Council leaders attack ‘dishonest’ Heathrow promotional leaflet, circulated widely by DfT

Conservative town hall leaders have accused the Government of “misleading” up to three million people over the impact of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and a “dishonest approach.”  The leaders of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead council tore into the DfT over the “shamelessly one-sided” consultation leaflet sent to around 1.5 million households and businesses (an estimated 3 million people). The leaders say the leaflets fail to include any details of proposed new flight paths, or the extra numbers of flights, or the reduction in “respite” periods that would happen, due to the 3rd runway. There is also no proper information on likely increases in traffic, and therefore in air pollution.The leaflet is instead ecstatic about alleged economic benefits it might bring, and unashamedly bigs up pledges of home price compensation for compulsory purchase, future insulation schemes (over up to 20 years?), and some apprenticeships. The leaders believe the leaflet is intended to mislead, and its dishonest approach is undermining the fragile trust residents have in politics. Areas that are already badly overflown by Heathrow planes, such as Clapham, Lambeth, Pimlico, Marylebone, Westminster, Streatham, Mayfair and Kennington were not included in the consultation exercise. Lord True commented: “The Government need to stop the spin.”



Council leaders attack ‘dishonest’ Heathrow leaflet

By NICHOLAS CECIL Deputy Political Editor (Evening Standard)



The leaders of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and even Theresa May’s Windsor and Maidenhead council tore into the Department for Transport over a consultation leaflet sent to around 1.5 million households and businesses, an estimated 3 million people.

The DfT was accused of a “dishonest approach” over expansion  with the “shamelessly one-sided” leaflet  which councils say failed to include:

  • Proposed new flight paths.
  • The fact that there could be up to 260,000 more flights a year.
  • That tens of thousands of people would get less respite from noise.
  • That a third runway is expected to increase air pollution.
  • An alleged increase in road traffic.

However, the leaflet highlighted that a third runway was expected to deliver economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion, tens of thousands of additional local jobs, £2.6 billion in compensation for local communities, six new domestic flight routes, a Heathrow pledge to create 5,000 new apprenticeships and £700 million of noise insulation for homes.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth council, said: “This consultation is clearly designed to mislead millions of people. The Government’s publicity material is shamelessly one-sided.”

Attacking the lack of flight path details, he said: “The Government’s dishonest approach is undermining the fragile trust our residents have in politics.”

Accusations of dishonesty: the Heathrow leaflet

Wandsworth claimed that some areas which may be overflown from a bigger Heathrow were not included in the leaflet consultation exercise, including Clapham, Lambeth, Pimlico, Marylebone, Westminster, Streatham, Mayfair and Kennington.   

Richmond council leader Lord True claimed that communities around Heathrow already suffered more noise and air pollution than similar ones near any other European airport.

He said: “Incredibly, these proposals conveniently miss out the fact that with a third runway, noise respite will be halved. Many residents will be overflown for 75% of the time. The Government need to stop the spin.”

Hillingdon leader Ray Puddifoot said: “There is no mention of the increase in traffic and rail use…nor of the fact Heathrow already contributes to illegal levels of air pollution.”

Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor & Maidenhead, said the leaflet misses out information about flight paths and environmental impacts and “is hugely disappointing.”

A DfT spokeswoman said the consultation “clearly sets out the benefits and potential impacts of expansion” and showed “a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures.”    [This is just an encapsulation of the attitude and approach of the DfT staff. There is no attempt to deal with environmental problems, and the leaflet and “information” events are intended to promote the runway. Plain and simple. AirportWatch comment].

Heathrow, which  denies vehicle traffic will increase,  today declared 2016 its “best year ever” with a record 75.7 million passengers and revenues up 1.5 per cent to £2.8 billion. Fliers spent more at airport shops and the cheap pound boosted cargo business.


See also

Richmond criticises the 1.5 million DfT leaflets promoting 3rd runway as inadequate on noise problems

Lord True, the leader of Richmond Council, has complained (as have thousands of other people) that the information being put out in the DfT consultation on the Heathrow NPS is inadequate. He said: “The leaflet that was sent out last week it propaganda in its finest. And, the more we read into the full consultation material the more concerned we are at the Government’s selective presentation of the third runway’s impacts. They should be proactively informing flight path communities about major changes like the loss of daytime respite periods but that’s not been their approach. In the next few weeks there will be a number of resident consultation events, coordinated by the Department of Transport. I urge all concerned people to go and have their say and let the government know if they are not giving the information we need.” The DfT is not making it clear that areas like Richmond would be overflown for around 75% of the day, rather than around 50% of the time now. The leaflet makes no mention of noise, other than a carefully worded offer of 6.5 hours with no SCHEDULED flights at night. It is not made easy for members of the public to find data on noise changes, with a 3rd runway. There will be no details of flight paths for several years – so the whole NPS consultation is being done, deliberately by the DfT, in the absence of noise information needed by residents.

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Critique of 11 claims by DfT, in its 1.5 million pro-Heathrow runway leaflets, for NPS consultation

The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets to households in areas not too far from Heathrow. The leaflets make no attempt whatsoever of balance, and are merely advertising the runway plans and promoting them. Many of the claims are misleading, or so abbreviated as to be unclear. Below there is a critique of the claims, point by point, and links to evidence backing up the criticisms. If anyone has received a leaflet, and wonders about the facts, this webpage may give some useful information. Just a few examples of the dubious statements in the leaflet: the figure of £61 billion economic benefit is given, leaving out the proviso that this is over 60 years. There is much made of the generosity of the compensation to be given for compulsory purchase, but in reality anything much below 125% would be derisory, and way below world standards. The claim about six and a half hours of no scheduled night flights omits to mention how many flights, scheduled before 11pm, often take off almost to midnight. And though there may be 6 more domestic links from Heathrow, these are likely to be unprofitable and may not last for long. The loss of long haul routes from other UK airports, due to a larger Heathrow, is conveniently ignored.

Click here to view full story…


Ministers accused of approving Heathrow third runway ‘on wing and a prayer’ over pollution pledge

By Nicholals Cecil (Deputy Political Editor, Evening Standard)


Ministers were today accused of giving the green light to a third runway at Heathrow on a “wing and a prayer” that it will not breach EU toxic air rules.

The Commons environmental audit committee demanded that the Government set out how another runway could be built at the west London airport without increasing the number of serious breaches of air quality limits in the capital.

The committee’s Labour chairwoman Mary Creagh said: “At the moment we can’t see how the third runway can be built and run without exceeding the legal limits on air pollution and breaching the UK’s carbon budgets.

“It’s a huge infrastructure project. It can’t be built just on a wing and a prayer and hoping that something will turn up.”

Mrs Creagh also stressed that there were “no guarantees” that EU air pollution regulations will not be watered down in the longer term after Brexit.

A report commissioned by the Government suggested that a third runway may not be able to open before 2025 without risking breaching EU air pollution limits.

However, the Airports Commission has argued that Heathrow should be allowed to expand provided it did not delay London complying with EU regulations, meaning that it could go ahead as long as there was a worst air pollution hotspot in the capital.

Ministers have refused to clarify what test they will use to assess whether a bigger Heathrow is leading to breaches of toxic air rules.

But a Department for Transport spokesman said: “We take our air quality commitments extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met.

“Our draft airports national policy statement sets out a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures to support local communities and limit the environmental impact of airport expansion.”  [This is nothing to do with air pollution. AirportWatch comment] 

A Heathrow spokesman said: “The Airports Commission was clear that Heathrow can be expanded while reducing noise for local communities, in accordance with air quality requirements and is compatible with the Government’s carbon goals for aviation.” [This is the ambiguous statement they keep putting out. It actually says nothing. What reduction in noise, what air quality requirements, and which carbon goals, as Grayling has said he will not abide by the CCC carbon advice? AW comment].