Heathrow Airport news January to June 2014
Heathrow’s noise claims do not stack up, according to new reports
Heathrow’s claims that a third runway will improve the overall noise climate for residents do not stack up, according to analysis done by HACAN. Their new briefing, “Do Heathrow’s noise claims stack up?” has compared Heathrow’s arguments with the findings of 2 recently-published reports (by the CAA and by the Mayor of London) and concludes that “Heathrow’s claims are unravelling in the face of the independent evidence.” The most damning indictment of Heathrow is in the Atkins report showing their claim that a 3rd runway will mean “at least 30% noise reduction” by 2030 is based on the assumption that the new runway will be only operating at one-third capacity. Both reports challenge Heathrow’s prediction that 90% of the planes using the airport in 2026, when any new runway is expected to open, will be the quieter ‘new generation’ aircraft. They are dubious of steeper landings, and believe people under the current flight paths will get shorter respite periods in order to give people under the new flight paths some respite too. HACAN chair John Stewart said the 2 new independent reports illustrate the near-impossibility of sorting out noise at Heathrow.
EasyJet CEO still has no details of the practical economics of a Heathrow or Gatwick runway
In an interview, by Buying Business Travel, with Caroline McCall, the CEO of EasyJet she said Heathrow is an expensive airport, which is why they do not fly from there. On Gatwick’s and Heathrow’s bids for runway expansion she says: “We’ve seen none of the economics behind either of those visions. Inevitably it will be the airlines and therefore the passengers, that will fund this. Therefore, it’s a very, very big decision for Easyjet – because any increase in passenger fares is something that affects our low-fare proposition”….”We make £7 profit per seat – that’s it. We’ve raised that from £4.50 over the last four years. I think Heathrow are talking around £15 billion, Gatwick are talking around £7-8 billion. If you think about the price per passenger for that, you can see we have to be really, really careful about any capacity going into either airport, and before we take a view on it, we have to understand the economics.” And they want to focus on more business travellers: “because we know we get higher yields.”
Heathrow film competition presents 15 impressive anti-3rd-runway campaigning films
At a packed event held in Richmond Theatre, organised by MP Zac Goldsmith, with some 800 people present (free seats), Hugh Grant, Holly Willoughby and Rachel Johnson were the celebrities judging the competition for short films, of 2 minutes or less, opposing a 3rd Heathrow runway. The evening was ably and entertainingly compered by Giles Brandreth. The first prize was £10,000, the second prize £3,000 and the 3rd prize £2,000. Some 50 short films were entered into the competition. The 15 considered the best were shown at the gala event, for the judges to select the top three. The audience then voted on these three. All the 15 films shown were of a very high quality; any one of the 15 films could have been the winner. They all showed a high level of film expertise; there was a wide range of styles and approaches; all showed great originality and creativity, and put the message across powerfully. Anyone present at the gala event would be left in no doubt about just how determinedly people in the areas badly affected by Heathrow will do whatever it takes to ensure no new Heathrow runway gets built.
1. “Heathrow Won’t Listen” http://t.co/zVLEimwmZv
2. “Say NO” http://t.co/AAE881fkGU
3. “Life under the Flightpath” http://t.co/h5G2Ddr20w
Plane noise from Heathrow drowns out Hounslow school, as Sir Howard makes a visit
In a 2 minute video clip by the BBC, the head teacher, Dee Scott, of the Beavers Primary School in Hounslow, shows Sir Howard Davies – head of the Airports Commission, round the school. She explains to him and members of the Commission the impact another runway could have and the problems of trying to teach against the noise. The area is subjected to a plane overhead about every 90 seconds or so (noise lasting perhaps 30 seconds of that) for at least half of each school day (with westerly operations). And the problem of having to be either cool enough – with the windows open – but with noise that makes the proper function of the school impossible. OR keep the windows closed, and reduce the noise while everyone inside is uncomfortably hot. Sir Howard’s exact words in the film were that the Airports Commission has to “balance the economic interests of the many and the environmental and nuisance costs to the few”. The “few” means about 725,000 people currently affected by Heathrow noise, within the 55 decibel Lden contour and about 245,000 in the 57 decibel LAeq contour.
Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of runway options – says TfL
The issue of surface access to airports was the subject of the RunwaysUK conference on 2nd June. Michèle Dix, planning director of Transport for London, said that the costs for surface access for each of the runway options must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria. Michèle said it was vital that estimates by runway promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” The Thames estuary proposal had not compared the surface access needs, like for like.
She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.1bn.
Even just “high” provision, rather than “optimal”, would need £7 billion for Heathrow, £11.6 billion for Gatwick; and £10.9 billion for the Inner Thames Estuary option.
New UK runway consent unlikely before March 2020 at the earliest, due to necessary National Policy Statement etc
Speaking at the RunwaysUK Surface Access debate on 2nd June, Oliver Mulvey of the Airports Commission Secretariat confirmed that final go-ahead by the government for any new runway would take at least a year following publication of the Commission’s final report after the General Election in 2015. Planning consent for a new runway is unlikely to come before March 2020 (with an election in May 2020) despite government efforts to streamline the controversial planning process using the Airports Commission. It would take the new government at least a year to produce the necessary National Policy Statement on runways. It might take 2 years to agree the NPS. After that, Mr Mulvey confirmed there are 2 possible routes: “The first is a planning application under the 2008 Planning Act. The other is the Hybrid Bill route, as for HS2. Both have their own risk and costs associated with them. ….All our dates show the middle of the next decade  as the earliest a new runway could open.” The planning process for a NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) – which a runway would be – is itself a long process.
EasyJet applies to joing Heathrow Consultative Committee
9 June 2014 (Evening Standard)
Easyjet already operates from rival airport Gatwick. easyJet is looking at options to eventually operate from Heathrow and is set to join a major committee [The Heathrow Consultative Committee] of current Heathrow carriers. EasyJet has applied to join London Airports Consultative Committee to take part in the consultation on Heathrow’s expansion plans. A spokesman for easyJet said: “As Britain’s biggest airline we are keen to understand the benefits and costs of the options at Heathrow. Nobody has stated what the costs to passengers will be of the various expansion options.” Wouldn’t we all.http://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/easyjet-mulls-a-landing-at-heathrow-9512825.html
Heathrow uses glitch-free opening of T2 to try and persuade people it can build a 3rd runway
Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 – which cost the airport £2.5 billion – opened on 4th June, with no problems. It had a very low key and unambitious opening, with just 6,000 passengers on the first day of operation – 0.03% of its 20 million passenger capacity – thereby avoiding the chaotic scenes which accompanied the opening of Terminal 5 in 2008. John Holland-Kaye, who takes over as Heathrow’s chief executive next month, claimed the new terminal would help Heathrow’s quest for a 3rd runway, as they managed to do it without anything going wrong (there were months of practices to ensure problems were avoided) and with Heathrow staying open. Mr Holland-Kaye, who is paid to say this sort of thing, said perceptions and the “political landscape” about Heathrow had changed (no evidence given) over the past 5 – 6 years. “We have been able to listen much more to the local community and changed our plans to be more acceptable. We have coming together a possibility of building a political consensus around Heathrow”…. But that really isn’t true….
Stars to judge £10,000 Heathrow anti-runway campaign film competition – entry deadline 7th June
Zac Goldsmith had unveiled his star cast to judge a £10,000 anti-Heathrow airport expansion film competition. Presenter Holly Willoughby and Bafta award-winning director Nick Broomfield will join actor Hugh Grant and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth on the panel of judges for the “No Ifs No Buts” competition set up by Zac (MP for Richmond) with anti-expansion group Hacan. The nationwide competition was launched 2 months ago to highlight opposition to the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Entrants have been asked to submit a 2-minute video saying why a 3rd runway should not be built. The short-listed entries will be judged by at a gala night in the Richmond Theatre in front of 800 guests on June 18, with a £10,000 prize. Zac said: “Heathrow expansion is not politically deliverable. The arguments against it are stacking up every week and the opposition is organised and growing ….. A green light for Heathrow expansion is effectively a green light for a vast, foreign-owned and taxpayer-subsidised monopoly on one edge of our great city. It is astonishing that the idea is even in consideration.”
Heathrow and Gatwick set out their rival claims at RunwaysUK conference on airport surface access
The organisation, RunwaysUK, which describes itself as a neutral platform for debate on the rival runway schemes, held an interesting and productive half day conference on surface access to airports. There were accounts by Heathrow, Gatwick, Heathrow Hub and the Thames estuary scheme proposers of their plans for road and rail access, as well as contributions by TfL, Network Rail and others with an interest. It is recognised that adding a runway in the south east would come with immense transport strains on existing transport infrastructure. In order to meet requirements on the amount of passengers (and staff) using the airport to be by public transport, the airports know they cannot depend on road access alone. The pressure of extra passengers on networks that are already stretched, especially at peak times, is recognised – though Gatwick and Heathrow do their best to say their passengers will add little, and merely make rail services more profitable out of peak hours. Vexed issues remain of how much the taxpayer pays for transport services the airports benefit from, and what the cost of added congestion to road and rail services – from millions of extra air passengers being added – would cost the economy.
Heathrow’s bid for a 3rd runway includes doubling air freight – with associated increase in lorries
In Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway, it plans to double its cargo capacity. It hopes this will help its bid, due to the financial value of air freight. In the past, some of the air freight industry have said Heathrow ignored their needs. Heathrow is now saying that its key logistics role as a single primary air freight hub for the UK is important for the economy, for export competitiveness, and essential for British importers and exporters to enable them to access key global markets. Some 65% of the UK’s £400bn air freight exports already travel via Heathrow, almost all as belly hold in passenger planes. The airport plans to have its freight area improved with a new cargo railhead, and better road links. Speaking at the Runways UK conference on 2nd June, Simon Earle said local residents consulted by Heathrow were unhappy about the number of HGV lorries. Air pollution is already often in breach of air quality levels. An article by T&E bemoans the resistance to changes and to cuts in polluting emissions by the lorry manufacturers. That does not bode well for Heathrow air quality, with much higher numbers of HGV movements in future.
Mayor of London figures refute Heathrow claims of less aircraft noise with a 3rd runway
Figures published by the London Mayor “blow out of the water” Heathrow’s claim that overall noise levels would fall if a 3rd runway was built, Heathrow campaigners said. The figures, part of Boris Johnson’s report on the Estuary Airport submitted to the Airport’s Commission last week, showed Heathrow’s claims assumed the new runway would be operating at only one-third capacity. They also argued that Heathrow was too optimistic about the introduction of quieter aircraft. The Mayor’s figures, based on a study he commissioned from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), showed if a 3rd runway was built more than 1m people would be impacted by noise, up from 725,000 today. (55 Lden). While Heathrow is trying to claim 50% more planes will mean less noise, in reality the noise will rise. Heathrow still has not found a way to deal with the politically toxic problem of noise. A 3rd runway would mean people would be disturbed in new areas of London and the south-east. Areas from Kensington to Deptford would be within the noise contour.
New noise report from CAA deemed to be ‘disappointing’ by HACAN
The CAA’s new report, Managing Aviation Noise, suggests how the aviation industry can best manage aircraft noise, in order to reduce and defuse opposition. The CAA appreciates that noise is a very real issue, and that there has been very little improvement in the noise climate around airports since 2000. Speaking on behalf of HACAN, John Stewart welcomed the recognition of this fact, which reflects the experience of residents. By contrast, the aviation industry likes to give the impression that planes are getting very much quieter,and the noise problem is steadily improving. HACAN regards the CAA report overall as ‘disappointing’ and though it contains useful ideas on how to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on residents, it says very little about how the actual number of planes flying over communities can be cut – which is the big issue for local residents. The CAA report recognises that the noise problem has to be dealt with better than it is now, but its focus is on how new capacity can be developed and operated to minimise noise impacts and maximise community benefits, rather than whether the capacity – primarily a new south east runway – should be built.
Heathrow’s hopes of ever more transfer passengers, to help keep its “global aviation crown”
A Telegraph article (by Natalie Thomas) is loud – as ever – in its calls for another Heathrow runway. The opening on 2nd June is the opportunity for a PR splurge by Heathrow on how it is losing out to middle eastern airports (which are not located in highly populated areas, or have flight paths over highly populated areas, like Heathrow) and how Heathrow is losing its “global aviation crown.” The UK is no longer geographically in the right location to be the world’s largest hub, and the UK is a democratic country, where major building projects have to be agreed. Natalie is enthusiastic about having as many transfer passengers as possible at Heathrow, to make it maximally profitable. “With a relatively small domestic market, Qatar’s aviation industry is built on international passengers using Doha as a transfer and stopover destination.” Quite so. By contrast, London is a major destination in its own right, so the transfer argument is different. The article also enthuses about how the Queen’s Terminal will be the home of the Star Alliance group of airlines, some of which “connect Britain to emerging markets” and these will be able to use transfer passengers more effectively” to “improve Heathrow’s competitiveness.”
Willie Walsh still wants 3rd runway – but “Heathrow is always going to be a 2-runway airport”
Interview in the Independent on Sunday with Willie Walsh. He wants a 3rd Heathrow runway, though he unwillingly accepts it will not happen. He says he stopped campaigning when “the Conservatives said they were not going to support it.” … “I accept it…. I’ve not done anything since.” Now, he says, there is “not sufficient political will – it’s seen as too risky to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Even Labour, which did back the idea when in government, has changed. “Ed Miliband was the only member of the Labour Cabinet against the 3rd runway. Now he’s the leader”…. “It’s highly unlikely we will see a 3rd runway. Heathrow is always going to be a 2-runway airport.” We can, Walsh says, dismiss Boris Island for a start. “There’s no support for Boris island other than from Boris.” As for Sir Howard, it does not matter what he concludes, because “whatever he does will be handed over to politicians, none of whom are bound by his recommendations”. So with no new runways we just reach south east airport capacity and UK aviation stops growing? Yes, says Walsh.
Over 4,000 take part in Frankfurt’s 100th protest evening – including supporters from Heathrow and Gatwick
May 20, 2014 Many more photos, and video links
The 4th runway at Frankfurt airport was opened in October 2011. The flightpaths for this runway overfly thousands of residents in the Frankfurt, many of whom had not previously been overflown. They suddenly found the noise of aircraft overhead every few minutes, relentlessly (day after day, week after week) for most of the day intolerable. Other areas were also affected by changes to flight paths. Ever since the opening, the people of Frankfurt have absolutely refused to accept this, and have campaigned continuously and relentlessly. They hold unique and remarkable protests, almost every Monday night, in the airport terminal. These are attended by well over 1,000 people, every time. On 19th May, the 100th airport terminal protest was held, with around 4,000 (maybe more) protesters. Some campaigners from the Heathrow and Gatwick campaigns went out (by train) to show solidarity and share this remarkable achievement with their German friends. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN and of AirportWatch, addressed the protest, saying they were making aviation history, and the tenacity, persistence and determination of the opposition to Frankfurt flights is increasingly a matter of concern to the aviation industry.
Heathrow chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, hushes hubbub over 24/7 airport comment by Heathrow board member
A Heathrow Airport Board member, Akbar Al Baker, recently said Heathrow should have 24 hour flights, planes should be allowed to fly all night, and that Brits make an “excessive” fuss about aircraft noise. This has hugely embarrassed Heathrow, which has been trying hard to claim a 50% increase in flights will result in less noise … square that one. Now, in response to the awkward and off-message remarks by Al Baker, Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Heathrow, said: “Mr Al-Baker’s views are his own and do not represent the views or policy of the Heathrow board or executive committee. We recognise that adding the flights Britain needs for growth must come hand in hand with reducing aircraft noise for residents. Round the clock flying from London is not an option. We take the concerns of local communities very seriously and have never argued for 24-hour flying.” Anti expansion campaigners were highly critical of the airport, and its need to urgently rush out reassuring comments due to the embarrassment caused by Mr Al-Baker putting his foot in it. Question is why Mr Al Baker was not aware that this, though revealing, was not a helpful or acceptable comment to make, from Heathrow’s point of view.
Heathrow Airport Board member, Akbar Al Baker, says Heathrow should have 24 hour flights
One of the Board members of Heathrow Airport is Akbar Al Baker, who is the CEO of Qatar Airways and led the development of the new Doha airport. He is on the Board because Qatar Holdings bought a 20% stake in Heathrow in 2012. He has caused a storm of protest after claiming, with stunning insensitivity and demonstating a woeful lack of understanding of British democracy, that Heathrow should have 24 hour flights – ignoring the well-being of those overflown. The benefit would be that his companies would be more profitable. Akbar Al Baker said Britons make an “excessive” fuss about noise levels from aircraft flying over their homes” and home owners living under flight paths “wouldn’t even hear the aircraft” after a while.” He appears not to understand that in Europe, unpopular and damaging major developments cannot just be steamrollered through, as they perhaps can be in the Gulf States. Mr Al Baker thinks European airports should open 24 hours a day if they want to compete with the emerging Gulf hubs in Dubai and Doha. Though rapidly denied by Heathrow, which distanced itself from Mr Al Baker’s comments, it is indicative of a way of thought which people may fear is prevalent on the Heathrow board.
Heathrow and Gatwick battle it out in the media, but is either environmentally deliverable?
Gatwick and Heathrow have been trying to get the best publicity they can for their runway, while simultaneously having a dig at each other. But does either deliver on environmental issues? Many of the new ideas, such as noise compensation schemes and a congestion charge, aim to tackle these impacts but much of what has been proposed either misses the key questions or makes impressive promises on issues that are outside the control of airports. Heathrow’s only contribution towards cutting carbon emissions appears to be using some renewable energy in its new terminal and incentivising efficient aircraft. They remain silent on inconvenient issues. Giving the go-ahead to any of the runway options would mean UK carbon emissions would have to be cut elsewhere, either though imposing limits on regional airports, or expecting other sectors and industries to deliver near impossible emissions reductions. UK Aviation has been given a very lax emissions target of only having to keep its CO2 emissions to 2005 levels by 2050. The assumption that this means an increase of 60% in passengers, or 50% in fligths depends on carbon cuts in line with the rate of growth. It is by no means clear those carbon efficiencies will, or can, be made.
M25 could become Britain’s first 14-lane motorway (with 600 metre tunnel under runway) in Heathrow expansion plans
If Heathrow got its way and somehow managed to get permission for a 3rd runway north west of the existing two, the M25 is set to become Britain’s first 14-lane motorway. Heathrow wants taxpayers to bankroll £1.2 billion of road and rail improvements including a 600m motorway tunnel under the new runway. ( Earlier estimates were £3-5 billion, according to Colin Matthews, at public meetings). The M25 would be widened to 14 lanes on a two-mile section from Junction 14, next to Terminal 5, to the junction with the M4. The proposal is likely to provoke a furious reaction from environmental campaigner s and from road users and motoring organisations. Heathrow said the 600 metre tunnel would be built in parallel without disruption to the present motorway – a claim Gatwick said was unbelievable. Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, warned: “Even a day or two’s disruption on that vital stretch of road is a big issue. ” Others have commented about the economic cost of delays caused by years of motorway disruption and hold-ups. Also the terrorism danger of a huge tunnel for vast numbers of cars, if a bomb was set off.
Heathrow publishes glossy 48 page document promoting its north-west 3rd runway plans
Heathrow airport has released a glossy 48 page document, for the public, promoting its north-west runway option. The document is very high on spin, aspiration, laudable future hopes and intentions of all sorts – but very thin on any detail of how these might realistically happen. Wishful thinking, writ large. For instance, on carbon emission, there are hopes of huge cuts through aircraft not yet invented, fuels also not yet in existence, and carbon trading – not yet in existence. Heathrow makes 10 commitments, but gives no detail about time-scale or who would enforce these commitments, or what would be the penalty for failing to deliver them. There are hopes of better air quality near the airport, 100,000 new jobs, £100 billion (no time scale given – probably over years ….) to the UK economy, and a lot on listening to the public. There are some very carefully chosen sentences about the increase in aircraft noise and numbers affected. Heathrow says it will reduce aircraft noise etc ….”by encouraging the world’s quietest aircraft to use Heathrow, routing aircraft higher over London, delivering periods with no aircraft overhead and allocating £250m to provide noise insulation.” The airport will submit its plans to the Airports Commission on 14th May.
What Heathrow’s 3rd runway proposal says on noise (not very convincing)
Heathrow’s publicity document on its 3rd runway plans has quite a lot on noise, as Heathrow realises that the noise generated by its aircraft is a key political topic, and is perhaps the main issue that would stop the runway. Having a new runway would mean the number of annual flights could increase by up to 260,000 per year (compared to the current 470,000 or so). This would inevitably create a huge amount more noise. But by only considering the people within the loudest noise contours (noise averaged over many hours each day) – the 57dBALeq countour and the 55dbLden contour – and not those who experience aircraft noise, but not quite as loudy, Heathrow claims fewer people will experience noise. This is manifestly not the truth. There may be slightly fewer, by massaging the figures, in the noisiest contours. But there will be many more experiencing aircraft noise, if not at the most intense levels. Already people miles from the airport, outside any current contour, are troubled and disturbed by aircraft noise. The document provides various maps and charts to try and make their point. The concept of respite periods is key in Heathrow’s attempts to win over the over-flown public, and those yet to be over-flown.
What Heathrow’s 3rd runway proposal says on carbon emissions and air quality (very little)
Just taking the parts on carbon emissions and air quality from Heathrow’s promotional document for its 3rd runway, the claims can be seen to be ambitious, or perhaps unrealistic. Tellingly they forget to mention carbon emissions in the press release, other than to say there is one of their 10 “commitments” (no indication how these are to be enforced) that they will “Keep CO2 emissions within UK climate change targets”. This appears to be largely on hopes of more efficient operation, plus planes as yet unbuilt, carbon trading systems as yet not in existence, and new fuels (they don’t actually mention biofuels), which also do not exist. On local air quality standards, which the Heathrow area currently often breaches, Heathrow says it wants a local congestion charge to reduce vehicle journeys, a lot more public transport (paid for by taxpayer?) and another commitment (enforcement?) to “Increase the proportion of passengers using public transport to access Heathrow to more than 50%”. They also depend on road vehicle engines in future emitting less NO2 than at present.
“Heathrow Hub” submitting their 3rd runway plans to Airports Commission
On the same day as Heathrow airport published their promotion document for the public on their 3rd runway plan, “Heathrow Hub” have also put out a press release about their scheme, which they will also submit to the Airports Commission this week. The idea is to build another runway, at the western end of the existing north runway. Heathrow airport itself is not keen on this option, partly as a runway exactly in line with another is not a layout used at any other airport, and partly as it gives no chance for half a day of noise respite for those overflown. Heathrow knows the respite periods are of huge value to those suffering from aircraft noise. However, Heathrow Hub say their plan could expand Heathrow’s theoretical capacity by approximately 220,000 flights per year, and it would create approximately 19,000 jobs ( Heathrow says theirs would create 100,000 jobs !) They say their scheme has the benefit of few homes being destroyed, and planes landing 2 miles further west being a little higher (so slightly less noisy) on approach over London.
Heathrow plans £550m sweetener which it hopes will head off opposition to 3rd runway
Heathrow airport says 950 homes in the Harmondsworth area would be demolished (compulsory purchase) if it got its north-west 3rd runway option. The media are talking about Heathrow offering substantial compensation for 750 homes. Link Heathrow is saying it will also pay large sums for sound insulation from a £550m fund and it would spend at least £250m on soundproofing homes and schools – compared with only £30m it has spent n the last 20 years. If Heathrow paid out at the level Gatwick has offered – £,000 equivalent to Band A Council Tax – to each household within the 57dB contour, it would be about £245 million per year. However much sound insulation is put in, or however many financial sweeteners, the noise is still heard if the windows are open or if people are outdoors, eg in the garden. Heathrow is still trying to work out which is less unpopular – giving more noise compensation to fewer people, or less compensation to more. John Stewart, Chair of Hacan said of Heathrow’s money offer: “Their newfound generosity is a clear sign that they are still not confident that they can get a third runway approved, agreed and built.”
Heathrow hopes to buy off Harmondsworth with about £320,000 per property demolished
Heathrow is to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in an attempt to buy off local opposition to a proposed 3rd runway, with plans to use a massive new fund to compensate homeowners and insulate homes and public buildings against aircraft noise. Heathrow knows noise is a key reason why its runway is politically toxic. It also knows the bad publicity of destroying Harmondsworth and Sipson, and making other areas un-liveable. Now – publicising its runway plan tomorrow – Heathrow is proposing to pay the market price, unblighted, of homes plus 25% and the costs of legal fees, moving costs and stamp duty of buying a new home. For a £250,000 property, homeowners would receive £312,500 compensation, plus £7,500 stamp duty costs and legal fees. [About £320,000 each – for a £250,000 house. ie £304 million for the 950 houses Heathrow would demolish]. This of course does not cover homes nearby, where life would become unpleasant. Heathrow is planning another public consultation in July to decide how the money should be divided up. There might also be more money for noise insulation in areas beyond the usual”noise contour” (57dB) and help for schools.
Heathrow ads plastering English county names over the globe deemed bad taste (at best)
Heathrow has a new variant of its advert, showing a map of the world, and a slogan implying that Heathrow is essential for travel anywhere outside the UK. The latest variant of the map is odd. In place of the names of countries, Heathrow has replaced them with the names of UK counties, or even things like “M4 corridor” (repeated many times), “The City”, Canary Wharf (many times) and the Western Isles, as well as “Devonshire” (sic), Cornwall, Shetland etc etc. Much of central Africa is shown as “South Yorkshire” and much of South America as “Cambridgeshire”. India is portrayed as “Clwyd”. And so on. This is intended – by the bright ad-man responsible – to indicate “If we want growth in the future, we need to keep Britain firmly on the map.” That, it says, means Heathrow. However, there is concern about the colonial over-tones of the advert, and it is being criticised as insensitive and patronising. One commentator writes: “I’m sure all they wanted to do was create a quirky advert with a patriotic theme. Basically, they missed the mark.”
Heathrow suggests congestion charge for vehicles – to try and keep within air quality limits
Heathrow will announce its north- west runway plan on Tuesday 13th May. They have no interest in the Jock Lowe Heathrow Hub option. Heathrow is aware that as well as noise, air pollution is a show – stopper issue for their hopes of a new runway. Hence they are now suggesting to the Airports Commission that there should be a congestion charge for people travelling to Heathrow by car – after the public transport has been set up (largely at public expense). Some of the money raised may go towards public transport. Heathrow is trying to make out there will not only be no more noise caused by a 3rd runway, but no more road vehicles than now. They depend on emissions standards for NOx for new cars becoming tighter in future. Expansion of Heathrow would mean massive road congestion in the area. The Standard reports that Heathrow is moving its planned north-west runway slightly south, in order to avoid the M25 and M4 junction. To make way for the new runway to the north west of the airport, Heathrow will build a 600-metre tunnel taking traffic under the M25. A tunnel would run alongside the motorway – and be part-funded by Government.
Boris spends £90,000 on architects to draw up plans to build over Heathrow site
Boris Johnson , through TfL, is paying 3 architectural firms £90,000 to draw up plans for new homes on the site of Heathrow airport despite there being no plans to demolish it and City Hall having no control over its future. The Mayor wants to replace Heathrow with a new airport in the Thames Estuary though his schemes have neither the support of the UK coalition Government, which controls aviation policy, nor many major airlines. The Airports Commission is currently considering whether a Thames estuary airport is sufficiently viable to be consulted on in the autumn (along with Heathrow and Gatwick options ). Despite the lack of control over aviation policy and without backing for his scheme, Boris has instructed TfLto draw up proposals for increasing runway capacity. Each architect firms will be paid £30,000 for their work , to “provide designs that cover several options for redevelopment of a site that could potentially support 90,000 new jobs and provide homes for 190,000 people.” Up to April 2014 Boris had spent £3 million on promoting is estuary schemes.
John Holland-Kaye takes over from Colin Matthews as Heathrow CEO on 1st July
Heathrow Airport has confirmed John Holland-Kaye, its development director, will take over as chief executive on 1st July from Colin Matthews, who is leaving the company after six years in the job. Mr Holland-Kaye, aged 49, has taken an increasingly prominent role over the past year in Heathrow’s campaign for a 3rd runway. He has also been overseeing Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 building, which will open to passengers next month. He commented: “My aspiration is to improve Heathrow as much in the next five years as we have in the last five years.” Mr Holland-Kaye’s main task will be to persuade policymakers that a third Heathrow runway is politically deliverable as the airport competes against its rival, Gatwick,to get a new runway. He must know that he’ll have a real prospect of a knighthood if he gets the runway. Details of their runway submission to the Airports Commission are due to be publicised on 13th May.
Heathrow launches new “Webtrak My Neighbourhood” website to show flight path use over time periods
Heathrow has launched a new online tool allowing people to track the routes planes fly into and out of the airport. It is called “WebTrak My Neighbourhood”, and is a different variant of the existing “Webtrak” that has existed for some years. The new “My Neighbourhood” version shows landings (red) and take-offs (green) and gives a % of the amount of flights that have used that flightpath, over the past month, or quarter, or year. It also shows what % of hours have been plane-free during that time. The “i” information button on each flight path gives more information, such as the breakdown of flights over a day, showing which hours were busiest. Heathrow says it is the 2nd airport (after Eindhoven) to use the technique. The airport hopes it will help keep residents better informed about their operations. It will also help people avoid living in areas which have a lot of flights. However, though the information is welcome, it does not actually have any effect on reducing the noise. Heathrow has the unenviable task of trying to persuade the public that the planes using an extra runway will, somehow, not mean any more aircraft noise ….
Emergency landing (May 2013 – cowls flew off) to cost BA ££s thousands in compensation
BA has backed down and compensated some of the hundreds of passengers whose flights were delayed when one of its Airbus A319 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow almost a year ago. Flight BA762 to Oslo was forced to return to Heathrow (flying over thousands of Londoners en route, with an engine on fire) shortly after take-off when both engine cowls blew off, causing a fire in the right engine. Passengers were forced to evacuate via escape slides and the aircraft blocked one of the two runways on May 24th 2013 last year. BA initially denied passengers affected were due compensation, claiming the incident was due to exceptional circumstances beyond its control and therefore European regulation EC261 exempted it from compensating passengers. Now an investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch revealed the fault was due to human error. Retaining latches, which hold the engine doors in place, had not been closed. BA has to pay compensation, of between €250 and €600 per person.
Heathrow’s Populus opinion polls continue to show around a third opposed to runway
Heathrow airport has spent a lot of effort and money on trying to persuade people in government and in positions of influence that there is public backing for a 3rd runway, and that people in boroughs near Heathrow are likely to want to vote for pro- expansion local councillors. However, the polling results do not show any significant increase in support for a 3rd runway now, than there was back in 2007. The poll that is quoted by Heathrow was done in March 2014 and shows 48% net in favour, 34% net opposed and 18% neither support nor oppose. The figures are broadly similar from polls in November 2013 or May 2013. A Populus poll in 2007 showed 50% supported a 3rd runway and 30% were against. About a third of people stubbornly refuse to back expansion at Heathrow. Heathrow knows that unless they can shift opinion in the next year, the odds against a third runway being built will lengthen…….whatever recommendation the Airports Commission comes up with in summer 2015.
Heathrow ‘misses the point’ in claiming connectivity benefits from new rail lines, yet unbuilt
May 2, 2014 Heathrow will claim, in its runway submission to the Airports Commission on 16th May, that it can offer the shortest journey times (compared to Gatwick or the Thames estuary) to cities such as Sheffield, Bristol and Manchester and will do the most to bring growth to those regions by connecting them to international markets. Heathrow is arguing that the arrival of HS2, Crossrail, upgrades to London Underground’s Piccadilly line and the proposed rail link to the Great Western line will make access to the expanded airport much better, even with a 3rd runway. Heathrow will factor the rail links into its plans, even though only Crossrail is under construction and the other lines are only at various stages of planning. HS2 was voted through the Commons this week, but the plan to link it to the airport is on hold. HACAN says the airport’s owners have missed the point on this, as all the rail and road links will struggle to cope with the extra number of passengers that will use Heathrow if a 3rd runway is build. A new runway would mean another 260,000 or so flights a year. It is likely that the extra journeys generated by a 3rd runway would threaten gridlock on local roads and public transport networks.” Click here to view full story…
Anti-third runway campaigners “put the boot in” at Westminster with a protest football game
May 2, 2014 Protesters – from the villages of Harmondsworth and Longford (to be destroyed by Heathrow’s 3rd runway plan) played a protest football game on the green outside the Houses of Parliament. This was to highlight the “broken promises” of David Cameron over his “No ifs, no buts, no third runway” commitment to no expansion at Heathrow at the last election. The residents of the 2 villages feel they have been “kicked into the long grass” over new Heathrow expansion plans. The villagers travelled from west London too Westminster with Channel 5 TV cameras in tow, to set up their jumpers for goalposts on the green overlooked by Parliament. The team wore England shirts, with past quotes from senior politicians affirming cross-party opposition to a third runway emblazoned on their backs.The football organiser said “We will practice our kicking into the long grass, and our U-turns. The Conservative Government made promises that there would be no third runway before they were elected, and now it looks like they are going back on their word. If we can’t believe them on this issue, how can we believe them about anything?” Click here to view full story…
Populus surveys done for Heathrow show only 48% back its expansion (26% back it strongly, 23% oppose it strongly)
April 30, 2014 To quote Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli; “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And so it is when opinion polls are done, and the organisation that commissions the poll wants a particular result out of it. Heathrow often gets Populus to ask people in boroughs near Heathrow what they think. They usually ask similar questions each time. One asks “Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?” Over all boroughs surveyed, 26% strongly supported this; 22% somewhat supported; 11% somewhat opposed; 23% strongly opposed. See link So 48% support, and 34% oppose, with 18% neither supporting nor opposing. The figures were broadly the same a year earlier (with 46% supporting, but 43% opposing, and 10% neither supporting nor opposing). Heathrow says this is large, and growing, support. It is difficult to interpret the figures, as Populus only publishes a small bit of its results, with no methodology, such as the script of the interviewer, tone of the questions etc. Questions need to be asked about what information is given to people by Populus before they are asked their views. Click here to view full story…
Bloomberg says Heathrow claim that 3rd runway would mean lower air fares takes “a flight of imagination”
April 22, 2014 A report – by Frontier Economics – released by Heathrow last week, as part of its lobbying effort, sought to put a price on the way the airport has chosen to run at almost full capacity. The study makes out that the cost of building the new runway, terminal, changes to the road network, compensating people etc would only add £20 per ticket. Interestingly, Bloomberg Businessweek says “Heathrow officials did not respond to e-mails seeking comment” on these remarkable figures. A footnote buried on page 11 of the Frontier Economics study “notes that calculations for how much fares would fall once a 3rd runway were operational are “complicated by airline price setting,” which is typically focused on “maximizing profitability.” Indeed. ” Bloomberg is not convinced that air fares would necessarily fall if a new runway was built. They cite examples of new runways in the USA, where prices have merely risen. They also say the airline alliances would make fare cuts unlikely. Airlines have no interest in cutting fares. Bloomberg says: “selling the project as a fare-lowering exercise takes a flight of imagination.” Click here to view full story…
Frontier Economics report for Heathrow makes out that a 3rd runway will mean lower fares
April 17, 2014 Heathrow airport has commissioned a report from Frontier Economics (a firm that has done a lot of pro-expansion reports for the industry), and it makes out that air fares will fall if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. It is not a brilliant report. But it said what Heathrow wanted it to say. Only the FT and the Telegraph bothered to report this story. Frontier economics says the price of slots at Heathrow would fall (which they probably would) if there was a 3rd runway, as with so many new slots, it would not be possible to sell them for the prices charged today. Frontier economics say a long haul holiday would be cheaper at Heathrow in future, with a new runway. The FT comments that: “Aviation analysts said it would be difficult to calculate the saving.” Indeed. The numbers are very speculative.The report is strangely silent on the – not inconsiderable – matter of the cost of building a new runway, at either Heathrow or Gatwick, and the costs needed to give a reasonably return to the investors. The Frontier Economics report contains some very contorted arguments, with some highly contrived conclusions – with much speculation.Click here to view full story…
Latest Back Heathrow newsletter described as ” A work of art: the art of distortion”
April 14, 2014 Back Heathrow has produced its latest news-sheet and questionnaire, which has been delivered to thousands of homes. In a blog, Chair of HACAN, John Stewart, writes about how it is “A work of art. The art of not quite telling it as it is.” Its front page has a heading saying “Hillingdon Council want Thousands of Houses on Airport”. That clearly implies that Hillingdon want Heathrow closed, but that is far from what they have actually said. Its leader, Ray Puddiford, has merely said that, if an Estuary Airport opened and Heathrow had to close, there would be the opportunity for the land to be used for housing and new businesses. The newsletter claims thousands of jobs are at risk if Heathrow were to close. It conveniently overlooks another key finding of the report that the impact of a second runway at Gatwick would have a ‘negligible’ impact on employment at Heathrow. Heathrow is not going to close. The newsletter also quote “residents” – but only highly selected ones. The status of “Back Heathrow” was debated at length, and questioned, at the latest Heathrow Consultative Committee on 26th March. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow 3rd runway – for “the sovereign wealth funds which control the business & want the best possible return”
April 6, 2014 A piece in the Observer, written by an un-named author, keen on a Heathrow 3rd runway, sums up the both the undesirability of a new Heathrow runway and its impossibility. Here are a few quotes from it. Its title, on he resignation of Colin Matthews, sums up its style: “Heathrow needs a flashier pilot now.”….” But Matthews’s operational success has made him the wrong person for the next phase of the job – not least for the sovereign wealth funds who control the business and want the best possible return. And that means a third or fourth runway.” …. “The airport’s owners needs a leader who can persuade the public – particularly in west London – as well as the three main political parties, that a new runway is in Britain’s best interests. This will require showmanship.”…. “With many west Londoners in marginal constituencies unlikely to ever be won over by the case for a bigger Heathrow, ministers and opposition leaders will need persuading that the political cost is worth it. So the new Heathrow chief executive will need charm and political nous.” Click here to view full story…
Heathrow business case looks shaky if it had to give almost £100 million per year noise compensation to households
April 3, 2014 Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia says Heathrow’s business case is beginning to look very shaky. Heathrow’s owners would have to spend £100 million every year to households around the airport if it is to match Gatwick’s new noise compensation offer. In its PR efforts to win over local opposition, Gatwick has offered to pay £1,000 each to existing homes inside a 57 decibel catchment around the airport, once (if) a 2nd runway is built. This would include 4,100 homes, and the cost would be £4.1 million per year. Wandsworth calculates payments on this scale would cost Heathrow about £100 million per year. Gatwick has also offered to pay up to 2,000 qualifying local households a one-off grant of up to £3,000 towards noise insulation. If Heathrow was to match the terms of this scheme it could cost the airport a further £210 million per year. M r Govindia said the Airports Commission must give proper consideration to the “real noise impact of an airport set in the most densely populated part of the country. ….Once you weigh the real environmental costs – and those for improved surface access – against the claimed benefits of an additional runway, Heathrow’s business case begins to look very shaky.” Click here to view full story…
Heathrow airport boss Colin Matthews to leave some time after June – replacement later this year
April 2, 2014 Heathrow has started the search for a new chief executive after announcing that Colin Matthews is to stand down after 6 years in charge. Colin Matthews took up the job in March 2008 after the shambolic Terminal 5 opening. As well as operating Britain’s main international hub airport, his successor faces a tough political challenge of trying to persuade the 3 main parties to back a 3rd Heathrow runway. Matthews said that “once Terminal 2 has opened later this year (due 4th June), I have decided the time is right to pass on the baton. “He said he would be 70 by 2026, when a new runway (if it ever got built) would open, and it would not be possible for him to see it through till then. The Guardian considers the most prominent internal candidate to be the development director, John Holland-Kaye, who is charged with the Terminal 2 revamp. However previous appointments have come from outside the airport group. Matthews will remain in place until his successor is in place to ensure a smooth transition. Click here to view full story…
Hillingdon Leader unveils vision with 2 scenarios of future Heathrow without the airport
Date added: April 1, 2014 The Leader of Hillingdon Council has set out his vision for the redevelopment of the Heathrow site should the government decide that a new hub airport ought to be built elsewhere in the south east. There has been a lot of scare mongering promoted by Heathrow, and its lobbying campaign, “Back Heathrow” to cause concern that jobs in the Heathrow area would be lost if a 3rd runway was not allowed. On the same day that Boris set out his own 4 scenarios for the area, if Heathrow closed, Hillingdon now sets out its 2 possible scenarios, in its “Heathrow Park: A Better Future for Heathrow.” These are: (1). A smaller West London Airport similar in scale to City Airport; with “Heathrow Park” delivering 31,000 homes for an estimated 67,000 people, and including those at the airport, around 72,000 jobs. (2). If Heathrow Airport closed completely Hillingdon anticipate the creation of “Heathrow Park” with up to 45,000 homes (30% affordable) for nearly 100,000 people, with over 66,000 jobs and a wide range of education, health, public open space and community facilities. In the 2nd scenario, For both scenarios, the principle settlement of Heathrow Gardens and the surrounding ‘urban villages’ will be centred on existing tube and rail networks to maximise connectivity. Click here to view full story…
Boris sets out his 4 ideas for future of Heathrow site if airport is closed
April 1, 2014 Boris has produced a report on what might happen to Heathrow and its surrounding area, if the airport was shut (and a massive airport built on the Thames estuary). The report sets out 4 schemes. Boris says he is “prompting a genuine, honest discussion about what London could achieve in a world post Heathrow.” He said: “The money seems to be going on Gatwick, but I do not think that is the long-term solution that London needs – in having a dual hub solution.” The 4 schemes are for a new education and technology quarter, with 2 new large campus universities; a new town, with over 48,000 homes for 112,000 people and 76,000 jobs created in total ; a new residential quarter, on the scale of Hammersmith and Fulham, with 82,000 new homes supporting a population of 200,000, and 54,000 jobs; or a Heathrow City, with education and commercial research, high value manufacturing,knowledge parks and office development – with 80,000 homes and 90,000 jobs created. The report says many of the jobs currently provided at Heathrow would “move to the new airport and be easily accessible via the world class transport links proposed.” There is a separate report by Hillingdon. Click here to view full story…
easyJet says it would fly from Heathrow, “if it was right for us” debunking Gatwick’s Heathrow myth
March 29, 2014 Gatwick airport, in its bid to try to pursuade the powers-that-be of its suitability as the site of a new runway, has often said that the low cost airlines would not fly from Heathrow. However, easyJet has now said that it would consider flying from an expanded Heathrow. Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said it would look at flying from Heathrow in future “if it was right for us”, and it if wasn’t too expensive. Gatwick claims that the increase in demand for air travel will be for short haul flights, mainly to Europe or countries adjacent to Europe. Heathrow claims the demand for air travel in future will be long haul. According to Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, Heathrow is inaccessible for low-cost airlines and charter carriers due to its high landing charges. But Ms McCall points out that easyJet already flies to and from other hub airports in Europe, such as Schiphol, Rome Fiumicino and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Though Heathrow has high landing charges, so do the other European hub airports. Ms McCall made her comments shortly after easyJet announced a 7-year pricing deal with Gatwick and revealed it is in discussions to take over the airport’s north terminal, potentially forcing out British Airways. It made no mention of a 2nd Gatwick runway. Click here to view full story…
John Stewart blog: “Doing nothing about noise at Heathrow is not an option”
March 24, 2014 In a blog for HACAN, John Stewart considers the aircraft noise problem for people living at Brockley, in south east London, some 20 miles away from Heathrow. They suffer from planes over head every 2 minutes for much of each day, at around 4,500 feet. But they are not considered conventionally to have an aircraft noise problem. After speaking at a meeting in Brockley about the noise, and then visiting the headquarters of NATS to see their air traffic control systems, John was struck by the lights on the screens illustrating just how many planes affect people far from Heathrow. More than one million people live within 20 miles of Heathrow, along those approach paths. Around a third of those – the people living closer to Heathrow – get a half day’s break when the planes change runways at 3pm. The rest, like Brockley, get no such relief.. John says his visit to NATS “showed me that doing something is difficult” …. “doing nothing about noise at Heathrow is not an option”…. perhaps a solution would be “for planes to join the approach path much closer to Heathrow.” …”I didn’t ask NATS about the impact of a third runway at Heathrow. I didn’t really need to. If 480,000 flights a year severely restrict NATS’ room for manoeuvre, 740,000 would light up the air traffic controller’s screen with a brightness yet unseen.” Click here to view full story…
Zac Goldsmith and HACAN launch short film contest over Heathrow 3rd runway plan
March 24, 2014 Tory MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and environmental campaigner, Zac Goldsmith has launched a film competition (with HACAN) to highlight opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway – with £10,000 as the first prize. In an escalation of the anti-expansion campaign at Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith has also recruited celebrities to the cause with actor Hugh Grant and former Tory MP Giles Brandreth among the competition judges. Entrants to the competition will need to submit a short film (under 2 minutes) to highlight opposition to the runway. Shortlisted entries will be judged by the panel at a gala evening of 800 guests at the Richmond Theatre on 18th June with the prize money provided by Zac. The competition is called “No Ifs, No Buts”, recalling David Cameron’s infamous pre-election pledge made in 2009 to an audience in Richmond not to allow a 3rd runway to be built at Heathrow. The competition is looking for powerful messages that will be taken up on social and conventional media, and ram home the message that Heathrow expansion is not only the wrong solution for our economy, it is politically undeliverable. The closing date for video entries is 1st June. Click here to view full story…
16 jets running out of fuel, and 34 with engine problems landed at Heathrow 2009 – 2013
March 23, 2014 The Standard reports that more than 260 planes landed at Heathrow with low fuel, engine problems or other technical faults in the last 5 years. The numbers are from official figures. There were 16 aircraft with low fuel, 34 with engine problems, and 216 with other difficulties that landed at Heathrow between 2009 and 2013. Many of the pilots would have demanded priority to land given their situation. There were 51 such incidents in 2013, 40 in 2012 and 66 in 2010. Zac Goldsmith said: “Anyone will be shocked to see these figures. It’s yet another reason why we should not be massively increasing, possibly doubling, air traffic over Heathrow.” Two reported near-misses involving planes using Heathrow are also being investigated. The most recent was between a Boeing 747 and a private jet in November 2013, and a regional jet and a paraglider two months earlier. Overseas Aid Secretary Justine Greening, MP for Putney and an- opponent of Heathrow expansion, has warned about the risks of a plane crashing on London, possibly due to a terror attack. In 2012 the Telegraph reported that there were 28 low fuel incidents at British airports between 2010 and 2012. They said that in 2013 there were over 224 low fuel emergency landings in 4 years (2009 – 2012) but these figures included incidents involving British-registered aircraft at overseas airports. Click here to view full story…
Costain has put in for planning permission to build a solar farm on disused land north of Sipson, north of Heathrow.
20.3.2014. It says that the development could generate 5.5 megawatt of energy, enough to power around 1,650 homes. The 37-acre site, which Costain has owned since the early 1960s, is near Sipson Road and Holloway Lane in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Originally used for gravel extraction, it was subsequently leased in 1966 to the Greater London Council who used it for landfilling refuse and excavated material. The land was sealed and reinstated in 1972 before being returned to Costain. Due to its poor state, says Costain, the land has since been unused and undeveloped. However, the updating of the National Planning Policy Framework has made a solar farm a viable proposition as local planning authorities are encouraged to identify suitable areas for renewable resources and support renewable initiatives. Map Land seems to be north of where a north west runway would go. Link
Heathrow Terminal 2 to be powered by woodchip biomass – with dubious and extravagant “green” claims
March 19, 2014 Heathrow airport, and the planes that fly to and from it, is one of the highest emitters of carbon in the country. Its emissions are larger than several smaller countries. Yet the airport is now trying to be “green” by doing various things to reduce the emissions in the airport itself. The latest is having a biomass boiler for its Terminal 2 which is part of a green-washing campaign, with the airport trying to overcome its negative environmental impacts. Heathrow claim this will be the “UK’s biggest biomass boiler, and that it will cut the airport’s CO2 emissions by 34% against 1990 levels (the Terminal was not built then …). The boiler is meant to provide 2MW of electricity, hot water and cooling for data centres, and save up to “13,000 tonnes of CO2″ per year. Heathrow says Woodchip supplier LG Energy won the 15-year contract with Heathrow on the condition that it would provide all of the biomass from a 100-mile radius around the airport. Some 75% of it will come from just 50 miles away, including from London’s Wetlands Centre in Barnes, as well as Richmond Park. LG Energy claims the sale of the timber is enabling more conservation work to be done, so benefiting more habitat and more biodiversity. Biomass, on a large scale, not carefully, locally sourced is likely to be very far from sustainable. Click here to view full story…
6 week consultation on Heathrow’s north west runway ends – criticised for not being transparent
March 15, 2014 Heathrow has been conducting a somewhat minimalistic 6-week consultation on its plan for a new runway to the north west. The questions in the consultation (only really 2 questions, with scope for further comments) are only on factors to take in to account, and whether more people should be affected by a slightly smaller amount of aircraft niose, if fewer people should be subjected to a larger amount (dispersal or concentration). The consultation is not whether those consulted want a new runway. The public consultation sessions are now ended. The consultation did not mention the Heathrow Hub proposal for an extension of the northern runway. A Heathrow spokesman said: “We will take your opinions into account as we look to refine our north-west runway proposal…” Those opposed to the plans have been critical of the consultation, saying it has been neither honest nor transparent. Heathrow has been disingenuous in making no effort to show where the landing flight paths would go, making informed comment impossible. Either way there will be more aircraft noise for many thousands of homes. Claims that the airport will have 20 – 30% more flights and be “quieter” (properly defined) are manifestly not logical. Click here to view full story…
Analysis by NATS for Airports Commission shows a 4th Heathrow runway would cut flight path capacity elsewhere
March 10, 2014 An article in the Times says a submission by NATS, the air traffic control service to the Airports Commission warns of the problems that would be caused if a 4th (not only a 3rd) runway was built. The Airports Commission said in its interim report, that it considers another new runway might be “needed” by 2050, if the first new runway capacity has been filled by then. Even one new runway is marginal, at best, for carbon emissions. [A 2nd new runway cannot be built and used, keeping within UK carbon targets]. There are fears that if Heathrow was allowed a 3rd runway, it would effectively become a Trojan Horse for a 4th runway – Heathrow airport has said that from 2030 a decision would have to be taken on a 4th. The effect on flight paths would mean fewer planes could use the other London airports. The Times says a 4th runway at Heathrow would reduce the combined capacity of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, City and Southend airports by 9%. It would cut capacity relative to a 3-runway Heathrow by 18% due to the disruption to flight paths to the other main airports. Click here to view full story…
A new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would mean big increases in passenger fees – New report
March 10, 2014
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has submitted a new report to the Airports Commission which casts doubt on the feasibility of building a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow. So far there has been little realistic discussion about who will actually pay for the proposed runways. The new study,“Who Would Pay for a New Runway” by Brendon Sewill, shows that a new runway at Heathrow would be likely to mean an increase in landing fees and other airport charges from £19 per passenger now, up to £31. At Gatwick there would be a larger increase, up from £8 now to £33.60. The study points out that with all the London airports separately owned, unlike in the days of BAA, the cost will have to fall only on the passengers using that airport. If an expensive runway (and terminal) is built, the options are either that the passengers pay for it – or that it has to have public subsidy. A report for the Airports Commission, by KPMG, concluded that a new Heathrow runway would need a subsidy of around £11 billion, and a new Gatwick runway a subsidy of nearly £18 billion. However, the Government is reluctant to commit public funds, and new EU guidelines ruling out subsidies to major airports. That leaves landing charges – will passengers put up with that, or vote with their feet by using cheaper airports? Click here to view full story…
British Airways Heathrow flight by ‘engine surge’ on take-off so returned for emergency landing
March 7, 2014 A British Airways plane was forced to turn back shortly after taking off at Heathrow Airport after an “engine surge” in the air. A witness said flames were “spitting out of the engine” as the aircraft took off at about 21:00 GMT on Thursday 6th March. British Airways said flight BA0364 to Lyon, France, touched down safely, and the aircraft would be “thoroughly checked over by engineers”. The southern runway was closed for about 16 minutes. A local resident who saw it said: “I was in the petrol station opposite the airport, which is when I heard the bang, so I turned around and the plane had flames spitting out of the engine with a spluttering noise as it was still taking off. I then watched it continue to climb and the engine was still emitting flames intermittently.” BA said “A flight experienced what’s known as an ‘engine surge’ as it took off from Heathrow, but it has now returned and touched down safely. So the plane would have limped back into Heathrow, probably flying miles across densely populated areas of London? The last incident of a plane having to make an emergency landing, and flying across London with a burning engine, was in May 2013, when the engine cowls had not been closed properly.
Allegedly “full” Heathrow now promotes BA weekend day trips to European cities
March 6th, 2014 Heathrow Airport makes much of the fact that it is “full” and there is no space for any other new routes, to all those destinations in emerging economies, to which, according to Heathrow, new air links are absolutely vital. But as Heathrow is so full, (so the theory goes) these links cannot be set up, and so UK plc will languish …. without direct routes to a range of second or third tier cities. So it is something of a surprise to find that BA now has space among its Heathrow slots for some new low-cost day return fares to European cities, for day trips at weekends. BA is offering what it claims to be “affordable day trip” tickets for anyone wanting to fly to popular city break destinations (Rome, Dublin, Geneva, Vienna, Munich) and back on the same day. BA said it could not reveal how many day trip tickets were set aside for each destination, due to commercially sensitivity. The Telegraph says:”Encouraging travellers to fly twice in a day might anger environmentalists. When asked to comment on the effect of such short trips, a spokesman said: “It’s the customer’s choice and they can offset their carbon emissions on the BA website if they wish to.” ” What can one say? One comment below the article mentions the “mindless hedonist” …… Click here to view full story…
£25,000 of Heathrow airport “Community Fund” – much of it from passengers’ spare change – for local flood victims
March 3, 2014
Heathrow airport has a “Community Fund” which makes donations to community projects local to the airport, in Ealing , Hillingdon , Hounslow , Richmond, Runnymede, South Bucks, Slough, Spelthorne, Windsor and Maidenhead. They say they focus on projects linked to education and youth development, the environment and employment/skills development. In 2014 around £500,000 will be available through 3 distinct grant programmes.They have now announced that they are donating £25,000 for flood-stricken community groups in surrounding boroughs of the airport, to help them recover from the damage caused by the storms and flooding. Some areas only 3 – 4 miles from Heathrow have been badly flooded to a depth of many feet. The Heathrow Community Fund donations will be made towards those with no help available from insurance or statutory funding. The funds come from 3 sources – fines imposed on aircraft that breach noise limits, an annual donation from Heathrow and spare change from airport passengers. The noise fines are only for departing, not arriving planes, and this source of funds is used only for the “Communities for Tomorrow” activities. Click here to view full story…
London MPs and Councils challenge Airports Commission on aircraft noise with updated “ANASE” report
February 27, 2014 In 2005 the ANASE (Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England) report into what level of sound caused community annoyance was undertaken, and it indicated that the 57 decibel contour – the measure the UK authorities still use – did not satisfactorily measure aircraft noise. In reality, significant annoyance was caused at much lower level of sound exposure. However, this finding was inconvenient and so the report was shelved by the government. The 57 dB contour is still being used, and is the measure being used by the Airports Commission. The ANASE report has now been revised and updated, and this new report has just been launched by Hillingdon Council on behalf of the all-party 2M Group of councils opposed to Heathrow expansion. It shows far more people are badly affected by aircraft noise than the 57 dB countour would suggest. The 2M group are asking that the Commission investigate a new, more rigorous noise metric with which to assess and compare the noise impacts and costs of all the airport proposals. They say the Commission’s decision on a new runway cannot be based on seriously out of date evidence which bears no resemblance to real-life experience. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow cutting 200 jobs (20% of total core staff) due to CAA restriction on landing charge rises
February 25, 2014
Heathrow Airport is planning to cut 20% of its core workforce despite turning its first profit since 2006 and said it is undergoing a “major” restructuring. Its full-year results statement showed it made a £426m pre-tax profit last year, up from a £33m loss previously, helped by the £1.5bn sale of Stansted in February 2013. Heathrow says it is making the staff cuts due to the CAA not allowing it to increase landing charges, though Heathrow can appeal till March 27th. These will be reduced in real terms by 1.5% below the rate of inflation every year until 2019. Colin Matthews said the cuts are likely to affect around 200 staff but no front-line roles, such as security, will be affected. Heathrow employs 7,000 people in total but 1,000 of those roles are part of its “central” head office structure, which is where the job losses are, partly due to having sold off its other airports. In 2013 Heathrow’s revenue rose 11.3%to £2.5bn, and it had 72.3 million passengers, though that is far below earlier forecasts for 2013 traffic. Excluding money from selling Stansted, Heathrow’s EBITDA rose 23.1% in 2013 to £1.4bn. Click here to view full story…
‘Unclear whether government, Mayor or local authorities would pay EU air quality fines for London
February 24, 2014 Air quality experts and politicians have reacted to the EU’s decision to pursue legal action against the UK government for breaching limits for NO2 in 16 of 43 zones in the country and failing to reduce concentrations by the 2010 deadline. There are questions whether the UK government or local authorities would pay the £300 million fines that could be levied. If the government passes the fines on to local authorities, this will be harsh and counter-productive to good local air quality management, which is already struggling for resources at local level. With improvements to car engines, some reduction in NO2 is expected in coming years: “by around 2030 the Euro 6 [vehicle emissions standards] and subsequent standards will have brought compliance just about everywhere with NO2.” An expert commentted: “…you are not going to improve NOx and NO2 unless you really target road transport in cities and towns. Nothing else is really going to deliver.” London was singled out as having the highest levels of NO2 emissions of any city in Europe. Murad Qureshi thought at least a sizeable part of a possible EU fine would have to be paid by the Mayor of London. Air quality is poor around Heathrow. Click here to view full story…
ANASE study on attitudes to aircraft noise to be updated to show real impact of Heathrow flight paths
February 24, 2014 The Sunday Times reports that on 26th February the researchers who worked on the ANASE (Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England) study of the effect of aircraft noise will publish an updated report. The 2007 ANASE was an expensive and extensive study, looking at what levels of aircraft noise annoyed people being overflown. It found that, contrary to the “prevailing wisdom” the widely used 57 decibel contour was not the actual threshold of community annoyance. In reality, much lower noise levels caused annoyance, and also upset and disturbed people. The research suggests that significant annoyance starts at about 50dB. The reality is that many areas (including Putney, Battersea, East Sheen, Barnes and Ealing), which are not included in the 57dB contour are badly affected by aircraft noise.The ANASE study was shelved, partly due to methodological criticisms. Now it is being updated and published by councils opposed to an increased number of flights over London, if Heathrow was to be allowed another runway. Researchers say subsequent European research into aircraft noise backs its initial ANASE findings. Click here to view full story…
Ealing Council Leader voices strong opposition to night flights: “One arrival before 6am is one too many”
February 21, 2014 Ealing Council have added their voice to the complaints about the recommendation buried in an appendix to the Airports Commission interim report that there could be double the number of Heathrow night flights as at present. Ealing Council is part of the 2M group, which is an all-party alliance of more than 20 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. Leader of Ealing Council and 2M spokesman, Cllr Julian Bell, said: “We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out increases in night flights are proposed.” Ealing and the 2M group have fought for years for a ban on night flights, and do not find an increase acceptable. The proposal is one of the short or medium-term recommendations to make maximum use of the existing runways at Heathrow. Under a proposal called ‘early morning smoothing’, Heathrow would be allowed to land additional planes between 5am and 6am, which is classified as the night quota period. The aim is to minimise delays and could allow the airport to manage with one runway for arrivals between 6am and 7am. Click here to view full story…
European Commission launches legal action against UK over failure to reduce air pollution
February 20, 2014 The European Commission has launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities. There has been a long-running legal battle between London and Brussels over the 16 urban centres in the UK that will not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a 5-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules. 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline. The EC has now started the legal case, which is likely to result in hefty fines of many millions of ££s which should have the effect of accelerating efforts to tackle air pollution. The zones included Greater London and the South East. The legal case has been precipitated by the environmental campaign group ClientEarth. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe. The UK government now has 2 months to respond to the EC’s legal action. The Heathrow area has bad air quality levels, due partly to the planes but with an even higher proportion from the intense road traffic, especially diesel vehicles, that the airport attracts. Click here to view full story…
“Independent Transport Commission” produces yet another report advocating a 3rd Heathrow runway
Date added: February 17, 2014 A small think tank on transport, called the “Independent Transport Commission” (many of whose members are backers are from the aviation industry) has commissioned another report, reiterating their claim that the UK needs a hub and so a 3rd runway at Heathrow is needed. The main reason they give is: “To protect and develop the UK’s global “direct” connectivity and to ensure new routes are launched from the UK before our European competitors.” They produced a similar report in May 2013, calling for a large hub, though at that stage they also backed Stansted or the estuary for their mega airport. This new report does not mention climate or carbon emissions once, and suggests another runway might be added by mid century. It has looked at the hub-and-spoke model and its associated issues, and the long distance point-to-point model – and they advocate one large hub for most of the long haul traffic, at least “for the foreseeable future.” The report highlights the role of transfer passengers in making long-haul routes viable and say only a hub with at least 3 runways (ie Heathrow) “would allow airlines to provide an extensive network of long-haul routes”. The UK aviation lobby is terrified of being out-competed by European rivals, and Heathrow not being “top hub”. Click here to view full story…
Group of business people, led by London First, again lobby Transport Secretary for airport expansion
February 14, 2014 More lobbying by big business backers of aviation expansion continues, as the try to persuade the government that everything must be done to expand current capacity, even before the runway they want gets built. They claim this is important for the UK economy, and necessary for the UK to “stay internationally competitive. Some 52 business people have signed a letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, published in the Telegraph (where else ?) putting their demands. They want ministers to act on interim recommendations made by the Airports Commission, such as more Heathrow flights, and improving rail access to Stansted and Gatwick. They want action quickly and presume that adding more runway capacity for more people to take more leisure flights will somehow boost “UK’s global competitiveness”.They also want an independent ombudsman to oversee changes to restrictions on the timing of flights at Heathrow, to try and get over opposition to more flights, and night flights, which is part what prevents another Heathrow runway. They want more flights, regardless of the impacts on those overflown or living near airports. Click here to view full story…
Council Leader says Hounslow will ‘fight to the last’ to prevent mixed mode at Heathrow
February 14, 2014 Hounslow Council have voiced their opposition to a report by York Aviation saying that using mixed mode on both Heathrow runways would, allegedly ” boost UK economy by £206 million a year” from 2023, They say mixed mode is not acceptable and Hounslow residents will not tolerate losing their half days of relief from plane noise. The report was commmissioned by the City of London Corporation and business pressure group London First, which are both keen to seen aviation expansion – both in the short term, and in the longer term by adding a new runway. They do not appear to be concerned about the level of noise this would subject Londoners to. At present there is (most of the time, except for when the A380 lands and in other situations) one runway is used for arrivals and one for departures, with the roles switching at 3pm each afternoon to ensure some respite for those under the flight paths. 80% of Hounslow residents are in favour of keeping runway alternation. Hounslow Council’s deputy leader Colin Ellar said: “We will fight to the last to protect our residents from being subjected to more aircraft noise. While Heathrow is very important to us economically, the introduction of mixed mode flies in the face of a better airport.” Click here to view full story…
Full details of extent of Heathrow night flight plans ‘dug up’ by Leader of Wandsworth Council
February 13, 2014 The full extent of the Government’s plans to increase night flights into Heathrow has been “dug up” by anti-noise campaigners in the technical appendix of an Airports Commission’s interim report. The report was publicised on 17th December. The appendix shows that the number of planes allowed to land at Heathrow before 6am will increase from 16 to 35 from next year. Leader of the anti-Heathrow nights flights opposition, Ravi Govindia (also Leader of Wandsworth Council) said: “We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out what is in store for us.” Heathrow wants the amount of “stacking” to be reduced before the morning rush-hour. They say residents would be given “respite” from the noise, by having more in alternate weeks, followed by a week without planes. Mr Govindia, who is also the leader of the 2M group of 20 councils opposed to expansion of Heathrow, said people on the final approach flight paths into Heathrow were “deeply opposed” to the early-morning arrivals, which affect their sleep and are linked to serious health issues. The Airports Commission said: “We have recommended a trial of early-morning smoothing. A trial provides the opportunity for communities around Heathrow to experience and comment on the impacts.” Click here to view full story…
Heathrow bid to end Cranford Agreement – allowing easterly take-offs from northern runway – is rejected by Hillingdon Council
February 12, 2014 The Cranford Agreement was a binding commitment the UK government made in 1952 to the residents of Cranford to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on residents. It prohibits, under normal Heathrow Airport operations, easterly take-offs (i.e. towards central London) on the northern runway. In January 2009, the government announced it was ending the Agreement (as part of consultations on a proposed Third Runway). In September 2010 the current UK government reaffirmed the decision to end the Cranford Agreement. A planning application by Heathrow airport in June 2013 concerns the creation of taxiways on the Northern Runway, required to enable the practical implementation of the ending of the Agreement as well as consideration of the associated environmental impacts. It also included the erection of a 5m high noise barrier around parts of the village of Longford. This application has now been unanimously rejected by Hillingdon Council – which means Heathrow will not be able to have regular departures to the east from the northern runway. This preserves the 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement protecting Cranford residents from the noise. The downside is that people living in Windsor and Maidenhead continue to endure more landings. Heathrow is considering whether to appeal. Click here to view full story…
New nature reserve to be created by London Wildlife Trust under northern runway approach, at Cranford
February 12, 2014 An area of green space, called Crane Meadows in Cranford, which cannot be used for housing due to its proximity to Heathrow under the flight path, was previously owned by BAA, and Hillingdon and Hounslow councils. It passed into the hands of the London Wildlife Trust in 2010 after boundary changes. The land has not until now been open to the public, but the London Wildlife Trust intends to make it an accessible public nature reserve and open space. It has a public consultation with local people on its plans – ending at the end of March 2014. Though very noisy when planes are landing, the area has a mix of grasslands, woods, meadow and wetlands and a range of animals and plants. The Trust wants to know how people want to see the space altered and where access should be provided. The Trust wants to provide volunteering opportunities, organised activities, outdoor education sessions for children and adults [these sessions could only be possible for the half day, with runway alternation, when planes are not thundering overhead]. The site was once market gardens and still contains old fruit trees, from the days before Heathrow was built in the 1940s. Click here to view full story…
York Aviation report says ending Heathrow runway alternation and other short term measures would financially benefit UK
February 12, 2014 It is rather quiet on the aviation news front at the moment, so time for some publicity for the airports trying to get their runway plans accepted. Backers of Heathrow expansion (London First and the City of London Corporation and Let Britain Fly) have quoted from a report that they hope strengthens their case for a runway to be built as soon as possible. The report is by a firm called York Aviation – which has done a great many reports in the past, with dubious economics that exaggerates one case, while ignoring inconvenient facts that detract from their argument. The York Aviation report says there would be £206 million of economic benefit to the British economy if runway alternation was ended at Heathrow, so both runways were used in mixed mode. This would be deeply unpopular with tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands perhaps as some 725,000 are overflown) and is why Heathrow airport itself is wary of advocating this. York Aviation also says reducing delays at Heathrow by an average of 2 minutes would result in further savings of £125m. [Really?? for 2 minutes for each person?] But – they say – these benefits are limited compared to the huge benefits of a new runway …. so better get on with it…… Click here to view full story…
Fears in Heathrow area that a 3rd runway with associated infrastructure could add to local flood risk
February 11, 2014 The western end of Heathrow is within 3 miles of the River Thames. The western end of the airport is within 3 – 4 miles of Datchet, Old Windsor and Wraysbury, as well as Staines. These areas are currently experiencing unprecedented flooding, due to some of the wettest weather and more continuous storms and rainfall for several hundred years (which is consistent with predictions of climate change from rising global CO2 emissions). Heathrow airport itself covers a huge area in impermeable surfaces, and its storm drainage is on a vast scale. There were already fears from previous years of its impact on the drainage of the area. It has the River Colne running along its western edge, and the River Crane along its eastern edge. A report in 2003 for Hacan recommended that a full EIA should be carried out on the impact of a 3rd runway on the Heathrow flood plain; and that as expansion of Heathrow would have a significant impact on water levels in an area much wider than just the Heathrow flood plain a detailed analysis is carried out in the impact a 3rd runway would have on rivers across a wider area. In addition that no decision should be made on a 3rd runway until full analysis has been done and has been put out to wide public consultation. Click here to view full story…
Even if only 10% of those newly overflown by a 3rd Heathrow runway are deeply disturbed by the noise, that is 15,000 more people
February 11, 2014 In a recent blog, John Stewart considers the issue that is key for Heathrow airport – noise – and how it can affect people differently. Some people are much more bothered and distressed by it than others. The airport is currently carrying out focus group research in an attempt to find more about these differences. Currently there are over 725,000 people under Heathrow flight paths; a 3rd north-west runway would add around another 150,000 = total 875,000. What is much less clear is how many of these people are, or will be, deeply disturbed by aircraft noise. Research from Germany indicates that about 10% of people are much more noise sensitive than others. It is know that people will be more annoyed by noise if they believe it is not good for them. Also if they feel they have no control over the noise or cannot stop it getting worse. Noise is less disturbing when people believe the authorities are doing everything they can to reduce the problem. Heathrow believes around 10% of those who would be newly over-flown by a new runway’s flight paths would be deeply disturbed. The numbers are huge. 10% means an extra 15,000 people. Considering those under flight paths for all 3 runways, 10% means 87,000 people (out of the 875,000 overflown). Even 5% is 43,000 people seriously upset by the noise. That is a pretty terrifying statistic. Click here to view full story…
Zac Goldsmith challenges Heathrow to take a leaf out of Gatwick’s book
Friday 7th February 2014 Zac Goldsmith has challenged Heathrow to match Gatwick’s pledge to reduce the impact of aircraft noise for people living under the flight path. In a recent expansion of its noise insulation scheme, to be rolled out from April, homes around Gatwick can apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing, while loft insulation has increased by up to 40%. If Heathrow was to adopt a similar scheme up to 70,000 homes would be eligible to apply for funds – nearly double the current number. The Conservative MP for Richmond Park said Gatwick’s move was a bold and responsible one by an airport willing to adapt to aircraft noise in line with the latest scientific evidence. He said: “Heathrow continually downplays the effects of aircraft on the community in its bid to expand its airport, and is using wildly outdated formula for its own insulation scheme. Even without expansion, the airport already impacts more people than all other major European airports combined, and it’s time for the management to tackle the issue responsibly and seriously.” There are currently about 40,000 homes around Heathrow eligible for noise insulation. http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/10993513.Goldsmith_challenges_Heathrow_to_take_a_leaf_out_of_Gatwick_s_book/.
Heathrow’s plans to end 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement over Cranford could be prevented by Hillingdon Council
February 7, 2014 Officers at Hillingdon Council are recommending refusal of Heathrow’s planning application, which would enable regular take-offs over Cranford (a residential area just east of Heathrow’s northern runway). There has been a 60-year old gentlemen’s agreement that planes do not take off over Cranford, which would become an impossible place to live, if take-offs to the east were allowed. This was a verbal agreement made in 1952. Heathrow has applied to Hillingdon Council for permission to carry out the necessary taxi-way work to enable scheduled departures to the east from the northern runway. Hillingdon Councillors are due to make their decision at a Planning meeting on 11th February, but officers have recommended refusal on the grounds too little compensation has been offered to mitigate the impact of extra noise on residents and schools in Cranford and surrounding areas. The Cranford Agreement was repealed in 2009 by the Labour government to reduce the noise burden on those to the airport’s west, in Windsor and Maidenhead, who consequently have to put up with more planes overhead. Click here to view full story…
“London Councils” – representing 32 London boroughs & councils – calls for an end to night flights from 2017
February 5, 2014 “London Councils” is a cross-party organisation which represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London and works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. It has responded to the 2nd stage of the government’s consultation on night flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted by repeating its call for a total ban on night time flying from 2017. At present there is no ban on flying from the three airports at night but a limit on take-off and landing is in place. At Heathrow this is currently 2,550 in winter and 3,250 in summer. Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport & Environment Committee, said: “Night flights are an unacceptable part of the capital’s airport operations. This consultation is disappointing as it discusses keeping the current system, or extending the time period of the restrictions. It does not allow a proper assessment of the economic or health implications of banning night flights, which is what the majority of our residents want.” London Councils believes night flight noise is a serious well-being issue and has a big impact on quality of life for ordinary Londoners. “Any new technical and operation procedures could help, but ultimately communities across the capital would like a ban on night flights from 2017.”Click here to view full story…
Heathrow consultation starts – 140,000 leaflets distributed – as airport hopes to minimise opposition on noise increase
February 3, 2014 Heathrow airport has started its 6-week consultation, to ask people living near the airport how they can “improve” on their runway plans – and reduce opposition to it as much as possible. The airport is sending out 140,000 short (12 page) booklets, to many neighbouring boroughs, but not Richmond (where there is fierce opposition). The thrust of the consultation is on noise. It is extremely simplistic, and should not really be considered as a proper consultation. Except for people motivated to write a lot of their own text, there is no simple way to say “No, we do not support a new runway” in the consultation response form itself. There are no questions along those lines. The form only has two questions – the first asking respondents to rank a list of criteria; the second asking if people think it is more important to have fewer communities living under flight paths affected more badly, or more communities affected a bit less. There is stunningly little detail. Colin Matthews says: “This consultation is to make sure we correctly understand what local people value and that we can take their views into account as we refine our proposal.” Everyone with an interest in Heathrow and its runway plans should reply to the questionnaire, and tell Heathrow just what they think, in the space for responses in Question 3. The consultation ends on 16th March. Click here to view full story…
Campaigners target airport investors to warn them off risky investment in politically undeliverable 3rd Heathrow runway
January 27, 2014 Heathrow’s investors are to be targeted as part of a campaign by residents, MPs and local authorities who argue a 3rd runway in west London will be “politically undeliverable”. Campaigners will highlight the potential risk to shareholders of spending millions of pounds developing detailed plans for a new runway, when they are likely to face the same level of fierce and determined opposition that led to a previous scheme being ditched in 2010. MPs, local authorities and anti-Heathrow campaigners have met to draw up a plan of attack. These include Zac Goldsmith MP, John McDonnell MP, representatives of Richmond, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Wandsworth councils and HACAN. The main shareholders at Heathrow now are Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial (25%), Qatar Holding LLC (20.00%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (13.29%), the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (11.88%), Alinda Capital Partners (11.18%), China Investment Corporation (10%) and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) (8.65%). The 3rd runway is also strongly opposed by Boris Johnson. Daniel Moylan, the Mayor’s chief aviation adviser, said: “The Mayor shares HACAN’s view that the expansion of Heathrow is neither acceptable nor politically deliverable.” A report by KPMG for the Airports Commission indicated the funding problems for either a new Heathrow, or a Gatwick, runway. Click here to view full story…
Taxpayers to cover Heathrow’s £160 million contribution to Crossrail – CAA claims Heathrow doesn’t need more passengers coming by rail
January 25, 2014 Plans for the £14.8 billion Crossrail line across London originally envisaged – in 2008 – a £230 million contribution from Heathrow, to reflect the benefit it is expected to gain from the link to central London, Maidenhead, and Brentwood. But now it emerges that the taxpayer must cover a £160 million shortfall, which Heathrow will now not pay. Now Heathrow will only pay £70 million. [Heathrow is pushing hard for a 2nd runway – surely if it got that, it would need all the rail passengers from Crossrail that it can get]. The CAA has said that with the airport already running at or near capacity, (it is not at capacity for terminal space, only runway space) Crossrail would deliver no net benefit in terms of additional passengers. After the CAA set aside a provisional pot of £100 million to pay towards Crossrail, the DfT lowered its proposal to £137 million, and now down to £70 million. The National Audit Office said the shortfall means that the DfT’s contribution to the project will rise from £4.8 billion to almost £5 billion; but this remains inside the £5.2 billion set aside in case it failed to secure sufficient funding from private sources. Crossrail is now half built and is due to open by December 2019. It will run from Maidenhead, via Heathrow, out to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east. Click here to view full story…
Spelthorne Council Leader admits Heathrow expansion ‘not an easy issue’ while continuing support for 3rd runway, not in his constituency
January 22, 2014 Support for the expansion of Heathrow has been reaffirmed by Spelthorne Borough Council. The decision to maintain its stance, held since 2008, when the authority withdrew from the 2M group of councils including Richmond, Hounslow and Hillingdon who opposed Heathrow expansion, was made at an extraordinary council meeting on January 16th. The meeting was called following the publication of the Airports Commission interim report on 17th December, short-listing 2 runway options at Heathrow. for an extended northern runway and the airport’s own plan of demolishing medieval villages to the north to build a third runway. Heathrow’s own proposal is for a runway to the north-west, which does not affect Spelthorne (to the south) very much. It would mean demolition of Harmodsworth, or making it near impossible to live in. Spelthorne Council leader Robert Watts said: “Expanding airports is challenging. …. This is not an easy issue.” Spelthorne has always supported Heathrow expansion. In 2012 their own MP even advocated demolishing part of his borough, to build a runway – till he realised it was not a local vote-winner. Click here to view full story…
Scale of taxpayer contribution needed for Heathrow or Gatwick runways shown up in KPMG report for Airports Commission. As much as £11.5 billion for Heathrow north-west runway?
January 20, 2014 A report dated December 2013 by accountants, KPMG, for the Airports Commission, says a 3rd runway at Heathrow could require £11.5bn of government support, (ie. money from the taxpayer) while a 2nd runway at Gatwick may need as much as £17.7bn of taxpayer contributions. An airport in the Thames Estuary would need even more from the taxpayer – maybe £64 billion. The report contradict claims by airport operators that an extra runway could be financed either exclusively or predominantly by the private sector. Gatwick has said it could build a 2nd runway for £5bn to £9bn with no government aid. Heathrow has raised the prospect of £4bn to £6bn of taxpayer support to improve rail and road links, but has argued that a 3rd runway, at a cost of £17bn, would be largely funded by the private sector. The KPMG analysis also highlights the potential burden of building a new runway on passengers, who would pay higher ticket prices. KPMG says these would have to rise by 136% at Gatwick to repay the money borrowed. That would mean charges at Gatwick rising by 2.5% above inflation every year from 2019 to 2050. At Heathrow charges would need to rise by 13% initially and then by 2.5% above inflation. Repaying the money takes till 2050. Unless charges for passengers rise enough, the public (many of whom do not fly) will have to stump up the funds. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow to hold 6 week consultation (starting 3rd Feb) with households on their north-west runway plan
January 17, 2014 Heathrow will start a six week consultation with local households on 3rd February, lasting till 17th March. It will ask for their views on Heathrow’s own short-listed north-west third runway plan. The airport wants to get its application as acceptable as possible to locals, to give it more chance of being permitted. “The results will help Heathrow understand what is most important to local residents and will be used to refine the runway proposal before it is resubmitted to the Airports Commission in May.” The consultation will be by post, and will be sent to the 120,000 households and businesses likely to be most impacted by the proposed plans. Those outside this area will have the opportunity to share their views online. There will also be drop-in events in nine local areas, to give people the chance to ask questions and “influence the plans.” The results will be shared with the Airports Commission, as part of Heathrow’s evidence. Heathrow knows that the issue of noise is key, and they will fail in their runway plans if there is strong enough opposition by enough people, on noise. They are hoping “mitigation” measures will be enough to reduce opposition. In reality people from huge areas of London, currently hardly affected by Heathrow aircraft noise, would be affected by this runway. Click here to view full story…
London Assembly Votes Against Heathrow Airport Expansion
January 16, 2014 The London Assembly has voted against the expansion of Heathrow and proposed greater use of existing airports in the south-east. They passed a motion -by 13 votes to 7 in response to the Airports Commission’s Interim Report recommendation (17th December) that two options for a new Heathrow 3rd runway would be short-listed. Caroline Pidgeon, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Assembly, who proposed the motion, said: “Airport capacity in London is currently underused; in fact some London airports have more than half of their runway slots free. Rather than inflict further misery on the residents of west London, the Airports Commission should rule out expansion of Heathrow and focus on better use of capacity at other south-east airports.” The motion backed the Commission’s proposals for improving ground transport links to existing airports. Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member for Richmond and Hounslow, proposed an amendment which said there should be a categorical opposition to any additional flights at Heathrow. He said the Lib Dem motion, which recognised the need for more airport capacity in the south-east, “opens the door for dual use of runways at Heathrow which will increase noise for millions of Londoners.” All those voting against the motion were Tories. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow had 3.4% more passengers in 2013 than in 2012. Gatwick had 3.6% more.
January 14, 2014
Heathrow and Gatwick have both reported growth in passenger numbers for 2013. Traffic at Heathrow reached 72.3 million, an increase of 3.4% on 2012, Aircraft movements totalled 469,552 for the year at Heathrow, which was down 0.4% on 2012. Colin Matthews used the figures as another opportunity to put in a plug for another Heathrow runway, saying Heathrow is full [but it keeps adding passengers – its terminals are not full, though its runways are nearly full] and so Heathrow has to watch other European airports adding more flights. Heathrow said BRIC passengers were up 6.9% over the year, with China up 18.9%, and India up 8.7%. Meanwhile at Gatwick traffic reached 35.4 million passengers in 2013, an increase of 3.6% on 2012. Gatwick’s aircraft movements totalled 244,552, which was a rise of 1.6% on 2012. Gatwick said its European routes were the main source of its growth, and they were increasing the number of long-haul routes, with more flights to Dubai. There will be a daily A380 service to Dubai from Gatwick from March.” Gatwick had fewer charter flights to European leisure destinations, reflecting the longer-term market move towards scheduled, low cost airlines.Heathrow load factor was 76.4% and Gatwick’s 79.4%. Click here to view full story…
CAA decides on no further price regulation at Stansted, but only RPI -1.5% charges at Heathrow and more controls on Gatwick
January 11, 2014
The CAA has published its final decisions on economic regulation at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted after April 2014. They say the new situation, with each airport having a different owner, reflects the unique circumstances of individual airports. Considering the market power of each airport means passengers would not benefit from further regulation of Stansted, but that Heathrow and Gatwick will both need further airport licences from April 2014 onwards. Current landing charges are £20.71 per passenger at Heathrow and £8.80 (2014 prices) at Gatwick. CAA says: “At Heathrow, the CAA’s price control decision will see prices fall in real terms by 1.5% per year between 2014 and 2019 (RPI-1.5%). This has changed from the CAA’s Final Proposals published in October, which suggested prices rising in line with inflation. The changes have been made as passenger traffic forecasts have strengthened since October, and the cost of capital has been revised. The CAA supports more diversity in what Gatwick offers to its various airlines, so passengers receive a tailored service. It has therefore based regulation on the airport operator’s own commitments to its airline customers.” Heathrow is deeply displeased. Gatwick is mildly displeased. Stansted is happy. Ryanair’s share value fell. Click here to view full story…
Simon Calder: “Transit traffic and the airport problem” – transfer, hub, point-to-point ?
January 10, 2014
Simon Calder gives some insights into how airlines manage transit passengers,and “Origin & Destination” (O&D) passengers – which is at the heart of the hub / point-to-point airport question that will be influential in the Airports Commission recommendations. Heathrow and BA want a larger hub at Heathrow, so they can lay on more flights to more destinations, with higher load factors and hence more profit – by sucking in transit passengers. However, many passengers prefer to pay a bit more and fly direct, without a transit. Calder says what BA wants is for every seat on every flight from Heathrow to its long haul destinations would be filled, by people starting their journey in London ….. BA has little trouble filling the plane with O&D passengers on some days, but on others the demand simply isn’t there. BA’s extensive network allows it to turn transit traffic on and off like a tap, putting lots of tempting fares into the market when loads are light – or raising them. Hence fares vary hugely day to day. Calder says the biggest threat to Heathrow is now coming from Istanbul, to where direct flights using smaller 737s can connect from many UK regional airports, for onward transfers. Heathrow says a 2nd Gatwick runway would dilute transit traffic at Heathrow, making many BA routes unviable. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow Airport plans to get residents’ views on preferred option for a 3rd runway attacked by campaign group
January 3, 2014
Heathrow Airport has intimated to the FT that it plans to consult residents on which of the two options, chosen by the Airports Commission, they prefer for a 3rd runway. This has been condemned by campaign group HACAN as like being asked ‘whether you prefer being murdered by Jack the Ripper or the Boston Strangler.’ Heathrow was probably surprised to find one option proposed by the Commission was by Heathrow Hub. They are not keen on this option. The aim of a consultation will be to get backing for their own scheme, for a northern runway. It will hinge on the noise issue. The extent of respite from aircraft noise will be a critical aspect of any runway proposals.. If there is a 3rd, northern, runway it could mean those living under the existing two runway flight paths would only get a shorter respite period per day, and a whole linear expanse of London would then start to be affected by aircraft noise. For a 3rd northern runway to be profitable, it will have to be used intensively. The reduction in respite periods, perhaps of only one third of a day, rather than half the day (from 3pm as at present) will be deeply unpopular. Even less popular would be the lack of respite at all with the Heathrow Hub northern runway. See Hacan’s comment on the two options. Click here to view full story…
“Grow Heathrow” still hanging on in Sipson – which would be wiped out by a 3rd northern runway
January 4, 2014
A small Transition community calling itself Grow Heathrow set up in Sipson three years ago, in order to give heart to the community, so badly damaged by the runway threat and the purchase by Heathrow airport of many properties. The Grow Heathrow site is a hub for local residents and environmental activists to share knowledge and practical skills such as organic gardening, permaculture design, bicycle maintenance and wood and metal work. They endeavour to be self-reliance, producing their own food; by use of solar and wind power, as well as simpler heating technologies, they are completely “off grid”. They collect water from the greenhouse roofs to feed the plants, fruit and vegetables; they use fuel-efficient rocket stoves to heat water; they have compost toilets making “humanure.” The site has been under threat of eviction for many months. Following an Appeal Court decision on 3rd July 2013 that the landowner could take possession, nothing has happened. They could be evicted at any time. They are still trying to negotiate with the landowner to buy the land, and the legal process seeking to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court is still trundling along. Meanwhile Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway in the Harmondsworth area, west of Sipson, has been short-listed by the Airports Commission. Click here to view full story…
HACAN’s New Year Quiz
December 31, 2013 HACAN’s quiz. Test yourself with these 10 questions on Heatthow (mainly). You may be surprised by some of the answers … For example, Who said: “Whatever technological advances in noise and air pollution reduction have been — or will be — made, common sense dictates that the additional 260,000 annual flights facilitated by a third runway would entail a commensurate reduction in the quality of life of many Londoners”. Click here to view full story…