Windsor and Maidenhead residents show up the unverifiable claims made by Rob Gray, Heathrow’s Director of Community & Stakeholder Relations
In response to a letter in the Maidenhead Advertiser by Rob Gray (who used to be the head of the astroturf group, “Back Heathrow” and is now Director – Community & Stakeholder Relations at Heathrow), making a number of dodgy statements about Heathrow expansion, several residents have sent in great responses. A few quotes: “He says that the Expansion project will only be permitted if it can be delivered within strict and legally binding environmental targets – but he does not say that Heathrow’s carefully chosen word ’target’ relates to an unenforceable aspiration which is entirely different to “enforcement’’. Mr Gray fails to admit that most of the current targets are not met today and this would be virtually impossible to remedy with an addition of at least 54% more flights.” And “After substantial costs of pollution, congestion, noise and health ill-effects, the DfT’s own report shows the overall benefit is practically zero and could easily go negative. Heathrow’s real motivation is to increase the £800 million in dividends sent last year to foreign Chinese, Qatari, Singaporean, Spanish and Canadian investors, whilst over the previous 10 years they paid only a total of £24 million in corporation tax to HMRC.” See the three letters.
Letters in the Maidenhead Advertiser newspaper:
Heathrow ‘targets’ impossible to enforce
It is no surprise that Heathrow’s Community & Stakeholder Engagement Director Rob Gray once again smokescreens the real issues (Viewpoint September 19)
I totally refute his claim that I failed to recognise their commitments regarding transport and air quality around the airport. He says that the Expansion project will only be permitted if it can be delivered within strict and legally binding environmental targets – but he does not say that Heathrow’s carefully chosen word ’target’ relates to an unenforceable aspiration which is entirely different to “enforcement’’”.
Mr Gray fails to admit that most of the current targets are not met today and this would be virtually impossible to remedy with an addition of at least 54% more flights.
It must be emphasised that most the of the current aircraft fleet will still be flying in 25 years time. A few years ago Rolls Royce and Boeing engineers told the statutory Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee that aircraft engines had already reached their maximum potential.
Mr Gray fails to admit that the future flight paths and their associated noise have yet to be planned and will not be published until after the Planning Inspectorate have decided on the application,
It seems that local Councils have responsibility for controlling air quality but no powers to differentiate and take action between aircraft pollution and what proportion of traffic pollution is airport related. Perhaps environmental experts could advise how the generators of carbon emissions can be pinpointed and controlled under a charging process.
The letter states that their plans include a detailed surface access strategy to increase the number of people travelling to and from the airport sustainably. But their Consultation papers clearly state that the rail provision is not part of their plan and Heathrow will not be assisting in the funding of new or upgraded railways.
The vehicle access charges will be particularly punitive upon all travellers outside the M25 as their public transport provision is skimpy compared with the multi layered round the clock services in London and its suburbs.
The cycling and walkways around the airport will only have limited benefit to very local travellers and colleagues and like many other improved outside spaces the consultation documents state that they will only be provided if finance is raised from passenger levies and other sources other than Heathrow itself.
Those of us who live close to the airport strongly dispute the assertion that while passenger numbers have increased by 80% in 25 years airport related road traffic has remained broadly static – although perhaps that is an apt description for the greatly increased number of traffic jams.
The excuse for the two new 25,000 capacity passenger car parks adjacent to the Airport is the consolidation of existing spaces, but the Consultation documents also refer to discontinuing employee parking and provision of alternative benefits – which could escalate the growing rogue parking problems while offering more passengers the opportunity to drive.
Mr Gray describes this project as of huge local and national significance, creating thousands of jobs locally. That does not make sense in an already high employment region which has an acute housing crisis.
This last point links with the Airports Commission report which was adopted by Parliament. It stated that Heathrow could need 70,400 more employees and businesses attracted to a larger Heathrow could raise that to around 100,000. The report concluded that 70,000 more family houses will be needed with 5,000 provided by each of the 14 nearest Councils.
That and all the extra school and hospital places plus road chaos for new buried services will be a disaster for everyone except Heathrow’s foreign owners.
Chairman Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council
Orchard Road, Old Windsor.
Net benefit of runway practically zero
I am writing to reply to your letter last week from Rob Gray promoting Heathrow third runway.
Since the Airports Commission report in 2015, the Department for Transport has reduced the top line 60 year total business benefit to the UK of a third runway by 60% from £147 billion- to £61 billion, an insignificant proportion of the U.K.’s £2 trillion GDP per annum.
After substantial costs of pollution, congestion, noise and health ill-effects, the DfT’s own report shows the overall benefit is practically zero and could easily go negative.
Heathrow’s real motivation is to increase the £800 million in dividends sent last year to foreign Chinese, Qatari, Singaporean, Spanish and Canadian investors, whilst over the previous 10 years they paid only a total of £24 million in corporation tax to HMRC.
Heathrow’s original plan was for a third runway budgeted to cost £18 million.
When IAG (parent company of British Airways) and many others criticised this huge cost, Heathrow quickly replied that instead of putting the M25 into a tunnel under the new runway, they would put the runway onto a bridge or ski-style ramp over the M25 and so reduce cost to £14 billion. Many people questioned whether this would be possible but Heathrow maintained strongly that it would be.
Now, strangely in their current master plan there is no mention of a bridge or ski-style ramp and the cost has now increased to £32 billion for a 30 year project!
This is a huge “land grab” for a project bringing 30 years of construction hell for residents of West London and the Thames Valley.
Heathrow maintain that they can build and use a new runway with its additional 700 flights a day without increasing pollution or increasing the use of cars to and from the airport.
However their master plan includes the building of two 25,000 space car parks.
Such statements like this, the ski-style ramp, false economics and job promises etc are totally disingenuous.
Heathrow’s objective also is to be “the transatlantic cargo hub Europe” with projections of “Air-Truck” transit cargo by weight increasing by two and a half time by 2040.
This means 2.5 times the number of freight heavy trucks and vans on the roads to and from Heathrow (M25, M4, A4, A30 etc).
Plus of course Heathrow will expect further growth in their time horizons to 2050 or 60 years. Meanwhile their projections of export freight i.e. aiding the UK economy, is only 1.7 times a smaller amount and they admit difficulty in achieving export growth.
In addition, the Airports Commission budgeted that the cost of public infrastructure (roads and rail) to support the third runway would be £5 billion.
Transport for London estimated that it would be more like £15 billion, and yet when pressed Heathrow have stated only that they would contribute just £1 billion.
The whole project needs to be reassessed in light of their huge masterplan proposals, Government commitments to be “carbon neutral” by 2050 and increasing research and public awareness about the serious health ill-effects and cost of noise pollution.
Has Heathrow ever heard of climate crisis?
Referring to Rob agrees a response concerning Heathrow expansion, it does seem that because they are attempting to alleviate environmental concerns by improving public transport in the area and other measures, then they believe that they have a right to expand Heathrow and its third runway, destroying habitat for wildlife and the village of Simpson in order for the airport to fly 50% more aircraft in and out of Heathrow.
If the aircraft were a country he would be the third most polluting countries in the world.
Also 20 of the worlds hottest years on record have occurred during the last 22 years.
It seems Heathrow has never heard of climate change protests or the Extinction Rebellion protests.
Will all planes be carbon neutral by 2050?
What an achievement if Heathrow is the first airport with an ultra low emissions zone by 2022, only for aircraft to wipe out the benefits in seconds.
We definitely have an environmental problem that we have created and the government must stop the third runway extension and start to look at their competition between the railway and air travel for European journeys.