Heathrow News July to December 2015
Sunday Times reports that Heathrow wants to recoup its Crossrail costs by extra charges for passengers
The Crossrail link to Heathrow is due to open by the end of 2019, and it is expected that this will cut the travel time from Liverpool Street station to Heathrow from 55 minutes to 34 minutes. Heathrow built and paid for a 5.3 mile long stretch of line linking its terminals with the main line to Paddington station. But the Sunday Times reports that now Heathrow wants to recoup the cost of building this stretch of line, which was completed almost 20 years ago, from users of Crossrail. The DfT estimates that meeting Heathrow’s claim could add over £40m on to the annual cost of running Crossrail. The DfT believes Heathrow should not get this money back. If Heathrow gets its way, rail passengers would have to pay inflated prices to travel to Heathrow. Transport for London (TfL), which will oversee Crossrail, will have to decide whether to claw back the cost through ticket prices on the line, or spread it across the whole of London’s transport network. Heathrow says it paid over £1 billion for the tracks, trains and depots, and to get this back, it wants a fee of £597, plus a maintenance charge of £138, to be paid by Crossrail every time one of its trains uses the line. Heathrow also owns Heathrow Express, Britain’s most expensive train service (£26.50 from Paddington to Heathrow). The decision on any financial deal will be in the hands of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Activists who blocked Heathrow tunnel plead not guilty – further hearing some time in 2016
On 23rd December, there was a brief court hearing for the 3 activists who blocked a main Heathrow entrance tunnel on 26th November. The hearing was at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, and they pleaded not guilty. Another hearing will therefore be arranged in 2016. Many supporters of the activists attended the hearing and gathered outside the court beforehand. After the court hearing, a large group Heathrow-3rd-Runway-opponents including many local residents who face destruction of their homes and communities if a runway is built, met outside the Magistrates court. Wearing Santa hats, they sang a few Christmas carols and jingles (with two or three accompanying policemen) before dispersing. The next court date for Plane Stupid airport activists will be Monday 18 January 2016 at 9am at Willesden Magistrates’ Court, when the 13 activists who occupied Heathrow Airport in July 2015 have their trial -due to last 6 days. All 13 activists are asserting their right to defend the climate and the communities negatively impacted by Heathrow, and are pleading not guilty. Plane Stupid invites people who sympathise with the actions taken by the activists, and want to support them in court, to come along. They say: “Bring cake and banners, or just yourselves!”
Sunday Times reports “BA cancels flights to tighten grip on privileged Heathrow position” by slot use
The Sunday Times reports that British Airways has admitted it plays the system at Heathrow by “tactically cancelling” flights so it can hang on to lucrative landing slots without needing to fly more planes. BA has about 50% of Heathrow’s take-off and landing slots, and it could have 53% by next summer. It has done successive deals to obtain more slots, such as its 2012 takeover of BMI, and getting 11 pairs of slots following the closure of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red service to regional airports, and the collapse of Russian carrier Transaero. Most of these slots had been mandated for use on UK routes, as part of a European competition ruling on the BMI takeover.But BA can now use them as it wants, after the failure of the two rival airlines. In the rules that govern how landing slots are used, airlines have to use them 80% of the time or lose them to another airline. Airlines that owns lots, which can be valued up to £40 million, are not keen to lose them. BA is using “tactical cancellations” across their network, so they can keep the 80% rule,without much overall increase in capacity. BA cancelled a daily Heathrow flight to New York, and some short-haul routes and will launch new routes, mainly to leisure destinations in Europe. While BA’s tactics are within the rules, they raise questions about whether Heathrow’s runway capacity is being used effectively.
Prof David Metz: “The solution to London’s airport capacity crisis? Do nothing”
David Metz is an Honorary professor of transport studies at UCL. He has written a sensible assessment of what should be done with the alleged “crisis” of London’s airport capacity. He says for “road travel, “predict and provide” has been largely abandoned by developed economies. These days the favoured approach is called “managing demand”. This method works on the basis that attempting to meet an ever-growing demand is impractical…” “what would happen if we didn’t build another runway at all? For air travel, the answer lies within the market. Three–quarters of passengers are on leisure trips…”… “The case for more airport capacity to support inbound tourism is weak. While London’s hospitality, entertainment and retail sectors would welcome more visitors, Britain has a negative balance of trade in tourism: that is, British people abroad spend a lot more each year than overseas visitors to the UK.”…”If we decided not to build a further runway at Heathrow, the market would respond to this capacity constraint by accommodating the most valuable passengers through price increases.”…”The growth of business travel would displace leisure travel, both within aircraft on existing routes and between routes, where time is traded against money.”… “Managing the demand for air travel though market mechanisms is a viable alternative to building more airport capacity”
Long awaited Government statement on runways – decision will be delayed till summer 2016 – more work needed
After a meeting of the Cabinet Airports Sub-Committee, a statement was finally put out by Patrick Mcloughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, at 7pm. It said that the government confirms it supports the building of a new runway in the south east, to add capacity by 2030 (earlier airports claimed they could have a runway built by 2025). The decision on location is “subject to further consideration on environmental impacts and the best possible mitigation measures.” All three short listed schemes will continue to be considered – so Gatwick is still included. “The government will undertake a package of further work and we anticipate that it will conclude over the summer.” On air pollution and carbon emissions “The government faces a complex and challenging decision on delivering this capacity.” More work is needed on NO2. “The government expects the airports to put forward ambitious solutions. …The mechanism for delivering planning consents for airport expansion will be an ‘Airports national policy statement’ (NPS), following which a scheme promoter would need to apply for a development consent order.”… “At the first opportunity I will make a statement to the House to make clear our plans.”
Predictable arrogant shouting from business lobby – they want their runway, no matter what its impacts are
The media have been unimpressive in their coverage of the statement by the government that they are not making a runway location decision this year. They have almost entirely focused on the demands of the business lobby. While the government decision is in large part to avoid political difficulties, of Zac Goldsmith being Tory London Mayoral candidate – there are very real environmental and other problems with either runway location. The Airports Commission did a very incomplete job in its recommendation. It left key areas such as carbon emissions, local air pollution and noise impacts for the government to sort out. It largely neglected health impacts, or costs to the taxpayer, or long term social and economic costs to areas near the “chosen” airport. It was therefore inevitable that a vast amount of additional work would need to be done, before any government could – responsibly and prudently – make a runway decision. Due to the flaws in the Commission’s recommendation, the government is aware it will face forceful legal challenges, especially on air pollution. The Environmental Audit Committee set out the extra conditions the government needs to fulfil before making any decision. By contrast the business lobby just things shouting loudly and aggressively that they want a runway, and they want it now, (regardless of its adverse effects) will win them the day. Stunningly arrogant, and without any apparent analysis of the actual facts. But the media seem to love it.
Willie Walsh threatens to move BA to develop base in Dublin or Madrid to avoid paying for “gold plated” runway plans
Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways’ parent company, IAG, has said BA might give up on Heathrow and move overseas, if Heathrow got a new “gold plated” runway and doubled its charges to airlines. He said BA could “develop our business” in Dublin or Madrid rather than pay for the expansion of Heathrow. The current landing charge of about £40 for a return trip would increase to at least £80 with the runway. That might deter passengers. “We won’t pay for it and we most certainly won’t pre-fund the construction of any new infrastructure.” Mr Walsh said that the £17.6 billion plan to expand Heathrow represented an attempt by a “monopoly airport” to build “gold-plated facilities and fleece its airlines and their customers”. Only about 1% of the estimated cost is for the runway itself. He indicated that Heathrow remained his preferred option for a runway, but not if it cost of £17.6 billion.” …“Heathrow is not IAG’s only hub. We can develop our business via Madrid, which has spare capacity, and Dublin, where there are plans for a cost-effective and efficient second runway.” Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, was studiously neutral, saying that Gatwick and Heathrow both remained runway options. Mr Walsh also opposes a runway at Gatwick, as “no one would move there while Heathrow remains open.”
Comment by TAG on government runway statement: disappointed 3rd Heathrow runway hasn’t been ruled out, once and for all.
Responding to the Secretary of State for Transport’s statement that the government has delayed its decision on future airport capacity, Paul McGuinness, spokesman for Teddington Action Group (TAG) said: “We’re very disappointed that a third Heathrow runway hasn’t been ruled out, once and for all. Heathrow is crammed between two immovable motorways, and expansion means building over the M25 and villages. It’s already the UK’s largest noise polluter and, even now, breaches air quality pollution targets. It’s situated in the middle of one of the UK’s most populated residential areas and it’s implausible that 250,000 extra plane movements won’t increase noise and pollution and make yet more dangerous the already full skies over our capital city. It’s simply in the wrong place to be growing what is already Europe’s busiest airport. The economic case has been found to be overstated, and Heathrow are refusing to accept environmental protections such as night flight bans and are refusing to rule out a fourth runway. We shouldn’t forget that the current proposal for the north west runway has been designed to occupy sufficient space to allow for the building of a fourth runway….. We believe that Heathrow expansion was only recommended because Sir Howard Davies was predisposed towards Heathrow….”
Comments by Zac Goldsmith and Boris Johnson on the government runway statement
Zac said he was “absolutely delighted” that the Government has acknowledged that the airports decision cannot be made without further environmental tests – “after much campaigning, the Government has heard the arguments, seen sense and taken this course of action.” …”We know that any airport expansion must meet our legally binding carbon, noise and air quality limits”. …”The choice has always been between an outdated model which would lead to higher costs and less choice, or investing in a network of well connected and competing airports.” Boris said: “Time to jettison the 3rd runway, chuck it overboard… it ain’t gonna happen”. He said many will think a 3rd runway at Heathrow is “pathetically unambitious”….”A lot of people will see this as just more fudge-erama to push a decision beyond the Mayoral elections.” He said Heathrow expansion has been “officially grounded” despite airport officials putting a “superhuman effort into bouncing the Government into a quick decision in their favour”….”The wheels are falling off the Heathrow fuselage” and Heathrow will realise that “due to the environmental impacts, the legal obstacles and the cost to the public purse, this bird will never fly.” He still has hopes for the Thames estuary …
Comment by Heathrow on government runway statement: it has “full confidence” in its runway plan “within environmental limits”
Heathrow responded to the announcement that the government will postpone a runway decision till summer with a typical example of its PR-speak: “…it has full confidence in its new expansion plan and pledged to work with Government to deliver Britain the hub capacity it needs within tough environmental limits.” There is a page full of Heathrow’s usual claims about economic benefits, jobs, “linking the regions to global growth” and the same stuff that has been trotted out again and again. This is one of the statements, as full of holes as a Swiss cheese: “The Commission confirmed that expanding Heathrow would have the biggest economic benefits for the UK and can be done while reducing noise for local communities and within EU air quality limits.” Really not a brilliantly persuasive response. It is copied below, with a few links to the actual facts and figures, other than Heathrow spin. Another gem to appreciate (avoiding mention of economic benefit at its most exaggerated, and over 60 YEARS, and jobs by 2050): the runway will “result in up to £211bn of economic growth, 180,000 jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships spread across the whole of Britain.” Seems government has not been taken in by this stuff ….
Comment by AEF on government runway statement: continued support for a new runway premature without environmental safeguards
Commenting on the government announcement that the government confirms its support for building a new runway, but it will be delayed, the Aviation Environment Federation said a decision in support of expansion is premature without knowing whether important environmental questions can be answered. “Heathrow is one of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions in the UK and people living around the airport are already subject to aircraft noise and pollution levels that impair their health. Yet the Airports Commission failed to show, in two years of work, how a new runway could be compatible with key Government commitments on air pollution and climate change.” With key environmental challenges remaining, the Government should not commit to a new runway until and unless environmental questions relating to noise, air quality and climate can be answered. “The challenges of addressing the environmental impacts of a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick are no less significant than they were when the Coalition Government ruled out expansion for environmental reasons in 2010. The current Government should do the same.”
Heathrow Express, owned by Heathrow, told by ASA to drop its untrue claim it runs every 15 minutes
The Advertising Standards Authority has criticised the claim by Heathrow Express that it runs a service every 15 minutes. A customer had complained that the frequency drops to once every 30 minutes late in the day. Heathrow Express is operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Heathrow Airport Holdings. Heathrow Express admitted the ongoing Crossrail engineering works were affecting the service, meaning that three trains in each direction were cancelled after 10pm from Monday to Thursday, leading to a half-hourly service during this time. This was only 2.2% of the total number of trains. However, the ASA said consumers would understand “every 15 minutes” to mean that a Heathrow Express service would be available every 15 minutes throughout the whole day, between 5am to midnight. “We therefore considered that information regarding the hours of operation and the regular reduction in service should have been made clear to consumers as part of the claim itself.”The ASA told Heathrow Express not to repeat the claim “every 15 minutes”. Research published last year suggested that the Heathrow Express was the most expensive airport rail journey in Europe, with flights to Spain available for less.
Airports Commission not only downplayed crash risk of new runway, but had the word “crash” removed from report title
Many people are very concerned about the safety implications of adding another runway, especially at Heathrow, where hundreds of thousands of people are over flown. It has now been shown that though the Airports Commission (AC) did have a study done by the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL), in May 2015, it downplayed its findings. The Standard says that confidential documents and emails it obtained showed the AC, which backed a third runway, got the title of an independent study on aircraft crashes changed to remove the word “crash”. Unsurprisingly and obviously, adding another 50% more planes at Heathrow, or 100% more at Gatwick would increase the risk of a crash. The Standard says the AC rejected “risk maps” showing the increased likelihood of an aircraft crash around London airports if expansion went ahead. Instead the AC’s Final Report said “ the changes to the background crash rate are minimal, regardless of whether or not expansion takes place at the airports.” It failed to mention the HSL conclusions that the likelihood of a crash on take-off or landing increased by up to 60% with a 3-runway Heathrow and doubled under one scenario with a 2-runway Gatwick. Daniel Moylan said the cover-up was “truly shocking.” People living under approach routes (higher risk than take-offs) should know their risks. The future flight paths are not yet know, so those living under them are unaware of the risk. The dangers of drones, laser beams and terrorism are not included – nor the risk to those on the ground.
Government likely to delay any runway announcement till well after Mayoral election in May 2016
The BBC reports that “senior sources very close to the process” have said that the decision by the government on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is going to be delayed for at least six months. That means after the Mayoral elections in London, in early May – and would make it less difficult and awkward for the government, with Zac Goldsmith (vehemently against a Heathrow runway) standing as Tory candidate. The source said the government needs to have more “confidence building” about the environmental impact of a new runway at Heathrow. That is largely about local air quality, but also noise and carbon emissions. The BBC believes that means yet another review, and it does not rule out a runway at Gatwick. Both Heathrow and Gatwick are going to have to come up with convincing proposals, over coming months, about how they will deal with the environmental problems. They are not going to find it easy. The BBC says government also wants to get more money out of the “chosen” airport, for local compensation schemes. It is expected that the runway decision will be taken by the Economic and Domestic Cabinet sub-committee,which Cameron chairs, on Thursday 10th, the prime minister chairs. The outcome is likely to be announced on the same day (probably in Parliament by Patrick McLouglin?
No 3rd Runway Protest Advan tours areas of London and the Home Counties
An Advan, with a “No third runway” message plastered on its side, will be touring a range of areas, in London and in the Home Counties, that will be affected if there was to be a new runway. In some areas it is being met by local residents, or councillors or MPs. The van will be inaction for three days, Thursday 3rd, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th December. A coalition of groups has come together to sponsor the van. On Friday a car playing aircraft noise, illustrating how it would be like under a flight path, will follow the van along the route of the 3rd runway arrival flight path across London. All the local groups along the Advan’s route, and many others, know a 3rd runway would mean intense plane noise and being under a flight path for the first time. They are working together to put out a strong message that they will fight any new runway, tooth and nail. The Government is expected to decide before Christmas whether it is minded to give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick.
Times reports “Village activists dig in for war over Heathrow’s third runway”
The Times reports on the environmental activists who have embedded themselves in the villages around Heathrow, determined to conduct a continuing campaign of civil disobedience against a 3rd runway. They are working with the local communities that face either demolition of 783 homes, or having to move if their homes become impossible to live in – due to the impact of the airport. The campaigners are equally opposed to the high CO2 emissions that a new runway would generate, making the UK’s efforts to meet carbon targets almost impossible to achieve. While there have been protests, like a runway incursion and blocking a Heathrow road tunnel, it is likely there will be more – this could last for years. Around 20 activists have been living in the Grow Heathrow community for 5 years, and others are moving into the area with a number in Sipson. An “adopt a resident” scheme run by the direct action group Plane Stupid has helped local people to work with dedicated activists and will be used again. The threat of evictions is very cruel. Neil Keveren, a local activist and builder, determined to fight a runway: “There are elderly people here who live happy, independent lives because they are supported by the community — if the village is destroyed then they will struggle to survive the upheaval.”
NOISE Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure a 3-runway Heathrow is genuinely no noisier than with 2 runways
The Environmental Audit Committee report looked at noise, as one of the issues that need to be revolved, if the Government wants to approve a Heathrow runway. The EAC says the current metrics that average noise are inadequate. They do not account for peak noise events, and may “ignore a swathe of people who are overflown infrequently but loudly.” “These metrics need to be measured against international standards such as WHO recommendations and inform a change in Government policy on aviation noise.” A new Independent Aviation Noise Authority will “need a more up to date understanding of people’s attitudes to noise if it is to be credible. One of the first tasks of such a body should be to undertake a survey of people’s attitudes to aviation noise.” The EAC says the government has to show “whether an expanded Heathrow would be noisier or less noisy than a two runway Heathrow at the same point in time.” On night flights the EAC says: “The Government should publish a plan, including a series of binding milestones, to deliver the proposed ban as part of any announcement to proceed with expansion at Heathrow…” And even if there is no 3rd runway, an Independent Aviation Noise Authority and a Community Engagement Board should be set up, to address the rock-bottom level of trust local people have in the airport.
AIR QUALITY Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained
The Environmental Audit Committee report on a Heathrow runway, says in relation to air pollution: “Before the Government makes its decision, it should make its own assessment of the likely costs of preventing an adverse impact on health from expansion at Heathrow and publish it.” Also that the government should not consider a new runway merely if air quality could be worse elsewhere in London than in the Heathrow area. The government will need to demonstrate that legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained “even when the expanded airport is operating at full capacity. Heathrow’s existing air quality strategy should also be revised to meet the new targets. Failing this, Heathrow should not be allowed to expand.” As for not using the new runway if air quality is too poor: “The Government should not approve expansion at Heathrow until it has developed a robust framework for delivery and accountability. This should have binding, real-world milestones and balance the need for investor certainty with assurances that a successor Government cannot set the conditions aside if they become inconvenient.” In distinguishing pollution from the airport, or from other sources: “The Government must establish clearly delineated responsibilities for meeting air quality limits before deciding to go ahead with the scheme” to avoid future legal and commercial risks.
CARBON Environmental Audit Committee says Government must act by 2016 to ensure aviation carbon cap is met
The Environmental Audit Committee report says the Airports Commission said the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) was the expert in this area, not it. Therefore the EAC says: “The Government cannot credibly rely on the Commission’s analysis as evidence that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within the limits set by the 2008 Act …..We recommend that the Government give the CCC the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s forecasting of aviation emissions and the feasibility of its possible carbon policy scenarios. The Government should act on any recommendations they make. … Before making any decision on Heathrow expansion, the Government should publish an assessment of the likely impact on the aviation industry – particularly regional airports – and wider economy of measures to mitigate the likely level of additional emissions from Heathrow. …any Government decision on airport expansion should be accompanied by a package of measures to demonstrate a commitment to bringing emissions from international aviation within the economy-wide target set by the 2008 Act. They should also, as a minimum, commit to accepting the CCC’s advice on aviation in relation to the 5th carbon budget, introducing an effective policy framework to bring aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 no later than autumn 2016….”
PAYING FOR SURFACE ACCESS Environmental Audit Committee says Heathrow must fund the infrastructure improvements necessary
One of the conditions that the Airports Commission suggested should imposed on a Heathrow runway was that the airport should pay most of the cost of the additional surface transport infrastructure. Heathrow has repeatedly said it is not willing to pay more than about £1 billion, though the costs are estimated by Transport for London to be £15 – 20 billion. The Environmental Audit Committee report says: “Before the Government decides to go ahead with Heathrow expansion it should set out its assessment of what would be required in terms of infrastructure improvements, agreed responsibilities for funding and milestones for completion. This should be part of a wider transport strategy for West London to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. The Government must make a binding commitment that Heathrow will fund the infrastructure improvements necessary to accommodate an expanded Heathrow.” The government has said it will not pay, with Richard Goodwill stating in October that: “…. the Government has been clear that it expects the scheme promoter to meet the costs of any surface access proposals that are required as a direct result of airport expansion and from which they will directly benefit.”
Environmental Audit Committee says government should not permit Heathrow runway without strict conditions
The EAC report’s conclusions say: “The Government should not approve Heathrow expansion until Heathrow Ltd. can demonstrate that it accepts and will comply with the Airports Commission conditions, including a night flight ban, that it is committed to covering the costs of surface transport improvements; that it is possible to reconcile Heathrow expansion with legal air pollution limits, and that an expanded Heathrow would be less noisy than a two runway Heathrow. In each case – climate change, air quality and noise – it needs to set out concrete proposals for mitigation alongside clear responsibilities and milestones against which performance can be measured. It should report regularly to Parliament, through this Committee and others, on progress. The Government should not avoid or defer these issues. To do so would increase the risks of the project: delay through legal challenge, unquantifiable costs resulting from unclear responsibilities, economic risks through constraint of other sectors to meet increased aviation emissions and longterm costs to public health from the impact of air pollution and noise.”
Report from Policy Exchange shows how poor air quality is in much of London, and near Heathrow
A new report by the Policy Exchange, called “Up in the Air” looks at London’s air pollution, and shows that over 12% of London’s area was in breach of NO2 limits in 2010, with the most affected areas being Central London, the area around Heathrow airport, and other major transport routes. The report says: “Aviation currently makes up 7% of total NOx emissions in Greater London, but this could increase to 14% by 2025. Aviation emissions are forecast to increase due to a growth in air [craft] movements, whilst at the same time emissions from other sectors are decreasing …..Importantly, this does not yet factor in the impact of possible airport expansion around London.” It says if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway the number of passengers would rise steeply. Their analysis only goes to 2025 but for there to be another runway, and for air quality not to deteriorate “… the acceptability of Heathrow expansion in air quality terms rests not only on the extent to which air quality impacts at Heathrow can be mitigated, but also on the level of progress on air pollution in the rest of London. If pollution levels are brought within legal limits across the rest of London, then this could undermine the case for Heathrow expansion on air quality grounds.”
Heathrow not willing to accept a ban on night flights, saying it constrains links to regional airports
John Holland-Kaye is hugely confident that he will get a new runway, saying he was now “80%” sure that David Cameron’s decision would be for Heathrow. The Airports Commission suggested a condition that there would be a complete ban on flights between 11.30pm and 6am due to the unacceptable noise of night flights.Mr Holland-Kaye says night flights were not something to “throw away lightly”. Heathrow currently is allowed 5,800 night flights per year, meaning an average of 16 arriving each morning, typically between 4.30am and 6am. British Airways wants to keep night flights, and is Heathrow’s largest airline. Last week Mr Holland-Kaye said shifting night flights to later slots would damage connections to the rest of the UK. “If I talk to regional airports, they all want to see early morning arrivals into Heathrow. They want a flight that comes in from their airport before 8 o’clock in the morning so people can do a full day’s work, can do business in London or can connect to the first wave of long-haul flights going out. You are very quickly going to use up all of the first two hours of the morning if we have a curfew before 6 o’clock, particularly as we then have to move the 16 flights. That really constrains the ability of UK regions to get the benefits from an expanded hub. So it is not something we should throw away lightly.” Heathrow’s links to regional airport would actually fall, with a 3rd runway, according to the Airports Commission.
Meeting of Cabinet’s runway sub-committee expected to decide on Tuesday 1st December which to back – before full Cabinet decision. Then announcement in next 2 weeks?
The Sunday Times reports that there will be a meeting on 1st December of the Cabinet sub-committee (the Economic Affairs (Airports) Sub-Committee) working to push through a new runway. David Cameron will then consider the decision of the sub-committee before is it considered by the full Cabinet. An announcement will be made next week, or the week after. The Times believes the sub-committee backs a Heathrow runway. There are 10 members of the sub-committee, and it does not include any of the vociferous opponents of Heathrow, such as Boris Johnson, Justine Greening or Theresa Villiers – or even Philip Hammond or Theresa May. It is likely that Zac Goldsmith would resign as MP for Richmond Park, requiring a by-election. There will be fury – especially in the Heathrow Villages and those living near Heathrow – that Cameron had gone back on his word. He specifically promised at the 2010 election that: “No Ifs. No Buts. No 3rd Runway.” Going back on a promise is bad enough, but people believed him, and made life-decisions about their homes etc on the strength of it. They have been betrayed, and this betrayal could be Cameron’s legacy. The Conservative Party also said in May 2010 that there would be no new runways at Gatwick or Stansted. That was just as much a promise as no Heathrow runway.
50,000 take part London Climate March – with a highly visible “No Runway” bloc
On the day before the start of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, there were some 2,500 climate marches and events around the world. Unfortunately, the Paris authorities did not allow a march, due to security concerns. However, in London about 50,000 people braved gales and rain as they marched through London to Whitehall to demand that world leaders take urgent action. It was the biggest demonstration of its kind the UK has ever seen. There was a determined aviation bloc – marching with the “No 3rd Runway” fabric plane. Braving gusts of wind of around 40mph, those opposing a Heathrow runway put in a highly visible presence, even if the chants of “No Ifs. No Buts. No 3rd Runway” sometimes got drowned out by the Hari Krishna music system in the same part of the march. Caroline Lucas briefly helped carry the “No New Runways” banner, and so did John McDonnell. Addressing the crowds alongside a host of other speakers, Jeremy Corbyn said: “The issues facing the world in Paris this week are pollution, climate change, inequality, environmental refugees, war refugees and resources wars. If we are to make a real difference in Paris, all these issues have got to be thought about and addressed.” International aviation and shipping are not getting proper carbon emissions reduction targets in the Paris negotiations.
5 arrests after Plane Stupid block Heathrow tunnel for 3 hours using a van + activists locked onto it
The main road entrance tunnel to Heathrow’s Terminals 1 and 2 was blocked by climate change activists from Plane Stupid, for about 3 hours, from 7.40 this morning. Three activists parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked themselves to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron’s election promise in 2010: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”. Five people were arrested, and the tunnel was finally cleared and the road re-opened by 1.30pm Some travellers may have been delayed or could have missed flights. Local resident Neil Keveren, a builder from Harmondsworth, whose house would be bulldozed for the 3rd runway, was fined after blocking the same tunnel with his van for half an hour on 2nd July, the day after the Airports Commission announcement. Neil said: “No one wants to do this. They feel they have to. People feel they have no choice. After we campaigned for years, David Cameron was elected promising ‘no ifs, no buts: no third runway’. …. We have tried every other option. We have been forced to be disobedient just to be heard. To save our homes and our planet.” There is already airport capacity for families taking a couple of trips per year, or wealthy foreign visitors to the UK, but a new runway would be for the most wealthy to take multiple leisure trips each year. Plane Stupid apologised for causing inconvenience, but believe the strong arguments against a Heathrow runway must be heard.
BA pilot’s eye damaged by ‘military’ laser shone into cockpit at Heathrow – plus many less serious attacks
A British Airways pilot has reportedly been left with significant damage to his eyesight after a “military-strength” laser was shone into the cockpit of his plane landing at Heathrow, in what appears to be the most serious laser attack to date in the UK. The pilot suffered a burned retina in his right eye and has not worked since, according to the head of BALPA. The incident has escalated concerns over the problem of laser attacks, as this was a military weaponry type laser. BALPA claims that 50% of pilots has been in a plane targeted with lasers in the last 12 months. The risk to safety of a pilot having his vision disturbed by a laser, while coming in to land, is obvious. Many incidents appear to have come from a particular block of flats in Glasgow. Lasers have become easy to buy on the internet, and though those usually available are not strong enough to cause eye damage, they cause distraction. “When it comes into the flight deck, it bounces around the walls of the cockpit” and with the effects intensified as light is dispersed by the cockpit windows. Now military strength lasers can be obtained on the black market. There are around 4 – 5 laser attacks on planes every day in the UK, with 400 this year. The highest number of laser incidents in the UK are at Heathrow, though other airports have a higher frequency per number of planes. There have been 3,700 incidents in the USA this year.
Heathrow never mentions imports, only exports – but imports larger by tonnage and by value than exports
Heathrow is very fond of saying how vital its air freight is to the UK economy. It is also always very keen to stress how important it is for the UK’s exports. Strangely, it never mentions imports (which are not so good for the UK economy). A detailed document by the DfT in 2009 set out the figures for UK air freight exports and imports. Newer data is not readily available. The 2007 figures (by HMRC) showed that the tonnage of UK exports by air freight was 414 thousand tonnes. And the tonnage of imports was 1,663 tonnes. That means, in terms of just weight, the imports were 4 times larger. The 2007 figures show that the value of UK imports by air freight was about £31.1 billion. And the value of imports was £51.1 billion. That means the value of the exports was only 61% of the value of the imports. Presuming that the proportions are roughly the same now as in 2007, that implies that much more of the air freight -both by tonnage and by value – is imports than exports. Strange then that in any document put out by Heathrow, or any of its supporters, imports and their value are never mentioned. It was as if they barely existed. This is comparable to the way in which the benefits of inbound tourism are stressed repeatedly – but rarely the greater numbers of outbound Brits taking their holiday cash to spend abroad. Odd, isn’t it?
Willie Walsh tells AOA conference Heathrow’s runway is too expensive, and at that price, would fail
The Airport Operators Association is holding a two day conference on the runway issue, and Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG) was its key speaker. He said Heathrow should not get a 3rd runway, if the Airport Commission’s calculation of the cost of building it is correct. He said: “The Commission got its figures wrong – they are over-inflated. If that is the cost [of a new runway], it won’t be a successful project.” He described the assumption that airlines would pay for the new runway through increases in fares as “outrageous”. British Airways is by far the biggest airline at Heathrow, with 55% of the slots. He said of the Commission’s report: ” … I have concerns about the level of cost associated with the main recommendation and the expectation that the industry can afford to pay for Heathrow’s expansion.” He does not believe the cost is justified, and “If the cost of using an expanded airport significantly exceeds the costs of competitor airports, people won’t use it.” It was not realistic for airlines: “You have to see it in terms of return on capital. ….Either the figures are inflated or you are building inefficient infrastructure. I do not endorse the findings. I definitely don’t support the costs of building a runway. If those costs are real, we should not build it.” On the cost of £8 billion to build a 6th terminal he commented: “How many chandeliers can you have in an airport terminal?
“No 3rd Runway” flashmob at Heathrow Terminal 2
Around 60 protesters staged a flashmob in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, expressing their opposition to plans for a 3rd runway. With red “No 3rd runway” T-shirts and chanting “No ifs, no buts, no third runway!” There are already hugely more people affected by disturbing levels of plane noise at Heathrow than at any other airport in Europe. People who suffer from plane noise do not want more of it, and those who get some periods of “respite” during the day do not want to see this decrease. If there was a new runway there would be around 250,000 more flights per year using Heathrow – making a 50% increase compared with the existing number now. The level of noise, the new areas affected, and the hundreds of thousands more people to be newly affected would make the addition of a new runway unacceptable. And that is not to mention the increase in air pollution, the road congestion, the rail congestion, the huge cost to the taxpayer over many years. There is also the not inconsiderable matter of the demolition of 780 homes, making their occupants homeless. For all these reasons, a large number of groups and organisations from a wide area oppose the runway. People at the flashmob came from Hammersmith, Ealing, Chiswick, the Heathrow villages, and areas west of Heathrow affected by flight paths. They are adamant that protest at a runway will not go away.
Group of Heathrow Community Noise Forum members express concerns about the airport’s treatment of the Forum
The Heathrow Community Noise Forum was set up earlier this year, by Heathrow, in an attempt to improve “engagement” with people affected by the airport’s noise. It aims to build trust, provide information, improve understanding of Heathrow’s operations, and seek communities’ input. The first phase of its work has been to employ consultants to verify how accurate Webtrak is, and to see whether flight paths now are much different to before the “trials” in 2014. However, there has been some dissatisfaction from many of those attending that the Forum has not been working adequately. Eight of the groups that attend presented a statement to the meeting on 5th November, declaring their concerns. One particular matter raised was that Heathrow appears to have taken advantage of the Forum, without the consent of participants, in pressing its case for a 3rd runway. The airport has cited the existence of the Forum as evidence that it can be relied upon to engage with neighbouring communities. There have been instances where HAL has opted to publish its interpretation of analysis in the public domain, without consulting the Forum beforehand, leading some to question whether the HCNF is being used to benefit HAL’s commercial ambitions. The statement requires 4 changes to how the HCNF is conducted, without which “the community groups will need to consider the value of the CNF as a mechanism to achieve their objectives”.
Intellectual Property Office says Heathrow Hub runway plan is not infringing an existing patent
Heathrow Hub, dreamt up by former British Airways pilot Jock Lowe, is the plan to extend the Heathrow northern runway, to the east. It is one of the 3 runway plans short listed by the Airports Commission. Heathrow Hub is backed by Ian Hannam, a former JP Morgan Cazenove banker. They hope to sell their scheme to Heathrow airport, potentially for tens of millions of pounds. Heathrow Hub submitted a patent application in October 2012, but British regulators alerted it to an existing patent. A retired American airline captain, Daniel Gellert, says the Hub infringes a patent first lodged in America in 2008. Gellert’s “safe runway aircraft arrival and departure system using split runway design” was granted a European patent in October 2011. He said he hopes to “negotiate an agreement” with Heathrow Hub if its plan is chosen. Heathrow Hub has sought a declaration of non-infringement. They say a ruling from the Intellectual Property Office has stated that Heathrow Hub’s proposal would not infringe Mr Gellert’s patent. Separately Heathrow Hub has received commitments of additional financial backing from a consortium of City investors in recent days. The government is understood to have had discussions with all three of the short listed plans, on the deliverability and possible mitigations of their schemes. Some form of government announcement is expected before Christmas.
Critical analysis of the Airports Commission economic figures, by an Economics Professor, sent to Cabinet Members
An economics professor has assessed the claims by the Airports Commission, of huge benefits to the UK from a Heathrow runway – and found them to be very dubious indeed. He has written to members of the Cabinet, to express his concerns. Professor Len Skerratt (Brunel) believes the Commission has presumed unreliable indirect benefits to the UK national economy. He says there would not be an economic case for the 3rd runway without the supposed indirect benefits to the national economy. These wider economic benefits are said by the Commission to amount to some £131-£147 billion, between 0.65% and 0.75% of GDP by 2050. However, these predictions are not believable. There are only small predicted direct benefits, which could be as low as £11.8 billion (carbon traded model) or just £1.4 billion (carbon capped at the level suggested by the CCC). As the Commission’s own expert economic advisors (Mackie and Pearce) point out these appraisals rely on assumptions which are excessively optimistic. The Commission has gone to great lengths to quantify all the uncertain benefits, particularly the wider and often intangible economic and social benefits. Yet scant attention has been given to the certain tangible and intangible costs of serious damage to health, and quality of life in the very long term, and also the productivity loss, delays and annoyance caused by ten years of construction.
TfL confirms extent to which Airports Commission underestimated Heathrow runway impact on surface access
On 10th November, the GLA Transport Committee had a session looking at the implications for surface access – road, rail and Tube – if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway. There was a presentation by Richard De Cani (Transport for London’s Managing Director – Planning). The meeting was described as a “well mannered mugging” of the Airports Commission’s (AC) analysis of the situation. The AC did not assess the impact of a fully utilised 3rd runway, with 148 mppa; instead they only looked at the situation in 2030 with 125mppa. That might mean 70,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC.They also did not take into account how recent employment forecasts will increase demand even further, or increased vehicles needed for expanded air freight capacity. TfL estimates it would cost between £15 and £20 billion to improve the transport infrastructure needed to get all passengers to and from Heathrow, with a 3rd runway. Unless this is spent, the road congestion and the rail congestion even by 2030 would be “some of the worst that we currently see in London.” It would “impact quite significantly on the whole performance of the transport network across west and south west London.” If there was a congestion charge, the impact on public transport would be even higher (perhaps 90,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC).
Cabinet said to be ‘falling behind’ on Heathrow expansion decision (as runway sub-committee struggles)
The Standard reports that insiders (in the Cabinet?) say the Cabinet sub-Committee is having a very difficult time deciding what to do about a runway, and the schedule is slipping. It is not likely to be announced by the Autumn Statement by George Osborne on 25th November. The meetings of the Economic Affairs (Airports) Sub-Committee are secretive and Cabinet will not reveal even their dates. However, the Standard has been told that last week an “informal” gathering of its members was briefed by Sir Howard Davies, and that David Cameron and George Osborne also had updates separately from Sir Howard. “Other ministers at the gathering raised questions but none of them were seen to pose an insurmountable challenge to another runway in west London.” Some sort of announcement still should be made before the Commons rises on 17th December. A second official meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee is understood to be due in the next week or two, so the DfT officials can present their analysis of the Airport Commission’s final report. It is understood that the full Cabinet would be able to discuss the sub-Committee’s decision, and this could happen in December. The Standard says: “Few Cabinet ministers are expected to defy Mr Osborne and block a 3rd runway.”
Simon Jenkins comment: Don’t buy the idea that Heathrow expansion is ‘good for the nation’
Simon Jenkins was on great form when he wrote a comment piece in the Evening Standard, on the subject of Heathrow and its expansion hopes. Well worth reading, in full. It is so full of wise words, telling analysis and crushing put-downs that summarising it is impossible. But here are a few quotes: “Heathrow was only allowed to grow because gutless ministers dared not stand up to the airlines lobby.” …”Heathrow is primarily for leisure travel, and that travel is overwhelmingly outbound. A new Heathrow runway is an aid to the foreign tourist industry…”…”Of course it would generate economic activity and jobs. So does all infrastructure. So would a heliport in Hyde Park. But it has nothing to do with “British exports”. Precisely the opposite.” …”We should have no truck with the archaic “predict and provide” line of the Davies report. Just because more people want an airport does not mean a runway must be built. …. Demand is not God.” … “Air travel is overwhelmingly leisure travel, a modern luxury that needs no subsidy nor deserves planning privilege.” … ” a bigger Heathrow should be unthinkable. It should concentrate on business travel. Above all, the decision should be decided on a proper plan, not the Davies report’s attempt to reconcile competing lobbyists.” …. “We just need to keep calm and remember, they are in it for the money. All else is hogwash.”
British Airways, in evidence to Transport Cttee, that Heathrow runway is “unfinanceable” and a “white elephant”
British Airways has made its strongest attack yet on plans for a new Heathrow runway, saying its proposals are “unfinanceable” and a “white elephant”. The comments are in written evidence to the Commons Transport Select Cttee, dated 12th October, in its submission to its inquiry into surface access on October 27th. BA repeats its view that the cost of transport infrastructure for the runway scheme should not be funded by airlines and their customers. BA is the biggest airline (51%) at Heathrow. It says – dangerously – that because of the alleged “up to £147 billion” of benefits of a runway to the UK, new road and rail link for the airport should, like standalone transport schemes like M4 widening, be paid for by taxpayers. [That ” up to £147 billion” benefit figure is highly dubious, and the Airports Commission’s own expert economic advisors, Mackie and Pearce, warned that it includes double counting and should be treated with caution. While avoiding any specific opposition in principle to expanding Heathrow, BA is not willing to pay – but it says the runway plan is is unaffordable and unfinanceable, and called into question the economic benefits. There has been speculation if Willie Walsh is just “browbeating aimed at cowing the CAA into lower charges” rather than stopping a Heathrow runway.
Survey by SellingUp/Populus shows the serious impact of plane noise on attitudes of house buyers
The website guide on selling property, “Selling Up.com” had a survey done by Populus, into the impact of various negative features on the likelihood of getting an easy house sale. They looked at a range of things, like low energy efficiency, lack of storage space, poor mobile phone signal etc. They also looked at the impact of noisy neighbours and of noise from aeroplanes. The issues most likely to put off a buyer, so they would not proceed with a house purchase, were noisy neighbours and plane noise. The survey found for noisy neighbours, that 70% would not proceed with the sale when they know of the problem, and 17% would ask for a reduction in price. For plane noise, 41% would not proceed with the sale, and 34% would ask for money off, (including 23% who would ask for a “substantial amount or many thousands of £s off the price). The impact on the value of homes that are over-flown is a serious issue. Sellers are required to let a potential buyer know if they have a problem with noise. With the ambition of the industry to concentrate and narrow flight paths, meaning serious noise impacts for those below, this is a real concern – especially when there is no proper consultation about flight path changes, no legal redress and no compensation. (Compensation or double glazing is of no use if you want to enjoy a quiet garden)
Telegraph reports Whitehall sources saying Cameron ‘preparing to drop opposition to Heathrow 3rd runway’
The Telegraph reports (Whitehall sources say) that David Cameron is believed to have decided it would not be too politically damaging to back a Heathrow runway. David Cameron personally pledged in 2009 that there would be no Heathrow runway (No ifs, No buts) but soon changed his mind. The government insists it will make an announcement on the next phase of the runway process before Christmas, but how firmly it will be backing one runway option is not yet clear. It may be Osborne who takes control over the issue, keen to be seen as building infrastructure..There is then to be a new public consultation on this in early 2016. David Cameron apparently hopes – as was always the intention of setting up the Commission, during the coalition government – that the Commission’s recommendation would remove responsibility for the decision from himself. It would cover him from blame for breaking a pledge, and make that “politically acceptable.” The problem is that the Airports Commission has produced vast reams of material in its reports. Few – including few politicians – have read much of it. Its recommendation is not in fact reflected in the details of the reports. The economic benefit of “up to £147 billion over 60 years” to the UK economy may really be as little as £1.4 billion. The regional airports would suffer, as would UK carbon targets. The noise and air pollution issues are not resolved, as the Commission’s work shows.
Heathrow plans to double its volume of air freight, necessitating more trips by diesel powered HGVs and goods vehicles
Heathrow plans to double its air freight volumes in its aspiration to become one of the leading airports for cargo in Europe. CEO John Holland-Kaye announced at the British Chambers of Commerce that Heathrow will invest £180 million in the project and has its blueprint ready. Investment will be made to enhance air to air transit by building a facility on the airport for faster handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out again by air, reducing the times from a current average of more than hours. The improvements to air freight is meant to be “essential for the growth and success of the UK economy.” (Where have we heard that before?) These will need to be a a new truck parking facility for over 100 vehicles, with waiting arenas for drivers. There will be a special pharmaceutical storage area to move temperature-sensitive medicines and provide better infrastructure for faster freight movement. Holland-Kaye wants the UK “reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020.” Heathrow dealt with 1.50 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2014. This can only increase the number of HGVs in the Heathrow area. HGVs are all powered by diesel, not petrol – with its attendant higher NO2 emissions. Meanwhile Mr Holland-Kaye was at the EAC saying there would be no extra car journeys to/from Heathrow with a 3rd runway.
Richmond campaign shows Heathrow runway would lead to 50% of the new capacity used for international transfers
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has produced a very useful set of carefully argued briefings and aspects of a 3rd Heathrow runway (noise, CO2, air quality etc). These can be found here. There is now an updated briefing on economics. It makes several vital points showing how the Airports Commission’s conclusion and recommendation for a Heathrow runway is not supported by its own evidence. The RHC points out that the Commission’s own “strategic fit” document shows that with a new Heathrow runway, there would be an extra 22 million international-to-international (I to I) transfer passengers using Heathrow per year (about 30 million in 2050 rather than about 8 million then if there was no runway). The additional 22 million passengers would take up over 50% of the new runway capacity, and would provide little or no economic benefit to the UK. They do not pay APD. Transfer passengers do not leave the air-side at Heathrow. They contribute to the airline and airport profits and their value is said to add connectivity by providing minimum aircraft loads for otherwise unviable routes and by adding to route frequency. Support for thin (i.e. low demand/frequency) destinations is a main justification for the Commission recommending a Heathrow runway. But 95% of Heathrow’s I-to-I transfers support higher frequencies to already popular destinations rather than otherwise economically unviable thin destinations.
John Holland-Kaye again will not commit to no Heathrow night flights (11.30pm to 6am) at Environmental Audit Committee hearing
When the Airports Commission final report was published on 1st July, one of the conditions of a 3rd Heathrow was that there should be no night flights. The report stated: “Following construction of a third runway at the airport there should be a ban on all scheduled night flights in the period 11:30pm to 6:00am” and “the additional capacity from a third runway would enable airlines to re-time very early morning arrivals.” Already by its statement on 6th July, Heathrow was trying to cast doubt on the conditions, with John Holland-Kaye saying: “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Asked directly again, at the Environmental Audit Committee session on 4th November, if Heathrow would accept no night flights, he said Heathrow “we are not in a position to do that yet.” It had not yet accepted a ban on night flights, and the airport was “confident we will be able to find a way forward” in discussions with airlines and government, and it could “significantly reduce” night flights. Mr Holland-Kaye instead talked of the alleged economic benefit to the UK of flights between 4.30 and 6am. He was asked by Committee members whether the government should agree to a Heathrow runway, (perhaps by December) before Heathrow firmly committed to the no night flights condition. Mr Holland-Kaye could not give an answer.
John Holland-Kaye and Sir Howard Davies give evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee
The Environmental Audit Committee is holding an inquiry into the implications for Government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted. It is holding its second evidence session, hearing from John Holland-Kaye and Matt Gorman, of Heathrow – and Sir Howard Davies and Phil Graham, from the (now closed) Airports Commission. They will be asked questions on noise, air pollution and CO2. The Airports Commission, in their final report on 1st July and in supporting documents, gave unsatisfactory answers on all these. There are no details of flight paths from a new runway, with no information on which areas would be newly overflown. There is no certainty that levels of NO2 around the airport, already sometimes over EU legal limits, would not rise with a 50% increase in the size of the airport, and massive increase in road traffic. There is no satisfactory answer on how the UK could meet its aviation carbon target, while building a new runway. Heathrow has put forward various ideas on how it might slightly reduce its noise and NO2 impacts, many speculative (eg. marginally less noisy planes). The airport is not keen on ceasing night flights (11pm to 6am) though that was one of the Commission’s suggested conditions for a runway.
EU caves in to car industry pressure to weaken NO2 emissions limits for diesel cars for years
EU governments have agreed to new limits for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars. The unexpected decision was taken by the European Commission’s Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV). The bad news is that they are double the ‘Euro 6’ levels agreed back in 2007. The EU has granted car-makers delays to a more stringent “real driving emissions” test, permitting them to emit x2 the amount of NOx from 2019. The standard from 2021 is that all new cars will still be allowed to emit 50% more NOx than the Euro 6 limit of 80mg/km. MEPs and campaigners were shocked at the cave-in to the lobbying of car-makers, by the EC, seeing it as a stitch-up by national governments. Only the Netherlands opposed the proposal, which passed after heavy lobbying from the car industry and EU countries such as the UK, Germany, France and Spain, which are currently facing court action from the EU for failing to meet NO2 standards. “For car-making countries, it’s like dieselgate never happened,” said Greg Archer, the clean vehicles manager at the environmental think-tank T&E. The Commission has argued that uncertainties in the testing method justify setting a higher long-term limit but this is likely to be legally challenged. The lower standards will make it even harder for a new SE runway to meet air pollution standards. The Heathrow area is often already in breach of legal limits.
Patrick McLoughlin insists government has not yet decided on runway options, despite Osborne rumours
It is still thought likely that the government will make some sort of announcement on whether it backs a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, by the end of the year. Whether that will come before Christmas Eve is anyone’s guess. The Times reported that George Osborne may be convinced by the Airports Commission report and is therefore ready to rule out Gatwick, considering it is “Heathrow or nothing.” But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said that the Government may reject the recommendation of the Commission’s report, that Heathrow should be expanded. He said the report had just given 3 “options” with a “preferred option”, rather than a ruling with much weight. “…we are looking at the options that it gave us. We are doing the work that is required to see how those three options stack up.” He argued the Government would have to see if some of the report’s recommendations were “actually doable”, and that though the work of the Commission would make a decision on expansion easier, questions still remained. An ally of the Chancellor told the Times: “George doesn’t have a settled view on this. He just wants to see a runway built somewhere as soon as possible once all the proper processes are concluded.”
Molesey hope to form an alliance with the Teddington Action Group, opposing a 3rd Heathrow runway due to unbearable noise impacts
Molesey, south west of Teddington, has been badly affected by aircraft taking off from Heathrow, when there are easterly winds (around 30% of the time). Now a Molesey woman, Fiona Fraser, who is tired of the aircraft noise, which even makes her windows and doors “shake and rattle” has stepped up her campaign against plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway – which could only make the situation worse. She is now linking the Molesey group up with the Teddington Action Group (TAG), which has been working effectively to get improvements to the noise problems they are caused by Heathrow. Fiona said that the aircraft noise – part of which comes from A380s flying lower than planes used to – is making life unbearable, especially early in the morning and last thing at night, up to 11.30pm. She commented: “… if it carries on I’ll have to move. I just feel very helpless.” Paul McGuinness, from TAG, has welcomed Elmbridge residents wanting to join the campaign against Heathrow’s expansion. Community groups have been forming over a wide area affected by Heathrow [likewise at Gatwick]. Anyone opposed to the third runway proposals at Heathrow can help create a new Elmbridge action group by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heathrow staff face reduced pension rights and one third will get 30% reduction in salaries by 2018
Heathrow airport is preparing designers, architects and suppliers to build its third runway, though it has not has its runway plans approved – let alone all the stages of consultations, legal challenges, parliamentary stages and planning procedures. But Heathrow says it will be looking at contracts in January for the workers it will need in the first couple of years to get planning consent. John Holland-Kaye keeps up the PR and the spin, capitalising on every opportunity to do so, though refusing to agree to Heathrow paying for associated transport costs, or to no night flight, or even to rule out a 4th runway. But the Financial Times said that Heathrow is “also looking to make more savings on employee costs. 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.” Heathrow has to cut its overheads, and agreed with the CAA to remove £600m of costs during the 5 years 2014 to 2018. The FT says it has already secured £400m of cost efficiencies. Heathrow is renegotiating its defined benefit pension plan, to cut costs. The changes include the introduction of 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.
Heathrow slots that should be ‘ring fenced’ for Scottish flights redeployed for leisure routes to Spain, Italy & France
Simon Calder reports that precious landing slots at Heathrow that had been “ring fenced” for Scottish routes are being redeployed by British Airways to open new routes to Spain, Italy and France – leaving Scotland with one million fewer seats a year. When BA bought BMI, it was forced to hand 9 daily slot pairs specifically for use on routes connecting Heathrow with Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The so-called “remedy slots” had been used by BMI to operate flights from Heathrow to Scotland, and were taken up by Virgin Atlantic, which ran them for 2 years as “Little Red”. But last month Virgin scrapped Little Red. Therefore the slots revert to BA, which is using them to launch routes to Menorca, Biarritz and Palermo (starting next spring) – as opposed to the “emerging markets” in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are often cited in support of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. There will also be increases in the number of departures to long-established destinations such as Berlin, Stockholm and Venice. ie more holiday destinations. If another contender were to come forward for the “remedy slots”, BA would be obliged to hand them over. It is difficult to see, though, an airline that could make a success where Virgin Atlantic failed.
Teddington Action Group show – from Heathrow report – that they are now suffering more aircraft noise
Residents in Twickenham and Teddington have been aware of greatly increased aircraft noise from Heathrow, over the past year. However, Heathrow have for months insisted that the noise has not increased. Now an independent report commissioned and paid for by Heathrow, by PA Consultants has shown that the residents are right. Examining data between November 2011 and May 2015, the report confirms that planes – especially the heavier, noisier types – are flying lower than previously over the area, in greater numbers and concentrated within flight paths. Also that the periods of greatest disruption are increasingly late at night and early in the morning. Rather than being associated with the 2014 Flight Path Trials, which saw record numbers of noise complaints from residents, the report states that these developments merely reflect the general trend of fleet development and air traffic movements. TAG say they have more of the noisiest long haul planes flying over lower than before, sometimes at little more than 2,000 feet in Teddington and 1,400 feet in Twickenham. Worryingly, if this disruption stems from new flight trends, it is only likely to get worse, and for many other areas overflown by Heathrow planes.
GACC warns Patrick McLoughlin of the future costs to the Exchequer of infrastructure needed for Gatwick runway
GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has written to Patrick McLoughlin, to remind him about the comparative costs of infrastructure relating to a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. Robert Goodwill recently indicated that whichever airport was selected would be expected to pay for the necessary infrastructure – a policy GACC fully supports. GACC point out that the calculation of the surface access costs, by the Airports Commission, is distorted. While it considers the requirements for both airports at 2030, it estimates that by then there would be 35 million extra passengers at Heathrow (due to pent up demand), but only 8 million more at Gatwick(struggling against Stansted and Luton). So the extra road and rail traffic generated at Heathrow by 2030 would be far greater than that at Gatwick, and (when adding tunnelling the M25 at Heathrow) accounts for the difference in infrastructure costs – £5.7 billion compared to under £1 billion. But with the runways working at full capacity by around 2040, the surface access infrastructure costs of a new Gatwick runway would fall on the Exchequer. These would include widening of the M23 or M25, and improvements to the Brighton main line. With Gatwick then bigger than Heathrow today, there might be a need of of a hugely expensive extension of the M23 into central London. And so on …
Flight path groups write to Heathrow to express concerns about ineffectual Community Noise Forum
Communities around London have written to Heathrow challenging the airport’s engagement with local communities and demanding a range of measures to mitigate the damaging effects of aviation noise on health. The letter is signed by 7 groups which are members of Heathrow’s Community Noise Forum (CNF), that was set up earlier this year in response to a record number of noise complaints. The letter brands the operation of the CNF as “a talking shop and essentially a PR exercise for Heathrow to claim community consultation while taking minimal action” and that “noise from Heathrow has become intolerable”. Given the seriousness of the issues, and the stated intention of the DfT to increase the intensity of the use of airspace over the next few years, the groups also call for a fully independent and comprehensive inquiry to investigate the adverse health impacts of aviation on residential communities. They outline immediate measures that the airport should take to minimise the impacts. These include: reversing changes to flight paths, which have become lower and more concentrated; a permanent ban on night flights starting in 2017; restrictions on the noisiest types of aircraft in the early morning and late in the evening – and other changes.
Heathrow send survey to Heathrow villagers facing potential compulsory purchase – to soften people up?
Heathrow has sent out a survey to (it appears) all the houses that would be under threat of compulsory purchase if there was a north west runway, seeming to ask about their homes etc. It could be considered hugely presumptuous for Heathrow to be mailing residents before there is even an indication from Government that there might be agreement for a runway. The very existence of the survey undermines affected Heathrow villagers, giving the impression that the runway is a done deal. The survey asks a lot of questions, as well as wanting address and email details, like: how many people live at the house, how long have you lived there; do you own or rent, and if so, from a private landlord or a local authority; and do you have other residential properties or commercial properties in an area that could be affected by the expansion of Heathrow. The intention of this survey appears to try to pick off the residents who would be keen to throw in the towel, take the money and get out. The more people sell up, take Heathrow’s offer and leave the area, the more the soul and spirit of the community is lost. Divide and rule. To help win people over, Heathrow is offering, for those whose houses could be demolished, one to one sessions with Heathrow staff to talk about it. (ie. be persuaded to take the money). The sessions can be booked by phone or email.
Alex Salmond says SNP will not back a SE runway unless they are paid huge sums under the Barnett Formula
Alex Salmond, previous First Minister of Scotland,says the SNP will not back a new runway in south-east England unless David Cameron gives millions of ££ to Scotland. He says that to get backing for a runway from the 55 SNP MPs in Parliament, they would need to have agreement of huge funding for Scotland through the Barnett Formula. Alex Salmond said the Airports Commission report was “shoddy”, the “work on the cost/benefit analysis was pretty ropey”, and Sir Howard Davies was “blinkered”. Salmond wants guarantees of extra Scottish flights from an expanded SE airport. Under the Barnett Formula, for every £ spent in England, a proportion must be spent in Scotland, based on its population compared to that of England. It is know that at the very least, a Heathrow runway would cost the public £5 billion for tunnelling the M25. Under the Barnett formula of about 10% of the cost being given to Scotland, that would mean paying about £500 million. (And would the other regions also need their separate payments?) Salmond: “What we’d want to know is that if it were to be a development which depended on infrastructure spending, is that spending going to be properly Barnetted? Or is it going to be another fiddle like the Olympics?” He commented Heathrow and Gatwick had been “desperate” to speak to the SNP, with both sending lobbyists to the party’s conference.
2M group boroughs produce highly critical report of Airports Commission’s Heathrow runway recommendation
The four boroughs that have worked hardest to oppose a Heathrow runway, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead, have produced a damning report on the Airports Commission’s recommendation. They have called on MPs to carefully consider their in-depth assessment of the Commission’s claims, which they have say put together an inflated and distorted case for expanding Heathrow. The councils’ report challenges the recommendation on environmental, health, and community impact grounds, and highlights the environmental, transport, social and political factors that make the 3rd runway undeliverable. They point out how little extra connectivity a new runway would provide; they show claims regarding EU air quality legislation have been misunderstood by the Commission and that it has deliberately recommended adding a large source of pollution in an area that is already under severe strain. Critical factors presenting the biggest challenge to a runway “have been either avoided, or worse, misinterpreted by the Commission.” The councils conclude that a 3rd runway “would significantly reduce regional connectivity and economic competiveness. It would be severely damaging for the millions of people who neighbour the airport and live below its new flightpaths. It is the wrong choice at every level.”
New Heathrow runway would mean at least half those affected by noise would only get 4 hours respite per day
At the evidence session of the Environmental Audit Committee on the environmental impacts of a 3rd Heathrow runway, Daniel Moylan – who is the chief aviation advisor to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, gave evidence. He said a huge number of people under Heathrow flight paths would find their period of respite from the noise reduced, from around half the day (taken as 8 hours, 7am to 11pm) now to just a quarter of the day (ie. 4 hours). His words: “Davies admits that the respite period would on average fall to a third of the flying day rather than half at the moment. But our analysis shows that while that figure of a third, as an average, is about right, for some communities, for over half the communities, this will fall to 25% of the day only. And for the others it will be 50%. So the 30% is an average, and includes 50% of the affected population – a larger population – having only 25% of the flying day as respite….That is something people are not aware of that is coming down the road at them.” Currently for approaches, the airport operates runway alternation, so (with some exceptions) planes land on just one of the runways for half a day, changing to the other at 3pm each day. That gives about half a day of respite. If there is a new runway, this would have to be used in mixed mode, for landings and take offs. Half a day of respite would not be possible.
CAA data show nearly 6,000 more people in Heathrow’s 57 Leq loud noise contour in 2014 than in 2013
The Evening Standard reports that recent CAA data show that over 270,000 people – a 13-year high – suffered from the sound of Heathrow planes overhead last year, which was a rise of nearly 6,000 on 2013. This was also the highest number affected by noise since 2001. In theory, planes are supposed to be getting marginally less noisy, as new models slowly replace older ones. But as planes get ever larger, they are noisier than smaller planes they replace – and these planes are perceived to fly lower. The figures may indicate that Heathrow’s claims it can add a runway and even reduce total noise are not credible. The Airports Commission is likely to have been over-optimistic in presuming that would be possible. London’s population is growing and the CAA analysis shows the number of people suffering noise, using the Government’s preferred measurement, the 57 Leq noise contour, from Heathrow planes rose from around 264,250 to over 270,000 people, though the size of the contour fell from 107.3 km sq to 104.9 km sq. The numbers within the 57 Leq contour fell from 1988 to 2001, but this trend failed to continue over the following years.
John Redwood MP writes to Heathrow & NATS asking for flight paths to revert to earlier pattern
John Redwood, the MP for Wokingham – about 20 km west of Heathrow – has written to Heathrow, to NATS and to Wokingham Council, about the impact of Heathrow aircraft noise on his constituency. He says: “Last year, NATS began experimenting with new trial routes to Heathrow. These were discontinued early as a result of the new noise levels, which were intolerable. However, the routes did not revert to the old pattern. What seems to happen now is a concentration of all flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over my constituency which cause big disturbance and unhappiness. As a result, this issue has become very contentious locally. It would be better if NATS could go back to the system operated prior to last year’s ill-conceived experiments. This would help to reduce the concentrated noise.” He says to the Council: “I think it is important for the council to be aware that this issue is very contentious locally and become more so in recent months. It appears that there is now a concentration of flights in narrow corridors instead of spreading them out, creating air motorways over the local area which cause big disturbance and unhappiness.” He says it “would also be helpful if planes entering and departing Heathrow adopted a steeper take-off and landing approach to enable them to fly higher.” He has expressed guarded support for the idea of another runway in the past.
Leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils tell PM that flight path consultation must precede Government’s runway support
The leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond & Wandsworth councils have written to the Prime Minister to warn that signalling Government support for a 3rd Heathrow runway would be unlawful unless the new flight paths needed re first subject to public consultation. The leaders also highlight a series of flaws and omissions in the Airports Commission’s final report, that recommends a Heathrow runway. They point out that by law, changes to London’s airspace require open consultation. Therefore a decision to expand Heathrow would pre-empt this statutory process. Approving a runway clearly infers the associated flight paths will also be approved. The Airports Commission, though working on Heathrow’s plans for 2 years, failed to identify the location of its new flight paths, let alone consult on them. Instead the Commission’s final report, which costs tax payers in the region of £25m, asks ministers to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway with no details at all on where flight paths would be. That is key information, needed to assess the areas to be worst affected. The local councils have now pointed out that the Commission’s recommendation is directing the Government down a legal cul-de-sac and has urged the PM to dismiss the report.
Corbyn said to be ready to oppose Heathrow runway, partly due to air pollution
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to make air pollution a key campaign issue over the next year which could have “significant implications” for expansion at Heathrow. Writing to senior Labour members, he warned that a 3rd Heathrow runway could worsen the government’s “dreadful record on air quality”. He said “more than 50,000 premature deaths a year” are estimated to be caused by air pollution, and this has been brought into sharp relief by the VW diesel deceit story. A party source said: “Jeremy is clear that he expects Labour to now oppose a third runway at Heathrow. It is now up to the Government to decide what to do.” The decision by Labour to officially come out against a third runway will be a major stumbling block for Heathrow expansion. Jeremy Corbyn campaigned against Heathrow expansion during the Labour leadership contest. However, when the Airports Commission recommendation of a Heathrow runway was announced on 1st June, Labour’s then shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher suggested Labour would back this, as did Harriet Harman.
Heathrow has already begun its initial tendering process, for work on its anticipated runway
Construction News reports that Heathrow Airports Holdings Ltd has begun the tendering process for work on its £17.6 billion third runway, despite the government not yet having decided on a runway, or any of the long process stages having even been started. Heathrow has called for expressions of interest from firms on 4 areas of work ahead of main construction getting under way. These are: programme management; information management; construction advice; and design and technical advice. Interested firms have until 16 October to respond, after which Heathrow will compile a short-list and invite these companies to tender in November. A decision on preferred bidders is expected to be made in the early part of 2016. It is understood that the decision to begin tendering early has been taken “so that Heathrow’s supply chain is ready to begin work as soon as a decision is made by the government.” Back in July, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye announced that the airport would begin tendering for work in December. So this appears to have been brought forward. “Currently, Heathrow is aiming to have spades in the ground by 2020 with a completion set for 2025.” They may be getting somewhat ahead of themselves ….
Laser pen attacks on aircraft continue to cause safety concerns
There has been an issue for some years, of highly irresponsible use of laser pointers, with them being shone at planes approaching airports. This can have the effect of temporarily damaging the vision of the pilots, which is highly unsafe, and could even cause a crash – especially if the plane is below 1,000 feet and the pilot’s vision is damaged for over a minute. The guidance from BALPA etc is perhaps to switch to autopilot, maybe if necessary do a go-around, or even switch to a different runway or different airport. Recent figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show there were 284 incidents in the 3 months from February to March 2015. The highest number of laser incidents during this time was at Heathrow, with 34. Then London City airport 21, Birmingham 18, Leeds-Bradford 15, Manchester 12, and Newcastle 10, Glasgow and Gatwick. The total number of laser attacks in the UK in 2014 was 1,400 that were reported to the CAA in 2014 – up by 3.5% from 2013. There were also another 312 attacks involved British aircraft landing at or taking off from airports overseas. Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight is a criminal offence under UK law and if convicted, offenders can face a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. BALPA wants mandatory prison terms for all offenders. The sale of powerful lasers is restricted in Britain but they can be bought online.
At London rally, John McDonnell hits out at “lying” aviation officials over Heathrow claims
At the huge anti-Heathrow 3rd runway rally, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell lashed out at ‘lying’ aviation officials, saying ‘poisoned’ air is killing residents in the area. He said the aviation industry has ‘consistently lied’ about expanding the UK’s largest airport. He said if it would be ‘down to people power’ to prevent the 3rd runway being built, if the expansion is backed by Parliament and court appeals against the decision fail. “I will welcome back to my constituency, climate camp and all those demonstrators that will take action to prevent this runway being built.”… He said in his Hayes & Harlington constituency, next door to Heathrow: “… at the moment, people are literally dying. They’re dying because the air has already been poisoned by the aviation industry. …They’ve promised us after every inquiry, no further expansion. They are liars. They have consistently lied to us. They now tell us if they get a 3rd runway, there’ll be no increase in noise and no increase in pollution. They lie every time to us.” He said up to 4,000 homes would be demolished, or rendered unliveable in his constituency. Both main mayoral candidates, Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, also addressed the rally, and spoke about the seriousness of the risk to ever worse air quality – with its health implications.
Huge rally against Heathrow 3rd runway demonstrates intense cross-party opposition in London
A huge rally against a 3rd Heathrow runway, attended by one to two thousand activists who are determined not to let it ever be built, They heard impassioned speeches from all the main London mayoral candidates, who reiterated the extent of the environmental impacts – noise and air pollution in particular. The rally sent a clear message to government that a runway is deeply opposed, and would be fought strenuously. The repeated chant at the rally was: “No ifs, no buts. No 3rd runway.” Zac said: “We know that our air pollution problems in London would be unsolvable if we expand Heathrow. And we know it requires the demolition of more than 1,000 homes. It is a catastrophic price to pay. I think we have won the arguments, I think we are winning the campaign. The environmental case against a third runway is devastating and makes expansion both legally and morally impossible. The economic case has completely disintegrated.” Sadiq said: “It would be madness to build a new runway. People who care about London and the health of London, who worry about the noise, who worry about the infrastructure, are united against it.” John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said: “In my constituency at the moment, people are literally dying. They’re dying because the air has already been poisoned by the aviation industry.”
Sunday Times exposé cites “potentially dangerous levels of air pollution” at Pippins School in Poyle
The Sunday Times has done an analysis of data from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, Defra’s pollution database, showing levels of NO2 across the UK. Defra estimates the NO2 emitted in each square kilometre of the UK by measuring the density of roads, rail and industry. Although the inventory does not measure the concentration of NO2 in the air, it is a strong indicator of potentially high levels. In some cases, The Sunday Times has been able to use readings of NO2 levels from monitoring stations to confirm high levels. They looked at schools, and found that Pippins School in Poyle, close to Heathrow, is the second most polluted school in the UK. It had 205 tonnes of NO2 per square km, per year. Another school in the area, Cranford Primary School, was the 5th highest (165 tonnes NO2/km2/year). The school that got the very worst readings may be adversely affected by a diesel train depot nearby. The study looked at schools with levels above 25 tonnes per square kilometre, which is six times the national average. Two schools in Yorkshire, near the M1, with levels of NO2 of around 50 tonnes per km sq will close soon, and the pupils will be re-located, as the location is deemed too unhealthy.
Protesters blast aircraft noise outside hotel of Conservative Party conference at 4.30am
Though not permitted into the Conservative Party conference, Plane Stupid campaigners have held a number of eye-catching (or ear blasting) protests outside. They played full volume sound of landing aircraft outside the Midland Hotel, where conference delegates were staying, at 4.30am – which is the time when the first flight arrives into Heathrow. The sound system was concealed in a wheelie bin. Plane Stupid campaigners wanted to give politicians a taste of daily life for those living under Heathrow’s (or other) flight paths. They also show that a decision for a 3rd runway will be met with fierce resistance to save the future of homes and communities in the Heathrow villages. As well as the 4.30am noise, protesters from Plane Stupid and the Heathrow villages paraded a giant model plane outside the conference, emblazoned with the words: “No third runway. No ifs, no buts” – a reminder of David Cameron’s pledge before the 2010 election. They also hung up a giant banner from a building opposite, saying “2015. No ifs, no buts. No new runways.” To rub salt into the wounds for the Heathrow villages residents, Heathrow has also revealed new images of their dreamed of new NW runway, showing how it erases hundreds of homes and makes other communities too noisy and polluted to realistically be habitable.
‘Clean Air in London’ obtains QC Opinion on Air Quality Law (including at Heathrow)
The group, Clean Air in London (CAL), is very aware of the problems of air quality in London. Its founder and director, Simon Birkett, says the law about air pollution is not being properly applied. So they have asked their environmental solicitors, Harrison Grant, to obtain advice from a QC on the approach which planning authorities across the UK should take to Air Quality Law. CAL wants to ensure that tough decisions to reduce air pollution and protect public health are taken by the Government, the Mayor and other planning authorities. In particular CAL wanted to clarify the extent to which planning decisions should take into account breaches, or potential breaches, of air pollution limits. This applies particularly to a Heathrow runway, among other projects. CAL now have advice from Robert McCracken QC. It says: “Where a development would in the locality either make significantly worse an existing breach or significantly delay the achievement of compliance with limit values it must be refused.” And “Any action which significantly increases risk to the health of the present generation, especially the poor who are often those most directly affected by poor air quality, would not be compatible with the concept as health is plainly a need for every generation.
Labour peer Lord Adonis to head Osborne infrastructure body – to get things like a new runway built fast
A new body to plan infrastructure projects, the “independent” National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will be chaired by the former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis. The government is expected to announce it will pledge an extra £5 billion in this Parliament for major schemes, which he hopes will boost the UK economy. Osborne says he plans to “shake Britain out of its inertia” and Lord Adonis thinks that without “big improvements” in transport and energy “Britain will grind to a halt”. The NIC will initially focus on London’s transport system, connections between cities in the north of England, and updating the energy network – funded by selling off land, buildings and other government assets. Lord Adonis has resigned the Labour whip and will sit as a crossbencher in the Lords as he starts work in his new role immediately. The NIC will produce a report at the start of each five-year Parliament containing recommendations of infrastructure building over the next 20 to 30 years. Osborne: “I’m not prepared to turn round to my children – or indeed anyone else’s child – and say ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t build for you.’ John Cridland, director-general of the CBI business lobby said: ” ….we must not duck the important infrastructure decisions that need taking now, particularly on expanding aviation capacity in the South East.”
Guardian reports Patrick McLoughlin saying Government statement on runway likely to be delayed – even past May 2016
An article in the Guardian, interviewing Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, says that because of the well known “deep and unresolved cabinet splits over whether to expand Heathrow to provide more airport capacity for the south-east, the statement by the government about the runway issue may be delayed. It has been expected that some sort of statement would be made, before Christmas. This might be in favour of Heathrow, or it might be a holding response to give government more time. The Guardian states: “McLoughlin said an announcement would “hopefully” be made [before Christmas], but he could not promise it would, or indeed that it would be made before next May’s London and council elections. It was simply the firm intention, but that was as much as he could say.” At least five cabinet ministers, as well as Boris Johnson, a likely candidate to succeed Cameron after he steps down in 2020, are against, while Osborne, probably now the favourite to step into Cameron’s shoes, is in favour. Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Mayoral candidate, deeply opposed to the runway, is a huge complication for the government on the issue.
Careful analysis by Richmond campaign shows up weaknesses in Airports Commission economic arguments
The Airports Commission, in recommending Heathrow as the location for a new runway, has given the impression that it would benefit the regions and create more connectivity for regional airports. An analysis of the Commission’s many papers, by the Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC), has unearthed very different data. These indicate that the Heathrow north west runway would mean an extra 41 million annual passengers at Heathrow, but a loss of 58 million passengers per year from other UK airports, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. The RHC does not consider this to be compatible with the “Northern Powerhouse.” They also believe that over 50% of the new runway capacity would be used for an extra 22 million International to International transfers, providing little economic value to the UK as these passengers don’t step outside the airport. The RHC comments that the Commission’s data shows the investment of £17.6 billion to build the runway would result in a net benefit of £1.4 billion (present value over 60 years) when other costs are taken into account. This is negligible in macro-economic terms. The RHC says the Commission’s own reports show “there is no need for this costly new investment in one airport at the expense of others. Allowing the market to grow where it is needed is the right answer – no new runways.”
New group, CHATR (Chiswick Against the Third Runway) formed to oppose Heathrow expansion
The first meeting of a new group in Chiswick, opposing Heathrow expansion, took place on 25th September. The group is CHATR (Chiswick Against the Third Runway), and it covers areas in North and Central Chiswick that would be badly over-flown by arrivals to a new north west runway. Ruth Cadbury MP for Brentford & Isleworth, who has campaigned against expansion at Heathrow for 12 years, spoke at the meeting..John Stewart, HACAN’s Chairman said the meeting was ‘timely indeed’ as the deadline for a Government decision on the runway rapidly approaches. Last time round, back in 2009, there was active opposition to a new runway from the Chiswick area, and there is again determination to see it does not happen. The area will not only suffer the plane noise, but also considerably increased pollution and noise, from the increase in road traffic that will inevitably be the consequence of the runway. People were encouraged to attend the anti-runway rally, as CHATR representing Chiswick, in Parliament Square on 10th October (11 am to 12.30pm). It is suggested they come with a placard clearly showing their postcode and stating they are against the third runway. More information or to join CHATR@mail.com
West Country MP says “London mustn’t have a veto on Heathrow” – led to believe a runway would benefit his region
An MP from the South West, Dr Liam Fox (MP for North Somerset) has said that a decision on a runway for the south east should not be made by people in London alone. Though he does graciously concede that: “Residents of west London who live beneath the flightpath do have legitimate concerns” he says “the capital must not be allowed to dominate a debate that is about the future of the whole UK.” And he produces the figures of benefit of a 3rd Heathrow runway to the South West of “a £10 billion increase in economic activity, as well as 12,300 new jobs.” Unfortunately these figures are actually up to 2050. They also come from a (4 page) paper from consultants employed by Heathrow airport, long before the Airports Commission’s final report. Dr Fox believes there will be a big expansion in business air travel, and that there will be many more flights to regional airports, like those in the SW. He does not seem to have read the Commission’s comments about there being regional flights to only 4 domestic airports (from 7 now) by 2050, or Howard Davies’ comments to the London Assembly about regional airports being likely to close. Dr Fox – and other MPs in the regions – would perhaps do well to understand the limitations and failings of the Commission’s work on wider UK economic impacts of a SE runway.
Revolving door revolves again: Vickie Sheriff (used to work at 10 Downing Street) to be Heathrow head of comms
There have for a long time been concerns about the “revolving door”, by which people switch between working high up in the aviation industry, and working high up in Government. The concern is that they may bring too much influence, from their earlier employer. Now it is announced that Vickie Sheriff it to become head of communications for Heathrow airport. Earlier she had 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. Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left earlier this year to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications. This is the job that was previously held by Vickie Sheriff. (Simon Baugh was not actually meant to be advising ministers on the new runway issue till 1st September, when he had been at the DfT for 6 months). Heathrow also appointed a new consumer PR agency in the summer. There have been several other high profile examples of the “revolving door” in the past, including Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair and then went to BAA as head of comms.
Chairman of Commons Environmental Audit Committee says Cameron must answer questions on Heathrow expansion.
Air quality is a KEY problem (also CO2 & noise). Sections on air quality from a number of submissions are copied in this link. It is a complicated issue, but the various submissions set out clearly what the problems are – and just how insuperable problem they are for Heathrow expansion. Great submission from the 2M group, and AEF, and Clean Air in London, and Boris.
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recently set up an Inquiry on the “Airports Commission report: Carbon emissions, air quality and noise.” It closed on 3rd September. A considerable number of submissions have been made, from councils, organisations, individuals (and a few from the aviation industry or its consultants). The Chairman of the Committee, Hugh Irranca-Davies, has said that the Government has “big questions to answer” over how it could meet the legally binding EU air quality rules while backing a 3rd Heathrow runway. The submissions, including the one from Transport for London (Boris Johnson) raised a series of objections to a bigger Heathrow. Boris said: “The Commission has failed to demonstrate that a three-runway Heathrow, even with mitigation, will not have the worst NO2 concentration in Greater London, so risking the compliance of the entire zone and EU fines on the UK.” He said the Commission failed to recognise the impact of increased road traffic. Clean Air in London said: “If the Commission is suggesting that the only relevant requirement is that additional runway capacity should not delay in time average compliance throughout the London zone, then it has misdirected itself on the law.”
BALPA questions effectiveness of Heathrow 3.2 degree approach trial – noise might even increase?
Heathrow has started a 6 month trial of some aircraft approaching the airport at a 3.2 degree angle, rather than the usual 3 degrees. Its intention is to make a small reduction in aircraft noise. But BALPA, the pilots union, has commented that this may actually be more noise, not less. The steeper angle means pilots will need to be aware of how this will affect the handling of the aircraft and will have to adapt their flying accordingly. Though modern planes are quite capable of landing at 3.2 degrees, the plane must be at a specific height and speed and configured correctly when it reaches 1,000ft above the airport. If it does not meet the criteria the landing must be aborted. It is possible the 3.2 degree approach could result in more go-arounds. That would cause more noise, more pollution and an increase in workload for both air traffic controllers and pilots. Planes would also need to slow down earlier in their preparation for landing. Using speed brakes, lowering the undercarriage and using flaps to reduce speed could possibly increase the noise levels further out on the approach to the airport. Some aircraft may have to use full flaps for landings, which will increase noise due to higher power settings required to counter the extra drag.
Airports Commission figures show Heathrow runway to provide, at the most, just 12 more long haul destinations
The Airports Commission said that a very important reason for building a new runway, and Heathrow in particular, was to increase the connectivity with “long-haul destinations in new markets.” And so it would be logical to believe their analysis would show that a new runway at Heathrow, (or Gatwick) would show a large increase in these routes. The Commission’s own work [using their Assessment of Need scenario, carbon capped] forecasts that while Heathrow (2011) had 57 destinations with at least a daily flight, this would only rise to 63 without a new runway. It would only rise to 73 with a 3rd runway. That is just 10 more. For the UK as a whole, including all airports, the Commission forecasts that the number of long haul destinations in 2011 was 61, and this would rise to 82 even without a new runway. The total number would only rise to 87 with a new Heathrow runway. That is just 5 more. And their figures indicate that the number of long haul destinations from regional airports would fall from 23 to 21 by 2050 and be slightly lower than they would have been without a new runway. So much for boosting the “Northern Powerhouse.” The Commission said a Heathrow runway could provide “up to 12 additional long-haul destinations.”
London Assembly votes decisively that “there is no circumstance under which Heathrow expansion would be acceptable”
Sir Howard Davies and Phil Graham, from the (now closed) Airports Commission, attended a Question and Answer session at the London Assembly. It is fully recorded and can be seen here. Over the two hour session, they answered questions on a range of issues including economics, reasons for rejecting Gatwick, noise, night flights, conditions imposed on Heathrow, air pollution, adequacy of surface access, amount of money needed to be paid by the taxpayer for surface access improvements, carbon emissions, impact on regional airports etc. Assembly members did not appear particularly persuaded by the replies they received. After the Q&A session, a motion was voted on. It was passed unanimously (13:0). The full text of the amended Motion is: “That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked and reiterates its belief that there is no circumstance under which Heathrow expansion would be acceptable.” The motion was proposed by Richard Tracey, and seconded by Darren Johnson. The Assembly say this is an absolute NO to Heathrow.
Study done for Airports Commission shows 3rd Heathrow runway could place thousands more children at risk of sleep, reading and memory problems
The Teddington Action Group (TAG) has written to all headteachers in London to alert them to the findings of a report published by the Airports Commission (1st July), admitting that thousands of extra children could experience sleep, reading and memory problems as a result of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The TAG letter highlights the findings of the report “Aircraft noise effects on health”, by Dr Charlotte Clark of Queen Mary University of London. This points to evidence of the health and educational effects on children of aviation noise. These include: sleep disturbance and changes in sleep structure; decreased quality of life; and decreased reading performance. The report estimates that an additional 24 schools will suffer from aircraft noise above the maximum levels recommended by the WHO if a 3rd runway is built, placing thousands of extra children at risk of decreased educational attainment. TAG said parents would be concerned about the report’s findings, and how little weight was put on this issue by the Commission. The first part of the report is a review of the evidence on the effect of aircraft noise on health including psychological health; the second part deals with the effects of aircraft noise on children’s cognition and learning. and the implications for the proposed runway schemes.
Protest by “Heathrow Homeless” on Bank Holiday Monday, to deliver runway to airport bosses
The proposed north-west runway at Heathrow would mean the compulsory purchase of 750 homes, and the eviction of their residents. Another 3,000 homes may be bought up by the airport, as they would be too unpleasant to live in. Map. The Heathrow Villagers affected are understandably highly anxious, depressed, angry and desperate at the prospect of losing their homes, their communities, and areas where they may have lived and raised families over many decades. On August Bank Holiday Monday a group set off on a coach trip to express their fears and their outrage at the prospect of the demolition of their homes. They went first to the house of Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye (who was out), and then the constituency office of the Conservative Party in David Cameron’s constituency, and then the home of Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Sustainability & Environment Director. They laid out a fake plastic runway in his drive, in the pouring rain. The protesters felt their action was justified as there are no plans to create new housing for displaced people; no schemes have been put into legal documents; no support is planned for tenants made homeless. These are issues that need to be addressed BEFORE a decision is made on Heathrow expansion
Alex Salmond says 3rd Heathrow runway is for the benefit of London and SE, to the detriment of Scotland
Alex Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland, speaking on the subject of Heathrow expansion, said that UK Governments have a long history of dressing up London investment as being of equal benefit to the whole nation. He is not persuaded that the Treasury is particularly interested in benefiting Scotland. There is evidence that public spending in previous decades, while supposedly UK-wide, is in reality aimed at helping London and the south of England. Some examples given are the redevelopment of docklands, the Jubilee line extension, and concentrating defence spending, procurement, and the civil service firmly in the south. Alex Salmond says that much of this type of spending was omitted from all official accounts of “identifiable public spending” and it still is. But public spending in Scotland was routinely described as a “subsidy.” He says the proposed Heathrow runway would be to the potential detriment of Scotland, which is facing all of the pain and none of the gain. He wants to boost direct Scottish flights to and from international destinations for the benefit of travellers, tourism and Scottish exporting industries. And he wants APD cut in Scotland, reducing the need to fly via London at all.
About £85 million spent to update Heathrow tunnels and reinforce them against heavy A380s above
The main tunnel into Heathrow airport terminals was built in the 1950s, to the standards of the time. The runways to over it. Now with better safety standards needed in case of fire, and with heavier planes overhead, with aircraft like the A380, the tunnels need to be refurbished and strengthened. This work is costing about £85 million, which is about 10 times the cost of their initial construction. Work is being done at night, keeping one tunnel open. The work is due to finish in about February 2016. Presumably – if Heathrow was to get its north west 3rd runway and the M25 had to be tunnelled underneath it – the same quality of tunnel with extra strength to withstand heavier planes has to be incorporated.The Airports Commission considered the cost of surface access improvements for the Heathrow runway would be about £5.7 billion (the cost of the M25 tunnelling is an unspecified part of that total). Heathrow airport is not willing to pay those costs, and wants the taxpayer to bear the financial burden.
Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway likely to lead to internal Labour party disputes
Jeremy Corbyn – who might become leader of the Labour party – has come out against a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The Labour leadership favourite has indicated in an interview with the FT that under him, the party would not support expansion at Heathrow. He said: “I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across west London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London. I’d vote against it in this parliament.” If he does become leader (decision on 12th September) this would represent a U-turn from the party’s current stance of supporting the runway, if certain conditions are met. Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway will have an impact on the London mayoral race, as two Labour candidates are in favour of it, and two against. Tessa Jowell, the favourite to win the nomination, would find herself at odds with her party’s leadership on Heathrow. There are also plenty of moderates in the party who would also rebel against Corbyn. But airports are purely a lobbying issue for mayoral candidates — they have no actual power over the decision. It is not yet known if there will be a parliamentary vote on a runway, though it will require a lot of public funding (directly and indirectly for years). David Cameron will decide by November whether to accept the Airports Commission recommendation of Heathrow, and if Labour now votes against it, that could fatally undermine the project.
Head of “nudge unit” considers Heathrow opponents could be bought off with free Caribbean flights
Since the UK’s behavioural insights team, or “nudge unit” was set up by David Cameron in 2010 to try to improve public services and save money, it has had various successes in making small changes to people’s behaviour. It still gets most of its work from government, though it has now expanded to take on a wider range of projects. It is now a part-privatised company. Recently David Halpern, the head of the unit, said that fresh thinking was needed to win over the local population affected by Heathrow, in order to stop their opposition holding back a major infrastructure project. He has told the Times that he believes Heathrow’s neighbours could be bought-off [not his words] by bribes [not his words] of free flights to the Caribbean to persuade them of the benefits of a third runway. Purely by self interest. That sort of thing could avoid costly planning battles, by defusing opposition. The idea is that by getting free travel vouchers, people being over-flown by planes think “There goes my holiday to Barbados.” The problem of the carbon emissions has not occurred to Mr Halpern. It does not appear that other “nudges” have involved such blatant and expensive bribery. … Unbelievable that this could be permitted…..
Group of London councils say Airports Commission buried economic evidence
The AEF has analysed the Airports Commission’s economic claims, of £147 billion of benefit to the UK (over 60 years) of a Heathrow runway. Now council leaders of London boroughs, opposed to a Heathrow runway (but unfortunately keen on a Gatwick runway instead) have also criticised the Commission’s figures. They have unearthed a letter by Professor Peter Mackie and Mr Brian Pearce, the Commission’s own expert advisors, which questions the reliability of growth forecasts used to justify the Heathrow recommendation. Instead of the £147 billion estimate by PwC, the the Government’s established approach to economic modelling predicts growth in the region of £33.6 – 54.8 billion for Heathrow expansion, versus £27.2 – 47.1 billion for Gatwick. In a letter to the Commission Mackie and Pearce warn that the figures include “a high degree of overlap between the direct and wider impacts… double counting … and rely on economic growth and other assumptions which are at the extreme end of the range.” They warn that “qualifiers such as ‘up to’ do not give a flavour of the likely median or mean outcome across the economic scenarios.” The methodology used by PWC is experimental and has never been tested against a live project.
13 Plane Stupid activists who invaded Heathrow plead not guilty – trial in January
Thirteen members of Plane Stupid, who invaded part of Heathrow on 13th July as a protest about a possible 3rd runway, were charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome. At Uxbridge magistrates’ court on 19th August, they all pleaded not guilty to both charges. Dressed in polar bear costumes or wearing David Cameron masks, and carrying placards – they were surrounded by supporters and arrived to chants of “no ifs, no buts, no third runway!” Many of the 40 or so supporters could not get into the public gallery. One of the accused, Sheila Menon, said people are already negatively impacted by Heathrow, and the UK already has enough runway capacity. An extra runway would largely cater for leisure travel by a minority. She believed the government was failing to act responsibly, and: “It is against this background and the failure of democratic processes, we believe our actions were reasonable, justifiable and necessary.” The 13 were released on bail on the condition not to enter Heathrow or the area considered to be its perimeter. A trial date was set for 18th January. It is thought the case will last two weeks, with each defendant expecting to give evidence.
Airport shops cheating passengers out of £ millions in VAT fiddle
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke said he was concerned and disappointed that airport retailers were pocketing millions of pounds in VAT discounts without passing the savings to customers. And that this should stop. Stores at airports demand that passengers present their boarding cards at checkouts before paying for any goods,in order to avoid paying 20% VAT on everything they sell to customers who are travelling outside the EU. Most of these stores, including Boots and W H Smith, do not pass on the savings to passengers. The Independent says this ruse is also used by so-called “duty-free” shops to boost their profits on alcohol sales, thereby making profits of up to 100% on each alcohol sale they make to travellers leaving Europe. UKinbound chief executive said visitors to the UK already have the impression that the UK is an expensive destination – and this is not helping. The airports charge retailers huge rent, to have the privilege of a store in the captive market that is the airport departure lounge. Exact figures are hard to come by and not publicly available, but Heathrow alone last year made around £400m in rental income from its airport 345 concessions and stores. Unlike on the high street Heathrow does not charge its stores a set flat rent – but rather a % of their net sales. On average each retailer is paying over £1m a year in rent.
Slough’s £1.5 million deal with Heathrow “unlocked funding denied to other councils” like Hillingdon
Slough Council has backed Heathrow’s runway plans, and entered into a deal with Heathrow to try and get the maximum benefits. Slough Council says its deal will “unlock £1.5 million in direct financial support denied to neighbouring councils.” Slough’s Deputy Leader James Swindlehurst has refuted suggestions that its partnership with Heathrow is anything less than the strong package he promised in January to mitigate the worst impact of airport expansion for communities closest to Heathrow. This has meant that Slough has secured funds for mitigation while neighbouring councils have been left with nothing. “Councils like Hillingdon, who have not negotiated with the airport, have no funds being allocated to them.” Cllr Swindlehurst says the agreement provides a guaranteed minimum of £100,000 per year for 15 years where Heathrow and the Council will allocate the money to fund specific improvement projects in selected wards. That would only follow approval of the Development Consent Order for a 3rd runway, but Cllr Swindelhurst says additional funding pledges specifically mentioned in the agreement are in addition. Hounslow is now in talks with Heathrow, to get a financial deal. Hilliingdon has refused to enter into financial negotiations.
Independence of Airports Commission questioned over Howard Davies’ role in Prudential, which recently bought more Heathrow property
Campaigners against a 3rd Heathrow runway have questioned the independence of the Airports Commission and its chairman, Howard Davies. It has been revealed that he is a board member of Prudential, an insurance group which invested in property near Heathrow, just months before the Commission recommended a 3rd runway. He chairs its risk committee, which reviews and approves group investment policies as well as advising the board on risks in the company’s “strategic transactions and business plans”. The Guardian reports that Prudential embarked on a £300m spending spree on properties around Heathrow, just as the commission prepared to deliver its final report, on 1st July. Prudential has an asset management business, M&G. In 2013 it bought the Hilton hotel at Terminal 5 for £21m and an earlier investment with planning permission for a large hotel close to where the proposed 3rd runway would be built. In May and June 2015 M&G bought more property including cargo depots and a business park a short distance from Terminal 4. Howard Davies also, till September 2012, advised the GIC (Singapore), which owns 11.2% of Heathrow. The Teddington Action Group say Davies’ links with Prudential undermines the impartiality and credibility of the Commission’s recommendations.
Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader could scupper plans for Heathrow 3rd runway
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party could scupper plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, as he has now declared his opposition to it. The three other Labour contenders, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, all support the plan to expand Heathrow. Jeremy Corbyn appears most likely to win the leadership contest. If the Conservative party needs to get a Heathrow runway approved in Parliament, he may need Labour to be behind it. When the Airports Commission issued their final report on 1st July, Labour supported a Heathrow runway and wanted a quick decision by the Government to get on with it. But now Mr Corbyn said: “A third runway at Heathrow would mean 4,000 homes demolished and 10,000 people displaced. It would cause massive increases in noise and air pollution and inflict misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners. UK air pollution is already above EU limits, and 30,000 people are dying every year because of it”. He wants better transport links to airports, betteru se of existing capacity, and more even spread to the regions. Of the London Mayoral candidates, Tessa Jowell, Gareth Thomas and David Lammy back Heathrow, and Sadiq Khan, Christian Wolmar and Diane Abbott are against.
Hounslow Council “positive and productive” and “better working relationship” with Heathrow
Labour led Hounslow council responded to the Airports Commission’s final report recommending a 3rd Heathrow runway, by saying that while the council is opposed to a bigger Heathrow, they want “a better and successful Heathrow.” They continue say they are against a 3rd runway, or any relaxation on runway alternation, or more than 480,000 flights per year. However, the extent of the council’s opposition is much reduced. It says it wants the “very best noise protection and pollution control measures for our residents – and in particular, our schools.” But it adds: …”we welcome the report’s recommendation that the new runway should come with severe restrictions to reduce the environmental and noise effects, including a noise levy, and that night flights would be banned. … we …. have recently developed a positive and productive relationship with Heathrow, which has resulted in many improvements for local people…” In June the council denied rumours it has withdrawn from the 2M group, which opposes a Heathrow third runway. Hounslow is noticeably on better terms with Heathrow, hoping to get benefits if a runway is permitted. Hounslow teamed up with Hillingdon Council to oppose a planning application which would enable more departures over Cranford.
Willie Walsh says Heathrow 3rd runway is a “vanity project” with outrageous costs
British Airways boss Willie Walsh has said that the costs of Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway would be “outrageous”. He said: “At the moment this is a vanity project by the management of Heathrow who are driven to build a monument to themselves.” Walsh said that even if Heathrow gained another runway it would be lagging behind Dubai as a global hub by the time it is built. “It is based on inefficient infrastructure which is not fit for purpose. Airlines and consumers are looking for lower costs when it comes to flying but airports only seem to be looking at higher costs.” Heathrow was already one of the most expensive airports in the world and was now “talking about raising costs by 50% to build the extra runway”. His criticism may be the start of negotiations to ensure BA is not landed with a huge bill to fund Heathrow expansion. John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “Willie Walsh is saying that a 3rd runway won’t deliver benefits for the aviation industry that are worth paying for. This could turn out to be curtains for the third runway unless this is no more than clever negotiating tactics by one of the sharpest operators in the business.”
Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd runway
The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves. It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….” The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law.
British Airways-owner CEO, Willie Walsh, opposes new Heathrow runway as too expensive to airlines
British Airways-owner IAG does not support the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway, its chief executive said, because the costs of the project does not make sense for the airline. Willie Walsh said: “We think the costs associated with the third runway are outrageous and certainly from an IAG point of view we will not be supporting it and we will not be paying for it. …We’re not going to support something that increases our costs.” British Airways is the biggest airline at Heathrow [it has around 50% of the slots]. An expanded Heathrow with a new runway would be partly paid for by higher charges to airlines. In May this year he had said “the cost of all three [runway] options are excessive and would translate into an unacceptable increase in charges at the airports.” Not to mention the problems of politics and unacceptability to the public. The Airports Commission’s final report says, with a new runway at Heathrow, “The resulting impact on passenger aeronautical charges across the Commission’s four demand scenarios for Heathrow is an increase from c. £20 per passenger to a weighted average charge of c. £28-30 per passenger and a potential peak of up to c. £31.”
Ipsos Mori poll across UK shows 33% don’t want airport capacity increased (60% do). Only 13.2% want Heathrow runway.
The Evening Standard commissioned a poll by Ipsos Mori, of attitudes to a new runway – or a new airport. It was a telephone poll, of 1,026 adults across the UK, between 18th and 20th July. It found that 60% thought there should be some airport capacity expansion. 33% though there should be no expansion (and 7% did not know). Of the 60% in favour, 44% (ie. 26% of the total) either wanted a new airport or expansion of an airport other than Heathrow or Gatwick. Only 22% of those wanting expansion wanted a Heathrow runway (ie. 13.2% of the total sample) and only 24% (ie. 14.4% of the total sample) wanted a Gatwick runway. Those figures really are very small. Asking the whole sample, including those who did not think airport expansion was needed, what were the most important issues the Government should consider on where a runway should be built, the very highest number said “impact on the natural environment” (39%) and the second highest was “noise created for local residents” (30%). Other issues like total costs, support of local residents, local air quality and traffic congestion were all important (about 11 – 15%). The message being taken from the poll is not only that backing for a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is very small, and there is no consensus, but also that there is more backing for a new airport elsewhere – or expanding another airport (regional?)
David Cameron urged to reopen consultation on air quality at Heathrow
More than 30 west London politicians and anti-airport expansion group leaders have signed a letter to the PM over air pollution following Airports Commission recommendation to allow a 3rd Heathrow runway. Serious concerns exist about the level of air pollution around Heathrow, where it is already above the legal limit. The group of organisations signing the letter to David Cameron include the leaders of two councils, and 5 MPs, 3 Assembly members and environmental groups, say this problem has not been taken seriously by the Commission. There either needs to be a new consultation, or the government should rule out a Heathrow runway. The Commission’s conclusions are based on a highly flawed and very short consultation. The letter states: “Given the Commission timetable and the fact their main 350-page report was published just a month after the air quality consultation ended, it is clear that the Commission effectively regarded it as a tick box exercise and one that was immaterial to the overall report. It is hard to see how a third runway with millions more car and lorry journeys to the airport will improve air quality around west London. It will obviously make it worse. In doing so it will also raise the legal bar for expansion ever getting the green light.”
Heathrow may oppose ban on night flights, and ban on 4th runway, as price for 3rd runway
Heathrow is to press the government to loosen the conditions attached to a 3rd runway going ahead, unwilling to agree either to a ban on night flights or on a 4th runway. These were two important conditions suggested by the Airports Commission, to make a 3rd runway acceptable to its neighbours. However, Heathrow sees the conditions as negotiable, and John Holland-Kaye brazenly said he was confident Heathrow would be given the green light to expand and that “it wouldn’t make sense” for the prime minister to oppose a new runway now. Even if Heathrow does not agree to important conditions. Holland-Kaye wants to have a “conversation” about conditions with government. It is used to trying to have “conversations” with local residents, in which the airport generally manages to get its way, with only minimal concessions. Heathrow does not want lose lucrative night flights: “We have a significant number of routes to Hong Kong and Singapore. That’s getting key trading partners into the UK to start their business. It’s very popular because it’s an important route.” Holland-Kaye said the airport would “comment later on the package of conditions as a whole”, but he noted that “we do have the ability, physically” to build a 4th runway.
Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay
The Airports Commission left the matter of who would pay for the approximately £5 billion needed to tunnel a section of the M25, and other surface access improvements, vague. The assumption has been made that the taxpayer would have to fund this, though the Airports Commission suggested that Heathrow would be able to find the funding from its investors for this. Now the CEO of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a 3rd runway is built. Huge motorway engineering would be needed, to have the runway going over the motorway. John Holland-Kaye has ruled out paying for the surface access work. Though the government funds road and rail improvements under normal circumstances, tunnelling the M25 and dealing with hugely increased road traffic using an airport 50% larger than at present are not normal circumstances. Especially in times of huge economic savings being necessary in public finances. The Commission’s final report said it considered the runway was commercially viable “without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs.” This would be by Heathrow “raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator.”
LAANC (Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council) to consider legal action against “biased and flawed” Airports Commission report
LAANC, the Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council, has said it is considering a legal challenge over the huge gaps and deep bias of the Airports Commission (AC) report. It will wait for a full report from its legal team before deciding its next steps. Founded in the 1960s to enable local authorities to collaborate on tackling noise pollution from Heathrow, it now addresses any form of disturbance. Its director Colin Stanbury, said his initial view was that the AC report contained serious gaps, including the flawed benefits methodology used, which dramatically overestimated the economic benefits. There are serious concens about the number of houses that would need to be built. “There was incredulity that Sir Howard had allowed Heathrow’s claim to stand that the massive cost of surface access changes would be picked up by the taxpayer …” Air quality claims in the report were considered beyond common sense. And so on, for many issues including noise and air freight. But the AC’s report was independent, and the AC has been wound up. Legal challenge may not be possible until there is a government report. The LAANC will produce its own non technical summary before end of summer to help people digest the AC report and analysis. The 2M group of councils is also taking advice on a possible legal challenge.
MP’s Environmental Audit Committee launch inquiry into Heathrow 3rd runway impacts
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched an inquiry into the implications for government commitments on air quality, noise and CO2 of a Heathrow 3rd runway. The Airports Commission, in recommending a Heathrow runway, said this should be subject to environmental and quality mitigation measures. This includes binding air quality commitments so that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed any further, at risk from increased road traffic for a larger Heathrow. EU limits for NO2 around Heathrow are already being exceeded. On increased aircraft noise, which would be unavoidable from a 3rd runway, the Commission proposed an aviation noise levy to fund mitigation measures, an independent aviation noise authority and a legally binding “noise envelope.” None of which really address the problem of up to 50% more flights, with the inevitable noise. The EAC inquiry is requesting submissions (deadline 3rd September) on whether proposed mitigations set out in the Airports Commission’s are realistic and achievable, and wider government policy. The new Chairman of the EAC is Huw Irranca-Davies, since Joan Walley stepped down. Other EAC members are Rory Stewart and Caroline Lucas.
Slough Council secret deal with Heathrow includes gagging order, making it impotent in fighting for a better deal from Heathrow for 3 – 4 years
Residents of Colnbook, close to Heathrow and due to be badly affected by a 3rd runway, submitted a FoI request to get the details for the secret, but legally binding, deal done between Slough Borough Council and Heathrow airport. The details of the deal are worrying. As well as finding out that Colnbrook, and help for the residents, do not feature in the deal, it has emerged that Slough Council has accepted what amounts to a self-imposed gagging order, unable to criticise Heathrow for the next 3 to 4 years,until Heathrow is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO). As well as a boost for investment in the town and improved access from central Slough to the airport, the secret agreement sees Heathrow commit to supporting the Council’s representations to Government to seek compensation for lost business rates, put by the council itself at up to £10 million earlier this year. In return, however, Cabinet is legally bound to giving public support for the airport until final permission, is granted. A Development Consent Order is at least three years away, possibly four. Residents expected that their council would have argued for “world class” compensation and mitigation.
Colnbrook was “sold down the river for a pittance”; details of Slough Council’s secret Heathrow agreement now revealed
The people of Colnbrook, about a mile west of Heathrow’s northern runway, have been trying to find out about the deal done by their council, Slough, with the airport – if there is a 3rd runway. Slough Borough Council has been reluctant to publish details, but has now been forced to do so. As Colnbrook residents feared, though they had been given assurances by the Deputy Leader, there is no provision to look after them. People are angry at what they see as deception of Colnbrook residents by Slough Council. A ward councillor, staunchly opposed to a new runway, has now provided the full legally binding agreement signed between the council and the airport. It shows that far from providing a package of mitigation for communities closest to the airport as repeatedly claimed by the council, Colnbrook is not mentioned once. There are no benefits for them. The deal sees a boost for investment in the town from Heathrow, including secret plans to “unlock” new commercial land in the borough regardless of whether a third runway is approved or not. It commits over half of the first year’s mitigation fund to paying for a study into relocation of the Grundon incinerator. It also only contains a period of 5 hours at night with no flights. There is also a gagging clause on the Council for years.
Cabinet ‘stitch-up’ on Heathrow: Cameron chairing runway sub-Committee, locking out ministers who oppose 3rd runway
On the say MPs left for their summer break on 21st July, the Cabinet Office slipped out the names of 10 senior Tories on the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This committee will consider what to do about a new runway. Chaired by David Cameron it includes vocal supporters of a 3rd Heathrow runway including Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. There are concerns that the committee’s membership deliberately excludes the Cabinet members (Justine Greening, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Theresa Villiers – and even Boris). Also on the Committee are: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Environment Secretary Liz Truss, Scotland Secretary David Mundell, Communities Secretary Greg Clark, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin and Chief Whip Mark Harper. The make up of the Committee is seen as indicating that David Cameron is ready to over-rule concerns from ministers who oppose the runway, and suggests the final decision will not be made by the Cabinet as a whole. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said: ‘It certainly looks like a stitch-up. It could be Cameron is going for a solution he believes will work ion the short-term but could backfire in the medium term because some of the Cabinet ministers who are against a third runway feel so strongly that it could be a resigning issue.’
Colnbrook residents complain Slough refuses to reveal details of secret agreement with Heathrow
Colnbrook Views has submitted an FoI request after Slough Borough Council refused to allow publication of its agreement with Heathrow, made in February. Slough and Spelthorne are the only two councils openly backing a 3rd Heathrow runway. While the Council’s CEO is telling business leaders that Slough will be the premier place for businesses to relocate by 2019, there is a veil of secrecy over the nature of its agreement with the Airport , though some bits have been made public. Heathrow has apparently agreed on various conditions including a guaranteed £100,000 annual contribution by the airport for 15 years toward a new “strategic partnership”. Communities in Colnbook and nearby are not persuaded that they will get much benefit, though the Council CEO has said there will be more noise insulation, some “improved infrastructure, roads, bus services” etc. There appears to be little on mitigation for those most affected. However, the heads of agreement from February sets out a commitment to a range of measures to boost the wider Slough economy, improve access to the airport from Slough town centre, and support airport-related expansion beyond Heathrow’s extended perimeter and existing commercial zones in the borough.
SNP, which won just 1.45 million votes in the election, says it will decide the vote on a SE runway
The SNP have 56 MPs, and each was only voted by an average of about 23,000 voters, which is a much smaller number than even Conservative MPs, and massively less than LibDems, UKIP or the Greens. Nevertheless. Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will decide on whether a runway is built at Heathrow or Gatwick (they are not wise enough to appreciate no runway is needed). The SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry said the party was “neutral” between Heathrow and Gatwick, while earlier it had been thought they favoured Heathrow. The SNP will “negotiate” with both airports, to see which gives them a better deal and they will vote for whichever gives Scottish people the cheapest flights, and “guaranteed connections with international flights” which Scotland has not been able to provide for itself. The SNP is aware that people in England, especially those to be adversely affected (or evicted from their homes) by a runway did not get the chance to vote for or against the SNP. The runway is largely an English matter. But Zac Goldsmith warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes. (Combined anti-Heathrow party votes of LibDems, UKIP and Greens were 7.45 million. SNP votes were 1.45 million).
Heathrow campaigners provide the (suit)case against the runway, in holiday reading material for David Cameron
On 20th July, the day before Parliament broke for its summer recess, campaigners from national organizations and local groups opposed to expansion at Heathrow packed a holiday suitcase for David Cameron’s summer holiday – with material they believe he should read and view on his holiday before he makes up his mind on a 3rd runway. They were joined by the new Twickenham MP Tania Mathias and the veteran opponent of Heathrow expansion, Baroness Jenny Tonge. Organised by HACAN, some of those at the event were campaigners from Greenpeace, FoE, CBT, AEF, SHE , RHC and CAIAN. Items packed into the suitcase included “Heat,” a climate change book by George Monbiot; a video showing Harmondsworth; the most recent IPCC report; AirportWatch briefings on economics, noise, carbon emissions, and air quality; maps showing areas of London to be impacted by flight paths from a 3rd runway; a “No Ifs, No Buts, No third runway” beach towel; and John Stewart’s book “Why Noise Matters.” The case was then wheeled off in the direction of Downing Street. HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This diverse range of groups gives a flavour of the formidable opposition David Cameron will face if he gives the green light to a third runway.”
Heathrow gets 270 businesses to ask David Cameron to support building 3rd runway
Heathrow has got some 270 business people, many from companies with a clear direct financial interest, to write an open letter to David Cameron to ask him to get on quickly with building a Heathrow runway. They make the usual claims about the lack of a runway holding back the growth of UK business across the UK, and of limiting future investment in the UK. The actual connection between the runway, and all these good things, is never clearly set out, and the runway would in reality largely be used for holidays or visiting friends and family. The business people say in their letter that the runway would ” improve connectivity both within and outside the UK, driving exports and stimulating growth across the country.” Curiously, they never mention stimulating imports. They want the UK to be macho and show it is willing and able to “take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the 21st century” and “doing nothing will put Britain’s economy in a perilous position.” It claims “a majority of people in Heathrow’s local communities” back the runway. No evidence for that is given. Meanwhile Heathrow is encouraging passengers to send an easy-to-fill-in-with-no-effort postcards, to David Cameron, asking him to expand Heathrow immediately. Daniel Moylan tweeted: “Move fast on Heathrow? Before we work out the cost to taxpayer and passenger and the harm to residents? Got it.”
Report finding air pollution kills 9,500 Londoners revives Mayor’s opposition to Heathrow runway
A new study by Kings College, London, commissioned by the GLA and TfL, has shown that London’s pollution killed 9,500 people in 2010. It showed that about there were about 3,537 early deaths in 2010 due to PM2.5s, and about 5,879 deaths from NO2 (ie a total of about 9,416 in 2010. NO2 is largely created by diesel cars, lorries and buses, and affects lung capacity and growth. The findings have prompted Boris to renew his calls for abandoning the expansion of Heathrow Airport on air quality grounds, saying: “My greatest priority remains to protect the well-being and environment of Londoners.” Roads around Heathrow are among those in breach of EU rules. Johnson’s office said that the latest study means “the government must now rule out expansion of Heathrow.” But Boris has also said that he will not resign as Mayor, or as MP for Uxbridge, if the Conservative party back a Heathrow 3rd runway. He had earlier said he would lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop it. Now he says the runway plan is “crackers” and “I don’t think the Heathrow third-runway option has ever been credible … It’s just going to be politically undeliverable, and we need a better long-term solution.” But Zac Goldsmith has said he would resign as an MP, and stand as an independent, if the Tories back the Heathrow runway.
Plane Stupid activists set up protest, locking themselves together, on Heathrow northern runway
At around 3.30am a group of 12 climate change activists from the group Plane Stupid cut a hole in the perimeter fence at Heathrow, and set up a protest on the northern runway. They set up a tripod of metal poles, and metal fencing panels, and locked themselves onto these. Some were attached by D locks around their necks, onto the fence. Others used arm locks (two people link arms, handcuffed together, inside a hard tube) to make it difficult for police to remove them. Police arrived on the scene shortly after the protest was set up. The first flights arrive at Heathrow from around 4.30am. Flights were delayed while the airport needed to shift runways. Six protesters were removed quite quickly. The protest was due to the recommendation of the Airports Commission that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. Besides the serious negative impacts of the runway on noise, air pollution, destruction of Harmondsworth, huge costs to the taxpayer and considerable social disruption for miles around, the issue which has been glossed over is the CO2 emissions that the runway would create from greatly increased flights, many long-haul. The Commission itself was aware that a new runway would mean the UK could not achieve its aviation carbon cap, and make it less likely the UK could meet its legally binding carbon target for 2050.
FT says after government statement on runway in late autumn, there will be a public consultation
It seems likely that the government will indicate its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be in November). A Whitehall source has indicated to the Financial Times that Patrick McLoughlin is then expected to set out a “clear direction” — rather than a hard and fast decision. That will then require a public consultation by the DfT. The DfT said: “The government is now carefully considering the evidence before making a decision and the secretary of state for transport plans to make a statement in the autumn to provide clear direction on the government’s plans ….Further consultation will be required as part of any decision-making process and to secure planning consents.” George Osborne indicated recently that there would be a consultation before the government made any final decision. He said: “Now we’ve got to consult people, let Londoners have their say as well and not prejudge that.” Maybe that’s a way for the Cabinet to try to resolve their internal split on Heathrow. A Treasury spokesperson later said consulting widely with residents would be expected: “You would criticise us if we didn’t consult on a decision this big.”
Heathrow wants “discussions with government” to negotiate runway conditions set by Airports Commission
The Airports Commission recommended a 3rd runway at Heathrow, subject to a number of conditions (noise, compensation, local consultation, air quality etc). But Heathrow is not keen on these conditions, and now says it is “seeking discussions with government ” on them. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said Heathrow “would have to consider” the demand from the Commission that there should not be night flights, and that there should be a legal prohibition on a 4th runway. The point of conditions is that they are, well as they say, conditions. But Heathrow says: “We will work with the government to make sure we have a solution that can be delivered. I am not saying today that we will accept all the conditions that have been put down.” Airlines would not like night flights, as they make long haul routes less profitable and problematic. Heathrow’s hope of getting conditions, all recommended for good reasons, removed or reduced will only increase the level of hostility towards the airport by its opponents. Whitehall sources say the government will state its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be November?) — but will then launch a fresh consultation.
Queen could get £ millions to soundproof Windsor Castle from noise hotspot due to a 3rd Heathrow runway (some from the taxpayer?)
Windsor Castle would suffer increased noise from a 3rd Heathrow runway and the Queen could be given £ millions to soundproof the 900-year-old landmark, according to Whitehall sources. The Queen could be the single biggest beneficiary of a compensation scheme aimed at mitigating the noise from a new runway. Heathrow Airport has agreed to pay £700 million towards a £1 billion compensation scheme to provide nearby residents with soundproofing. An official said: “…if they do need to insulate the Windsor’s against noise it will cost a fortune — potentially millions….They will end up spending more on compensation to the Queen than they spent in the past 10 years on noise compensation.” And the taxpayer may have to foot much of the bill. A report by the DfT showed that Windsor Castle sits in a potential ‘island of noise’ which would be created by the 3rd runway. There would be an intersection of flight paths near Windsor, causing an extra noisy “hotspot” in the area. Heathrow’s noise compensation scheme would pay for double glazing, loft insulation and acoustic boarding, for homes near the airport and under flight paths. Heathrow said more than 160,000 households could be eligible for noise insulation “including in Windsor”.
Hounslow Council leader says 9,000-home “Garden City” could happen even without Heathrow runway
The Leader of Hounslow City Council says a 9,000-home garden city could happen even without another Heathrow runway. He said a new Heathrow ‘Garden City’ in Hounslow is not dependant on a 3rd runway, and Hounslow Council remains opposed to the airport’s expansion, with its official line being that it wants “a better not bigger Heathrow.” There are fears, however, in some quarters that if a runway was approved, Hounslow (Labour led – since May 2014 Labour 49 seats, Conservative 11 seats) would support it and aim to obtain the maximum possible benefits. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has implied that Heathrow would develop the “garden city” or at least be its cause – regenerating area of West London. Hounslow Council has been working with Heathrow on proposals for the new development, though details of where it might be built have yet to be released and council leader Steve Curran said it was “very early days”. Hounslow Council has to build 3,000 new affordable homes in the borough by 2018. That’s before a new runway increases housing demand. Hounslow says the scheme is critically dependant on better public transport infrastructure.
Heathrow starts runway work by setting up Procurement Forum
Heathrow has already moved into the delivery phase of a 3rd runway after the backing on 1st July by the Airports Commission. Heathrow says it has begun the procurement process for expansion. But the government is not likely to make the final decision before Christmas. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive officer, told the Runways UK conference the debate on airport expansion is now over and work has begun on expansion with the airport creating a Procurement Forum made up of representatives from different sectors and from across different UK regions who will work with Heathrow over its expansion plan. He said: “With expansion, we will create tens of thousands of skilled jobs while we build, as well as when we have built – skills that will leave a legacy of construction excellence in this country that can be sold all round the world. When we built Terminal 2, on time and on budget, we spread our supply chain to all parts of the UK, and we will do the same again, ensuring that all of Britain benefits from Heathrow expansion.” Link John Holland-Kaye called for an early decision from the Government so it could get “shovels in the ground” by 2020 and have the 3rd runway in operation in 2025. He said Heathrow would start working to secure planning consent, “continue to engage” with local communities and take “practical steps” like starting traffic surveys over the summer. Link
Teddington Action Group continue towards Judicial Review of Airports Commission decision
Campaigners against expansion of Heathrow are calling for a judicial review of the Airports Commission’s decision to back a 3rd runway. The Teddington Action Group argues that there was a potential conflict of interest over Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies accepting the chairmanship of Royal Bank of Scotland, banker for companies that own Heathrow and Gatwick, and that the Commission’s 3 week May consultation on air quality was “rushed and insufficiently publicised”. The Airports Commission rejected both assertions in a response from the Treasury Solicitor. But Teddington Action Group spokesman, Paul McGuinness, said: “We are advised that the Treasury Solicitor’s response, on behalf of the Airports Commission, is inadequate and that we should be able to see this Judicial Review through to a successful conclusion”. So work on this continues …
John Holland-Kaye reluctant to accept conditions on Heathrow runway set by Airports Commission
The Airports Commission, in recommending a 3rd runway at Heathrow, set out a short set of conditions Heathrow would have to meet, to be allowed to build the runway. These conditions are not very onerous. These included a ban on all flights between 11.30pm and 6.00am, better air quality, a legally-enforced “noise envelope”, and that Heathrow should be held to its pledge to spend over £1bn on community compensation. And no 4th runway ever. But now, just days after the Commission’s report, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, says the airport is “still assessing” the conditions, and “We’ll have to see how it fits into all the other things we’re doing,” and “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Quite why conditions to be imposed on a runway to protect the public need to be agreed by the airport itself, not just imposed on it, is a mystery. Lord Adonis said the noise envelope, which the commission said might stipulate that there should be “no overall increase above current levels”, was one of the “weaknesses” of the Commission’s report. It is not even clear what it even means – “total incidence of noise, high levels of noise, noise in particular communities”. when manifestly adding another 50% more planes will increase the overall amount of noise.
Heathrow hopes to make a monster 3-runway airport acceptable by building a 9,000 home “garden city”
At the RunwaysUK conference, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye spoke of his plans to create a 3-runway “aerotropolis” around the airport, with a 9,000-home Heathrow Garden City. He said: “When you are relocating hotels and offices, why not put them next to the rail interchange, so that we can have fewer cars on the road — an aerotropolis, if you like …. If you are re-landscaping the airport boundary, why not link up the open spaces to create a green ribbon round the airport, with better local amenities …. and …. improve local flood defences? Why not improve the local road network and cycle paths?” He said west London needs regeneration just as much as east London, and the airport would do that. The development is understood to be planned for the Hounslow area. Heathrow hopes to get public transport up by over 10% in 4 years, to try and get the air pollution problem down low enough to be allowed a runway. And then: “We should get shovels in the ground by 2020 and the benefits of an expanded Heathrow in 2025.” Work was starting on gaining the planning consents needed for the development. Holland-Kaye said the airport may not agree to all the conditions for expansion proposed by the Airports Commission, but believes “an agreement could be struck on them.”
Air travel makes you happy, says the Airports Commission. That’s why we need more runways
The Airport Commission (AC) changed its arguments sharply between its 2013 interim report and the final document. Initially the idea was that there was a need for a runway because of a rising need for business air travel, and vital business routes. Interestingly, in its final report, the AC – realising that the demand for business flights is not growing – has switched to saying it is good for leisure travellers. At Heathrow only at most 30% of passengers are on business, the majority are on holiday, and the rest visiting friends and relatives (VFR). The AC says because air travel and holidays make people happy, put them in a better of mind and give a feeling of well-being, a runway is needed so we can fly even more than we already do. This runway if ever built would, unavoidably, be mainly used for ever more leisure trips. Nothing to do with emerging economies or connectivity, unless the business people help make fares cheaper for the tourists, and vice versa. Having an annual holiday is associated with greater happiness. Whether taken by plane or other modes of travel. Nobody will be surprised. People who are able to take holidays tend to be happier than those that do not. (People involuntarily living with the adverse impacts of an airport may have lower well-being and be less happy).
Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour
A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow. This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”. The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic. Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell.
WWF comment on Commission’s Heathrow runway support – and the CO2 problem it would cause government
Commenting on the Airports Commission’s recomendation of Heathrow for a 3rd runway, the CEO of WWF-UK, David Nussbam said: “UK aviation has a serious CO2 emissions challenge. Runway expansion would make the problem worse and the solutions tougher. The Prime Minister should consider that ordinary families, businesses and our environment will gain little from a new runway. Expanding Heathrow would be the worst outcome for the environment. It would lead to the greatest increases in noise, in air pollution, and in climate-damaging CO2 emissions. Expanding runway capacity will not make Britain more prosperous, but it will make it impossible for the aviation sector to play its proper role in meeting the UK’s emissions targets, to which the Prime Minister and Climate Change Secretary are committed. The greater the emissions from aviation, the greater pressure there will be on other businesses to reduce their CO2 emissions even further. If the Government supports the Davies report, they will have to present a plan showing how these reductions will be achieved elsewhere – and at what price to the UK economy and people.”
Heathrow third runway unanimously recommended by Airports Commission, but with conditions
The Airports Commission has recommended that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow, but only if it can meet stringent conditions on noise and air pollution. Those conditions should include a ban on night flights, legally binding caps on noise and air quality – and legislation to rule out ever building a 4th runway [unlikely to be effective?] .The Commission has said their view was “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow’s plan was the strongest case for a runway, delivering the greatest strategic and economic benefits, and they hoped the conditions would make the airport a “better neighbour” than today. The conditions are: – A ban on all scheduled night flights from 11.30pm to 6am….- No fourth runway – the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand further. Davies states: “There is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway.”….- A legally binding “noise envelope”…..- A noise levy on airport users to compensate local communities…. – A legal commitment on air quality (details to be announced, compliant with EU limits)…. – A community engagement board to let local people have a say…. – An independent aviation noise authority to be consulted on flightpaths and operating procedures at airports….- Training and apprenticeships for local people. The government must now decide whether to act on the recommendation – by autumn, or before Christmas.
The Guardian view on expanding Heathrow: just say no. Guardian Editorial
The Guardian writes that the Airports Commission and most of the reporting of the Heathrow runway recommendation looked only at issues like economic growth, the alleged urgency of more links to emerging markets, and the UK keeping its place as top dog on aviation in Europe. A few voices were raised about the local “environmental” effect, noise, air pollution etc. But these “pale besides aviation’s contribution to the planet’s slow cooking. If there is a difficult question that has been ducked for too long, then that is the one about decarbonising the economy.” Though the Commission looked at carbon, their “emphasis … and the basis for arguing that increased capacity was not merely desirable but imperative, was on a …fairytale future, in which passengers double, under the auspices of comprehensive and globally enforced carbon trading.” This requires an effective global system in which the price of carbon rises from around £5 to several hundred £s which would greatly increase the price of air tickets. That is not likely to happen. The aim of the runway is to make flying cheaper, not more expensive, so people take even more flights. ” The infrastructure we have now is enough to speed climate change. “Transport networks need to be re-engineered for decarbonisation. But that would require some real blue-sky thinking, and of that there is no sign.”
Environmental case for new Heathrow runway has ‘Airbus-sized holes’ in it
The Airports Commission said the new runway should come with severe restrictions and be compatible with UK climate change and air pollution targets. But environmentalists dismiss the Commission’s calculations. Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “When it comes to carbon emissions the Davies’ analysis has holes big enough to fly an Airbus through. His claim that a new runway could be compatible with the UK’s climate targets is based on the unrealistic assumptions like the need for a 6,600% rise in carbon taxes, rose-tinted estimates about improvements in aircraft efficiency, and false solutions like biofuels….This is just a smokescreen to hide the obvious fact that a new runway will almost certainly derail our legally-binding climate targets. In the year the world is coming together to tackle climate change, we should be talking about how to manage demand, not where to store up a new carbon bomb.” Friends of the Earth’s Andrew Pendleton commented: “The UK will be a laughing stock if it turns up at crucial climate talks in Paris later this year, claiming global leadership while at home having nodded through new runways, killed its onshore wind industry and foisted fracking on communities that don’t want it.”
Caroline Lucas blog: “Heathrow might have been his answer, but Davies was asking the wrong question”
The Airports Commission (AC) has finally recommended that Heathrow, Europe’s biggest noise polluter, should expand. The decision has been framed simply: Gatwick or Heathrow? Either new runway would cost billions of pounds and cause thousands more people’s lives to be blighted by more aircraft flying low over homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Caroline Lucas considers the AC’s failure to properly consider the option of “no new runway” is indefensible. The proposed new runway isn’t just bad news for people living nearby – it’s extremely damaging to our efforts to meet our climate change targets. The AC knows the CO2 emission from UK aviation would breach the sector’s generous targets – even without a new runway. There are other questions that should e asked, not just if a runway should be at Heathrow or Gatwick. Should frequent flyers pay more, the more they fly? The runway is not “needed” for the average family taking one, or even two annual trips. Should public investment, which would be needed to assist a new Heathrow runway, be better spent elsewhere – on local transport? With different questions asked, there are different answers – not involving another runway.
For earlier news about Heathrow, see
- Heathrow Airport news from 24th July to 31st 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