Rival “Heathrow Hub” expansion scheme considers legal action against Government, on altered Heathrow airport plans
The backers of the “Heathrow Hub” rival Heathrow expansion scheme are considering legal action against the Government in the wake of the airport’s move to propose potential revisions to its plans. Heathrow Hub, fronted by former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe, has criticised the Government for allowing Heathrow to now consult on new ideas for its 3rd runway because this could change the eventual scheme from what was originally submitted and considered by the Airports Commission. Heathrow’s consultation (started 17th Jan, ends 28th March) is considering 3 different runway options, two of them for a 3,200 metres and one at 3,500 metres, slightly differently sited. This is in spite of the Government’s own documents on the expansion stipulating the need for a runway of “at least 3,500 metres”. Heathrow has to try to keep costs down, as its airlines are bitterly opposed to the cost of its proposals. The consultation also outlined potential plans for how to deal with the runway crossing the M25 motorway. Heathrow Hub said if it did launch legal proceedings, it would aim to get the money it spent submitting its proposals for expansion to the Government refunded. Heathrow airport said it thought that “providing some flexibility on the specification of the precise runway length would not undermine the NPS and its objectives”.
Rival Heathrow expansion scheme considers legal action against Government
By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)
17 JANUARY 2018
The backers of a rival Heathrow expansion scheme are considering legal action against the Government in the wake of the airport’s move to propose potential revisions to its plans.
Heathrow Hub, fronted by former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe, has criticised the Government for allowing Heathrow airport to offer up new ideas for its expansion because this could take the eventual scheme away from what was originally submitted.
Heathrow started its 10-week consultation on Wednesday and said it would be consulting on three different runway lengths between 3,200 metres and 3,500 metres. This is in spite of the Government’s own documents on the expansion stipulating the need for a runway of “at least 3,500 metres”.
The consultation also outlined potential plans for moving the M25 and putting the motorway through a tunnel under the new runway, a concept it had previously proposed but without such detail.
Heathrow Hub said the fact the airport was “still producing new ideas” for its expansion made it a Heath Robinson plan, a reference to the English cartoonist known for drawing ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives.
Jock Lowe, a former Concorde pilot, is behind the rival Heathrow expansion scheme
A spokesperson for Heathrow Hub, which wants to expand the existing northern runway, said: “We are indeed considering legal action on the basis that the process has been unreasonable.”
The spokesperson added if Heathrow Hub did launch legal proceedings, it would aim to get the money it spent submitting its proposals for expansion to the Government refunded.
Such a move, Heathrow Hub would hope, could pressure the Government into accepting its scheme. The organisation has said its project would be phased, with a £3.9bn runway extension taking place first.
Its total project, which also includes moving the M25, would cost £9.7bn – more than £4bn cheaper than Heathrow’s more recent proposals which have been cut from the initial £17bn.
Heathrow Hub also contends its plan could accommodate the same amount of aircraft movements – 740,000 –- as the plan by the airport and therefore believes the Government should be giving it equal weight in the National Policy Statement (NPS), a document which will be voted on by MPs this year and is the first stage to a scheme being built.
Heathrow airport said it thought that “providing some flexibility on the specification of the precise runway length would not undermine the NPS and its objectives”.
It added each of the runway lengths could accommodate the same number of flights but shorter runways would need less land which would provide “an opportunity to move either one or both runway ends away from Colnbrook and Sipson, also reducing noise for local communities”.
The DFT said it was reviewing evidence submitted to the NPS and that Heathrow’s consultation was separate.
See earlier a few news stories about Heathrow Hub:
Heathrow Hub says, to match Heathrow’s offer, it would cut price of its runway scheme by £2 billion
The backers of the Heathrow Hub scheme, to lengthen Heathrow’s northern runway towards the west, have now said they could cut the price of their scheme by £2 million. This offer comes just days after Heathrow’s Chairman, Lord Deighton, said their north west runway scheme could be cut by up to £3 billion. The Heathrow north-west runway scheme is expected to cost £17.5 billion (or £14.5 billion with the cheaper scheme) – and the Heathrow Hub scheme is expected to cost £12 billion according to their website (or £10 billion with the cheaper scheme). But Heathrow Hub are now telling the press that their scheme could cost £7.5 million. Their Factsheet of November 2014 said the cost of the runway itself would be £9.2 billion, with £2.8 billion for surface access improvements. In November 2013 they anticipated the cost of diverting the M25 for the runway would be £0.7 billion. Heathrow Hub also proudly say there would be no cost to the public. In reality, Transport for London said (February 2015) of a larger Heathrow, not differentiating between the two schemes: “Our assessment estimated that in order for a fully developed Heathrow (149 mppa) to achieve all of the above surface access objectives in the long term (2040-50), costs would be around £15-20 billion*. The Heathrow Hub scheme is privately funded, and hopes to license its scheme to Heathrow airport for up to £5m a year for 20 years, if successful.
Heathrow investors snub Chris Grayling’s request for their funding of Heathrow Hub scheme
Some of Heathrow’s leading shareholders have snubbed a request from the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to back the Heathrow Hub scheme, that involves adding another runway at the western end of the northern runway. Sky News understands that big investors in FGP Topco, Heathrow’s parent company, are refusing to give a written commitment to funding the rival scheme. Heathrow argues that it has not done sufficient due diligence to justify giving its backing to Heathrow Hub. Mr Grayling made the request at a meeting with the two runway promoters last month, since when further talks have been held between executives at Heathrow and Heathrow Hub. While it is understood John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, would accept the Hub plan if he cannot get his north-west runway, the airport’s leading shareholders are refusing to back it. They believe future financial returns would be lower with the Hub scheme than the NW runway scheme. Sky News has been told that Mr Holland-Kaye had been told by his shareholders that acknowledging any support for the Hub scheme would be a tactical error, at a time they believe is so close to an announcement by the Government. Both Heathrow schemes have offered cut-price versions of their proposals in a bid to convince ministers of their merits. FGP Topco’s shareholders are Ferrovial (25% stake), and sovereign wealth and pension funds from Australia, Canada, China, Qatar and Singapore.
Heathrow 3rd runway would affect south Buckinghamshire, especially Heathrow Hub impact on Iver area
People in south Buckinghamshire are very concerned about the threat of an expanded Heathrow, and the impact it would have on the south of the county. How badly they would be affected depends on whether a 3rd runway was built as Heathrow Airport Ltd wants, to the north west, or an extension of the northern runway, as Heathrow Hub wants. With either they face much more noise, and much more traffic. If the Heathrow Hub design was permitted, it includes plans for a transport hub near Iver (to the north west of the junction of the M25 and the M4.) It would mean building on green belt land between Richings Park and Iver village centre, with access to it from local roads. Iver Parish Council are very concerned about the increased traffic, especially HGVs, which would change Iver massively. They have been given no proper information about how the traffic scheme would work, and there are real fears this would change Iver and Richings Park forever. People in this area will be attending the large rally being held on 3rd March in central London, against a 3rd Heathrow runway.