You have to laugh – Heathrow’s unwitting, foolish irony… climate change will make their runway harder to use!
Heathrow proposes increasing the number of flights, and hence its carbon emissions, by about 50% (though it tries to make out there will be no net increase, as all will magically be “disappeared” using novel technologies, which are not yet proven). But in its consultation, it worries about how climate change [that same problem its expansion is massively contributing to!] might affect its operations. Heart bleeds …Some of the problems they express concern about, and which might make it harder to get maximum use out of their new runway, are: higher average temperatures and more heatwave events, reduced summer rainfall, more frequent intense rainfall events; potentially increased extreme wind and storm events; and fewer extreme cold events. These could cause increased flooding, construction sites being flooded, overheating in buildings and public spaces, failure of equipment in extreme temperatures or high winds, water shortages, operational disruption from storm events. More rain could affect the runway and underground foundations, structures etc. Increased summer temperature and increased winter temperature variability could cause damage to the tarmac and asphalt and affect operations. Oh dear, oh dear …
Heathrow complains climate change will make its third runway harder to use
By Joe Lo
In Left Foot Forward
File this one under “irony”.
Heathrow Airport has outlined how it will adapt its controversial third runway to the affects of climate change.
In a consultation document, the airport said that climate change will mean more heatwaves, droughts, storms and floods and that it was factoring this into its expansion.
In the document, https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/topics/climate-change/ the airport said:
“The assessment has considered a range of different climate changes; higher average temperatures and more heatwave events, reduced summer rainfall, more frequent intense rainfall events; potentially increased extreme wind and storm events; and fewer extreme cold events.”
“If the airport design did not consider climate change there would be a greater chance of effects such as rainfall filling drainage, increased flooding, overheating in buildings and public spaces, failure of equipment in extreme temperatures, water shortages, operational disruption from storm events, and alterations to affected or new landscapes.”
The airport is expanding in order to allow more planes to fly to and from it. [Hugely increasing the carbon emissions – planes using Heathrow are already the largest carbon source in the UK, probably even worse than Drax power station]
Environmental group Friends of the Earth has challenged the expansion in the courts, claiming the government did not adequately take account of its climate change affects when they approved it.
Commenting on Heathrow’s plans to adapt to climate change, Friends of the Earth executive director Craig Bennett said:
“Expanding Heathrow will bring more misery to local communities, and pump more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere.
“In the UK, 15% of people take over 70% of flights – so it’s a small minority of people causing most of the problem. Heathrow expansion represents wealthy frequent flier convenience and corporate enrichment at the expense of us all.
“With Parliament declaring a climate emergency, and the UK government committed to net zero carbon emissions, it’s time to change direction on transport policy and pull the brake on airport expansion.”
By 2050, when the airport’s expansion will be in its fourth phase, aviation is expected to be the single greatest contributor to climate change.
Aviation contributes to climate change by burning fuel and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Aviation also produces contrails, the white lines which are generated by planes. These can turn into artificial clouds which trap heat into the earth’s atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
In June 2018, parliament overwhelmingly approved the expansion after the Labour Party allowed a free vote on the issue and the Scottish National Party abstained.
Although Jeremy Corbyn and 96 of his MPs voted against the expansion, 119 Labour MPs including Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner supported it.
Labour’s 2017 manifesto said it “recognises the need for additional airport capacity in the South-East” but will gurantee that any expansion meets the UK’s climate change obligations.
Most Conservatives voted in favour of expansion but eight rebelled and some, including Boris Johnson, missed the vote.
Johnson has previously said he would lie in front of the bulldozers to oppose the expansion but has recently dropped his opposition.
The Liberal Democrats and Green MP Caroline Lucas voted against the expansion.
You can read the Heathrow document on this at
Heathrow Expansion PRELIMINARY ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REPORT © Heathrow Airport Limited 2019
Extreme weather events or climatic events (such as strong winds) resulting in effects on the resilience of construction equipment and resulting in delays to construction programme and associated costs and/or unacceptable safety risks. Extreme weather events or climatic events (such as heavy rainfall) resulting in effects on the viability of and access to construction sites (such as heavy rain resulting in surface water flooding of local roads, sources of power supply or inundation of construction sites).
Climate-related hazards such as increased intensity of precipitation events have the potential to result in hazardous conditions for operation of vehicles and planes, slowing operations and causing delays. Increased intensity of wind events also has the potential to cause disruption to runway utilisation and schedules.
Runways and taxiways are also at risk of damage from climate related hazards. Water damage from increased precipitation can affect the runway and underground foundations, structures or services. Increased summer temperature and increased winter temperature variability also has the potential to cause damage to the tarmac and asphalt and effect operations.
Climate-related hazards have the potential to cause damage to the building and structure fabric. Projected increases in extreme precipitation events could lead to water ingress and high wind events could damage the exterior of buildings or cause failure of equipment.
The facilities required for the building to operate could also become damaged. Extreme precipitation events could lead to flooding of the terminal buildings and the ancillary infrastructure whilst drought could reduce the potable water availability required for the terminal’s operation. Overheating from increased summer temperature due to inadequate heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems is also a risk.
Climate change related weather events have the potential to result in increased risk of surface or structural failure, warping of slabs, excessive movement at joints and difficulty in maintaining asphalt surface. There is also the potential for flooding of road networks and for wind to create or distribute debris to these areas. These aspects, when taken individually or in-combination, could affect the integrity and efficiency of the road and rail network to different degrees. However, each aspect ultimately reduces their efficacy as a transport mechanism.
Climate change can exacerbate acute and chronic impacts on foul, non-potable and surface water infrastructure. Most notably this relates to the increase in peak rainfall associated with extreme events and combined effects of extreme rainfall after cold snaps leading to de-icer runoff.
Climate change can exacerbate acute and chronic impacts on fuel and transfer assets due to an increase of flood risk from fluvial, pluvial or groundwater, increase in fire risk during hot days, and increased risk in damage to fuel operations due to lightning strikes.
Flood water management infrastructure can be stressed by exacerbation of flood events under future climates.
Climate change-related weather events have the potential to damage the over and underground electricity network. This can be through direct contact (for example, flooding or wind damage), or through damage to structures or buildings supporting this network (for example, heat buckling of HV cables, subsidence).
There is likely to be significant resilience in the electricity network with alternative supplies available. Multiple events over a short timescale are likely to have the greatest impact as these will inhibit any maintenance activities.
Climate change can exacerbate acute and chronic impacts on fuel storage and transfer assets, particularly through extreme weather events such as storms
Variable groundwater levels affect asset integrity and could cause subsidence and water ingress damage to earthworks, underground structures, foundations and platforms. This has knock-on effects on many of the assets listed.
………. and so on.
Your additions to global carbon emissions will be causing a lot of other people, organisations etc a whole range of possibly similar problems. Doubt you know or care about that. Just how your extra carbon emissions might negatively affect your own operations. I’m OK Jack.