I am writing to follow-up on the excellent letter by Paul Strzelecki in last week’s Advertiser regarding the misleading leaflet delivered by BackHeathrow to homes around the borough.
It is right that we must reduce global warming. The Paris Climate Accord determined that we must ensure that average temperature does not exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, but it is now already 1C above and is headed towards 3C above by 2100, which is within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren. The UK government and RBWM voted for action to achieve carbon “net zero” by 2050 and London and elsewhere have objectives to achieve this by 2030, i.e. in just the next 10 years!
BackHeathrow claims to be a grass-roots organisation representing local residents however their company articles include “To mobilise support for Heathrow Airport to influence key decision makers” and “To advance any other objective which Heathrow Airport Limited in its sole discretion shall determine suitable.” Both BackHeathrow and Heathrow have had advertisements banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for misrepresentation, and Heathrow has spent around £50 million promoting a third runway, with Companies House records showing £1million of it sitting in BackHeathrow’s accounts.
BackHeathrow’s leaflet says that electric planes are the answer but this is not the case. The Government’s own Committee for Climate Change has said “there are likely to be no commercially available zero-carbon planes by 2050, particularly for long-haul flights”, and this “will require breakthroughs in battery energy density to become a commercially viable proposition.”
There are many huge technical issues for example just about batteries, size, weight and charging, with a whole airport full of aircraft which currently each refuel and turn around in around an hour? The global fleet of 25,000 passenger aircraft have been manufactured over the last 15 years so if ever large electric aircraft became available, it would still take 15 years to replace the fleet. However we must take action to significantly reduce CO2 and global warming now!
BackHeathrow say that offsetting is the answer but, when passing the UK Climate Change Act, the Government was clear that “net-zero emissions must be reached across the whole economy (including emissions from international aviation and shipping) and that the aim is to achieve the target entirely through action in the UK without recourse to international credits (or ‘offsets’).”
BackHeathrow and Heathrow say that they will provide 6 1/2 hours night-time respite, but that is “from the gate” and “to the gate”. Taking into account time to the runway, take off and to be over West London or the Thames Valley and vice-versa for landing, that equates to only 5 1/2 hours respite each night. But the World Health Organisation recommends that adults get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. And what about children who need more?
The Airports Commission said a third runway would bring £147bn in benefit to Britain and Heathrow maintain it is £211bn, but these figures are both over 60 years. However the Department for Transport have progressively reduced this estimation by 60% to just £61bn and again over 60 years amounting to only about £1bn per annum or only 0.05% of the UK’s £2 trillion annual productivity or GDP.
This “business benefit” and jobs are shown closely aligned in Heathrow’s Quod report which they have now removed from their website. So their jobs estimates should be reduced by a similar 60%. To gain approval to build Terminal 5, Heathrow promised 6,000 new jobs however since that time the number employed at Heathrow has reduced from around 79,000 to 76,000, so instead of their promised increase of 6,000 a reduction of 3,000!
There have been many more false proposals, for example airport electric tugs to tow aircraft, a bridge or ski-style ramp over the M25 instead of tunnel at a point where the M25 has 14 lanes, to bring cost down to £14bn, but these are no longer mentioned and Heathrow’s Masterplan now shows a £32bn project taking 30 years.
They say that despite 700 more flights per day, they will reduce the number of cars to and from the airport but they have not made any progress doing so, because they can charge high amounts for parking, and their plans include 2 new 25,000 space car parks.
Heathrow is 90% owned by Chinese, Singaporean, Qatari, Spanish and Canadians who last year received £800m in dividends and yet paid only £24m in corporation tax to the UK government in total over the previous 10 years. So this is not about business and benefit for Britain, but about increased profit and dividends for Heathrow’s foreign shareholders.
Their photo of supporters on the island in the middle of the road outside the High Court was carefully taken to obscure two or three times as many campaigners, Councillors and MPs against a third runway including the Royal Borough Leader Andrew Johnson, behind and directly outside the court.
Heathrow clearly have huge additional dividends to gain from airport expansion, whilst those around suffer in many ways, so in light of all their misinformation how can we believe what they say?