Heathrow Airport News

See also Hillingdon Times on Heathrow, for a local perspective

Colnbrook Views, for local insights for the area

Minutes of the Heathrow Consultative Committee  HACC  

Turbulence at Heathrow as third of top team exit

1st August 2021

Three members, out of the eight, of the executive committee quit as the airport struggles with Covid travel restrictions. Carol Hui, Andrew Macmillan and Chris Garton, chief of staff, chief strategy officer, and chief solutions officer, have left.  The executive committee is responsible for the day-to-day business of the airport and also includes finance chief Javier Echave and Emma Gilthorpe, the airport’s operating head that industry insiders believe is best-placed to take over from Mr Holland-Kaye at some point in the future.  Three Heathrow insiders will take their place as the executive team is broadened to nine people. Heathrow has launched a search for the airport’s legal counsel – a position as it decides whether or not to press ahead with the building of the third runway.  Mr Holland-Kaye said that Ms Carol Hui had been instrumental in “leading us to success with the Airports Commission recommendation for expansion and the subsequent legal appeals …Carol is probably the best in-house lawyer in the UK, and has been a trusted advisor to me and the board. We will take a little time to choose the right person to succeed her as general counsel.”


Heathrow losses now £2.9bn and consolidated net debt £15.2 bn

Heathrow has announced that its cumulative losses from the Covid-19 pandemic have hit £2.9 billion. In its results for the first half of 2021,  Heathrow’s revenue dropped from £712 million in the first six months of 2020 to £348 million in the first half of 2021, which is 51.1% less than in the first half of 2020, and 76.2% less than the first half of 2019. Its pre-tax loss widened 18% to a little over £1 billion.  It had 3.85m passengers, which is 75.1% less than the same period in 2020, and 90.1% less than the first half of 2019.  Heathrow (it has a complex structure of numerous companies and levels) had  consolidated net debt of £15.2 billion — not much less than the airport’s £16.9 billion regulated asset base (RAB), or the CAA’s proxy for its value.  Heathrow had been allowed, by the CAA, to increase its RAB by £300 million, to £16.9 billion.  Its chief executive John Holland-Kaye is using the half-year figures to warn about a covenant waiver on its various loans.  The group of Heathrow companies has £4.8 billion of liquidity, (ie. ability to borrow) with average cost of debt just 1.64%.

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Taxpayers face near £900m bill for Heathrow western rail link, if airport won’t pay

It was announced in September 2020 that the Great Western rail link between Reading and Heathrow would be delayed by up to two years. It was first proposed in 2012. A DCO application to construct the new line is not expected for some time. Heathrow was set to pay for much of the cost, as the link would benefit its passengers. But in April Heathrow withdrew its funding, because of the crisis in its finances due to the pandemic.  Other funding from the private sector will be “much smaller” than previously envisaged.  So it looks as if taxpayers may have to fund most of a £900m bill. The rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, told a parliamentary committee last week that he would recommend that taxpayers pay instead, as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review this autumn.  Network Rail said that the Department for Transport had asked it to delay beginning the project by a year until the winter of 2022.  It said it would not progress until there was a satisfactory financial arrangement, “including an appropriate financial contribution from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL); this requires endorsement by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the relevant regulator.”

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DfT decides to roll over the night flights regime for 3 more years (not 2) for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted

The government consulted, in December 2020, on its night flights regime (closed 3rd March 2021). Part of the consultation was whether to “roll over” the current regime for the three designated airports, (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) for another 3 years, and it closed on 3rd March 2021. The second part is about wider night flights issues for all issues, and that closes on 3rd September 2021. The DfT has now published its “Decision Document” on the night flights regime and the designated airports. It has decided – despite pleas from numerous groups and individuals for change – not only to roll over the existing scheme, but to set this for THREE years more, rather than the two years originally proposed. The DfT says: “The restrictions will be reassessed in time for a new regime to commence in October 2025…” Airport groups at the designated airports are upset and furious. Night flight noise is probably the most hated, and the most damaging element of aircraft noise. The justifications given for night flights, about their economic necessity, are unconvincing. Sadly, people living with night flight noise from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be stuck with the problem, at least until 2025

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No 3rd Runway Coalition: “Heathrow expansion stopping UK from jet zero dreams”

The government hopes all international flights from the UK can be made “net zero” for carbon emissions by 2050. Its new consultation, called “Jet Zero” sets out what the DfT is hoping for, with the remarkable reduction in carbon emissions largely being brought about by “sustainable aviation fuels.” The DfT is not keen on doing anything that would deliberately restrict air travel demand. Campaigners at Heathrow, the No 3rd Runway Coalition, point out that it would be hard enough to get anywhere near net zero for aviation emissions, even without airport expansion plans being allowed. And it would be completely impossible, if a 3rd Heathrow runway was allowed, adding perhaps up to another 9 million more tons of CO2 per year to be emitted. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “It has long been clear that Heathrow’s 3rd runway is incompatible with the UK climate targets and would take up the vast majority of aviation’s residual emissions in 2050.”

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Howard Davies, whose “Airports Commission” decided a Heathrow 3rd runway was needed and justified, now says it no longer is

Back in 2015, Sir Howard Davies chaired the Airports Commission, which had been given the task – by George Osborne – of making the case for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, so the Conservative government could press ahead with it, once they were out of coalition with the LibDems, who opposed it.  Sir Howard had financial connections which might be considered to make him biased towards the airport. In July 2015 the Commission produced its report, recommending Heathrow’s 3rd runway, as a way to meet anticipated air travel demand in the south east. Now, with the impact of the Covid pandemic, and Heathrow struggling with 72% fewer passengers in 2020 than in 2019, Sir Howard has admitted that no extra runway is now needed, nor will it be for some time. In 2015 he believed there was an economic case for it, and spending up to £18 billion on the expansion. Now, even with the cheaper planned scheme at about £14 billion, he has said: “I would have to redo the numbers to see if the economics made sense.”  The whole Airports National Policy Statement was based on building a 3rd Heathrow runway, on the recommendation of Sir Howard Davies, before deciding on airport policy for the whole of the UK.

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Shapps supports decision by the CAA to revoke Flybe’s operating licence – losing its Heathrow slots

Flybe collapsed into administration in March 2020. It had some slots at Heathrow because it was given them under “remedy” procedures aimed at preventing British Airways from dominating the market.  The (how many) pairs of slots, which prior to the pandemic changed hands for up to £52 million each are still believed to be worth about £10m despite the impact of coronavirus.  When Flybe failed, the slots were allocated back to BA last summer. Flybe still had the right to access them – but only if the airline had an operating licence after June 3.  But now Grant Shapps has supported a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to revoke Flybe’s operating licence. The slots therefore remain with BA.  Had Flybe been granted the licence, it could have meant a lot of money of hedge fund manager, Lucien Farrell of Cyrus Capital.  Flybe has been bought by a new company called Thyme Opco, now called Flybe Limited.  It hopes to resurrect the brand (though it has always made a loss) and wanted those valuable slots, but has been awarded separate but less valuable slots at Manchester and Birmingham airports.

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Heathrow re-starts hardship house purchasing programme, for blighted homes

11 MAY, 2021  (New Civil Engineer)

Heathrow has resuming (after a Covid break) the purchasing of houses close to the proposed runway, or on land they may want for non-runway expansion.  The airport has reopened a property hardship scheme through which it buys homes from owners who are otherwise unable to sell them due to the prospect of the third runway.  The houses can then be let to airport workers, in the same way they were in Sipson.  It helps reduce opposition to the expansion scheme, from badly affected local residents.  Stop Heathrow Expansion representative Geraldine Nicholson said that it is “clear Heathrow has not given up yet and that their overseas shareholders are becoming impatient”. She emphasised that giving “this level of uncertainty to thousands of people around Heathrow is wrong” and called for the airport to realise “the game is up” on the third runway and focus on “rebuilding the airport as a ­better neighbour”.



Environment lawyer, Tim Crosland of Plan B Earth fined £5k for contempt of court in Heathrow case

Environmental lawyer Tim Crosland (of Plan B Earth) was fined £5,000 for criminal contempt of court after deliberately making public the Supreme Court ruling related to Heathrow airport before the result was officially announced, in December 2020. The judges could have jailed him for two years. The Supreme Court had ruled that a planned 3rd runway at Heathrow would be legal, as the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was legal, and had dealt adequately with the issue of climate change. Tim and others had argued that the increased CO2 emissions it would cause are incompatible with the UK’s obligations to fight the climate crisis. The judges said there was “no such thing as a justifiable contempt of court” and the fine was needed to protect the integrity of the judiciary. In court on Monday, Tim said “The attorney general prosecutes me for highlighting the government’s dishonesty and climate hypocrisy in the year of [UN climate summit] Cop26. It’s the classic case of retribution against the whistleblower by those attempting to conceal their own guilt.” Acceptance that climate must be a key factor in government planning policies is important – not only for aviation, by other sectors such as road building and other large carbon infrastructure.

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CAA rules that Heathrow can only raise £300m out of £2.6bn through higher charges, plus another £500 m

Heathrow’s bid to increase airport charges to recover £2.6 billion lost during the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected by the aviation regulator, the CAA – which said its expenditure had been “disproportionate and not in the interests of consumers”. The CAA is allowing Heathrow to initially raise only an additional £300 million through higher charges, out of the £2.6 billion it asked for. “The CAA has agreed to a limited, early adjustment to HAL’s RAB of £300m and will consider this issue further as part of the next price control (H7)” which starts on 1st January 2022. The CAA has agreed to allow Heathrow to raise charges to recover the £500 million “it incurred efficiently” on its plans for a 3rd runway, between 2017 and 1st March 2020. Heathrow said it faces loses of around £3 billion due to the Covid pandemic.  IAG, which owns British Airways, the largest airline at Heathrow, said it is “extremely disappointed” with the CAA decision, which means more expensive tickets for its consumers from 2022. Heathrow wants concessions by the CAA, though its shareholders have earned nearly £4 billion in dividends in recent years.

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Western Rail Link to Heathrow mothballed – won’t be revived until airport’s finances improve

Network Rail has now confirmed that staff working on the Western Rail Link to Heathrow  have been moved on to other projects, as there isn’t enough money to keep building it. The proposed link goes from the Great Western Main Line at Langley to Terminal 5.  Plans to build a £900M western rail link have been brought to a “controlled pause”, or mothballed, by Network Rail due to the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry and Heathrow’s finances. Heathrow is currently unable to commit any funding to the project due to its precarious financial position, with a £2 billion loss announced in February.  The indefinite delay to the rail link was disclosed in the minutes of the Network Rail board meeting on 20 and 21 January 2021, published in March. It is possible that the scheme could be resumed  at some future.  The DfT would periodically update its business case for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow, in the light of significant changes to both the aviation and rail sectors as a result of Covid. The delay will continue, if Heathrow does not get passengers – and earnings – back. The scheme will be pushed further down the priority list.

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Good Law project, Dale Vince and George Monbiot start legal proceedings to force Government to suspend & review ANPS

In just months, a Government policy – the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) – that pre-dates the Net Zero commitments in the Climate Change Act. could form the basis for a decision to expand Manston Airport in Kent.  Government has refused to say whether a decision on Heathrow expansion will be made under the ANPS but, with an application for a development consent order (DCO) on Manston imminent, the Good Law project hopes it can force its hand – on Manston and on Heathrow. The ANPS is inconsistent with government commitment to tackle the climate crisis. Though the Supreme Court, in December 2020, ruled that the ANPS was legal, it is necessary for the government to suspend and review it. Now the Good Law project, with Dale Vince and George Monbiot, have issued a pre-action protocol letter to the government legal department, asking for the ANPS to be suspended and reviewed. Not only would proper updating of the ANPS prevent expansion of Manston and Heathrow, it would do the same for others in the pipeline – Southampton, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Stansted and Gatwick. Now government has agreed to include international aviation in carbon budgets, and a 78% cut in UK CO2 emissions by 2035, there is even greater urgency for correct UK aviation policy.

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Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans are ‘dead’, say campaigners, as government tightens UK CO2 targets

Plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow have been struck a massive blow by the government’s new emission targets.  The government announced the new climate change target on April 20th, with an aim to cut carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 78% by 2035 when compared to 1990 levels. For the first time, the Sixth Carbon Budget, covering the period 2033 to 2037, will include international aviation emissions (and also shipping emissions). Previously these had just been “taken account of” in setting the budget. The total emissions cap for the 2033-37 period is set at 965 MtCO2, which is far lower than the cap for the 5th carbon budget.  Heathrow vies with Drax power station to be the UK’s largest source of CO2, emitting (in 2019) about 19 – 20 MtCO2 per year. That is around 52 – 55% of total UK aviation emissions (37Mt CO2 in 2019). A 3rd runway, adding another 7 MtCO2 or more per year, would mean that – in order to meet the new legally binding targets – most other UK airports would be required to close. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.”

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London Mayor candidates speak out against Heathrow expansion

19.4.2021 (Enfield Independent)
By Joe Talora @jtalora

The four leading candidates running to be Mayor of London have unanimously opposed the expansion of Heathrow Airport.  Sadiq Khan, Shaun Bailey, Sian Berry and Luisa Porritt have all spoken out against plans to add a third runway.

Speaking to the No 3rd Runway Coalition, current mayor Sadiq Khan said that a third runway at Heathrow would have “disastrous consequences” for the environment and “would be worse for those who live near the airport”.

Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey said that Heathrow expansion is “never the answer” and that a third runway is “incompatible” with his plans for clean air, while Liberal Democrat candidate Luisa Porritt said she will “fight it all the way”.

Green Party candidate Sian Berry said that her party has “been at the heart of campaigning against Heathrow expansion for decades” and that “we need to cut down air pollution”.

Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “There’s no truer barometer of London’s view on Heathrow expansion than the city’s mayoral candidates. And it’s because they have their ears close to the ground, across the whole metropolis, that they are all vehemently opposed to any expansion at Heathrow.”

The London Assembly, which both Sian Berry and Shaun Bailey are currently members of, last year unanimously passed a motion that demonstrated cross-party opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.

Despite a legal battle, the Government’s plans to go ahead with the expansion of Heathrow Airport were given the go-ahead in December after the Supreme Court ruled that they were lawful and “did take the Paris Agreement into account”.


Heathrow owners divided about plan to raise £2.8bn by higher charges (due to Covid losses)

Heathrow is facing the spectre of a divided boardroom over its plan to raise billions of pounds from airlines and customers by increasing airport prices. State-backed Qatar Airways, whose owner is Heathrow’s 2nd-biggest shareholder, said Heathrow’s plans to recoup £2.8bn is “unreasonable, not in the consumer interest and should be rejected”. Qatar Airways’ boss, Akbar Al Baker, is a representative for the state of Qatar on Heathrow’s board of directors. Despite huge cuts in traffic, Heathrow claims it has enough cash reserves to cope with this year, even if there are low passenger numbers. There was recently a consultation about how much the CAA will let Heathrow charge airlines, in order to recoup cash lost due to the pandemic.  Heathrow has threatened legal action if the CAA does not allow this.

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UK government and Supreme Court criticised by prominent scientists and lawyers, for ignoring Paris climate goals in infrastructure decisions (eg.  Heathrow decision)

Prominent scientists and lawyers (including Jim Hansen, Sir David King and Prof Jeffrey Sachs) have written to ministers and the Supreme Court, to say the UK government’s decision to ignore the Paris climate agreement when deciding on major infrastructure projects undermines its presidency of UN climate talks this year.  The Heathrow case is a key example, when a 3rd runway was approved in principle by government (2019) and the Supreme Court finally ruled in December 2020 that the government had not needed to take the Paris climate goals into account. The UK is due to host the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November, regarded as one of the last chances to put the world on track to meet the Paris goals.  It is dangerous for the highest court in the land to set a bad precedent. The letter, signed by over 130 scientists, legal and environmental experts, says that the Supreme Court “set a precedent that major national projects can proceed even where they are inconsistent with maintaining the temperature limit on which our collective survival depends.” And “Indeed, the precedent goes further still. It says that the government is not bound even to consider the goals of an agreement that is near universally agreed.”

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UK government criticised by prominent scientists and lawyers, for ignoring Paris climate goals in infrastructure decisions

Prominent scientists and lawyers (including Jim Hansen, Sir David King and Prof Jeffrey Sachs) have written to ministers and the Supreme Court, to say the UK government’s decision to ignore the Paris climate agreement when deciding on major infrastructure projects undermines its presidency of UN climate talks this year.  The Heathrow case is a key example, when a 3rd runway was approved in principle by government (2019) and the Supreme Court finally ruled in December 2020 that the government had not needed to take the Paris climate goals into account. The UK is due to host the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November, regarded as one of the last chances to put the world on track to meet the Paris goals.  It is dangerous for the highest court in the land to set a bad precedent. The letter, signed by over 130 scientists, legal and environmental experts, says that the Supreme Court “set a precedent that major national projects can proceed even where they are inconsistent with maintaining the temperature limit on which our collective survival depends.” And “Indeed, the precedent goes further still. It says that the government is not bound even to consider the goals of an agreement that is near universally agreed.”

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Government First-Tier Tribunal to hear Heathrow appeal against having to disclose environmental information

Heathrow is trying to overturn a ruling in February 2020 that it must disclose environmental information. The Information Commissioner’s decision that Heathrow counts as a public authority and must disclose the information will be subject to an appeal next week. The ruling last year followed a similar one concerning energy producers and suppliers, extending a duty that the water industry has been subject to since 2015. They all resulted from the ambiguity of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which states that any organisation that “that carries out functions of public administration”, or has public responsibilities, functions or provides services related to the environment, is subject to the law. Heathrow does not want to have to answer demands for information about planning applications, aircraft noise or environmental impacts of the airport. The appeal comes as the Good Law Project, which is pursuing a legal challenge against government policy approving the third runway, said that it was making “a focussed request for documents and communications between Heathrow Airport and the DfT, for a Development Consent Order, for a 3rd runway.

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British Airways to continue work-from-home plan after Covid – possible they might sell huge Heathrow HQ building

18.3.2021 (BBC)

British Airways will let staff split their working lives between the head office and home in another example of big firms offering flexible employment.   The airline is also exploring the sale of its huge Waterside HQ near Heathrow Airport, where 2,000 people worked before the coronavirus lockdown.  “It’s not clear if such a large office will play a part in our future,” BA said in a message to staff.   The firm is in a race to cut costs after the virus led travel to collapse.  BA, part of the IAG airline group that also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus, has shed more than 10,000 jobs and is raising billions of pounds of extra cash from shareholders to shore up its finances.  Less office working saves companies money. It might, or might not, have lower environmental impact.  That of course depends how far people travelled  to work, how they travelled, how much energy the office building used, how much extra energy people use at home when home-working, what they choose to get for lunch and snacks etc.


People overflown by Heathrow dreading the resumption of increased plane noise, when flight restrictions are eased

While for many people lockdown has been a really difficult and isolating time, for those living under the Heathrow flight paths it’s given them the respite from noise that they have really wanted and needed. One resident in Windsor said: “The worst thing for me is the night flights. I worked in a pressurised full time job and we had done as much insulation as possible. But when you wake up at 4.30am  – when the first arrivals start – you start thinking about work and you can’t get back to sleep and it almost drove me round the bend. For your mental health the night flights are an absolute nightmare.” The problem can be worse in summer, in warm weather, when people want the window open – the noise is then far worse, and people get woken up. One resident said, about the prospect of high numbers of planes returning, when restrictions on air travel are lifted: “I am absolutely dreading it, in fact I am thinking about moving away which is a shame because I love this area and I love where I live.” The campaign group No 3rd Runway Coalition ran a noise survey during lockdown which received 3,419 responses. It showed a high number noticed a beneficial impact on their sleep, from fewer planes.

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Campaigners tell Heathrow to accept reality, and give up on plans for a 3rd runway

Campaigners say Heathrow should accept what is now financial reality and give up on its plans for a 3rd runway. Heathrow made a £2bn loss in 2020, and is asking for more government finance in the form of extending the furlough scheme – and also full relief from business rates. Heathrow’s financial frailty is obvious; it has net debt of £15.2bn as of September 2020. It is now so highly geared with debt, that it has reached a leverage ratio of 97% — higher than any comparable UK infrastructure or utility operation.  In June last year the ratings agency, Standards & Poor’s, put Heathrow on “credit watch with negative implications” — a 2nd credit downgrade in just 2 months. Then Heathrow sought waivers on covenants from holders of £1.1 billion of bonds. Any further downgrade would render these bonds junk, making the airport an extremely unattractive asset for investment. Its shareholders have not contributed more cash. John Holland-Kaye has told staff that the publicised “£3.2bn war chest” is merely the liquidity that can be mustered when “we have drawn down all the cash and credit facilities at our disposal”.  ie. more future borrowing. With its precarious finances, it is no longer appropriate for Heathrow to be pursuing a 3rd runway.

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Heathrow adding a new £8.90 per passenger pandemic tax from April

Heathrow has added a new charge on all outbound flights from April.  It will charge £8.90 extra in what the airport is calling a United Kingdom Exceptional Regulatory Charge. It may only last for a year, and Heathrow says the CAA has approved it.  Other major UK airports have said they will not be implementing a similar fee. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No Third Runway Coalition, criticised the airport for adding on the extra charge. “Yes, aviation has dipped during the pandemic, but it’s the shambolic financial management of Heathrow – the massive borrowing, the large dividends payments to its foreign owners and the total lack of reserves – that is forcing the airport’s management into trying, by stealth, to raise these passenger tariffs.”  A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow makes absolutely zero profit from these services [sic]. The price is calculated purely to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the infrastructure that supports them.” Airlines say the reason for the increase is the amount it charges them for baggage handling, water, electricity and other services. It is possible the tiny extra charge will make some people choose another airport to fly from (but it is probably too low to do that).

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British Airways owner IAG hit made a record loss of – €7.4bn in 2020 (cf. +€2.6bn profit in 2019)

International Airlines Group, owner of BA, has reported a record annual operating loss of €7.4bn  (£6.4 billion) for 2020.  Its passenger capacity last year was only a third of 2019 and in the first quarter of this year is running at only a fifth of pre-Covid levels.  The loss included exceptional items relating to fuel and currency hedges, early fleet retirement and restructuring costs. The loss compares with a €2.6bn profit in 2019.  IAG is trying to cut its cost base and increase the proportion of variable costs to better match market demand.  IAG’s passenger revenues fell 75% from €22.4bn to €5.5bn last year but its cargo business had “helped to make long-haul passenger flights viable” during the pandemic. Cargo revenues increased by almost €200m to €1.3bn and IAG also operated more than 4,000 cargo-only flights in 2020. It is not providing guidance on its finances for 2021. Airlines do seem to understand, at last, that for acceptable Covid safety of air travel, people need to be vaccinated or have proper proof they are not able to spread the virus.  IAG spent  €4.1bn in cash last year – almost €80m a week (£11.4 million per day). IAG’s market value has halved to £9.6bn since the start of the pandemic.  When Covid is less of a threat,  low-cost carriers may emerge in stronger shape than airlines like BA.

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Heathrow makes £2bn loss in 2020 due to the pandemic – warning on continuing to be a “going concern”

Heathrow lost £2 billion in 2020 because of the fall in passenger numbers due to the Covid pandemic. The numbers are lower than for perhaps 50 years, and the airport is issuing a warning about its future.  Its pre-tax loss was £2.01bn for its full-year compared to a £546m profit in 2019.  Revenues fell 62% £1.18bn, with passenger were at 22.1 million, 73% less than in 2019.  This led the airport to issue a warning, that the “existence of a material uncertainty… could cast significant doubt upon the group and the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. Nobody knows how much air travel will happen this year.  Heathrow desperately wants relief on all its business rates, an extended furlough scheme for its staff, and a revival of VAT-free airport shopping for tourists to the UK. John Holland-Kaye makes his usual statements about how vital Heathrow is to Britain … Since the start of the pandemic, the airport has cut operating costs by nearly £400m, reduced capital expenditure by £700m and raised £2.5bn in funding. And it says it ended 2020 with £3.9bn of liquidity, which it says is enough to last until April 2033 even if there is no recovery in passenger numbers. Which begs the question of why it needs more government support now.

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Heathrow, Gatwick and East Midlands apply for UK Freeport status

Heathrow, Gatwick, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports have applied to the government for Freeport status. The period for applications closed on 5th February.  There are 33 applicants, and the government is expected to announce 10 – for all the UK – by “the spring” (ie. probably by June). The scheme comes following Brexit and as the government looks to create new trade links.  Freeports are sites where normal tax and customs rules do not apply.  They can be airports or maritime ports, and can be made up of a consortium of both as long as all sites are within a similar geographic location. Companies using Freeports will be able to import goods without paying tariffs, process them into a final good and then either pay a tariff on goods sold into the domestic market, or export the final goods without paying UK tariffs.  Areas given Freeport status will also benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, including on purchasing land, constructing or renovating buildings, investing in new plant and machinery assets and on Employer National Insurance Contributions.  There were 7 freeports between 1984 and 2012 (eg. Liverpool and Southampton ports), after which UK legislation changed and their use was not renewed.

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Heathrow may be able to persuade the CAA to let it get back some money, in higher charges, due to huge Covid losses

The Civil Aviation Authority has been considering whether to allow Heathrow to increase its airport charges, in order to recoup the £2.8 billion that it says it had lost due to Covid (a few months ago). The CAA had rejected Heathrow’s revised request to hike charges by £2.8bn, labelling it “disproportionate”. But it now concedes that there has been “a further material deterioration in the outlook for the aviation industry” – due to further Covid travel restrictions – since it launched a consultation on the rises in October 2020. CAA director Paul Smith said: “In these exceptional circumstances we are persuaded that there are real issues we need to address to protect Heathrow’s consumers. However, in our view Heathrow’s proposals are not in the best interests of consumers.”  Heathrow has been threatening legal action against the CAA.  The airport already has over £15bn of debts.  The CAA has added two new options, for the H7 period, which starts on 1 January 2022, and will consult on them until 5th March. They are: Package 1 No intervention before H7, but consider interventions at H7  and Package 2 Targeted intervention now and consider further intervention at H7. The largest airline at Heathrow, IAG, has always opposed the CAA allowing higher charges.

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CAA may very soon announce its decision on whether Heathrow can charge £1.7 bn more

The Telegraph believes the CAA may announce this week that it will reject Heathrow’s demand to be allowed to raise £1.7bn in increased future passenger and airline levies. The airport wants to be get back some of its losses caused by the pandemic. But the CAA is expected to confirm the rejection that it consulted on in October – the consultation ended on 5th November.  The CAA said in October that Heathrow had not “demonstrated its request is a proportionate measure” and was seeking further evidence. Heathrow finance chief Javier Echave threatened legal action unless the CAA backed down and accused the regulator of sending a “terrible” message to foreign investors (who have made immense profits out of Heathrow in recent years).  Industry insiders cautioned that the CAA is “playing its cards very close to its chest” over its decision and “could offer concessions to break the deadlock.” Heathrow claims it will have to raise consumer prices, after the immense losses caused by having very few passengers over the past year.

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Crowding, no social distancing, potential “superspreader” events at Heathrow terminal

Passengers at Heathrow have been publicising just how much risk there is of spreading Covid at the airport. There are huge queues, with hundreds of people waiting for considerable times, close together in areas with inadequate ventilation.  Heathrow says the additional Covid checks for arriving passengers have resulted in the long queues.  It is possible these crowded times in Heathrow terminals are “superspreading” events.  An image of a packed queue at Terminal 2 shared on social media went viral, with many questioning where the passengers have been travelling from (far too many on inessential leisure trips) and why they did not appear to be following social distancing rules. A spokesperson for Heathrow said the airport has always maintained that social distancing is not possible at the airport and face coverings were mandated for all passengers aged 11 and above. One passenger said: “Isn’t the UK in lockdown? Seeing this I would say not, as it looks like everybody is off on their essential travel!”  All international arrivals, including UK nationals, have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before departure (ie. wholly inadequate protection for the UK).

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Hillingdon Council’s new leader, Ian Edwards, pledges to continue fight against Heathrow 3rd runway and HS2

Hillingdon Council (15th January) has appointed Councillor Ian Edwards as new leader of the local authority.  He replaces London and Hillingdon’s longest serving council leader, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, who announced he was stepping down in October last year after 20 years of service.  Sir Ray said:  “As I step down tonight I do so in the knowledge that that Hillingdon Council has the administration, resources and first class staff which will see this council and our residents through the current pandemic and beyond.”  Cllr Edwards, who also replaced Cllr Puddifoot as Conservative group leader, pledged to continue defending the borough’s environment and residents against a 3rd runway at Heathrow, and mitigate the impact of HS2.

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Heathrow passengers down 72.7% in 2020 (cf. 2019). ATMs down 57.8%. Cargo down 28.2%

Heathrow has published its figures for 2020, which was a year made completely abnormal, by the Covid pandemic.  Heathrow’s number of passengers was 72.7% lower than in 2019, with 22.1 million passengers, compared to 80.9 million in 2019 (ie. 58.8 million fewer).  As planes were less full than usual, with lower load factor, the number of flights (ATMs) was down by 57.8% for the year, compared to 2019 .The amount of cargo carried was down by 28.2%, which Heathrow blames partly on the limited number of passenger planes, the holds of which normally contain cargo.  The largest reduction in air passengers was to North America (79.5% down).  Until Covid, the number of Heathrow passengers rose relentlessly, even though the airport claims it is “full” (it always had extra terminal capacity).  In 2009 it had 65.9 million passengers;  in 2016 it had 75.7 million; in 2017 it had 78.0 million; in 2018 it had 80.0 million; and in 2019 it had 80.9 million.  The number of flights  (ATMs) in 2020 was 200,905; in 2018 was 480,339 and the number in 2019 was 479,811 (the figure is capped at 480,000 per year).

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Letter to DfT: The Airports National Policy Statement should now be withdrawn, as it is out of date

The Supreme Court ruled, on December 16th, that the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) was legal. The ANPS is the policy document necessary to Heathrow to proceed with plans for a 3rd runway. But the Court ruling does NOT give the runway consent. The government did not challenge the earlier ruling, in February, by the Appeal Court. The ANPS was written around 2017-18 and approved in Parliament in June 2018. Since then, life has moved on, and it is very out of date. The economics of the situation have changed; awareness of the climate implications of a runway is hugely greater; the Committee on Climate Change has given its advice on the Sixth Carbon Budget, and that aviation growth has to be constrained; knowledge has increased about the health impacts of air pollution from aircraft; and now Covid has reduced demand for air travel, which may never recover to its 2019 level.  Neil Spurrier, from the Teddington Action Group (TAG) has written to the DfT to ask that the ANPS is now withdrawn. He says the ANPS “is now completely out of date and should be withdrawn. I request that this is done pursuant to a review under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008 …”   See Neil’s full letter.

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Letter in Maidenhead Advertiser: Heathrow leaders are pursuing a dead horse

In a letter, published in the Maidenhead Advertiser, a local resident explains the actual effect of the Supreme Court Judgement in December.  The Court ruled that the Airports NPS was legal. But rather than this being a dreadful result for those opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway, or badly affected by the airport’s noise, it is in fact quite a positive result. The judgement does NOT give the runway permission to go ahead. There is ever more awareness of the need for urgent action on climate change, including by the aviation industry. The government also needs to do more on “levelling up” the country, avoiding putting ever more investment and infrastructure into the south-east. Heathrow expansion would not help with that, and would require constraints on regional airports, or even the closure of some.  The Court also confirmed that any Heathrow planning application (a Development Consent Order, DCO) would need to meet current policies, on issues such as carbon emissions. Financially Heathrow has serious problems with building a 3rd runway.  It has worked over recent years to provide immense dividends to its shareholders – about £4 billion over 8 years. Future air travel demand is uncertain, especially demand for business travel. It should use the post-Covid period to “build back better” and scrap expansion plans.

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The problem of a Heathrow 3rd runway for regional airports – it means they cannot expand.

Letter from No 3rd Runway Coalition Chair, Paul McGuinness

Since the UK Parliament gave the go-ahead for Heathrow expansion in 2018 (by endorsing the Airports National Policy Statement), quite a lot has changed. The UK’s Net Zero Carbon target has famously been incorporated into law. And – just this month – the Westminster Government has announced we shall increase the speed of progress towards that target (by achieving 68% of the reductions in emissions by 2030). Moreover, the Climate Change Committee (the UK Government’s statutory adviser on the implementation of carbon commitments) has stated there is no room in the next “carbon budget” for any expansion in the UK’s net aviation capacity. This consolidated advice from 2019 that, were Heathrow to expand, restrictions would need to be applied to aviation activity across the UK. This could include the reduction of flights and, potentially, closures of regional airports across the UK, with reduced aviation connectivity for people the UK regions.  We should be interested to know if any readers would like to see aviation activity reduced at their local airport (or possibly see it forcibly closed) in order to afford Heathrow the opportunity of expanding, in the already prosperous south east of England.

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Western Rail Link to Heathrow pushed back again

18 DEC, 2020

BY ROB HORGAN (New Civil Engineer)

Proposals to build a £900M western rail link to Heathrow Airport have been delayed by several years.  Network Rail was originally preparing to submit its planning application for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow at the end this year. However, it was instructed to delay its application until the end of 2021 earlier this year.  The DfT has now told Network Rail to delay its DCO submission for at least another year, until winter 2022, to ensure a funding agreement is worked out. So construction is now unlikely to get underway until 2024 at the earliest. It had originally been earmarked to open in 2021.  The scheme will provide direct rail access from the west, from the Great Western Mail Line (GWML) to Heathrow Terminal 5. The line could enable passengers to travel to the airport from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands without going into Paddington. The link would leave the Main Line between Langley and Iver; then go under he main railway line into a cutting before entering a 5km tunnel; that would pass under Richings Park and Colnbrook before merging with existing rail lines underground at T5.

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What does the Supreme Court judgement on Heathrow’s runway plans mean for the campaign to stop the 3rd runway?

A briefing note from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on what comes next, after the Supreme Court judgement (16th December) sets out some key issues. The Coalition says the judgement does NOT give Heathrow the green light; it us simply one hurdle cleared. Expansion faces:  1. Legal challenges. Plan B Earth intends to take proceedings to the European Court of Human Rights, on the danger to future generations from climate change.   2. Government can commit to reviewing the ANPS under Section 6 of the Planning Act 2008. This can refer to all or part of the statement.  The Act enables the Secretary of State to consider any significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any policy in the statement was decided.  It can be argued that the Net Zero commitments, noise, air pollution, assessment of health impacts, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economics provide legitimate reasons for review.  The ANPS could be withdrawn.  3. The DCO process.  Though Heathrow can now proceed to submit an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Planning Inspectorate, this has to consider current climate obligations, including the UK’s net zero by 2050 target. And Heathrow has been seriously damaged financially by Covid. See the full briefing note.

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Heathrow expansion decision highlights jobs paradox – PCS union comment

The PCS union, which has workers at Heathrow, has commented on the Supreme Court decision, and on the future of airport workers. They say that contrary to the assumption from some quarters that this means a jobs bonanza for workers, PCS remains sceptical about the real benefit for our members.  As a union committed to protecting and supporting their workers, they have had to fight against jobs being reduced – even before Covid – by automation of roles, and new grading structures. Now this has been happening even faster, as cost cutting steps are taken in response to the pandemic. PCS is trying to save as many jobs as possible. But with the need for the UK, and the aviation sector, to decarbonise, some job losses are inevitable. There need to be plans to retrain workers, and find alternative employment, in order to protect the continued livelihoods of workers.  It is now generally accepted that combatting climate change is the richest source of future employment, and plans to do so need to be implemented urgently.  While air travel demand may return in several years time, jobs need to be found now. While it is a remote possibility Heathrow would build a 3rd runway many years ahead, that does not provide employment for its workers now. Alternatives need to sought for them – now.

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Boris on Heathrow after Supreme Court judgement: any expansion must meet strict air quality and climate criteria

Boris Johnson, with a constituency near Heathrow, was always a vociferous critic of the plans for a 3rd runway. When Heathrow took their appeal, against the ruling of the Appeal  Court against the ANPS in February, the government did not join them. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the ANPS is legal, Boris has not said anything in favour of it. Allegra Stratton, his press secretary, said Heathrow still needed to convince the Planning Inspectorate that it met rigorous environmental benchmarks before being allowed to proceed through the DCO process. She said the “point the PM would make now” was that “any expansion must meet strict criteria on air quality noise and climate change and the government will come forward with a response shortly”. Heathrow may not be able to raise the necessary funds for the runway. Boris and Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, will be under pressure to redraft the ANPS, as it was written in 2018 and is woefully out of date on carbon. Life has moved on since then; the UK now has to cut CO2 emissions by 100% by 2050 (from 1990 level), not the 80% target of 2018. There are now new UK targets – advised by the Committee on Climate Change – for a 68% cut in CO2 by 2030, and a 78% cut by 2035.  Expanding Heathrow cannot be squared with that.

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Supreme Court rules that the Airports NPS is legal; climate issues of a Heathrow runway would have to be decided at the DCO stage

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Airports NPS is lawful. In February 2020 the Appeal Court had ruled that it was not, on climate grounds. The ANPS is the national policy framework which governs the construction of a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Any future application for development consent to build this runway will be considered against the policy framework in the ANPS. The ANPS does not grant development consent in its own right. The Supreme Court rejected the legal challenges by Friends of the Earth, and Plan B Earth, that the then Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, had not taken climate properly into account, nor the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. These are tricky points of law, and definition of the term “government policy” rather than the reality of climate policy.  Heathrow is now able to continue with plans to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) which is the planning stage of the runway scheme.The Supreme Court said at the DCO stage, Heathrow would have to show “that the development would be compatible with the up-to-date requirements under the Paris Agreement and the CCA 2008 measures as revised to take account of those requirements” and “The Court further holds that future applications [for the runway] will be assessed against the emissions targets and environmental policies in force at that later date rather than those set out in the ANPS.”

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Councils that legally challenged Heathrow expansion say Supreme Court Heathrow ruling ‘changes nothing’

The group of Councils deeply opposed to Heathrow expansion said the Supreme Court ruling, that the ANPS is legal, changes nothing and called on the airport to abandon once and for all its bid for a 3rd runway. Residents in all these boroughs are badly affected by noise of Heathrow planes.  Wandsworth Council urged Heathrow to concentrate on working with the aviation industry to achieve zero carbon emissions and an end to night flights. The Leader of Wandsworth Council, Cllr Ravi Govindia, said: “The ruling does not give Heathrow a green light for a third runway. It says nothing about how expansion could be delivered in the face of legally binding emissions targets.  The world has changed since Chris Grayling’s decision in 2018. Heathrow will never be able to build a third runway. It’s time for the airport to admit defeat and put all its energy into working with the aviation industry to achieve the net zero goal.  The Government must now as a matter of urgency produce a new aviation strategy for the UK which properly takes account of its legal commitment on emissions reductions.  And Heathrow could put an end to the early morning arrivals, the noise of which causes so much upset, disturbing the sleep of thousands, putting their health at risk.

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Heathrow appeal upheld … but reprieve disguises impossibility of 3rd runway plan

Commenting on the judgement by the Supreme Court today, upholding Heathrow’s appeal that the Airports NPS is legal, the Richmond Heathrow Campaign said the world has changed a lot since 2018. This is not least because of Covid-19. Climate change is the greatest risk to demand and last week the Climate Change Committee’s advice on the 6th Carbon Budget emphasised no net increase in UK airport capacity and that an increase at one airport means a reduction elsewhere – in other words levelling down (not up) the regions.  If Heathrow Airport Limited still wants a 3rd runway it will have to restart the already delayed planning process with diminishing chance of success. The pandemic has highlighted Heathrow’s lack of financial resilience and the improbability of raising finance for very expensive expansion in the face of demand constrained by climate risk. Heathrow should not waste billions of pounds on ill-judged expansion. Surely shareholders don’t want to replace a steady cash flow with the enormous project and financial risk from expansion under the evolving circumstances?

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“Heathrow expansion remains very far from certain”: Friends of the Earth reacts as Supreme Court rules on policy allowing third runway

Friends of the Earth UK (FoE) was one of the organisations that took their challenge of the High Court decision on Heathrow expansion, and the Airports NPS (ANPS), to the Court of Appeal.  Heathrow took that judgement, that the ANPS was illegal (of no legal effect) to the Supreme Court, which has now ruled that the ANPS is valid and legal.  Friends of the Earth say the judgement is “not a ‘green light’ for a 3rd Heathrow runway. It makes clear that full climate considerations remain to be addressed and resolved at the planning stage, where Friends of the Earth will continue the challenge against a 3rd runway.  In addition, the Government has been recently warned by its own advisers (the CCC) against net airport expansion.” FoE also say green jobs, low-carbon travel and the health and wellbeing of everyone must be government priority for 2021 and beyond.  A 3rd runway is far from certain, with many chances to block it in the planning stages. The UK’s obligations and targets have become much more challenging since the ANPS was designated and are only expected to get tougher, especially in light of the advice last week by the Committee on Climate Change that, in order to meet Net Zero Target, there should be no net increase in airport capacity.

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Heathrow to shut Terminal 4 for a year as passenger numbers drop 88%


Heathrow, which during the pandemic has lost its crown as the busiest airport in Europe, posted an 88% fall in passenger numbers in November and said Terminal 4 would stay shut until the end of 2021. The pandemic has choked air travel and ongoing restrictions across the world along with England’s second lockdown in November pushed passenger numbers at the airport down by more than October’s 82% decline.

The airport group has started legal action against Britain’s decision to end tax-free shopping for tourists from Jan. 1, which it said will result in retail job losses at the airport, and further harm a business already suffering from COVID-19.


Heathrow hopes to charge cars £5 and increase passenger charge by £1.20 (then pay dividend again in 2022)

It seems Heathrow will lose around £1.5 billion this year, due to Covid and a drop of around 80% in passenger numbers.  The airport is hoping to impose a £5 “drop off” charge on any car coming into the airport to deposit or collect passengers, from the end of 2021 (blue badges and emergency vehicles excluded). There is a consultation about this.  Heathrow says it will “save jobs in the short term” while allowing the airport to hit its “long-term goals of providing safe, sustainable and affordable transport options”. (!) A much more effective way to boost its income is to increase its passenger charge, which is currently £21 per person. The intention is to increase it by £1.20, which could add £2.7bn to the airport’s regulated asset base (RAB), allowing it to increase charges (already, at £21 per head, among the highest in Europe). The airlines are vociferously opposed to this, understandably.  Heathrow is leveraged, with its consolidated net debt at £15.2bn in September 2020. But a key reason for all the borrowing is it has paid out £4 billion of dividends to its investors since 2012. There was a £500 payment announced in February 2020, and a £100m payment in April. Heathrow has now said it will not pay dividends for the rest of 2020, or 2021 but hopes to pay out £400 million in 2022.

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Heathrow says it will cut dividend payouts – and pay them in 2022, after getting public funds in Covid

By John Collingridge (The Sunday Times)
Sunday December 6 2020,

Heathrow has suggested that it could resume paying dividends of about £400m a year from 2022 — while also increasing its demand for a Covid bailout to £2.7bn. …The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rejected its request for a bailout. Airlines have also balked at the request to hike charges, which have risen from £1.7bn in the summer. British Airways insisted that Heathrow’s shareholders, which include the sovereign wealth funds of China, Qatar and Singapore, should pump in cash instead of trying to charge passengers extra.  Heathrow has paid out about £4bn of dividends since 2012, while piling up debt. In a submission to the CAA, Heathrow said it would not pay dividends this year or next in return for leniency from its lenders. But it said after that, “the airport should no longer be in a crisis mode and a normal business would expect dividends to resume during this period”. It suggested these could be about £400m a year, down from an expected £600m a year. It insisted this would be “aggressive forbearance”, depriving shareholders of a cumulative £1bn of dividends. Heathrow claimed that without the bailout it would have to curtail investment and would face an increase in the cost of its borrowing.


DfT publishes night flights consultation (the 3 designated airports) – no concessions to airport groups for another 4 years…?

Historically, the DfT has set the night flight regime – for the “designated” airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – for periods of 5 years. The last regime was in 2017, for the period from October 2017 to October 2022. The DfT says: “The aim of the regime was to maintain the status quo and ensure that communities do not experience any overall increase in the noise created by night flights.” It has allowed a high level of night flights, with no reductions on earlier numbers, despite significant community opposition.  Seventeen airport groups wrote to the Aviation Minister on 10th November, asking that night flights should be limited in future, with a proper night period in which no flights are permitted (other than genuine emergencies). The aim was to make their point before the DfT consultation (by which time the DfT has decided what it intends to do …). The government has now published its new night flights consultation, for the period 2022 to 2024. The DfT intends there to be no change to the current regime (no concessions to suffering from being overflown at night) other than phasing out the noisiest planes, which airlines are getting rid of anyway, due to Covid. DfT says: “… we are also seeking early views and evidence on policy options for the government’s future night flight policy at the designated airports beyond 2024, and nationally.”

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Unite GS Len McCluskey: “Heathrow boss clinches corona rogue crown”


He says: “It’s been a bumper year for bad bosses but the corona rogue crown has to go to the CEO of Heathrow airport.  John Holland-Kaye enjoys an eye-wateringly huge salary and benefits.  He’s never going to be kept awake at night worrying how he is going to pay the mortgage.  But he doesn’t care for those who do, demanding that thousands of workers employed at Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) hand over a quarter of their salary. For some, such as Baljit, that means losing £8000 a year.  That’s right, a year.  They’ll go from earning a salary that they can just about get by on in one of the most expensive cities in the world to earning below the national average wage.  For Baljit, she won’t be able to pay her mortgage.  She’ll have to uproot her kids and move miles away from her workplace.  She’s not alone.  Nearly five thousand HAL workers have been told to sign away their salaries – or be sacked.  John Holland-Kaye … boasted that HAL’s cash mountain was so vast that the airport could happily function for 15 months without a single passenger.

By Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary  https://unitelive.org/heathrow-boss-clinches-corona-rogue-crown/

Chancellor’s business rates subsidy of £8 million covers just 7% of Heathrow’s £120m bill

Heathrow is angry that it is having to pay most of its business rates, while supermarkets and many other businesses are given a 100% waiver.  The government has given airports a subsidy of up to £8 million each this year, to pay their business rates. That is enough to cover the whole amount, for small airports. But Heathrow says it only covers 7% of their rates bill, of almost £120 million, part of which it pays to Hillingdon Borough Council. Heathrow is struggling with a drop of around 82% in its passenger number. It is having to furlough its entire senior management team except its chief executive, to cut costs. Gatwick is probably due to pay £29m in business rates this year, while Manchester and Stansted face bills of £14m and £12m respectively, so the £8 million will not cover their rates bills either. Supermarkets have been given around £1.9 billion in rates help, because initially it was feared there could be problems with food supply. In fact supermarkets have done very well out of Covid, with less food eaten out of the home. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “… we have supported them throughout this crisis through the job retention scheme, loans and tax deferrals.”

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To save money, Heathrow to put all its staff onto furlough for a month each, between 1st December and 31st March 2021

Heathrow is now to furlough its entire senior management team apart from its chief executive, John Holland-Kaye. It will also pave the way for more permanent job losses, as it is very unlikely that the 2019 level of demand for air travel will return for years, if ever.  Sky News reports that it has seen emails sent by Heathrow executives which detail plans for a new voluntary redundancy scheme and a requirement for staff to be placed on furlough for at least four weeks between 1st December and 31st March. Sky says: “Sources said the furlough requirement would apply to every Heathrow employee other than John Holland-Kaye.”  Not only senior management. The airport is estimated to have lost £1.5bn since the start of the Covid pandemic. It is losing about £5m every day while it remains open, with so few passengers or flights. The number of passengers was down 82% in October, compared to a year earlier. There have been talks with the trade unions, about job cuts, big pay cuts, worse pension terms and worse employment terms for many of the 5,700 people who work for the airport. There will be a 4 day strike in December, and unions say Heathrow “will grind to a halt”.

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Heathrow workers plan four-day December strike


Heathrow workers plan a four-day strike in December in protest at wage cuts. The airport says it will keep operating despite the walk-out by workers including firefighters and baggage handlers.  Heathrow warned in September it wants pay cuts of 15% to 20%, affecting about half of the 4,700 staff in engineering, air-side operations and security. But the Unite union says the airport has enough cash to survive without demanding cuts. Staff are being asked for cuts of as much as £8,000, Unite says. The coronavirus crisis has cost Heathrow more than £1bn. Unite says: “The airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to permanently cut workers’ pay,” said Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King. “Unite has put forward several alternative suggestions to reduce staffing costs on a temporary basis, all of which have been summarily rejected by management.”

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Heathrow catering company plans to make 1,068 workers redundant – there’s not enough demand for airline meals

The Heathrow catering company DO & CO is planning to make 1,068 workers redundant, as there is not enough work for them – with so few flights.  The Austrian-owned company’s biggest customer is British Airways, with a 10 year BA contract. The total in the company to have lost their jobs will be 1,377, including voluntary redundancies, since the coronavirus pandemic started in March.  Just 507 staff will be left. DO & CO has decided not to use the furlough scheme, which would have seen staff be paid 80% of their wages until at least March 2021. The Unite trade union said DO & CO was the only Heathrow catering company not to engage constructively with the union over furlough. It wants talks and the company not to agree to make the staff redundant before Christmas.  Unite says:  “We are naming and shaming DO &CO as an example of corporate callousness … and pointing out the indirect reputational damage to British Airways…”   If there is going to be a contraction of the aviation sector, with fewer people flying than in 2019 for several years to come, how are staff to continue to be employed, in a company that has no work for them? It is likely that air travel demand will never return to its 2019 level. It shows how vulnerable an area is if too dependent on an airport.

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After decades, Heathrow no longer Europe’s busiest airport; now it’s Paris Charles de Gaulle

Heathrow has lost its place as Europe’s busiest airport for the first time after being overtaken by Paris’s Charles de Gaulle. In the 9 months to September, Heathrow had about 18.976 million passengers; Charles de Gaulle had 19.27m; Amsterdam’s Schiphol had 17.6m and Frankfurt had 16.16m, according to Heathrow.  Heathrow said it lost £1.5 billion in the first 9 months of 2020.  While Heathrow has for decades boasted about being the busiest airport in Europe, it is now trying to put pressure on the government, to relax Covid testing and quarantine restrictions, to allow Heathrow to make money again.  Heathrow wants people to be able to avoid 14 days quarantine, on arrival in the UK – at a time when Covid is rising again, rapidly, across Europe and elsewhere.  Heathrow makes out that increasing its number of air passengers is for the good of the UK; it often conflates what is good for Heathrow (and some jobs locally) with what is good for the UK. Heathrow’s revenue in the third quarter of the year fell 72% compared with 2019, to £239m. Now, with Covid returning for a second wave, Heathrow anticipates 22.6m passengers in 2020 and 37.1m in 2021, compared to 81m  in 2019.

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Heathrow with £17bn debts wants to raise £1.7bn from higher airport charges

Heathrow’s attempt to increase airport charges by £1.7bn sparked anger recently, and were rejected by its regulator, the CAA.  British Airways’ owner IAG said it was “staggered” by the demand, as Heathrow has very rich wealth fund owners, who could help the airport with funding.  Heathrow is claiming they are within their rights to ask for the price rise.  They say their regulatory framework allows it to pass on “exceptional costs” to airlines, and ultimately customers.  Many in the airline industry, which does not want higher costs for its passengers, were surprised and impressed by the CAA decision, against Heathrow.  One said: “In the past, the CAA has rolled over. For once they have shown their teeth.”  Heathrow is immensely in debt, owing banks and bondholder £17 billion. In September, its passenger number was under 20% of its 2019 level.  The cost of its 3rd runway plans (now postponed indefinitely?) could be over £30 billion.  It is estimated that Heathrow needs 43 million annual passengers, just to cover its interest bill of around £500m.  Heathrow at risk of breaching its banking covenants, which when tested in December, will require it to keep debt below 95% of the regulated value of its assets.

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CAA tells Heathrow’s owners to invest more in the company, or risk state takeover

The CAA has warned the foreign funds behind Heathrow that the airport is threatened with nationalisation if they do not inject new money to help it cope with the pandemic.  They said that without emergency funding from shareholders including several sovereign wealth funds, Heathrow faces a similar fate to Railtrack, the former FTSE 100 company that collapsed in 2001 with debts of £3.5billion; then taxpayers took back control of the rail network. The CAA has rejected Heathrow’s demand for permission to increase its airline and passenger charges, and the airport has paid out £4 billion in dividends since 2012.  It has paid £2.1bn in dividends over just the past 4 years.  Heathrow has threatened court action if the CAA does not allow it to set higher charges, which it claims it is entitled to. Heathrow has massive debts, owing over £17 billion to banks and bondholders, but it claims it has enough cash to see it through till 2023. However, it has been handling at best 30% as many passengers in recent months, compared to the same time in 2019.  Shareholders  “need to be fully aware of the projected liabilities of the companies in which they invest and the performance risks they face”. The CAA is now consulting the industry on its proposed rejection of Heathrow’s call for higher charges.

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‘SNP must review policy and reject Heathrow expansion’, former minister says – need SNP conference debate on it

The SNP has been asked to change its policy, to now oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport, due to carbon emissions.  Marco Biagi was communities minister until he stood down from the Scottish Parliament in 2016. He wants the SNP to adopt “a presumption against any major airport expansion” at next month’s SNP Conference, which is to be held virtually on 28th to 30th November.  After intense lobbying from Heathrow, and suggestions of more routes and more jobs for Scotland if there was a 3rd runway, since 2016 the Scottish Government has officially backed the runway plans. But the SNP finally abstained in the Commons from voting for the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) in June 2018. Mr Biagi said the SNP’s support for the 3rd runway had never been debated at a SNP conference.  Aviation CO2 emissions are rising, this is against Scottish policies on climate. He said: “Across Europe there is a growing realisation of the need for alternatives to ever-expanding air travel, especially on short-haul routes like those between Scotland and London. On this issue, do we want to follow the climate-wrecking Conservatives or be part of the European mainstream?”

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CAA likely to prevent Heathrow increasing its airport charges to cover Covid losses of £1.7bn

Heathrow wanted to increase charges to compensate for the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. But its regulators, the CAA, have rejected its request to increase airport charges by £1.7bn to Covid losses. The CAA said Heathrow’s demands were not “proportionate”. Heathrow operates under a regulatory mechanism that allows it to increase airport charges based on the costs it incurs, but this has to be agreed by the CAA.  Separately, Heathrow is waiting on a final decision from the CAA on whether it can recharge airlines £500m for costs it has built up, prematurely, in (unwise)preparation for the building of a 3rd runway – even before all legal and planning hurdles were overcome. Heathrow said revenue losses in 2020 and 2021 would be more than £2.2bn – ie. the £1.7billion + the £500 million.  The CAA now has a consultation (ends 5th Nov) on Heathrow’s request for RAB adjustment.  IAG, said “Heathrow is a wealthy, privately owned company which should seek funds from its shareholders as many other businesses in our industry have done to weather this pandemic. We look forward to participating in the CAA’s consultation process.”

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Heathrow Airport expansion: Supreme Court Appeal hearing on the ANPS. Briefing by Friends of the Earth

The hearing at the Supreme Court of the appeal by Heathrow against the judgement of the Appeal Court, in February took place on 7th and 8th October.  The case is whether the Airports NPS (ANPS) is illegal, because it did not properly consider carbon emissions and the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. Friends of the Earth have explained their arguments, against those of Heathrow. (It is complicated legal stuff …) There is no onward appeal from the Supreme Court.  If any one of the grounds that won in the Court of Appeal remains, and the Supreme Court agrees that the Order made by the Appeal Court should still stand, then the ANPS will remain of no legal effect [ie. not valid or legal] until reviewed. [So the runway cannot go ahead]. The Secretary of State (SoS) for Transport must then consider if the government wish to leave it at that, or review the ANPS policy framework, to amend it. If the SoS does that, s/he will probably need to make changes that materially alter what the ANPS says. Such changes will need to be approved by Parliament following consultation, before the new ANPS can come into force. And if the FoE Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) challenge wins, there would need to be a new SEA and a new public consultation.

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Weds 7th and Thurs 8th October – Supreme Court Heathrow hearing

BREXIT: The UK Supreme Court Becomes an Exemplar of Adjudication

Supreme Court hearing of the appeal by Heathrow against the ruling by the Appeal Court in February, that the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was illegal, because it did not take the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement properly into account.

Case details from the Supreme Court:  https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2020-0042.html

The Appellant is Heathrow Airport Ltd.
The Respondents are  (1) Friends of the Earth Ltd, (2) Plan B Earth

The hearing will take place online, not in person. It can be followed online at https://supremecourt.uk/live/court-01.html The recording should be available for several days, and a  transcript will perhaps be produced in due course.

Tune in from 10.30am on Wednesday 7th to hear Heathrow’s case and from 3.30pm to hear the response by Friends of the Earth.  Plan B Earth will respond on Thursday.

The ruling is not anticipated for several months.

Plan B Earth info document (2 pages) about the Supreme Court hearing is here  

The Plan B Earth case for the hearing is set out here

Heathrow’s Supreme Court case: can it avoid paying for the failed 3rd Runway?

The Supreme Court will, on 7th and 8th October, hear the appeal by Heathrow airport, against the ruling by the Appeal Court, that the Airports NPS is illegal.  Rival scheme to build a Heathrow runway (keen to expand the airport), “Heathrow Hub” explains why Heathrow is going ahead with this further expense of the Supreme Court hearing, when it is struggling with huge financial problems and the reduction in demand for flights, due to Covid.  The way Heathrow’s finances work is that, the more it spends – therefore increasing the size of its Regulated Asset Base (RAB) –  the higher the return it can earn, and the more it can charge airlines. So it has a vested interest in keeping its spending high, to the fury of the airlines. Heathrow Hub say:  “It is not commonly understood that if Heathrow abandoned its Supreme Court case then the CAA would be unlikely to approve its attempt to recover the £550m it has spent on the failed 3rd Runway, including a provision for its legal costs.” If Heathrow did not struggle to the end, to try to get the runway approved, it would have to finance those huge costs itself.  Hence the reason for going ahead with the legal process, even though Heathrow admits no new runway is needed for at least 10+ years.

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Reading to Heathrow train line delayed by two years – at least

The Great Western rail link between Reading to Heathrow will be delayed by up to two years. A DCO application to construct the new line was expected this year but has now been delayed until winter 2021/2022 – at the earliest.  A spokesman for Network Rail said the Reading to Heathrow line has been delayed due to the court of appeal’s ruling against plans to expand Heathrow and the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry. The Supreme Court will hear Heathrow’s appeal against the Appeal Court decision, on 7th and 8th October. If Heathrow was to win the case (a massive IF) then the rail link – to speed passengers getting to the airport – a new tunnel would be created connecting Reading to Heathrow in around 20-30 minutes, with passengers from Reading currently having to use the 50-minute Rail Air bus or go into London to get to the airport.  Reading Station and Heathrow Airport both already have terminus platforms built for the line in anticipation of the scheme. The Department for Transport (DfT) is looking to fund the project with help from Heathrow Airport on the basis of expansion, apparently. (Though Heathrow is struggling financially to survive now …)

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CAA review finds Heathrow ‘wasted’ money and was “inefficient” as costs of 2 tunnel refurb projects costs spiral

The CAA’s economic performance review concludes that Heathrow has “wasted” money on two ongoing tunnel refurbishment schemes and acted inefficiently.  The cost overrun of both schemes combined is estimated at £212.4M, although the CAA suggests that those costs could be inflated further by the time work is completed.  Costs on the cargo tunnel job between Terminal 4 and the Central Terminal Area have soared by £152M, from its approved £44.9M budget to the current final cost of £197M, the report reveals.  The cost of upgrading the main vehicular tunnel to Terminals 1, 2 & 3 has risen by £60.3M from an approved budget of £86M to £146.3M. On the cargo tunnel, the CAA states that “there is clear evidence that the actions of HAL may have directly contributed to wasted spending or lost benefits”. The delays have lead to a loss of benefits to consumers. Heathrow could have been more efficient in managing its work contractors. The CAA will now assess whether to remove costs associated with the tunnel refurbishments from HAL’s Regulated Asset Base (RAB) – which effectively means HAL would have to pay for cost overruns, rather than charging airlines.

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Plan B Earth case for Supreme Court appeal by Heathrow, against Appeal Court ruling that ANPS was illegal, due to Paris Agreement

Date added: September 16, 2020

On 7th and 8th October, there will be a Supreme Court hearing of the appeal, by Heathrow airport, against the ruling by the Appeal Court in February 2020 that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was illegal. Heathrow cannot proceed with plans for a 3rd runway, without a legal ANPS. The government itself decided not to challenge the Appeal Court decision – it is only Heathrow. Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth are defending the case. The decision of the Appeal Court was due to the failure of the ANPS to properly take into account the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement (aiming to keep global climate warming to 1.5C) and thus its duty to keep carbon emissions from rising. Plan B Earth has published its response, challenging the Heathrow claim that the Paris Agreement is “not” government policy. It is a 29 page document, but the conclusion is copied here. It states that: “At the time of the designation of the ANPS in June 2018, the Secretary of State (SST) [Chris Grayling] knew, or ought to have known, that the Government had: a) rejected the 2˚C temperature limit as creating intolerable risks, in the UK and beyond b) committed instead to the Paris Agreement and the Paris Temperature Limit, and that it had c) committed to introducing a new net zero target in accordance with the Paris Agreement. These matters were fundamental to Government policy relating to climate change and it was irrational for the SST to treat them as irrelevant.

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Heathrow urged by 5 councils to end 3rd runway ‘fantasy’ – instead focus on cutting CO2 and noise

Councils have called on Heathrow to abandon once and for all its bid for a third runway and concentrate instead on working with the aviation industry to achieve zero carbon emissions and reduce noise impacts for overflown communities. Heathrow is due to challenge February’s Court of Appeal ruling against the expansion plan in October  (7th and 8th) at the Supreme Court. The 5 councils, (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor and Maidenhead) say there is no logic in the airport persisting with its runway fantasy. Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “COVID-19 has changed everything. This is a unique period when we are all rethinking traditional assumptions about how we work, travel and grow our economies. As local councils we want the industry to get back on its feet. But this won’t work without a fundamental rethink about the place of aviation in our society – and indeed where future capacity is most needed. Even Heathrow’s chief executive has admitted that a new runway would not be needed for years due to the pandemic. Yet still the airport and its shareholders press on with the process and the prize of a planning permission for a runway that will never be built.”

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Heathrow area risks fate of 1980s mining towns, says airport boss – area too dependent on the airport

Perhaps even more than other airports like Gatwick and Luton, a large part of the economy around Heathrow has become over-dependent on the airport. Now the CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye has said boroughs like Hounslow risk becoming like “a mining town in the 1980s” with the collapse in air traffic putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk. Many more people work in businesses associated with Heathrow, than directly for the airport itself.  In August, Heathrow had around 1.4 million passengers, which is less than 20% of its “normal” amount.  People are not flying for leisure, due to the risk of Covid itself, or the need to quarantine. There are few business trips, as they are being replaced by Zoom etc.  Many in the aviation sector do not think levels of flying will return to their 2019 levels for 2-3 years, or more – if ever.  Heathrow had losses of £1.1bn in the first half of 2020. Recently Heathrow issued formal section 188 notices, allowing it to potentially fire and rehire some 4,700 employees, after months of negotiations with unions representing its directly employed ground staff failed to produce an agreement. Section 188 means the airport can bypass negotiations after a 45-day period has elapsed. There might overall be 25,000 Heathrow-related job losses.

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BA hits out over £500m bill for Heathrow failed 3rd runway plans that it wants to pass on to airlines

A row has erupted between Heathrow and British Airways, its largest airline, over the plans to get airlines to pay the £500m bill relating to the airport’s third runway expenses so farA regulatory consultation by the CAA recommends allowing Heathrow to charge carriers for expansion costs incurred until February this year. These are called “Category B” (£500m)  and early “Category C” costs, associated with getting planning consent.  CAA regulations allow Heathrow to increase charges in line with costs incurred.  Willie Walsh, the outgoing boss of IAG, that owns BA, has repeatedly clashed with Heathrow over the framework, which he has said encourages the airport to “spend recklessly.”  IAG has never wanted to pay for Heathrow’s costs in developing the runway (partly as the extra capacity at Heathrow would increase competition with BA by other airlines). CAA director Richard Stephenson said it was reviewing responses to the ­consultation (held in summer 2019) and had yet to make a ­decision.  Heathrow has pressed ahead, spending a great deal on its runway plans, even before legal obstacles had been cleared. The restriction of early spending by the CAA meant a delay in the runway timetable of 2-3 years.

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Heathrow has lost £1 billion since start of March, is cutting staff pay, and could cut 1,200 jobs

Heathrow says that it has lost £1 billion since the start of March, due to the Covid pandemic. There could be 1,200 Heathrow jobs lost.  The airport served a formal notice to staff yesterday, triggering a 45-day consultation period over compulsory job losses. The airport and unions have failed to agree to a deal over the future of its frontline workforce after months of talks. Heathrow is proposing salary cuts of between 15-20% for some affected staff, with a phased reduction in salaries over 2 years. A voluntary redundancy scheme has been offered. The airport claims there might be few compulsorily redundancies, but only if the unions agree a deal. About 4,700 frontline staff are affected, including engineers, security and airside operations. Heathrow has already lost 450 out of 1,000 head-office managerial staff.  The airport had indicated previously that as many as a quarter of staff could be made redundant, so up to 1,200 jobs may go. Heathrow said its proposals “guarantee a job” for anyone who wants to remain with the business. The Unite union is not happy with the airport’s offers.  Gatwick is losing about 600 jobs, a quarter of its workforce.

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Heathrow “to slash staff pay by up to a third” becoming a “low cost employer”after collapse in air travel

Heathrow staff are being asked to accept pay cuts of up to 37% and will lose their final salary pension scheme. It will also end paid breaks and allowances, worsen redundancy terms, and refuse to honour a pay rise. The airport wants to slash pay and conditions for its 7,000 workers in a bid to become a low-cost employer, according to union chiefs – an allegation denied by management. Air travel demand is currently low, (88% lower in July 2020 than in July 2019) and not expected to rise much in the short term. The aviation sector cannot afford to pay so many staff, when it has little income. Heathrow said it has been forced to take action now to protect jobs. But the union Unite (which has always been an enthusiastic backer of Heathrow and its expansion plans) has told its members that the airport is acting out of “greed, not need” and said it was using the pandemic as a smokescreen to cut pay and conditions. It added that Heathrow paid £100m in dividends in April. Unite says John Holland-Kaye told unions that he wanted to make the business a “low-cost employer” during a meeting on July 30th. Many staff working around Heathrow are not directly employed by the airport, but associated businesses. There could be over 20,000 job losses in these companies.

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APPG on Heathrow Expansion and Regional Connectivity launches inquiry into Building Aviation Back Better

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow Expansion and Regional Connectivity has  launched an inquiry into how the aviation industry can build back in a post Covid-19 world.  The APPG is keen to receive  evidence from a range of organisations on how to build a more sustainable aviation policy that supports both workers and the environment. People have till 14th September to respond. The sector is unlikely to recover to levels of flying in 2019 till perhaps 2023. This presents an opportunity to reset the UK’s aviation strategy and initiate a green recovery. This should set aviation on a fairer and more sustainable course, while providing any support necessary for workers to shift to green jobs. Aviation policy which must strike an equitable balance between the benefits aviation brings and its adverse environmental, economic and health costs. The issues on which the APPG is seeking comment include the Aviation White Paper, taxation, regional balance, bailouts, the UK policy framework for decarbonisation, and community impacts, such as noise, night flights and air pollution.

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BA is retiring its whole fleet of 747s (lots used to use Heathrow) due to the Covid fall in air travel

British Airways has said it will retire, with immediate effect, all of its Boeing 747s as air travel demand has fallen so much due to Covid – and it may never recover to be how it was before. BA has 31 jumbo jets, which make up about 10% of the BA fleet.  It had planned on retiring the planes in 2024 but has brought forward the date.  There are about 500 747s still in service, of which 30 are still flying passengers. More than 300 fly cargo. The rest are in storage. The four-engined 747s are not fuel efficient, so cost a lot to run – and emit a lot of carbon. They are very noisy, causing noise nuisance to millions living under fight paths near airports. Even before Covid, Air France, Delta and United had already retired their 747 fleets. With expected lower air travel for years, even if a vaccine is found fairly soon, airlines need to save money, and 747s are more expensive to run than 2-engined planes. It will also be difficult to fill them up. They depend on the hub model of airports, and are less suited to the more popular point to point sort of air travel.  With the end of 747s and A380s, much of the rationale for Heathrow expansion ends. Unfortunately, it is due to the 747s in the 1970s making air travel cheaper, that brought in the era of cheap, readily available air travel – with its environmental costs.

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Heathrow to close southern runway for several weeks, then use it for daytime only, till October

Heathrow has announced, with no warning, that it will be only using the northern runway from 13th July to 2nd August. It is doing extensive repairs (probably in fact resurfacing) on the southern runway, that means it cannot be opened even part of the day.  So people living under the approach path to the northern runway, or under the departure flight paths, will not get the respite period they are used to.  Normally flights are switched at 3pm each day. The disruption is planned to last until early October. After 2nd August, there will be flights on both runways, but the southern runway will be closed from 7pm to 7am. Therefore those under flight paths for the northern runway will get all the noise. Campaigners fear that the use of “mixed mode” (ie. landings and take-offs using the same runway) could become the “new norm” if Heathrow seek to use this method of operating permanently, post-pandemic, as a way of increasing the current flight cap of 480,000, to an estimated 565,000 flights per year. Mixed mode would allow that increase in flights without building a 3rd runway, which Heathrow probably can no longer afford.

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Heathrow future in spotlight, and battle lines drawn up, as lockdown eases

1st July 2020 (Hillingdon Times)

According to a survey ( link ) by the No 3rd Runway Coalition the experience of fewer flights has had a positive effect on the lives of people living around the airport. But Boris Johnson’s plan for an infrastructure-led economic recovery prompted calls to get airport expansion back on track. That message came from the GMB union and the Back Heathrow campaign. The most common theme from the No 3rd Runway survey was the beneficial effect of fewer flights on mental and physical health, through a reduction in noise, and reduction in air pollution.  In contrast, Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow, [paid by Heathrow airport t promote it] said: “If confidence and growth is to return to the economy and if the Government is serious about a global Britain, then Heathrow must be at the heart of those plans.”  David Simmonds, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow and Regional Airports and MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, said: “This research confirms that an increase in overhead flights will greatly disrupt residents’ enjoyment of their homes and outdoor spaces.”

Public enjoying peace and tranquillity from absence of Heathrow flights

Almost 3,500 people took part in a survey organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition on aircraft noise during Covid lockdown. The aim was to see what impact the absence (or near absence) of aircraft noise had on people who are usually overflown. 80% of respondents found the experience of fewer flights to be positive.  49% noticed the reduction in flights all day long. 52% said there had been an impact on their sleep. The most common themes in responses were the beneficial effect of fewer flights on mental and physical health, through a reduction in noise, and (from postcodes close to roads providing access to the airport) an appreciable improvement of air quality. Health impacts mentioned included improved sleeping patterns, greater use of gardens, and greater enjoyment of green spaces. The survey also included responses from around airports other than Heathrow (Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Leeds Bradford). Paul McGuinness, Chair of the Coalition, said: “With powerful clarity this survey presents a picture of just what will be lost, in quality of life terms, when flights resume at Heathrow.”  The absence of flights has been a unique opportunity to appreciate how great the impact of the noise normally is, with Heathrow working at full capacity.

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BA shifts short-haul operations from Gatwick to Heathrow

Jun 30th 2020

British Airways is to move all its short-haul and domestic operations at Gatwick to Heathrow until September. A “small number” of long-haul BA services will fly from Gatwick from mid-July as outbound UK air travel begins to resume, but the bulk of its ex-London programme will fly from Heathrow. BA said the move would cut costs “at a time when demand is yet to return” and travel restrictions remain in place. They say that throughout July and August, we’ll be consolidating our Gatwick and Heathrow short haul flying to operate from our Heathrow base.


Heathrow air pollution down dramatically during Covid lockdown

With very low numbers of planes using Heathrow (97% down) over the past 3 months, due to the Covid lockdown, this has been an excellent opportunity to get data on air pollution – comparing days with, and without, the planes.  Using data from Air Quality England, local group Stop Heathrow Expansion have found that five air quality monitors around Heathrow which breached the maximum legal limit in March – May 2019 have shown an average 41% improvement in the same period in 2020.  Our current air quality laws state that nitrogen dioxide concentrations must not average more than 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3), per year. This level is often exceeded at a range of locations around Heathrow. Readings from a site on the Northern Perimeter Road showed a 50% improvement in air quality. Another site outside Cherry Lane Primary School had a 46% reduction in NO2 emissions, from 44.1µg/m3 in March – May 2019 to a safer 23.9 µg/m3 in the same period in 2020. As well as fewer planes, there were fewer road vehicles. Air pollution figures from inside the airport boundary were substantially lower, showing the source is planes, not only road vehicles, as Heathrow likes to claim.

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Unite furious about Heathrow drastic cuts in workers’ pay and conditions, and threat of sackings

Unite, the principal union for aviation workers, has accused Heathrow of using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to permanently cut the pay and conditions of its workforce, a move Unite has described as being about ‘greed, not need’.  The airport is proposing to cut workers’ terms and conditions including: Pay cuts of up to 37%; the closure of the final salary pension scheme; removal of paid breaks and all allowances; weakening the redundancy agreement, and not paying workers for the first 3 days of sickness.  Unite says all the cuts would be permanent, and if Unite does not agree to them, Heathrow will sack its entire workforce and rehire them on poorer terms and conditions. Unite represents around 4,500 workers who are directly employed at the airport.  Heathrow will not compromise with Unite. In the meantime, Heathrow paid its shareholders a dividend of £100 million this year. And John Holland-Kaye claims it has a £3.2 billion “war chest” and that it could survive till the end of 2020, even with almost no flights. So it is particularly galling that it is needing to reduce its wage bill by so much. Many of the workers have kept working, during Covid, to help the airport stay open. Unite will fight using whatever industrial, political and legal channels are necessary.

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Blog: Broke Heathrow should not receive any taxpayer cash

The issue of whether Heathrow could ever pay for a 3rd runway is one that has become even more pressing, now the airport has been hit very hard by Covid-19. Its finances have been shaky for a long time. In an analysis, by Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness, sets out the facts. Heathrow has claimed that it “can survive with no passengers for the next 12 months, so our’s is a very good position to be in”. But in fact Heathrow admitted to its staff (email of 6 April) that the publicised “£3.2 billion war chest” is merely the liquidity that can be mustered when “we have drawn down all the cash and credit facilities at our disposal”. So, yet more borrowing to be repaid in the future — presumably by passengers.  Looking in to Heathrow finances, it is clear that it has sold assets and borrowed against those that remain, in order to finance enormous dividend payments to shareholders (92% of which do not pay UK tax), while avoiding corporate taxes.  It has an eye watering level of debt. By the end of 2019, its borrowing against its assets was £15.449 billion, so it had reached a leverage ratio of 97% — higher than any comparable UK infrastructure or utility operation.  Read the whole blog for details.

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Heathrow launches voluntary severance scheme to staff on more generous earlier contracts – and can’t rule out further job cuts

Heathrow has about 7,000 directly employed staff, and has experienced a reduction in flights of around 97% due to Covid.  It has It has already cut a third of its managerial roles – people on relatively high pay.  It is now trying to encourage staff who were employed before 2014 to offer to take voluntary severance (which is different to redundancy).  Any payments over £30,000 are subject to tax.  If someone is redunded, that post cannot be legally filled for several months. With severance, the job can then be refilled. Heathrow is trying to get rid of those on more generous contracts, with better terms and conditions, and employ staff on worse contracts. That is what British Airways has done, to the fury of the unions. The Unite union is a staunch supporter of Heathrow, and seems to have agreed to go along with Heathrow’s severance offers. It is likely there will also be many redundancies, as air travel demand is unlikely to pick up to earlier levels for several years. A total of 76,000 people are employed across 400 different companies at Heathrow. About 25,000 of those jobs might be at risk.

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Heathrow trying to get out of paying its business rates bill (£113 million) to councils and government

Heathrow is trying to get out of paying its £113.2 m business rates bill.  The airport’s business rates are the largest in England and Wales. They are split between Hillingdon Council – the local authority, which receives £16.3m, with the rest going to the Greater London Authority and central Government. The rates are calculated, in accordance with an estimation of Heathrow’s rental value, as at 1 April 2015 – not on the success of the company. Heathrow say their rates bill should be cut because it was “based on a world in which people flew”, but campaigners believe that they should be paying the full £113 million bill on the basis that the money goes towards the community and a failure to pay could jeopardise many local projects that are funded through the rates.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “A responsible company is expected to set aside (preferably in a separate account) all its anticipated tax liabilities. Lest we forget, the rates bill that they owe to the community is broadly the same size as the £100m dividends payment that they made, so willingly, to their foreign shareholders just a few weeks ago”.

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UK airports face multimillion-pound business rates bills – money that should be paid to councils

Heathrow and Gatwick airports are facing £ multi-million business rates bills, despite the pandemic having grounded aircraft and dramatically cut their incomes.  The airports are among thousands of UK companies set to appeal against their rates bills. Heathrow apparently owes £113.2m for the current tax year, the highest of any site in England and Wales, according to an annual review of business ratepayers by Altus Group, a real estate adviser. Gatwick has the next biggest bill at £29.2m.   Business rates, which are paid to local councils, are calculated on the basis of rateable values — effectively an estimate of a property’s rental value at a given date. Rateable values are set according to rents on April 1 2015.  They are not based on how well, or how badly, a company is doing.  Heathrow bleated that the rates were based on “a world in which people flew”. The airports argue that rates relief will help them protect jobs.  Some sectors  – retail, hospitality or leisure –  have been given rates holidays. The money from the rates is a key part of the income of councils, (Hillingdon, in the case of Heathrow) and if not paid, then the funding and spending of councils is at risk.

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Supreme Court to hear Heathrow appeal, against judgement on the Airports NPS by the Appeal Court, on 7th and 8th October

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear an appeal from Heathrow Airport and Arora Group on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th October 2020 on the plans to expand Heathrow Airport by adding a third runway.  The appeal was granted by the Supreme Court on 7th May, but the dates of the appeal were announced today. Granting of the appeal by the Supreme Court followed an earlier landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal at the end of February which stated that the government has not taken into account the Paris climate change agreement when drawing up its plans to expand Heathrow. Reacting to the news of the hearing dates, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These dates are sooner than some expected. Perhaps because the Supreme Court is as keen to clarify this important area of developing law, as our communities are anxious to see Heathrow expansion shelved, once and for all.  The sooner this misguided project is put of its misery, the better. So we welcome these dates.”

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Willie Walsh says Heathrow’s 3rd runway will never be built. Covid was its final straw …

Willie Walsh, head of IAG (parent company of British airways) has been a long standing opponent of a 3rd Heathrow runway. That is because it would provide more space for airline competitors of BA, and it would put up landing charges – deterring BA passengers using Heathrow.  Now, with the Covid pandemic, he says plans for a 3rd runway should be abandoned totally. He does not expected air travel to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023, as there will be less demand for business and leisure travel, and people will continue to be afraid of contracting the virus. The only way to prevent more disease being brought into the country by returning air passengers is to ensure they are fully in quarantine for 14 days after their return. That would deter most air travel, if quarantine was fully enforced. Willie Walsh is also opposed to the runway plans, and it would mean compulsory purchase of BA’s office building, Waterside. (Walsh jokingly says he is ready to sell it to Heathrow tomorrow … but it not expecting they will ask any time soon).  Walsh cannot see Heathrow being able to raise the necessary finance for a runway, which means adding to its already vast debt. 

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Supreme Court grants Heathrow and Arora permission to appeal against the Appeal Court ruling on the ANPS

In February, the Appeal Court ruled that the government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was illegal, because it had not taken properly into account the UK’s responsibilities on carbon emissions, or commitments under the Paris Agreement.  For a Heathrow 3rd runway to go ahead, it has to be in line with the necessary policy document, the ANPS. That document is now invalid in law, and will remain so until it is amended to rectify its deficiencies. It is for the Secretary of State for Transport to do that, but the government declined to challenge the Appeal Court judgement. So Heathrow, and Arora Holdings (the two organisations hoping to get a 3rd runway built) asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Appeal Court decision. That has now been granted, by the Supreme Court.  The legal process is slow, and could take as much as a year. It will probably cost a lot of money, at a time when Heathrow is haemorrhaging money, with minimal income, due to Covid. Only a day earlier, CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye admitted there would not be a need for a 3rd runway for 10-15 years.  Heathrow wants this drag on and on and on …

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Holland-Kaye admits to Transport Committee that Heathrow runway not needed for 10 – 15 years, if things go well

Campaigners are calling for Heathrow to drop its plans for expansion, following comments made by its Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, to the Transport Select Committee. At the virtual hearing on Wednesday 6th May, he said a 3rd runway wouldn’t be needed for around 10 – 15 years.  Holland-Kaye was asked by Lilian Greenwood MP if the crisis facing the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had created a hole in the economic case for a third runway at Heathrow. He said he was no longer thinking about the 3rd runway, but that if the UK is able to reboot the economy and demand returns to the pre-pandemic levels of flying, he believes the 3rd runway may “be needed in 10-15 years’ time.”  Nobody can know at present how much air travel demand will recover in the next few years. The No 3rd Runway Coalition are calling on Heathrow  to drop its plans for a third runway with immediate effect. This includes appealing a Court of Appeal ruling which stated climate targets had not been taken into account when the Government prepared the Airports NPS, with plans for Heathrow expansion.

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Mixed mode at Heathrow should be opposed; it means expansion through the back door, with more noise hell for thousands

Since 6th April, Heathrow has been operating using only one runway, in mixed mode, as a result of significantly reduced flight numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mixed mode means landings and take-offs can take place on the same runway. At the moment this will be alternated each week, starting on a Monday.  It is looking increasingly unlikely Heathrow will get a 3rd runway, due to the judgement of the Appeal Court, and now Covid. But if it does not get its 3rd runway, it is likely they will be looking to be allowed some form of expansion in its “two-runway strategy” that it is expected to launch in due course. This could take the form of increasing the annual cap on flight numbers from its current threshold of 480,000, to a new figure, over 550,000. That is 70,000 more flights per year, or about 190 more per day, using mixed mode.  That means a lot more noise nuisance for thousands.The change would need a public inquiry, and would be politically toxic in areas affected negatively by Heathrow.  It  could bring misery to the 725,000 people already blighted by aircraft noise. Mixed mode means Heathrow expansion through the back door and it should be opposed.

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Survey by the No 3rd Runway Coalition – on Covid lockdown noise change – for anyone normally exposed to Heathrow flight path noise


The No 3rd Runway Coalition has launched a survey on Heathrow aircraft noise during the lockdown.  It would be useful to get people, who are usually exposed to Heathrow plane noise, to respond with their experience of the reduced flights in and out of the airport.

The survey is at:   https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/T4G18I/

It only takes a few minutes to complete, and is confidential.  You just need to provide the first half of your postcode.  It could provide useful information.

If you live in areas affected by Heathrow, please do the survey – and ask relevant friends, family etc to do so too. 

BA to cut Gatwick operation and lay off 1,130 pilots – and might not return to Gatwick post-pandemic

British Airways plans, due to Covid, to lose more than 1,100 pilots and make heavy cuts to its Gatwick airport operation as part of 12,000 redundancies – which is up to 30% of its workforce.  Letters sent to union representatives for all sections of the airline set out the deep cuts, as well as drastic changes to terms and conditions across the company. BA plans to lay off almost 80% of crew managers at Gatwick and 60% of other cabin crew, more than 1,100 of almost 1,900 staff. The jobs of just over 400 ground staff will be outsourced to the airport and its contractors.  The airline knows “there is no certainty as to when services can return” to London City or Gatwick airports. So BA may not continue at Gatwick. And they had “not ruled out suspending the remainder of our Heathrow operation”. Ground staff at Heathrow are also likely to be forced to accept new contracts with significantly lower pay. All 4,346 BA pilots will be asked to sign new contracts changing their terms and conditions, and accept new rostering arrangements. BA will be seeking to lay off 1,130 pilots. Around 22,000 BA employees were furloughed in April and May.

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Heathrow operating one runway only, alternated weekly, due to Covid-19 and few remaining flights

2.4.2020   Link to Heathrow statement  Starts 6th April. Unknown how long this will continue.

Heathrow’s Holland-Kaye wants internationally agreed infection screening measures at airports

Matt Hancock, wanting an internationally agreed standard of measures to check passengers for Covid infection.  Holland-Kaye has asked Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, for mass screening at airports to combat Covid. He wants an internationally agreed standard of measures, including antibody tests and a requirement that all passengers carry health passports proving they are medically fit – so he can get the  airport working and making money again soon.  At present, about 10,000 people are arriving per day through Heathrow. Some are from countries with a lot of Covid and  might be carrying the virus. The UK has a far more lax attitude to people arriving by air than many other countries. All there is for passengers arriving at UK airports is they are handed information leaflets and told to self-isolate for 14 days after landing – although officials admit they have no way of enforcing this. Passengers may leave the airport on public transport. The failure to insist on proper quarantine threatens the health of the nation and makes a mockery of the lockdown conditions imposed on the rest of Britain. The UK is an outlier in its open borders, no quarantine policy.

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Heathrow defends paying over £100m in dividends amid aviation industry struggle

13 April 2020

Heathrow airport has defended handing investors more than £100m in dividends despite the aviation industry being brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic.  Europe’s busiest airport said shareholder payouts were agreed in February “before the significant impacts of Covid-19 on our industry were clear or anticipated”.  The dividends will come as a boon to Heathrow’s major investors. But the decision to press ahead with rewarding shareholders could threaten to undermine a concerted effort by Britain’s airports to secure bespoke financial support from the taxpayer.  The Airports Owners Association ratcheted up the pressure on ministers over the weekend by calling for lending caps to be lifted for aviation businesses as well as the Government’s furlough scheme to be extended beyond May.  Heathrow has agreed a 10% pay cut with its biggest union Unite.  Non-unionised staff have been warned they face the sack if they refuse to accept voluntary wage reductions of up to 15%.   Around a quarter of Heathrow’s senior management has been made redundant and staff have been told they could be transferred on to the Government’s furlough scheme where the taxpayer foots the bill for 80pc of wages.


GMB call on Heathrow to reverse “kick in the teeth” reneging on paying London Living wage from April 2020

Historically the GMB union, which has the most members at Heathrow, have lobbied strongly all along the way for Heathrow expansion. They hope for more jobs. Even better paid ones. But Heathrow has often not done much to help its workers. With a struggle, in 2018, the GMB managed to get Heathrow to agree that contracted workers would be guaranteed London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by April 2020. Now the GMB says workers are devastated to learn that “Heathrow Ltd have informed contract companies within its direct supply chain that is reneging on its agreement to fund implementation of the London Living Wage to its employees that was promised to workers from April 2020 onwards.” GMB says this is unfair.  Heathrow is currently only working (from 6th April) with one runway due to the dramatic decline in air travel due to Covid-19.  The GMB says Heathrow much honour its agreement, to ensure workers (security, cleaning) etc still working at the airport –  employed by outsourced contractors – get the Living Wage from April 2020.  Workers were expecting this rise in their wage packets this April.

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Karl Turner asks: Where next for the UK’s airport policy?

On 27th February 2020 the Court of Appeal declared the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to be illegal as the Government had not taken into consideration their commitments on climate under the Paris Agreement. So unless Heathrow succeeds in appealing to the Supreme Court, or Shapps amends the ANPS, Heathrow expansion is unlikely to happen. Expansion at Heathrow would have had a negative impact on the regions of the UK.  The forthcoming Aviation White Paper [Aviation Strategy] provides the opportunity for Government to have a rethink about its entire aviation policy, particularly with regard to any future airport expansion. At the very most, UK aviation could expand by 25% on its 2018 level. But the current government projections are for 73% expansion by 2050, with various entirely speculative technologies that do not exist, or would be prohibitively expensive, removing the carbon.  Alternative fuels are not going to happen on any scale. The government must avoid financial measures that boost aviation demand or support failing airline businesses, which cannot be justified in light of the climate crisis. . 

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Fresh indication that the government is not intending to support Heathrow expansion

The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe the Government has given its clearest hint yet that it will not support Heathrow expansion. In reply to a question put by Slough MP Tan Dhesi, the aviation minister, Kelly Tolhurst said that “The Court of Appeal has ruled that the designation of the Airports National Policy Statement has no legal effect unless and until this Government carries out a review”. The fresh use of the word “unless” implies consideration has been given to drop the project altogether.  The DfT also state that they are focussed on responding to Covid-19 at the moment, which presents further evidence that Heathrow expansion has slipped down the agenda. The Government also say that they “are carefully considering the Court of Appeal’s judgment and will set out our next steps in due course”. However, it is unclear how long is meant by “due course”. Heathrow is struggling, with few passengers, probably having to close one or more terminals, due to restrictions on air travel for an unknown period of time, due to Covid-19. A recent review of senior staff at Heathrow shows no longer a role for overseeing expansion. Heathrow now also appears not to be pushing for the “early release” of 25,000 extra flights, as this would depend on the NPS, which has now been deemed to be invalid, by the Courts.

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Chancellor tells airlines that the government will not bail them out, due to Covid-19 crisis

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has written to the airlines and airports, warning that there would be no sector-wide rescue to prevent companies going out of business because of coronavirus. He insisted that further taxpayer support for the sector would only be possible once they had “exhausted other options” including raising money from shareholders, investors and banks. Companies have been told to access funding already announced last week, including monthly payments of up to £2,500 for every employee temporarily laid off because of the crisis. In his letter he said that airlines and airports could only seek “bespoke” support from the Treasury as a “last resort”, with no guarantee of further help. The comments follow criticism levelled at Easyjet after it paid shareholders £174 million in dividends last week, despite appealing for taxpayer support. Sir Richard Branson, has also been attacked after the airline told staff to take 8 weeks of unpaid leave. He has since promised to invest £215 million to support his Virgin Group business. Many airlines may go bankrupt due to the virus crisis. Some of the smaller airports may close, and larger airports partly close temporarily.

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Heathrow expansion frozen, with Coronavirus crisis adding further costs, uncertainties and delay

Heathrow contractors have been told to down tools, with work put ‘on hold’ until there is further clarity on any plan for a 3rd runway.  It is unlikely to make any progress during the Covid-19 recession, when the number of people flying has been cut to just tiny numbers, and the situation likely to last for at least several months.  This comes after the Court of Appeal ruling (27th February) that the Airports NPS is illegal; Heathrow is trying to appeal against this, to the Supreme Court, with a decision on whether to allow the appeal by mid April.  Now the delays to the runway plans, if it ever happens, have increased by perhaps another year – due to the Coronavirus. The date when it might be ready has slipped from 2026, to 2029 (due to the CAA decision) to about 2030 (due to the Appeal Court) to about 2031 (due to Coronavirus)…. so it is looking less and less likely. The airport will lose huge amounts of money, due to the virus, unless government bails it out – and that is widely NOT seen as a sensible use of government funds, when millions of people also need financial help, due to Covid-19.

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Heathrow and Arora submit appeal to Supreme Court


This is to try to overcome the Appeal Court ruling that NPS is illegal (not taking climate impacts into account properly).  Heathrow Airport Limited and rival Arora Group, which also wants to build a third runway there, have appealed to the Supreme Court over last month’s ruling that halted the project on environmental grounds.  The Supreme Court must now decide whether to hear the appeal.  If it agrees – and the appeal ultimately succeeds – the project would be back on, having been delayed by at least 12 months.  But if the Supreme Court decides against hearing the appeal, Heathrow will be unable to proceed at all without a major intervention by the Government.  Sources said that Supreme Court justices are likely to expedite the high profile case, meaning a decision on whether to hear the appeal is likely to be issued before the end of this month.  Heathrow Airport and Arora were listed as ‘interested parties’ at the appeal. The Supreme Court will have to decide if their arguments in favour of raising the case before the court are legally sound.

Letter in Maidenhead Advertiser, showing up the misleading inaccuracies in “Back Heathrow” leaflets

Back Heathrow have distributed a leaflet that says – entirely inaccurately – that “current thinking is that electric aircraft will touch down at major international airports by 2030”, i.e. only 10 years away. That is very misleading.  A letter in the Maidenhead Advertiser, the “Slough & South Bucks Express” and “Windsor, Ascot and Eton Express”, by a local resident says that rather than purporting to be a residents’ campaign group, Back Heathrow is in fact Heathrow’s own campaigner with large funds coming from Heathrow itself.  Some other misinformation Back Heathrow puts out includes claims about increased car sharing, improvements in public transport and cutting vehicle generated local air pollution. The reality is that Heathrow car sharing has been promoted for decades for thousands of employees without much success. Heathrow loves air passengers arriving by car, as it makes vast amounts of money from its car parks. Back Heathrow says a  3rd runway “will create economic growth for our nation”, the DfT’s ANPS of 2018 shows economic benefit of approximately zero (‘Net Present Value’ after costs over 60 years in the range -£2.5bn to +£2.9bn), even if the airport opened in 2026. That benefit is wiped out by it now being delayed by perhaps 4 years (3 by the CAA limit, and at least one by the Appeal Court judgement).

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Heathrow expansion blocked by Court of Appeal ruling NPS illegal, for ignoring impact of carbon on UK’s Paris Agreement obligations

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the government’s decision to expand Heathrow was “unlawful”, on climate change grounds. This is one of the most important environmental law cases in this country for over a generation, and ground-breaking for ensuring carbon emissions are properly taken into account. The judgement, which sets a key legal precedent, said the government (Grayling as Sec of State for Transport) had wrongly ignored its international climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement. Such an omission was a fatal flaw to the lawfulness of the National Policy Statement, approving a 3rd Heathrow runway. Grayling had accepted flawed legal advice, implying that there was no need to consider obligations to cut carbon, through the Paris Agreement.  This judgment has vital wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions. From now on, every infrastructure spending decision in the UK could face legal challenge if it doesn’t comply with the Climate Change Act, which mandates virtually zero emissions by 2050. The government has said it will not appeal to the Supreme Court.

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The Court of Appeal found the government hadn’t considered its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement when it backed the Heathrow runway      scheme in 2018

Heathrow expansion abandoned by government – which will not appeal court ruling that NPS was illegal

Lord Justice Lindblom

Heathrow expansion is now very unlikely, after the ruling by the Appeal Court that the government’s approval of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was unlawful.  Pushed through by Chris Grayling, as Secretary of State for Transport, it failed to take into account the UK’s climate change commitments. Lords Justice Lindblom, Singh and Haddon-Cave ruled the government did not take enough account of its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change when setting out its support for the proposals in its ANPS.  The government should have given an explanation about how it was taken into account, but it did not. The UN’s Paris Agreement, which came into force in November 2016, commits signatories to take measures to limit global warming to well below 2C. The government saw the ruling last week, and could have appealed to the Supreme Court, but has decided not to do so.  This instruction will have come from Boris Johnson, not only Grant Shapps. Shapps said:  “We will set out our next steps in due course.”  It has become increasingly clear that the Heathrow runway could not pass necessary standards on noise, carbon, cost or air pollution. The legal judgement should be the final nail in its coffin.

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Appeal Court ruling on Heathrow expansion will be on Thurs 27th February – Theresa Villiers says the runway should be cancelled

Theresa Villiers – Secretary of State for Environment until a fortnight ago, when Boris had her moved – has spoken out against the Heathrow runway plan. She said the government should cancel it, as it risks worsening air quality and increasing noise pollution for thousands. Heathrow and its backers had failed to present a “convincing” enough case for the runway to go ahead. The judgement at the Court of Appeal will be handed down on 27th February, on the legal challenges against the government for its incorrect backing of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). The DfT had failed to properly consider the impact of Heathrow expansion on the the UK’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050, and its Paris Agreement obligations. One of the legal challenges is by Friends of the Earth, who have suggested this legal ruling could be the most important environmental law case in the UK for over a generation.  Boris Johnson is aware that Heathrow cannot meet a range of conditions, on noise, air pollution, cost or carbon.  Adam Afriyie, the Conservative MP for Windsor, said the runway scheme should be scrapped as it was “completely incompatible” with the UK’s legally-binding climate target.

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New Report shows Heathrow expansion to cost the regions £43bn and thousands of jobs over decades

An important new report, Baggage Claim, has been published, by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, on the impact of the runway on the regions. It shows the Government’s own figures indicate that by 2050 the runway would divert 27,000 jobs – as well as GDP – from regions, into London and South East. This is the opposite of what the Government claims to be aiming for, to “level up” areas of the UK.  The report finds that movement of jobs will impact on the national distribution of GDP; around £43 billion (net present value) would move out of the regions and into London and the South East, by 2050. The data is based on Government data secured by a number of FOI requests. Every region of the UK would lose out, with the greatest impact in the North West and West Midlands if expansion goes ahead. By 2050, the North West would lose up to £14bn in GDP growth and 15,000 jobs. Figures are available for each region. The impact would be to blight parts of the regions. The Coalition finds it incredible that the DfT has known about this, and the economic damage to the regions, but said nothing about it; details had to be extracted by FoI.   Report here

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New All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) formed, opposing Heathrow expansion

A cross-party group of MPs are joining forces to oppose Heathrow expansion, partly due to the impact it will have on other regions of the country.  The group is the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heathrow Expansion and Regional Connectivity. Members include David Simmonds, the newly-elected MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. The APPG is reformed, due to being dissolved at the election. At its meeting on 25th February, a new report produced by the New Economics Foundation was publicised. This examines the impact of a 3rd runway on the rest of the country, revealing how the DfT has known for some time how Heathrow expansion would damage the regions economically and reduce jobs.  It is likely that as many as 27,000 jobs would be lost to the regions as people move to London and the South East. Mr Simmonds said: “Heathrow expansion is being marketed as a benefit to UK PLC, but this report shows it just moves more pollution and economic activity into London, a dis-benefit to our capital and a loss to the regions we are determined to ‘level up’.”

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Heathrow expansion removed from DfT list of ministerial responsibilities for Aviation Minister, Kelly Tolhurst

Kelly Tolhurst has been appointed  Aviation Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) at the DfT.  She is the 6th Aviation minister in 3 years – they do not last long.  In the DfT reshuffle, the specific mention of Heathrow has now been removed from the list of ministerial responsibilities.  When the last Aviation Minister, Paul Maynard, had the job, his list of responsibilities included “Aviation (including Heathrow expansion). Now the equivalent list for Kelly Tolhurst just says “Aviation.”  This might imply the DfT now sees Heathrow as less important. The DfT were swift to say it was just a matter of wording, and a “stylistic difference”….

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Heathrow Hub asks Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to order a Section 6 Review of the Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

Heathrow Hub, the rival Heathrow runway scheme that wants to effectively build a third runway, onto the western end of the northern runway, has now called on Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to implement a “Section 6 review” of Heathrow 3rd runway. They say this is due to spiralling costs and also, bizarrely (as their plan also greatly increases CO2)  “the incompatibility of the 3rd runway with the Government’s net zero carbon emissions by 2050.” Heathrow Hub are very critical of many aspects of Heathrow’s planning for its runway, including failure to provide information. They are particularly critical of the lack of details about Heathrow’s surface access plans. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has now deemed Heathrow to be a Public Authority and has ordered it to comply with its obligations under the EIR – so it has to respond to FoI requests, such as on surface access plans. Heathrow Hub says Heathrow’s latest consultation reveals a scheme that continues to change from the designated ANPS. The Government decision to approve the NPS and “designate” it is being challenged legally, with a judgement by the Court of Appeal expected on 28th February.

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Zarah Sultana MP slams companies like Heathrow, ‘lobbying for the super-rich’ with biscuits and jam

13th Feb 2020

Heathrow sent MPs boxes of goodies (jam, chocolate, crisps, shortbread) in an attempt to bribe them to back building of the 3rd runway.



Heathrow ruled to be a “public authority” for information-access, so FoI requests can be made on environmental issues

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a decision, holding that Heathrow is a “public authority” for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). This opens up the potential for anyone to ask HAL for information it holds relating to the environment, through a Freedom of Information (FoI) question. This could be on development applications, emissions, buildings, energy consumption, waste and noise.  The EIR operate alongside the Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act), and oblige public authorities to disclose environmental information upon request (unless an exemption to disclosure applies).  This has arisen because rival builder of Heathrow’s runway etc, Arora, asked Heathrow for information. It was withheld. Arora then appealed to the Information Commissioner. They decided that as Heathrow “carries out functions of public administration” it is indeed a public authority, not just a company.  This is justified “given the importance of the efficient provision of services at Heathrow Airport to the economy and citizens of the UK”.  Heathrow may appeal. Other airports might also be considered as public authorities in future…?

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Has Boris Johnson used approval for HS2 to kill Heathrow Expansion?

In announcing that the government is approving HS2, the Prime Minister spoke of the importance of delivering prosperity to every part of the country. Boris said: “Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi …. [and is] considerably faster than the Piccadilly line”.  Was this a subtle alert to the negative economic impacts on every part of the country (save the South East) of expanding Heathrow? The DfT has known for a long time that a 3rd Heathrow runway would mean most regional airports would lose significant volumes of flights. Asked about Heathrow, Boris said he sees no “immediate prospect” of bulldozers, or any start to work to expand Heathrow.  If £106 billion of public money will be spent on HS2, (much of that on the London to Birmingham section) this will increase anger about the disparity of spending on the regions and the south-east.  With more fast rail travel between London and Birmingham, air passenger demand from London airports could reduce, removing any logic there was for a larger Heathrow.

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Ferrovial threatens to pull out of Heathrow if CAA does not let it make large enough returns

Heathrow’s biggest shareholder, Ferrovial, has warned that it could sell its 25% stake if returns are squeezed by the aviation watchdog. This casts doubt about the 3rd runway. Ferrovial says it would not put money into the runway, (costing between £14 and £32 billion) unless the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) grants it “attractive returns”. The CAA ruled in December that Heathrow could not spend more on early construction in order to ensure the runway was built by the end of 2026 as planned. That means that the 3rd runway will now not be completed until 2028 – 2029, at the earliest, and not 2026 as Heathrow and its investors had hoped.  The CAA currently has a consultation, that ends on 5th March, on Economic regulation of Heathrow, on the “regulatory framework and financial issues”.  The CAA effectively decides how much money Heathrow can make through a complex tariff. This is usually updated every 5 years, although this has been extended by 2 years.  A controversial regulatory scheme incentivises the airport’s owners to build, spend more, as then they earn more in returns – the passenger flight charges, now about £20 per passenger.  If Ferrovial decides to pull out, it would invest in schemes elsewhere. 

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Heathrow runway would increase Scotland’s aviation CO2 by more flights Heathrow to Scotland

If Heathrow got a 3rd runway, it is very likely to increase the amount of carbon produced by more flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow, to Heathrow. The extra flights and destinations at Heathrow would entice more Scottish people to fly south, to make the connections.  It is estimated this might be an extra 5,000 flights per year (ie. about 14 more per day), with several hundred thousand extra tonnes of CO2.  If travellers from Scotland, wanting to fly from Heathrow, took the train, there would be less carbon emitted.  Increasing flying, whether from Scottish airports, or from Heathrow, is entirely at odds with Scotland’s aim of cutting carbon emissions and becoming a net-zero country by 2045, which is 5 years earlier than the current (inadequate) UK target of 2050. Colin Howden, director of the sustainable transport alliance, Transform Scotland, said the Scottish government’s plans to cut a tiny bit of aviation carbon by looking at electric planes for some short trips in the Highlands and islands, would be entirely eclipsed by the increase in flights to Heathrow.

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Government’s independent noise advisors ICCAN confirm that the impact of aircraft noise has been underestimated

It is highly significant that the government’s independent body looking into the problem of aircraft noise has said the previous study, SoNA, was inadequate. ICCAN declared the DfT’s evidential basis for assessing the noise impact of Heathrow expansion to have been “inappropriate” and did not properly reflect the numbers affected by plane noise, or the impacts. The Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said:  “And were expansion to proceed at Heathrow … a scandal would be in the making. When the DfT claimed that merely 97,300 more residents would be exposed to adverse aircraft noise, the Transport Select Committee concluded that the DfT’s methodology was “not of the real world”. Indeed, under a freedom of information request, we then learned that an internal DfT study had implied 2.2 million people would be affected – if the department had only applied the more realistic noise thresholds used elsewhere.”…“We remain startled that a government department, purportedly responsible for protecting communities from aviation noise, should plough on in this reckless – and perhaps deceitful – manner.”

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Duplicitous DfT?

Letter in the Independent   – – from Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition

30th January 2020

In highlighting the government’s exceptionally high threshold for measuring aircraft noise, the CPRE and The Independent have exposed a significant failing in the Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) approach to aviation policy. And were expansion to proceed at Heathrow – which lies at the heart of the most densely populated residential region in the UK – a scandal would be in the making.

When the DfT claimed that merely 97,300 more residents would be exposed to adverse aircraft noise, the Transport Select Committee concluded that the DfT’s methodology was “not of the real world”. Indeed, under a freedom of information request, we then learned that an internal DfT study had implied 2.2 million people would be affected – if the department had only applied the more realistic noise thresholds used elsewhere. When I broached this study with the aviation minister, she professed to know nothing of it.

Just before Christmas, the government’s own new aviation noise body, the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, declared the DfT’s evidential basis for assessing the noise impact of Heathrow expansion to have been “inappropriate”.

We are grateful to the CPRE and The Independent for shining a light on this matter. But we do remain startled that a government department, purportedly responsible for protecting communities from aviation noise, should plough on in this reckless – and perhaps deceitful – manner.

Paul McGuinness​
Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition

Third Heathrow runway at odds with carbon-neutral target

January 28th 2020
By Ben Webster, Environment Editor | Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times).  Senior scientists have called for the planned third runway at Heathrow to be scrapped, saying it is inconsistent with the government’s legally binding commitment to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.   They said that the government needed to send a clear and consistent message that all sectors had to take bold action to cut emissions, and huge airport expansion would contradict such a message. The researchers, all experts on climate change, were at the Science Media Centre in London last week to discuss how Britain could meet the target. Charlie Wilson, a reader in energy and climate change at the University of East Anglia, said: “We desperately need consistent concerted direction toward net-zero. Building new airport capacity is clearly inconsistent with that.” Lorraine Whitmarsh, director of the UK Centre for Climate Change & Social Transformations, said: “By providing that capacity you’re going to make flying more attractive and easier and we want to be doing the opposite.”
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Sadiq Khan announces green new deal for London if re-elected in May, and says Heathrow 3rd runway would be “catastrophic”

Sadiq Khan has announced that he would introduce a green new deal for London and make the city carbon-neutral by 2030 if re-elected in May this year.  He also outlined the steps that he would take in the future to combat the climate crisis, and air pollution. He said his plans “will help to address the inequality that exists in our city and create the green jobs and industry that can sustain our communities in the future.” Asked about Heathrow expansion, Sadiq Khan said: “A new runway at Heathrow would be catastrophic… I think that a new runway at Heathrow won’t happen for the foreseeable future because of the legal challenges going ahead.”  The election for Mayor will be on 7th May, and is a two-horse race between Sadiq and the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey.  Other cities such as Copenhagen and Oslo have made similar commitments to become carbon-neutral.

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Heathrow timetable – it will not submit its DCO till end of 2020 at earliest; final decision might be early 2022

The earliest the Transport Secretary (currently Grant Shapps) could make a decision on the 3rd runway would be the end of 2021, or perhaps early 2022. The Standard said it might be the end of 2020. That is not possible.  Heathrow hopes to submit its DCO (Development Consent Order) to the Planning Inspectorate at the end of 2020, or it could be delayed into 2021 if they run into problems meeting the requirements of the Airports National Policy Statement.  The Planning Inspectorate will launch an inquiry which takes 9 months and then the Inspector will take 3 months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State – who then gets to make a decision.  So that would probably be early 2022.  There is no mechanism for the Secretary of State to make a decision before the conclusion of the planning inquiry unless the government enacts a review under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008 if it feels “there has been a significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policies set out in the statement was decided.”

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Nicola Sturgeon defends just “reviewing” support for Heathrow 3rd runway, not yet opposing it

The Scottish Government signed a memorandum of understanding with London Heathrow Airport in 2016, backing a 3rd runway in exchange for commitments to Scotland, including creating up to 16,000 new jobs in England. [That figure was always absolute nonsense, based on incorrect extrapolations from incorrect data showing inflated alleged financial benefits of the runway]. Now Nicola Sturgeon has defended the Scottish Government’s stance on the runway, to just review its decision to support it – hoping Scotland would get some economic benefits, eventually. But in view of climate concerns, and the huge increase in aviation CO2 the 3rd runway would generate, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie raised the matter, and asked why Nicola Sturgeon is continuing to review the issue, instead of ending the SNP’s support. He said:  “Climate change has brought Zambia to the brink of famine, Australia has been burning since September, the ice caps continue to melt. Yet the First Minister continues to support Heathrow expansion.” The Scottish Government will bring forward an updated draft climate change plan by the end of April.

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Heathrow application to Planning Inspectorate for DCO now delayed from summer 2020 to “towards the end of the year”

Heathrow had originally intended to start its DCO (Development Consent Order) application by the middle of 2020. Now that the CAA has restricted the amount Heathrow can spend on early development costs, the timetable has slipped. Instead of hoping a 3rd runway might be read for use by 2026, that date is now more like 2029.  Heathrow says it plans to hold another consultation from April to June, and then feed responses from that into its DCO, which might be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate towards the end of 2020. That is perhaps a 6 month delay.  Some time after the middle of January, the Appeal Court ruling on the legal challenges, against the government’s approval of the Airports NPS, are expected. The DfT was intending to publish its Aviation Strategy in the first half of 2019. This is now delayed due to changes on carbon emissions, with the UK changing from an 80% cut on 1990 levels by 2050, to a 100% cut (ie. “net zero”) and advice on aviation carbon from the Committee on Climate Change.

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New Heathrow consultation in spring highlights inadequacies of earlier consultations and lack of clarity

Heathrow have announced another new consultation, to start perhaps in April. Its purpose is to “finalise its proposals for airport expansion”, following the decision by the CAA in December to cap early spending on the project. This CAA action has had the effect of prolonging the construction period of a 3rd runway by 3 years. The airport says it “will need to undertake refreshed modelling of key aspects of the plan – including public transport to and from the airport” – to evidence that Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) targets can be met” (sic). The No 3rd Runway Coalition says that it is due to the inadequacies of the previous consultation(s) that Heathrow needs this fresh consulting in 2020. Chair of the Coalition, Paul McGuinness said the decision to hold yet another consultation is tantamount to a recognition that they have already failed to meet the consultation standards expressly required of it in the ANPS. Their statutory consultation in 2019 lacked vital environmental and health assessment and was wholly inadequate. The entire reasoning behind the project may well now require review, as due to the delay, the tiny net benefits of the runway have become a large negative figure. Serious reassessment is now needed of the project.

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New King’s College study on Heathrow ultrafine particle air pollution shows it spreads far into London

In a new study, researchers from King’s College London have measured ultrafine particles (UFP) in European cities and detected emissions from airports. Many studies have examined and quantified the levels of larger particles (e.g.PM2.5 – <2.5μm or PM10 – <10μm), but very few have studied UFP (< 0.1 μm).  The researchers identified, characterised and quantified the sources UFPs in Barcelona, Helsinki, London, and Zurich between 2007 and 2017. They measured particle and gaseous pollutants at different sites and used a statistical model to identify and quantify the contribution of the different sources of ultrafine particles.  They found that London had the highest concentration of UFP compared to other cities. Traffic emissions contributed the most.   The greatest concentrations of the smallest particles (called nucleation particles) when the wind was blowing from the airport in all cities. This indicates that airports are a major UFP source and that these small particles can travel many kilometres.  So it is confirmed that Heathrow pollution – with very negative health impacts – spreads far into London, many miles away.

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Heathrow runway completion date now 2029, NOT 2026. That means maximum economic benefit cut from +£3.3bn to a loss of -£13bn to the UK

Heathrow’s timetable for its 3rd runway faces further delay after CAA said it would only approve £1.6 billion of spending before the DCO is approved. Not the £3 billion Heathrow wants.  In a new CAA consultation document released on Thursday, they say this would mean a delay of about a year to the 2026 scheduled opening of Heathrow’s runway, based on Heathrow’s estimates. However, Heathrow said the CAA’s proposal would delay the completion of the runway by up to 3 years. ie. it would not open till 2029 (Heathrow says “between early 2028 and late 2029….).  The delayed opening date means the alleged economic benefit to the UK is far lower than currently estimated. The Transport Select Cttee report in March 2018 on the Airports NPS said the maximum benefit of the runway to the whole of the UK over 60 years would be +£3.3 billion. They said that a delay of two years, from opening in 2026 to 2028 would mean a loss of £16.3 in economic benefit to the UK. That means the runway would now cause a considerable economic loss to the country.  On this basis alone there should be a review of the Airports NPS, and rethink by government on Heathrow.

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Boris Johnson unveils plan to increase number of flights, despite global climate emergency: ‘A total disregard for the planet’

As part of the Queen’s Speech on 20th December, there is to be an “Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill”. This will have the effect of squeezing more flights into same airspace and grow the airline sector.   The details in the Speech documents say the aim of the Bill  is to: “Maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in aviation, ensuring that regulations keep pace with new technology to support sustainable growth in a sector which directly provides over 230,000 jobs and contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy every year.”  Its alleged benefits would be:  “Making journeys quicker, quieter and cleaner through the modernisation of our airspace”. [Note greenwashing language].  The Bill will give government powers to “direct an airport or other relevant body to prepare and submit a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to modernise their airspace…” And “Modernising the licensing framework for air traffic control”. The government says the aim is to remove obstacles to growth in the number of flights airspace can accommodate. The CAA last year published an Airspace Modernisation Strategy, setting out general principles and methods.

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Aviation regulator, the CAA, losing patience with Heathrow expansion – approve only £1.6bn before DCO granted

The CAA has rejected Heathrow’s desire to spend nearly £3bn on its new runway despite the plans not having received final approval, in a sign that it is losing confidence in Heathrow’s ability to fund the project on budget.  The CAA has a new consultation on this. The CAA approved just under half Heathrow’s request; £1.6bn (at 2018 prices) before the DCO is granted, saying that “passengers cannot be expected to bear the risk” of Heathrow “spending too much in the early phase of development, should planning permission not be granted”. This is yet another hurdle for Heathrow.  Heathrow now says that instead of opening its new runway in 2026, that has now been put back to 2028/ 2029. That delay makes a large difference to the supposed economic benefit to the UK, which was at best marginal even with a 2026 opening date.  Both Heathrow and the Government claim that the project will be privately financed yet there are concerns about Heathrow’s ability to afford expansion as costs continue to rise and the markets begin to question the viability of the investment. Standard and Poor said there is significant concern about the design, funding and construction costs of a 3rd runway which would make it unviable.

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Who will pay for Heathrow’s 3rd runway? There is no simple answer. Can Heathrow afford it?

Both the airport and Government claim that the project will be privately financed yet there are concerns about Heathrow’s ability to afford expansion as costs continue to rise and the markets begin to question the viability of the investment. Heathrow is already spending over £3 billion on enabling work, before even starting to build. The total cost could be £31 billion, not the alleged £14 billion.  In its latest analysis of Heathrow’s business case, Standard and Poor revealed that there is significant concern about construction costs of a 3rd runway. This raises specific concerns – which could result in a downgrading of Heathrow’s investment grade credit rating which would make the 3rd runway unviable. The airport and its holding company, FGP Topco, are losing money.  A huge sum is needed for the planned development, especially if more passengers are to travel to/from the airport on public transport.  The Conservative Election Manifesto said “no new public money” will be available to support the third runway and that the onus is on Heathrow to demonstrate that the business case is viable. The CAA has decided that Heathrow will be penalised if costs spiral out of control, amid concerns that the project will not be built on budget.

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Boris Johnson casts doubt over Heathrow expansion and HS2 – would “find a way to honour” the bulldozer promise…

In an interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC, Boris Johnson said he would still consider lying down in front of bulldozers, if work started on a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Boris said: “Heathrow is a private sector project which is yet to satisfy its strict legal obligations on air quality and noise pollution.”  NF Question:  If the bulldozers were to appear, would you lie down in front of them?  Boris reply:  “I would have to find some way of honouring that promise.  It might be technically difficult to achieve.”   NF Question:  You will find a technical way to lie down in front of the bulldozers, if the work starts on the 3rd runway?  Boris reply: “Let’s wait and see when the bulldozer arrives. The issue with Heathrow, as you know, is that there is still substantial doubt about the ability of the promoters to meet their obligations on air quality and noise pollution.  But as you know, Parliament has voted very substantially in favour of that project, so that is where we are on Heathrow.

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Extinction Rebellion protestors say mass ‘lie-in’ at Heathrow is ‘warning shot’ and vow to get arrested at future protests if 3rd runway goes ahead

Extinction Rebellion have blocked a road outside Heathrow Airport by lying in front of a bulldozer.  Hundreds of protesters descended on the airport en masse, cycling in convoy down the M4 from Hyde Park Corner, with cyclists joining along the route, halting several lanes of traffic. Dozens of environmental activists lay down on the tarmac outside the roundabout where the Emirates plane model is located.  Part of Bath Road, above Tunnel Road roundabout, was closed as the protesters got a full-size pink tractor with a “bulldozer” shovel at the front, adorned with newspaper headlines on air pollution. They lay in front of it, as a reminder to Boris Johnson, that he had said he “would lie down in front of the bulldozers” to block the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway (and has since gone very quiet on the matter…) The protest was part of Extinction Rebellion’s Christmas “12 Days of Crisis” campaign pressuring party leaders to take effective action on climate, in the run up to the election on 12th December. The Metropolitan Police said a Section 14 order was imposed allowing the protest until 3.30pm, after which time activists “run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted.”

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Heathrow growth – election briefing (one page) from the No 3rd Runway Coalition – check your candidates’ views

The No 3rd Runway Coalition has put together a simple one-page briefing on Heathrow and its proposed new runway, to help people quiz their parliamentary candidates, and check they know the real facts. The Coalition says: “Supporting Heathrow Expansion comes at the expense of the regions and to the UK as a whole.  Here’ s why it should be opposed.” The briefing deals with the Economic costs, the carbon implications, noise, air pollution, transport impacts, and connectivity. Lots of key points, including on economics:  “The Government’ s own economic analysis found that once all negative impacts are monetised, a third runway could bring net NEGATIVE economic benefits to the UK overall in the long term.  There is no explicit job model and no clear job creation analysis included in the Airports National Policy Statement. Many of the few jobs created will be low-skilled and short term.  The costs of the project are now expected to rise to over £31bn, increasing Heathrow’s debt from £11bn (2014) to over £40bn in 2028. This could still increase further.” On noise: “Data from the CAA reveals that 2.2 MILLION people would experience an increase in noise from an expanded Heathrow.”

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Heathrow ordered by CAA to rein in 3rd runway costs – to ensure it is built economically and efficiently

The CAA has inserted a significant new clause into Heathrow’s licence, starting in January 2020, amid concerns that costs on the vast 3rd runway project will spiral out of control. Heathrow will be penalised if it fails to build its £14bn expansion scheme efficiently — the first time such a condition has been imposed on the airport. Airlines, especially British Airways, are nervous that Heathrow will try to get them to pay up-front for construction costs, which would put up the price of air tickets, deterring passengers. The CAA polices the fees the airport charges passengers. It said the new licence clause was needed to “set clear expectations for Heathrow to conduct its business economically and efficiently”. Heathrow says this is disproportionate and could put off investors. IAG boss Willie Walsh has repeatedly complained that Heathrow’s runway scheme is a “gold-plated”, and that there is little incentive for Heathrow to keep costs down. Under a complex incentive system, the more Heathrow spends, the more its owners can earn. Heathrow has already spent £3.3 billion on its plans, which have not even yet passed through legal challenges, let alone the DCO process.

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Greenpeace bring bulldozer to Uxbridge – reminding Boris of his 2015 “lying in front of a bulldozer” comment

On 26th November, Greenpeace brought a big yellow bulldozer to Uxbridge tube station, on the High Street, together with a very comfortable chaise longue, (and a sleeping bag) to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to make good on his 2015 promise to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that 3rd runway’. Rival local candidates were invited to do likewise; the LibDem and Labour candidates came to show their opposition to Heathrow’s plans. Boris, of course, did not.  Greenpeace activists delivered leaflets around the constituency, suggesting that they ask all election candidates what they would do about the runway, and vote accordingly.  Boris is thought to be be generally against the runway, but has been notable by his absence of comment on the issue lately.  Greenpeace said: “Since Boris Johnson pledged to lie in front of bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway, a lot has changed. The Amazon is burning, Greenland is melting, Yorkshire has flooded and people have been spotted sunbathing in the UK in February…. we are in a climate emergency”. The 3rd runway is so obviously the sort of development the UK should NOT be building now.

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Flight link between Newquay and Heathrow in doubt, after just one year

A flight link between Heathrow and Newquay, Cornwall, started at the end of March 2019, with 4 round trips per day using Q400 propeller turboprops, is said to have done well, in terms of the number of passengers. But now Flybe is not selling tickets for flights on the route beyond 28 March 2020. The “booking horizon” for scheduled flights is commonly 11 months. The only route from Cornwall to London now on sale after March 2020 is a 4-times weekly link with Southend airport. Earlier this year, a consortium comprising Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and a US hedge fund, Cyrus Capital, bought Flybe for £2.8m. They have pumped in tens of millions of pounds to keep Flybe, which is heavily loss-making,  afloat. It is to be rebranded as Virgin Connect in 2020.  Before the Heathrow route opened, there were 3 daily flights between Newquay and Gatwick.  Flybe’s slots at Heathrow are valuable, if they want to sell them to sort out debts, as slots can change hands for over £50m a pair. From March 2018, the agreement was that for 4 years, the DfT and Cornwall Council would each pay up to £1.7m, per year, representing a subsidy of £5 per passenger – or £10 for a round-trip (with 170,000 passengers per year).

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The Labour, LibDem, Conservative and Green party manifestos – bits on aviation

The election manifestos for the LibDems, Labour, and the Green Party are not available. They all have short sections on aviation.

Labour comments (disappointing) include:  “Any expansion of airports must pass our tests on air quality, noise pollution, climate change obligations and countrywide benefits. We will examine fiscal and regulatory options to ensure a response to the climate crisis in a way that is fair to consumers and protects the economy.”

LibDem comments include: “Reduce the climate impact of flying by reforming the taxation of international fights to focus on those who fly the most, while reducing costs for those who take one or two international return fights per year, placing a moratorium on the development of new runways (net) in the UK, opposing any expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted “. The Greens include: “We will lobby against the international rules that prevent action being taken to tax international aviation fuel. … Ban advertising for flights, and introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy (FFL) to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of flights. This FFL only applies to people who take more than one (return) flight a year, discouraging excessive flying…  Stop the building of new runways.” Conservatives say nothing of any consequence, avoiding mention of carbon.

Conservatives:  “Parliament has voted in principle to support a third runway at Heathrow, but it is a private sector project. It is for Heathrow to demonstrate that it can meet its air quality and noise obligations, that the project can be financed and built and that the business case is realistic. The scheme will receive no new public money. More broadly, we will use new air traffic control technology to cut the time aircraft spend waiting to land, reducing delays, noise nuisance and pollution. We will also build on Britain’s pioneering work in electric and low-carbon flight.”

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Air pollution nanoparticles (from road vehicles and aircraft) now linked to higher risk of brain cancer

New research has now linked air pollution nanoparticles to brain cancer. The ultra-fine particles (UFPs) are produced by fuel burning, particularly in diesel vehicles, and higher exposures significantly increase people’s chances of getting the cancer. Previous work has shown that nanoparticles can get into the brain and that they can carry carcinogenic chemicals.  Aircraft also produce nanoparticles that spread downwind of airports, and are also emitted into the atmosphere during flight – especially take-off and landing. Higher levels of the air pollution are related to slightly higher rates of brain cancer. The numbers per 100,000 are not huge, but add up when large populations are exposed to road traffic etc. Brain cancers are hard to treat and often fatal. As nanoparticles are so tiny, they can get into almost every organ. Air pollution has also been linked to other effects on the brain, including reductions in intelligence, more dementia and mental health problems in both adults and children. The WHO says air pollution is a “silent public health emergency”. Airport expansion does not help – due to road transport, plus the planes themselves, and airport vehicles.

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Councils tell government to review Heathrow expansion following climate change developments

Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in Government policy on climate change mean the case for a 3rd runway should be reviewed urgently. The national policy statement (ANPS) which included support for Heathrow expansion was designated in June 2018 – at a time when the UK was committed to an 80% cut in CO2 emissions, from the 1990 level, by 2050. But in June 2019 following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) the Government amended the commitment to a 100% cut  – with the strengthening based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’.  This same logic needs to be applied to the ANPS. Under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’  And there has been. In September 2019 the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – and measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050.’   The Heathrow case needs urgent review in relation to climate policy, and also noise. The councils say that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen – the obstacles are insurmountable.

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John McDonnell says Labour could scrap Heathrow expansion, as it does not meet key criteria

John McDonnell has suggested that Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, and it might even also block other airport projects.  John said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government. Labour have said for some time that the current 3rd runway plans “very clearly” do not meet Labour’s key criteria – its 4 tests – on protecting the environment. On climate grounds alone, plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands airports would need to be assessed by the same criteria.  He said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions. Labour have the problem that some unions hope airport expansion will provide more jobs, and therefore back it, while knowing there is a carbon problem.  John McDonnell’s constituency, Hayes & Harlington, would be the worst affected by a Heathrow runway, in terms of homes destroyed and area covered in airport infrastructure. The 3rd runway fails not only on environmental grounds (carbon, noise, air pollution) but also on economic and social impacts.

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Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications

Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion.  The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged.  Many UK airports are seeking – or have announced their intention to seek – planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017.  There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or  policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises,  “limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”. The letter says: “Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.”

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Heathrow tries to make out that its 3rd runway is vital, as it will lower fares (so increasing yet further the number flying)

Heathrow has accused British Airways of acting against “the consumer and national interest” by attempting to slow down its expansion and “depriving passengers of lower fares.” They would say that, wouldn’t they?  BA’s parent company, IAG, has complained to the CAA about the approximately £3.3bn Heathrow will spend on preparations for the third runway, accusing the airport of covering up costs that will affect airlines.  BA is of course not pure in this; it wants to prevent other airlines at Heathrow, competing with it. It has no qualms about its CO2 emissions rising. Heathrow wants airlines (IAG is the main airline company using Heathrow) to pay towards its 3rd runway plans, before the expansion is complete. IAG is not at all keen on that. Rather pathetically, Heathrow is terrified of being overtaken by any other European airport. Holland-Kaye said: “In two years’ time Charles de Gaulle [in Paris] will overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in Europe.”  They like to make out that would be a terrible thing for Britain (which it would not be).

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Environment minister Zac Goldsmith says ‘bonkers’ Heathrow expansion ‘unlikely’ to go ahead, and would not survive a proper review

Zac Goldsmith, the environment minister, said he did not believe the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway would survive a government-commissioned review – despite the Commons backing it last year. In mid August, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the project could still be scrapped after questioning whether it “stacks up” financially.  Zac said of the runway plan: “I think it’s a bonkers scheme, and all the arguments that I’ve been using for the last ten years and repeating ad nauseam are true, in my view, and I see nothing to persuade me that they’re wrong… It’s currently out of government hands because it’s been through parliament…. Unfortunately, Parliament voted for it overwhelmingly – I’m still surprised by some of the MPs who voted for it, who nevertheless campaign heavily on things like climate change and air quality, but they did.”  He added that the airport will “struggle to come up with the cash”, so needing the Government to stomp up “really vast sums of money”, which the public would oppose. An “entirely objective” review into the plans would find that it was “a bad project”, and it may not survive the detailed planning and policy processes.

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Sutton Council reconfirmed its determination to fight 3rd Heathrow runway plan, and that it has joined the No 3rd Runway Coalition

Sutton Council has been opposed to a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport for many years, due to the negative impact on noise, air pollution, the local environment and roads and public transport. Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: “We’ve been campaigning against Heathrow expansion for over a decade but given this government’s support of the plans, it is important to reconfirm our clear position against Heathrow expansion. We want our residents to know that we share their concerns, that the expansion is not a done deal and that they can count on the Sutton Liberal Democrats to work tirelessly with the “No 3rd Runway coalition” and others partners to continue this fight. The Conservative government is wrong to press ahead with this highly contentious, damaging policy and we will oppose them all the way.” The Council document said Heathrow plans took “no account of the recent announcements on climate change, in particular the declarations of a climate emergency by boroughs across London and the key issue of achieving carbon neutrality that these declarations raise.”  On 22 July 2019, Sutton council declared a climate emergency.

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At Heathrow legal appeal hearings, lawyers for WWF UK say 3rd runway would violate climate rights of children

The High Court is hearing appeals, against the decision by the government to designate the Airports NPS, despite strong arguments – including those on carbon emissions, why it should be refused. The appeals (also one by “Heathrow Hub”) are due to last 5 days, and are by the Mayor of London, four councils, and Greenpeace; also by Friends of the Earth; and Plan B Earth.  Lawyers are arguing that the rights of children were not taken into account by the government when it approved the third runway. The Court has allowed the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to submit documents arguing the planned expansion violates the rights of children and future generations under the UN convention on the rights of the child. Our children and grandchildren will face the greatest impact of the climate crisis. The High Court ruled in spring that the government’s decision to allow a 3rd runway was lawful. Since then, it has signed into law a commitment for the UK to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The intervention by WWF comes after young people spearheaded the biggest climate change protest in history last month, and follows Greta Thunberg’s challenge to world leaders that their inaction was letting down a generation.

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Outside Court for legal appeals, John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, says fight against Heathrow 3rd runway on verge of victory

Speaking to the protest gathering outside the High Court, before the start of the legal appeals against Heathrow expansion, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell considered that the campaigns against the runway plans were on the verge of victory; the situation had moved on from when the legal challenges started, as the UK has now both declared a climate emergency and legislated for a net-zero emissions target.  He praised campaigners outside court for their persistent actions over many years, and said: “I think legislatively things have moved and politically, with the current campaigning by Extinction Rebellion, the pressure is on all politicians to recognise this is a project that cannot stand.”  Five legal challenges were brought against the Secretary of State for Transport, in March. Two were entirely on grounds of climate change (Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth). The court dismissed the challenges on 1st May, and appeals have been allowed for four of them. Opening the appeal, Lord Justice Lindblom said the hearing would raise matters of obvious importance, which would be of interest to a national and international audience. Much hinges on whether the correct UK carbon targets, and commitments under the 2015 Paris agreement were properly taken into account when approving the 3rd runway.

The 5 day Court hearing will be  live streamed on the judiciary’s YouTube channel

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Willie Walsh says Heathrow runway unlikely to go ahead, due to rising environmental concerns

Willie Walsh, boss of BA’s owner IAG believes the £14bn (or is it £32?) 3rd runway at Heathrow is unlikely to go ahead due to a growing backlash over the environment. He said the huge project is likely to fall flat despite finally winning approval from Parliament last year. He said: “I think it is a bigger challenge today than it was a year ago. And I can’t see it getting any easier.  Two years ago I would have said it was probably 60/40 that it would go ahead. I’m probably 60/40 against it going ahead at this stage. I wouldn’t rule it out completely.”  Mr Walsh said that the huge costs involved, coupled with the carbon emissions from an extra 700 plans in the air every day after the new runway opens in 2026, will make it increasingly difficult to pull off. “They are really going to struggle to justify the environmental impact, when the economic argument to expand the airport gets undermined by the cost of the expansion.  I think the next six to 12 months are going to be critical.”

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Solidarity Rally for Appeals on Heathrow Legal Challenges  –  Thursday 17th October – 8.45am

​The No 3rd Runway Coalition are organising a solidarity rally again outside the Court. The details are as follows:

Where? Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, Holborn, London WC2A 2LL

When? Assemble at 0845 for a 0900 photo.

Speeches from 0905 (approx.) until 0930. (Final list of speakers to be confirmed).

Sufficient time should be allowed to queue and enter the court prior to the hearing beginning – this will either be 1000 or 1030 but we won’t know until a couple of days before.

Please bring yourselves, family, friends and colleagues!

The hearing will be  live streamed on the judiciary’s YouTube channel

Government CO2 net zero commitment challenged in High Court, on Heathrow expansion NPS

A cross-party group of politicians will join claimants, campaigners and residents outside the High Court on the morning of Thursday 17th October as the legal challenge against the proposed expansion of Heathrow continues, with the Government’s new target of net zero emission by 2050 a key element of the judicial review.  The Court of Appeal will be hearing the challenges from Local Authorities, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace as well as Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Heathrow Hub. The challenges are being made against the decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). One ground is the incompatibility of the expansion plans with the UK’s climate change commitments.  The previous challenge was dismissed by the High Court on a technicality as the Government had not incorporated the Paris Agreement into law. The Climate Change Act (2008) has now been amended to incorporate a target of Net Zero by 2050, which places an even more pressing demand upon Government to limit the expansion of carbon intensive infrastructure. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “It’s now vital for Government to pause plans for Heathrow expansion, to reassess airport capacity strategy for the whole country.”

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Polling reveals 64% of Britons are concerned about the climate impact of Heathrow 3rd runway, and only about 25% back it

A poll conducted by YouGov Plc, for Friends of the Earth (FoE), showed that 64% of people, after being told the potential benefits and negatives impacts of the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, were concerned about its climate impact.  The survey also showed that only 1 in 4 people  (25%) support the plans. The online survey’s total sample size was 2,017 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 6th October 2019.  Numbers were weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).  The 50% planned increase in the number of flights at Heathrow (about 700 more movements than now) would mean almost 50% more carbon emissions, that would all but destroy any chances of the UK meeting its targets for cutting CO2 emissions and fighting climate breakdown.  The poll results come as FoE prepares to take its legal case against Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans to the Court of Appeal on climate grounds. The court will hear an appeal against the High Court’s decision that the government had not breached its sustainable development duties by allowing the expansion of Heathrow. The hearing begins on Thursday 17 October and is expected to last six days.

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BA flight ‘declares emergency’ after leaving Heathrow, then flies across whole of London for emergency landing

On 3rd October, British Airways Airbus A319 flight BA1496 to Glasgow was forced to turn back to Heathrow, after declaring an emergency 9 minutes after take off. According to reports, no Pan-pan signal was declared but the pilots ‘were wearing oxygen masks’. The flight was scheduled to leave London at 9.40pm, but took off at 10.20pm. The plane took off towards the west, turned north and circled round London, did a loop around east London, before approaching Heathrow – flying right across the middle of London, over tens or hundreds of thousands of people – to land safely on the southern runway. A the time of the emergency, the plane was at approximately 10,000ft. The reason for the emergency has not yet been released. This brings back memories of a flight in May 2013 that had an engine problem (caused by faults on maintenance, due to technicians been too tired….) which caused one engine to catch fire. The plane flew right across London, visibly trailing smoke all the way, using just one engine.  There are many more flights that return to Heathrow with problems, about which we never hear. These raise serious concerns about the location of SUCH a busy airport – let alone its plans to increase numbers of flights by 50%.

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Islington Council agrees motion on opposition to Heathrow Expansion & the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington

Islington Council has agreed a motion, to oppose the expansion of Heathrow, and the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington. This was debated by the Council on 26th September. The Council believes:  That expansion of Heathrow is not compatible with the climate emergency recently declared by the UK Parliament and by this Council. And  That noise impacts from additional flights over London would have a negative impact on the health and quality of life of Islington residents.  It therefore resolves to:  Oppose expansion of airport capacity in London if the Government cannot demonstrate that it is accommodated within the emissions budget that the CCC recommends for aviation in 2050, as well as other environmental limits, such as air quality.  Make representations to London City Airport and the CAA calling for a fairer distribution of flight paths in London.  Make representations to the Government urging UK Aviation Noise policy to be brought into line with WHO recommendations.  Register as an ‘Interested Party” in the Development Consent Order Process for the proposed expansion of Heathrow.  Investigate joining the No Third Runway Coalition as a local authority member

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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 is 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.

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Heathrow might get over £1 billion per year from its congestion charge, at £29 or more per day per vehicle

Heathrow could make £1.2 billion a year from a congestion (vehicle access) charge levied on drivers arriving at the airport by car, according to analysis. Heathrow has committed to expanding without any extra cars on the road. The new charging, that might be introduced when (or IF) a 3rd runway opened – which the airport hopes would be in 2026 – could grow by 2040 to yield as much as £3.25 million per day.  The charge, is set to cost £29 a day, based on today’s prices, then rising. As many as 65,000 vehicles would pay the charge each day.  It would eventually be levied on all cars, including those with the lowest emissions, and is designed to act to encourage drivers to choose public transport to get to and from Heathrow. In reality, there would not be enough bus and train capacity to deal with all the extra passengers. The number needing to travel by public transport might be 140 million more than now – a 75% increase.  There is likely to be no way for drivers in the area, not associated with the airport, to avoid being charged.  Heathrow says then money it gets (why does Heathrow get to keep it?) from the charge “will help to improve sustainable transport and keep passenger charges affordable…”

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Committee on Climate Change advice to the Government on aviation: it must be included in the UK net-zero target

The advice from the Government’s statutory advisors on climate issues, the CCC, to the Government, says it is important that the carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping (IAS) are formally included into the UK net-zero target. This needs to complement international action to reduce aviation carbon.  The CCC letter, from its Chairman Lord Deben, says the aim should be for international aviation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and this should be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Aviation Strategy . “It means reducing actual emissions in the IAS sectors” and the CCC considers this “is likely to require some use of greenhouse gas removals (GGRs) to offset remaining emissions.” The limit of 30 MtCO2 per year, by UK aviation, requires demand growth of no more than 25%  compared to 2018. That would only be possible if there are significant improvements in aircraft efficiency, maybe 10% of low carbon fuels, and some increased flight charges.  But the UK is aiming at net zero by 2050. The CCC says aviation will have to pay to capture some CO2 from the atmosphere, and that only offsets that actually remove CO2 – rather than trying to stop more being emitted, would be acceptable. 

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Committee on Climate Change advice to the Government on aviation: it must be included in the UK net-zero target

The advice from the Government’s statutory advisors on climate issues, the CCC, to the Government, says it is important that the carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping (IAS) are formally included into the UK net-zero target. This needs to complement international action to reduce aviation carbon.  The CCC letter, from its Chairman Lord Deben, says the aim should be for international aviation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and this should be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Aviation Strategy . “It means reducing actual emissions in the IAS sectors” and the CCC considers this “is likely to require some use of greenhouse gas removals (GGRs) to offset remaining emissions.” The limit of 30 MtCO2 per year, by UK aviation, requires demand growth of no more than 25%  compared to 2018. That would only be possible if there are significant improvements in aircraft efficiency, maybe 10% of low carbon fuels, and some increased flight charges.  But the UK is aiming at net zero by 2050. The CCC says aviation will have to pay to capture some CO2 from the atmosphere, and that only offsets that actually remove CO2 – rather than trying to stop more being emitted, would be acceptable. 

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Committee on Climate Change advice to government on aviation: flying will have to become more expensive

In a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC – the government’s statutory advisor) warns that flying will have to become more expensive, especially for frequent flyers, to avoid climate chaos and keep the UK within its carbon targets. The letter also warns that going ahead with a Heathrow 3rd runway would all but rule out airport expansion in the rest of the country.  Demand for aviation will have to be reduced, in order that aviation carbon is kept under some degree of control, while the UK has a zero carbon target for 2050. Ways demand could be reduced might be increased APD, new levies on frequent flyers and changes to air taxation relative to rail and road. Aviation is likely to become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050. The CCC says the government “should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero. Specifically, investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a net-zero world…” In other words, does it make sense to build another Heathrow runway, when future demand for air travel will have to be limited. The CCC’s Chairman, Chris Stark said: “But it’s very important that the government is honest about aviation emissions.”

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Jeremy Corbyn urged to block all airport expansion under radical plan to slash carbon emissions by 2030

Labour could end all airport expansion in the UK under radical plans drawn up by party activists to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. With Corbyn saying climate change one of his top priorities, his supporters hope to push their proposals to a vote at the Labour conference next week, to make them official policy.  There are at least 7 motions to the conference, submitted by local branches, asking for an end to more construction and growth of airports. Environmentally aware Labour members “specifically want to see radical policy on the climate and if you’re talking about net zero by 2030…one of the less radical things, to help decarbonise the economy, will be not building any more airports.”  Separately, Labour for a Green New Deal, a prominent grassroots campaign group, has claimed that “opposition to airport expansion should be as natural to the Labour Party…as support for new green jobs.”  Labour party members are being asked to boycott the many events at the conference sponsored by Heathrow and Gatwick airports (they always sponsor conference stuff, hoping to gain favour…).  The problem for Labour is the unions, Unite in particular, which have members working in the aviation sector..

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Ealing Council demands Heathrow pay up £190 million to offset the impact of a 3rd runway

In its response to the Heathrow consultation, Ealing Council has said it will do everything it can to oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport – unless it is given £190 million for mitigation measures, investment and new transport links.  Ealing Council said the current plans would create unacceptable levels of noise and pollution for its residents. “The council is demanding a £190 million package [it was £150 million in October 2016] of mitigation and investment for the borough, should expansion go ahead.  This includes getting better insulation for home owners to combat noise and increasing the catchment area covered by the scheme.  The council also wants new investment to improve public transport, so more airport passengers and employees can travel to the airport by greener means, reducing air pollution locally.” Other demands included greater investment in skills and employment – and also a commitment to a total night time flight ban, except in emergencies.  The Council Leader said there has to be a balance  between economic benefits and the very real noise and environmental impacts on local people, and  “Despite some positive engagement, we haven’t really seen much movement on some of the concessions we’ve been seeking.

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Rival scheme, Heathrow Hub, estimate true costs of Heathrow runway could be £61 billion, by 2050 (not £14 bn)

The rival scheme, to try to build a 3rd Heathrow runway – Heathrow Hub – have put together figures indicating the final cost of Heathrow’s 3rd Runway Plan could be £61 billion by 2050.  That is in contrast to the £14 billion claimed by Heathrow itself and even the £32 billion assed by IAG.  Heathrow Hub say the cost of the initial phase, included in Heathrow’s current consultation, could be as much as £37.7 billion, when it is supposedly completed in 2026.  The figure of £14 billion is based on 2014 prices, 5 year out of date, and assumes a pared down scheme with no new terminal capacity. Heathrow’s current consultation shows a completely different scheme, which would cost far more.  There is no clarity on how Heathrow would bridge the M25 (12 lanes wide at that point) and what it would cost.  Over 5 years, there are now higher costs from inflation and higher land acquisition and relocation costs.  Heathrow Hub say Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps should announce a review of the project.  They want the CAA to make Heathrow provide proper figures on costs.  The CAA disclosed pre-planning application spending by the Airport has tripled to £2.9bn. The Hub’s scheme would, of course, also cost more than they estimate now …

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Wokingham council poised to change stance to opposing Heathrow 3rd runway, as local Labour launches petition against it

Wokingham Council is poised to change its stance over a 3rd Heathrow runway – it had previously been in favour of it, but now the council leader realises the damage it would bring. It is utterly in conflict with the council having declared a climate emergency recently. “Wokingham Borough Council has declared a climate emergency. We only have 10 years to take drastic action. If we’re really serious about climate change, we must object.”Separately Wokingham’s Labour group leader has launched a petition calling on the council to ditch its support for Heathrow expansion as “it is bad for the environment and bad for the Thames Valley and we do not want it.” …“We are in a Climate Emergency – encouraging more flights will make it harder to win the fight against climate change….The expansion of Heathrow will concentrate even more economic growth in the Thames Valley and increase the demand for housing here.”  The council’s position has changed, because “things have moved on since five years ago.”…  “Few, if any, of our communities will escape noise and many will be affected seven days a week.”

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Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful

The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut.  Plan B say the “Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of” the 2008 Climate Change Act.  And the Secretary of State “chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation.”  And  “The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed.”

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Heathrow legal challenge Appeals to be live-streamed from the Court of Appeal (from 17th October)

On 23rd July 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that there were grounds for appeal for all four of the legal judicial reviews, challenging the Governments support for the expansion of Heathrow. These will take place at the Court of Appeal, from 17th October, for 6 days, and will be live-streamed. On 1st May 2019, the High Court dismissed the judicial review claims made by five separate parties that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful.  Paul Beckford, Policy Director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, the leading campaign organisation opposing the expansion of Heathrow, said: “This is excellent news for transparency. It is vital that the public get the opportunity to hear that the Government chose to proceed with expansion at Heathrow because the former Secretary of State for Transport (Grayling) did not consider the Paris Agreement relevant. The fact that a net zero target has now been included in the Climate Change Act makes the climate case against expansion even stronger.”

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Heathrow gets £9M payout from DfT for HS2 work at Old Oak Common affecting Heathrow Express

In mid-July, before he left the job, Transport secretary Chris Grayling signed off on a £9M payout to be handed to Heathrow Airport to prepare for HS2.  The pre-emptive payment from the DfT to Heathrow is compensation for knocking down a rail depot at Old Oak Common where Heathrow Express trains are kept.  The £9M figure was reported in Heathrow Express’ annual accounts. It is understood that the sum will be paid irrespective of whether or not HS2 gets the go ahead, with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in charge. A DfT spokesperson said the compensation would be part of “a series of agreements to secure the future of the Heathrow Express service, while enabling the construction of a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common”.  For the £9 million, Heathrow Express “agreed to vacate its train care depot at Old Oak Common to make way for the development of HS2.” In the Lords, on 24th July (the day Boris became PM), Lib Dem Baroness Elizabeth Randerson asked the DfT if the £9 million was still being paid, and the then Transport Minister Baroness Vere replied that “Work continues on HS2 and that £9 million was part of that work.”

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London Assembly – wholly opposed to Heathrow expansion – urges people to respond, rejecting 3rd runway plans

The London Assembly is totally opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have set out clearly 5 key reasons why it should be opposed, and are asking Londoners to reject the plans. They point out that the Heathrow consultation is confusing, and very difficult indeed for anyone who is not an expert to fill in. The Assembly says: “We are gravely concerned that Heathrow is prioritising the interests of the airline industry and passengers over and above the wellbeing of Londoners, who are going to be the most affected by the expansion.”   The plans would mean unacceptable levels of noise, air pollution, carbon emissions and amounts of road traffic. The extra noise is likely to harm health and well-being of thousands of people. As the consultation is too hard to respond to, using the online or paper forms, the Assembly suggests that people send a short message to the Heathrow email address feedback@heathrowconsultation.com  The text they suggest – vary it however you wish – is “Heathrow expansion fundamentally goes against the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital.  It’s going to make air pollution worse, increase carbon emissions and increase noise, and we don’t support it. I stand with hundreds of others calling for it to be CANCELLED.”

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Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, hints at scrapping Heathrow expansion and “taking a really close look” at whether it stacks up

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the Government could scrap Heathrow expansion, in his first public utterances on the topic in his new job. He told Sky News that “there are questions about whether the whole plan stacks up” and that Heathrow are going to need to “make sure they bring in enough income to justify the billions of pounds spent on it.” Mr Shapps also mentioned the upcoming legal challenge appeal, starting on Thursday 17 October. He said “there are of course court cases to do with emissions, that sort of thing so what we’ve said is we’ll watch that process very carefully and in the meantime I’ll be having a really close look at whether figures stack up or whether building more capacity, another runway there, would add to the charges to such an extent that it doesn’t.” Rob Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “Whether it is Heathrow’s overconfidence of being able to deliver the necessary funds for this project or the catastrophic environmental impacts, it is becoming clearer than ever that a third runway won’t be able to be delivered on time or budget and certainly does not fit within the Government’s environmental commitments of net zero emissions by 2050.”

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Key facts about Heathrow 3rd runway: total EXTRA CO2 emissions would be about 183 MtCO2 between 2022 – 2050 (above staying with 2 runways)

Heathrow is attempting to make out that the carbon emissions to be caused by its 3rd runway would be insignificant. They would either not be counted in UK totals; or they would all be offset by airlines and so “vanish”. They also ignore all non-CO2 impacts. Or they would in some other miraculous ways be offset by various untested, unproven technologies.  These are the key facts people need to realise:  Heathrow’s own figures show a total of 173 MtCO2 MORE carbon emitted, over 2022-2050, with the 3rd runway than without building it. The emissions could reach 25MtCO2 per year from flights alone. The increased CO2 would be as much as 9MtCO2 per year more, in the peak year (2035) than with 2 runways. The total extra CO2 from more surface access transport would be 7MtCO2 over that time period. The extra CO2 from all the construction work would be 3.7MtCO2, to build it all. The total of all that would be 183MtCO2 MORE carbon produced in total (flights, surface access + construction) than if the runway was not built. The estimates may be on the low side, as Heathrow has factored in future carbon efficiencies. Heathrow has taken no account of the fact that we now have a net zero target for 2050. The CCC has now said the total cap for UK aviation CO2 should be no more than 31MtCO2. Not the earlier 37.5MtCO2 it had recommended earlier.

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Willie Walsh (IAG) warns again of excessive, out-of-control, unknown Heathrow 3rd runway costs

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, has always been against the very high costs of expanding Heathrow. He has again said he does not trust Heathrow to keep costs reasonable, and he is opposed to expansion – for which costs would escalate. He said Heathrow has “understated” the costs of expanding and the project is “out of control”, and there was “absolutely no way” Heathrow could build everything planned on budget. He thinks that while Heathrow continues to quote a figure of £14 billion for the investment required, the “true costs” would be over £32 billion. He believes building the 3rd runway and associated works alone will require £14 billion. And then a further £14.5 billion would be required to add terminal capacity and other infrastructure on the existing site. Walsh thinks just extending Terminal 5 could cost a further £3.5 billion. Heathrow now claim their costs even before building anything, are £3.3 billion for planning and preparation. Far higher than earlier estimates.  It is a risk that the runway would be under-utilised, as costs would have to be too high – to pay for the excessive spending – to tempt airlines to use it.  That would also make any net economic benefit to the UK very negative.

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Heathrow plans to increase 3rd runway costs – to £2.9 bn – before approval, hoping it will be too costly to scrap its plans

Heathrow plans to triple the amount it spends on its third runway proposal, to £2.9bn – well before getting final approval. This either means air passengers using Heathrow would be charged more (something the industry and the government do not want), or else the taxpayer will be charged. Even if the runway never goes ahead.  The CAA has a consultation about the costs and how Heathrow has been speeding up the process, spending ever more money. (The legal challenges are now going to appeal in October, but Heathrow is pressing ahead with its DCO consultations). Especially on carbon emissions, air pollution and noise grounds, it is entirely possible the runway will be blocked and the DCO will not be granted.  The CAA says it has asked Heathrow “to consider different options for this spending and the implications of this spending for the overall programme timetable and the interests of consumers.” [Not to mention the taxpayer, who may end up paying …] Heathrow is increasing the amount of its “Category B” costs and “early Category C” costs. They want to increase the amount spent already to be so large, that it effectively cannot be cancelled. Detailed costs still have to be outlined, but Heathrow is expected to submit its initial business plan to the CAA for review towards the end of this year.

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Early Day Motion by John Grogan MP

EDM #2649 – ask your MP to sign it.
“That this House calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to undertake a review of the Airports National Planning Statement which supports the construction of an additional runway at Heathrow Airport exercising powers outlined in the Planning Act (2008); and believes that since the statement was first adopted there has been a significant change in circumstances particularly the adoption of a target of net zero for UK emissions by 2050 and the declaration of an environment and climate emergency following the findings of the Inter-governmental panel on Climate Change.”

Caroline Russell: Action is needed on aircraft noise

Caroline writes in a blog that in parts of London, people are now living with severe levels of noise disruption. This is not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it. For some, the onslaught from Heathrow planes is made worse by the addition of London City planes using narrow, concentrated routes. The noise has significant health impacts for many. A report by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, which Caroline chairs, concluded that the Government and CAA should regulate noise disturbance more stringently. They should use lower thresholds for noise disturbance (taking into account WHO guidelines and the need for residents to keep windows open) and mapping the combined effect of all London’s airports, especially Heathrow and City.  The WHO guidance is that 45dB is the threshold for health impacts, but the UK government persists with 54dB as the ‘disturbance’ threshold. Also that flight paths should be rotated, to give relief to those under concentrated flight paths – and flight paths should be designed to minimise noise impacts, including avoiding overlapping flight paths. Increasing exposure to aircraft noise is unacceptable, and must be challenged

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All the claimants, whose challenges against the DfT on Heathrow expansion were rejected, now given leave to appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted the claimants against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow permission to appeal their claims in a hearing beginning on 21 October 2019. The Government had argued permission should be refused.  Lord Justice Lindblom stated: “The importance of the issues raised in these and related proceedings is obvious.”  Four Councils (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and the Mayor London sought the appeal, after judges at the High Court ruled against the legal challenges  on 1st May.  Rob Barnstone, of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, commented: “Boris Johnson knows that Heathrow expansion cannot meet environmental targets, including on noise and air pollution. Mr Johnson has indicated he will be following the legal and planning processes very carefully. Then at the appropriate time, the project can be cancelled. We don’t expect any gimmicks but remain confident that Mr Johnson will stop this disastrous project, albeit at the correct time in the process. The decision by the Court of Appeal today may make that time a little sooner than previously thought.” Heathrow Hub has also been given permission to appeal.

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Hammersmith Society gives its advice on Heathrow consultation – to respond, just say “NO”

The Hammersmith Society aims to ensure the borough is a “safer, more convenient and better place in which to live, work and enjoy ourselves.” They have been looking at Heathrow’s consultation on its expansion plans – equivalent to adding on a new airport the size of Gatwick. They warn that if people fill in the response document, giving a preference for one or other option in the questions, this may (quite illegitimately) be taken by Heathrow as “support” for their plans. So the Society’s advice is that people do not engage with the questions; the whole plan is bad for Hammersmith, so JUST SAY NO. The Society says on Heathrow plans to burn biomass and plant some trees  “that’s hardly the point considering the carbon footprint of the industry it facilitates – it’s not even a drop in the ocean – this amounts to lip-service greenwash, rather insulting to our intelligence”. On the consultation, the Society comments: “the weight of documents is tremendous, and more than a little excessive.  The reader eventually concludes this is an attempt to bamboozle and wear down those trying to interpret them, to make them give up in the belief that the project must have been well thought-through, because of the weight of documentation alone.”

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Government sleep guidance advises at least 7 hours’ sleep a night – while it allows plane noise that prevents this

Official guidance on how many hours people should sleep each night is set to be introduced by government, to improve public health. They say people should regularly get 7 – 9 hours sleep per night, most nights. If people often sleep for less than 7 hours, there are numerous health impacts (eg, diabetes, dementia risk, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, other mental illness).  Making up sleep on some nights, after not getting enough on others, is not as good as enough sleep most of the time. Ensuring people get enough sleep is important and could save the NHS money, by being “the tide that rises all other health boats.”  Lack of sleep can have a “negative impact” on recovery from illness and surgery.  The need for over 7 hours of sleep per night for adults (younger people need even more sleep) is particularly relevant in the context of proposals to expand airports.  The UK government policies and targets on noise at night are inadequate and out of date, and new targets must be incorporated into national policies. The cost and long-term consequences of damage to the health of millions due to government inaction will be considerable. The Department of Health should take a stronger lead on this.

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Stanwell Moor residents demand better compensation from Heathrow over negative expansion impacts

Heathrow has rejected pleas from Stanwell Moor residents to be included in a compensation package designed for those who will experience more noise. The residents now appreciate that the negative impact will be far greater than they were previously led to believe, from effects of more noise, pollution, HGV traffic, more car parking, more taxis etc. A campaign has been launched to ask for better compensation, with those involved labelling Heathrow’s current offer as “derisory compensation and precious little else”.  Heathrow has not included the area in its Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) which would make them eligible for compensation. On 7th July there was a protest march, and public meetings have been held. Stanwell Moor Residents’ Association (SMRA) said villagers feel they have been “kept in the dark” about the plans; in their talks with Heathrow till now, they had been led to believe they would receive a “world-class compensation package befitting the impact”. The residents “call upon the future Prime Minister (whoever that may be) and the new Secretary of State for Transport, to uphold and safeguard the interests of Stanwell Moor residents.”

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Local residents launch new “HEATHROW’S PREFERRED DISASTERPLAN” campaign

The group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), has launched a new campaign entitled “Heathrow’s Preferred Disasterplan”. The title of the campaign is a reference to the current Heathrow consultation on its “Preferred Masterplan” for expansion. Residents and campaigners against a third runway are strongly supported by Hillingdon Council, and  John McDonnell MP. The impacts of building a 3rd runway would be horrendous for those in areas facing compulsory purchase, or living close to the airport.  SHE has sent a booklet to all those living nearest to the airport. It is called “How a Third Runway Will Affect You and Your Family”, and details some of the main impacts the expansion proposals would have in West Drayton, Hayes and the Heathrow Villages, without the gloss and spin of Heathrow consultation documents. SHE has organised 3 public meetings locally, so residents can learn more about traffic congestion, noise, pollution, the plan to relocate Harmondsworth Primary school to the Stockley by-pass.  SHE chair, Jackie Clark said: “The current Heathrow consultation is a Disasterplan for our area. It is left to us to provide the true scale of Heathrow’s monumental expansion proposals …without Heathrow’s usual gloss and spin. Expansion is far from certain and the key message to residents is that it is can be stopped.”

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Heathrow’s ‘forgotten people’ – Those who rent stand to lose the most if the 3rd runway gets built

Many who live in the villages around Heathrow will be forced to sell their homes and businesses and relocate away from the lives they have known, if the 3rd runway is built. People who currently rent homes and businesses, rather than own them, face a particularly  uncertain future. They will get far less compensation than those who own their own property.  Homeowners are set to receive 125% of the unaffected market price for their property, along with the coverage of legal bills and stamp duty on a new home. Those who rent would receive only statutory compensation, set at £6,300 per household, though Heathrow will add reimbursement of reasonable legal fees, removal and other disturbance costs. Those who lease their business property face harsh criteria to qualify for enhanced compensation – including the length of their lease, and their location. Heathrow estimates 300 commercial properties will need to be acquired, for its expansion plans – plus about  760 homes in their Compulsory Purchase Zone (CPZ).  People are warned, by the local campaign, SHE, not to sell up until they knew whether expansion plans would go ahead. That happened in 2008 in Sipson, last time around – and it had left those who remained in a “ghost town” that was “devoid of community” and packed with short term rentals. Often those who rent do so because they could not afford to buy.

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Frozen body of Kenya Airways flight stowaway lands feet from man sunbathing in Clapham garden mid-afternoon

The frozen body of a suspected stowaway fell from a jet approaching Heathrow, into a garden in Offerton Road, Clapham – close to a man sunbathing in his back garden, in the afternoon. The man is understood to have fallen from the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow.  A plane spotter, who had been following the flight on a tracking app from Clapham Common, had seen the body fall, so knew it was from a Kenyan Airways flight.  A witness said the body was largely intact as it was frozen solid. It had fallen with enough impact to dent the grass. The problem lies with in adequate airport security, at airports like Nairobi, so stowaways get get themselves into the wheel arch. The question was raised whether, with the lax security, someone could equally insert a bomb, to be dropped later (eg. over London). There have been other cases of bodies falling from planes, as they approach Heathrow. Stowaways are generally dead before hitting the ground, due either to being crushed by the wheels when they are retracted on take-off, or lack of oxygen on the flight, or extreme cold (as cold as -50 C or more) at high altitude. Many are potential migrants, misguidedly hoping for a better life in the UK – unaware of the dangers of stowing away.

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Over £500,000 needed to properly soundproof Megan and Harry’s house – not an option of ordinary people suffering the Heathrow din

The bill to renovate Harry and Meghan’s home has been hugely increased by their wish to have the very best, most effective soundproofing – to block out the noise of planes using Heathrow. Their house, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, is about 5 miles from Heathrow, under a main flight path. Experts claim specialist insulation work could have cost between £500,000 and £1 million. This money comes from the Sovereign Grant, valued at £82.2 million this year and is profits from the Queen’s property portfolio (the Crown Estate), which are paid to the Government.  25% of these profits are paid to the monarchy to fund the upkeep of its property, travel, security and staff. While the Sovereign Grant isn’t taxpayer money, it is considered to be public funds. The work done on Frogmore Cottage includes extra layers above the ceilings, plus on about 12,000 sq ft of external walls. Also all exterior doors would need to be soundproofed and 68 windows upgraded to triple-glazing, at up to £1,000 each. Then there would be a new air-conditioning system, as the house would be so sealed up. Ordinary people living over 3 miles from Heathrow have to pay for all the sound insulation work themselves. Those nearer get basic payment only.

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Areas like Chiswick: Residents affected ‘will find out too late’ about new Heathrow noise only after final consent

The current Heathrow consultation on its plans for a 3rd runway does not give details of flight paths. Conveniently (for Heathrow) the information on those will only come after about 2023, well after (Heathrow hopes) it will have got planning consent for its scheme.  Wickedly, that means people do not know now, and will not for several years, whether they are due to have a narrow, concentrated route above them, or nearby. That will only become obvious too late for them to do anything about it.  It could mean a noisy plane, below – say – 4,000 feet – over head many times per minute. Hour after hour – most of the day. Day after day – most days. Local group Chiswick Against The Third Runway (CHATR) has said it is “unacceptable” that the details of the proposed new flight paths are not part of the Heathrow consultation.  “The scale of environmental degradation and destruction is monumental.” The absence of flight path information – which for many people is THE most important aspect of the expansion – is “clearly unacceptable. We believe this is fundamentally dishonest, since the hundreds of thousands of people affected will not discover until after planning consent.  When it is too late”.  

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Heathrow plans mean schoolchildren face illegal pollution levels as schools moved to polluted areas

A primary school near Heathrow is to be demolished and rebuilt in an area with poor air quality – in order to build the third runway. This is revealed in the Heathrow consultation documents. These say: “Harmondsworth primary school will be displaced by the new runway. Land to the north of the M4 highway on Stockley Road in West Drayton, has been identified as a suitable replacement site for the school as it is within the catchment area and has appropriate road access and connections to green areas for recreational purposes. This site also has the benefit of being able to accommodate early delivery to enable vacation of the existing facility in time for the commencement of construction of the new runway.”  Three other primary schools would be left just metres from the new runway; the playground of one of the schools would border the new runway fence – if the plans were ever allowed. Campaigners say the relocation of Harmondsworth primary from the village of Harmondsworth, where it is surrounded by fields and farmland, to an area on the Stockley bypass , where air pollution monitors regularly breach legal limits, will harm children’s health.

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Heathrow 3rd runway plans reveal the monster airport proposed – how uniquely expensive, harmful and damaging it would be

With the publication of the Heathrow consultation documents comes realisation of what a massive, uniquely damaging and harmful plan it is. A few comments from Alistair Osborne in the Times: “The project is the equivalent of dropping Gatwick airport on to one of the world’s busiest motorways: 12 zippy lanes, no less, of the M25″… and “It can all be done without any “significant” disruption, while maintaining the traffic flow of 220,000 vehicles a day. Who says so? Heathrow, of course — despite the small matter of “realigning the M25 carriageway”, sinking it by 4.5m in a tunnel and having planes land on top. Not only that. Heathrow will be adding at least 260,000 flights a year and 50 million more passengers” … ” But, apparently, they won’t lead to a single extra car on the roads. Or any more trucks, despite the doubling of cargo capacity to “at least three million tonnes” a year. No, it’s all coming by bicycle or some green equivalent. And don’t worry about the costs because “Heathrow expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer”…. “It’s pure fantasy. Indeed, ask Heathrow how much of the £14 billion is for diverting the M25 and the company has no answer…. Apparently, a cost breakdown will be delivered to the CAA by the end of the year.”

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Heathrow claims there will be NO NET INCREASE IN CO2 EMISSIONS, with 50% more flights….

The expansion of Heathrow, with a 3rd runway, would – logically and in the absence of any real means of reducing the carbon emissions per plane in any significant way – be likely to increase the CO2 from flights by something like 40%. But the consultation by Heathrow, published on 18th June, gives NO figures for the amount of extra carbon that would be emitted by the extra planes. They say the current amount of carbon emitted by flights, the airport, surface access is about 20.83 million tonnes of CO2 per year. But they consider the extra fights not to add any carbon at all (except domestic flights) because all will be offset using the UN CORSIA scheme. So it is entirely cancelled out and ignored. Heathrow say: “Current baseline GHG emissions have been estimated at 20.8 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e). Air transport accounts for over 95% of Heathrow’s GHG emissions followed by surface access transport at 3%.” And “”Heathrow’s carbon neutral growth aspiration means that growth in CO2 emissions from additional flights after expansion would be offset through carbon credits, resulting in no net growth in emissions. ” Caroline Lucas MP commented: “Heathrow is taking economy with truth to new levels`’ 

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“Heathrow’s 3rd runway is equivalent to bolting an extra airport onto one that is already the world’s most disruptive” – No 3rd Runway Coalition

The Heathrow consultation sets out Heathrow’s assessment of the impacts of expansion on local communities and the environment, and their plans (such as they are …) to mitigate these impacts. Speaking for the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul Beckford commented that: “Our communities will be destroyed by these expansion proposals, with 783 homes demolished and another 3,000 homes rendered unliveable owing to the construction and pollution. 2 million more people will be exposed to aircraft noise at levels that have a detrimental impact on health and millions will be exposed to significant increases in air pollution from vehicles accessing the airport as well as the 700 additional planes in the skies every single day. Every community across London and the Home Counties will experience the impacts of these proposals…” Paul McGuinness, Chair of the Coalition said: “Statistically, Heathrow is already the world’s most disruptive airport. It lies at the heart of the UK’s most densely populated region and has a hopeless environmental record, regularly breaching air quality targets. And all of that comes with just two runways. Heathrow’s plan equates to bolting another major airport on top of its current, disruptive operation.”

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Heathrow consultation starts – trying to cover up the devastating impacts the 3rd runway would have, in so many ways…

The main Heathrow consultation – before the DCO consultation – on its proposed 3rd runway has opened. It closes on 13th September. It is a massive consultation, with dozens and dozens of long documents – making it impossible, in reality, for a layperson to read.  Below are links to the key documents. Heathrow says it is proposing “tough new measures to reduce emissions”. It proposes a slight increase in the amount of time when scheduled flights are not allowed at night – just 6.5 hours (that does NOT include planes that take off late….) so little change there. This is a statutory consultation (the earlier ones were not) and Heathrow says it “will inform the airport’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is expected to be submitted next year.”  There will be 43 consultation events to be held during the 12-week consultation period. Heathrow says its “expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer.” It will be interesting to see how they pay for the work to bridge the M25, paying for it all themselves. There is no information on flight paths, as those will not be decided upon until perhaps 2023. They use only indicative flight paths. There expected to be more flights, even before the runway is built, by 2022.

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Heathrow’s planes over Richmond Park would ‘damage mental health’

Millions of people who use Richmond Park, for peace, quiet and tranquillity, face up to 93 low-flying aircraft an hour if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway. The noise from the planes, so people cannot escape from the stresses of life and enjoy nature, is likely to have negative impacts on the mental well being of thousands of people. Richmond Park is surrounded by housing and urban development, but it is precious island and refuge, so close to London. With the expansion, there will be more planes, and lower, over the Park. Under the Heathrow expansion plans, hundreds of planes would produce noise levels of up to 80dB – many times over the WHO guidelines for good health – flying at 1,500 feet over the park. It seems that high, and rising, numbers of people living in the London area (and other cities) suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. To help them, the government might want to ensure there are quiet, tranquil areas that people can spent time in, to relax and de-stress. But instead, the government is happy to allow Heathrow to hugely increase plane noise over this treasured, ancient park.  Is nothing worth saving, from the ravages of economic growth etc?

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Extinction Rebellion delays protest at Heathrow – disrupting the airport likely to only create opposition to the campaign

Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion has postponed until later this year a plan to shut down Heathrow, using drones. It had said, on 1st June, that it had plans to cause a lot of disruption during June and July, to highlight the problem the UK has with the CO2 emissions from aviation – and the huge increase a 3rd runway would generate. There had never been any risk of lives being endangered, as drones would not have been flown near planes.XR had consulted widely among supporters, who feared a furore over safety concerns would eclipse Extinction Rebellion’s broader message over the need to take radical action to tackle the climate crisis. It could end up with overall very negative publicity, and hinder the message getting out effectively to a wider audience.  XR says any protests would take place within an exclusion zone in a 5km radius around the airport, avoiding flight paths, and the notice period for any drone action would be at least two months.  The intention is to push for the systemic change needed to cut Britain’s emissions as quickly as possible, by causing economic disruption – but trying to minimise disruption to passengers.

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Heathrow plans its 3rd runway to bridge the M25 in 3 sections – one runway and two separate taxiways

The Times has published images from Heathrow, showing their plans for expansion (consultation due to start of 18th) including what they do to get the runway over the 12 lane M25 (the busiest section of motorway in the UK, and probably in Europe). Heathrow has only ever said it would be just over £1 billion for the work, though it would cost much more. The plan appears to be for the M25 to be lowered a bit, into a tunnel. There would be two separate taxiways over the motorway, with the planes probably visible to drivers travelling below. Also a wider section on which would be the runway itself. Distracting for drivers?  Heathrow claims having two openings in the tunnel between the taxiways and runway would “improve stability, ventilation and visibility on the road.”  Might it also be cheaper?  The Times says: “Plans to cross the M25 have been revised after talks with Highways England, which had raised concerns about the risk of damage to the tunnel by landing aircraft. It was also feared that drivers may be distracted by planes overhead.”  Nowhere else in the world is a road a busy as the M25 crossed by a runway or taxiways.  Heathrow will seek to soften the impact of expansion by spreading the work over as long as 30 years – easier to pay for.

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ICCAN consultation on its Corporate Strategy – public welcome to respond – deadline 16th June

The Airports Commission suggested, back in 2015, that there should be an independent body looking into aircraft noise issues – largely to help reduce public opposition to the massive increase in noise that would be generated by a Heathrow 3rd runway. The ICCAN (Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) was finally set up earlier this year, with a chairman (Rob Light) and three commissioners (Colin Noble, Howard Simmons and Simon Henley). It has been visiting a lot of airports, and also community groups. It plans to take two years to make its recommendations, and it will then decide if it needs to have some statutory powers – it currently has no powers to get the industry to do anything. ICCAN says: “Our two-year aim – To improve public confidence and trust in the management of aviation noise, by building our expertise, credibility and profile across the UK.”  There is currently a consultation on ICCAN’s corporate strategy, which the public are requested to fill in.  No technical expertise is needed – and the views of ordinary people, to whom plane noise is of interest or concern, are solicited. Deadline 16th June.

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South East London community group Plane Hell Action South East (PHASE) join the No 3rd Runway Coalition

The South East London community group Plane Hell Action South East (PHASE) have joined the No 3rdRunway Coalition.  This follows the recent addition of the London Borough of Southwark to the Coalition’s membership and reflects the increasing concern in communities across London about the impacts of Heathrow expansion.  PHASE is campaigning against concentrated flight paths over South East London, an area that would suffer far worse aircraft noise if there was ever a 3rd runway. These flight paths will be concentrated, creating what the CAA has described as noise canyons, over local communities. Research by Greenpeace suggests that as many as 1.6 million people could be left enduring nearly constant noise from aircraft, with a 3rd runway. Bridget Bell, of PHASE said:  “…plane noise and emissions affect South East Londoners badly, over 18 miles from Heathrow.  City Airport flight paths cross under those to Heathrow.  The result for many of us is double overflight; or cross-over flight which arises when planes to one airport stop and planes to the other start, giving the overflown no let-up of any sort.”

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Extinction Rebellion plans to use drones to shut down Heathrow on 18th June and then for up to 10 days

Extinction Rebellion (XR) demands the Government begins to act on its declaration of a Climate and Environment Emergency by cancelling all Heathrow expansion. On June 18th (start of Heathrow’s consultation), XR plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow has to close the airport to flights. This is to create a “pause” in recognition of the impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, on the natural world. If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, XR will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1st. XR is consulting its members on the proposed action. They say it is not intended to target the public, but holding the Government to their duty to take leadership on the climate and ecological emergency.  Adding the planned 3rd runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness.  XR understands the action will cause disruption to a great number of holiday makers and other travellers, but believe it is necessary – given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse. XR say by giving early warning of the disruption, travellers have time to make alternative plans.

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Contenders for Theresa May’s job – and their (pro) Heathrow runway views

The New Civil Engineer has looked out the positions of the leading contenders to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister. Apart from Boris Johnson, (who conveniently managed to be abroad at the time of the Heathrow NPS vote, in order to avoid publicly voting …) every one voted for the 3rd runway (the vote was whipped). Every one other than Boris has made positive statements in the past about Heathrow expansion.  Eg. Dominic Raab: “I support the expansion of Heathrow in principle, due to the economic benefits a third runway will bring – especially as Britain looks to forge a stronger global trading role” (and a few inaccurate statements on economic benefit, costs etc). Michael Gove said the 3rd runway was crucial to “ensuring the UK maintains its position as a global leader in aviation”.  Sajid Javid in July 2016 said: “We should quickly give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow.” And so on.  Remember what Boris said: after being elected as an MP in 2015, he told supporters: “I will lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway.”

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Val Shawcross, once a fierce critic of Heathrow expansion, now chair of “Heathrow Area Transport Forum” (paid by Heathrow)

Val Shawcross worked as deputy mayor of London for transport, and was vehemently against the expansion of Heathrow, last week took up a job as chair of the “Heathrow Area Transport Forum”.  The Forum is an (allegedly) “independent” statutory body whose chair’s salary is paid by Heathrow airport. It does not have powers to penalise Heathrow if it misses its targets.  Part of Ms Shawcross’s role will be to develop Heathrow’s transport access strategy, and monitoring the airport’s performance against the strategy’s targets.  If they miss targets, then in theory the DfT (a huge supporter of Heathrow expansion) and the regulator, the CAA, are meant to “hold it to account.”   She knows well that “If Heathrow expanded without tackling issues like air quality, public transport growth, active transport . . . it would be a disaster for London.”  In January 2018, Ms Shawcross told parliament’s Transport Select Committee that the NPS, “completely fails to show how you could expand Heathrow without worsening air quality, not just locally but with an impact across central London as well”. She says now she will  “walk my talk” by challenging the airport  from a statutory role. Time will tell …

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Heathrow plans a ULEZ from 2022 for passenger cars, taxis etc coming to car parks or drop-off areas

Heathrow knows it has to try to do something to cut its high levels of air pollution. So it has proposed some changes, to slightly reduce pollution from road vehicles (nothing about the pollution from the planes). The plan is to introduce charges for passenger cars and all private hire vehicles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It would be the world’s first airport ULEZ. That might start in 2022, and then turn into a VAC (Vehicle Access Charge) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas,  if the runway finally gets built.  Heathrow says: “We want to reduce congestion by decreasing the number of cars on the road and encourage more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport…”  And “The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ…” Initial proposals set the charge figure between £10-£15 per vehicle. “Revenue collected from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainable transport, contribute to community compensation and help keep airport charges affordable as the airport expands.” (sic)  [ie. keep flights cheap, so there can be more flights, which will lead to more air pollution]. 

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House prices drop in areas to be negatively impacted by Heathrow expansion

House prices around areas where Heathrow’s third runway will be built have fallen by 2.6% since June last year, when the proposed expansion was approved by the House of Commons, estate agent comparison site GetAgent.co.uk has found.   Windsor and Maidenhead have seen the largest decline with a drop of 6%. Prices have fallen by 4.4% in Wandsworth, 1.5% across Hillingdon and 1% in Richmond, and price growth has ground to a halt in Hammersmith and Fulham, with almost no change. Chief Executive of GetAgent said:  “There’s no doubt that the construction of a 3rd runway is going to hurt house prices for those directly impacted, either due to the expansion itself, or the resulting noise pollution from an increase in air traffic over the area….we could see prices continue their downward trend as the reality sets in and buyer demand dwindles.”  The impact of a 3rd Heathrow runway is on a far greater scale than other airport expansions, making comparisons impossible. There is no guarantee that property prices would rebound in due course, with homes subjected to worse plane noise.

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Heathrow airport expansion ‘will expose 1.6 million people to near constant noise’

A third runway at Heathrow will expose 1.6 million people to “near constant” noise, according to an investigative report by Greenpeace.  There could be up to 47 flights passing over London every hour (except during the night period) if expansion goes ahead. By overlaying  flightpath maps published earlier this year with population data, Greenpeace found perhaps 11 million people lived in areas could be exposed to Heathrow noise above 65 decibels (about as loud as being in a busy office). About 1.6 million people live in areas closest to the airport; they are almost certain to experience noise levels at or above 65 decibels. Currently around 492,000 people experience at least 65 decibel Heathrow noise. This is NOT a local problem – it is far wider than that, and opponents cannot be accused of being “nimby”.   Greenpeace Director John Sauven said: “This project is not in the interests of people living in the west of London. It is not in the interests of the UK economy. And it most certainly is not in the interests of the global climate. …The government has all the public support they could possibly want for radical climate action. Cancelling Heathrow is the easiest measure available.”

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Heathrow vast consultation starting 18th June – aiming to be done less badly than earlier consultations

Heathrow has announced the dates of its forthcoming consultation on the expansion it wants. The consultation will start on 18th June, and end on 13th September (ie. much across the summer holiday period, when responding is more difficult …). Unlike the consultation that started in January and ended on 4th March, this one is statutory – something Heathrow has to do, by law. It will cover a large range of issues. Perhaps in response to the highly critical comments on its earlier consultations, Heathrow says: “Having listened to feedback from previous consultations, Heathrow will be holding events in more locations than previously and, in addition to an extensive national publicity campaign across newspapers, radio, billboards, digital and – for the first time – Spotify, will be contacting 2.6 million households directly in the vicinity of the airport with a leaflet encouraging participation.” Paul McGuinness, Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition said:  “This consultation is about  the infrastructure Heathrow will build once they’ve demolished villages in Hillingdon. Not the serious environmental impacts of imposing a further 700 planes a day over the country’s most populated region.”  Or the devastating impact on air pollution, carbon emissions etc.

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Heathrow only had 40.6% of passengers using public transport in 2018

Heathrow missed targets to ensure 43% of passengers travel to the airport on public transport in 2018. Hopes by 2030 it will be 50%. In 2018 40.6% of passengers used public transport.Heathrow blamed delays to the Crossrail network opening and increased use of taxi apps like Uber.     Link

Climate emergency realisation in UK to cause review of Heathrow expansion – climate change may limit future UK flying

The government (DfT) has admitted that concerns over climate change might restrict the growth of flying in the UK.  The government’s statutory advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2. Now a senior civil servant, Caroline Low (in charge of Heathrow expansion at the DfT) has told Plan B Earth that means ministers may have to review the UK’s aviation strategy (due to become a white paper later in 2019). The aviation strategy is currently out to consultation, till 20th June. Plan B says the level of climate concern is so high that the decision on Heathrow expansion – the Airports NPS – should be brought back to Parliament. (It was voted for in June 2018, with carbon issues glossed over so MPs were unaware of the extent of the problem). The DfT hopes expanding Heathrow would create economic growth etc. When the government first laid out proposals for increasing aviation, the UK had an overall target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. But the CCC now recommends that Britain should adopt a target of net zero emissions. Growth of aviation needs to be constrained to fit within a Net Zero target. Caroline Low said the DfT will now have to give aviation carbon emissions “careful consideration” and even look at whether the ANPS should be revised. 

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Senior DfT civil servant confirms aviation CO2 issues to now be “given careful consideration” for ANPS review

Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, wrote on 2nd May to the government’s lawyers, asking for clarity on how Heathrow expansion would be assessed against the UK target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including emissions from aviation. In a response on 8th May from Caroline Low, the senior DfT civil servant working on Heathrow expansion, she confirms that: “…the department will carefully consider this request against the statutory criteria set out” in sections of the 2008 Planning Act. And “As well as giving careful consideration to the Net Zero report and the declaration of environment and climate emergency, mentioned in the request, it may be necessary to consider the Committee on Climate Change’s recommended policy approach for deviation which, the Committee has stated at chapter 6 of the report, will be provided to the department later in 2019 and any relevant decisions taken by the government in the coming months as a result. These decisions are likely to include decisions on relevant policy being developed as part of Aviation 2050: The future of UK aviation, which is currently the subject of consultation. At the end of this consideration, the department will provide advice and a recommendation to the Secretary of State, to enable him to take a decision on whether the statutory criteria for a review of part or all of the ANPS are met, and whether or not it is appropriate to carry out such a review.”

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London Borough of Southwark joins No 3rd Runway Coalition

The London Borough of Southwark has today become the latest local authority (joining Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham) to join the fight against Heathrow Expansion.  Its residents get a great deal of noise from Heathrow aircraft already, and that would get much worse with a 3rd runway. Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for environment, transport management and air quality for Southwark, said: “We are happy to be joining the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to stand alongside other groups, organisations and individuals, in opposition to a third runway”… Southwark councillors are already concerned about the noise, and also now the carbon emissions.  With the Westminster Parliament now joining the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and over 500 councils around the UK in declaring a climate emergency, it is clear that the unconstrained growth of carbon intensive infrastructure is no longer politically palatable.  And it is no longer just environmental campaigners who are considering the proposed expansion of Heathrow to be the totemic issue in the battle against climate change, but mainstream politicians too.

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Heathrow Hub appeals High Court judgment that rejected its legal challenge to the ANPS

Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal for expanding Heathrow Airport via an extension to the existing Northern Runway, has started proceedings to appeal the High Court judgement handed down on the 1st May 2019, which refused a judicial review. The DfT, Chris Grayling and Heathrow hoped the ruling would clear the way for Heathrow to get on with its plans. But now 3 of the other 4 claimants are also appealing – the councils, Friends of the Earth, and Plan B. Heathrow Hub is majority owned by Anthony Clake, a senior partner at Marshall Wace, a global hedge fund in London. Heathrow Hub has been advised that it also has grounds for appeal, and has applied for permission to do so. They cite the legal flaws as including:  “The court did not set out the legal test of overriding public interest or acknowledge that the burden of discharging it lay with the secretary of state. Furthermore, it did not allow Heathrow Hub to address the court on this matter resulting in a clear error of law. The role of the court in a judicial review is to review the exercise of discretion by the decision-maker, not to exercise the discretion itself.”

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Hillingdon and the other 4 Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling

Following the Divisional Court’s decision on 1 May 2019 to dismiss the legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council and others, expert legal opinion has been sought by them in relation to whether there are any grounds to appeal this decision. There is no automatic right of appeal and permission to appeal is needed, in the first instance, from the court which heard the legal challenge. Therefore, an application for permission to appeal is being made to the Divisional Court on behalf of Hillingdon Council and the other local authorities involved in the legal challenge (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) – it will be supported by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.  The appeal is on 2 specific grounds which both have their origin in European Law. 1). Relating to the Habitats Directive, and 2). the relationship of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to the councils’ Local Plans, and the noise assessment and metric used by the government, under the SEA Directive. If the Divisional Court refuses the application, the councils can apply for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal. Plan B and Friends of the Earth are also appealing, on different grounds. The councils have always known this would be a long slog …

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Plan B to appeal against the Court’s judgment rejecting the Heathrow legal challenges

Plan B Earth is to Appeal against the decision of the Judges, on 1st May, to reject the legal challenges by the five councils etc, by Friends of the Earth,  Plan B Earth, and Mr Paul Spurrier (as well as Heathrow Hub).  Plan B Earth has published its application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Hickinbottom LJ and Holgate J . “The Appellant wishes to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision … to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (“the ANPS”) in support of the expansion of Heathrow Airport under the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), on the basis of his failure to give proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposal.  Plan B mention specific errors, including that the “Court erred in law in treating the minimum target of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, established by the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA”) as precluding Government policy which implied emissions reduction of greater than 80%: The Court proceeded on the basis that “Government policy relating to … climate change” could not differ at all (or at least could not differ materially) from the base level of the emissions target set out in the CCA. That approach is fundamentally flawed.”

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Friends of the Earth will appeal Heathrow court judgement

1st May 2019 (FoE press release)

Friends of the Earth confirms that it will appeal today’s High Court decision to dismiss the climate case against a third runway at Heathrow.  Friends of the Earth, represented by law firm Leigh Day, took legal action against the government for failing to properly consider climate change and sustainable development and these will form the main grounds of the appeal.  Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said:  “Expanding Heathrow is wrong on every level and we can’t let it go. I could not sleep at night if Friends of the Earth did not challenge this decision. We are going to appeal because we believe the Court got it wrong.  We are in an ecological and climate emergency and parliament have supported an outdated decision to chase climate-wrecking development. How can we take any government remotely seriously when they claim to care about climate chaos while supporting this runway?  We are going to continue this fight because it’s about more than a runway, it is actually about a future fit for our children. I could not sleep at night if Friends of the Earth did not challenge this decision.”


Plan B Earth writes to Government lawyers, requesting a review of the ANPS under Section 6 of the Planning Act

After the High Court rejected all the legal challenges against the DfT’s backing of the 3rd Heathrow runway, Tim Crosland (Director of Plan B Earth) has written to the government’s legal department to request review of the ANPS (Airports National Policy Statement) under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008. This is in light of the approval by Parliament of a motion declaring a climate and environmental emergency.  In addition, there has now been the publication of the advice to the UK government from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), on how the UK should aim for net zero carbon by, or before, 2050. The ANPS was designated on the assumption that it was premature to speculate on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK carbon target for 2050.  That assumption has now been overtaken by events. The CCC’s report recommends that the Government implement a target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050 (which implies net zero CO2 emissions even earlier than that). It is now clear that the viability of Heathrow expansion must be assessed against the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Tim asks that the government lawyers clarify the position on this rapidly, to assist those considering appeals to the judgement.

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Comment by Prof Kevin Anderson on the CCC report, in relation to aviation CO2

Kevin commented:  “Although the CCC have not detailed their choice of UK carbon budget, read between the lines and it is clear they see this fair Isle receives a disproportionately large slice of the global carbon pie. Such colonialism is then exacerbated by passing a significant burden for reducing today’s emissions onto our children – and subsequently their children. These future generations will need to invent and deploy planetary-scale technologies to suck 100s of billions of tonnes of ‘our’ emissions out of the atmosphere. This generational transfer of responsibility enables the CCC to maintain a thriving aviation sector and leave unquestioned the huge inequality in who is responsible for most of UK emissions. What’s not to like – business as usual, albeit with a sizeable green twist, and influential high-emitting groups left unencumbered by policies tailored towards their carbon-intensive lifestyles. More disturbing still, clever use of the CCC’s report will see it used to support Heathrow expansion, shale gas developed and even ongoing offshore oil and gas exploration.”

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Councils that brought legal challenge re. Heathrow say Londoners face added noise and long-term health impacts from Court decision

Councils say the High Court’s failure to quash the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) backing Heathrow expansion could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners. They warn that large areas of London and the Home Counties will be affected by noise from the new north-west runway. The court has refused all the applications for judicial review of the ANPS essentially because it has decided that at this policy stage the decision to support a third runway at Heathrow needs to only meet a low level of judicial scrutiny.  All the damage caused to life and health and the environment by a third runway and its associated traffic (damage causing air pollution, noise pollution and contributing to climate change) will have to be more closely scrutinised at the DCO stage. Objections to a third runway must be heard then and any decision to approve it will be open to challenge through the courts. The councils will continue to explore every avenue possible to protect their residents from the health and environmental consequences of a third runway.  Hillingdon “has set aside sufficient funding to defend our environment and the health and wellbeing of our people for however long it takes to do so.” See the comments of the Council Leaders.

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Judges reject judicial review challenges against DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and “rationality” of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process – or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT.  In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats – as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge.  There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.

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Comment by Plan B Earth and Extinction Rebellion, on Judges’ rejection of Heathrow legal challenges

The High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “…it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the CCC considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050,… Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed.”

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HEATHROW EXPANSION JUDICIAL REVIEW VERDICT Wednesday 1st May at 10 am at the High Court

Judgments on the legal challenges to the Government’s decision to permit Heathrow to apply for the expansion of its airport with a new 3rd Runway, will be announced at the High Court on Wednesday, 1 May, at 10am  The presiding judges, Justices Hickinbottom and Holgate, will be handing down judgments on the judicial review claims made by 5 separate parties that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful.  Four of the claimants’ cases relate to undue consideration being given to the environment, noise and climate change.  Regardless of the Justices’ pronouncements, it is expected that appeals will be made against the judgments – whether by defendant (the government) or claimants.  Even if the judgments were to find in favour of the Secretary of State for Transport (DfT), and these were to then survive the appeals process, this is unlikely to mark the end of legal battles to expand Heathrow airport. Heathrow’s application for its Development Consent Order – DCO (the detailed planning application, which Heathrow is expected to submit in 2020) – is also certain to attract legal challenges.

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Swedish flygskam (or flight shame) is spreading across Europe – Finland, Germany … Brits yet to catch on….

Fears about climate change have led many to rethink the way they travel and, in Sweden, there is a new word – flygskam (flying shame) – for the shame associated with flying, knowing the carbon emissions it causes. The subject has come higher up the agenda with the vast protests in Central London by Extinction Rebellion, since Monday 15th April.  And there are protests in many other cities and countries. The Swedes are now travelling a bit less by air, and a bit more by rail. But it’s not just the Swedes racked with guilt about their carbon footprints. The Finnish have invented the word “lentohapea”, the Dutch say “vliegschaamte” and the Germans “flugscham”, all referring to a feeling of shame around flying. Brits are lagging behind ...  In the UK, plans continue for a 3rd runway at Heathrow despite the airport already being the country’s biggest single source of CO2 emissions. The Swedish rail company reported 32 million passengers in 2018, a good increase. Many understand that flying has a huge negative climate impact, and there are other words associated with this: “tagskryt” (train bragging) and “smygflyga” (flying in secret). The 16 year old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, started the world wide movement of school strikes, to draw attention to climate change, only travels by train to meetings in other countries.

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Heathrow finally shortlists 18 areas as possible sites for its 4 “logistics hubs” – out of the original 65 possible areas

Heathrow has – for several years – been dangling the carrot of being one of 4 “logistics hubs” around the UK, for its expansion plans, to over 65 possible sites. It was a way to get local support from MPs, councils, business etc.  It has now made a list of 18 shortlisted sites that “remain in the running to help deliver the infrastructure project”. So that leaves 47 sites disappointed and let down.  Heathrow makes out that these are going to bring “jobs and economic opportunities up and down the country years before the additional trade and tourism that will follow from unlocked runway capacity.” And it will be “sustainable” due to “transporting assembled components in consolidated loads.” The sites shortlisted have “showcased a strong base of local support, their area’s thriving supply chain, convenient connectivity links and the potential to tap into a skilled workforce.” So those 18 shortlisted are still kept on tenterhooks, to see if they might get lucky, eventually.  In the autumn, they will have the opportunity to pitch to the airport for their chance to become one of the final 4 construction centres, to be announced early next year, ahead of work [possibly, bearing in mind all the legal and planning hurdles] “starting in 2021”.

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Kings College research: Teenage psychotic experiences more common in areas with high air pollution

A new study (in JAMA Psychiatry) by researchers at Kings College London has found it is likely that teenagers living on polluted roads are about 40% more likely to be psychotic. There seems to be a connection between the air pollution and why adolescents in cities are twice as likely to suffer psychosis as those in rural areas.  It is not proof that the pollution causes psychosis, but it adds to mounting evidence that NOx and particulates can do far-reaching damage to the brain and lungs. They may contribute to the development of dementia and depression, as well as possibly harming the unborn foetus, by entering the placenta.  The recent study used data on 2,232 teenagers in England and Wales who were asked about psychotic experiences, such as whether they heard voices or felt they were being watched. About a third had such experiences. While most will grow out of them, these teenagers are at higher risk of going on to suffer full-blown psychosis. The answers were compared with detailed modelling of pollution levels at the teenagers’ homes. The link remained significant even after adjusted for class, drug use, family history of mental illness etc. Heathrow is a huge source of air pollution, from its planes and associated road traffic.

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New AEF briefing: Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets)

The Government and Heathrow are trying to pretend that adding a 3rd runway, increasing the number of flights by around 50% (many or most to long-haul destinations) somehow is not a climate change impact problem. Now in an excellent new briefing from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), “Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets“, they explain how the carbon emissions cannot just be wished away and there are no mechanisms currently proposed to properly deal with them. Heathrow has a “roadmap” on how it aspires to be “carbon neutral”. AEF says the roadmap “does little more than recycle existing – inadequate – measures to limit aviation emissions” and their briefing sets out why the plan falls short. AEF says: “…almost all the proposed actions involve Heathrow riding on the coattails of other Government or industry initiatives.” ... and “The kind of offsetting that CORSIA will deliver …isn’t designed to deliver a zero emissions target but instead to reduce emissions, at best, to half of what they might have been. … the idea that offsetting makes a tonne of CO2 from aviation “neutral” is misleading.”

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Flybe’s Newquay link with Heathrow takes off courtesy of taxpayer PSO subsidy (£6.2m over 8 years)

From next weekend people flying between Newquay and Heathrow will get a £5 subsidy each, from UK taxpayers. There will be 4 flights per day both ways. Newquay airport is not particularly near anywhere – other than surfing beaches. The service will be Heathrow’s only subsidised service, run under a public service obligation (PSO).  PSOs are defined under European aviation regulations as “scheduled air services on routes which are vital for the economic development of the region they serve”.   That means for routes where there is not enough demand to even half fill a small regional aircraft and that to attract a commercial operator to fly the route, the government has to provide a financial incentive. The cost to the taxpayer over 4 years for this will be £3.4 million. (For 180,000 pax per year that works out at £5 each. But there were only <93,000 pax in 2013). The pendulum is swinging back to Heathrow, however.Heathrow has set aside a £10 million fund to incentivise domestic airline route development – needed to persuade regional MPs to back the runway.

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Heathrow’s Fly Quiet results reach new heights of improbability

Heathrow has this week (22nd March) belatedly published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for Q4 2018.  In this scheme Heathrow assesses 7 different aspects of environmental performance, but it only publishes a single, numeric “Fly Quiet points” score for each airline. That published score is the sum of the Fly Quiet points awarded to the airline for each of the 7 metrics. But that part that is far from transparent, with the 7 numbers per airline not made public. The results put out by Heathrow do not make any sense, and do not appear to properly reflect the actual noise. Rather, they appear to be manipulated to make  noise levels look lower than they really are. This time around instead of giving the airlines an average score of around 750 out of (optimum) 1000, as with previous quarters’ results (already grossly inflated), Heathrow has hiked the average score by over 8% to 813 points.  The expected average (mean and median) score should be around 500. But not content with inflating the scores even more than usual, Heathrow has also inexplicably excluded 5 (China Southern, El Al, Korean Air etc) of its 50 busiest airlines from the results – but added others instead.

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Summary of the hearings into the legal challenges against DfT approval of Heathrow 3rd runway

The hearings at the High Court, into the legal challenges against the government’s decision to press for a 3rd Heathrow runway, were complicated. They were hard to follow, even with daily transcripts – as there were constant references to text in documents in “bundles” that the public are unable to see. Neil Spurrier, who individually brought one of the legal challenges, and is a solicitor, has done a user-friendly summary of some of the key points that came up. Four of the challenges were largely on environmental grounds (the 5th was a rival runway builder, Heathrow Hub). Neil gives a brief summary of some of the points on noise, air pollution, carbon emissions, and economic benefit including comments on the response by the government’s barristers and their attempts to brush aside the criticisms. The judges may make their judgement in about May – there will probably be a few days notice before hand. As well as the summary, there are some notes made during the hearings, to help clarify some points.  The Résumé

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Grayling’s team at DfT deliberately tried to conceal information about Heathrow 3rd runway noise, which might have risked “further scrutiny”

A totally damning, ‘smoking gun’ memo has been located, showing how DfT staff in November 2017 were keen to avoid information showing how bad Heathrow noise would be – and how many people would be affected – with a 3rd runway. The Times reveals how DfT staff plotted to cover up warnings about the extra aircraft noise, with a 6-page document sent to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) recommending blocking a plan to tell millions of households (up to 13 million people) about the extra noise they could face from a 3rd runway. Grayling and the DfT claim publicly that a 3rd runway could be introduced with fewer people affected by plane noise even with 265,000 more annual flights – which, of course, beggars belief of anyone with half a brain. The DfT memo wanted to avoid alerting people to the noise problem, for fear that would cause “disruption” and “public debate” and “further scrutiny” and “unnecessary controversy” before the parliamentary vote on the NPS (in June 2018). The memo included a map that reveals DfT officials knew well how badly vast swathes of London and southern England (and Grayling’s own constituency) would be badly affected. Disgraceful DfT behaviour.

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Heathrow to start procuring contractors for demolition, site clearance, utility diversions etc by end of 2019

Heathrow’s expansion programme director Phil Wilbraham says the airport will begin procuring construction partners at the end of this year, [assuming it passes the hurdle of the legal challenges, which ended on 22nd March ….]with construction of the 3rd runway scheduled to begin in 202.  Contractors will be sought for a range of disciplines including demolition, site clearance and utility diversions.  The plan is to start to procure teams at the end of 2019:  “We are going to start in 2021, so we will need contractors on board next year to work with the designers and to ensure that the construction planning is done really well in advance of starting the main construction work. … Initially we will be starting with demolition, site clearance and utility diversions. Then we will go into a major civil engineering project which will be around things like earthworks. We have got a lot of earth to move around underneath the runway. We will be moving roads like the M25, the A4 and the A304. We are moving some rivers as well.” Heathrow is  “confident” legal challenges would ultimately fail and have no impact on the airport’s construction timetable.

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Hampstead and Highgate, with few flights overhead now, due to get bad levels of Heathrow noise

Heathrow wants to expand its operations to fly over areas with little aviation activity at present, including over north west London. The local paper for Hampstead and Highgate says that Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, (it wants an extra 25,000 flights per year in a couple of years from now – if permitted) it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft. The noise levels would be over 60 to 65 decibels (dB) – more than the level of background noise in a busy office – from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position. That might work out as a flight overhead every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm.  If there is then a 3rd runway, there could be a flight every minute, with the noise of most being above 65dB. The negative effects on health, (from noise and air pollution) and noise impacts on the education of children are well known. The paper says: “That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief.” While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, it is a serious concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day

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Evidence on air pollution, given to the High Court hearings on a 3rd Heathrow runway, by Neil Spurrier

Neil Spurrier, a solicitor from Teddington, made one of the 5 legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports National Policy Statement. The legal hearings from the councils, the Mayor of London, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Mr Spurrier took place between the 15th and 19th March. There are transcripts of each day’s proceedings here. Neil addressed the issue of air pollution in particular, and the emissions of NO2 and particulates from planes themselves. He made important points, such as that air pollution is known to spread much, much further from an airport than the 2 km that the DfT has tried to use. Also that there is evidence of possible damage to the foetus from particulates found in placentas of people affected by air pollution, and that the government should not be risking the health of future generations. He made the point, on ultrafine particles, that merely because they have not been specifically studied (being part of the wider category of PM 2.5, is no reason for the government to discount them or consider their impact to be negative. The absence of evidence is not enough to avoid the precautionary principle. Read the full transcripts for details.

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Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly (was Labour Transport Secretary) to its board

Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly to its board this week.  Ruth Kelly, the former Labour transport secretary, (2007 – 8) is to join the board of Heathrow Airport’s parent company as it attempts to clear the remaining hurdles to the construction of its £14bn third runway.  She will become a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings next month.  She briefly worked for HSBC Holdings after stepping down as an MP in 2010, now sits on the board of the Financial Conduct Authority.  “Her appointment will strengthen Heathrow’s political connections at a critical juncture”. This “revolving door” is just another to add to the long list:  In September 2015 Vickie Sheriff became head of communications for Heathrow airport, having earlier worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10.   Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left the airport in 2015 to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications.  Earlier Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair  went to BAA as head of comms. There are several other examples.

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At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed

Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published “indicative flight paths.”  They say “The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were under-stated.”  Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne – and many more places – to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.

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Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing

The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.  Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase.  Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.  The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.

The transcript of the proceedings on the first day of the hearings, Monday 11th March, can be seen here:   https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/110319.txt

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Judicial reviews into government approval of Heathrow 3rd runway plans begins on 11th March

People are invited to join the protest gathering outside the Courts at 9am on Monday 11th March, and then (focused on climate change) on Wednesday 13th March too. 

London’s High Court will on Monday 11th March begin a judicial review into the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow airport, with local authorities, environmentalists and rival bidders arguing the £14bn scheme should be scrapped. Five legal challenges to the decision are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor & Maidenhead), Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access. The negative impacts of Heathrow already affect many councils, and those would get far worse with planned expansion to have 50% more annual flights.  John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Governments are very happy to talk the talk when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the climate we all share, but unfortunately getting them to walk the walk often takes legal action.” There is also a legal challenge by Heathrow Hub, which wants to build a 3rd runway by extending the current northern runway, rather than adding a runway further north. The hearings are expected to last about two weeks, with the judgment being reserved.

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Schedule (draft) of the legal hearings starting on Monday 11th March. Due to last 10 working days

How Heathrow has been getting away with paying so little tax to the UK government

UK tax rules have allowed airports like Heathrow to pay far less tax than they should. It is estimated that Heathrow’s foreign owners have been able to get a tax break of perhaps £120 million per year from the UK government. And the airport’s shareholders (which include the governments of China, Qatar and Singapore – with only 10% by the USS being British – .have paid themselves about £3 billion in dividends in 5 years. Rules on how firms can cut tax bills due to large debt interest payments began in 2017, but the Treasury has given an exemption for infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The think-tank, Taxwatch, said: “In the case of Heathrow, the benefits of the exemption appear to flow overwhelmingly to the owners of the company.” …“The company was bought using a huge amount of debt. Instead of paying back the debt themselves, the new owners managed to push this liability on to Heathrow, making the company liable for large interest payments… The large debt repayments wiped out the company’s pre-tax profit.” Revenues at Heathrow have risen to £2.9billion but its owners have paid little corporation tax, due to massive debts. Between 2007 and 2014 the group reported a total pre-tax loss of more than £2 billion, and paid just £15 million in corporation tax. In the past 3 years it declared pre-tax profits of more than £1 billion, leading to  corporation tax payments of £122 million (ie. £70 million in 2018 and £53 million in 2017).

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Heathrow issues €650m bond, to borrow more money, weeks before Brexit deadline

Heathrow Airport has placed a €650m (£558.9m) bond with only weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union.  The 15-year bond was backed by current and new investors, which were mostly European, and reached an order book in excess of €2.8bn (ie. there was demand of that amount). Heathrow said the high demand for the bond “shows investor confidence in Heathrow’s expansion plans and resilience ahead of Brexit.”  The bond means Heathrow hopes to extend the duration of its debt portfolio – ie. taking more time to pay it all back – for its 3rd runway expansion plans. It said the funds will be used on day-to-day corporate spending. The airport’s director of treasury and corporate finance, said:  “The transaction delivers on our strategy of further diversification, longer duration and stronger liquidity.”  Heathrow hopes, at the earliest, that the runway might open in 2026 – but it has a large number of hurdles to overcome before them, including the long DCO (Development Consent Order) process, that is the equivalent of a planning application, but for a vast project – with the decision taken out of the hands of the local authority, and made by government instead (a process devised to avoid the sort of long delays they had on Terminal Five).

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Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends highly critical response to Heathrow’s expansion plans – inflicting hugely more aircraft noise on them

Epsom & Ewell Borough is an area that is currently overflown by Heathrow planes at about 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow’s airspace change consultation, furious about the vastly worse noise burden with which the borough is threatened. The proposals would perhaps mean additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures.  Even the extra flights, in the short term, through IPA, could result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. Cllr Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said the changes could mean a four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality. Cllr O’Donovan complained at how bad the consultation was.  Residents are angry that their own MP, Chris Grayling, is pushing for these hugely damaging noise impacts on his own constituents and voters – with inevitable decrease in local quality of life.

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Heathrow in 2018 made 58.8% of total revenue from aeronautical; 24% from retail (which includes 4.24% – £126 million – from car parking)

Heathrow has reported a retail revenue increase of 8.6% to £716 million in the year ended 31 December 2018 compared to a year earlier. Total revenue in the period rose 3% to £2,970 million. Retail is 24.1% of that. It was 22.9% in 2017 and 22% in 2016). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017, which was up 4.5% on 2016. Heathrow says growth in retail income was due to increased passenger traffic in the period to 80.1 million (up 2.7% from 78 million in 2017, which was up 3.1% on 2016) and Heathrow’s new “call to gate initiative – which increases passenger dwell time in the departure lounge.”  The amount of income from car parking, which is included in retail, was £126 million in 2018, (up 5% on the £120 million in 2017, which was itself up 5.3% on 2016.)  Car parking made up 17.6% of total retail income in 2018, and 18% in 2017). Car parking income was £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015. Heathrow made £128 million in 2018 from “other retail” which “reflects a significant increase in advertising income from improved utilisation of advertising spaces.”That was up 17.4% from £109 in 2017, and £110 million in 2016.  Aeronautical income was  £1,745 million in 2018, 1.7% up from £1,716m in 2016. Aeronautical income was 58.75% of total revenue in 2018, and was 60.53% of total revenue in 2016 when it was £1,699 million.

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Heathrow’s shareholders get £500m as profits rise (including income of £126m from car parking)

IAG, the owner of British Airways, is angry that Heathrow has paid out  £500 million in dividends to its foreign investors while charging its airline customers more. IAG says the dividend payments – now totalling £3.5 billion since 2012 – make Heathrow more costly for airline passengers (so slightly deterring them from flying perhaps). Heathrow said “It is right that our shareholders receive returns in record years and it will ensure we expand whilst keeping airport charges close to 2016 levels.” Heathrow’s top shareholders include the Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore’s GIC and the China Investment Corporation. Its largest single investor is Spain’s Ferrovial. The only UK shareholder is the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) with a 10% stake.  Heathrow’s figures out last week show revenue growth of 3% to £2.97 billion in 2018 with 80.1 million passengers (up 2.7% from 78 million).  Car parking income was £126 million (up 5% from £120 million in 2017). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017). Total retail income was £716 million (up 8.6% from £659 million in 2017). Heathrow paid £70 million (2017: £53 million) in corporation tax.

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Council leaders say Grayling’s claim a 50% larger Heathrow, with new flight paths, will mean fewer people affected by plane noise is a giant con

Heathrow’s own noise maps in its current “consultation” show vast areas in and around London to be negatively affected by aircraft noise from Heathrow, if it was allowed 25,000 more annual flights or a 3rd runway. Many areas of the capital and the home counties that have not previously suffered jet noise, could be getting up to 47 flights per hour overhead.  Many areas not currently overflown could have planes over them as low as 3,000 feet. Some areas currently somewhat overflown will get more planes going over them, and at lower altitudes. Heathrow deliberately keeps the details vague. In October 2016 Grayling promised parliament that “fewer people will be affected by noise than is the case today” after the third runway was built – even though there would be than 250,000 extra flights a year, equivalent to bolting an additional airport almost the size of Gatwick onto the existing site. Affected councils are challenging the government decision in the courts, starting on 11th March. Ravi Govindia, the Tory leader of Wandsworth council, said the public had been the victims of a “giant con”: “It beggars belief that people will believe Chris Grayling in his assertion that no more people will be affected.”  The DfT commented that “We absolutely refute these claims and are confident that fewer people will be affected by noise pollution under the new flight paths planned.” (sic)

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Heathrow expansion plan involves large number of low planes over lovely, tranquil (now) Richmond Park

Richmond Park has been known for its rich wildlife and tranquil landscape for hundreds of years, but the proposed expansion of Heathrow would mean hundreds of aircraft flying at low altitude it. Maps of the new flight paths, from Heathrow’s consultation, show the extent of proposed air traffic over Richmond Park, with some aircraft flying as low as 300 metres (1,000ft). Current flight paths to Heathrow are not routed directly over the park. The consultation documents indicate that – with a 3rd runway – up to 47 arrivals per hour and between 17 and 47 departures would fly directly over the park (a SSSI and national nature reserve) at below 900 metres. Heathrow’s flights are currently capped at 480,000 a year, but it wants to increase this by 25,000 in 2021 and further to around 720,000 when/if the 3rd runway is built. The noise and pollution from the planes overhead would be disastrous for the sensitive wildlife and the tranquillity. The Park is visited by more than 5.5 million people per year. Thousands of nocturnal animals – including 11 of the UK’s 17 bat species, (all protected by law), as well as little owls and tawny owls – will be threatened. This is just another “price that Heathrow is demanding of residents, so that it can increase its operations” by 50%. It is “simply disproportionate and unacceptable.”

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Highways England warned Heathrow (spring 2018) about problems (including driver distraction) with the M25 being in a tunnel under the 3rd runway

Highways England has said that Heathrow’s possible 3rd runway over the M25 may lead to more accidents because of drivers being distracted by aircraft landing on a large bridge above them. The sight of huge passenger planes landing (or even taxiing) could cause motorists to take their eyes off the road. Highways England has told Heathrow to introduce measures to “reduce driver distraction” on the affected section of the M25, which is Britain’s busiest stretch of motorway – 6 lanes in each direction at that point. This could include lengthening the tunnel under the runway or simplifying the road layout. Heathrow was also told to consider the “landing zone of aircraft”, suggesting they should avoid arrivals directly over the road itself. The intention is to lower the M25 by 7 metres, while raising the runway slightly. Highways England is also concerned that there is a high risk of “fatigue damage” to the tunnel caused by aircraft as big as the A380 and Boeing 747, on the runway above it, so it could have a reduced lifespan. They also say the runway must be “raised enough to avoid the M25 having a gradient of more than 3% which would cause lorries to move slowly, leading to congestion. Heathrow was told this in spring 2018. The full details will be published for public consultation in June.

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Heathrow and airlines agree deal to increase load factors, so more passengers (more money towards expansion costs)

Heathrow has done a deal with airlines, to increase numbers and passengers and its profits. The deal will extend the current regulatory settlement to 2021 and includes an incentive for airlines to grow passenger numbers. Airline moves to fill their existing aircraft could result in further reductions to airport charges and will “help unlock affordable growth.” (Jargon!)  The aim is to get higher load factors for the planes, as Heathrow’s are below IATA averages. Getting more passengers per plane will mean there might be slightly lower costs per head, in landing charges – and more passengers in total. So Heathrow hopes to “share” the costs of its expansion plans between more people ie (jargon) “releasing funds to drive investment and growth.” The CAA has “supported the negotiation of the commercial arrangement and is expected to launch a public consultation on the solution in the coming weeks.” ” If airlines at Heathrow reached global averages for filling aircraft there is an opportunity to reduce passenger charges by 10-20% against what they might otherwise be, in addition to helping Heathrow meet the Government’s affordability target for expansion”. The CAA has said Heathrow must keep its landing charges low. This will help it do so. More passengers per plane.

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GMB union (keen on the 3rd runway) calls on Heathrow to force airport contractors to pay living wage (which they do not)

GMB – the union representing many staff at Heathrow (that strongly backs a 3rd runway) – has urged it to force contractors to pay their employees the living wage, after the airport announced the busiest year in its history.  Revenue climbed by 3% last year to £3 billion, and £2.3 billion was raised from private investors across 7 currencies (up from £1 billion in 2017). Adjusted profit before tax was £267 million, up 23% on 2017. The airport also said airport charges fell 1% to £21.78.  Last year, GMB welcomed the airport’s announcement that all contracted staff working at Heathrow will be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020.  But contractors have been slow to back the commitment. Over the past 3 years GMB have led the campaign for ensuring all staff at Heathrow, both direct and contracted, are paid the London Living Wage. GMB’s regional organiser for aviation and Heathrow, Perry Phillips said Heathrow’s profits mean “that success is built on the back of 1000s of workers who keep the airport clean, safe and operational. Yet despite these blockbuster results, many of them don’t earn enough to live on, enough to make sure their rent is paid and their families are fed. That can’t be right.

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Fungal blooms on the River Crane may be caused by pollution from Heathrow outfall

Local voluntary group, the Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE – or Citizen Crane) keep an eye on the river Crane, which flows past Heathrow. They monitor the water quality, oxygen levels and invertebrate numbers. It appears there is a current problem with  blooms of pale grey brown sewage fungus on the river bed found immediately downstream of the Heathrow outfall.  In the past there have been numerous incidents of water pollution caused by the use of glycol to de-ice planes. This then gets in to water balancing reservoir, and hence into the River Crane. Algal blooms are formed, due to the pollution, reducing the water’s oxygen and thus harming, or killing, creatures in the river. Heathrow is thought to have recently installed a £17 million water treatment system, and it had been hoped this would end the pollution incidents caused by glycol. However, it does not yet appear to be working as expected. FORCE will continue to monitor the situation closely and will also request a statement from Heathrow.

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A new site for the Colnbrook Lakeside incinerator located – how much is Heathrow going to pay?

A new site has been identified for a replacement facility for the UK’s largest residual waste incinerating facility, in Slough. Lakeside “Energy from Waste”, which is operated by Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, have announced plans to develop proposals for a replacement facility west of the Iver South Treatment Works, around 600 metres north west of the current location.  The owners of the site have been working with Heathrow to identify the new site. The facilities will need to be moved, as the current site would be demolished to make way for a possible third runway.   Site studies and environmental assessments are being carried out, which will form a part of the planning application. Upon completion, more information will be presented at a public consultation in the spring. This consultation is separate from the current Heathrow Aerospace change consultation, and then the Heathrow Expansion consultation in June. The planning process will be a long one, needing new environmental permits etc.  It is difficult to get planning consent for an incinerator, as people dislike having potentially very harmful emissions (including dioxins) in their local air, from the burning of the vast range of substances in domestic etc waste. It is unknown how much Heathrow will pay for the relocation of the incinerator.

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Chiswick, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, etc residents horrified & stunned by likely impact of Heathrow proposed airspace changes

(and they only found out because of a No 3rd Runway Coalition meeting – the probable real impact of the changes is not made clear in the Heathrow documents or events….)

Residents from Chiswick, Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith were stunned to hear that their area would experience 25,000 extra flights by 2022  – and a further 260,000 by 2026 if a 3rd  Heathrow runway were ever to open. Over 300 residents turned out to a heavily over-subscribed meeting, organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to learn how the plans for airspace change at Heathrow will drastically impact their area.  The meeting also heard from local MPs Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Stephen Cowan, as well as local campaign groups Chiswick Against the Third Runway, Bedford Park Society and Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway.  The airport is currently consulting across west London (and wider) on how future operations at the airport would work with a 3rd runway, with a range of options put forward for consultation. By the end of the meeting there was outrage as people understood the impacts, and the extent of the noise nuisance, that is proposed for the communities of Chiswick, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. Those changes could start within a few years. It is vital that people who will be newly, and very negatively affected, respond to the consultation, stressing their strong opposition.

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Heathrow court case won’t be live-streamed but there will be transcripts and maybe link into another court

An application to live-stream a legal proceedings at the High Court on the expansion of Heathrow has been refused at a hearing on 5th February. Justice Hickinbottom ruled that the trial by five claimants, versus the Secretary of State for Transport – set to begin on 11 March for two weeks – could not be live-streamed as the law dating from 1925, and 1981, did not allow for proceedings within the court to be recorded. The Judge agreed that the case was of considerable public interest, and being able to watch hearings live would be a benefit to many people. However, the court will seek to provide another large and accessible additional courtroom for members of the public wishing to watch the proceedings who won’t be able to fit in Court 76. Tweeting from both courtrooms is also to be permitted. Additionally, on application, screening of the proceedings in other courts around the country will be considered, an acknowledgment that the case is of wide public interest, allowing those from other parts of the country to avoid considerable costs of attending the hearings in London – a point acknowledged by Justice Hickinbottom. Transcripts of proceedings will also be published, online, although it remains to be decided as to how costs of these scripts will be apportioned.

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Richmond Council reaffirms opposition to more Heathrow flights, as plans show there will be no escape from aircraft noise

Richmond Council voted to reaffirm its stance against Heathrow expansion last night, in a motion criticising the airport’s proposal to add an additional 25,000 flights a year, prior to expansion.  Last week the Council condemned Heathrow’s latest consultation which considers several issues, including; 25,000 flights added prior to expansion, noise, runway alternation and night-flying relating to its 2 existing runways, as well as the proposed controversial new 3rd runway. At the full Council meeting, members from all political parties were united in agreeing that the proposals were unacceptable and would prove disastrous for Richmond upon Thames. The impact from the additional flights would be felt across the whole borough, as curving flight paths may impact on areas that haven’t been impacted by aircraft noise before. By contrast, currently most aircraft noise from approaching aircraft is concentrated over the north of the borough including Barnes, Kew and Richmond. A key councillor said this 25,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. An extra runway would mean an additional 260,000 flights a year. That is unacceptable for our health, our sleep and our environment. It will ruin the lives of thousands of people.

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Driving tired, with under 6 hours of sleep per night, increases vehicle accident risk

In the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “drowsy driving” is responsible for a lot of vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries.  Evidence from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in the USA shows that getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less more than doubles your chances of falling asleep at the wheel.  It seems likely that most accidents to sleepy drivers happen between midnight and 6 am, although late afternoon also has a spike in incidents. Many UK airports are allowed night flights, eg. Gatwick, Stansted, East Midlands etc. This is going to increasingly be a problem for people affected by the noise from Heathrow planes. Already planes taking off, heading away, may be heard routinely till 11pm (often later) on some routes. Each morning planes can be hear arriving from about 4.20am. That does not leave anyone who is sensitive to the noise enough time for healthy sleep. There are many known health risks, of noise disturbance during the times people are sleeping, or trying to. The risk of more vehicle accidents, to those who are woken up an hour or two before they want to wake, is another cost of aircraft noise. The loss of quality of life, and the health costs, need to be part of the calculation of the economics of a 3rd Heathrow runway.

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Heathrow slammed for ‘by-passing Chiswick’ for one of its consultation events

Local MP Ruth Cadbury has joined Chiswick campaigners against Heathrow expansion who say they are angry at the airport’s failure to hold a local consultation on changes which will significantly affect W4, particularly north Chiswick. The airport’s current round of consultation events (Airspace And Future Operations ) features events in Hammersmith, Ealing and Hounslow Civic Centre, but none in Chiswick.  This is despite the fact that the area faces significant potential disruption by proposed changes to flight paths or changes to respite periods even without a third runway. With a 3rd runway, the area will be intensely overflown by planes arriving to the new north runway, from the east. Campaigners say the level of low flights directly over the North Chiswick area area could reach 47 per hour (almost 1 per minute). It is likely that, with a 3rd runway, an estimated 35,000 residents could be affected. They consider that Heathrow is avoiding holding events in areas where opposition is likely to be strong and forceful, to try and ensure a more positive overall response to the consultation. The Bedford Park Society (BPS) and local group CHATR are planning a public meeting in Chiswick instead.

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Wandsworth Council Leader criticises Heathrow Public Consultation event – just one for the borough, in a difficult location

Wandsworth Council Leader, Ravi Govindia, has urged residents concerned about the impact of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, to attend a Heathrow consultation event that the airport is hosting in the borough this week. They need to make their voice heard. He has criticised Heathrow for having just one such event in Wandsworth, at a location that will be difficult for many residents to access. That is even though the increased aircraft noise would affect hundreds of thousands of Wandsworth residents. The event is being held on 30 January and is open to residents from 2pm to 8pm at the University of Roehampton, SW15 5PH.  Councillor Govindia said residents know that a 3rd runway would have a serious impact on the borough. It would produce an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, damaging the environment and posing a risk to people’s health and well-being. The Council believes that the impact from additional flights would be felt most keenly in West Hill, Southfields, Earlsfield and Tooting. Currently most aircraft noise from is concentrated over the north of the borough including Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea. Many people will get intense plane noise for the first time.

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London Assembly report says Heathrow 3rd runway should be scrapped, due to ‘severe effects’ of aircraft noise

A report, by the London Assembly environment committee, calls for Heathrow expansion to be stopped, due to the effects of aircraft noise. The report has renewed calls for the 3rd runway to be stopped. The noise from aircraft negatively affects work, relaxation and sleep, with “severe effects” on health and wellbeing. Caroline Russell, chairman of the committee, said: “The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying. This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives.”  If Heathrow builds the new runway, the number of flights will increase from around 475,000 to 740,000 a year.  It is likely that around 200,000 more people will be badly affected by aircraft noise. Heathrow also plans to increase its flights by 25,000, to around 500,000 per year and change flight paths, including overflying new areas, even before any 3rd runway. Ms Russell added: “…aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”

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Report from London Assembly says due to noise, air traffic should NOT increase at Heathrow or London City airport

The London Assembly’s Environment Committee has produced a report on aircraft noise, particularly now that Heathrow not only wants a 3rd runway, but has also recently announced plans for 25,000 extra flights a year, bringing new areas of London under its flight paths. The noise is increasing the negative impact for those who have no choice but to live with a debilitating noise invasion. The report found that noise nuisance levels are unacceptable; it calls for a halt on all air traffic growth at Heathrow and London City airports. The report details the impact of altitude, flight paths and out-of-hours flights on the noise suffered by many Londoners. Among its recommendations are that the noise thresholds for disturbance should be lowered, to take account of people needing to open their windows. They say: “Air traffic at Heathrow and London City should not increase and Heathrow’s third runway should not go ahead.” It also says that planes should be kept higher, and the impacts of noise from both Heathrow and London City should be considered together, not separately. Night flights should be stoped, and there should be better restrictions on flights in the early morning.

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New study by London TravelWatch shows more airline passengers using cars or cabs to get to Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton

A new report has been produced by London TravelWatch. “Way to go: Improving public transport access to London’s airports”. It gives comprehensive details about the various components of surface access transport, with information on what works well and what does not for each airport, and current state of any improvements.  The report indicates that airline passengers are more likely to travel by car or taxi to catch flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton than they were 7 years ago, in a trend they say is “concerning”. Despite major investment in rail and coach links to the three airports, the proportion of passengers using public transport actually fell slightly between 2012 and 2016. But at Stansted, with accessibility improved by new coach connections, the use of public transport had improved. The proportion using public transport fell from 41% to 39.1% at Heathrow, 44% to 43.6% at Gatwick and 33% to 31.4% at Luton. Failings of public transport and the growth of taxi apps like Uber cited as reasons. Numbers using public transport rose at Stansted from 51% to 54.7% and at London City from 50% to 50.9%. Heathrow continues to encourage car parking, from which it earns huge revenues. Heathrow details from Pages 35 – 41.

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Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway

The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January.  In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’.  This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”.  The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.

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Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway

Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on  grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents.  It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was “confident” that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic.

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We need live-streaming of the Heathrow 3rd runway legal challenges.  

Please sign. Before the 14th January.

The various bodies that have brought legal challenges against the 3rd Heathrow runway are trying to get lots of signatures, in order to ensure the court proceedings in March are live-streamed.

You can sign here    Before the 14th January.

The legal challenges against the Government’s decision to back a 3rd Heathrow runway, will be heard for 10 days from 11th March.  This is a key legal case, and of relevance – in terms of aviation carbon emissions – for everyone, and not just those opposing the Heathrow runway. The climate change implications are of very general interest and concern.

At present the proceedings are due to be heard in the largest court available, at the Courts of Justice. The court knows there is huge interest, so are already arranging that the proceedings are streamed into a second court room. However, that would only be to about 150 people, in total, at most.

One of the legal challengers, Plan B, have organised a simple e-action, asking that people add their names to the request that the proceedings are live-streamed, so far more people can watch, and really understand what is going on.  Plan B will present the evidence of the numbers who want to watch the hearings, live-streamed, to the judge, Mr Justice Holgate. It is hoped that he will allow this. Plan B need to know the numbers before the first procedural hearing on 15th January. So please sign before the 14th January

You can sign here   It only takes a few seconds. Please encourage others to also sign, if that is appropriate.  More details here about the legal challenges

Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation – for unacceptable increases in noise and air pollution

Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent.” He said it was a bad case of the government “putting the cart before the horse” in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.

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Heathrow opens new consultation on airspace – including 25,000 more annual flights, by using IPA

Heathrow has opened another consultation – this on is on “Airspace & Future Operations”. It ends on 4th March. Not only is Heathrow planning for a 3rd runway, and up to 50% more flights eventually, it is also now trying to get another 25,000 flights (about 5% more). fairly soon. And it wants these extra 25,000 flights whether it gets its 3rd runway, or not. The current flight numbers cap is 480,000 per year, set after the Terminal 5 Inquiry. It is currently using about 475,000 – with the few spaces at unpopular times of the day or week. Heathrow plans to get the extra flights, added at times already very busy, by what it calls IPA – Independent Parallel Approaches, which mean planes can come in on two runways at once, at the same time. Currently if they do this, they have to be staggered, at slightly further distances apart than with IPA. Heathrow admits this will mean different flight paths, and people not currently being overflown, by narrow concentrated flight paths.  Planes on IPA would join the final approach path about 8 nautical miles from the runway. It will be important that the areas to be newly negatively affected are made aware of what is going to hit them. The extra flights would also give Heathrow more income in the short term, to help it pay the immense cost of its 3rd runway plans.

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Advice from Teddington TAG on Heathrow consultations on future flight paths

During January to March 2019, Heathrow Airport will be conducting a consultation in 2 parts, which people need to be aware of:  1. Airspace changes for the existing two runways to allow an increase in the number of flights. Heathrow want to increase the annual throughput by 25,000 ATMs.  2. Airspace changes for a 3 runway airport.   Later in the year, there will be a second consultation on Heathrow’s “preferred masterplan for Heathrow expansion.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that people respond to the consultation. One thing that we can be pretty sure of is that there will be more, not less, noise; for some people, this may be very significant.  For both 2 runways and 3 runways, Heathrow will be introducing PBN “Performance Based Navigation”, a form of “Satnav” which enables planes to be positioned in the sky much more precisely. This will bring about the further concentration of flight paths – to the detriment of people underneath them.  TAG is very much against the concentration of flight paths as it represents an unfair and extremely unhealthy burden upon those affected.

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New flight routes (NextGen or PBN) may save airlines time, but they damage health of those suffering the extra noise on the ground

More planes are flying directly over densely populated areas, due to airport computer systems that automatically chart the most “efficient” routes – so airlines can save fuel (= money).  A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concludes that the benefits of the reduced flight times are outweighed by the health effects on residents below, who suffer from the noise burden. Looking at the increase in noise pollution around New York City’s LaGuardia Airport since routes were changed when NextGen (concentrated, accurate routes, all planes along approximately the same line) was implemented in 2012, the researchers determined that people living in certain Queens neighbourhoods will lose an average of one year of good health over the course of their lifetimes, due to their heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and other ailments linked to stress. They looked at costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).  “Ideally, airports should be built farther away from urban centres,” says lead author Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management. “The next-best option is to use flight patterns that send planes over green space, waterways, and industrial areas.”

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Tahir Latif (PCS Union):  Trade Unions must demand jobs that protect our planet, not destroy it

The Trade Unions are divided on whether to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Unfortunately many have been led to believe, by the airport and its backers, that there will be wonderful jobs in future with expansion. And without it the jobs are in danger. The  reality of airport jobs is somewhat different.  In a new blog, Tahir Latif, President of the PCS Aviation Group, and NEC member, discusses the sorts of jobs that Trade Unions should be supporting, if we are to have a habitable planet in future. He comments: “Too often, trade unions are seen as part of the problem, desperate for jobs and therefore willing to support employers who are intent on blindly taking us towards disaster in the name of further profits. … But that does raise two important questions: (1) does our survival as a species trump the jobs argument and (2) does the jobs argument stand up to scrutiny anyway. … The impact of climate change can’t be underestimated. …The IPCC report puts us on notice: we HAVE to change. And if industries like aviation (and oil, coal, gas etc.) cannot continue their unchecked growth, then unions are NOT looking after their members long term interests by clinging to them. When change comes or is forced upon us, workers in those industries will be stranded in obsolete jobs without the skills or any plan for an alternative.”

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DfT consultation starts, on its aviation strategy green paper, for huge growth of UK airports

The Department for Transport will today publish a long-awaited aviation strategy that pledges to deliver “greater capacity at UK airports”. It intends airports other than Heathrow all growing and having more flights  – “if tough environmental and noise restrictions are met” (ignoring CO2, of course). The strategy also outlines plans for the biggest overhaul of Britain’s airspace in more than 50 years to create new flight paths into the biggest airports. There would be a considerable increase to the 600 or so dedicated flight paths in operation now, and will subject households directly beneath the flight paths to unbearable noise levels. The DfT hopes to offer a sop, in terms of being able to alternate flight paths, so people get periods of less noise, in compensation for periods of intense noise.  New flight paths are expected to be designed by the summer of 2020 and introduced in 2024 and 2025 subject to CAA approval (CAA gets its funding from airlines – so not dispassionate).  The strategy, which will go out for public consultation. The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has been created to police the system. NATS says the number of UK flights is expected to grow 700,000 to about 2.9 million by 2030.

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For earlier news about Heathrow, see