DfT publishes another 8 week consultation on the Heathrow NPS, showing further weaknesses
As stated in September, the Government has now published a second part of its consultation on the “Airports NPS”, on building a 3rd Heathrow runway. The 8 week consultation ends on 19th December. This consultation contains updated air passenger forecasts which were not produced for the earlier NPS consultation (which ended in May). It also looks at air pollution issues, which were not covered properly before, and also noise. This consultation comes exactly one year since the Government announced it favoured a 3rd Heathrow runway. The DfT is very aware of the problem Heathrow has with air pollution saying the runway means “there remains, however, a risk that the options could delay or worsen compliance with limit values, albeit decreasing over time.” Since the report by the Airports Commission, in July 2015, the arguments it put forward for the 3rd Heathrow runway have been seriously undermined – on economics, air pollution, carbon emission, noise, cost to the taxpayer etc. Yet Government tries to push on with it. Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, commented: “It is as if our politicians have been collectively hypnotised, but sooner or later reality will click and the project will be shelved once again.”
MPs speak out against Heathrow as further consultation launched
24.10.2017 (No 3rd Runway Coalition press release)
- Government told previous information on air quality and passenger forecasts needed further work
- further consultation comes exactly one year after Government announcement on Heathrow expansion
- cross-party group of MPs will come together to speak out against further expansion
- campaign groups to embark on colourful protests on Wednesday
Senior politicians speak out as the Government launches a fresh round of consultation on Heathrow expansion, following an initial consultation earlier in the year which failed to take account of air pollution assessments (1). Consultation link
Consultation document (and there are many separate documents relating to the consultation).
The consultation, which will be open until 19 December, presents the latest work on air quality and passenger demand forecasts, with the Government’s consultants concluding “Taking into account the inherent uncertainties in air quality modelling there remains, however, a risk that the options could delay or worsen compliance with limit values, albeit decreasing over time. This risk is low for Gatwick 2R and high for the Heathrow options” (2).
The launch of this further work comes exactly one year since the Prime Minister’s announcement that a third runway was the Government’s ‘preferred option.’
To mark the dark anniversary, a cross-party group of politicians will gather outside Parliament at 10am on Wednesday for a picture with a number of 700 red model planes that will be appearing in and around London on Wednesday morning to highlight the environmental consequences of the 700 extra flights that would use Heathrow each day if the new runway were ever to be built (2).
Many local campaign groups will be holding events, which are being coordinated by the No 3rd Runway Coalition and are expected to be held in Ealing, Osterley, Ravenscourt Park, Teddington, Harmondsworth, Sipson, Kennington, Lightwater and Englefield Green (3).
Ruth Cadbury MP has secured Westminster Hall debate in Parliament at 11am on the subject on the ‘economic and environmental impacts of airport expansion’ (4).
Zac Goldsmith, Co-Chair of the APPG and Conservative MP for Richmond Park, said: “Almost all aspects of the Airports Commission report, on which the Government’s position is based, have been fatally undermined; on economic benefits, passenger numbers, connectivity, economic benefits and on air pollution – the Commission’s findings have all had to be significantly revised – and in all cases worsening the case for expansion.
“Not only is this project surrounded by giant planning, political and financial risks, it will cost the taxpayer billions, make Europe’s noisiest and most polluting airport even noisier and more polluting, and will deliver just 7 additional long-haul routes.
“It is hard to think of any other major project where the benefits are so utterly dwarfed by the costs. It is as if our politicians have been collectively hypnotised, but sooner or later reality will click and the project will be shelved once again.”
Ruth Cadbury, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow Expansion (5) and Labour MP for Brentford & Isleworth, said: “It is unacceptable that any expansion at Heathrow can take place when risk of non-compliance to air quality limits remains high. Londoners deserve better than to be subject to breathing toxic air pollution.
“The Government’s continued attempt to support Heathrow expansion totally undermines efforts to make London a more sustainable city and the UK a cleaner country.”
Vince Cable MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Treasurer of the APPG on Heathrow Expansion, said: “It’s been a year since the Government took the decision to build another runway at Heathrow. The whole process seems to have been kicked into the long grass, with rarely a peep from ministers as the environmental case against expansion becomes clearer every day.
“But uncertainty is never welcome. It’s time for the government to say no to a third runway. A U-turn might be embarrassing, but it is more important to do the right thing.”
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes & Harlington, said: “The Government can do as many Heathrow consultations as they like but they will only tell us what we already know; that a third runway is completely undeliverable.
“The result of the General Election in June means a third runway looks increasingly unlikely to ever be built and with London’s air pollution problems already mounting the Government should give up on the idea.
“My constituents are angry because they have had the threat of losing their homes, jobs and livelihoods hanging over them for over a decade.
“We will not stop campaigning against this runway until the Government does the sensible thing and scraps these plans altogether.”
Robert Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion would be an environmental disaster, putting the interests of a small minority of frequent flyers who take 70% of the flights in this country above serious concerns about climate change, public health and quality of life. While the aviation industry slips through the net when it comes to paying their fair share of tax, we’re already set to break the government’s recommended limits for aviation emissions and approximately 10,000 Londoners die from air pollution each year. It’s time to kill off this project once and for all.”
Parliament is expected to vote on whether to support a final National Policy Statement in the first half of next year, with divisions in both major parties. Prominent Conservative MPs, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening, are thought to be ready to rebel, while Labour may choose to help vote it down, with key figures like the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan all opposed.
Any decision by Parliament in favour of a third runway will see a coalition of four local authorities, including the Prime Minister’s own council in Windsor & Maidenhead, take the Government to court as it believes the expansion will have a considerable detriment to the local environment. They will be supported by Greenpeace.
- Consultation information:
Revised National Policy Statement
Although the timetable for these consultations were announced today (24th October 2017), that they would be taking place was announced on Thursday, 7 September 2017. Secretary of State, Chris Grayling announced a “short period of further consultation on the revised aviation demand forecasts and the government’s final air quality plan”.
Revised aviation demand forecasts and the government’s final air quality plan”. because some of the conclusions of Sir Howard Davies’s 2015 Airports Commission had proved inaccurate (e.g. that Gatwick would not handle 46 million passengers a year until 2040 – by 2017, it already handles 45.2 million; that Gatwick would not handle 50 long haul flights until 2050 – by 2017, it already handles 70).
The government had been required to update its Air Quality Plan by the courts, further to the Client Earth’s November 2016 legal victory, in which the government’s plan had been held to be inadequate. With this revised plan only announced in July, it was inevitable that further Air Quality consultation would be required.
Heathrow, which sits within the UK’s most densely populated residential region, not only has the highest level of aircraft emissions. It is sandwiched between the M3 and M4, and hemmed in by the M25 (motorways, much of whose traffic services the airport), and regularly fails to meet Air Quality legal limits for NO2 (a). Meanwhile there is growing evidence that London exceeds WHO recommended limits for Particulate Matter, thought to be responsible for 45% of air pollution related deaths (b).
The Airports Commission’s Economic Benefit case for Heathrow
From the Airports Commission’s initial headline figure of a possible £211 billion, through the Airports Commission downgraded figure of £147 billion in their final report, the government has now downwardly revised even this figure, significantly (October 2016); to a total possible gross benefit of just £61 billion, and with a maximum Net Benefit (i.e. when costs have been taken into account) of no more than £0.2bn to £6.1bn over 60 years (equating to just £1.60 per head of population each year, over 60 years).
2. 2017 Plan Update to Air Quality Re-Analysis https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/653775/2017-plan-update-to-air-quality-re-analysis.pdf
3. Pictures available on request on Wednesday
4. The No 3rd Runway Coalition was formed earlier this year to unite councils, community organisations, environmental organisations, Members of Parliament, local politicians and residents’ groups, opposed to the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
5. See https://calendar.parliament.uk/calendar/Commons/All/2017/10/25/Daily
6. APPG on Heathrow Expansion http://www.heathrowappg.com/members/
Heathrow third runway: Consultation reopened after government publishes new evidence on noise and air quality
The government still supports the construction of a new runway at the west London airport
By Christopher McKeon (Get Surrey)
The Department for Transport (DfT) published a series of fresh reports into the impact of expanding the west London hub, including updated noise analysis and a new air quality plan.
The initial consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which sets out the government’s support for the third runway, initially closed in May 2017.
This consultation attracted significant support for the expansion of the airport, with 80% of responses coming from supporters of campaign groups Back Heathrow and Your Heathrow, both of which support the third runway.
However, the consultation has now been re-opened until December 19. This decision comes almost a year to the day since the government announced its support for the third runway, on October 25 2016.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The case for expanding Heathrow is as strong as ever and we want to hear your views on it.
“This is an important consultation and I encourage everybody to get involved across the UK.”
The DfT insisted it is “on track” to publish final proposals for expansion in the first half of 2018 for a vote in Parliament.
If the scheme is approved by MPs, Heathrow will submit a planning application and consult with local communities on detailed proposals.
The airport hopes to begin construction in early 2021, with the runway completed by the end of 2025.
The government’s revised draft NPS says the negative impacts on quality of life, including from increased noise and decreased air quality, from the third runway would be greater than the alternative proposal of expanding Gatwick Airport.
However, the draft goes on to say that “when assessing against the objective of maximising economic benefits and improving competitiveness and employment, the Heathrow [Third] Runway scheme generates the most benefits, as well as producing the highest direct benefits to passengers.”
The revised NPS also increased the number of passengers forecast to use the expanded Heathrow Airport by 2040 from 27 million to 28 million per year, while decreasing its estimate for the overall number of additional flights from 125,000 to 113,000 per year.
Cait Hewitt, deputy director of campaign group the Aviation Environment Federation, claimed the “scale of this re-consultation” showed the government’s case for Heathrow expansion is “unconvincing”.
She said: “It is difficult to see how this new information can avoid delaying the process, as MPs and the public will need time to understand how the new forecasts impact emissions, noise and the sustainability appraisal of the project.
“These address fundamental questions about the project’s viability and have been provided at a late stage in this process.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “The consultation launched today is a key milestone in developing the Airports NPS which will strengthen the policy framework for expanding Heathrow.
“The forecasts show expanding Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, is even more important than previously realised.
“A third runway will ensure Britain’s place in the world as an outward-looking trading nation. That’s why the government has committed to a final vote on expansion in the first half of 2018.”
Further Heathrow consultation launched as MPs prepare to debate impact of scheme
By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)
24 OCTOBER 2017
The Government has launched a fresh round of consultations on the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport with critical MPs set to debate the potential economic and environmental impacts of the project in Parliament tomorrow.
Its revised draft Airports National Policy Statement, which the Government had pre-announced in September, takes into account updated noise analysis and a new air quality plan as well as policy changes since the independent Airports Commission backed the Heathrow project in 2016.
The revised document said updated international evidence on vehicle emission forecasts was published at the end of September last year and this had to be considered in terms of the expansion’s potential compliance with emissions legislation.
The Government has said though it believes with a “suitable package of policy and mitigation measures”, including its modified air quality plan, the northwest runway scheme at Heathrow would be capable of being carried out without impacting the UK’s compliance of air quality limits.
The new document also says Heathrow Airport “should continue to strive to meet its public pledge to have landside airport-related traffic no greater than today”, something critics will likely scoff at.
Various senior MPs are also lining up to speak out against the planned expansion in the new round of consultation, which runs until Dec 19.
Ruth Cadbury MP has secured a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament at 11am on Wednesday on the subject of the “economic and environmental impacts of airport expansion”.
Zac Goldsmith, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group scrutinising the expansion and Conservative MP for Richmond Park, said: “Almost all aspects of the Airports Commission report, on which the Government’s position is based, have been fatally undermined.
“On economic benefits, passenger numbers, connectivity, economic benefits and on air pollution – the Commission’s findings have all had to be significantly revised – and in all cases worsening the case for expansion.”
He added that besides the planning and financial risks of the project, it would cost the taxpayer “billions”.
A spokesman for Heathrow said the forecasts in the revised document showed that expanding Heathrow was “even more important than previously realised”.
It added the expansion was “affordable, financeable and deliverable”, and that it would meet or exceed the conditions suggested by the Airports Commission to mitigate the impacts on local communities and the environment.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told MPs that the new forecasts “show that the need for additional runway capacity is even greater than originally thought”.
MPs are due to vote on a final Airports National Policy Statement in the first half of 2018.