRLtH)

The government has begun the search for companies to finance and construct a £900m rail line linking Heathrow to the Great Western Main Line.  The DfT has published a prior information notice for companies to deliver two construction packages that will make up the proposed 6.5 km Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH). Package A requires the construction of two twin-bored tunnels and a 5 km line that will connect to Heathrow T5’s existing rail tunnels. A DfT notice was sent out to gauge market appetite for the construction, finance and maintenance of package A, showing the government favours a public-private partnership (PPP). A second package involves the construction of a tunnel at Langley Junction near Stevenage that will connect the line to the existing Great Western Main Line. Package B is expected to be funded and managed conventionally through Network Rail.  The DfT is aiming for work to begin during Network Rail’s CP6 funding period, which runs from 2019 to 2024. The project is expected to complete by 2027.

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Election candidates line up to support campaign against Heathrow expansion

150 candidates standing for the local elections on Thursday 3 May have lined up to back the campaign opposing expansion Heathrow.  The election pledge issued by No 3rd Runway Coalition, to candidates, called for their support for the campaign against Heathrow expansion – if they are elected later this week.  81 candidates from Hillingdon and 65 candidates from Hounslow have had their pictures taken with the anti-expansion pledge. Support is strong across all the political parties, including the Conservatives and Labour in both boroughs. The Liberal Democrats and Green parties are national, long-standing opponents of the expansion plans. According to campaigners, the keenness of the large number of election candidates to have their picture taken with the pledge echoes the recent referendum on Heathrow expansion held in Richmond and Hillingdon, which saw voters reject the plans by 72%, with just 28% in favour. Election candidates realise there is low support for a 3rd runway in their boroughs, and not only in Hillingdon and Hounslow but far more widely – in boroughs such as Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kingston and well beyond.Hillingdon Conservative candidates photographed with the pledge.

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Heathrow now claiming its 3rd runway would cut number of suicides in the regions, (due to a few short term jobs…).

Heathrow somewhat “scraping the bottom of the barrel” here.  Heathrow is trying to make out that providing a little work for people, currently with insecure jobs, in the regions, will reduce the suicide risk. Heathrow says components will (sic) be assembled off-site at one of the hubs before being transported in consolidated loads to Heathrow as they are needed. Heathrow Airport expansion delivery director Rob Ewen told the New Civil Engineer Airport’s conference that rebalancing workers’ quality of life could address the industry’s suicide rates, which are higher than any other trade…. Bit of a long shot ….. ?  Heathrow has dangled the carrot of four “manufacturing hubs” in the regions, where some materials for the expansion of the airport, would be made or assembled etc.  To do this, the regions trying to be chosen for the hub sites have to support Heathrow expansion, be uncritical of it etc.  Out of all the dozens of applicants, probably only four will be chosen – with no decision made any time soon. Fair enough, a few short term jobs would be created. But does this really justify a claim about suicides?   Would the jobs be secure, long-term, well paid, with a career structure?  Time will tell. Just another of the claims made about jobs …. which often fall far short of what is anticipated …

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IATA claims Heathrow night flight ban would ‘damage’ UK economy – meaning a proper night ban is unlikely with a 3rd runway

Heathrow has always been very resistant to any effective ban on night flights, other than for a brief period in the middle of the night – it has never supported a period long enough to enable those overflown to get 7 or 8 hours of quiet in order to have a peaceful full night’s sleep. Now the aviation industry global trade lobby, IATA says a “total ban on night flights at ­Heathrow would “seriously damage” the UK’s economic competitiveness by hitting important export industries and regional growth.” IATA does not want any impediment to air cargo, which increasingly relies on overnight delivery, or reduced connecting flights that are used by some business passengers. The DfT currently allows Heathrow 5,800 flights per year between 11.30pm and 6am – about 16 per night on average. These flights are deeply unpopular, especially those touching down from 4.30am, heard over much of London up to 20 minutes earlier. The idea that flights could be rotated, at night, between three runways, is being used to try to persuade people that night flights should be permitted. Rotating flights between runways would NOT provide the quiet 7 – 8 hour period needed, for tens or hundreds of thousands overflown by Heathrow planes.

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Drivers for miles around Heathrow could face £15 congestion charge, to TRY and keep to legal air pollution limits

Holidaymakers who drive to Heathrow could soon be hit with a congestion charge, as the airport needs to try to persuade tourists – those going on holiday or visiting friends and family – to leave their cars at home, in order not to make local air pollution any worse. Critics have said the proposed move is unfair because as much as 80 miles of roads, in the Heathrow vicinity, could be impacted. This would inevitably have a very negative impact on road users who are not associated with the airport, going about their usual activities. The level of the proposed charge is unknown – it would have to be quite high in order to sufficiently deter travellers, (up to £15 perhaps?) for whom air travel demand is “inelastic” ie. not much affected by price.  Reacting to this proposal, Robert Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “This latest additional Heathrow charge simply highlights a critical problem with expanding Heathrow: air pollution targets would be so difficult to meet that the airport will have to whack travellers and families with a £15 charge for accessing the airport by car.”  Without drastic measures to restrict road traffic in the  areas, significantly worsened air pollution is likely – where limits are already regularly beached.

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Even keen runway supporter, Slough Council, want assurances from Heathrow on damage to borough

Frustrations had been raised at Slough Borough Council (a keen supporter of the 3rd runway) after Heathrow seemingly ignored planning requirements it had set out, that would have ensured a ‘green envelope’ around Colnbrook, into which Heathrow would not intrude. Instead, the consultation set up by Heathrow showed plans for major new road developments within Colnbrook, and a taxiway that was just a few hundred meters from Pippins School. However, council leader, James Swindlehurst, said he had reached agreement with Heathrow that they will ‘review alternatives’ to the currently proposed roads for Colnbrook. They have also agreed to set up a workshop along with the council to explore other options. Heathrow has also announced that they are ‘committed’ to working with Pippins School to mitigate the impact of the expansion. [That probably means very little indeed, in reality].  The airport also pledged funding for a Historic Area Assessment for Colnbrook, which will work to identify buildings and landmarks with historical significance and determine what additional protections they need. [Any protection, other than the only effective one – not to build a massive airport in very close proximity to them].

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The true aircraft noise impacts of an expanded Heathrow means at least 973,000 households, or 2.2million people, would be impacted.

Chris Grayling dodged these facts presented by @RuthCadbury & @AdamAfriyie at transport questions in Parliament on 19th April.  https://www.parliamentlive.tv/…/32239dd3-409c-4e11-a7f2-4e7…… (9.47 mins in till 9.51 )

Grayling merely gave a response, written for him ?? by the DfT, with the usual stuff. He admits there will be more noise “for a few years” after the 3rd runway would open, before a new generation of “quieter” planes come into service. He seems to believe they will all be new “quiet” planes by the early 2030s. (But new planes take years to come into service, and older planes have at least a 30 year lifespan …)_

And these new “quieter” planes are only a few decibels less noisy than older generation ones. To the person hearing them, living below flight paths, it is still a very noisy plane going overhead (even if a fraction less than planes a decade or more earlier). Grayling, Sugg etc really seem not to understand the issues. They badly want NOT to understand the problem!


Spelthorne sets out list of demands for Heathrow to protect its residents – if there was a 3rd runway

Spelthorne Council has been a backer of Heathrow expansion for some time, as has its MP, Kwasi Kwateng. Now the council has set out a list of 10 demands from Heathrow, if there is a 3rd runway, n its response to its recent consultation.  These include a  requirement that residents in Stanwell Moor and Stanwell join the Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) and that no immigration centre is built in the borough. They want to “secure the best possible outcomes for our residents and businesses, in particular those most affected in Stanwell Moor and Stanwell.” Some of the demands are that residents will be able to either stay in the area or sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Also that Heathrow will pay for the introduction of a Controlled Parking Zone across Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, so residents would not have to pay for a fee for their annual parking permit. The Council wants community legacy benefits so Heathrow will “fully mitigate and compensate for the disruption, loss of open space, additional traffic, air quality and noise impacts, and removal of community buildings.” They want Heathrow to build an “enhanced multi-purpose community hall” and a new leisure centre for the community. And demands on surface access, noise, air quality, Staines Moor and much else besides.

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AEF comment on the DfT’s Aviation Strategy – environmental impacts must be central to policy, not an add-on

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has commented on the Government’s Aviation Strategy, produced on 7th. They say that while the UK aspires “to be a world leader in aviation when it comes to facilities and services, the same cannot be said for environmental protection, at least when it comes to climate change. A world-class package of environmental protection doesn’t currently seem to be on the agenda.” They say “The Aviation Strategy objectives should include an environmental objective that is not wrapped up in a commitment to growth, and the implications of this objective should be considered from the start.” AEF reiterate that aviation’s “unlimited growth is incompatible with achieving environmental commitments” and the DfT is not even questioning whether aviation growth was a positive outcome to aim for. Instead of the 3 separate consultations on aspects of UK aviation policy over the next 18 months, (with environment at the end) there will be a single Green Paper this autumn. The AEF hopes this allows for environmental impacts to be considered throughout the period of policy development and not as an afterthought (as it originally appeared). The DfT policy is focused on airline passengers and improving the service to them, but it should instead be in the interest of the whole population, including those affected by airports and aircraft.

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Queen jokes that noisy plane ‘sounds like President Trump’ during chat in Windsor with Sir David Attenborough

The Queen and Sir David Attenborough, were recording for a programme in Windsor. Their genial chatter was marred by the overhead din of aircraft or helicopters. The Queen could not contain her irritation. “Why do they go round and round when you want to talk?” she pondered aloud. Poking fun at the noisy aircraft favoured by US leaders, she joked: “Sounds like President Trump or President Obama.” It is not the first time the monarch has expressed frustration about living under a flight path. Last year, she bemoaned the increasing “noise from the air” that disturbs the peace when she is enjoying the gardens at Frogmore House in Windsor. “These days there is more noise from the air than in 1867, but Frogmore remains a wonderfully relaxing environment.” Heathrow airport is barely a seven mile drive from Frogmore House and its flight path passes very close to the royal retreat. It was suggested in 2015 that the monarch could receive millions of pounds in compensation to soundproof Windsor Castle due to the noise of planes from an expanded Heathrow.

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CAA data, only obtained through FoI request, shows about 2.2 million people (in fact, probably more …) would be affected by noise from a 3 runway Heathrow

Over 2 million people could be affected by noise from an expanded Heathrow according to secret documents obtained by campaigners. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had previously claimed in October 2016 that an expanded Heathrow (up to 50% more flights) would be quieter in 2030 than today. This claim (obviously ludicrous) was not repeated in the revised draft consultation on the Airports National Policy statement (NPS) published in October 2017. This predicted that 92,700 additional people in the area around Heathrow would be exposed to noise by 2030 as a consequence of the 3rd runway. Now, following an FOI request for the noise data contained in the CAA’s economic analysis, a new figure emerges of 972,957 households who would experience greater noise by 2060. This is the time frame for the full introduction of ‘quieter’ (= slightly less noisy) planes. Based on CAA assumptions on household size this figure is equivalent to 2.2 million people. The third runway, if approved, is expected to be fully open by 2028. At this point it is claimed that a maximum of 90% of the aircraft fleet would have been updated.  This excludes many of the noisier four-engine planes. It is likely therefore that at this point the numbers of people experiencing increased noise would be significantly higher.

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Reality Check: Why politicians should reject the Heathrow 3rd runway. Excellent 2 page summary by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson

For a masterful summary (2 pages with all references) of the reasons why the UK government should not be persuaded into allowing a 3rd Heathrow runway, see this briefing by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson, from Transport for Quality of Life. They sum up all the ways in which the business case for the runway is flawed and the environmental case rests on hugely optimistic assumptions. They list these as: “planes will get cleaner and quieter at a faster rate than has previously been expected; cars and vans will also get dramatically cleaner; freight movements will somehow be optimised; the latest National Air Quality Plan will deliver all anticipated air quality improvements; the fledgling international aviation carbon offsetting scheme will generate a high enough carbon price; the national Aviation Strategy (not yet written) will come up with cost-effective mechanisms for constraining aviation emissions further; the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise will prove effective; a review of airspace (that has not taken place for over 40 years, as it is so controversial) will take place soon; HS2, Crossrail and the Piccadilly line upgrades will attract air passengers and airport staff in sufficiently large numbers; funding will be found for Western and Southern rail access; etc. It seems very unlikely that all of these will fall into place.” 

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Government Aviation Strategy put back from “end of 2018” to “first half of 2019”

The Government’s Aviation Strategy will now not be presented to Parliament until summer 2019 despite the initial consultation in July 2017 promising the full strategy to be presented to Parliament “before the end of 2018”.  The reason for the delay is unclear but campaigners say the strategy could in fact be put in jeopardy because of its reliance on Heathrow expansion – a project which has major parliamentary and legal hurdles to overcome. Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:  “This strategy is written on the basis that Heathrow expansion is a done deal. It is in fact very uncertain with parliamentary and legal hurdles which it will struggle to overcome. The Government seems hell-bent on expanding Heathrow, despite evidence that alternative options for growth in the sector would bring a greater benefit to regions across the UK and not just in the south east, as usual.”  It has always been profoundly unsatisfactory, and illogical, for a key part of the UK aviation sector – Heathrow airport – being decided upon BEFORE the UK aviation policy for the whole sector.  Rationally, it would be the other way round – aviation policy first, and then decide on whether Heathrow should expand.

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DfT publishes Aviation Strategy, with focus on growth and helping passengers – little on environmental impacts

The government has published its Aviation Strategy, which the DfT says “will set out the longterm direction for aviation policy to 2050 and beyond.” The first phase of its development was the publication of a call for evidence in July 2017. The Aviation Strategy says it will now “pursue 6 objectives, which are unchanged following the consultation.” It is very much focused on the passenger, the passenger experience, helping the aviation industry, expanding aviation and “building a global and connected Britain.”  The Strategy “sets out further detail on the challenges associated with these objectives and some of the action that the government is considering and which will form part of further consultation later in the year.” The DfT says:  “The government will continue the dialogue that has already begun on these issues. The next step will be the publication of detailed policy proposals in a green paper in the autumn of 2018. This will be followed by the final Aviation Strategy document in early 2019.” There is mention of the environmental problems (carbon, noise, air pollution) but they are given scant attention, and it is presumed they can all be reduced – even while the sector has huge growth. A new runway at Heathrow is assumed to happen.

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Heathrow appoints Rachel Cerfontyne as Chair of its “Community Engagement Board”

The Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB) has announced Rachel Cerfontyne as its new Chair. The HCEB, the successor body to the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee, initiated an open hiring process for a new Chair at the end of 2017. A selection panel made up of representatives from the new HCEB, Heathrow, the Department for Transport and a local residents group, the HASRA (Harmondsworth & Sipson Residents Assn), agreed that Rachel “would provide the necessary open and independent leadership to evolve the work of the new Board and represent the interests of all communities associated with Heathrow Airport.” She will focus on “building trust between Heathrow and its communities, holding the airport to account when it comes to delivering on its commitments today and into the future.”  There is a history of serious distrust of the airport by many, after decades of broken promises, misleading statements, half truths etc. Rachel was Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, where she has spent 9 years trying to improve public confidence in the police complaints system.

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New study shows dramatic increase in Heathrow flight numbers (= noise) over parts of SE London

A new study Corridors of Concentration, published by HACAN and Plane Hell Action,  reveals a dramatic increase in the number of flights over many areas of South East London in recent years. It also found that flight paths have become more concentrated. The study was carried out to highlight the current impact of aircraft noise on south east London and to influence the policy debate by feeding into Heathrow’s recent consultation on future flight path design. Over a dozen areas from Clapham Common to Greenwich were surveyed, and the number of aircraft audible from each location recorded. The study found that the area is heavily overflown, with typically 38 planes an hour audible to many communities.  This could rise to over 40 during busy periods. Due to increasing concentration, some communities are especially badly hit. The study concluded many more planes are joining their final approach corridors further east than before and are more concentrated within those corridors.  People living south of the Thames are experiencing an increased density of turning aircraft over their homes. The study recommends that flight paths need to be varied more, and the practice of concentrating night flights over particular communities should be avoided. See the whole study for details.

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Andy Slaughter: The case against Heathrow expansion keeps getting stronger – but will the government listen?

The publication of the Transport Select Committee (TSC) report into the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) has been interpreted by the government and Heathrow as a green light for expansion to proceed. Whilst the TSC recognised the strategic case for a third runway, the real story is the significant shift in position from a select committee that has long been supportive of a expansion to one that is highly critical of the lack of detail in the plans. The robust list of recommendations in the TSC report highlights areas where significant work is still required before the government bring the final NPS to parliament for a vote. The TSC report also includes several additional conditions of approval to be included in the final version of the NPS on air quality, surface access, connectivity, costs and charges, noise, community impacts, resource and waste management. The NPS is the document against which the Heathrow planning application will be judged, and if it lacks sufficient detail on these key issues then it will not be strong enough to hold the airport to account. There is little evidence to suggest that parliament can have confidence in simply trusting Heathrow.  I “urge my parliamentary colleagues to read the TSC report. Those who do will understand why they should vote against the NPS when it is brought to parliament.”

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Heathrow 3rd runway: CO2 emissions still the elephant in the room, which MPs should not ignore

The Transport Select Committee (TSC) recently released their report on the government’s plans to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow. It shows how the plan is completely incompatible with the UK’s climate obligations. Yet the carbon emissions from a 50% larger Heathrow were given the briefest of mentions in the summary, and crucial issues are tucked away in the final annex of the TSC report. The Campaign Against Climate Change has explained some of the dubious assumptions being made by the DfT, in order to imply carbon is not a key limiter of the scheme. One assumption is that CO2 emissions from air travel can be excluded from calculations of economic impact – but the CO2 from flights is over 96% of emissions resulting from aviation. Then there is the assumption that carbon trading is an effective way of compensating for the increase in aviation emissions. The DfT hopes – unjustifiably – that aviation CO2 can be ignored, since they will be completely removed through carbon trading. The Committee on Climate Change has consistently warned against relying on carbon trading. And there is the assumption that biofuels could be used to reduce aviation CO2. The only economically viable fuel would be palm oil, with devastating environmental impacts. MPs voting on the NPS need to be aware of these facts.

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“Deliberately misleading” on Heathrow economics. It’s not NEF but the Dept for Transport…

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has published a report on the economics of the Heathrow 3rd runway. They looked at the DfT’s figures (all publicly available material) and have concluded that the runway is a very bad bet economically for the UK. Using the Government’s own formula for assessing transport schemes, Heathrow expansion along proposed lines would be rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value for money.  At best, in net present value (NPV) terms, building the North West Runway (NWR) at Heathrow would yield an economic benefit of £3.3 billion. At worst, in net terms there would not only be no economic benefit whatsoever, but a significant financial cost of up to £2.2 billion, to be borne either by the airport, its investors, airlines, passengers or perhaps even government (ie. then taxpayers). Andrew Pendleton, one of the authors of the report, commented: “it is not us that now forecast a worst-case scenario for Heathrow expansion of £2.2 billion of net costs, but the DfT. Similarly, it isn’t NEF that has thrown out a whole set of models produced for the 2015 Airports Commission, but the Government’s own analysts at the DfT.” If Heathrow has to satisfy the caveats required in the Transport Committee report, the costs of the runway would be even higher (and net  benefit even lower). The DfT and the government continue to push for the runway – but NEF says they should think again. 

The report – “Flying Low – the true costs of Heathrow’s runway” 

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Negative impacts of Heathrow expansion to economy and the regions highlighted in new report

A report on Heathrow’s third runway plans has revealed that the impact on the economy is likely to be negative with significant concerns about potential costs falling on taxpayers. Indeed, using the Government’s own methodology the scheme would be rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value. The report “Flying Low: The True Cost of Heathrow’s Third Runway”, by the New Economics Foundation, was commissioned by the No Third Runway Coalition to examine the Government’s own data and analysis that has been used to justify their position of support for the north west runway at Heathrow. It found that airports outside London would experience a reduction in aviation traffic which would, in turn, at the very least lead to “grow more slowly” and could in fact lead to lead to a reduction in jobs at airports in regions across the UK, through displacing of jobs from other (regional) airports, as well as from other sectors. The report also identified that a ‘more targeted’ approach was needed to support a UK-wide air freight strategy. Chair of the Coalition, Paul McGuinness commented:“Further, it must be unacceptable for Heathrow to claim their proposals will be privately financed whilst seeking protections from the public purse for potential delays in construction and inaccuracies in passenger demand forecasts.”

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How Heathrow is happy to pay way over the odds, to increase its RAB, allowing more revenue

The City Editor of the Financial Times, Jonathan Ford, has written about how the reasons for Heathrow’s anticipated costs for its possible 3rd runway.  The cost of £17 billion, or now £15 billion are exceptional. But Jonathan explains how Heathrow’s investors seem happy to spend so much. It is because of the curious incentives that operate in the topsy-turvy world of utility financing. As with most ventures that have monopolistic aspects, Heathrow is not subject to ordinary restraints on capital expenditure. The principal check is the willingness of the airport’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to sign off on the mechanism by which these costs can be recovered from captive airline customers through passenger charges. Heathrow often pays far above the going rate for building, new technology etc, because this adds to the airport’s regulated asset base (RAB) on which it gets an allowed return, and thus permits it predictably to expand its own revenues. Since taking over BAA in 2006, Ferrovial has been extremely active, tripling Heathrow’s RAB to £15bn. It is a system that has allowed the airport’s owners to finance these expansions with vanishingly little equity capital. Heathrow is encouraged to fund everything with debt by a regulatory system that allows it to keep the gains from financial engineering. Heathrow’s owners hope to shrug off the risks of completion, but transfer them on to customers.

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Transport Committee demands serious changes to Government’s Heathrow case before any vote in Parliament

The Commons Transport Committee has produced the report on its inquiry into the Draft Airports NPS (ie. on the proposal for a 3rd Heathrow runway). The report states: “Once costs are considered, the net economic benefits for the NWR [North West Runway] scheme are relatively small at a maximum of £3.3 billion over 60 years and in fact, may be negative if future demand falls.”  It highlights the absence of a large amount of necessary material from the Government’s draft NPS; it demands that evidence must be presented to show that the scheme is both affordable and deliverable – before any vote is put to MPs. The report contains a highly critical assessment of the cost to the taxpayers, passengers and airlines of expansion.  There was also expression of major concerns about the lack of clarity on surface access proposals and costs on the rerouting of the M25, the methodology of calculating air pollution impacts and a considerably more radical approach on noise impacts. Though a NPS was expected to be put to Parliament before the summer recess in July, there must be evidence clarifying the number of areas of concern before MPs should be asked to vote. It is unlikely the necessary information could be obtained in time for an early summer vote – or even one in 2018.

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Transport Committee MPs demand strict limits on Heathrow noise and pollution due to a 3rd runway

Heathrow’s third runway should be blocked unless the government introduces tough new restrictions on costs, pollution, aircraft noise and night flights, according to MPs. The transport select committee said that safeguards designed to protect local residents and airport passengers had to be strengthened before the plans are approved. The cross-party group ultimately supported the proposed northwest runway, concluding in a report that it was the best option for airport expansion in the southeast. However, it said the NPS should only be passed by MPs if crucial new conditions were imposed on the airport to limit its environmental and economic impact. In a series of recommendations, the report said approval should only be granted if Heathrow can guarantee not to worsen air quality in west London or increase the number of polluting cars being driven to the airport. The MPs called for the proposed existing six-and-a-half-hour ban on night flights to be extended to seven hours. The report also said that the government’s previously lenient assessment of aircraft noise should be rerun to provide a “fair view of the range of possible noise impacts”. They demanded more clarity on the funding and timing of road and rail links, and much more. The government is expected to respond to the report before drafting its final NPS.

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Government confirms a Heathrow runway shorter than 3,500m invalidates the NPS (so why is HAL consulting on it?)

There was a Lords debate on the issue of Heathrow, and a possible 3rd runway, on Thursday 15th March. There were many important contributions from Baroness Kramer, Baroness Jones and many others.  One point that emerged was that, while the Airports NPS (on which MPs are expected to vote in the summer) looks only at a 3rd runway 3,500 metres long, Heathrow has its own (inappropriately premature) consultation at present, in which it considers a shorter runway. Lord Tunnicliffe asked:  “Heathrow is now consulting on a scheme with the third runway being 3,200 metres long. That is all over the web. If it presents a scheme for 3,200 metres, does paragraph 1.15 mean that the document is invalid? It seems to say that the only scheme that the Government will consider is one for 3,500 metres. …. Have the Government got themselves in a trap where their provisions and the newly preferred scheme by Heathrow are incompatible?” To which Lord Young of Cookham (Spokesperson for the Government, for the Cabinet Office) said:   “… The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked me whether anything less than that would invalidate the NPS, and the answer is, yes, it would.”  There were also important contributions on other issues, including the very negative implications for regional airports, from a 3 runway Heathrow. .

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Slough council critical of damage to borough from Heathrow revised plans for runway

Slough Borough Council, which is supportive of a 3rd runway, even though the borough is very close to Heathrow, have now criticised plans in the airport’s initial consultation.   They say a local school, homes and businesses will have to be demolished under revised plans for the expansion. Slough Borough Council said Pippins School in Colnbrook would be closer to the runway than previously thought. They also fear changes to the M25 would also affect a local trading estate, and lead to increased congestion and pollution. Slough fear that raising the runway above ground level as it crosses the M25 could have “serious impacts” on Pippins School and nearby homes because of “worsening noise and air pollution”. The school and nearby houses would be likely to be part of a compulsory purchase order, so Slough needs Heathrow to pay to rebuild the school at another, more suitable, location. The leader of Slough council, James Swindlehurst, said they were objecting to the wider proposals in the hope of “shaping the ideas” Heathrow were producing. Diverting the M25 by 150 metres to the west, he claimed, could involve the loss of homes at Elbow Meadow and buildings on the Galleymead Trading Estate in Colnbrook. In the past, Slough signed a gagging order with Heathrow, preventing it complaining about the runway plans, in order for anticipated benefits from the airport once a runway was built.

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Mayor of London Transport Strategy opposes Heathrow runway, unless there are firm assurances on air pollution, noise and surface access

The Mayor of London has published the Transport Strategy for London, which sets out the Mayor’s policies and proposals to reshape transport in London over the next two decades. The Strategy is firmly opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Its section on Heathrow states:  “The demand generated by the current airport combined with local traffic already place considerable strain on the roads and railways serving the airport and contribute to levels of NO2 that are well in exceedance of legal limits. The Mayor considers that, as a result of the additional flights and associated traffic, any expansion at Heathrow would significantly impair London’s ability to meet international air quality obligations in the shortest possible timescale and would contribute to an overall worsening of air quality relative to the situation without expansion. Heathrow already exposes more people to significant aircraft noise than its five main European rivals combined, and the proposed increase in flights cannot avoid many people being newly exposed to significant noise. Moreover, it would be unacceptable if the air quality gains secured by the Mayor and the potential noise improvements as a result of new technologies were not allowed to accrue to local communities to improve public health, but were instead used to enable expansion of Heathrow airport.”

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DfT story: “New Heathrow rail link to lead the way for future transport funding schemes”

Government invites local authorities and private sector companies to invest in the rail network.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport. The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.  A call for ideas on market-led proposals to enhance the nation’s railways was launched today (20 March 2018) by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. There are already a number of consortia looking to construct the southern link to Heathrow. Proposed schemes would need to make commercial sense, build on the government’s significant investment in rail infrastructure and have the needs of passengers at their heart, without the over-arching need for government support.  Mr Grayling said: “We are investing in the most significant modernisation of the UK rail network since Victorian times, and I want the knowledge and expertise of investors and local partners to contribute to delivering new connections, more services and better journeys for passengers.This has already proved effective on a number of roads schemes in the UK.  …. Heathrow is a perfect example of where this can make a real difference. Such schemes will help ensure the benefits of our major international hub are even more accessible to those across the west and south of the UK, providing vital links for travellers and exporters and attracting inward investment.” …..

“If the government wishes to get serious on clean air, by adopting stronger measures … a 3rd Heathrow runway simply can’t proceed”

The Cross-Parliamentary EFRA Committee report on Improving Air Quality, released on 15th March, calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals on clean air that unify and update existing laws in a new Clean Air Act. This includes whether to adopt WHO air quality guidelines for all pollutants. The report also states that the latest air quality plan will not “deliver improvements at a pace and scale proportionate to the size of the challenge.” The High Court agrees. Significant improvements to the plan, and to the Government’s wider approach to air quality, are needed to protect the public from toxic air and that the Government’s forthcoming action plan “must ensure air quality policies are properly aligned with public health and climate change goals.” Reacting, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said:  “If the government wishes to get serious on clean air, by adopting stronger measures … a 3rd runway at Heathrow simply can’t proceed. As it is, Heathrow already regularly exceeds Nox and particulates targets. And even the government’s best-case scenario for an expanded Heathrow expects there to be a “high risk” that air quality targets will be breached. If the government wishes to signal a purer intent on air quality, abandonment of this project would at least represent a meaningful start.”

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10 years of Terminal 5 lies ‘celebrated’ by Heathrow, whilst proposed sites for runway development shock residents

While Heathrow had a small, rather underwhelming, celebration of 10 years since Terminal 5 opened, residents whose lives would be devastated by a 3rd runway were unimpressed. For them, and thousands of others negatively affected by the airport, T5 just symbolises yet more of Heathrow’s broken promises over the years.  People were assured at the T5 public inquiry that it would NOT lead to a 3rd runway (that pledge was rapidly reversed). Local campaign Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) also points out the hollow promises of jobs from T5 – these never materialised. Local people are shocked at the number and location of sites that could be destroyed as part of Heathrow’s plans for third runway development. These include sites immediately below the M4 motorway could be used to house a new immigration centre and a 20,000-space ‘mega’ car park. The A4 could also be re-routed much closer to West Drayton, which would expose residents and children at Cherry Lane Primary School to even greater air pollution levels. A site close to Wise Lane, West Drayton, could be used for flood storage, whilst land next to Cherry Lane Cemetery could be used for ‘industrial and parking uses’.  Jackie Clark-Basten, Chair of SHE, said:  “Heathrow’s record of making and delivering promises is poor and cannot be trusted now or ever.”

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Heathrow owners urged to stop huge payouts to investors – and strengthen its own finances instead

The Sunday Times says in 2017 Heathrow’s debt totalled £13.7 billion, and it is under pressure to cut its huge dividends for its shareholders, if it was allowed to build a £14bn? (£17bn?) 3rd runway. Ministers and airlines are demanding that Heathrow keeps landing charges down, which would mean the regulator, the CAA, capping dividends. Instead the airport would have to use spare funds for the runway project, and to strengthen its finances. Heathrow paid over £3bn in dividends since its buyout in 2006. Combined with a huge building projects, including two terminals, this has increased its debt to £13.7bn. Last year Heathrow paid more than £560m in interest, plus £525m in dividends, and it approved another £114m payout to shareholders last month. The Sunday Times says that could leave its balance sheet vulnerable if the runway project hits difficulties or the aviation industry suffers a downturn. The runway would almost double the size of Heathrow’s £15.8bn asset base. The shareholders gain from take-off and landing charges, which add about £20 to each passenger’s ticket.  A cap by the CAA on Heathrow’s gearing (a measure of debt as a proportion of the value of assets) would ban dividends if borrowings went above a certain level. Heathrow’s gearing is now 87% (far higher than similar businesses) and it wants to increase this ratio up to 93%.

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Sunday Times commentary on Heathrow: the cash machine with an airport attached

The Sunday Times reports that under a complex (perverse) incentive system, Heathrow is encouraged to spend as much as it can on developing the site. Heathrow’s investors earn returns based on the size of its “regulatory asset base” (RAB), under a formula set by the CAA.  So the more the airport spends, the more its owners can earn. It gives an example of £74,000 to cut down 3 trees, which is at least 20 times the normal price. These costs of developing the airport are recouped through passenger charges, and also set off against UK tax. The Sunday Times questions the efficiency, governance and transparency of the management of Heathrow.  It says the airport is demanding an insurance policy against the risk that the project goes wrong, and wants the CAA to ensure it will be compensated by airlines and passengers if there are unanticipated difficulties (eg. construction delays, or lower than anticipated passenger numbers or revenue). Scrutiny of Heathrow’s spending has inadequate, there is no audit of the RAB, to show how the figure of £15.8bn for the expansion project is calculated, and Heathrow has not provided a detailed cost breakdown for the runway plans. There are past examples of excessive costs eg. the T2 car park at £61,000 per place, or a smoking shelter at T2 that which was priced at £450,000, but finally cost £1m.

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New premium Heathrow rail link by Elizabeth line (Crossrail) will cost more than Tube but less than Heathrow Express

Transport chiefs have confirmed travellers on the new Crossrail line to Heathrow will pay a premium – but that the fare will be less than half the standard Heathrow Express rate.   A peak Crossrail fare from central London to the airport will be £12.10. That is £7 more than the Underground, but a big saving on the £27 standard fare on board Heathrow Express. Passengers travelling from London zone 2 on Crossrail will pay £9.60 single. Heathrow Express currently also offers online single fares of £22 off-peak and £25 peak.  Crossrail, which will be officially known as the Elizabeth Line, will take 10 minutes longer than the Heathrow Express’s 15-minute journey – but roughly half the travel time on the Tube from central London. Crossrail services will run to Paddington Station, which the Heathrow Express serves, and will replace the existing Heathrow Connect trains that currently offer a stopping service to the airport from Paddington, from May 2018. Crossrail will open fully in December, linking Reading in the west with Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in Kent. The No 3rd Runway Coalition commented that this is a money grabbing exercise by Heathrow, who own the tunnels which the Elizabeth line will use, to the benefit of its shareholders – and dis-benefit of local people

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True cost of Heathrow 3rd runway to the public purse must be revealed, say MPs

The true cost to the taxpayer of building a 3rd Heathrow runway at Heathrow has not been spelled out to the public, according to a cross-party group of MPs, who warn that domestic flight connections and other transport spending will be jeopardised. Justine Greening and Vince Cable are among those saying plan would jeopardise spending elsewhere, who are calling on the government to clarify the costs to the public purse.  They also want clarity on what benefits the runway would actually bring. In a letter to the Guardian, MPs and councils around Heathrow warn that promised unprofitable domestic flight connections to an  expanded Heathrow would only work with state subsidies, that could not be guaranteed in perpetuity. Additionally, more than £10 billion in additional rail and road spending to support a bigger airport would have to be funded by taxpayers, not Heathrow. Having muted her opposition to Heathrow while in the cabinet, Greening, the MP for Putney and a former transport secretary, told the Guardian that Scottish support for the third runway was misplaced. “The SNP need to wake up to the threat that an expanded Heathrow poses to Scotland … A more expensive Heathrow means fewer connections. People in Scotland won’t understand why the Scottish government think that’s a good idea to support.”

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Letter from MPs & Council Leaders: 3rd Heathrow runway would be bad for the UK

A long list of MPs, Council leaders and senior political figures have an open letter, published in the Guardian, on how taxpayers right across the UK, including those living hundreds of miles away from the south-east, would pay for the expansion of Heathrow. They say lots of promises have been made to lots of people in different parts of the country about the extra domestic routes they can expect if a third Heathrow runway is built. It’s all part of a divide-and-rule strategy which glosses over the health impacts of worsening noise and air pollution in south and west London while cheerily talking up the prospects of improved internal connections from an expanded hub airport. They say the Transport Secretary has a duty to spell out the true costs for taxpayers – and to be realistic about the benefits. On more regional flights, the letter points out that it is airlines, not airports, which decide which routes to fly, and no minister can guarantee in perpetuity the taxpayer subsidies that would be needed to keep “unprofitable” routes open. If the airport is “full” within a few years, it is likely the unprofitable domestic routes would be the first to be cut, so airlines can focus on more profitable point-to-point operations. None of today’s “promises” or assurances can be relied on.

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Chris Grayling challenged by 4 Councils to spell out Heathrow 3rd runway noise impacts

Leaders of some of the Councils worse affected by Heathrow have now called on the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to say how many years of extra noise he expects local communities to suffer, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. The Government has so far refused to release updated noise assessments for the 4 years following the new runway’s expected opening in 2026, to 2030. These were prepared for the revised draft National Planning Statement (NPS) but not included as part of the October 2017 consultation.  Chris Grayling told the Transport Select Committee in February that there would be a “short period of time” when the airport would have an expanded noise footprint. If less noisy planes come into service, to help Heathrow deal with its massive noise problem, that will not be until 2030.  The Government has previously stated that a 3 runway Heathrow would (implausibly) be “quieter than today.” People who will be overflown have a right to know what these increased noise levels would be, how long they would last and how many people’s lives would be affected. The councils have highlighted the lack of detail on noise in a further submission to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into Heathrow expansion. The Committee’s report to Parliament is expected shortly.

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Hounslow reiterates its belief that Heathrow needs to be better (noise, air pollution, traffic) – not bigger

Hounslow Council submitted its response to the two current Heathrow consultations (they are just by the airport, not official). Hounslow insists that it wants a better, not a bigger, Heathrow – and it is concerned about the noise, air quality and transport access issues.  Hounslow say that while they want the airport to be successful, as it is important to the borough, they are opposed to a bigger Heathrow, either by additional flights, addition of a third runway or a relaxation on runway operations and night flights. The Council would like to see a complete ban on night flights across an 8-hour period between 11pm and 7am. Heathrow is only willing to accept a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights (so unscheduled flights could continue).  Hounslow have called into question the credibility of the surface access strategy put forward by Heathrow and in particular to its ‘no more traffic pledge’, given that no additional public transport is proposed to achieve this. They say this raises important questions about whether air quality can be improved to meet legal limits if expansion happens. The council say they are also extremely disappointed that its proposal for a link to the South Western Railway network from Feltham station, including the addition of a new station at Bedfont is not alluded to in any way in the proposals.

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Company has plan for high speed rail, linking HS1 with HS2, via Gatwick and Heathrow

An engineering consultancy, called Expedition, has proposed a new high-speed railway passing both Gatwick and Heathrow, starting at the HS2 line near Denham north of Heathrow, and ending at Ashford in Kent.  Expedition says it is called HS4Air  the plan has been developed to enhance other major infrastructure projects for the south east. It would cost £10 billion and would connect the existing HS1 rail line with the planned HS2 along a route that passes via London’s biggest airports. Alistair Lenczner, director at Expedition leading the development of the HS4Air proposal, said discussions are currently ongoing with a number of interested parties, spanning both national and regional bodies. The line would be 140km long, and about 20% of it would run in tunnels – to avoid too big an environmental impact. Around 40% of the route re-uses the existing Network Rail railway between Tonbridge and Ashford.  Expedition hopes that HS4Air would allow rail and aviation infrastructure projects in south east England that are currently unconnected to become joined-up, and mean rail passengers would be able to travel to both airports on “fast regular services” from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without needing to switch trains.

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No 3rd Runway Coalition evidence to Transport Committee on hugely underestimated noise impacts in NPS

The No 3rd Runway Coalition gave oral and written evidence to the Commons Transport Committee. The written submission, with all the details, is published on the Committee’s website. The Coalition has explained to the MPs that, contrary to the Government’s claim in the National Policy Statement (NPS), but taking the Government’s own figures, if the NPS was approved and there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, some 2.2 million people – and possibly up to 3 million people – would experience more plane noise.  Over half a million people would receive double the number of overflights. The NPS says no more than an extra 92,700  people will be significantly affected by noise (i.e. falling within the 54 dBLAeq contour) in 2030 if the Heathrow NWR scheme is developed. However, the NPS does not represent the CAA’s economic analysis, which uses the DfT’s webTAG appraisal model (which was made available on 31.1.2018 following a FoI request). This shows that more than 420,000 people, who are already impacted over the 54 dB LAeq ‘significance threshold’, will receive 3 dB of extra noise – equivalent to doubling of the number of flights experienced daily. In addition, there is no detail on flight paths or the strategies under which they will be decided, so there is no clarity or certainty on how much people will be affected.  Parliament should not vote for a development where such key details are unknown.  The Coalition says: “Against this background the NPS should be withdrawn pending comprehensive independent review  or alternatively rejected entirely.”

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Grayling emissions omission admission: Heathrow air quality costs 2-4 times higher than previously thought

The Commons Transport Committee is currently assessing the Heathrow proposals for a 3rd runway. One of the issues in which they have taken a particular interest is whether the right numbers have been used for the cost to human health of air pollution, and if the costs of pollution beyond a 2km band around the airport have been properly considered. Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, has now written to the Committee to clarify the government position, and has confirmed that the DfT omitted (in error) to consider the emissions beyond 2km. By contrast the DfT’s own impact appraisal had noted impacts well beyond this 2km boundary, in terms of additional vehicle traffic.  The total figure for the extra cost to health, from Grayling’s admission, is now thought to be 2 to 4 times higher than the one published in the official appraisal document.  That means the “net present value” of the scheme, previously assessed as minus £-2.2 to plus £3.3 billion over 60 years (so already potentially negative) could drop to as low as minus £-2.6 to plus £2.9 billion under the new estimate.  The cost of the damage to human health from additional air pollution, associated with a new runway, is one of the two ways the DfT assesses the cost-benefit analysis of the proposal.

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Study from Los Angeles shows extent of spread of particle air pollution downwind of airport (implications for Heathrow?)

A study in California looking at air pollution from Los Angeles International Airport has shown far more widespread impacts that had previously been expected. The scientists measured the spatial pattern of particle number (PN) concentrations downwind from the airport with an instrumented vehicle that enabled a larger area to be covered than allowed by traditional stationary measurements. The study found at least a 2-fold increase in PN concentrations over un-impacted baseline PN concentrations during most hours of the day in an area of about 60 km2 that extended to 16 km (10 miles) downwind and a 4- to 5-fold increase to 8–10 km (5–6 miles) downwind. Locations of maximum PN concentrations were aligned to eastern, downwind jet trajectories during prevailing westerly winds. They found the levels of PM miles from the airport were higher than those from motorways. They say “The freeway length that would cause an impact equivalent to that measured in this study (i.e., PN concentration increases weighted by the area impacted) was estimated to be 280–790 km) “The total freeway length in Los Angeles is 1500 km. These results suggest that airport emissions are a major source of PN in Los Angeles that are of the same general magnitude as the entire urban freeway network. They also indicate that the air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated.”

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FT reports talks between UK and US on Open Skies after Brexit face difficulties

British and American negotiators secretly met in January for the first formal talks on a new air services deal, for after Brexit. When the UK leaves the EU it will no longer be part of the EU-US open skies treaty. The FT reports that the talks were cut short after US negotiators offered a far worse “Open Skies” deal, which is only a standard bilateral agreement. These typically require airlines to be majority owned and controlled by parties from their country of origin, and would hit the transatlantic operating rights of BA and Virgin badly (and Norwegian UK). The limits would be difficult for these airlines, as they have large foreign shareholdings – not merely British. The FT reports that a British official said it showed “the squeeze” London will face as it tries to reconstruct its international agreements after Brexit, even with close allies such as Washington. The busy UK-US routes are profitable, and numerous, and negotiators hope a solution will be found, but it could take time and may not be done fast enough for airlines planning flights a year ahead. The Americans are increasingly against trade liberalisation, so it is not a great time to be negotiating. The FT estimates the UK must renegotiate and replace about 65 international transport agreements after Brexit. Each taking time.

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Heathrow Villages residents shocked by details of number of local sites to be destroyed for 3rd runway plans

Two public meetings (one in Harmondsworth, the other in Yiewsley) held in the Heathrow villages raised concerns about the number and location of sites that could be destroyed for the 3rd runway development. Until now, many residents in surrounding areas have not realised just how damaging another runway would be to their lives. Despite awful weather, snow and intense cold, the meetings were packed and constituency MP, John McDonnell, and Hillingdon leader, Ray Puddifoot, managed to attend. Last month Ray announced that Hillingdon Council has budgeted £200,000 for the fund to launch a legal challenge against the runway. Justine Bayley of SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) gave a presentation with local maps from Heathrow’s consultation documents. These show the huge number of development sites that Heathrow have their eye on. She explained the individual parcels of land under threat, and their possible intended purpose. Many at the meetings had not know about these threats. There is real concern that most residents who will not be forced to leave their homes (as they are not due for demolition) have no idea that they will have to suffer severe negative impacts from a third runway, due to their proximity to it – and associated building. John McDonnell MP said it was vital to ensure that the information is spread as widely as possible.

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John McDonnell: Heathrow expansion will never happen – it cannot meet 4 vital tests

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell believes a 3rd runway at Heathrow will never get built because of the serious environmental issues the expansion would cause. McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding campaigner against the runway, due to the devastating impact it would have on his constituency. He does not believe Heathrow can get round the problem of air pollution from the runway and associated road traffic.  At a local meeting about Heathrow’s expansion plans, John said: “As soon as any decision is made, Hillingdon and the other boroughs will be straight back in court again”. …“I just don’t think Heathrow is the runner that it might have been with the governments in the past.” There is due to be a vote in Parliament in the summer on the runway; as things stand, the government would win backing for the runway. However, though many Labour MPs are keen supporters, there is a real possibility that Labour may be able to block it – especially if it won a general election. Labour set out 4 tests the runway would have to meet, and currently it cannot pass them. The tests require (1). noise issues to be addressed, (2). air quality to be protected, (3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and (4). growth across the country supported.  

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UK Chief Medical Officer says people’s health is being damaged by exposure to too much air, noise and light pollution

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has said people in the UK are being exposed to a daily cocktail of pollution – from noise pollution, air pollution and light pollution) that may be having a significant impact on their health, and on the NHS. Dame Sally said major industries should take more responsibility for the pollution they cause, and that there was enough evidence to suggest action had to be taken. Her report “Health Impacts of All Pollution – what do we know?” says: “Major infrastructure projects are making construction noise a semi-permanent feature of the urban sound environment” … “Noise acts as a psychosocial stressor, and the psychological reaction to it is influenced strongly by a number of personal, situational and environmental factors.” The section by Professor Stephen Stansfield says:  “In 2012, 83% of a survey sample in the UK reported they heard road traffic noise, 72% aircraft noise and 48% noise from building, construction and road works at home in the last 12 months.  48% reported that their home life was “spoiled to some extent” by environmental noise.” …”Short term effects of noise on sleep include impaired mood, increased daytime sleepiness, and impaired cognitive performance.”

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Heathrow retail is 23% of total revenue, up 7.7% in 2017 (cf. 2016) – car parking is 18% of retail income

Heathrow has reported a retail revenue increase of 7.7% to £659 million in the year ended 31 November 2017 compared to a year earlier. (Aeronautical revenue rose by just 1%. Total revenue in the period rose 2.7% to £2.9 billion. Retail is almost 23% of that. It was 22% in 2016). Retail revenue per passenger grew 4.5% to £8.45 in 2017 compared to £8.09 in 2016. Heathrow says growth in retail income was due to increased passenger traffic in the period to 78 million (+3.1%) combined with more spending airside (up 2% compared to 2016.) Retail concessions grew 10.5%, with growth in business by duty and tax free and airside speciality shops. This reflects the depreciation of Sterling since June 2016, making products cheaper for foreigners. The redevelopment of Terminal Four’s luxury retail offering completed in late 2016, also contributed to this growth. There is also a new Gucci store.Retail concessions made up 46% of retail income, at £304 million in 2017. The amount of income from car parking, which is included in retail, was £120 million in 2017 (up 5.3% and making up 18% of total retail income), £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015. Heathrow says: “Car parking rose 5.3% driven by increased passenger numbers and a more 12 dynamic pricing strategy.  Higher car rental revenue from a change in arriving passenger mix and increased volumes in VIP services drove other services income up 9.4%.” 

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UK Government loses 3rd air pollution case brought by ClientEarth, as judge rules air pollution plans ‘unlawful’

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have won a 3rd case against the UK government over the country’s illegal and harmful levels of air pollution. In a ruling handed down at the High Court in London, Judge Mr Justice Garnham declared the government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area is unlawful.  He ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible – as 12 of the 45 are projected to have legal levels by the end of 2018. He said: “The Environment Secretary must ensure that, in each of the 45 areas, steps are taken to achieve compliance as soon as possible, by the quickest route possible and by a means that makes that outcome likely.”  This will be of great embarrassment to ministers, as it is the third time that they have lost an air pollution court battle. ClientEarth commented:  “The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over 8 years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough … government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.”  The area around Heathrow has high NO2 pollution levels, often over the legal limit,  and it is unlikely that there could be a 3rd runway without a serious risk of air quality deteriorating.

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Airlines tell Transport Committee of their alarm over ‘blank cheque’ for Heathrow 3rd runway

At the final oral evidence session by the Commons Transport Committee, looking at the Airports NPS (ie. plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway) airline representatives and the CAA were questioned.  Key people from British Airways, Virgin and easyJet urged MPs to secure details from Heathrow on costs before voting to approve a runway.  Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, told MPs that the true cost of Heathrow expansion is likely to be “grossly” higher than the £14.3bn the airport has cited, and there is no clarity or transparency on the plans. Airlines do not want higher landing charges, and it is unclear how Heathrow could pay for its expansion without higher charges. The airlines want guarantees on costs. MPs commented that it was hard for MPs to vote for (or against) the runway, when vital details on costs and financing are not available – and even the main airlines don’t know if they back the scheme. Willie Walsh said parliament should not trust Heathrow; he had “zero confidence” that a third runway would be delivered on time and within budget – there were not even any clear plans for what is to be built yet, nor for the M25.  Walsh added: “When we’ve asked for disclosure … what they are saying is ‘trust us. Give us your approval and support’. I don’t trust them and you shouldn’t, either.” And higher charges risked making an expanded Heathrow too expensive and a “white elephant”.

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Heathrow study on “respite” shows there is no clear definition, and no clarity on what it means, or whether it helps

Heathrow, and the supporters of its plans for a 3rd runway (increasing the number of planes using the airport by up to 50%) has been enthusiastic about the concept of “respite” from plane noise. This is the idea that people will be less unhappy about the amount of plane noise, if they get some predictable times when they are spared the noise.  During those times, the noise is over other people (and vice versa). Heathrow has a Respite Working Group (RWG), set up in October 2014,  and it commissioned research to show if respite would be effective. The long awaited report has been published (though it was finished in May 2017 …) and it merely confirms the vagueness of the concept, and therefore how little confidence anyone has in it reducing the upset, distress and annoyance caused by unwanted plane noise.  The study might have been expected to a). define what respite actually is (in terms of amount of noise, duration, time of day).  b). what amount of respite is actually valued by overflown communities. Instead we have no certainty of when someone is getting “respite.” Does it mean no plane noise at all?  Or a bit less plane noise than usual, if the plane is a mile or two away rather than overhead? Does it mean half an hour without planes, or 8 hours without planes? And so on.  The RWG just wants more research ….

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Hillingdon Council Leader, Ray Puddifoot, and John McDonnell MP to attend meetings for local people about Heathrow runway plans

The current consultation on Heathrow expansion has prompted local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion to organise two public meetings so that those people closest to the proposed runway can discuss Heathrow’s latest runway proposals and the true nature of the impact to local people.  The first meeting will be on Weds 28th February,  (St Mary’s Church Hall, Harmondsworth) where Hillingdon Council Leader Ray Puddifoot MBE will be the guest speaker.  The second meeting will be on Friday 2nd March at Yiewsley & West Drayton Community Centre, whereJohn McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, will be the guest speaker. The meetings have been arranged by the Harmondsworth and Sipson Resident’s Association (HASRA) with SHE and is aimed at residents from the villages – including Longford, which would be totally destroyed if the 3rd runway development went ahead. West Drayton would feel some of the harshest impacts of a third runway, with much busier local roads, higher air pollution and serious disruption during construction. The meetings will be a chance to discuss these impacts.

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Transport for London may join legal challenge against Heathrow runway, due to lack of clarity on surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) are the expert body on transport issues for London. They have long been very concerned about the surface access problems a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause. They now say the government could face a legal challenge, if there is no better clarity on the matter.  TfL would join the legal challenge of the 4 councils. TfL director of city planning, Alex Williams, said he had not seen evidence from the DfT or Heathrow to support the airport’s claim that the public transport mode share of its passengers of 50% by 2030 would be achieved, or how airport traffic could be kept at current levels. By contrast, the analysis by TfL on the matter is completely transparent. Alex said: “If no-one’s prepared to share information or substantiate their case about how you can deliver those mode share targets…then you’re just heading straight for a court hearing, because we’re at loggerheads and no-one’s prepared to share that information or have that technical discussion about the merits of the case.” About 40% of Heathrow passenger trips are now on public transport, and TfL estimates this number would need to rise to 69% by 2030, for Heathrow to meet its pledge of no extra traffic on roads near the airport. TfL says the Southern and Western Rail Access schemes rail schemes are “essential” if there is a 3rd runway.

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People in Stanwell very concerned about impact on their area of car parks, offices etc from Heathrow expansion

People in Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, just to the south west of the airport, are very concerned about the expansion plans for a 3rd runway.  The plans have been described as a “travesty” for the area. Former Green Party parliamentary candidate in Spelthorne, Paul Jacobs, said the proposal for multi-storey car parking, offices, hotels or the relocated Immigration Removal Centre could break the “noise barrier” between Stanwell and the airport.  Speaking at the Heathrow consultation event in Stanwell on February 13th he said: “There’s a large swathe of land to the north which is amenity land; people walk their dogs there. It would be a travesty if it were taken over by hotels, warehousing and servicing units. This land creates a barrier between us and the airport and it protects us from aircraft noise, particularly from aircraft noise on the ground.”  People held a small protest outside the consultation event.  Opponents of the current Heathrow consultation have been highly critical of it, saying it is premature, and aims to give the impression that the runway is already agreed. It is far from that.

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Extra costs to local authorities, and huge doubt about chance of relocating Lakeside incinerator, if 3rd runway went ahead

If the 3rd Heathrow runway was to go ahead, the Lakeside incinerator would have to be demolished. The Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW), a joint venture between Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, processes non-recyclable waste from more than 12 local authorities including Kingston, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Richmond. It produces 37MW of low carbon energy, which is enough to provide power for around 56,000 homes, a town roughly the size of Slough. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith said the cost of moving the incinerator “would be many hundreds of millions of pounds. No one will want it in their backyard so the planning process will be complex and lengthy, and in the absence of a replacement, local authorities will be forking out around £50m a year in extra landfill taxes. This is yet another huge and unplanned cost associated with Heathrow expansion, a project that is already deeply uneconomic and anticompetitive.”  On February 5, before the Commons Transport Committee, Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said it needed to be dealt with “sooner rather than later”but gave no further information. It has no plans, and no alternative site has been found. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said the estimated cost of relocation is £500million or more than £700million should the plant be forced to close.

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Briefing from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on the Heathrow consultations

eathrow has a current consultation, on its runway plans, which closes on 28th March. People are advised, if they send in a response, to make sure their submission is not taken as tacit agreement with the 3rd runway. The No 3rd Runway Coalition has put together a 2 page briefing, advising people about the many areas in which the consultation is inadequate, and suggesting a list of issues that remain unaddressed by Heathrow. Just some of the issues where the consultation fails are: – No clarity on plans for road and rail access and no commitment to pay for them. – No assessment of cost of moving the M25 nor a traffic impact assessment whilst construction takes place. – No assessment of the impact of construction of local air quality. – No assessment of impact on assets of national importance (parks and open spaces) from potentially being overflown for 12-hour periods with no respite from noise.  On questions people should ask, just some are:  – Why does the current Heathrow consultation on expansion include proposals for a shorter runway that have not been considered by the Airports Commission nor included in the Airports NPS?  – What assessment has been made of the financial cost of the proposals to move the M25 or put it into a tunnel? – What assessment has been made of the impact on local roads of a potential 50% increase in the level of freight handled by Heathrow?  And there are many more. See the full briefing here

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Economic advisors, Prof Peter Mackie & Brian Pearce respond to Heathrow questions by Transport Select Cttee

As part of their inquiry into the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, in the Airports NPS, the Transport Select Committee wrote on 16th January – with a list of questions – to two economic experts, Professor Peter Mackie, (Institute for Transport Studies, Leeds University) and Brian Pearce (Chief Economist, IATA UK) who advised the Airports Commission (and who were critical of the way the Commission worked out alleged future economic benefits of a Heathrow runway). Mackie & Price have replied in some detail, and some of their comments can be seen below. Asked about the economic impact of the airport not being full in 2 -3 years, but (as John Holland-Kaye has said) over 10 – 15 years, they say: “…that ought to be reflected in the capacity model and profile of shadow costs over time.”  Asked about carbon costs, they say: “… we cannot comment either on the probability of a fully effective international carbon trading scheme being in place in the timeframe, nor on the striking price of carbon and its trend over time.”  And on Heathrow landing charges they say the DfT’s main case assumes “the benefit of the reduced shadow cost will be fully passed through to travellers while increases in landing charges to fund the infrastructure will be absorbed by airlines. This particular combination seems a bit unlikely.”

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Eurostar launching direct London to Amsterdam service (2 per day) from April – to rival cheap flights

Eurostar is launching direct services between London St Pancras and Amsterdam, starting on 4th April 2018. There will be 2 trains per day (08.31 and 17.31), taking 3 hours and 41 minutes, direct. But for an initial temporary period, the Eurostar service will only run direct one-way, from London to Amsterday, and passengers travelling the other way – Holland to London  -will have to change at Brussels to clear passport controls. It is hoped the passport checks will be done in the Netherlands, saving the Brussels change, from the end of 2019. Five years ago, the German operator Deutsche Bahn announced and then cancelled a link between the UK and Amsterdam and The Hague, but there were set-backs. It is likely that demand will come largely from the UK at first, as we are used to Eurostar. However, the 2 trains per day is a lot less than 70 direct flights daily from London to Amsterdam. Fares will be comparable, starting at £35 for a one-way ticket. Trains will have power sockets and free wifi, making the trip attractive to business and leisure passengers. Over 4 million passengers travel between London and Amsterdam by air each year and therefore the market is the same size as it was when the London-Paris services launched in 1994.

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Grayling makes key admissions on serious problems with a 3rd Heathrow runway, at Transport Committee hearing

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, made several assertions when he appeared before the inquiry on the Airports National Policy Statement, held by the Transport Select Committee on 7th February.  When questioned about Heathrow’s regional connectivity, he confirmed that many of the domestic routes, promised by Heathrow, would not be commercially viable and would require taxpayer funded Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy orders, if they were to ever materialise.  Grayling also confirmed that, although up to 121,000 residents around the airport would be expected to suffer the impact of the further air pollution concentrations, likely to flow from the extra flights required to meet the DfT’s own recently updated passenger demand forecasts, the government was yet to undertake any work to assess those impactsMr Grayling also confirmed that there would be a ‘real risk’ of non-compliance on air quality, were Heathrow to expand, and that the Government’s own analysis expects that risk to be heightened in the years 2026 – 2030.  He also confirmed that the 3rd runway would mean a reduction in respite from noise, for adversely impacted residents. Details with extracts on these points from transcripts at the link below.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway coalition commented on the NPS that “To proceed on the basis of evidence that unravels, on scrutiny, would simply be unacceptable”.

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John Holland-Kaye appears before Commons Transport Committee for grilling on 3rd runway problems

Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, appeared before the Commons Transport Select Committee to give evidence for their inquiry into the proposed 3rd runway (the Airports NPS inquiry). He tried to defend claims that the runway, and 50% more flights, would result in a cut in road traffic connected with the airport. He tried to insist the airport’s pledges on air quality levels would be met if a 3rd runway went ahead.  The comments came after Tory MP and committee member Huw Merriman said that a number of airport commitments had “somewhat unravelled”.  Heathrow are trying to persuade MPs etc that they have a “triple lock” on the problem of air pollution, and it had a “strong plan” to deal with traffic levels. He blames road vehicles, nothing to do with Heathrow, for local air pollution – and gave confusing evidence about whether Heathrow could, or could not, count the number of vehicle journeys associated with the airport.  (If they cannot count them, then cannot confirm they have not increased …).  Asked if he could make a “firm commitment” that landing charges would not increase, Mr Holland-Kaye told MPs: “At this stage I couldn’t….” And he blathered when asked by Lilian Greenwood about the financial benefits of Heathrow, if it only reached a 50% increase in flights over 10 – 15 years, not just a few.

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British Airways owner IAG wants break up of Heathrow monopoly, with separate companies managing terminals

British Airways’ owner IAG (Willie Walsh) has called on government to break up Heathrow’s “monopoly” of infrastructure, suggesting to the CAA that other companies could run the different terminals to create competition and cheaper flights for consumers.  IAG, which is Heathrow’s largest customer, said the airport’s planned expansion could allow independent firms to create and run new terminals more effectively than Heathrow’s current owners, with lower costs to airlines – and better cost control. IAG is desperate for charges by Heathrow not to rise, to pay for its runway etc.  Walsh said: “Heathrow’s had it too good for too long and the government must confirm the CAA’s powers to introduce this type of competition. … This would cut costs, diversify funding and ensure developments are completed on time, leading to a win-win for customers.”  BA runs a terminal at JFK airport in New York and there are European examples at Frankfurt and Munich airports. Heathrow has a real problem, becoming ever more clear, with funding for its expansion plans. Chris Grayling has said Heathrow landing charges (already some of the world’s highest) “should be kept as close as possible to current levels.”  A vote is due to be held this summer in the Commons on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS).

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European Environment Agency: Reducing CO2 emissions from aviation ‘requires systemic change’ to cut demand

The EEA (European Environment Agency) says reducing CO2 emissions from Europe’s aviation and shipping industries requires systemic change, rather than simply improving efficiency. In a new report they say a massive shift in innovation, consumer behaviour and the take up of more ambitious green technologies to power aircraft and cargo ships are crucial. Both aviation and shipping have grown fast in recent years, and by 2050, the two are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global CO2 emissions unless further mitigation is taken. Incremental small improvements in fuel efficiency will not be enough. For air travel, changes in lifestyle and culture are needed eg. more shift to rail and less demand for material imported material goods. Governments have a key role to play. The role of continuing subsidies to the aviation industry is important in maintaining high demand for air travel. There needs to be a change to the “attitude-action gap” whereby expressed “environmental  awareness by individuals does not translate into reductions in flight demand.” … “there will be a need for wider conversations around the types of lifestyle that will help enable sustainable mobility”. They are not convinced aviation biofuels will be anything more than minimal.  Not just expanding the sector with new runways etc.

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Wandsworth leader Ravi Govindia describes Heathrow runway proposals as ‘fatally flawed’

The leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, has criticised Heathrow’s current consultation and hit out at its ‘fatally flawed’ scheme. Heathrow has a current consultation that is largely a PR exercise. No flight plans have been included in the first stage of the two-part consultation, which relates to physical changes on the ground. It is widely agreed (except by Heathrow and the DfT) that no sensible, informed decision cannot be made on a 3rd runway until the details of future flight paths are made clear – there is currently no information. The second consultation will deal with airspace. Four councils, Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon, and Windsor and Maidenhead, have been campaigning against the expansion since it was proposed. Ravi Govindia said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling. We know that this scheme is fatally flawed and if it went ahead would have a serious impact on our local environment and the health of our residents. I urge everyone who opposes this expansion to make their voices heard and get involved in this consultation process.”  But it is important that those opposing the runway state that clearly. Otherwise their responses can be used by Heathrow as evidence that people support some variants of the scheme, over others – implying acceptance and agreement.

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Advice on how to respond to Heathrow consultation – be absolutely sure to state you oppose any 3rd runway plan (Cllr Malcolm Beer)

Heathrow has a consultation out at present, which closes on 29th March. It is not a proper consultation about the runway, as the government has not yet even given the airport permission to build a 3rd runway. The consultation is intended to give the impression that the runway is definitely happening, and that people can have a bit of a say in how the development is done. Writing in the local paper, the Slough & South Bucks Express, long standing Councillor Malcolm Beer gives advice on how to deal with the consultation. He says, it is absolutely essential that respondents state in the first box of the Consultation Response Form whether they support or oppose the expansion with their main reasons.  The preferences which you might give should be expressly stated as being relevant only in the unfortunate event of the 3rd runway proposal being approved, to avoid being added to the number of supporters.  This is very important as some believe they were included in the number of supporters, with the very biased, airport-funded “Back Heathrow” Campaign which completely wrongly and misleadingly stated that the airport would have to close if it could not expand.

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PCS union reiterates its view that Heathrow job claims cannot be trusted, and 3rd runway would be too damaging

Tahir Latif, of the PCS (Commercial and Public Services Union) had a letter in the Evening Standard, reiterating his union’s view on Heathrow. Responding to a letter from Sam Gurney, of the TUC, backing the runway because of potential job gains, Tahir said: “Sam Gurney’s support of a 3rd runway at Heathrow glosses over many issues. There are serious doubts over the jobs claims in terms of the number, quality, duration and conditions, and similar concerns about where and to whom the economic benefits would accrue. Unions that oppose the runway are as keen to protect their members’ jobs as the TUC but recognise the massive environmental impact that will result from 250,000-plus additional flights per year. Instead of inflicting large-scale environmental damage, we need to demand job creation that retrieves the UK and London from its wretched environmental performance — not worsens it.”  In the past the PCS has said they oppose the 3rd runway as there is little real evidence supporting the extravagant promises made about jobs. Although the PCS wants to “protect Heathrow jobs whether or not the airport expands, the environmental impact of a 3rd runway would be too serious. PCS advocates sustainable transport and the creation of new jobs in that growing sector.”

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Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) has problems and may go over-budget, not helped by Heathrow only paying £70m (not £230m)

The management of Crossrail have issued a major alert that the £14.8 billion line (the Elizabeth Line) might not open on time and is at risk of blowing its budget. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said problems with software on new trains and an electrical explosion in east London, when engineers tried to switch on the high-voltage power, have caused “real, serious challenges.”  Stations such as Bond Street, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Woolwich and Whitechapel — where there have been major construction problems — are behind schedule. Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan admitted the line was “very close” to exceeding its budget. Costs are increasing rapidly in the rush to try and open on time. The line will link Reading and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood once fully opened by the end of 2019.  The central section of the line, between Paddington and Abbey Wood via two new tunnels under central London, is due to open in December 2018. Heathrow was initially asked to contribute £230 million. But it managed to argue that it would only derive small additional benefit as it was “full”. In reality, Heathrow has a lot of extra terminal capacity and its number of passengers rises annually, even with no 3rd runway. Heathrow had 75.7m passengers in 2017 compared to 72.3m in 2013.). So the taxpayer is having to shoulder the financial costs, which Heathrow should have paid.

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TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over the impact Heathrow expansion will have on the capital’s transport network, warning over significant crowding. In its surface access analysis (Jan 2018) TfL says a 3 runway Heathrow is expected to result in an extra 170,000 daily passenger and staff trips compared to now. While Heathrow has “pledged” that there would be no new airport related traffic on the roads compared to today, that can only mean a higher % of passengers using public transport. TfL has raised concerns over the feasibility of this – and what it will mean for London’s public transport. In order to achieve no rise in highway trips, TfL says around 65-70% of trips would need to be on public transport. That would work out as a 210% increase on journeys at present.  TfL believes a 3-runway Heathrow would probably generate 90,000 extra vehicle trips along with another 100,000 extra public transport trips each day. That is likely to mean bad over-crowding of roads for non-airport users. In the morning peak for travel, there would be a 3 – 5% rise in average highway journey times across west London as far in as Westminster. For rail passengers it would mean “significant levels of crowding” on the Elizabeth Line, Piccadilly Line and Windsor lines.

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Heathrow criticised by key London councils for jumping the gun, with its inadequate consultation, on Government 3rd runway decision

The latest consultation from Heathrow is ‘jumping the gun’ – according to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils.  The Leaders of 3 councils have slammed Heathrow for holding a consultation when the Government are yet to make a decision on whether or not the airport should be expanded at all.  Parliamentary scrutiny on the Governments proposals is still underway, with a vote by MPs due later this year. As part of this process, tens of thousands of people have already had their say, making it clear that expansion at Heathrow is not deliverable. The Leaders argue that any expansion of the airport would have a devastating impact on West London  – causing immense damage to the environment and people’s health, tear communities apart, see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, and potentially cost taxpayers £15bn.  The latest Heathrow consultation fails to recognise any of this well documented feedback. Confusingly, this latest consultation is also seeking residents’ initial views on how airspace and flight paths should be designed in the future (concentrated or less concentrated…)  The councils view is that the noise burden is too high now and all efforts should be made to minimise the number of people impacted by noise. Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling.”

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The cruel realities of Heathrow blight – residents whose homes may be demolished for Heathrow runway

Villagers living in a small road close to Heathrow were this week coming to terms with the threat of having all their homes compulsorily purchased to make way for the proposed Heathrow expansion. Residents of Elbow Meadow off Bath Road, Colnbrook received letters late last week from Heathrow, after the launch of their (premature and presumptuous) consultation. They were warned that their 13 homes may have to go to allow the M25 to be realigned 150 metres to the west of the airport.  Possible rebuilding of the A3044 road would affect that part of the village too. The area is already seriously affected by planes low overhead, being close to the western end of the northern runway. Some residents are resigned to having to move. Others are not. One resident said:  “There used to be 36 shops in the village. We were a village where people knew each other. They vanished one by one and now there is just one. It is the Heathrow blight – many see Colnbrook as a dormitory village.” Another has already tried to move, but said: “We did try to move earlier. The house has been on the market but the three offers were all well below the house’s value made by people who knew about the Heathrow threat.” The cruel realities of living near Heathrow, with its blight

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Alistair Osborne writing in the Times: “Heathrow on flight path to nowhere”

Commenting on the frankly ridiculous “consultation” put out by Heathrow, Alistair Osborne – writing in the Times – puts some of the criticisms beautifully. For example, he says: “After half a century on the job … Heathrow still doesn’t even know where to put its new runway. The best it can offer is three options, with “length varying from between 3,200 and 3,500 metres”. …Heathrow has “emerging proposals” but “In fact, so many crucial details are still up in the air that it’s hard to spot what the ten-week consultation is consulting on.” … “Apart from the multiple choice runway location, there are three possible sites for a new terminal, a smorgasbord of potential taxiways and some gobbledegook about “realigning” the M25. Having noticed that the “M25 is one of the busiest roads in the UK”, Heathrow says it “will ensure that our proposals do not result in disruption”.” …”Two other crucial issues — illegal air quality and noise — get no more than platitudes.” … “If it is not yet possible to map the detailed impact on local communities, what is the point of consulting right now?” As details of flight paths, noise and air pollution will only emerge AFTER MPs vote this summer on the NPS: “As consultation processes go, it’s all a bit of a sham.”

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Important points demonstrating how the Heathrow 3rd runway is far from certain, at Westminster Hall debate

On Wednesday 24th January, Vince Cable MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall, on the issue of the 3rd Heathrow runway plans and Heathrow’s current consultation on their expansion hopes. Some of the MPs who spoke were Ruth Cadbury, Zac Goldsmith, Andy Slaughter, Karl Turner and Stephen Pound. They expressed serious reservations on issues of cost to the taxpayer, cost of surface access transport improvements, increased noise, uncertain air pollution, uncertain CO2 emissions, uncertain economic benefits and uncertain links to regional airports. Quotes from the MP contributions are shown below. Just a couple include: Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con) – “one problem with the consultation is that we know that hundreds of thousands of new people will be affected by noise, but we do not know which hundreds of thousands, because the Government and Heathrow have yet to tell us where the new flight paths will be, which renders the entire consultation process entirely disingenuous, if not dishonest? It is a bit like saying, “We’re going to put a new incinerator in your constituency, and we’d like to ask people their opinion, but we’re not going to say where it’ll be put.” Surely the entire basis of the consultation’s legitimacy has a question mark hanging over it.”  And Andy Slaughter – “Getting these glossy pamphlets through the door, as one does on a regular basis from Heathrow, sends the subliminal message, “This is a done deal. Get used to it. Get what you can out of it by way of mitigation.” It simply is not good enough.”

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Heathrow premature “consultation” demonstrates NOT how inevitable the 3rd runway is, but just how absent any details are

The Heathrow consultation (17th January to 28th March) is vague in the extreme. It purports to be a consultation about how the airport should expand with a 3rd runway. But no government permissions for this has even been given yet, with a vote in Parliament and several legal challenges to be undergone before there is any certainty there will be any 3rd Heathrow runway. The consultation’s main purpose appears to be to give the impression to politicians, business people, the public, the affected communities etc that the runway is a “done deal” and is definitely going ahead; Heathrow is just sorting out some details. That is NOT the case. As the consultation makes manifestly clear, rather than sticking to details of the recommendations of the Airports Commission (on noise increases, night flight curfew periods, location of runway, means of getting over the M25 and so much else) Heathrow is not sticking to this, but trying out other options – which were never part of the Commission’s scrutiny.  Far from making the runway look inevitable, the numerous areas in which there is no certainty of Heathrow’s plans demonstrate immense weaknesses. The consultation is aimed at trying to make the runway planning appear sensitive to public opinion. It is in fact far more underhand than that, and highly unlikely that consultation responses – other than endorsing what Heathrow wants – would even be given more than passing consideration.

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Heathrow “consultation” largely an exercise in spin – but scary for those whose homes might be demolished

Heathrow put out a consultation on its runway hopes, on 17th January. It is very premature, as it is still months before the government even has a vote on whether to approve a 3rd runway. However, Heathrow is running this “consultation” exercise, partly as a way to give the impression that the runway is a “done deal” and all that remains is to sort out details. In reality, there is little of substance in the consultation, that is in part just a PR exercise. However, it has got people worried and anxious. One reason is the scale of the number of properties to be demolished for the grandiose plans, for the A4, M25, terminal buildings, as well as the runway itself. One of the proposals (remember, nothing is agreed, and this is just the airport trying to persuade people the runway is inevitable – it is NOT) is that 13 homes in Elbow Meadow, Colnbrook, may have to be removed as part of the realignment of the M25 150 metres to the west of the airport.  In addition, two of three options to expand terminal infrastructure would see further land grabs needed around Colnbrook with Poyle and Richings Park. And so on.  Changes to the plans mean the airport scheme is not the one the Airports Commission gave its blessing to. A key factor is the location of flight paths, but there is absolutely NO information about those. The consultation is therefore largely a sham, without vital details that would be necessary in a meaningful consultation.

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Heathrow consultation: their suggestions of how to deal with M25, tunnel, bridge, altered junctions etc

As part of its consultation on its proposed 3rd runway, Heathrow has a section on what it hopes is done with the M25, so the runway can go over it.  This is a very expensive and complicate operation, and Heathrow is keen to cut the cost. The proposed runway will cross the M25 between Junctions 14 and 15 (J14 and J15) and will affect the operation of J14 and J14a, but not J15.  Other than moving the motorway a long way west, the options are tunnelling or bridging. Heathrow says: “Our current thinking is to re-position the M25 carriageway approximately 150 metres to the west, lower it by approximately 7 metres into a tunnel and raise the runway height by 3 to 5 metres so that it passes over the M25 between J14a and J15. The motorway will then re-join its current route. ...We believe this approach is the most deliverable as it would allow construction to proceed while the existing M25 motorway remains in operation. This minimises impacts to road users and has the least overall impacts on communities during construction and long-term operation.”  And they say the 3rd runway will mean more traffic will want to pass through junctions 14 and 14A, so they will need to be expanded. Illustrations show some different options.

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Rival “Heathrow Hub” expansion scheme considers legal action against Government, on altered Heathrow airport plans

The backers of the “Heathrow Hub” rival Heathrow expansion scheme are considering legal action against the Government in the wake of the airport’s move to propose potential revisions to its plans. Heathrow Hub, fronted by former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe, has criticised the Government for allowing Heathrow to now consult on new ideas for its 3rd runway because this could change the eventual scheme from what was originally submitted and considered by the Airports Commission. Heathrow’s consultation (started 17th Jan, ends 28th March) is considering 3 different runway options, two of them for a 3,200 metres and one at 3,500 metres, slightly differently sited. This is in spite of the Government’s own documents on the expansion stipulating the need for a runway of “at least 3,500 metres”. Heathrow has to try to keep costs down, as its airlines are bitterly opposed to the cost of its proposals. The consultation also outlined potential plans for how to deal with the runway crossing the M25 motorway. Heathrow Hub said if it did launch legal proceedings, it would aim to get the money it spent submitting its proposals for expansion to the Government refunded. Heathrow airport said it thought that “providing some flexibility on the specification of the precise runway length would not undermine the NPS and its objectives”.

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Councils badly affected by Heathrow noise say 3rd runway could mean even more night flights than now

Government assurances that night flights could be banned with a third runway have been undermined by a new report from a major airline group – IAG – making the case for additional flights in the early morning period.  In its submission to the Transport Select Committee, IAG, (parent company of BA, the main airline at Heathrow), said that the Government’s Airports NPS should focus on providing “extended periods of predictable respite from scheduled night flights rather than a prescriptive ban for an arbitrary number of hours”. BA operates 11 of the 16 flights which arrive at Heathrow in the night time period between 11.30pm and 6am. The Airports Commission recommended that all scheduled flights should be banned, between 11.30pm and 6.00am (six and a half hours) as a condition of the 3rd runway going ahead. But Heathrow said it would move that six hours back, so it is 11.00pm to 5.30am. There is already a ban (scheduled – not mentioning non-scheduled) after 11pm.  The  Government’s draft NPS published in February 2017 watered down this recommendation and proposed a ban of six and a half hours with the exact times to be determined following consultation together with a “predictable, though reduced, period of respite for local communities”.  So the NPS as currently drafted provides no guarantee that a meaningful night ban will be introduced .IAG says a curfew would make it harder to add new flights from certain time zones.

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Letter in FT from Paul McGuinness, Chair of No 3rd Runway Coalition: MPs should assess risks of 3rd Heathrow runway

Letter to the Editor of the Financial Times, from Paul McGuinness (Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition).  In it Paul says that while the government says no decision on the 3rd Heathrow runway will be taken until after a parliamentary vote (this summer), Heathrow is behaving as if the matter is already agreed and the runway approved. It has now launched a “consultation” on how it might build it. The airport’s “consultation” floats the possibility that the proposal before parliament could be mutated into a less expensive project — by tunnelling the M25 and shortening any new runway (although such a mutation could effectively make for a “new” proposal, requiring a new round of scrutiny).  Coalition members regard this latest “consultation” to be little more than a charade. A key issue of concern to large numbers of people under Heathrow planes is noise. However, there is no information about which areas and communities would be overflown more intensively than now, or newly overflown.  According to the government, it is for Heathrow to designate these, but there’s nothing in this consultation. Nor is there any plan to publish them — until after parliament has voted, perhaps approving the runway. Those preparing a legal challenge, on behalf of 4 councils (members of the Coalition) are ever more certain that the proposal will not survive the courts. It would be regrettable if MPs were to vote for the runway, just to find was then challenged and defeated at some stage, because the huge risks and impacts had not been properly assessed.

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Justine Greening hits out, with question in Parliament, at Heathrow expansion plans

Justine Greening is Conservative MP for Putney, and has been a vocal critic of a Heathrow 3rd runway for a long time. She quit the Cabinet last week, where she had been Education Secretary, so she is now free to express her opinions without the constraints of Cabinet collective responsibility.  She has already asked a question, at transport questions, in the House of Commons, criticising the government over its plans to expand Heathrow.  Her question was:  “On what evidence are the Government now pushing ahead with what I believe to be a flawed plan for expanding Heathrow? The updated national policy statement shows that it is more expensive, lower value, more congesting, noisier, and provides fewer connections. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss this?”  The reply from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, was:  “I know how strongly my right hon. Friend feels about this. She and I have had many conversations about it and I know that we will carry on doing so. She and I, of course, do not share the same view—I believe that this project is strategically important for the United Kingdom—but I am happy to carry on discussing it with her”.  On Wednesday, Ms Greening told the Commons that a future generation of MPs will seek to “improve or undo” Brexit if it does not work for young people.

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Heathrow begins public consultation on airport expansion

Heathrow has launched its public consultation on some aspects of its hoped-for 3rd runway. https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/  It runs till the 28th March, and the airport will be putting on a number of public information events. Details of those are at https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/events/  The consultation is very vague and general, and is looking initially at a range of topics, on which is has produced “information papers”. These topics are:  Airspace Principles   https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/airspace-principles-consultation-document/ the Development Consent Order  process   https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/development-consent-order-process-information-paper/ the Environmental Impact Assessment   https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/environmental-impact-assessment-information-paper/  Property Policies   https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/property-policies-information-paper/ and generally their Emerging Plans  https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/documents-resources/our-emerging-plans/   
.There is little to reassure those horrified by the implications of a 3rd runway, whether in terms of its social, economic or environmental impact. There is nothing, for example, to give any certainty on air pollution.  AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt commented: “The key environmental barriers to expansion will need to be addressed by Government. On air quality, the scale of the problem means that any measures that Heathrow may be proposing will be pretty much irrelevant.”

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Heathrow plans consultation reveals – despite greenwash – it wants to build mega car park on greenbelt land

Heathrow Airport Limited have – in their latest consultation on its runway hopes – outlined proposals that would see vast swathes of green belt land around the airport used for buildings to support a 3rd runway. One building in particular would be a “new car park for the airport” on Little Harlington Playing Fields, for 20,000 vehicles (see map below), close to an air pollution monitor which has frequently broken legal air quality limits. The plan to build a car park on green belt land is, according to campaigners, somewhat ironic given the airport have been pushing so-called environmental credentials of a third runway, including a specific pledge to have “no more airport-related traffic on the roads compared to today”. The pledge has been widely publicised, including to MPs, who will decide on whether Heathrow should expand later this year, in a parliamentary vote. Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “It is deeply disappointing and worrying for our local environment that Heathrow have expressed intent to build on so many green belt land sites. … There is a great irony in pledging to have no additional cars using an expanded airport compared with now, then wanting to build a huge new car park on green belt land site. The pledge is now simply laughable.”

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With Heathrow consultations starting soon, critics warn of insurmountable flaws in its runway plans

Heathrow will publish its public consultations, on its hopes for a 3rd runway, on Wednesday 17th January.  It says this is to gather public feedback on its proposals, to help refine its plans further (ie. see what tweaks it needs to make, to try and get round the most serious criticisms). The consultations will include options for how to get the runway to cross Britain’s busiest motorway, the M25, and provide detail on the cost-cutting it has envisaged to trim £2.5bn off expansion costs. Meanwhile London’s deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, has said that she and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are in “no doubt that the government is pushing ahead with the wrong option.” She said there are currently “no significant plans for investment in public transport access to the airport.” This would come at an immense cost to Londoners, and Val said it was “a disastrous failing and it’s vital that the government acknowledges these insurmountable flaws and changes course now”. Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald said: ‘Heathrow’s planning consultation must provide firm commitments on noise, air pollution, climate change and wider UK airport growth to ensure support from Labour MPs, the public and the aviation industry.”

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BA owner IAG tells Heathrow it should sell the Heathrow Express link and focus on running airport

The owner of British Airways, IAG, has demanded that Heathrow be forced to sell the Heathrow Express rail line, which is Britain’s most expensive train service. They say Heathrow should focus on running the airport instead.  IAG does not want to have to pay for Heathrow’s expansion with a 3rd runway, or have to put up its prices for its air passengers.  This week, Heathrow is to launch consultations on its building plans, hoping to get ways to cut about £5 billion off the previously estimated cost of about £17.5 billion. The Heathrow Express, which operates the 15-mile route between the airport and Paddington station, charges passengers as much as £27 for a single journey. But there will be a threat from new Crossrail trains, which are due to start running competing services in May. Heathrow also owns part of the track, but last May lost a high court battle over attempts to raise charges for rival operators to run on its rails. IAG said Crossrail’s introduction would mean infrastructure costs were disproportionately heaped on to Heathrow Express at a time when its revenues were diluted — and would end up in higher landing charges for airlines.

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Government ignoring its own policy on Heathrow noise assessment

Having seen email correspondence between the DfT and the CAA, the No 3rd Runway Coalition says the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) ignores its own policy on measuring noise, and CAA advice on how to assess the number of people impacted. The Coalition has called for a pause in the process of considering the Government’s Airports NPS, to ensure that the full noise impacts of the proposed expansion of Heathrow are properly evaluated. Although it is not possible to assess the negative consequences of a third runway without clear information as to the design of the accompanying flight paths, no such information has been presented in the DfT’s documents.  (i.e. no indication as to which areas will be increasingly overflown, and which new communities will be adversely impacted by aircraft noise for the very first time). The DfT has confirmed that a full range of flight path scenarios must be considered at some stage; yet has opted not to reveal these before MPs are asked to vote on the NPS. The likely 51dBA LAeq contour and noise events at over the N>65dBLAmax contour have not been applied in respect of Heathrow’s noise footprint in the NPS, though the number of people likely to be affected is probably immense. The DfT is not applying its own policy, which is obfuscating the full impact of Heathrow expansion.

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Evidence of falling numbers of Heathrow passengers on domestic flights casts further doubt on 3rd runway promises

The case for expanding Heathrow was dealt yet another blow this week as figures reveal the number of domestic passengers using the airport falling by 9% – almost half a million. Data from the CAA shows 471,000 fewer domestic passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport in 2016 compared to 2015. This compares to growth in domestic passenger at every other London airport, including 272,000 (8%) at Gatwick in the same period. The Government’s backing for plans to expand Heathrow was given on the basis of “support new connections to the UK’s regions, as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes”.  The 8 existing domestic routes offered by Heathrow now are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. Heathrow proposed a further 6 new routes to Belfast, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added – but only if it gets a 3rd runway.  It is likely that the survival of so many new domestic routes, despite a marginal decrease in passenger charge which the airport announced recently, would be put into serious doubt without a form of Government subsidy. No proposals to provide financial assistance to these routes currently exist.

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Portland will continue as Heathrow’s comms & public affairs agency after being reappointed, after 5 years already

Portland will continue as Heathrow’s comms and public affairs agency after being reappointed, after the airport got companies to pitch for the work in September 2017. The brief includes internal communications, external and public affairs, media relations and crisis and issues management, and is designed to “build further trust and pride in the airport”, a spokesman for Heathrow said. Portland have had the job for over 5 years. PRWeek understands that the monthly retainer on the new account is over £20,000, making it worth more than £250,000 per year, before any additional project fees are added. A major focus for Heathrow in 2018 is trying to persuade government to let it build a 3rd runway. Heathrow has spent a vast amount of comms and PR over recent years, on its lobbying and campaigning on the 3rd runway.  A vote on the draft Airports NPS  (ie. on the runway) is expected in Parliament towards the summer. Heathrow’s review of their PR company followed the appointment of Nigel Milton as director of comms in January 2017, and Josephine Roberts as head of media, who oversees the Heathrow press office, in June 2017.  Milton said Portland “will support in-house teams across our corporate communications programme, including internal and external activations”.

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BEIS minister admits UK aviation CO2 emissions will not be kept below necessary 37.5MtCO2 level

Replying to a parliamentary question from Zac Goldsmith, BEIS minister Claire Perry revealed that there is no government intention to stick to the limit of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, as recommended by the government’s advisors, the Committee on Climate Change. Zac Goldsmith’s question:  “To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to page 85 of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, what estimate he has made of the actual and projected emissions for the aviation sector for (a) 2030, (b) 2040 and (c) 2050; and what estimate he has made of the required level of aviation emissions if emissions from transport need to be as low as 3 Mt by 2050.”  Claire Perry’s reply: “Latest BEIS data shows that carbon dioxide emissions from UK departing flights in 2015 were 34.5 Mt.  DfT’s October 2017 aviation forecasts give CO2 emissions from UK departing flights of between 36.6 and 45.7Mt in 2030; between 36.3 and 45.1Mt in 2040; and between 35.0 and 44.3Mt in 2050, depending on demand scenario and airport capacity options. The Government will set out its strategic approach to the aviation sector in a series of consultations leading to the publication of a new Aviation Strategy for the UK. The Strategy will consider what the best approach and combination of policy measures are to ensure we effectively address carbon emissions from aviation.”

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Jo Johnson (Boris’ brother) moved to DfT as Transport Minister – role re. Heathrow not yet clear

Jo Johnson (MP for Orpington) has been moved from his job as universities minister following a row over the appointment of Toby Young to the new universities regulator. Theresa May’s decision to appoint Jo Johnson as a transport minister  at the DfT also sets up a potential conflict between him and his brother, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, over the expansion of Heathrow. Jo Johnson has replaced John Hayes as Transport Minister, so it is possible he will have responsibility for expanding Heathrow.  Jo Johnson expressed his opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway in 2011. John Hayes was expert in avoiding giving answers to any question on Heathrow.  The DfT website just says:  “Jo Johnson was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Transport and Minister for London on 9 January 2018. Jo was Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation from July 2016 to January 2018. He was elected Conservative MP for Orpington in May 2010 and re-elected in May 2015.”  Boris Johnson has been a longtime vocal critic of a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Jo Johnson has also been appointed minister for London ahead of what could be tough local elections in the capital in May this year for the Tories.

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BA to cut flights between Heathrow and Leeds Bradford from 20 to 10 per week – they are not profitable.

So much for “carrot” of increasing domestic air links …. to get 3rd runway support …

British Airways says its flights from Leeds Bradford Airport to Heathrow are being cut by 50% “to match demand”. The changes are due to start in summer 2018.  BA has not been making money on these flights. A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport said the cut in BA flights from 20 to 10 per week was a blow to their hopes that Heathrow’s ongoing runway expansion plans would have attracted more people to Yorkshire. “As the international gateway for Yorkshire and given our continued support for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, this news is disappointing for the largest region in the UK.  …. “We hope the people of Yorkshire will still fully support the route, enabling us to prove to British Airways that the largest region in the UK can support a viable and profitable service going forward.”  The Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness commented that the pledges Heathrow had made to increase its number of domestic links are not credible. It is not in the gift of an airport to determine which air links exist – that is up to airlines, which will only fly routes that are profitable, unless they receive continuing subsidies to run routes at a loss. “It also reminds us of the short-sightedness of those who have been lulled into supporting Heathrow’s campaign to concentrate (yet again) all the best tax payer funded infrastructure in the already, disproportionately well endowed South East of the country.”

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Letter to the newspapers, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, on the news of the cuts to flights between Heathrow and Leeds Bradford airport:

9.1.2018

Dear Sirs,

Amongst other unrealistic pledges to win backing for their third runway campaign, Heathrow’s “promise” to increase the number of domestic routes, from 6 to 14, has been primarily designed to win the support of regional airports, businesses and politicians.

And although some of these regional figures do appear to have fallen for it, the snag is that such a promise can never be in Heathrow’s gift. Because – as has been amply demonstrated by BA’s announcement that it will reduce its Leeds Bradford to Heathrow connection by 10 flights a week – regional connectivity can only be determined by airlines, and not by the airports which they use.

Regional businesses which contributed to the CBI’s 2016 report “Unlocking Regional Growth” would seem to understand this. For, while recognising the need for better links to international markets, they also stated that flights need to fly directly to centres of trade and commerce (rather than relying on a transfer at a hub, such as Heathrow, before reaching their destination).

BA’s decision on its Leeds Bradford/Heathrow service doesn’t only demonstrate this truth. It also reminds us of the short-sightedness of those who have been lulled into supporting Heathrow’s campaign to concentrate (yet again) all the best tax payer funded infrastructure in the already, disproportionately well endowed South East of the country.

Paul McGuinness
Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition


Heathrow spin on cutting (by a tiny further amount) its charges for domestic air passengers

Heathrow has put out a rather coy press release, crowing about how it is cutting charges for domestic air passengers. The aim is to encourage more to fly on domestic routes to and from Heathrow. They say they are cutting the charge by £15 per passenger, but carefully avoid giving the current or future figure.  The charge per passenger is probably around £31 now, on domestic or European flights, and will be around £15. But no details are given. Earlier publications by Heathrow indicate they gave a £10 discount last year, so the £15 is only a small increase – but being used to generate positive publicity.  Heathrow knows the Airports Commission believed the number of domestic links to Heathrow would actually fall over time, with a new runway. Heathrow is desperate to get regional politicians to believe the 3rd runway would give them better flights to Heathrow, to get support for the vote in Parliament on the 3rd runway, some time in the first half of 2018. The only way Heathrow can support more domestic flights is by subsidising them, with a route development fund.  How long the airport would be prepared, once it has its runway, to continue the expensive subsidy is anyone’s guess. The subsidy could be seen as anti-competitive, especially with (far lower carbon) rail travel.

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Four important councils say DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway inquiry “illegal because ministers are biased”

Four Conservative-run councils (Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon, Richmond & Wandsworth) say pro-Heathrow statements made by Conservative ministers including Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) could mean that the current DfT consultation on adding a 3rd Heathrow runway is unlawful. They say that “A consultation, to be lawful, must be approached with an open mind”. The intervention by the councils will increase and prolong uncertainty over the expansion of Heathrow – or any other new runway. The second consultation by the DfT (itself highly biased in favour of adding a 3rd Heathrow runway) on the expansion of Heathrow (the Airports National Policy Statement consultation) ended before Christmas. The four boroughs questioned the legality of the inquiry in their responses. Their submissions cite pro-Heathrow comments from Mr Grayling and Lord Callanan, the former aviation minister. The transport secretary said in October that the government was “aiming to give [the third runway] the formal go-ahead in the first half of next year” and that the expansion would “make a difference right across this country”.  The boroughs are members of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, which has long argued that expansion should be stopped.

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For earlier news about Heathrow, see