Heathrow news. August to December 2016
Heathrow air cargo includes “80 million animals per year” – and largest import is fresh beans
In a long and breathlessly excited and impressed account, a writer for the Daily Mail records his trip to Heathrow cargo warehouses. There are some interesting insights. He says Heathrow handles 80 million animals per year, including “280,000 reptiles, 28 million fish, 16,000 cats and dogs, 2,000 birds and 200 horses every year.” … and “including bears, lions, penguins, elephants and tigers.” (There may be good reasons to question the environmental sustainability or morality of shipping non-domestic animals in this manner …) Some of the animals in the Animal Health Centre in Feltham have been seized from smugglers, such as number of African pygmy hedgehogs. Apart from the animals there are vast amounts of flowers and perishable goods. Huge amounts of bell peppers, cucumbers and salmon are shipped to the Far East and the US every day. Some 100 tonnes of salmon, “from countries such as Scotland and Norway” are flown overseas each day. Luxury cars are shipped by air, and ship parts. Drugs are sent when needed urgently. One of the most daft shipments was “ice cubes sent from London for a swanky cocktail party in Korea” … “The biggest import into the UK are fresh beans, but also berries, asparagus and exotic fruits.”
Government spent ‘eye-watering’ £10k a day (£3.8m so far…) on legal etc consultants over 3rd runway
The Government has been criticised for the DfT spending an average of £10,000 per day on consultants and law firms to decide if a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. The DfT is reported to have spent more than £3.8million on external firms since the Airport Commission published a report in July 2015, saying Heathrow was the best location for a new runway. A FoI request by the Press Association showed that the lion’s share of the money has gone to financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, who filed 4 invoices totalling £1.46 million, which were paid between July last year and October 2016. Law firm DLA Piper UK was also paid £1.09 million between August 2015 and October 2016, while Allen & Overy received £152,955.60 between January and September this year. Professional services firm Ernst & Young filed 2 invoices worth £138,765 for consultancy work, paid between March and August 2016. New MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, said: “These are eye-watering sums, over £10,000 a day, to pay consultants for an airport people don’t want.” For this runway “the people lose out and the only gainers are highly paid consultants.” Taxpayers’ money has been wasted by the DfT despite deciding “long before it was going to be Heathrow whatever the evidence”. Far, far more public money will also be spent, if the runway went ahead.
Heathrow hopes to pay homeowners to get access to their properties, in order to do required surveys, to speed runway
Bloomberg reports that Heathrow is offering homeowners cash to take part in a nature study. This is to get studies on local biodiversity done fast, so Heathrow can get its dreamed of 3rd runway through quickly. Heathrow is apparently offering hundreds of homeowners a £1,000 reward if they take part in environmental studies, needed for its runway planning. The letter from Nigel Milton says “This may require a visit from our team…” The legal position is that Heathrow has no right of entry on to anyone’s property without their consent. Local campaign SHE is concerned some householders may feel pressured into giving Heathrow access. The owners of houses and farmland where the 3rd runway would be built will apparently qualify for the payment in return for agreeing to several visits over about two years, to assess biodiversity. Heathrow will soon be knocking on doors, hoping people will agree to the “free” cash. [Getting this access from people overcomes the problems of getting onto private land – which otherwise could take time, and hold back the runway plans]. Heathrow have to get enough owners to sign up, to get enough information on bats, newts etc. Agricultural land and rivers must also be surveyed. Normally some fairly inadequate mitigation measure is put in place, if wildlife habitat is destroyed. Heathrow will be hoping no wildlife or other biodiversity issue causes them any delays.
Flybe starts flights from Edinburgh and Aberdeen to Heathrow from March 2017
New regular flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh to Heathrow, starting on 26th March 2017, have been announced by Flybe. These will be Flybe’s first flights to Heathrow. There will be 4 flights from Edinburgh on weekdays, and 3 from Aberdeen, making a total of 40 weekly flights per week. They will be using slots made available to Flybe at the insistence of the European Commission, after the takeover of BMI. Airlines hope to get Scottish passengers to link into long haul flights from Heathrow, with all the usual claims about economic benefits etc. Simon Calder says Flybe will inherit the dormant Heathrow slots and will challenge British Airways on the Edinburgh and Aberdeen routes. The fares may fall due to the competition. But the BA flights will be faster. The air fares could be around £85 to £130 for a return ticket.
Advertising industry anticipating a bonanza of increased ad possibilities from expanded Heathrow
The advertising industry is salivating about the advertising opportunities it hopes will come from a new Heathrow terminal and runway. There are hopes for hugely more hoardings and outdoor adverts around the airport, as well as in terminals. By the time the expansion might take place, after 2026, “through vastly increased computing processing power and more easily accessible data sets, the opportunities available to airport advertisers will most likely be multi-sensory, integrated, ultra-targeted communications, far beyond what’s available today. Through this development, brands will find a way to be a seamless part of the traveller’s experience.” … “targeting will go beyond the airport as those travelling by coach to catch a flight could be served with ads for holiday insurance along the motorway.”…”advertisers must also consider the unique mind-set of the airport traveller. Consumers are both enjoying down time away from the daily routine, and simultaneously anticipating the excitement of a departure. This unique state of mind, combined with dwell time, opens up opportunities for brands to offer key life moment purchases, for example a new car or mortgage.” And yet more nauseating consumer stuff, generating more excess consumption in association with more air travel.
“Back Heathrow” tries to blame councils for having to spend money, defending themselves against its runway plans
The lobby group funded and staffed by Heathrow, “Back Heathrow”, has had the (ill judged) nerve to criticise councils for spending money to oppose their expansion plans. Back Heathrow has attacked Hillingdon Council for spending more than £800,000 between 2007 and August 2016 on fighting the 3rd runway, while cutting public services. Back Heathrow say Hillingdon is having to make cuts of £309,000 in early support service and children’s centres, with the threat of £100,000 more cuts next year. And they complain that Richmond has spent nearly £109,000 opposing Heathrow expansion between 2007 and 2014 – and so on with other councils. Heathrow is trying to give the impression that residents in these boroughs want the runway, and councils are wasting money. They ignore the inconvenient fact that there is huge opposition to the runway within these councils, and the councils can see not only the effect of noise, air pollution and congestion the runway would cause, but also the social and infrastructure stresses – for example, on housing demand. Heathrow’s plans are costing, and could continue to cost, these councils a great deal of money. Heathrow is responsible for a lot of public money that taxpayers would have to fork out, to deal with the impact of its expansion.
Teddington Action Group on the new NATS, airlines etc campaign – “Sky’s the Limit” or Pie in the Sky?
In their blog, the Teddington Action Group (TAG) say the intention of the aviation industry to vastly increase the numbers of flights, while miraculously reducing the number of people affected by noise, is nonsense. TAG says the Government needs to stop, take stock and remember that aviation demand must be managed rather than increased. Recently the ‘Sky’s the Limit’ campaign was launched by NATS (the partly privatised air navigation service) with airlines and airports. It hopes people will believe that the UK airspace is facing gridlock because the projected number of flights per year could be 3 million by 2030. But, don’t worry folks, the problem can be solved by airspace modernisation or the Future Airspace Strategy (FAS). By designing new routes with steeper climbs and descents, and aircraft flying routes with greater accuracy (i.e. concentrated flight paths), NATS will be able to pack in more and more flights (= more profit) – with fewer people impacted by noise. NATS keeps very quiet about the impact on those unfortunate enough to live under the concentrated routes whose lives and communities will be blighted. Do we really want children in schools round Heathrow having to shelter in earthquake huts in their playgrounds, to avoid the deafening roar of aircraft? The demand of frequent flyers for more choice and cheaper flights cannot justify the burden of noise inflicted on affected communities along Heathrow flight paths.
HACAN signs up to a joint statement with Heathrow airport on an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA)
HACAN and Heathrow have set out their support for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA). The Government has said it would support the introduction of the IANA and will consult on its role and scope in 2017. Before that, Hacan and Heathrow have put out a “summary of common ground” on a joint position on the role and structure of the IANA, at first looking only at Heathrow. They have together written to Chris Grayling, backing the concept of an IANA. They hope it will “oversee efforts to reduce aircraft noise in communities around Heathrow,” and that it will “provide an impartial source of expert advice on noise, coordinate independent research, adjudicate on noise complaints that can’t be managed locally and ensure that communities have access to information…” They say IANA should have no enforcement powers, or be part of the CAA or DfT. Hacan and Heathrow say the main role of the IANA should be to provide an impartial source of expert advice, and then take on additional tasks such as to “establish a framework for noise management which is rooted in best practice”. It could also take on ombudsman functions, such as to investigate “complaints that have not been resolved locally.” John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, hopes an IANA could “bring reassurance to local communities but can also encourage airports to take their noise responsibilities seriously.”
Chair of Treasury Cttee, Andrew Tyrie, again asks Hammond and Grayling about unclear Heathrow economic benefits
An influential Tory MP has questioned the evidence behind Heathrow expansion, suggesting the Government may have gone to exceptional lengths to find a methodology that made the case. In a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond and transport secretary Chris Grayling, the chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, said the Treasury has specifically requested the rarely used ‘net public value’ investment measure be included in its assessment. Mr Tyrie pointed out that of the 4 investment measures used to evaluate the 3 runway proposals, only this seldom-used “net public value” measure presents a clear case for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. He asked the ministers where this measure has been used before on major infrastructure. Mr Tyrie also said that the DfT document published on 25th October acknowledged that ‘the Net Present Values (NPVs) for some of the options could potentially be negative under some demand scenarios… ” but the DfT is only considering one scenario. And he asks that figures are produced for all the scenarios [but does not say if he wants carbon capped as well as carbon traded], not just one. He also says assessing demand growth for a period of over 20 years, or even 30 years, is ‘not in line with the guidance issued by the Department for Transport’. He asks that figures with demand capped at 20 and 30 years should be produced.
Heathrow extends compensation offer (value +25%) to small businesses with rateable value below £34,800
Heathrow has said this month that it WILL, after all, extend its limited compensation offer to small businesses. Small businesses within the compulsory acquisition zone with a rateable value less than £34,800, would be eligible for the same terms as the property offer set out to homeowners, which is full value + 25%. For larger businesses with a rateable value greater than £34,800, compensation will be provided in accordance with statutory requirements. That means some local businesses could still be excluded, as the offer has not been extended to the same zone as the householder scheme. Also, only those directly facing demolition or compulsory acquisition by the airport will be eligible. With the Colnbrook By-pass itself set to be closed and rerouted, that could mean some businesses forced to close with no compensation at all. Heathrow said: “We do not currently intend to start purchasing properties until development consent has been received from the Government. Our current expectation is this will be sometime in 2020.” It will be contacting each business affected over the coming months to hold individual meetings. It also says it is looking at measures that it might be able to put in place to assist with business relocation. People can only apply for compensation once the construction of the runway starts, and until only one year after the runway is operational.
Hundreds of Heathrow villages residents attend public meetings against 3rd runway plans
Hundreds of local residents attended 2 public meetings held by John McDonnell (MP for Hayes and Harlington) on 8th and 9th December, about the proposed 3rd runway at Heathrow. At the meeting at Harlington Baptist Church Hall local people spoke about the threat to Harlington that a new runway would bring – such as being situated at the end of the runway, bringing unbearable new noise levels to the village. At the meeting at Yiewsley & West Drayton Community Centre, residents were particularly concerned about increased traffic congestion and air pollution, from the airport boundary being much closer to them. It would be just 200 metres from some West Drayton residents. John McDonnell said: “The message from these public meetings couldn’t be clearer: local residents are going to fight this runway all the way. A third runway at Heathrow is undeliverable and I believe we will stop it from ever being built. … The decision by this Government to build a third runway was shameful and remains a huge threat to local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life. And when you add in the air pollution, noise and climate change concerns then it becomes even more obvious that this runway makes no sense.” More public meetings are expected in Hayes in January.
How intense plane noise inflicted on sensitive people can be intolerably cruel. Read the blog
In a blog, written for HACAN, someone who is very badly affected by aircraft noise shares his story. It makes shocking, and very sad, reading. The writer moved somewhere 10 miles from Heathrow, about 10 years ago, and at that time there was no plane noise issue. Now the controllers of airspace have changed the way flight paths are used, so planes leaving Heathrow generally fly on very narrow, concentrated routes. This means that noise which would previously have been spread out over about 3km is now channelled down a track just a few hundreds of metres wide. Plane after plane after plane flies down this one track, causing a level of noise that can be life-changing for those unlucky enough to be below. The author expresses his misery and despair at finding his home now bombarded by intense, almost continuous noise, when the winds are from the east. He has had to leave his job, as the lack of sleep, the depression, the anxiety and the disruption to his life has had too great an impact on him. He says on one day, in utter despair with tears rushing down his face “the only thing that stopped me was my dog had come up to me and pushed my hands away from my face with his nose. I looked at him, gripped his lead, run with him to the car and drove off to the countryside, just to get away from the noise.” Industry – take note. The noise from planes at Heathrow can have serious impacts on people. It is time this was properly acknowledged by government, and not conveniently ignored for political convenience.
Four councils + Greenpeace have served legal papers on Government over Heathrow runway decision
Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon, have today served legal papers on the government for unlawfully supporting the expansion of Heathrow. In a legal submission to the High Court, the ‘coalition’ is seeking a Judicial Review of the government’s decision to support the expansion of the airport – something that which the Government previously promised would never happen. Harrison Grant Solicitors, on behalf of the coalition have filed a formal request for a judicial review. If successful, it is hoped the case will be heard in the High Court early next year. Together, the claimants argue that the Government has failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality impacts and that the consultation held to make the decision was fundamentally flawed. Therefore, the expansion of the airport cannot go ahead. In addition, the legal challenge seeks to hold Government to the promise that a third runway would never be built. If the request is successful, and the coalition wins the judicial review, the decision to proceed with the runway would be overturned. Ray Puddifoot said “There are two grounds of challenge at this stage. In addition to our claim that there has been a significant breach of established air quality laws, we have also claimed that the Government has acted contrary to our legitimate expectation that it would honour its repeated promises not to expand Heathrow.”
Elmbridge Council votes to officially oppose Heathrow expansion
Elmbridge councillors have officially voted against Heathrow expansion after months of deliberation. Councillors voted by a clear majority to oppose a 3rd runway, at the full council. Elmbridge Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Task Group, dealing with Heathrow expansion, had recommended Elmbridge oppose the plans on the basis of health concerns. More than 800 people had responded to the council’s survey on the plans and many said they had serious concerns about how the construction would damage the borough. A persuasive case for opposing the runway was made by councillor Christine Elmer, chair of the task group, Cllr James Browne and Cllr Tony Popham. Cllr Ellmer believed Heathrow was already a serious issue for the borough, because of high – and worsening – levels of aircraft noise, which continues late into the night. “The fact is that larger planes are flying lower than ever before in Elmbridge and there are no guarantees that this will desist. It cannot be right for residents, as one who wrote to me this week, to have to go to bed wearing earmuffs.” The runway would mean worse road congestion. Cllr Browne said he had not seen any “convincing or independent evidence” to suggest any economic benefits from expansion would benefit the UK and the borough. Local campaign group, Residents Action Group Elmbridge (RAGE) were delighted with the council vote.
Heathrow appoints 7 firms to design plans for its expansion, with 4-year contracts
Heathrow has announced seven firms have been contracted to design plans for its expansion plans (which it presumes it will be going ahead … eventually). The group – Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Atkins, Grimshaw, Mott MacDonald, Jacobs and Quod – will now be known as the Integrated Design Team. Back in March this year, Heathrow said following “a competitive process Arup, CH2M, MACE and Turner & Townsend have been chosen to work alongside” the airport to deliver its expansion as “partners in the Programme Client Team”. Now the four newly announced have been awarded 4-year term contracts. Barry Weekes, Head of Design at Heathrow, said: “With their institutional knowledge of Heathrow, and proven record in building complex infrastructure projects, the members of the Integrated Design Team will allow us to hit the ground running to deliver Heathrow expansion.” Amec Foster Wheeler will “continue to assist Heathrow with its sustainability strategies and Environmental Impact Assessment.” Arup will “utilise its engineering expertise as well as continuing to lead Heathrow’s passenger experience and baggage improvement programmes.” Mott MacDonald brings knowledge developing airport masterplans, as well as its significant engineering expertise. Quod will “offer its town and country planning consultants expertise and extensive knowledge on making successful DCO applications.”
Sarah Olney wins Richmond seat from Zac Goldsmith, on anti-Brexit agenda – while both strongly oppose Heathrow runway
When the Conservative government announced it was backing a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith (MP for Richmond) resigned. He had said even before the May 2010 election that he would do this, and as a matter of principle, he did so. The by-election was therefore triggered on the issue of Heathrow, largely because Richmond is badly affected by plane noise from landings every few minutes, for over half of each day. The Liberal Democrats, with only 8 current MPs, fought the seat on the issue of Brexit, and their candidate, Sarah Olney has now with a margin over Zac of around 1,800 votes. (Richmond was a held by the LibDems until 2010). Sarah Olney, who only joined the LibDems in 2015, is also very much opposed to Heathrow expansion, so will carry on the fight against the runway. Her primary focus, however, has been Brexit. Richmond is one of the constituencies that voted most strongly for the Remain campaign, and so this election became one about Brexit – with everyone appreciating that all candidates (except one minor one) were against the runway. Those who backed Zac will be saddened that his principled stand, which is regrettably rare in politics, has been hijacked in order for the LibDems to get another MP. Zac is widely acknowledged to have been an excellent MP. Opposition to the runway will continue in Richmond, as the area would lose half of its “respite” period without planes overhead, it the expansion was allowed. Tania Mathias, who leads local MPs against Heathrow, has already congratulated Sarah on her win, and said she looks forward to working with her.
TfL hits back defending their estimate of £15 bn for Heathrow surface access, that Grayling said was “ludicrous”
Chris Grayling criticised Transport for London’s (TfL) predicted costs for improving road and rail links for the Heathrow expansion. Giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on Heathrow’s 3rd runway, the transport secretary said he considered it “ludicrous” that TfL (who are the experts on transport in London) calculate the necessary work as about £15 billion. He said it looked to him as if “somebody has taken every possible transport improvement in the whole of metropolitan London and thrown it into the mix. While the Airports Commission estimated that surface infrastructure changes would cost £5bn, TfL estimated the costs of keeping transport flowing – even with a 50% larger Heathrow – to be around £15m-£20m. Heathrow said it would pay for just £1.1 billion. TfF have responded saying. “Expansion at Heathrow will significantly increase demand for access to the airport. Our expert analysis indicates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed beyond what is already committed and the key component of this is a new southern rail link from Waterloo to Heathrow. Thus far, the government have given no commitments to deliver this new rail link, despite the Airport’s Commissions recommendation to do so and, without such a commitment, the aspirations for no increase in road traffic are not credible.”
Evidence by Mayor of London to Env Audit Cttee on Heathrow expresses grave concerns on health impacts
The Mayor of London has submitted evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, on Heathrow’s environmental impacts. The Mayor believes Heathrow expansion could have a very detrimental impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. The submission says: “It is regrettable that Government has decided to take forward Heathrow expansion in spite of the clear evidence of its serious environmental impacts in terms of air quality and noise and, perhaps of greatest concern, what it would mean for public health.” … “It is yet to be demonstrated that an expanded Heathrow could operate without exceeding legal limits for NO2.” … “Delivering significant mode shift will be critical to limiting highway traffic and helping tackle air pollution; but no new rail infrastructure is deemed by Government or the Heathrow Airport Limited to be required for expansion, rendering such an aspiration simply not credible.’ … “Little consideration has been given to the impact expansion will have on the growth in highway trips associated with air freight and induced economic activity…” … “A three-runway Heathrow would result in an increase in the number of people exposed to significant aircraft noise (at 55dBLden) of over 200,000, compared to a two-runway Heathrow…” and “Even with the partial night flights bans being proposed, the proposals are likely to lead to a net increase in flights across the night period (11pm-7am) of at least 30%.” … and there is more …
April 2016: Holland-Kaye says “shocking” to see the problems air freight operations are causing neighbours
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has described as “shocking” the problems that the airport – and its freight especially – causes the local community, following a bike ride through Colnbrook with Poyle with Parish Council chair Peter Hood in April 2016. He used Heathrow airport’s intranet to tell employees about the “shocking” impact of ancillary operations, and the “haphazard way” in which huge cargo sheds and smaller warehouses have sprung up in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. He said “it was shocking, and there is no one organisation you can hold accountable”. He recognised that villages such as Colnbrook, Bedfont, and Feltham were already being hit with “congestion, pollution and antisocial behaviour” as a result of activities associated with “keeping Britain’s trade flowing”. He added: “So it is up to us to bring together cargo companies, landowners, councils and residents to stop lorries messing up local communities. It won’t be easy, but if we take a lead, we can be a good neighbour to Colnbrook and other villages.” No specific actions have so far been announced yet, however.
Government abandoning commitments to restrict aviation CO2 risks UK failure on carbon cap in Climate Change Act
Plans to build a third Heathrow runway have suffered a setback after the government’s official climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned ministers the project risked blowing a hole in the UK’s legally binding carbon targets. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, wrote to Greg Clark at BEIS to raise “concerns” about the plans. Lord Deben said the central business case ministers made in October when they agreed to back a 3rd Heathrow runway would mean greenhouse gas emissions from aviation were about 15% higher than their target level by 2050. This cap is 37.5MtCO2, which is the level of UK aviation emissions in 2005. The CCC has repeatedly said that aviation emissions should stay at 2005 levels until 2050 if the legally binding UK targets are to be met. If aviation is allowed to miss, by 15%, its already very generous allowance, this would necessitate CO2 cuts from all other sectors to be 85% of their 1990 level by 2050. Lord Deben said that would require “significantly more action”to slash carbon pollution from other sectors, which is likely to be impossible. Doug Parr, chief scientist of Greenpeace, said: “What ministers know full well but don’t want to admit is that a third runway means other sectors of the economy will have to bear the costs of further carbon cuts, whether it’s regional airports or the manufacturing and steel industries. … it’s time ministers came clean about it with those concerned and the British public.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan warns Waterloo to Heathrow rail link, needed to get airport passengers off the roads, may be impractical
Sadiq Khan has welcomed the potential for direct train services from Waterloo to Heathrow Airport but warned that there may not be enough capacity on the rail network for such a service to be introduced. The Mayor said: “While the potential for a new connection between Heathrow and Waterloo is welcome, the proposals face a serious capacity challenge. Rail lines between Windsor and Waterloo are severely constrained and the multiple level crossings on the route limit the ability to accommodate additional trains. Any new airport service cannot be at the expense of existing and planned services or the network’s ability to meet forecast growth in background demand. If the Government is to take forward a third runway at Heathrow airport, it needs to demonstrate that there is both the rail connectivity and capacity to enable expansion and achieve the airport’s stated aspiration of a zero increase in passenger and staff highway trips. The Southern Rail Access proposals, reliant on the rail lines between Windsor and Waterloo, cannot provide the capacity to support an expanded Heathrow.” … “While the Airports Commission identified Southern Rail Access as the only rail scheme required for Heathrow expansion, it emerged last month that the Government now deems no new rail infrastructure essential for an expanded Heathrow. Such an approach is deeply concerning and risks worsening congestion on the roads and a further deterioration of air quality around Heathrow.”
Government backed Heathrow 3rd runway ‘using old air pollution data’
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has admitted the Government backed a 3rd runway at Heathrow without fully understanding the implications of ground-breaking new evidence on vehicle emission standards. Ministers insist Heathrow can expand within EU limits on air pollution, which are currently being widely breached in the capital. But a study for the Government, supporting its third runway decision, was not based on the latest international analysis by experts, which showed emissions from some diesel vehicles are worse than previously claimed. Mr Grayling is to appear before the EAC on 30th November to give evidence on Heathrow and its environmental issues. In a letter to the Environmental Audit Cttee (EAC), Mr Grayling said: “Further work is needed to understand the implications of this evidence. … But our initial assessment suggests that revised forecasts would be likely to be within the range of scenarios already considered by our re-analysis [on air quality].” However, EAC chairwoman Mary Creagh said: “We will want to hear from the minister how the Government can meet air quality standards given what we now know about real-world emissions, which are higher than used in the Government’s business case [for a third runway]. We are also concerned that the plans for low-emission vehicle uptake and improvements in public transport are over-ambitious.”
Dr Tania Mathias debate in Parliament on Heathrow – hoping in vain for government assurances on air pollution
Dr Tania Mathias, Conservative MP for Twickenham, secured a debate on Heathrow and its air pollution problem. She made persuasive and important points, and received only inadequate responses from John Hayes, the Minister of State, DfT. A few quotes are copied here: …”the WHO has said that for PM2.5 “no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.”… “within just over a week of the Government being found guilty in the courts of not having an adequate plan to address air quality, they decided to approve Heathrow expansion. The expansion will involve perhaps 50% more planes. … with nearly 250,000 more flights planned, there will be thousands more passengers and staff, and they will not be walking to and from Heathrow airport.” … “£799 million will be spent on car parks at an expanded Heathrow.”.. My question to the Minister is simple: if the Government support Heathrow expansion, how will they get air quality within legal targets? I have asked two Prime Ministers, two Secretaries of State for Transport and a Minister from DEFRA how they can expand Heathrow airport without increasing air pollution. Thus far, I have been assured that it will happen, but I have not been told how. I hope that today, at the 6th time of asking, I will be told.” [She was not].
Willie Walsh says Heathrow charges rule out more UK domestic links, and he will not be told where to fly
Chris Grayling and the DfT were eager to point out how a 3rd Heathrow runway would increase links to the regions, and increase the number of routes from Heathrow from 8 now to 14 in future. And these links might have to be ensured by payments. Heathrow, in trying to persuade government this was possible, said it would create a new £10m Route Development Fund. The Airports Commission said there should be a Public Service Obligations on an airport-to-airport basis, to encourage these unprofitable routes. Now Willie Walsh has confirmed that there is “zero chance” of British Airways operating any new domestic flights from an expanded Heathrow. He will not be told, by government or an airport, where to fly. He says the high landing charges, inevitable to pay for the expansion, made it impossible to deliver an increase in domestic air links. He would refuse to run these links even if Holland-Kaye “begs me to do it” because it would not be profitable. He said Heathrow was “fat, dumb and happy” and that it attracted large numbers of airlines but that many failed to make a profit. He also said with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would price out most airlines. Holland-Kaye is hoping he can get easyJet, Flybe and BMI Regional to take on potential regional routes. Mr Walsh said the current charge of £40 for a return trip would double to £80 per passenger with a new runway.
Willie Walsh not happy IAG/BA HQ to be demolished for 3rd runway (and IAG will partly have to pay)
This is not April Fools news. Willie Walsh has only learned, from looking at an Airports Commission map, that the head offices of BA are to be demolished to make way for the Heathrow 3rd runway. Walsh is CEO of IAG, which owns British Airways – and BA has more than half the flights using Heathrow. The head office of both IAG and BA is at Waterside, in Harmondsworth – and would be under the 3rd runway. Walsh said he received no formal warning of the proposed demolition of his headquarters, which only opened in 1998 at a cost of £200 million and sits in a 115-hectare (280-acre) manmade park. Walsh said the HQ was “a fantastic environmental achievement on our part”. Walsh’s grievance over his doomed HQ has been compounded by the prospect of being effectively charged for the compensation bill. IAG will receive compensation, but this will largely come from charges to airlines – so IAG would largely have to compensate itself. The scale of increased charges to airlines, because of the cost of building the new runway, terminal etc, will be determined by the CAA. Walsh said: “That compensation goes into the regulatory asset base and we end up paying 56% of that. We can’t have a situation where I end up paying for the destruction of my own head office.” This office fiasco may have contributed to Wash’s antipathy to Heathrow’s plans. At the recent AOA conference he described Heathrow as “fat, dumb and happy.” at the Airport Operators Association conference in London.
Chairman of CCC writes to BEIS to query why DfT appears to no longer use the 37.5MtCO2 cap for UK aviation (in order to get a 3rd Heathrow runway, that means breaking CO2 target)
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been giving the UK government the advice, since 2009 (when government was trying to get a 3rd Heathrow runway) that UK aviation should emit no more CO2 than its level in 2005 (which was 37.5MtCO2) per year by 2050. This has tacitly been accepted by government since then. But the DfT “sensitivities” document put out on 25th October, said that this cap on UK aviation carbon was “unrealistic” and its assessments were only now looking at the carbon traded option. That means UK aviation CO2 well above the target. The Chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, has now written to Greg Clark, Sec of State at BEIS (now in charge of UK carbon emissions, since DECC was scrapped) to point out that the DfT seems to no longer see the constraint of 37.5MtCO2 as being important, and its forecasts and business assumptions are all now based on higher CO2 emissions by UK aviation. Lord Deben says: “If emissions from aviation are now anticipated to be higher than 2005 levels, then all other sectors would have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.” Even if UK aviation stuck at 37.5Mt CO2 by 2050, this would mean “an 85% reduction in emissions in all other sectors”. The CCC does not have confidence that cuts of over 85% could be made. That implies the UK would miss its legally binding CO2 target.
High court gives ministers deadline of April for draft of tougher air pollution plan and final by 31st July 2017
On 2nd November, environmental lawyers ClientEarth inflicted a humiliating legal defeat on the UK government (the 2nd in 18 months) when the high court ruled that DEFRA plans to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in many parts of the UK were unlawful. The court gave the government 7 days to agree on the next steps, but it rejected the proposal from ClientEarth for an 8 month timetable for the improvements, saying it needed till September 2017. Now the high court judge, Mr Justice Garnham, has ruled that DEFRA must must publish a stronger air quality draft plan by 24th April 2017 and a final one by 31st July 2017. The judge also ordered the government to publish the data on which it will base its new plan. In his judgement on 2nd, the judge said it was “remarkable” that ministers knew they were using over-optimistic pollution modelling, based on flawed lab tests of diesel vehicles rather than actual emissions on the road, but proceeded anyway. He also ruled that ClientEarth can go back to court if it deems the government’s draft plan, due in April 2017, is once again not good enough to cut pollution rapidly. Alan Andrews, ClientEarth’s air quality lawyer, said: “We will be watching on behalf of everyone living in the UK and will return to court if the government is failing.” ClientEarth believes measure such as a diesel scrappage scheme and other measures that would cost money, that the Treasury has been unwilling to approve.
Reduction in business rates for Heathrow means it will pay about £10 million less per year for next 5 years
The revaluation of business properties usually happens every 5 years but was controversially delayed by 2 years as a result of the economic downturn. The last revaluation was 1st April 2010 based on the property market at 1st April 2008.It is just a matter of weeks since the Government adjusted the Rateable Values of every business property in England and Wales to reflect changes in the property market. New Rateable Values for tens of thousands of businesses in England and Wales were announced in September, based on values on 1st April 2015. These values will be used to determine the basis of the tax calculation for rates next April and for the next 5 years. Properties that have out-performed equivalent ones will pay more, and those whose properties have underperformed can expect to see their bills fall. While Heathrow remains the highest payer of business rates in the country, its bill is to fall. The Government reduced its property assessment by £32.5 million – from £247.5m to £215 million. On average over the next 5 years, Heathrow will probably pay £118.02 million per year in business rates bills, compared to £127.96m in the previous List; a 5 year saving of £49.7 million. There has been a further £6.49m reduction in property tax assessments at two cargo centres at Heathrow Airport too.
Up-beat and determined rally organised by Zac Goldsmith, in Richmond, against Heathrow 3rd runway
In addition to the protest against a 3rd runway near Heathrow, with two sections of nearby roads closed by activists linked together with arm locks, lying on the ground, there was also an entirely law abiding protest near Heathrow. In addition, earlier in the day there was a large, energetic and very positive rally in Richmond, organised by Zac Goldsmith – as part of his re-election campaign. Zac had always said that if the government backed a 3rd runway, we would resign. As soon as they did, he did – keeping his word to his electorate. The by-election was caused by the Heathrow issue, and that is what Zac intends to be returned to Parliament on. The LibDems want to get a 2nd MP in parliament, and so are hoping the by-election will instead be largely about Brexit. The rally was compered (brilliantly) by Giles Brandreth, and addressed by numerous well informed speakers, including the Leaders of the 4 councils now embarking on legal action against the government on the runway decision, and the ex-President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, as well as spokespeople from the Richmond Heathrow campaign, Teddington Action Group, Stop Heathrow Expansion, and Chiswick residents. It was made very clear that Zac has the necessary years of political experience as an MP to take this issue back to Parliament, get change, and ensure the runway is opposed – in every way.
Everyone who spoke was utterly determined that, with sufficient work and concerted, united opposition over the coming years, the highly unsustainable and damaging plan for a 3rd runway at Heathrow will be blocked.
15 people arrested in protest against proposed 3rd runway, blocking two roads close to Heathrow
In addition to a rally held on Richmond Green, organised by Zac Goldsmith, against the planned 3rd Heathrow runway there were two other protests near Heathrow. Zac’s rally had a host of speakers, including the leaders of the four councils bringing a legal challenge to the government, and the ex-President of the Maldives – with the aim of ensuring Zac is returned to Parliament in the by-election on 1st December. A short while later, there was an action by climate protesters, organised by RisingUp! close to Heathrow itself. They got onto the M4 spur road to the airport at a traffic lights when the traffic had stopped. Within seconds five had locked themselves together with arm locks, blocking the road. Another Heathrow road, the East Ramp, was also blocked, for a short time, with some road trips slightly delayed, but no flights were affected. Fifteen arrests were made for obstructing the highway or public order offences. Many others protested, though without blocking a road. A spokesman for Rising Up! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.” One of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, Genny Scherer, 70, said: “It’s one or the other: new runways or a safe climate. I want my nephews and nieces to grow up in a safe climate, just like I was able to.”
Environmental Audit Cttee finds Treasury failing to take long-term environmental costs into account
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has done an investigation into the role of the Treasury in relation to sustainable development and environmental protection. The EAC is calling for the Treasury to “green-check” all its decisions, after its major investigation found that the Treasury puts short term priorities over long term sustainability – potentially increasing costs to the economy in the future. [The Treasury has been a key promoter of a new south east runway, with Treasury staff helping the Airports Commission.] EAC Chair, Mary Creagh, said: “The Treasury is highly influential and uniquely placed to ensure the whole of Government works to promote sustainability. But we have seen considerable evidence that it fails to do this.The Treasury tends not to take full account of the long term environmental costs and benefits of decisions which would reduce costs for taxpayers and consumers in the long run. On the carbon capture and storage competition and zero carbon homes we saw the Treasury riding roughshod over departments, cancelling long-established environmental programmes at short notice with no consultation, costing businesses and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. With a week to go until the next Autumn Statement, we hope our inquiry will be a wake-up call to the Treasury.”
Councils and campaigners take first step towards legal challenge against government support for Heathrow runway
Solicitors Harrison Grant acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident have (17th November) sent a letter, under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol, to the Secretary of State for Transport. The letter gives the Government a period of 14 days in which to withdraw its decision, issued on the 25 October to support a 3rd runway at Heathrow. If it fails to do so, judicial review proceedings will be commenced in the High Court, without further notice to the Government, on the basis that the Government’s approach to air quality and noise is unlawful and also that it has failed to carry out a fair and lawful consultation exercise prior to issuing its decision. The 33 page pre-action letter sets out comprehensive grounds for legal challenge, drawing on a broad range of statute and legal precedent, as well as highlighting the many promises and statements made by senior politicians confirming that the third runway would not be built. The move comes shortly after the Government’s air quality plans were overturned in the High Court, putting ministers under greater pressure to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in places like Heathrow. The latest court ruling rejected the current government plans to tackle emissions as inadequate and based on over optimistic assumptions.
Sadiq Khan backs councils’ legal action against Heathrow 3rd runway – and TfL will offer help
Sadiq Khan has announced at Mayor’s Question Time that he was officially supporting legal action against a 3rd Heathrow runway. He has instructed Transport for London (TfL) to help 4 local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead) and Greenpeace, which are together bringing the case against expansion. The involvement of TfL was met with delight from many Assembly Members. TfL is expected to be named as an “interested party” in the action. It is believed that the intervention of TfL will strengthen the case of the local authorities’ challenge. In the previous Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan said he wasn’t able answer the question on legal action until the government decision had been made. It was made on 25th October. Though Sadiq Khan had in the past backed a Heathrow runway, he changed his mind in 2015 when the extent of the noise and air pollution impacts became clear. He has now said, addressing the full London Assembly: “I promised I wouldn’t just stand by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution a third runway would cause. That’s why I’ve directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support” the councils.. “and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.” TfL has the most expertise on matters relating to impacts of Heathrow expansion on London’s transport network.
DfT publishes proposed route of northern section of HS2, including property compensation details
The DfT has announced the second phase of HS2, north of Birmingham. It is intended to go to Leeds, Manchester, Wigan etc. which would mean journeys to and from London from these areas could be faster than they are now. That would reduce the demand for domestic flights, for connections to Heathrow. Many homes would be demolished to make way for the rail route, and there are compensation arrangements to help those affected. The DfT says compensation (by the government) measures would apply immediately, including a premium on compulsory purchases and moving costs. By contrast with Heathrow, which says compensation (the airport pays) would only start once they have full planning consent – and if their compulsory purchase is agreed in their development control order – which could be another 4 years away. The compensation is un-blighted price + 25% + stamp duty and costs for those in the “Express Purchase” scheme, and un-blighted price + 10% with no costs for the “Need to sell” scheme. The DfT documents say the compensation schemes are the same as the southern part of HS2, and “Two of these schemes will enter into operation from today on an interim basis – these are Express Purchase and Need to Sell, and if confirmed by the government, all the schemes will be in place until 1 year after the railway is fully operational.”
Lib-Dems quiz Chris Grayling on ‘discredited’ Heathrow Airport data
By KATE PROCTOR (Evening Standard) 14.11.2016
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been urged to explain why the Government continues to rely on “discredited” air quality data to justify a 3rd Heathrow runway. Liberal Democrats, including former secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey, and former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable, say the Government has been warned that modelling used by the DfT to calculate air pollution is out of date. Sir Vince said: “The Government is relying on discredited modelling to claim EU air pollution limits could still be met. Chris Grayling must clarify whether he still stands by these estimates. If not, we need to know how EU limits that protect people’s health will be met.” They say unless the DfT reassesses the data, expansion plans should be dropped. A Government spokeswoman said a third runway at Heathrow “will comply with UK air quality limits.” [That is largely wishful thinking, as much of the air pollution in the local area is largely outside the control of the airport. AW note] She also defended their use of data. The Government’s national air pollution plans were deemed illegal by the High Court and it found a use of flawed modelling. The same system has been used for Heathrow.
Seven more purely, unashamedly, low cost leisure destinations for 2017 from Heathrow
So much for the claims that Heathrow is ensuring Britain is “open for business” and creating “trading links to the growing markets of the world” or “connecting Britain to global growth”. The reality is that many of the landing slots at Heathrow are used for leisure flights, and many are for cheap European leisure flights. British Airways has announced 7 new routes from Heathrow for 2017. These are to Murcia, in “stunning” southern Spain “known for its world renowned golf courses”. There is also Brindisi, in Italy “ideal for holidaymakers looking for some sun to soak up in.” And Nantes, in western France, which is a “gateway to Brittany and Loire Valley as well as being home to the world famous Muscadet wines.” Also Montpellier, in southern France, with “a blend of the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Pyrenees.. Also Pula, in Croatia “an increasingly popular destination for families who want a cheap summer holiday, replacing the likes of Spain and France.” Then there is Tallinn, in Estonia, which is cheap and “one of the most preserved medieval cities in Europe”. And Zakynthos “This Greek island in the Ionian Sea is nicknamed the flower of the East. It is home to the Navagio beach, the most famous landmark on the island which is a stunning setting for a day lounging in the sun. Price: from £65”. There are also flights for cheap holidays to Menorca. This demonstrates, yet again, that Heathrow is not full of flights to vital, far flung, business-related destinations. It has flights that make money. ie. cheap holidays.
Speculation about a congestion charge around Heathrow, to cut air pollution and deter traffic
The Airports Commission recommended measures such as a congestion charge on roads around Heathrow, in order to keep levels of air pollution at legal levels, and prevent traffic congestion gridlock with a 3rd runway. The Times reports that the congestion charge may be imposed, with the effect of forcing people to use public transport instead of cars. The central London congestion charge is £11.50 per day. What the money would be spent on is not known. The charge might be levied on some 80 miles of road, to keep NO2 and particulates down. The impact on road users who are not related to Heathrow is not known, or the costs to the local economy of this burden. The charge may have to be agreed through the development consent order process. Chris Grayling said, on 25th October, that the runway could be delivered “within air quality limits.” But little in the DfT’s documents gives any firm reassurances that measures will be put in place that could actually keep the levels of NO2 low enough. Further questions emerged last week when the High Court ruled that the government was failing to tackle air pollution quickly enough, and its air quality plan was based on over-optimistic forecasts. Heathrow insists that the number of public transport routes (which is is not prepared to pay towards) will increase, with new direct rail links helping Heathrow out. The worst air pollution in the area is near junctions 3 and 4 of the M4, where up to 16% of the traffic is related to Heathrow.
Action to combat UK illegally high air pollution delayed again – judge will decide on timetable for action
On 2nd November, ClientEarth won its High Court case against the Government’s slowness in tackling illegal levels of UK air pollution. Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan was not adequate, and said it was “remarkable” that ministers knew they were using over-optimistic pollution modelling, based on flawed lab tests of diesel vehicles rather than actual emissions on the road, but proceeded anyway. It was agreed that both parties would return to court in a week to agree on the next steps. Now Ministers have rejected the court proposal to deliver an effective plan within 8 months, as ClientEarth suggested. The case will now return to court at an unknown future date, when the judge will determine what happens next. An earlier government plan to tackle air pollution was declared illegal in April 2015 and ministers were ordered then to produce a new strategy, which it did in December. But that new plan is the one that was found to be illegal on 2nd November. ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “We are disappointed that we have been unable so far to agree on the timetable for the new plan, or on the future role for the court in overseeing compliance with the order. We have made our written submissions and await the court’s decision.” Defra said it would be setting out further measures next year.
T&E highlights air pollution problem of particulates from petrol vehicles without correct filters
One of the most significant environmental problems of Heathrow, in relation to wanting to add a 3rd runway, is its ability to keep air pollution on local roads down to legal limits. We hear most about Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) but there is also significant particulate pollution. The tiny particles, especially the smallest (PM2.5) can penetrate deep in to the lung and cause damage. Heathrow has local air pollution monitors, and regularly limits for PM10 and PM2.5 are breached. A recent report, by Ricardo, for the Heathrow area in 2015, said at the LHR2, Green Gates and Harlington sites 3 exceedances were recorded. At another site, Oaks Road, registered 5 exceedances. The AQS (Air Quality Strategy) objective is a daily mean limit value of 50 µg m-3 for PM10 should not to be exceeded. Now clean transport campaigners, Transport & Environment, say we could be on the verge of a “petrolgate” scandal, not unlike the “dieselgate” one, due to inadequate filters to prevent the emission of particulates from petrol cars. T&E say they have obtained documents showing that governments and car makers are delaying ensuring petrol cars have these €25 filters (most diesel cars have them). Governments are using theoretical particle emission, rather than the higher real world ones. T&E says the car industry is lobbying to be allowed to overshoot particle limits, and not to have to install filters.
CAA consultation on whether airlines will pay £10 million (or more) per year of Heathrow’s planning costs
The issue of how much Heathrow can pass the costs of its expansion onto airlines is much disputed. Airlines such as IAG have been vociferous in refusing to pay for anything up-front. The amount Heathrow can charge airlines is laid down by the CAA, which has now put out a consultation on this subject. There are three categories of cost. Category A is lobbying, advertising etc, to get the runway approved. The CAA says Heathrow must pay this itself. Then Category B costs are those incurred to obtain planning permission through the development consent order, for the runway etc. It is Category B costs the CAA is consulting about. (Category C costs are those of actually building the added capacity – and may include costs like buying up thousands of properties in the villages. The treatment of these costs is not yet agreed by the CAA). The CAA consultation is proposing that of the Category B costs (ie. planning costs) Heathrow can get back £10 million per year from airlines through higher costs. For planning costs of over £10 million per year, the CAA propose these would be capitalised and rolled into HAL’s existing Regulatory Asset Base (RAB). These costs would then be be paid by a “risk-sharing mechanism” between airlines and Heathrow. If HAL succeeds in getting planning consent, they can get 105% of the costs over £10 million per year back through higher charges to airlines. If they do not get planning consent, they can only get 85% back. The consultation on this ends on 12th December. Details below.
Hounslow Council wants Heathrow runway negative impacts reduced – Chamber of Commerce wants “a slice of the action”
Hounslow Chamber of Commerce said that is was “extremely happy” about the Government support for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The Chamber has claimed it will ensure businesses in the borough get a “slice of the action” from Heathrow expansion. CEO of Hounslow Chamber, Stephen Fry, has signed a declaration to work with Heathrow to develop plans, and says his priority will be to secure jobs and investment in the Hounslow community. He wants to ensure that a larger airport “will benefit our economy by growing existing businesses and kick starting new start-ups thereby creating new jobs around the country.” He hopes that “while Heathrow airport already procures some £1.7 billion of products and services every year from local, regional and national businesses; we can expect this to increase substantially. Hounslow suffers intense noise from Heathrow over flights. Leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran, reiterated the council’s position on 26th October, saying: “Our position as a Council has not changed, we want a better, not bigger Heathrow Airport. We will however, work with Heathrow on behalf of our residents and businesses, many of whom are employed directly at Heathrow or are part of the supply chain, to ensure the best possible outcome and to reduce any adverse effects of the decision.”
Even with 55% of Heathrow passengers using public transport there could be 15 million more passenger trips per year by car by 2040 than now
The government claims Heathrow can meet air quality standards in future, even with a new runway and 50% more passengers, because it will (among other changes) ensure that there are no more road vehicles than now – and by around 2031 about 55% of passengers would use public transport. So is that likely? Looking at passengers only, not freight, and the work done by Jacobs for the Airports Commission, it seems that (2012 data) there were about 70 million passengers, about 20 million of whom were transfers (ie. they did not leave the airport). That meant slightly below 50 million passengers travelled to and from the airport, using surface transport. In 2012 about 59% of these travelled by car (ie. about 29.5 million), 41% came by public transport (28% by rail and 13% by bus or coach). But by 2030 with a new runway, there might be around 110 million passengers, and around 33% would be international transfers. That leaves around 74 million passengers, and if 55% of them use public transport, that means about 34 million using cars. By 2040, the number using cars might be about 45 million (ie. about 15 million more per year than now). And about 9 million using bus/coach – which is of course also on the roads. There would have to be dramatic increases in electric vehicles and improved engine technology to ensure no higher emissions in the Heathrow area. And that is not counting freight vehicles. Or staff. Or other increased vehicle traffic associated with the 3rd runway.
How the government hopes air pollution will not be a block on a Heathrow 3rd runway
The Government has produced claims that adding a 3rd Heathrow runway would be compatible with air quality limits for NO2. The DfT statement on 25th October stated that the government had done more work, since the Airports Commission, and this “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” That air quality plan has since been judged inadequate by the High Court ruling in the case brought by ClientEarth. The DfT also said: “Heathrow’s scheme includes plans for improved public transport links and for an ultra-low emissions zone for all airport vehicles by 2025. The government will make meeting air quality legal requirements a condition of planning approval.”Lawyers Bircham Dyson Bell comment: “would you build, or invest in, a new runway if you weren’t sure it could be used?” Heathrow and the government hope that, by 2040, 55% of Heathrow passengers will be using public transport, but there is no guarantee whatsoever that legal air quality limits would in reality be met. Currently [2012 data] about 41% of Heathrow passengers use public transport (about 28% by rail and 13% bus/coach – on the road). Heathrow hopes 43% will use rail by 2030. That is estimated to mean an extra over 56 million passengers annually using public transport compared to around 29 million today, and 6 million more passengers travelling to and from the airport by car.
Zac Goldsmith: The too close relationship between Heathrow & Government borders on corrupt – recent examples
Former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has accused the Government and Heathrow Airport of having a relationship that “borders on the corrupt”. He said the closeness of the interaction between the airport and Whitehall was “rotten”. Examples recently of this are that the Chairman of Heathrow since March 2016 (succeeding Sir Nigel Rudd) is Lord Paul Deighton. Between 2013 and 2015 he held the position of Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, some of the roles of which are described as “infrastructure policy, including working with Infrastructure and Projects Authority and National Infrastructure Commission” and “working with the rest of government to promote the UK as a destination for foreign direct investment.” Another recent revolve of the door is Vickie Sherriff, who has since September 2015 been the Head of Communications at Heathrow, having earlier worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. She went to the DfT and then Diageo in 2014. Then there is Simon Baugh, who in March 2015 because the group director of communications at the DfT, having previously been the director of PR at Heathrow. And Nigel Milton. And there are many earlier cases too. Zac commented: “And that’s why you’ve always had this default position in favour of Heathrow.” The DfT naturally rejected any suggestion of corruption.
SNP misled by Heathrow inflated claims of number of jobs for Scotland due to a 3rd runway
The SNP decided to give its backing to a Heathrow runway, rather than one at Gatwick – having been led to believe that the only choice on offer was between these two. They were led, by Heathrow PR, to believe there would be greater benefits for Scotland. The SNP hoped to get exports from Scotland (salmon and razor clams) shipped through Heathrow. The Airports Commission came up with a figure of economic benefit from a Heathrow runway of UP TO £147 billion to all the UK over 60 years. Heathrow got a consultancy called Quod to work out the number of jobs. They came up with the figure of 16,100 jobs for Scotland (over 60 years) from the runway. The DfT has now downgraded the £147 billion figure, as it included various speculative elements, and double counted benefits. The new figure (also still far higher than the reality) from the DfT is UP TO £61 billion for the UK over 60 years. That, pro rata, would mean up to about 9,300 jobs for Scotland – not 16,100. It is unfortunate that the SNP were misinformed, as were other MPs, Chambers of Commerce etc across the regions. Heathrow also pledged benefits for Scotland such as using its steel for construction, and using Prestwick as a base. The Scottish Green party see the SNP backing of a Heathrow runway as a betrayal of those badly affected by it, and of Scotland’s climate commitments.
Lakeside incinerator plant would need to move, at Heathrow’s expense, if runway is built
Grundon and Viridor’s Colnbrook incinerator at Lakeside Road would have to be demolished for a Heathrow north west runway. This, as well as local roads and the M25, are significant obstacles to the runway plan. The issue of how much Heathrow will pay for this is being negotiated. Early in 2015, Heathrow was reported to have struck a deal with Grundon and Slough Borough Council to overcome the risk to delivery of a runway, agreeing that the incinerator would be moved a short distance away, onto (Green Belt) land already owned by Grundon. It is not clear this is correct. Heathrow said it was preparing a “joint feasibility study”. Heathrow said in 2015 that “NATS have given an initial opinion that the site is suitable for accommodating the height of flue stack required (75m).” Three of the four lakes at Colnbrook Lakeside are now set to be lost, due to the runway. In order that the incinerator remains open all the time, with no gap, building would need to start at least 3 years before being operational. But the runway might never get the go ahead … It is reported that discussions are taking place on payment of the multi-million costs of relocation. Adam Afriyie revealed in Parliament in 2015 that the government would not be paying. Robert Goodwill said it would be “a matter for the airport to take forward with the owners of the site.”
DfT’s own study reveals just how tiny the possible economic benefits of Heathrow or Gatwick runway would be to UK
The economics figures by Airports Commission were always dubious, and their methodology was questioned by their own advisors. The Commission did not use the Webtag method that is normally used to cost transport projects. The Commission added in a range of possible future benefits for Heathrow, and for Gatwick – most purely speculative. Benefits of trade were added, even though these were effectively double counted as already taken account of by other sectors. The AC also counted in economic benefits to non-UK residents of flights to or from the UK. The recent DfT document entitled “Further Review and Sensitivities Report – Airport Capacity in the South East” has had to look more carefully at the figures. It has removed some of the wild claims of benefits from trade, and has looked at the benefits just to UK passengers. Its figures show little difference in the alleged future economic benefit to the UK between Heathrow and Gatwick, and that these benefits are actually tiny. Even when measured over 60 years. The DfT document mentions a large number of the aspects they looked at as being of “low analytic assurance”, meaning very uncertain.
The new DfT figures give the total benefit (NPV) of a Heathrow north west runway being just £0.2 – £6.1 billion over 60 years, and the figure for Gatwick being £3.1 – £4.5 billion. The equivalent figures by the Airports Commission were £11.4 billion and £10.8 billion. So current estimates are all even lower than before.
The new DFT figures give the NPV for all the UK of the Heathrow north-west runway, excluding Wider Economic Impacts, are only from minus (yes, minus) – £1.8 billion, up to plus £2.3 billion, over 60 years. The NPV figure for a Gatwick 2nd runway would be plus £1.7 – £1.8 billion, over 60 years.
Average of 283 noise complaints to Heathrow per day so far this year, from around 4,280 people
Figures from Heathrow of the number of noise complaints received in the period 1st January 2016 to 24th October 2016 have been released. Heathrow does keep all complaints data. The figures show there were complaints made by a total of 4,282 people over the period, and a total of 87,201 noise complaints. The Telegraph reports that 1,209 people complained only once about plane noise during the period. The BBC reported that since the start of 2016, an average of 72 people complained every day. The total number of complaints received was an average of 283 per day. Much is made by the media of some people who make a very large number of noise complaints each. Heathrow confirmed that these were not computer generated. The highest number of complaints in a day was 673 on 8th June (with 235 people complaining), and 672 on 10th October 2016 (128 people). The lowest number of complaints was 91 on 1st August (87 people). Data sheets here. Many people give up complaining, as it is a futile process, and the airport does nothing about the problem. It takes time and energy to keep complaining. If people are upset by the plane noise, and make repeated complaints they are regarded as eccentric, odd, bored, neurotic, over-sensitive etc. But if there are no complaints, the airport says there is no problem – proved by the fact no-one contacted them. Catch 22. Or win-win for the airport.
ClientEarth wins air pollution case in High Court, that government action has been too slow
ClientEarth has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. In a damning indictment of ministers’ inaction on killer air pollution, Mr Justice Garnham agreed with ClientEarth that the Environment Secretary had failed to take measures that would bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible” and said that ministers knew that over optimistic pollution modelling was being used. In his ruling, the judge questioned Defra’s 5 year modelling, saying it was “inconsistent” with taking measures to improve pollution “as soon as possible.” Defra’s planned 2020 compliance for some cities, and 2025 for London, had been chosen because that was the date when ministers thought they’d face European Commission fines, not which they considered “as soon as possible.” The case is the second the government has lost on its failure to clean up air pollution in two years. In the judgment he handed down Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan failed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling or relevant EU Directives and said that the government had erred in law by fixing compliance dates based on over optimistic modelling of pollution levels. Future projections of compliance need to be based on real emissions, not discredited lab tests.
AEF: High Court win by ClientEarth on air pollution casts more doubt on the possibility of adding a Heathrow runway
The environmental law group, ClientEarth, has won its High Court case against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. The judge agreed that the UK government had failed to take measures that would bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible” and ministers knew over optimistic pollution modelling was being used. AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) says this failure by the government to get NO2 levels down discredits the air quality plan that formed the basis for the Government’s argument that a new runway at Heathrow would neither cause not exacerbate legal breaches in NO2 levels. Required to publish an updated plan for UK air quality, Defra produced one in December 2015. This brought forward the anticipated date of compliance to 2025 for London – just in time for the opening of a new runway according to the Airports Commission’s anticipated timeline. But the plans appeared to rely on new, more optimistic forecasts of emissions from diesel vehicles without presenting substantive policy proposals to actually deliver improvements. A new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would lead to higher levels of air pollution, and the new court ruling confirms that compliance should not be based on over optimistic modelling – and government needs instead to take action to cut pollution levels.
Friends of the Earth warn Chris Grayling that DfT process is pre-determining approval of Heathrow runway
Friends of the Earth (FoE) have sent a letter to Chris Grayling at the DfT, highlighting concerns over the way approval of a Heathrow runway is being done. The letter accused the government of ‘substantive procedural flaws’. It raises concerns that Heathrow had been named as the selected site for the major development without the decision undergoing the legal planning process. FoE the government decision ‘pre-empts the will of parliament’ and ‘predetermines the outcome of any planning application’. FoE’s Head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton, said that the PM had ‘announced the decision as if it was a done deal, but there are many MPs who recognise the devastating effect expanding Heathrow will have on our climate, who will want to vote against these proposals’. If FoE does not receive what it deems to be sufficient assurances over how the government came to its decision, it could be the basis of a legal challenge in the future. The letter says “the decision (as quoted) risks illegality in two respects, namely: a. pre-empts the will of Parliament (by assuming that a planning application will follow parliamentary consideration of the NPS – parliament may resolve the reject the NPS) and b. predetermines the outcome of any planning application submitted concerning the development of the third runway (since it states that “construction will follow” the determination of the application by yourself).”
Estate agents anticipate considerable falls in property values, in many areas, due to Heathrow 3rd runway
There is already speculation about how much house prices will fall in areas affected by aircraft noise, if there was a Heathrow 3rd runway. The founder of eMoov believes that property prices will be as much as 20% lower in areas such as affected parts of Hounslow, Kew, Windsor and Maidenhead, due to air pollution as well as noise. Another property business, dealing in buy-to-let mortgages, expects that flats and smaller houses will fare better as workers move to the area for work. “Any expansion of Heathrow would be good news for landlords who run their business in close proximity to the airport.” But he expected that having a plane overhead every few minutes would not help increase the price of mansions. The cut in price due to the 3rd runway could even create a pocket of almost affordable housing, if the average house price in Hounslow and Hillingdon fell to around £330,000, from around £407,000 now. Areas nearer the centre of London will also be affected, including Richmond, Westminster, and Hammersmith and Fulham, as the arrival flight paths would go straight over huge areas of west London. The effect on the economy? But one west London estate agent cautioned home owners being too concerned yet, or acting too fast, as the runway cannot be approved for at several years.
No confirmation by government that taxpayer won’t have to fund surface access transport for Heathrow 3rd runway
Transport for London calculated the costs of upgrading and improving surface access, to deal with the extra passengers using a 3 runway Heathrow could be up to about £18 billion, over several years. Heathrow has only offered to pay a total of £1.1 billion. Stephen Hammond, a former transport minister, (2012 – 14) asked Chris Grayling about the costs, as did other MPs. The responses were evasive. Stephen Hammond believes the transport work is likely to cost the taxpayer (= us) at least £5-10 billion, and the government is misinforming the public by announcing that: “Expansion costs will be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer.” Asked about the costs, Grayling replied that Heathrow …”will be held to a plan that: first, does not increase the current level of road transport to the airport; and, secondly, increases public transport access to the airport to 55% of those using it. Those will be obligations that it will have to fund. The Government’s financial advisers have said that that is viable and investible. There are question marks about what schemes are actually part of the surface access. Some of them we have to do anyway. For example, we are about to start improvements to the M4, which will benefit Heathrow and improve access, but they are not solely about Heathrow.” ie. no clarity at all, and sounds as if government realise Heathrow cannot even build the runway etc without raising landing charges, let alone all this work. So is not insisting on it …?
CAA writes to Heathrow setting out its expectations, including preventing airline cost rises
Andrew Haines, the CEO of the CAA, has written to John Holland-Kaye to tell him that airport charges should be kept down, despite the huge costs of the runway and terminal etc. The CAA is the body that controls Heathrow’s charges to airlines. Mr Haines said the CAA “expects to see constructive engagement between the airport and its airline customers to drive value for money and efficiency.” The CAA will soon publish (November) their proposals on how Heathrow can recover planning and construction costs. The letter to Heathrow says: “But a new runway project cannot simply be treated as ‘business as usual’ and it will require airport-airline engagement to be taken to a deeper and much more productive level by both sides.” And “You will have seen the Government’s aspiration that airport charges should remain close to current levels, indeed the Secretary of State was clear on this being a goal inches announcement.” And the CAA is keen to work with Heathrow, the airlines and other interested parties on the appropriate framework for the recovery of future construction costs, and their immediate priority is a clear timetable for this. There will also be a CAA consultation on key options for the economic regulation framework, to be published by the end of June 2017. There will also be a series of consultation documents through 2017 in which the CAA “will seek to build and expand on its regulatory principles.”
IAG’s Willie Walsh doubts current Heathrow management could build runway to budget
The chief executive of IAG, Heathrow’s biggest customer, has said he has no confidence in the airport’s management to deliver a new runway cost-effectively. Willie Walsh did not believe Heathrow would build the new runway within the cost constraints on charges to airlines, set out by their regulator, the CAA, under its current management with John Holland-Kaye. Perhaps they could with different management. Willie Walsh has said for years that he is not prepared to pay up-front higher charges, to help Heathrow pay for their runway during its construction. Heathrow has made the odd comment that it will “hold its charges steady on average over the period up to 2048” but that they may go up in some years and down in others. IAG has about half of Heathrow’s take-off and landing slots. The Financial Times believes IAG is likely, according to aviation insiders, to win only around a quarter of slots on the new runway – so it will face more competition. Heathrow’s charges are controlled by the CAA, which wrote to John Holland-Kaye on 25th October, confirming that the airport would not be allowed to raise its charges, and passengers should not have to pay more. The government’s aspiration is that charges should remain close to their current levels. Heathrow would have to to work with airlines and have “productive engagement” with them.
Heathrow 3rd runway: Harmondsworth residents link decision to Brexit
The Huffington Post interviewed people in Harmondsworth a few days after the news that the government intends to give approval for a Heathrow runway. That will mean around half of the village being destroyed, and all of Longford, with the new runway perimeter fence half way down the village. People gathered in the Five Bells Pub in Harmondsworth on 25th October, to watch the TV and get the news together. Some of the people interviewed were Roy Barwick, who has lived there all his life, and whose family has lived in the area for nearly six generations. He spoke of how the small landing strip beside fields his family worked grew to become the giant hub it is today. “My children, my grandchildren and myself occupy four houses in the villages and all of them are earmarked for demolition.“Losing one’s home is a trauma second only to bereavement. I’m not going anywhere. I shan’t leave.” Neil Keveren is a long-standing campaigner, to try to save his village. He believes that Brexit is being used to force the runway through, and it is opportunistic messaging. He spent money improving his home, when Cameron promised there would be no 3rd runway – and the irony is that as parts of Harmondsworth are a conservation area, he had to use specially approved materials. The runway fence will be just outside his property. For some, no amount of money can make up for the memories that may be lost under the tarmac of the new runway.
Truckers warn work for 3rd runway on M25 will cause serious problems, while Highways England expects “excessive customer frustration”
Stark warnings have been issued by the Road Hauliers Association (RHA) and Highways England that construction traffic for a Heathrow 3rd runway could bring everything to a complete standstill, for years. Highways England says: “There will be a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption, first while any Heathrow works are done and then while our works are completed within the wider area.” There will also be the problems from extensive changes to the local roads in Colnbrook and Poyle. RHA’s CEO Richard Burnett said: “We need to have clarity on the plans for the additional necessary road infrastructure during construction work. We also need to know the timescale of the proposed work. Although there will be considerable long-term benefits – increased cargo etc, the immediate impact on the adjacent motorway network – the M25, M4 and M3 will also be considerable”…. “The M25 in particular is already operating to maximum capacity – the addition of construction vehicles will only add to the burden.” A new Highways England document, Airports Commission Surface Access Works, was published by the DfT on 25th October. It makes no mention of the bridge idea.
Difficult to see how Heathrow could prevent rise in staff road trips to/from airport with 3rd runway
Heathrow has told the DfT that there would be no higher a number of car trips to and from the airport with a 3rd runway than now. But is that actually credible? Neither the DfT nor Heathrow produce easy-to-find figures, but they be located with a bit of digging. There are probably about 76,000 staff at the airport at present. The October 2014 Jacobs report done for the Airports Commission said: “Headline employee commuting mode share was assumed to be 43% public transport and 47% private vehicles (ie. about 35,700 came by car, and Jacobs states: “with the vast majority of those undertaken as single occupancy car trips.”) …” and of the 43% using public transport, about 35% used bus and 12% used rail. There are various estimates of how many on-airport staff there might be with a new runway. The Commission’s Carbon Traded Assessment of Need scenario anticipated the number of staff to be around 90,000, and their highest growth scenario anticipated about 115,000 staff. Heathrow said by 2030 trips by both staff and passengers to the airport will be 53% by public transport, and still 47% by car. Nowhere is there anything to indicate that below 47% of airport employees would get to and from work by car. With 90,000 staff at Heathrow, if 47% travelled by car that would be 42,300 people, (or if 43% came by car it would be 38,700). If there were 100,000 on-airport staff, and 47% came by car, that would be 47,000 people (and if 43% came by car, 43,000). Those numbers are higher than today. This is not including people travelling to newly increased numbers of jobs in the area.
Teddington Action Group commence judicial review proceedings against government re. Heathrow runway decision
Residents group, Teddington Action Group (TAG) has started judicial proceedings against the government, on its recommendation for a Heathrow runway. The Judicial Review process requires that a Letter of Claim is served on the interested parties, in accordance with “Pre-action Protocol”. This was sent on 27 October. Sir Howard Davies, Chair of the Airports Commission, steered it towards its conclusion to back Heathrow. One of the key claims in the 27 page TAG document relates to the “apparent bias” of Sir Howard, from his remunerated roles at GIC Private Ltd (GIC), one of Heathrow’s principal owners. TAG says from 2009, Sir Howard was a paid adviser to the Investment Strategy Committee of GIC (formerly known as the Singapore Government Investment Co.), advising them on “new growth opportunities”. From 2011, he was appointed to the International Advisory Board of GIC, a board on which he was still sitting on the day of his appointment as “independent” Chair of the AC. Sir Howard only resigned these remunerated roles with GIC, when his appointment to the role as unremunerated Chair of the AC had been confirmed by the government in 2012. At the time of his appointment to the AC, GIC owned 17.65% of Heathrow, was represented on Heathrow’s main Board (as it still is), and was pursuing their shared goal of Heathrow expansion. Sir Howard did not disclose his roles with GIC in the AC’s Register of Interests.
Draft timeline from the DfT of how they hope the Heathrow runway will proceed to completion
The DfT has put forward its anticipated timeline, of how it envisages the various stages progressing. This will start with a draft Airports National Policy Statement being published early in 2017 – followed by a consultation for 16 weeks. There will be a series of local and regional events around the country and in the vicinity of Heathrow. The NPS then goes to a Commons Select committee (which one is not yet known …) which scrutinises it and presumably gives MPs the opportunity to present evidence to the committee. The Select Committee makes its report to Parliament. The Government reviews all the responses to the consultation. It should revise the NPS according to the consultation responses. By now it is autumn 2017. By perhaps late autumn Government publishes final NPS in Parliament, with a subsequent debate, followed by a vote. [Probably goes to the Lords as well as the Commons?]. There could be legal challenges at various stages, which might hold things up. (This is not yet clear). If the NPS is voted through, it is then “designated” (ie. comes into force) by the Transport Secretary. That might be by the start of 2018. Once the NPS is agreed, then Heathrow can begin the formal process of seeking planning permission, which includes further consultation with local communities. The DfT has this down as perhaps 3 years, 2018 – 2021 or 2022. There will be a General Election by May 2020, perhaps in the middle of this. The DfT hope the runway would be operational by some time after 2025 or the late 2020s.
Ealing Council, that has avoided opposing Heathrow runway, wants £150 million to compensate residents
Last time round when there was nearly a 3rd Heathrow runway, in 2008- 2009, Ealing Council was part of the 2M group of councils opposing it. In the intervening years, there are only 4 councils really taking forward the opposition. Ealing has increasingly been seen as changing its stance, to luke-warm support for the runway. In July 2015, rather than restate its anti-runway stance the Labour group passed a motion “demanding answers” from the Conservative government on what it intended to do at Heathrow, if expansion is permitted. Its MP, Virendra Sharma, who had been against the runway, announced in August that he now supported it. Now the council leader (Labour) Julian Bell says he wants demanding £150 million, so Ealing can cope with the environmental impact of the runway at Heathrow. “”While we welcome the jobs and economic benefits of Heathrow, a 3rd runway will inevitably cause more noise, pollution and traffic that will damage the quality of life of local people. …Straight talking and tough negotiating is what is needed if this goes ahead and I will continue to demand Heathrow Airport provides the best compensation deal for the people of Ealing.” Slough Council got a deal with Heathrow early on in 2015, to try to get financial benefits from the airport, in exchange for not opposing it.
Berwin Leighton Paisner and Pinsents advise Heathrow on planning stages and process to get a 3rd runway
Pinsent Masons and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) have advised Heathrow Airport on the planning process up to the government’s decision on 25 October to approve a third runway, with more legal advisers likely to be appointed. Pinsents, which has a place on Heathrow’s panel, advised the airport on its plans. BLP confirmed it has also advised the airport’s in-house team. Meanwhile the government has appointed former senior president of tribunals Sir Jeremy Sullivan to oversee the process of the NPS on aviation, covering the Heathrow runway. In addition, there are likely to be several legal challenges to the decision, including a joint legal action already mounted by Greenpeace UK alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. Greenpeace UK and the councils are jointly instructing Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors, specialists in public, environmental and planning law and human rights. In 2010, the campaigners worked together to successfully overturn the Labour governments backing for a third runway in the High Court. Heathrow has a team of around 30 in-house lawyers and typically instructs Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for finance and corporate, Allen & Overy (A&O) on financing for lenders, Herbert Smith Freehills for litigation, Eversheds for employment and Berwin Leighton Paisner for planning.
New DfT report indicates number of local jobs from Heathrow 3rd runway about 37,700 by 2030 – not “up to 77,000”
The Airports Commission’s Final Report said the Heathrow NW runway would lead to an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [direct, indirect and induced jobs – ie. supply chain etc] in 2030 for local people. Indeed, Heathrow “astroturf” lobby group got membership partly on the strength of the jobs claims. But now, having looked at the details, the DfT has come up with much lower figures. While the statement on the DfT website on 25th October still says “up to 77,000” local jobs, its more considered assessment “review and sensitivities” document accepted these figures were exaggerated. Instead they now say, using a more accurate method, the number of local jobs might be 37,740 by 2030, not 77,000. By 2050, the DfT now estimate the number of jobs might be 39,100 – while the Commission expected 78,360. The DfT say the 2050 figure is the cumulative total, and cannot be added to the number of jobs created by 2030. The DfT “assessment and sensitivities” report states that it had “identified a number of uncertainties with the approach taken” to assessing jobs by the Commission, which used job multipliers from the airports. These “could lead to significantly different results”. The new DfT figures use Berkeley Hanover Consulting Ltd (BHC) and Optimal Economics Ltd survey data rather than airport assumptions to generate estimates of the indirect job multipliers, which are likely to be more robust.
Possible plan to put runway and taxiways on a bridge over M25 (not a tunnel) to save money
The Airports Commission (that cost almost £20 million) looked -in theory – at everything in great detail, and its (allegedly) incontrovertible recommendations have now been followed by government. It talked about the M25 needing to be tunnelled under the runway. It did not mention any sort of bridge. But Heathrow was asked by government to cut the cost of its scheme (in order not to raise costs to passengers, to keep demand for flights high) so it came up recently with the idea of a bridge over the motorway. There is a bridge for one of the runways (+ taxiways) at Schiphol, so it is possible. However, there are enormous questions, not the least of which being that nobody has seen any details (cost, practicality, level of disruption, safety, terrorism danger etc) let alone been consulted. The section of motorway that might be bridged is the busiest on the M25, one of the busiest (it might be the busiest) in Europe, and the busiest in the UK. DfT figures show around 263,000 vehicles per day on the Junction 14-15 stretch in 2014. The runway would need to be raised about 8 metres in order to get over the motorway. Heathrow has only said it would spend a total of £1.1 billion for surface access infrastructure. The cost of tunnelling was estimated by the Airports Commission at £3.2 billion. Chris Grayling said absolutely nothing in his announcement, or in Parliament, about how much of the TfL estimate of £18 bn for surface access work the taxpayer would have to fund.
Caroline Lucas: “The expansion of Heathrow is unforgivable – we will fight this decision”
Caroline Lucas, a long standing opponent of aviation expansion due to its carbon emissions, has expressed her anger at the government’s decision to back Heathrow. She says: “This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year – this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly.” … “the Government is ignoring the abundant evidence. .. For those of us who care about Britain’s role in combating climate change, and for people living in west London, today’s decision is a disaster.” … “We are living under a Government that says it wants to allow people to “take back control”, yet it is pressing ahead with a decision that will inflict more noise and pollution on a local community that’s already suffering…” … “average CO2 levels are now more than 400 parts per million. The effects of burning more and more dirty fossil fuels are well known…” … “Theresa May knows all of this of course and, at times, she appears to really care. Earlier this year she proudly told the House of Commons that the UK is the “second best country in the world for tackling climate change”. That’s why her decision back expansion at Heathrow is so unforgivable. ” … “today’s decision puts a wrecking ball through the UK’s climate change commitments.” … “we need practical proposals [like aa frequent-flyer levy] to keep aviation at levels that are compatible with fighting climate change, and which require no new runways.”
Standard: “Official: Heathrow Airport expansion threatens to worsen London’s air quality”
The Standard reports that according to the government’s own analysis, a 3rd runway at Heathrow threatens to worsen air quality in central London. The focus on whether a 3rd runway would worsen breaches of NO2 levels has been on the area around the airport. But a study (by Parsons Brinckerhoff) for the DfT highlighted that adding a runway risks increasing pollution in central London too. The impact would not be large, but it is more likely, in some scenarios, to push NO2 levels even closer to the legal limit or worsen breaches which may still be happening in 2025 due to traffic levels in central boroughs. This is because the wind is westerly for around 60 – 70% of the year in the south east. The new DfT study also raised doubts over whether another Heathrow runway could be opened in 2025 without breaching EU legal limits on NO2. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said that meeting air quality legal requirements is a condition of planning approval, but has no concrete proposals to indicate how this could be done. He hopes the 2015 Air Quality Plan by Defra, and new measures around Heathrow, would keep levels down. ClientEarth are currently embroiled in a Judicial Review against the Government on the plan, as it will not improve air quality fast enough (partly due to cost saving). The Defra study was before the truth the “dieselgate” scandal was fully appreciated, or new analysis showing NO2 from diesels is worse than had been thought.
John Sauven: The decision to back a 3rd Heathrow runway is a grotesque, cynical, folly
Writing in the Guardian, the Director of Greenpeace UK – John Sauven – explains why the government approval of a Heathrow runway is so cynical. The reality, which is well known by the government, and the “independent” Airports Commission, is that UK aviation carbon emissions are on target to far exceed the level at which they need to be, under the 2008 Climate Change Act. Adding an extra runway only exacerbates that problem. If the UK was half serious about its global obligations to cut CO2 (which it does not appear to be) the simplest solution would be not to build a new runway – which needlessly raises emissions. But instead, as the job of the Commission was to get a Heathrow runway to appear possible and desirable, they made some obscure assumptions (well hidden in endless supporting documents) which were not intended to be understood. Realising CO2 would be too high, they postulated a sky high price of carbon. That would mean the price of air tickets would rise dramatically, cutting exactly the extra demand the runway had been built to cater for. Otherwise, either the emissions of the regional airports would have to be cut, to let the monster Heathrow continue to expand – or else the UK just abandons any pretence of an aviation carbon target. Both are cynical, demonstrating the absence of any credible aviation carbon policy. It demonstrates that the government is at best half hearted on climate commitments.
Some of the innumerable comments and articles about the Heathrow runway decision
The government decision to give its backing to a 3rd Heathrow runway has been greeted by massive press coverage, and comments in their hundreds by commentators of all sorts. Below is just a small selection of some of the points that are of interest, taken as extracts from the coverage. There are some of the comments from a huge range of people and organisation. These include people in Harmondsworth, about the frightening prospect of having their homes compulsorily purchased, and being forced to move – to they know now where. And comments by Greenpeace, Client Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation and Friends of the Earth. And bits on the plan not to tunnel the M25, but build a bridge with a small hill for the runway, over the motorway. Also comments by Zac Goldsmith, on his resignation and imminent by-election; comments from Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, Tania Mathias, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Ruth Cadbury. And from Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Also from Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor Maidenhead councils, and WWF UK and Plane Stupid and Reclaim the Power. As well as some pro-runway comments by the CBI, and Willie Walsh, Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary. And a comment from Gatwick. With apologies for cutting short some of the comments, for the requirement of brevity ….
Simon Jenkins: Expanding Heathrow will be a monumental blight on west London
Another of Simon’s brilliantly written pieces. Just a few extracts: the runway decision is “…a result of that blight on modern government, lobbying. If anyone complains about public cynicism towards politics, just say Heathrow.” …”We should remember that 10 years ago Heathrow’s owners planned to shift their future expansion to Stansted because they expected no government would allow anything as polluting as more Heathrow.” … “Heathrow may be full. So are Paddington and Victoria stations, so are the M25 and M40, so are Barts and Guy’s hospitals. Supply does not have to answer demand. Price can take the pressure. We no longer “predict and provide” the supply of roads or houses or even hospitals.” …”London now faces two decades of controversial mega-project disruptions, for Heathrow, HS2 and Crossrail 2.” … “Suppose the proposed “year of consultation” yields an overwhelmingly hostile response, leading to furious public inquiries, Supreme Court hearings, civil rights claims and global warming protests? The smart money already is on this being, in reality, a do-nothing decision.” … “The one overwhelming case against it is that in the 21st century it should be inconceivable to send vast, noisy jets screaming over the heads of millions of people”. … “For passengers it is mostly a luxury service. Barely 20% of London air travel is for “business”, the rest being tourism and leisure, overwhelmingly for Britons going abroad. That does nothing for exports. ”
AEF damning assessment of Heathrow recommendation and its environmental impacts
The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) is the main group in the UK assessing UK aviation policy for its environment impacts, with several decades of expertise. They have had a first look at the government’s Heathrow decision, and are underwhelmed. Some of their comments: On CO2 the DfT says that keeping UK carbon emissions to within the 37.5 MtCO2 cap while adding a Heathrow runway effectively cannot be done. AEF says the DfT now has no commitment to the 37.5 MtCO2 cap, and just includes vague references to the ICAO global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management -though both measures are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling. On air pollution, the DfT says “a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” But AEF says Government appears to have little idea what those mitigation measures will be, and the deliverability of the plan has already, therefore, been questioned through the courts. And on noise AEF says the noise impact will depend heavily on the precise location of flight paths, which are unknown.
Government decides on new runway at Heathrow – with no certainty on air pollution, noise or CO2
The government has made its announcement that it backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow, using the north west option (not the extended northern runway). It has decided to entirely follow the recommendation of the Airports Commission, by backing one runway only. The statement from Chris Grayling is on the DfT website, with a list of supporting documents. The government glosses over details of how it could ensure the runway did not cause worse air pollution, or worse noise, or higher CO2 emissions. Neither the DfT statement, nor Chris Grayling’s contributions in the House, give any clarity or reassurances on most of the problems that a 3rd runway will create. There will be a consultation, starting in early 2017, on the National Policy Statement, which has to be agreed by both House of Parliament before Heathrow could go ahead with the planning stages for its runway. The government’s statements say things like: “Despite the increase in flights Heathrow Airport Ltd has made firm commitments to noise reduction. The government will propose that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights …” And “the government proposes new legally binding noise targets, encouraging the use of quieter planes, and a more reliable and predictable timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path.” And new work “confirms that a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place”….. ie. vague waffly aspirations, with zero practical details.
Environment Audit Cttee will be calling Ministers to give evidence on Heathrow runway environmental impacts
The Environment Audit Committee has announced (already) that, after the government’s announcement that it backs a Heathrow runway, it will be calling Ministers to scrutinise how environmental concerns are being mitigated. The EAC has scrutinised the Airports Commission in the past, on environmental problems of a Heathrow runway. The EAC wants assurances from the Government that a new runway will comply with key environmental conditions. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said it would be necessary to look at what the runway means for local residents, on air quality and noise standards and also on carbon emissions. She said: …”we need a clear plan to reduce emissions from aviation to meet our climate change targets. … The Government must ensure that current legal EU air pollution limits are retained after we leave, to protect the health and wellbeing of local people. We wait to hear what the airport’s plans are for covering the costs of local transport. … On noise we welcome Heathrow’s announcement that it will accept a ban on night flights. Ministers must ensure that local communities receive predictable respite from planes flying over their homes.” The EAC report, published in November 2015, called upon the Government and Heathrow to demonstrate how issues were to be dealt with. They are not persuaded by the replies.
BA scraps service to Chengdu, cited by airport expansionists as key, because not enough demand
Heathrow is keen on emphasising the importance of routes to countries like China, or the emerging markets. It likes to give the impression that there is huge pent up demand for these services, and if only Heathrow could be much bigger, there would be numerous flights to all these places. It is just the absence of a 3rd runway holding them back ….. But now the service by BA to Chengdu, about which Heathrow was very proud, is to be cut after just over three years, in January. There is just not enough demand to make it pay. It is not commercially viable, even with smaller planes. So nothing to do with a runway then. Chengdu was where British business would fly to and build trade links if only Heathrow was big enough, according to prominent backers of airport expansion. From September 2013 there were 5 return flights per week, but that was later trimmed down to fewer. BA’s 787 plane and Heathrow slot will be used to fly to New Orleans instead – spare slots are always used for the more lucrative leisure market destinations. The links to China were a key part of Heathrow’s submission to the Airports commission in November 2012. Heathrow led the Commission to believe in the need for such links. Time after time, when slots become available at Heathrow, they are used to add capacity on profitable North American or European routes.
Letter in the Guardian, from climate-aware organisations, on the disastrous impact of a new runway
In an open letter, a large number of environmental and climate-aware organisations have written about the disastrous impacts of allowing the expansion of the UK aviation sector by building a new runway. The letter says: “With the scrapping of vital decarbonisation policies and funding, the UK is already way off-track to meet our climate change commitments. The impacts of any new runway will be devastating to people’s lives and to the planet. … the biggest tragedy of the government’s failure is a global one. … The push for more runway space is not about demand from business – that has been dropping for over a decade. Nor is it about people taking one or two annual holidays. Growth is being driven by the frequent leisure flyers taking weekend breaks and shopping trips by plane. Half of the UK population don’t fly in any given year, yet all of us subsidise the holidays of the rich. The UK must not abandon our commitments under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act for the convenience of binge flyers. We will not allow our government to ignore the promises they have made to us and to the world.” There are also statements by Professor Kevin Anderson and Professor Alice Larkin, on how building a new runway is entirely incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate. Kevin described adding a runway as demonstrating “a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement.”
“If you think climate change activists like me will take the decision over airport expansion lying down, you’ve got another thing coming”
Leo Murray, who was one of the founders of the activist group, Plane Stupid, has written eloquently in the Independent, about the opposition – for climate change reasons – to a Heathrow 3rd runway. Leo himself took part in numerous actions, against aviation expansion because the UK government had no effective way of limiting the sector’s CO2 growth. Now he says, “Here we go again.” Heathrow expansion is back, “rising remorselessly like a zombie from the grave. …Why won’t it stay buried?” Heathrow and Gatwick have reportedly spent over £30m each on PR and lobbying, to conjure up an “airport capacity crisis” for London, for their own ends – making out that a new runway is in the national interest. To meet carbon targets, UK aviation cannot increase its CO2 to more than its 37.5MtCO2 cap. Leo says: “The solution is clear, but horrifies politicians: we will have to have policy to manage the growth in demand. There is simply no other way.” Government will have to grasp the nettle of demand management for air travel. In the meantime, people will just have to rise up once more against the green light – if that is given next week. “Heathrow is set to become a lightning rod for radical climate activists all over the country and the old networks from the former alliance are starting to light up again for the first time in years. Once more, dear friends, once more – but let’s make sure it’s really dead this time.”
Heathrow says it won’t raise landing charges while building 3rd runway – IAG not convinced that’s true
The main customer of Heathrow IAG, which owns British Airways, has been adamant that it will not pay exorbitant landing charges at Heathrow well before a new runway opens. Now in a last ditch attempt to win them over (and anticipating a decision by the government to back their 3rd runway) Heathrow is claiming it can keep landing charges down till the runway opens. Heathrow’ CEO John Holland-Kaye says: “Through the planning and build period, we can keep prices flat on average compared to today. …What that means is that there will be some years where they are going down, some where they are going up.” Whatever that means. IAG has feared that landing charges would rise from about £20 now to around £40 per flight. Heathrow already has some of the world’s most expensive landing charges. But Mr Holland-Kaye’s words did not impress IAG and the company said the average was calculated over a period stretching up to 30 years, and “Their figures cannot deliver their stated aim of making Heathrow and the UK competitive. ” Last week, Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways, urged Heathrow’s shareholders to finance the construction from their own funds, rather than by increasing charges to passengers and airlines. Heathrow’s 9 month financial statement showed increasing debt for the company, and a huge hole in the pension scheme.
Heathrow’s dividends to shareholders grow, but profits have plunged, pension deficit grows, and net debt grows
Heathrow has released financial figures for the first 9 months of 2016, to the end of September. They show a drop in profits compared to a year earlier. There is a pre-tax loss of £293 million, compared to a £552 million profit in the same period in 2015, due to various exceptional items. Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn. Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Heathrow’s pension fund dropped from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote etc. If this size of deficit continues, Heathrow will be required to put more money into its pension scheme. The Sunday Times recently said that Heathrow and Gatwick had each spent about £30 million on advertising and promoting their runway bids. The 9 month accounts show £13 million on “intangible assets” (probably advertising etc) this year, and £11 million in 2015. They also show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and Dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.
Cameron aide said government was “exposed on Heathrow” over air quality and “did not have the answers”
A memo sent by a Downing Street policy advisor, to David Cameron in September 2015 shows that the government were aware of the air pollution problem at Heathrow. The advisor, Camilla Cavendish, wrote that the air pollution plans by Liz Truss (then Environment Secretary) were inadequate and would not restrict the levels of NO2 around Heathrow. Camilla said: “There are three problems with Liz’s clean air plan as currently written. First it is still very much a draft which quotes initiatives that are likely to be abolished … Second it both over-claims and underwhelms. … It says we want the cleanest air in the world but does not even begin to tackle the fundamental question of how we might help people to shift away from diesel cars. Third, it leaves us exposed on Heathrow where we don’t yet have an answer on air quality.” Cameron said in December 2015 that the government would undertake more work on the Heathrow air pollution issue. Defra published its national air quality plan in December 2015 with no mention of Heathrow and has not said more on this publicly since. Cavendish, who is now a Conservative peer, has now said she believes “successive governments have failed the public on air quality. Too many people in Whitehall and parliament think they can play it down because it’s invisible.”
Possible timescale for consultations and processes needed for a new runway
If the government makes an announcement that it proposes to build a new runway at its preferred location, on Tuesday 25th October, that is merely the start of a process. And it could be a very long process, that may ultimately not end in a runway being built. Looking at the possible timescale, Patrick McLoughlin set out in evidence (Feb 2015) to the Transport Select Cttee, how he expected the timescale to work. This would all take probably at least two years, if there were not hold-ups at all, and no legal challenges. It is expected that the process could take at least four years in reality – getting past the next election (if that is in May 2020). The steps might be approximately: (1). A draft National Policy Statement published for consultation and laid in Parliament, at least 4 weeks after the announcement. (2). The consultation might be 4 months. (3). A Commons Select Cttee will examine the draft NPS and hold a 3 month public inquiry. (4). The Commons Select Cttee will then submit a report to the Secretary of State for Transport. (5). Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happen within 21 sitting days of the House. (6). There might be more changes needed to the NPS and another vote. (7). The developer submits a development consent order to the planning inspectorate. (8). Then a planning inquiry and examination for 6 months. (9). The planning inspector will report to the Sec of State within 3 months. (10). The Sec of State will consider the report and announce a decision in 3 months. And this is not counting legal challenges, at any stage.
Runway decision by Cabinet due 25th October, no Commons vote, and NPS consultation for new runway all next year
The Cabinet met today (18th October) and did not come to a formal agreement on backing a Heathrow runway. However it is widely believed to be the preferred option of Mrs May and most of the Cabinet. There will be another meeting of the Cabinet next Tuesday, and after that a statement will be made by Chris Grayling in the House of Commons, on which runway location is chosen. There will not be a vote in Parliament soon afterwards, as had been speculated. Instead – as had always been known – there will be consultation next year on the Airports National Policy Statement, which is needed before a development as large as a runway – a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project – can be applied for. The government hopes to have the Airports NPS completed, put to Parliament to vote on, and finally published (designated) by around the end of 2017 or early 2018 . She has written to all Cabinet Ministers laying out what they can, and cannot do, in terms of opposing the Cabinet runway decision. Ministers opposed to her decision have to ask her approval first to be permitted not to toe the line …. This is aimed especially at Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Mrs May says: “…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”
PM faces Tory problem if Zac Goldsmith stands as anti-Heathrow candidate in by-election (and beats a Conservative candidate)
The Standard reports that Theresa May faces an awkward problem, if she backs a 3rd Heathrow runway, if Zac Goldsmith resigns his Richmond Park seat and causes a by-election. Zac held a private meeting of the Conservative group at Richmond Park where he confirmed he is ready to run as an independent. The group also voted in a secret ballot to support Zac rather than an official Conservative candidate, if one stood for the seat. Also Twickenham MP, Tania Mathias, who is also fiercely against the runway, agreed to also support Zac, even though it is strictly against the party’s rules for an MP to back anyone standing against an official party candidate. For a Conservative not to stand, or to be beater significantly, would be very awkward for Mrs May. It it believed that the runway announcement will be made on Tuesday 25th October. At the Cabinet meeting on 18th October, ministers were allowed to discuss the runway issue for the first time — though critics of a 3rd Heathrow runway, such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, were only invited to comment and not to vote. The government is understood to plan a vote in Parliament (Commons, not Lords) within a week or so of the decision, to get the endorsement of MPs for the decision. Zac would probably resign after that. The Government is widely expected to approve a Heathrow runway, despite the obstacles.
Heathrow opponents take inspiration from 5 years of noise protests after 3rd Frankfurt runway
With a decision by government expected shortly, and the likelihood of a Heathrow runway being approved, 3 Heathrow campaigners went to join in one of the massive (almost) weekly demos at Frankfurt airport. Back in October 2011 a 3rd Frankfurt runway was opened. The local residents had not been informed just how much worse the plane noise they suffer would become, with new routes and alterations to old routes. About a million people in the area are affected. Since then they have held hundreds of protests, almost every Monday evening, against this reduction in their quality of life, the noise intrusion they suffer, and the drop in the prices of their homes. The Frankfurt area residents say they will never give up. The Heathrow campaigners said something very similar would happen to noise, with a 3rd Heathrow runway. Speaking to the crowd of many hundreds of protesters in the terminal, John Stewart said: “What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. We will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.” Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, said: “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath, I am pretty sure they are going to get the same sort of response at home.”
Greenpeace to join with 4 councils in legal challenge against Heathrow 3rd runway
Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a joint legal challenge against Heathrow expansion. More claimants could join the alliance in the coming days as media reports have suggested a final decision has now been delayed until 25th October. Greenpeace and the four local authorities say both Heathrow expansion schemes would be unlawful due to their unrivalled environmental impacts, which include exacerbating illegal levels of air pollution, increasing Europe’s worst aircraft noise footprint and stretching the local transport network beyond breaking point. The councils jointly instructed Harrison Grant Solicitors to prepare their legal strategy last year and Greenpeace will now share costs and bring new environmental expertise to the partnership. The campaigners also worked together back in 2010 to successfully overturn the Brown Government’s backing for a 3rd runway in the High Court. Later that year the scheme was emphatically ruled out by the incoming Cameron Government. Heathrow current expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. New evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.
Stansted will fight if Gatwick & Heathrow both get new runways – as they did not get opportunity to make their case
Amid rumours that the government might be intending to approve runway plans for both Heathrow and Gatwick, rather than just one or other, the owner of Stansted – Manchester Airports Group – says it would launch a legal challenge if that happened. They say the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, only fully examined the case for one new runway to be built before 2030. That is what its final report in July 2015 recommended. The Commission was aware that within CO2 constraints, it would be difficult to justify adding a 2nd runway. It said any case for a 2nd new runway would “need to be closely scrutinised in the light of climate-change policy”.However, it concluded two runways might be needed to if air travel demand by 2050 was to be met, and that could be assessed later on. Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said that MAP would have to legally challenge because other airports had not been given the opportunity to present their own cases for the second phase of UK airport expansion post-2030. If there were to be two new runways approved, there would need to be a whole new process before government could make that decision. That would also include the loser this time round (Heathrow or Gatwick). Stansted did not put forward a case for a new runway to the Commission in 2012-13, as its single runway was nowhere near full.
Richmond, Merton, Kingston & Croydon councils write to PM to stop Heathrow runway, and choose Gatwick
In addition to the four councils that will legally challenge the government if it decides on a Heathrow runway (Windsor & Maidenhead, Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth) now four councils have written to the Prime Minister to oppose a Heathrow runway decision. Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils, calling themselves the South London Partnership, made the case to Theresa May to approve a Gatwick runway instead. All these councils know the highly adverse impact of the noise of Heathrow flights on their residents, and would prefer that noise burden to be pushed to others (who do not have the opportunity to vote them out – as with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also backs a Gatwick runway. They also say: “One thing in particular on which we want to contribute is ensuring the transport links to Gatwick and connectivity more widely, including into our area, central London and with other key corridors, are developed to support the full potential of airport expansion.” Presumably they appreciate that the transport links to Gatwick are very poor, and would not be able to cope with a doubling in the number of air passengers. Conservative Richmond Council leader Lord True said the government should “stand up for ordinary families, rather than ‘big business’”.
British Airways CEO confirms his airline will not pay exorbitant Heathrow fees to build new runway scheme
Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, (which is part of IAG) said the airline would oppose any move by its main airport, Heathrow, to raise its charges if it gets permission to build a 3rd runway. Mr Cruz said that although there was an “overwhelming case” for expanding capacity at Heathrow, this should not be at such high cost, and “Any notion that the cost will be borne by airlines is not acceptable.” He said that though IAG (BA produced about 75% of IAG’s 2015 profit), would not leave Heathrow altogether if costs were too high, it would look at expanding operations elsewhere. IAG also has hubs in Dublin and Shannon for Aer Lingus, in Madrid for Iberia, and Barcelona for Vueling – so it has lots of possible options. IAG does not want to pay in advance for the future runway and terminal, the extravagant design of which it has described as “gold plated.” Alex Cruz, like IAG boss Willie Walsh, was critical of a 2nd Gatwick runway, saying there was “no business case” for it, and “There is simply not sufficient demand from either customers or airlines….Experience shows that the majority of long-haul airlines that start operations at Gatwick either quit and leave London altogether or go to Heathrow as soon as possible.” Mr Cruz said that Heathrow’s shareholders should bear the cost of building a 3rd runway from the start. “Heathrow’s investors do pretty well out of its monopoly hub status.”
Heathrow accused of not ensuring all cleaners are paid living wage – while paying huge dividends
Cleaners at Heathrow say that low pay is damaging their families’ lives. They have have complained to the airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye that they are not getting the London living wage, which was agreed as a condition by the Airports Commission, as part of plans for a 3rd runway. Heathrow had agreed to pay £9.40 per hour, (about £19,500 per year). But the airport workers say this is paid only to directly employed staff and not those working through agencies. They say low wages and long hours deny them “dignity” and the chance to spend time with their children. (John Holland-Kaye himself earned £2.06m in 2015, more than doubling his basic salary of £885,000. He stands to get a huge bonus if he can get consent for a 3rd runway). While directly employed staff are paid £9.40 per hour, those who are employed through contractors might only get £7.20. In October 2015 the FT reported that by the end of 2018, Heathrow aims to have about a third of its employees on salary packages that are about 30% lower than existing terms and conditions. It will also introduce an annual cap of 2% on future increases to pensionable pay for active members, resulting in a one-off reduction of £236m in the scheme’s liabilities. In January 2016 the Sunday Times reported that Heathrow had paid its owners dividends of £2.1 billion since 2012 – but just £24 million in Corporation Tax.
New Civil Engineer believes Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham set to get go ahead for runways
The NCE believes government will give the go ahead to new runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick – on 18th October. The NCE expects Heathrow would be allowed a runway immediately, and Gatwick could build a 2nd runway within the next 5 years. NCE also understands the government will urge Birmingham airport to plan a 2nd runway. The reason for this decision, other than the difficulties in making it, is ascribed to the forecasts of air passenger numbers being inaccurate. (Forecasts are, of course, usually inaccurate … and air passenger numbers depend on many variables, including oil price, and the strength of the £ and UK and global economy). The DfT produced very bullish passenger forecasts in 2007, which were way too high and knocked back by the recession. Lower forecasts were produced in 2011, and then lower again in 2013. The Airports Commission did its own forecasts, over a range of scenarios – and took account of the fact that aviation expansion would be constrained by the annual cap on CO2 emissions of 37.5 MtCO2. Because air passenger numbers have recovered to their pre-recession levels, it is believed by some that this rapid growth will continue and the forecasts are too low. The “predict and provide” scenario would require more runways. This sort of growth in UK aviation challenges our legally binding UK carbon targets under the Climate Change Act 2008. Details of the various forecasts on the link below.
UK and China renew bilateral deal so each could have 100 return flights (up from 40) per week
The DfT has renewed the bilateral aviation agreement with China, to allow more weekly flights between the two countries. Until now, the limit had been 40 flights by UK airlines to China per week, and 40 flights by Chinese airlines to the UK. This has been raised to 100 flights each. There will be no limit on the number of all-cargo services (but most Heathrow freight goes as belly hold, not separate freighter). Currently Chinese airlines operate 38 flights a week between the two countries, and UK airlines operate 29. (Not enough demand for the 40). The only UK airports that have flights to China are Heathrow and Manchester. The earlier deal was that any UK airline could serve a maximum of 6 separate airports in China. Now UK airlines can operate to anywhere in mainland China. Laying on the hype, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said the deal was a “big moment for the UK”. However, airlines will have to decide whether it makes sense to use the extra capacity to offer new Chinese flights to and from China, with doubtful demand, when transatlantic routes are more profitable. The hope is probably for more UK business and UK exports. The DfT ignores the problem that the UK imports from China more than twice as much as it exports to China. More flights may exacerbate that. House of Commons Library data says that: “In 2014, UK exports to China were worth £18.7 billion. Imports from China were £38.3 billion. The UK had a trade deficit of £19.6 billion with China.” Flights to and from Hong Kong are in a separate bilateral deal.
House of Commons Library on UK trade with China, and the trade deficit here
Teddington Action Group prepares for “first of many” judicial reviews of Government decision on Heathrow runway
Teddington Action Group (TAG) has re-stated its commitment to launch Judicial Review (JR) proceedings of a Government decision on airport expansion – should one of the two Heathrow options be chosen. TAG issued a pre-action letter of claim (the first step in the JR process) back in June 2015, on the eve of the Airports Commission’s recommendation for a new runway at Heathrow. Proceedings were then put on hold pending a Government decision on the 3 runway options. TAG has now re-confirmed its commitment to continue proceedings, with a key ground for its JR being the “apparent bias” of the Chair of the Airports Commission itself, Sir Howard Davies, due to his roles at GIC Private Ltd, owner of a 11.9% share in Heathrow Airport Holdings. In 2009, Sir Howard was appointed as an adviser to the Investment Strategy Committee of GIC Private Limited (formerly known as the Singapore Government Investment Co), advising them on “new growth opportunities”. In 2011 he was appointed to the International Advisory Board of GIC Private Ltd, a board on which he was still sitting on the day of his appointment as “independent” Chair of the Airports Commission. He never disclosed these roles in the Airports Commission’s Register of Interests. He then accepted the Chairmanship of RBS, Heathrow’s main banker, while still steering the Commission to its conclusion. This puts the Commission’s “independence” into question.
Heathrow manages to persuade SNP to back its runway, with hopes of 16,000 jobs (?)
Heathrow have received a boost after the Scottish government announced its backing for its runway plan, which it claimed would create up to 16,000 jobs across Scotland. Environmental campaigners and Green politicians decried the move as “a disaster for climate change”, and questioned whether the promised jobs would ever in fact materialise. The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, believes there would be more benefits for Scotland from a Heathrow runway than a Gatwick one. A series of commitments, including on jobs, investigating the use of Glasgow Prestwick airport as a potential site for a logistics hub for building the 3rd runway, and a reduction of £10 per passenger on landing charges paid by airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland, are apparently included in a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Heathrow airport and the SNP government on Monday 10th. Opponents are surprised by this move, as GIP owns both Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, and the SNP are behind the growth of Edinburgh airport. What Scotland wants is more of direct international air routes, not necessarily routes via Heathrow, for business and for cargo (imports and exports). More flights will mean more money taken out of Scotland on leisure trips – something airport expansion advocates always ignore. The current Scottish tourism deficit is already around £1.5 billion per year.
The truth about economic benefits of Heathrow expansion – new detailed analysis from FoE
A new briefing on the economics of a 3rd Heathrow runway makes interesting reading. MPs, councils, Chambers of Commerce and others have been subject to a barrage of propaganda from Heathrow, urging them to support a new runway, for massive economic benefits. But the actual evidence – instead of hype, sound bites and corporate propaganda – shows there is virtually no economic benefit for the country. Furthermore, the regions lose out to the south east. The most important single table from the Airports Commission’s final report shows a total benefit, to all of the UK over 60 years, of just £1.4 billion – in the carbon capped scenario (£11.4 billion in the carbon traded scenario). Compare this to the figure of £211 billion that Heathrow is using is its PR. The Commission also showed that without a third runway at Heathrow, growth in necessary air traffic goes to other airports where there is lots of spare capacity. With a Heathrow runway, the flights at regional airports will end up being substantially reduced. It is very hard to see how losing traffic and destinations from regional airports to Heathrow is good for the economy of the regions. In addition, Heathrow is only prepared to contribute £1.1 billion to surface access infrastructure, leaving the taxpayer to fund as much as £17 billion.
Theresa May at odds with her Maidenhead council and local Tory party chairman over Heathrow
The Chairman of Theresa May’s local Maidenhead Conservative Association is part of a group threatening to sue her government if it approves the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Cllr Geoffrey Hill sits on a council warning it will launch legal action within days if Heathrow expansion is backed. Senior Windsor & Maidenhead council figures believe increasing capacity at Heathrow would blight their residents with even more noise and pollution -and are determined to stop the project. Theresa May is widely expected to back Heathrow over Gatwick when she makes a decision on airport expansion – perhaps on Tuesday 18th October (or 11th?). The Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead, which she has represented since 1997, is badly overflown by Heathrow planes. Mrs May voiced her concerns about a 3rd runway before the 2010 election but has since made little public comment on the development. (See her comments from 2010 and 2009 below). Windsor and Maidenhead council is one of 4 local authorities threatening to challenge any decision to build a Heathrow runway through the courts. Simon Dudley, the Tory leader of the council, said their judicial review could see the case in the courts for years, delaying or preventing the runway’s construction. The council has put aside £30,000 to fight the legal battle. Maidenhead councillors campaigned on opposing an extension of Heathrow locally before the 2015 election.
Boris and Justine may be “unavoidably away” to avoid embarrassment on Cabinet runway vote
The Observer expects that the meeting of the runway sub-committee of the Cabinet will be on Monday 17th October, with the Cabinet decision on 18th – and the announcement in Parliament. But that may still be speculation …. The Observer also says that to avoid “embarrassment” to Boris Johnson and Justine Greening (fierce opponents of a Heathrow 3rd runway), it is likely they would both be “unavoidably away” when the Commons votes on the issue. They would therefore not have the awkward situation of being in Cabinet ….“Boris can easily be arranged to be on tour and Justine could be researching grammar schools in Malawi, or some such,” said a government source … (is this ethical or democratic?) Though it is likely there would be a free vote in Parliament, to endorse the Cabinet decision on a runway location, the Cabinet would probably be required to support of the government’s position. Boris will not resign if there is a vote for a 3rd runway, but may believe even if approved by Theresa May, the runway may never in reality go ahead. Journalists appear to believe, or have been told by Whitehall sources, that Heathrow is the preferred location. Zac Goldsmith has warned that taxpayers could end up paying for Heathrow’s expansion, as the airport has significant debts and could be forced to turn to the government for financial support.
New research on Heathrow meeting air pollution standards with 3rd runway is highly speculative and not convincing (did not look at future traffic growth, or how much is Heathrow-related, or increase in lorries for freight …)
The BBC published a story about work, funded by NERC and led by a Cambridge professor, on Heathrow air pollution levels. The work is ongoing and not yet published, but the BBC made the claim that it showed a Heathrow 3rd runway would not breach NO2 levels. The timing of the story by the BBC, one or two weeks before it is expected the Cabinet will make an announcement, may be due to Heathrow manipulation. The study in reality is looking at modelling of future air pollution, based on a range of assumptions – nothing new. Its projections are only as good as its modelling inputs. If assumptions that vehicles will rapidly convert to lower-NO2 engines, or the uptake of electric vehicles will be fast, then forecasts of NO2 can be low. But this is highly speculative. Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the AEF, said: “The assumption would have to be that, over the next decade, we’d move from having something like 57% of London’s vehicles being diesel vehicles to instead having ultra-clean electric vehicles throughout the capital. There just isn’t evidence to suggest that’s going to happen.” Client Earth’s CEO James Thornton said: “When making the decision on Heathrow the government has a moral and legal duty to protect people’s health and ensure they have the right to breathe clean air. It shouldn’t base its decision on optimistic modelling at best and a naive view of the car industry that has proven time and time again it can’t be trusted to bring levels of air pollution down.
Academic research funded by NERC looking at better scientific data on Heathrow area NO2 pollution (BBC wrongly said this implied a 3rd runway would not breach pollution limits – a story not justified by the research so far not even peer reviewed, or published
The NERC (National Environment Research Centre) has funded independent research by a group of university academics into the NO2 air pollution. Heathrow has not paid for it. They have been using a larger number of pollution sensors, in different places, to contribute scientific data on levels of air pollution. They hope to be able to distinguish between NO2 from Heathrow itself, and from road traffic or that blown in from elsewhere. At several sites, the levels of NO2 are already above EU limits (40 µg/m3 over a year). The aim of the research is to test models to ensure they accord with reality. Past work done for the Airports Commission relied on estimates, whereas this latest work used more accurate, real-world measurements. The research is ongoing and there is no report yet, but it is likely that in a month or so the findings will be submitted to one or other journal, for peer review before publication. The study is on NO2 and has not looked at particulates in the same detail. One of the authors said the study does not say anything new – it is merely looking at the situation in an independent, purely scientific way, rather than (as has been done in the past) just extrapolating and predicting by modelling. The existence of the work, is being interpreted by others to mean that air pollution from road vehicles will reduce (less NO2 from new diesels, and there will be more electric vehicles) in future, so a 3rd Heathrow runway might not lead to illegal NO2 levels. The authors say they have just done research – interpretation is for others.
IAG Cargo plans a new London premium temperature-controlled freight facility, double the size of the present one
IAG Cargo (which contains 4 airlines) is to build a new £55 million temperature controlled freight facility at Heathrow, to help it grow a “higher yielding” part of its business. IAG Cargo hopes this will be completed in 2018 and that the new building will be twice the size of the current IAG Cargo Premia facility (at about 8,500 square metres). The temperature controlled facility will be for expensive “premier” airfreight, for goods like perishable seafood – making more profit than many other sorts of cargo. IAG Cargo has not been doing well for the past two quarters, with commercial revenue down compared to a year earlier – down by 12% for Q2 2016 and down -1.8% in Q1. Some of the capacity will be for exports, but it is likely that the volume of imports will be larger (though Heathrow and the freight industry never draw attention to this publicly – just talking about exports). IAG Cargo say there is an expansion in demand from China, with the newly affluent middle classes wanting more sea food. They say razor clams and salmon from Scotland and Ireland are profitable exports. Apparently about 400 tonnes of Scottish razor clams were air freighted by IAG to China. [It is questionable how environmentally sustainable it is to grow these sea foods in the UK, to ship almost half way around the world – in biological terms as well as carbon]. IAG Cargo also handles fresh fruit and vegetables that are increasingly air freighted – as imports to the UK. More air freight mean more heavy lorries and vans, powered by diesel, around Heathrow.
Zac Goldsmith likely to quit politics, rather than stand again as Richmond MP, if May approves Heathrow runway
The Evening Standard reports that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, has said he would resign as an MP if Theresa May decides to approve a Heathrow 3rd runway. He has said for a long time that he would resign, and perhaps stand again as an independent. Zac’s constituency is heavily over-flown by Heathrow, and with a 3rd runway, people would lose a large part of the time they currently have “respite” from the noise, due to the current runway alternation. Heathrow has admitted that people would probably only get perhaps 4 hours per day without planes, rather than about 8 hours at present. But now Zac is understood to feel it would be wasting his constituents’ time to stand again at a by-election, and he would instead step down. His current majority is 23,000 (with about 43,000 votes out of around 58,000). The Liberal Democrats have held the seat in the past. The departure of Zac could be a worry for Theresa May as the Conservative party’s working majority is only 16. (The Conservatives have 329 MPs, out of 650). They cannot comfortably afford to lose any. Though Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are both deeply opposed to the runway, they have both said they would not resign, and give up their Cabinet positions, on the issue.
ASA uphold Teddington Action Group’s complaint about 4th misleading Heathrow advert
The Teddington Action Group complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) back in July about misleading information put out by Heathrow, implying that “A majority of MPs support expansion”. Heathrow got a Comres poll done, of 150 MPs, and said that of these 65% supported a 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow then generalised this result to claim the same support across all 650 MPs. The ASA has upheld TAG’s complaint against the Heathrow claim “A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion” was misleading as it was based on a survey of only 150 MPs and the geographical make-up of the MPs surveyed meant a bias in the result; and The advert did not provide sufficient clarity on where the claim that “Expanding Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn of economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across Britain” was sourced. The only evidence for the claims in the ads is a link to the Airports Commission, in tiny print – and no indication of the caveats on those figures – or that the economic benefits are over 60 years). The ASA agreed the advert had breached the Advertising Codes. To avoid negative publicity, Heathrow agreed to make the required changes to the advert and the case was informally resolved by the ASA. This is the fourth such ruling in 18 months against adverts claiming support for Heathrow expansion.
Zac Goldsmith likely to quit politics, rather than stand again as Richmond MP, if May approves Heathrow runway
The Evening Standard reports that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, has said he would resign as an MP if Theresa May decides to approve a Heathrow 3rd runway. He has said for a long time that he would resign, and perhaps stand again as an independent. Zac’s constituency is heavily over-flown by Heathrow, and with a 3rd runway, people would lose a large part of the time they currently have “respite” from the noise, due to the current runway alternation. Heathrow has admitted that people would probably only get perhaps 4 hours per day without planes, rather than about 8 hours at present. But now Zac is understood to feel it would be wasting his constituents’ time to stand again at a by-election, and he would instead step down. His current majority is 23,000 (with about 43,000 votes out of around 58,000). The Liberal Democrats have held the seat in the past. The departure of Zac could be a worry for Theresa May as the Conservative party’s working majority is only 16. (The Conservatives have 329 MPs, out of 650). They cannot comfortably afford to lose any. Though Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are both deeply opposed to the runway, they have both said they would not resign, and give up their Cabinet positions, on the issue.
Reclaim the Power #staygrounded die-in flashmob at Heathrow against runway, and Critical Mass cycle ride
Two spectacular “Stay Grounded” protests took place at Heathrow, against a possible third runway. Both were organised by Reclaim the Power, which is a grassroots organisation taking action with local communities on environmental, economic and social justice issues. The protests at Heathrow were against aviation expansion, partly due to its carbon emissions and also local air pollution, and to highlight the social injustice of climate change impacts around the world. Hundreds of activists staged a “die-in” flashmob in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, and there was a Critical Mass bike ride of about 150 risers wearing red, which circled the area, visiting Harmondsworth Detention Centre and Longford village, and briefly obstructing traffic by circling the main roundabout on Bath Road. The “die-in” involved over 100 people, many of whom wore masks to symbolise the pollution from aviation. Testimonies from communities already affected by climate change were read out, including from Pacific islands that are suffering from sea level rise. Street theatre at the protest showed high income frequent fliers, checking in and drinking champagne (being critical of the “irresponsible” environmental protesters ….) There was also a flashmob action at Gatwick, and others as part of a global wave of actions opposing airport expansion (including Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey), timed to coincide with the major ICAO conference aiming to address the emissions impact of aviation.
Heathrow more likely to get MPs’ backing as Jeremy Corbyn suggests Labour MPs could have free, unwhipped, vote
Jeremy Corbyn has suggested it would not be easy to whip Labour MPs to vote against a 3rd runway at Heathrow, despite his personal opposition to it, largely on environmental grounds. He has not yet decided whether to hold a free vote, but it could be difficult to get his MPs to agree that the runway and expansion would cause harmful air pollution and noise impacts. A vote in favour of Heathrow expansion is more likely to go through if Labour MPs are allowed to vote with their conscience. This matters as the Conservative majority is small, and there are dozens of Conservatives MPs who are against it. The decision on whether to build a runway, and if so, at Heathrow or Gatwick, is set to be put to a free vote of Conservative MPs in the coming weeks, to allow Cabinet ministers to vote against Heathrow, without having to resign – avoiding the need for collective responsibility. Mr Corbyn told The Guardian that there was a “huge debate in the party about it” and that his shadow cabinet would have to “have a discussion and debate” to work out a way forward. He said, of his rebellious MPs: “What I’ve discovered is whipping Labour when Labour doesn’t want to be whipped is not an easy thing to do.” Heathrow has worked hard to persuade MPs in the regions that its new runway would mean more domestic flights and more economic prosperity for them – however uncertain that is in reality. MPs whose constituencies are not affected across the country hope for local benefits.
FT reports Tories feel they have enough backing in Parliament to push through Heathrow runway
The Financial Times says the Conservative Party Chairman, Patrick McLoughlin, has done a vote assessment, and found that there would be enough support in Parliament for a Heathrow 3rd runway. It is considered possible that the Cabinet’s runway sub-committee -chaired by Theresa May – will come to a runway location decision on the 11th or the 18th October. The Cabinet would need to agree to the decision by the sub-Committee, and it would then be announced in Parliament, by Chris Grayling. There could be a Parliamentary vote soon afterwards, perhaps only be a week later. The government would not want to risk a vote on this, unless they knew they would get a majority. The FT understands that Heathrow would easily win enough votes, but there is not enough backing for a Gatwick runway. Though there is massive opposition to a Heathrow runway due to its widespread and seriously negative impacts, and therefore it is likely Theresa May would allow a free vote. It is not clear the Labour leadership would try to whip hostile MPs on the runway issue, at a time of wider party disunity, though Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are against the Heathrow runway. The FT reports that one insider cautioned it is “not a foregone conclusion” that Mrs May will back the Heathrow runway — or even that there would be a vote. An aviation executive said the prime minister “is like a sphinx on this”. ie. inscrutable.
Heathrow proposals for pre-runway flight increase, to try and win Government backing for runway
Heathrow will be putting forward some proposals at the Conservative party conference, to be allowed to start increasing the annual number of flights from 2021 by 25,000 per year (about 68 more per day). “New technology and better use of existing runways will achieve this.” (ie. largely loss of runway alternation part of the day, and narrow flight paths?). Heathrow is selling this as a way to start to give a quick “Brexit boost”, even before its hoped for 3rd runway is operational. Heathrow is claiming that the “environmental constraints” will all be met (it is unclear how this will be done) with no more noise problems, no more air pollution problems etc. All that is proposed is more money for home noise insulation, (£60 million – it has already said it will spend £700 million) and a congestion charge – no details – for vehicles travelling to and from Heathrow. The plans will be subject to consultation and Government approval. There is a mention of talks with government in future to perhaps delay the start of scheduled flights to 5.30am from the current 4.30am. The main thrust of Heathrow’s plans is to say the extra flights will be vital for the economy, with slots set aside for domestic flights. There would be a £10 domestic passenger discount to support “small and large exporters, boosting competition.” There are claims of 5,000 more local jobs over 5 years by this pre-runway expansion, and extensive economic benefits for all the UK …. £1.5 billion in the period 2021 – 2015.
Heathrow rushes out scheme for increased number of flights BEFORE 3rd runway built – HACAN reaction
Heathrow under pressure from Government to deliver expansion as quickly as possible post-Brexit, has released details of a scheme to increase capacity in advance of a 3rd runway. It will be officially launched at the start of the Conservative Party Conference (2-5 October). Amongst Heathrow’s key proposals are – by 2021: – Increasing the number of flights on the existing runways by up to 25,000 a year. – Increasing passenger numbers by 4 million. – Introducing a night flight ban from 11pm to 5.30am. – Putting more money into noise insulation schemes. – Introducing a possible congestion charging scheme around the airport to manage traffic levels and pay for future rail improvements. The extra 25,000 flights per year, starting well before the 3rd runway is open, would require Heathrow to seek planning permission to exceed the current 480,000 cap on flight numbers (imposed as a condition of Terminal Five being allowed, in March 1999). Heathrow expects to have the measures in place by 2021 if it gets permission for a 3rd runway. Residents have regarded this cap of 480,000 flights as sacrosanct, and vital, for the levels of noise around west London. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said this offering by Heathrow has been rushed out to try to address government’s problems with Brexit. Heathrow knows its scheme is more expensive, and would take more time to complete, than the Gatwick runway or the Heathrow Hub scheme.
Anti-Corbyn Labour backbenchers plan party vote – to back Heathrow runway
The Parliamentary Labour Party has various committees, one of which is on Transport. This is chaired by the young MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker. The membership of this backbench committee does not appear to be publicly available. There is nothing online about the committee or its work. Mr Shuker says his committee has now produced (or is about to produce) a report that proposes Labour should back a Heathrow runway. They plan to present this report to a meeting of Labour MPs and peers, when Parliament returns after the party conferences. Mr Shuker has been critical of Jeremy Corbyn for the past year or more, and he now wants to get the Labour party to reverse his opposition to a Heathrow runway by getting a vote on the issue within the party. Gavin Shuker said the vote could be the day after the Labour meeting. As well as Jeremy Corbyn, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, is deeply opposed to a Heathrow runway as his constituency would be badly affected by it. Mr Shuker wants the party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn on a number of policy issues. Heathrow is just one of many, and is a symptom of party disunity. On the same day, it was revealed that the Heathrow-funded and sponsored group, Back Heathrow, had asked for John McDonnell’s constituency boundary to be redrawn, to exclude Heathrow – to help their case. Amazing.
Heathrow investors snub Chris Grayling’s request for their funding of Heathrow Hub scheme
Some of Heathrow’s leading shareholders have snubbed a request from the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to back the Heathrow Hub scheme, that involves adding another runway at the western end of the northern runway. Sky News understands that big investors in FGP Topco, Heathrow’s parent company, are refusing to give a written commitment to funding the rival scheme. Heathrow argues that it has not done sufficient due diligence to justify giving its backing to Heathrow Hub. Mr Grayling made the request at a meeting with the two runway promoters last month, since when further talks have been held between executives at Heathrow and Heathrow Hub. While it is understood John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, would accept the Hub plan if he cannot get his north-west runway, the airport’s leading shareholders are refusing to back it. They believe future financial returns would be lower with the Hub scheme than the NW runway scheme. Sky News has been told that Mr Holland-Kaye had been told by his shareholders that acknowledging any support for the Hub scheme would be a tactical error, at a time they believe is so close to an announcement by the Government. Both Heathrow schemes have offered cut-price versions of their proposals in a bid to convince ministers of their merits. FGP Topco’s shareholders are Ferrovial (25% stake), and sovereign wealth and pension funds from Australia, Canada, China, Qatar and Singapore.
Heathrow Hub says, to match Heathrow’s offer, it would cut price of its runway scheme by £2 billion
The backers of the Heathrow Hub scheme, to lengthen Heathrow’s northern runway towards the west, have now said they could cut the price of their scheme by £2 million. This offer comes just days after Heathrow’s Chairman, Lord Deighton, said their north west runway scheme could be cut by up to £3 billion. The Heathrow north-west runway scheme is expected to cost £17.5 billion (or £14.5 billion with the cheaper scheme) – and the Heathrow Hub scheme is expected to cost £12 billion according to their website (or £10 billion with the cheaper scheme). But Heathrow Hub are now telling the press that their scheme could cost £7.5 million. Their Factsheet of November 2014 said the cost of the runway itself would be £9.2 billion, with £2.8 billion for surface access improvements. In November 2013 they anticipated the cost of diverting the M25 for the runway would be £0.7 billion. Heathrow Hub also proudly say there would be no cost to the public. In reality, Transport for London said (February 2015) of a larger Heathrow, not differentiating between the two schemes: “Our assessment estimated that in order for a fully developed Heathrow (149 mppa) to achieve all of the above surface access objectives in the long term (2040-50), costs would be around £15-20 billion*. The Heathrow Hub scheme is privately funded, and hopes to license its scheme to Heathrow airport for up to £5m a year for 20 years, if successful.
John Redwood, MP for Wokingham, says Theresa May should drop Heathrow plan
John Redwood, the Conservative MP for Wokingham about 25 km west of Heathrow and under some of its flight paths, has said that the government should drop the three very huge projects they inherited from Gordon Brown and David Cameron. ie. Hinkley, HS2 and Heathrow. Each is expensive, highly contentious, and has been much delayed by indecision, argument and opposition. John Redwood was Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation, from May 2005 to December 2005, and Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, from June 1999 to February 2000. He believes all 3Hs should be scrapped, and there are many other good local projects that should be paid for instead. “I’m all for spending on better trains, power stations and airports, but I don’t want to throw too much money at projects that are so mired in rows and costs.” On Heathrow noise he says: “Unfortunately Heathrow has recently with NATS changed the routes and noise corridors, annoying many more residential areas near it. There was no proper consultation. When you want to expand you need to do better at showing you are a good and considerate neighbour.” …”More capacity can be provided through Northolt, Gatwick and other London area airports. Smaller quicker schemes could alleviate the pressures.”
Treasury Select Committee Chairman, Åndrew Tyrie, writes to Chris Grayling and Philip Hammond to question economic benefits of runway
Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Committee, wrote to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, on 14th September, questioning the economic case for HS2 and airport expansion. Andrew Tyrie says in his letter: “The economic case to support the conclusions of the Davies report lacks crucial information.” On 27th November 2015, he tabled 15 parliamentary questions on details of the economic justification [all copied on link below]. These have yet to be answered 10 months later (they just had a standard holding reply from Robert Goodwill). Andrew Tyrie says: “For the fifth time I am attaching these questions. Failure to answer them will lead people either to conclude that this work has not been done – in which case it would be unacceptable for a decision to be made without the evidence to support it – or that it has been done, and gives answers that do not necessarily support the conclusions of the Davies report. I do not suggest that either of these are the case. The best way to answer these concerns is to public the information immediately. As we discussed, I have written in similar terms to the Chancellor.” “Without this information, the evidence in support of any decision that the Government takes on airport capacity will be incomplete.” His Parliamentary Questions focus, in particular, on Table 7.1 in the Airport Commission’s Final Report, of July 2015. (Table copied above). Mr Tyrie spoke to Chris Grayling on 15 August 2016.
Tania Mathias MP calls for Grayling to step in over proposed £3 billion cuts to Heathrow plan – re-consultation necessary?
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been asked by Dr Tania Mathias MP to intervene on Heathrow’s £3 billion cost-cutting proposals it announced last week. In order to cut costs, and perhaps get a runway built faster, Heathrow’s Chairman Lord Deighton suggested that changes to plans would be made – though nothing has been put forward yet, but they might be in the next weeks. The cuts would mean scrapping plans to (expensively) tunnel the 14 lane M25 under the runway, and a transit rail system around the airport. Conservative MP Tania Mathias, whose Twickenham constituency is under Heathrow flight paths, said the new plan had caused local people “considerable anxiety.” She has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, asking him to demand the plan goes back out to public consultation and scrutiny by the Airports Commission (though that has been disbanded). Dr Mathias also wants Chris Grayling to make public any official talks on the late changes, between the airport and government departments. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith also wrote to Lord Deighton that the revised plan would cause Londoners “more environmental misery”. The changes to the roads are not clear, and cutting cost could lead to gridlock on the busiest stretch of the M25. The DfT just said the Government “will continue to consider the commission’s evidence.”
Times reveals, from leaked document, members of Cabinet sub-committee on runway issue
The Times says it has seen a leaked document showing the membership of the Cabinet sub-committee, the “Economy and Industrial Strategy (Airports)” sub-committee, that would make a decision on a runway. The list omits Ministers most critical of Heathrow’s expansion, Boris Johnson, (Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, Education Secretary). But Sajid Javid (Communities Secretary), who is a Heathrow supporter, keeps his place on the sub-committee, as does Patrick McLoughlin, (Conservative Party Chairman) – who as Transport Secretary was a strong supporter of Heathrow. Theresa May herself will chair the sub-committee, (David Cameron chaired it previously). Other Ministers on the sub-committee are Philip Hammond, (Chancellor), Greg Clark, (Business and Energy Secretary), Andrea Leadsom, (Environment Secretary), David Mundell, (Scottish Secretary), and the chief whip Gavin Williamson. [The previous members were: David Cameron, George Osborne, Sajid Javid, Patrick McLoughlin, Liz Truss, David Mundell, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, Oliver Letwin and Mark Harper.] It is not known if there will be a free vote on the issue, suspending the normal Cabinet “collective responsibility” as was suggested last week, to overcome the problem of so much opposition to Heathrow. The Times believes that the announcement might be on Tuesday18th October.
Possibly resignation of Zac Goldsmith at Richmond MP over Heathrow threatens May’s slender majority
Theresa May’s slender Commons majority risks being cut even further if she backs a third runway at Heathrow, because Zac Goldsmith may resign the Tory whip and fight a by-election as an independent in his Richmond Park seat. Zac has said in the past that he might resign if the government favoured a Heathrow runway, as the airport has highly negative noise impacts on his constituency. Zac has a majority of more than 23,000, but he voted for Leave in the EU Referendum. His popularity could be reduced by a Brexit backlash or if the Tory vote splits. While Zac’s views on Heathrow expansion are in tune with many voters in his seat, almost 70% of people who voted in Richmond upon Thames on June 23 backed Remain. The Lib-Dems – who held the seat before Zac – said they would put Brexit at the centre of any by-election contest in the constituency. Brexit and Heathrow are two of the most important issues in Richmond. Mr Goldsmith is understood not to have made up his mind yet whether to stand as the Tory contender, an independent or quit Parliament. Mrs May has a Commons majority of twelve.
Steelworkers and their MPs press for Heathrow expansion, to save steel industry jobs
Heathrow has had a new report done by a consultancy called QUOD, on the amount of steel that would be needed for its new runway and terminals – and the number of jobs this might create directly and indirectly, for the steel industry. Heathrow says they would be using 370,000 tonnes of steel ( this would not be the smaller scheme now in prospect, to cut costs, but the original). There are hopes that this might generate around 400 direct steel jobs – if Heathrow used only UK steel – over 2 – 3 years. There might be another 300 indirect jobs – making a total of 700 jobs. This would be some time around 2021 to 2026. The 370,000 tonnes of steel would be the equivalent of nearly 10% of UK steel produced for domestic use in 2015. Seven Labour MPs (Kevin Barron, Tom Blenkinsop, Sarah Champion, Kevan Jones, Jonathan Reynolds, Angela Smith and Anna Turley) representing steel communities (such as Scunthorpe, and Teesside) across the North and south Wales have called on Business Secretary Greg Clark to “get on with” Heathrow expansion. Steel workers have for years lived with the threat of devastating job losses as firms threaten to close down unprofitable UK steel plants. The UK steelworkers’ union Community backs the 3rd Heathrow runway, hoping it gives respite to their industry for many years. The MPs’ letter says: “By backing Heathrow you will be making a statement of intent, a decision in the national interest, and a first step in reviving a modern and sustainable British steel sector.”
Legal & General’s Nigel Wilson suggests government “should abandon all the big infrastructure projects beginning with the letter H”
Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson has suggested that the government “should abandon all the big infrastructure projects beginning with the letter H” – ie. Hinkley, HS2 and Heathrow. He thinks that instead of these, the UK would get much better value spending its limited resources in areas such as social housing, renewables and more mundane but much-needed projects. Legal & General, an insurance company, is a large and important investor, and accustomed to assessing the prospects of long term projects. Anthony Hilton, writing in the Standard, says Theresa May’s head of policy at No.10 is John Godfrey, who was until July 2016, the head of policy at Legal & General, and thinks along the same lines as Nigel Wilson. He considers HS2 is probably the easiest to ditch, as there are better ways to increase rail capacity between London and Birmingham – and the saving of 25 minutes is not vital. “If, for prestige reasons, we need another high-speed train, then let’s put it where it is needed and link Liverpool toManchester, Leeds and Newcastle, with a southern spur through Sheffield and Nottingham to Birmingham.” There are numerous reasons not to to ahead with Hinkley. And Heathrow costs far too much, with the final sum being perhaps £36 billion, of which around £18 -20 billion to be paid by taxpayers. It is also fiercely opposed and “resisted to the bitter end by some very vociferous people.” There would be inevitable years of legal wrangling and planning to secure it.
Heathrow’s compensation pledges may be £1 billion too low to match its claims
The difference between Heathrow Airport’s pledges to residents and its commitment to funding those pledges could be hundreds of millions of £s. Campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion has checked up on the figures and found a funding shortfall in the airport’s compensation proposals for local residents. With what little information Heathrow has provided, and using best estimates to fill in the blanks, it seems likely there would be a HUGE shortfall. Heathrow has said there would be “over 160,000” homes eligible. But the Airports Commission found that over 220,000 households could be in the Lden 55 db zone. Heathrow’s property compensation has already been criticised as inadequate, offering little potential for those displaced homeowners to find similar alternative accommodation further away from the airport where property prices have relentlessly increased. Heathrow’s “Our Manifesto for Britain” dated 23.5.2016 has the figure of £1 billion, but that is – Heathrow has confirmed – to cover both property sales, as well as noise compensation. The £1 billion consists of the £700 million Heathrow has often said it will spend on noise insulation – and just £300 million for home loss compensation. And if (Heathrow’s own figure) this was up to 3,750 homes, as well as the 780 being demolished, that does not work out as much for each. Heathrow presumes it will make a lot of money by re-selling the homes it buys up.
Heathrow residents who fear losing their homes for 3rd runway take 1,000 petition cards to 10 Downing St
Residents who face losing their homes to make way for a 3rd runway at Heathrow delivered 1,000 Petition cards to 10 Downing Street. Harmondsworth residents and anti-3rd runway campaigners were joined by Labour MPs John McDonnell and Ruth Cadbury, as the final decision approaches on airport expansion in the south-east (probably in October, when Parliament resumes after the party conferences). The petition cards were signed over two days at two local events in west London recently and called on Prime Minister Theresa May, who represents nearby Maidenhead, to oppose the 3rd runway. The visit to Downing Street sends a strong reminder to the Prime Minister that residents around Heathrow are firmly opposed to its expansion – whether it is on the grounds of the destruction of thousands of homes, noise, air pollution, over-crowded road and rail transport, costs to the taxpayer for the infrastructure or climate change. People fear that compensation from Heathrow, if the villages were flattened, would not be enough and “how will money soothe those who stand to lose everything they hold dear?” The cards should be a reminder to Theresa May of the reality, in human terms, of the loss and dislocation people would suffer, due to the destruction caused to build a 3rd runway.
Times reports that Heathrow is hoping to get 50 more flights per day 2020 – 2024 before 3rd runway
Heathrow flights are capped at 480,000 flights per year – which was set as a condition of the Terminal 5 planning consent in 2001.Heathrow now wants to increase the number of flights by about 19,000, giving a total of about 499,000 per year – which means about an extra 50 planes per day, taking off or landing. This would happen relatively soon, and about 4 years before a 3rd runway was operational – during its construction stage. The cap of 480,000 can only be lifted if there is a planning application for a 3rd runway, and that could take several years to start – maybe not till 2020. Heathrow is attempting to gloss over the inevitably increased noise by its chairman Lord Deighton saying the increase “would be accompanied by sweeping mitigation measures outlined by the airport in May, including a ban on night flights.” If that was true, it is likely to mean the loss of the half day of respite people east of the airport get, from runway alternation, when runways switch at 3pm each day. This is hugely valued by tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Its reduction or removal would be fiercely opposed. Heathrow is trying to persuade government etc that more flights is vital to “show that Britain was “open for business” after the Brexit vote. A card they repeatedly play nowadays.
Times reports that Heathrow plans to offer to cut costs and build runway scheme faster
The Times reports that it has learned how Heathrow is planning to cut up to £3 billion (out of about £17.6 billion) from its plans for a 3rd runway, in order to persuade Theresa May and the Cabinet that the runway could be delivered – and delivered a year earlier. Revised plans include potentially scrapping plans to tunnel the M25 under the 3rd runway, not building a transit system to carry passengers around the airport (using buses instead) and smaller terminal buildings. The aim is not only to get the runway working by 2024 but also -with reduced costs – keeping charges for passengers a bit lower. The Airports Commission estimated the cost per passenger would need to rise from £20 now to £29. Airlines like British Airways are not prepared to pay such high costs, and especially not before the runway opens. BA’s Willie Walsh has described Heathrow’s runway plans as “gold-plated”. The Times expects that Heathrow will announce its new “cheaper, faster” plans by the end of September. There is no mention of the “Heathrow Hub” option of extending the northern runway – a slightly cheaper scheme than the airport’s preferred new north west runway. There is no clarity on quite what Heathrow plans for the M25, if they cannot afford to tunnel all 14 lanes (at least £ 5 billion). Lord Deighton said it might be “diverted” or have “some form of bridge.”
Document spotted on Tube shows Government considering a free vote on runway issue
Channel 4 News has reported that a Cabinet Office memo seen – and photographed – on the tube which reveals that the Government is considering a free vote in Parliament following an announcement on the runway decision. A tube passenger filmed a very senior Cabinet Office civil servant holding the paper that discussed “potential waiving of collective responsibility.” The document was addressed to Cabinet Office official Sue Gray, from another official, Sharon Carter. It did not confirm if a free vote would be granted, but it focused more on how it might work as an option. It is certainly a possibility, especially if the decision is for Heathrow. A free vote would allow Cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, who are deeply opposed to the 3rd runway, to vote against it without needing to act on collective responsibility where ministers are expected to publicly support government policy, even if they disagree with it in public. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “It is unprecedented for a free vote to be granted on anything other than a constitutional issue or a matter of conscience. The fact that the Government is considering one on a third runway reveals once again the strength of the opposition within the Cabinet.” It certainly shows the problems the government has with this “politically toxic and financially unviable” decision.
Desperate to persuade MPs to back its runway, increasingly improbable claims by Heathrow of its benefit to the UK.
Dodgy claim of “£24,500 benefit per family” and ability to cut VAT by 2.5% by 2060 due to runway (sic)
Heathrow is making all possible efforts to persuade as many MPs as possible to back its 3rd runway bid, before the government (Chris Grayling) makes a statement on the matter – probably in October. Heathrow has now commissioned and paid for a “study” by CEBR, perhaps by Vicky Pryce with a foreword by her, that aims to give the impression that the 3rd runway will make an immense financial contribution to the UK. The study would not pass peer review. Its methodology is not given, and there is no justification for any of its claims. Heathrow says (it tries to avoid making it clear this is over 60 years) its runway would boost GDP by “£24,500” per family. It omits to say how many families it is considering, or the total GDP benefit. A bit of simple mathematics shows Heathrow is claiming a GDP boost of £458 billion over 60 years, as the ONS says there are 18.7 million families in the UK (2015). The Airports Commission’s most optimistic scenarios gave a maximum benefit, over 60 years, of £211 billion. Its main forecast was for a UK benefit of £147 billion. This was seriously questioned as being exaggerated, even by the Commission’s own financial advisors. This £458 billion figure, apparently plucked from thin air, is well over double that. And Heathrow says there will be so much benefit that by 2060 (with no rationale given) we could cut VAT by 2.5% due to the runway.
Grayling gives consent for M4 to have hard shoulder converted into 4th lane, over 32 miles
Plans to convert the M4 hard shoulder (both directions) into a 4th lane of traffic have been given the go-ahead by Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, for the Government. The proposals would see a 32-mile stretch of the M4 widened from three to four lanes from Hayes, west London, to Theale, Berkshire. That goes all the way past Heathrow, where there is already a serious air pollution problem. This stretch of road, from junction three to 12, would also be subject to variable speed limits under the scheme. Chris Grayling said there is a “critical need to improve the existing national road network” and the plans will “increase capacity, improve traffic flow and reduce journey times, thereby supporting economic development”. Environmental and transport groups are outraged at the decision and claim having no hard shoulder will be a hazard for motorists. There are concerns about breakdowns, with no hard shoulder and more risk to breakdown operatives when trying to assist motorists by the road. The loss of the hard shoulder has been criticised as expanding motorways on the cheap, instead of investment in alternative options, including better rail. Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said the move will lead to more traffic, more NO2 air pollution where levels already break legal health limits – this just increases traffic without solving congestion.
Heathrow retail revenue in 2015 around 20-21% of total, at £568 million (£7.58 per passenger)
Heathrow Airport reported a retail revenue increase for the year ending 31st December 2016 of +8.4% in 2015 to £568 million. The revenue per passenger rose by +6.2% above the level in 2014, to reach £7.58. (The Moodie report said the figure was about £7.14 in 2014, £6.21 in 2012, £5.95 in 2011, and £5.64 in 2010). Over the year, Heathrow had an overall growth in revenue of +2.7% to £2,765 million in 2015. EBITDA was £1,605 million, up +3.0%. Heathrow also announced a +2.2% increase in passenger traffic in 2015 to 75 million. Then for the figures for the first 6 months of 2016 Heathrow said its retail revenue had risen by 7.7% year-on-year, to £280 million – and retail revenue per passenger rose +7.1% to £7.84. Of this, duty and tax free shops contributed £62 million, a +3.3% increase. Heathrow said that for the first 6 months of 2016, it made £62 million from duty and tax-free; £51 million from airside specialist shops; £24 million from bureaux de change; £22 million from catering; £55 million from car parking – with total retail revenue at £280 million. i.e. of total retail revenue 19 – 20% was car parking. Income from parking was £99 million in 2014 and £107 million in 2015. For the first half of 2016 the retail (including car parking) income was about 21% of total revenue.
Chris Grayling talks to airport proposers – amid speculation Cabinet critics would not resign over Heathrow 3rd runway
The Telegraph reports that the new transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has had meetings at the airports with the bosses of Heathrow and Gatwick, and the Heathrow Hub proposers. He will have been told their arguments for expansion, and is hardly surprising as the government has indicated it intends to make some decision perhaps in October (September 5-15th probably unlikely?). The government had probably intended, before the EU Referendum, to make the announcement on 7th or 8th July. Before the Brexit vote derailed that. The government is being lobbied by sections of the business world to approve a runway. There are hopes in government and in business that building a runway would give the economy a boost, when Brexit may cause economic woes, and that approving a major infrastructure project would “show that the UK is open for business” despite Brexit, especially after Mrs May delayed the Hinkley Point nuclear project. The Telegraph believes that neither of Heathrow’s fiercest opponents in Cabinet, Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary) or Justine Greening (Education) would actually resign if the Cabinet approved a 3rd Heathrow runway. Boris might believe it is “reasonable for different members of Parliament to have different takes on regional policy, which is what this is.”
Theresa May to personally chair Cabinet sub-committee on possible new runway
The decision by the Cabinet on what to do about a new runway is to be taken by a sub-committee, named the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This was set up in July 2015. Its members then were David Cameron, George Osborne, Sajid Javid, Patrick McLoughlin, Liz Truss, David Mundell, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, Cabinet Oliver Letwin and Mark Harper. At that time, MPs with possibly compromised positions, or those against a Heathrow runway, were left off it – explained by their departments not being the relevant ones for inclusion. These were Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Justine Greening. Since the arrival of Theresa May, everything has changed. It has been announced that she will personally chair the committee (Cameron chaired it before) and that its new membership will be announced shortly. The constituencies of Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson (PM, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary) are all intensely affected by Heathrow. Theresa May has been very guarded in her comments over the past 6 years. However in May 2010 she welcomed the cancellation of the Heathrow runway and added: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
RHC Letter to the PM: Contrary to the Airports Commission’s recommendation the Commission’s evidence demonstrates Heathrow should not be expanded
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) has done a lot of detailed work, checking through the voluminous details of reports for the Airports Commission. The headline statements by the Commission, with its enthusiasm for a Heathrow northwest runway, are often not in accord with other figures in their documents. The RHC has written both to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary, setting out a lot of concerns about a 3rd runway, and facts and figures from the Commission itself that show the case for a runway is very weak. The RHC make the points that adding a new Heathrow runway would be contrary to the Government’s aim for re-balancing the UK economy across the regions, as it can only be done by reducing the market for other UK airports. It would add a very small extra number of long-haul destinations at Heathrow but take these away from regional airports so there is no increase in the number of destinations from the UK, compared to no Heathrow expansion. And it would result in a very high number of international-international transfer passengers using Heathrow, rather than improving air links overall. The RHC say that instead of expanding Heathrow, there is a need to make better use of the capacity of Heathrow and other UK airports and to improve surface access to London’s five airports. The letter is reproduced below and, in support of the evidence in the letter, a schedule linking the letter to the Airports Commission’s evidence is also provided.
New video from Windsor reveals – Olympic style – the worst plane noise the borough suffers. Why have health impacts been downplayed?
A new short video has been produced by Wisdom da Costa, who has been a councillor in Windsor, and was chair of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA). In the spirit of the Olympics, it looks in a light hearted way at the noise from Heathrow planes that his borough has to suffer. He measured the noise (using an iPhone 6 and the Uplause App) from a range of planes that flew over Windsor at about 1,800 feet. Windsor gets landings for about one third of the year, and take offs for two thirds of the year and is around 8 km from the end of the runways. Ranking the noise produced by short haul planes, the B757 was noisiest (80 dB) with the A320 at 79dB and the A321 third at 74dB. Ranking the medium haul planes, the noisiest was the A330 at 88dB, with the B767 and B787 at about 85dB. Then for the largest, long haul planes, the winner – the very noisiest – was the B747 at 89dB followed equally by the A380 and the B777 at about 85dB. Noise levels of 80 – 90 decibels are compared to blow-dryer, or a kitchen blender/food processor. A lot of noise studies have shown continuous exposure to this sort of noise has negative effects on human health. Wisdom says this, contrary to the Olympic comparison, is not just a bit of fun. It is a serious problem. And he asks “Why have human health impacts been suppressed?’ in relation to a Heathrow runway.
Windsor councillor concerned about unknown extent of local additional housing demand from Heathrow runway
A Windsor councillor, Malcolm Beer, has written to the government to express his concerns about the impact on local housing demand, if a 3rd Heathrow runway was approved. The Airports Commission gave very unsatisfactory and mixed information on new homes needed. It said in November 2014 that its “modelling suggests that in 2030 the range of additional households associated with the scheme (direct, indirect and induced) falls within the range of 29,800 and 70,800 (dependent on the scenario). The additional housing at the upper end of this range – which equates to an average of some 500 homes per year in each of 14 local authorities – may be challenging to deliver, especially give that many local authorities struggle to meet current housing targets.” Then by its final report in July 2015, the Commission said a “high proportion of new jobs may be expected to be taken up by people already living in the area and the additional capacity is not expected to result in an insurmountable requirement for additional housing” and words to the effect that no extra houses would be needed as 100,000 unemployed in West London could fill the additional jobs. Cllr Beer is concerned that the entire area is already far too congested to find land for more housing, schools, offices, road improvements and other needs associated with a hugely enlarged airport.
Heathrow Airport clear winner at the Noise Olympics, for the largest number affected by plane noise!
Heathrow was the clear winner of the Noise Olympics staged by campaign group HACAN in Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith. The event was a 100 metres race, with 8 runners (representing the 7 European airports which overfly most people plus Gatwick), each wearing t-shirts with the airport name and the number living within the 55 Lden noise contours. Heathrow received its medal, in the form of golden ear-defenders, from the local MP Andy Slaughter. The silver ear-defenders went to Frankfurt and the bronze to Charles De Gaulle. Heathrow won the race because it overflies more people than any other airport in Europe. According to European Commission figures over 725,000 residents are overflown which is 28% of all people in Europe disturbed by aircraft noise. That figure is from 2006, which is the most recent data available, though another estimate was 756,000. However, many people are affected by plane noise outside that contour, making the real numbers even higher. HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This was a fun way of showing that Heathrow is already in a noise league of its own. Residents are very worried what a 3rd runway with an extra 250,000 flights a year will mean.” There are estimates of how many more would be affected with expansion – perhaps another quarter of a million people, but until detailed flight path routes are known, this can only be an estimate.
Richmond Council leader dismisses Heathrow’s claims that neighbouring boroughs support its expansion
Richmond Council leader Lord True has laughed off Heathrow’s suggestion there is support for the airport’s expansion in neighbouring boroughs as “nothing more than PR spin.” Heathrow has recently claimed that in a new poll the majority of residents living in the 12 neighbouring constituencies support its 3rd runway. Heathrow’s line is to ignore the serious environmental (noise, air pollution, CO2) impacts and the local congestion and social impacts, and focus on claims about jobs etc. Heathrow hopes to persuade government that the runway will provide huge numbers of jobs in building and related to the airport, apprenticeships and also benefits to the regions. Heathrow also constantly repeats the mantra that it has “met or exceeded” the environmental conditions set by the Airports Commission – which it actually has not. Heathrow’s sound bite is that “people living nearby can feel confident that Heathrow can be bigger and better.” Lord True says only 34% in Richmond and 38% in Twickenham favour a 3rd runway. Both Heathrow and Gatwick have been polling, with each producing results claiming to show support for their runway in London. Both are trying to capitalise on the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, and the UK’s future international links with EU and Non-EU countries.
Heathrow unveils some minimal, largely cosmetic, noise reduction measures to try to reduce runway opposition
Planes landing at Heathrow are being told to delay the lowering of landing gear as part of attempts to cut the amount of plane noise. Pilots are being told not to lower the wheels until about 4.6 miles from the runway, instead of the average of 8 miles now, and this would not pose any safety risk. Planes will thus be slightly less noisy for those from around 8 – 4.5 miles from the runway. Heathrow is trying to find ways – and they are all tiny ways – to give the impression it is cutting plane noise, in its attempts to persuade the government that it can deal with the added noise burden with a new runway and 50% more flights. Heathrow has also said it will reduce the landing charges for the latest, less noisy aircraft, phasing out older noisier planes eventually. It also plans to install 50 more noise monitors around the airport (which, of course, do not in themselves reduce noise at all). Heathrow calls its new package a Blueprint for Noise Reduction, with 10 supposed measures. These include the launch of a “web based tool xPlane for residents to access flight data specific to their locations”, again in the hope that measuring the noise and giving residents information, somehow make the noise go away. And Heathrow plans to introduce an unspecified “voluntary Quiet Night Charter” – no details, but no reduction in night flights.
Claims that Heathrow runway delay “costs UK £6 million per day” shown to be massively exaggerated
Claims have been made about how important it is for the government to make a runway decision fast, and how massive amounts of money are being (allegedly !) lost to the UK economy every single day of delay. A new grouping – the “British Infrastructure Group” – BIG – led by Tory MP Grant Shapps suggests the sum is up to £6 million per day”. Fact Checker” has looked into this, and how the claims are calculated, and they find them to be very dodgy indeed. It’s complicated economics, but at heart they looked at the possible maximum benefits that the Airports Commission said a Heathrow might generate, over 60 YEARS. Then they worked out that, backwards, to a sum per day. There are various assumptions that should, and should not, be made when working out that sort of calculation and assessing possible future values. Their sum of “£6 million per day” depends on Heathrow producing a national benefit of £147 billion over 60 years. But the Airports Commission’s own figures show that if the costs of carbon in the carbon capped scenarios reduce the possible national benefit of a Heathrow runway to around (amazingly tiny) just £1.4 billion over 60 years. That, divided up by day, is an insignificant amount (up to £64,000). Full Fact says: “Any precise figure will be uncertain.”
New runway would push up air fares due to carbon emissions, and restrict regional airports – new report
A new report for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has analysed the Airports Commission’s backing for new runway in relation to carbon emissions, and says the necessary carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050. The Commission was aware that UK aviation is expected to far exceed the cap set for the sector’s CO2 emissions (37.5MtCO2) before 2050. Adding another runway only makes the situation far worse, by exacerbating the problem. The only way to keep aviation emissions down, with a new runway, is greatly increased cost of flights, trying to reduce the demand that has been increased by adding capacity. This means a carbon price massively higher than today – at several hundred £s. The report, by Leo Barasi and Leo Murray, say that as well as making flights expensive (perhaps pricing out those on low pay) the addition of a new SE runway means growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded London capacity. Dame Julia King, who was on the Airports Commission and is on the Committee on Climate Change, admits that regional airports would need to be restricted in order to allow growth in the south east. There has been far too little assessment and acknowledgement of the CO2 implications of a runway. The government should not rush into approving a runway until this has been fully accepted.
For earlier news about Heathrow, see
- Heathrow Airport news. January to end of July 2016
- Heathrow Airport news from 24th July to end of December 2015
- Heathrow Airport news from 4th January to 23rd July 2015
- Heathrow Airport news June to December 2014
- Heathrow Airport news January to June 2014
- Heathrow airport news July to December 2013
- Heathrow airport news Jan-June 2013
- Heathrow Airport News 2012
- Heathrow news 2011
- Heathrow News in 2010
- News April 2009 to Feb 2010
- News Feb – Mar 2009
- News Jan 2009
- News April to Dec 2009
- News Jan 2008 to Jan 2009
- News December 2008
- News Sept to end Nov 2008
- News to end of Aug 2008