London Assembly restates its strong opposition to building new runways at Heathrow

In response to the publication of the Transport Select Committee report “Aviation Strategy”  today, which backs expansion at Heathrow with another runway, the London Assembly  restated its view that no new runways at Heathrow should be built because of serious and rising concerns about air quality and noise pollution. The Assembly has consistently opposed proposals for Heathrow expansion on the grounds that the negative environmental effects are disproportionate to the estimated benefits it might bring to London. Already some 700,000 Londoners suffer from aircraft noise due to Heathrow, and this accounts for 28% of all the people in Europe who are affected by aircraft noise. Air quality standards in the area round Heathrow already breach EU air quality limits. The Assembly has just produced its own report on airport capacity, which concluded that as there is a large amount of spare capacity at some London airports, the Airports Commission should first look at ways to use this capacity more effectively, such as improving rail links, before considering building a new runway.  Luton and Stansted Airports have around half their slots free and the airline industry should be encouraged to use this existing capacity.



London Assembly restates opposition to extra runways at Heathrow 

10 May 2013 (London Assembly press release)

Following the publication of the Transport Select Committee report today, which backed expansion at Heathrow, the London Assembly today restates its view that new runways at Heathrow should not be built because of concerns about air quality and noise pollution.

The Assembly has consistently opposed proposals for expansion at London Heathrow on the grounds that the negative environmental effects are disproportionate to the estimated benefits it would bring to London[1].

An estimated 700,000 Londoners suffer from noise pollution as a result of Heathrow, and this accounts for 28 per cent of all the people in Europe who are affected by aircraft noise[2].

The Assembly’s Environment Committee has warned that there has been little improvement in pollution levels around Heathrow for more than a decade and areas around the airport already breach European Union air quality limits[3].

Recently, the Assembly’s Transport Committee report – “Airport Capacity in London” –  [ link to article on Assembly report ] concluded that as some London airports were using less than half their existing runway capacity, the Davies commission should first look at ways to use this capacity more effectively. For example, by building better rail connections and promoting public transport use[4].

Valerie Shawcross AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:

“There is strong evidence that there is scope to make better use of London’s existing airports, including at Heathrow, to improve the capital’s connectivity, before any airport expansion. Many runways slots in London are currently available – for example, Luton and Stansted Airports have around half their slots free – and we hope that the Davies Commission will address this in its work. The Commission should consider how ideas, such as improved transport to other airports, could encourage passengers to use this existing capacity.

“As elected representatives for London, having examined these issues in-depth, we are in a unique position to accurately reflect and understand the needs of Londoners. It is essential that London’s thriving economy is supported, but not at the expense of the health of the thousands of residents that live under Heathrow Airport’s flight paths.”

Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Environment Committee, said:

“We have previously warned that key safeguards set by the Government to limit the environmental impact of a potential third runway at Heathrow may not be fit for purpose.

“This is a serious issue because poor air quality in London is responsible for the early deaths of at least 4,000 people a year in the capital and the area around Heathrow is the second worst area in London for poor air quality.

”It is also unacceptable that thousands of Londoners are unable to get a good night’s sleep and local children’s lessons are interrupted because of planes flying over the capital to land at Heathrow.”


 Assembly report “Airport Capacity in London”  1.5.2013  (39 pages)


Notes to Editor

  1. 1. Press releases – Assembly says no to revival of third runway at HeathrowBring forward publication of airport capacity report, Assembly urges
  2. 2. Environment Committee’s Plane Speaking report, March 2012
  3. 3. Previous reports by the Environmental Committee include: Plane Speaking (2012); Flights of Fancy – Can an expanded Heathrow meet its environmental targets?  (2010);  Letter to Government re Aviation Policy Framework (7 May 2013); Response to Aviation Policy Framework (October 2012)
  4. 4. Airport Capacity in London – Transport Committee
  5. 5. The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, will produce an interim report by December 2013 with recommendations for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next five years.
  6. 6. Valerie Shawcross AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, and Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Environment Committee,
  7. 7. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

 Assembly’s Environment Committee



Commons Transport Committee wants a 3rd Heathrow runway + perhaps later a 4th runway

May 10, 2013

The House of Commons Transport Committee gathered evidence on airport capacity at the end of 2012, to submit to the Airports Commission. They have now produced their report “Aviation Strategy” in which they say they reject “calls for a new hub airport east of London and urge the Government to permit the expansion of Heathrow where a 3rd runway is long overdue.” Its Chairman, Lousie Ellman, said “We recognise that demand for air travel across the UK is forecast to grow, believe that aviation should be permitted to expand and accept that more capacity is necessary to accommodate sustainable aviation growth.” Also “We conclude that a 3rd runway at Heathrow is necessary, but also suggest that a 4-runway proposal may have merit, especially if expanding to locate 2 new runways westwards from the current site could curb the noise experienced by people affected under the flight path.” It mentions establishing “a national scheme to ensure adequate compensation for people affected by noise from expansion at Heathrow.” The report also want HS2 to go to Heathrow; better rail links to Gatwick and Stansted; advantages for regional airports; and reassessment of APD and its effects (which demonstrates how much industry lobbying has influenced the report). HACAN said the Committee’s report was predictable.

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Airport capacity in London is currently underused, says new London Assembly report

May 1, 2013     The London Assembly’s Transport Committee has published a report – “Airport Capacity in London” – which suggests existing airport capacity in London, including at Heathrow and Gatwick, could be used more effectively. Their research shows Stansted (summer 2012) was only 47% full; Gatwick was 88% full; Luton was 49% full. At Heathrow there is terminal capacity for 20 million more passengers, so if larger planes were used, there is ample surplus capacity – though landing slots are 99% filled. To encourage passengers to switch from Heathrow, the report says improving transport access from central London to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted is needed – for example, by better rail connections and actively promoting public transport. The report questions the alleged “need” for additional hub airport capacity, as the vast majority of passengers using Heathrow few direct, point to point, rather than transferring. The report also notes that 75% of flights from Heathrow are short haul and that London remains the best connected European city to 23 fastest growing economies. The Transport Committee hopes its report will inform the Airports Commission, and says the Commission must examine whether better use of existing airport capacity could be an intelligent cost-effective alternative to building new airports or runways.     Click here to view full story…





There was also this from London First, a day earlier

“London First” calls for more intensive use of Heathrow runways with mixed mode in submission to Airports Commission

May 9, 2013

”London First” is an aggressively pro-growth, pro London business lobby organisation, whose stated mission is to “make London the best city in the world in which to do business.” It has sent in a submission to the Airports Commission, calling for expansion of Heathrow and the ending of runway alternation. This would mean both runways being used for much of the day, in “mixed mode”. London First believes that fitting some 10% more fights into Heathrow will solve the UK’s economic ills, and takes a dashingly cavalier attitude to the impact of the extra noise on the quality of life of Londoners overflown. They appear to either not understand how aircraft noise impinges on the lives of those under flight paths, or deliberately seek to underplay the problems, and exaggerate the small reductions in noise that aircraft manufacturers have achieved. They use noise figures from the time of Concorde to give the impression there has been a huge noise reduction. London First also recommend that Gatwick and Stansted be allowed to compete more effectively, and have better rail services, to take some business from Heathrow.

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