Heathrow news January to 23rd July 2015
MP’s Environmental Audit Committee launch inquiry into Heathrow 3rd runway impacts
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched an inquiry into the implications for government commitments on air quality, noise and CO2 of a Heathrow 3rd runway. The Airports Commission, in recommending a Heathrow runway, said this should be subject to environmental and quality mitigation measures. This includes binding air quality commitments so that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed any further, at risk from increased road traffic for a larger Heathrow. EU limits for NO2 around Heathrow are already being exceeded. On increased aircraft noise, which would be unavoidable from a 3rd runway, the Commission proposed an aviation noise levy to fund mitigation measures, an independent aviation noise authority and a legally binding “noise envelope.” None of which really address the problem of up to 50% more flights, with the inevitable noise. The EAC inquiry is requesting submissions (deadline 3rd September) on whether proposed mitigations set out in the Airports Commission’s are realistic and achievable, and wider government policy. The new Chairman of the EAC is Huw Irranca-Davies, since Joan Walley stepped down. Other EAC members are Rory Stewart and Caroline Lucas.
Slough Council secret deal with Heathrow includes gagging order, making it impotent in fighting for a better deal from Heathrow for 3 – 4 years
Residents of Colnbook, close to Heathrow and due to be badly affected by a 3rd runway, submitted a FoI request to get the details for the secret, but legally binding, deal done between Slough Borough Council and Heathrow airport. The details of the deal are worrying. As well as finding out that Colnbrook, and help for the residents, do not feature in the deal, it has emerged that Slough Council has accepted what amounts to a self-imposed gagging order, unable to criticise Heathrow for the next 3 to 4 years,until Heathrow is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO). As well as a boost for investment in the town and improved access from central Slough to the airport, the secret agreement sees Heathrow commit to supporting the Council’s representations to Government to seek compensation for lost business rates, put by the council itself at up to £10 million earlier this year. In return, however, Cabinet is legally bound to giving public support for the airport until final permission, is granted. A Development Consent Order is at least three years away, possibly four. Residents expected that their council would have argued for “world class” compensation and mitigation.
Colnbrook was “sold down the river for a pittance”; details of Slough Council’s secret Heathrow agreement now revealed
The people of Colnbrook, about a mile west of Heathrow’s northern runway, have been trying to find out about the deal done by their council, Slough, with the airport – if there is a 3rd runway. Slough Borough Council has been reluctant to publish details, but has now been forced to do so. As Colnbrook residents feared, though they had been given assurances by the Deputy Leader, there is no provision to look after them. People are angry at what they see as deception of Colnbrook residents by Slough Council. A ward councillor, staunchly opposed to a new runway, has now provided the full legally binding agreement signed between the council and the airport. It shows that far from providing a package of mitigation for communities closest to the airport as repeatedly claimed by the council, Colnbrook is not mentioned once. There are no benefits for them. The deal sees a boost for investment in the town from Heathrow, including secret plans to “unlock” new commercial land in the borough regardless of whether a third runway is approved or not. It commits over half of the first year’s mitigation fund to paying for a study into relocation of the Grundon incinerator. It also only contains a period of 5 hours at night with no flights. There is also a gagging clause on the Council for years.
Cabinet ‘stitch-up’ on Heathrow: Cameron chairing runway sub-Committee, locking out ministers who oppose 3rd runway
On the say MPs left for their summer break on 21st July, the Cabinet Office slipped out the names of 10 senior Tories on the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This committee will consider what to do about a new runway. Chaired by David Cameron it includes vocal supporters of a 3rd Heathrow runway including Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. There are concerns that the committee’s membership deliberately excludes the Cabinet members (Justine Greening, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Theresa Villiers – and even Boris). Also on the Committee are: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Environment Secretary Liz Truss, Scotland Secretary David Mundell, Communities Secretary Greg Clark, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin and Chief Whip Mark Harper. The make up of the Committee is seen as indicating that David Cameron is ready to over-rule concerns from ministers who oppose the runway, and suggests the final decision will not be made by the Cabinet as a whole. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said: ‘It certainly looks like a stitch-up. It could be Cameron is going for a solution he believes will work ion the short-term but could backfire in the medium term because some of the Cabinet ministers who are against a third runway feel so strongly that it could be a resigning issue.’
Colnbrook residents complain Slough refuses to reveal details of secret agreement with Heathrow
Colnbrook Views has submitted an FoI request after Slough Borough Council refused to allow publication of its agreement with Heathrow, made in February. Slough and Spelthorne are the only two councils openly backing a 3rd Heathrow runway. While the Council’s CEO is telling business leaders that Slough will be the premier place for businesses to relocate by 2019, there is a veil of secrecy over the nature of its agreement with the Airport , though some bits have been made public. Heathrow has apparently agreed on various conditions including a guaranteed £100,000 annual contribution by the airport for 15 years toward a new “strategic partnership”. Communities in Colnbook and nearby are not persuaded that they will get much benefit, though the Council CEO has said there will be more noise insulation, some “improved infrastructure, roads, bus services” etc. There appears to be little on mitigation for those most affected. However, the heads of agreement from February sets out a commitment to a range of measures to boost the wider Slough economy, improve access to the airport from Slough town centre, and support airport-related expansion beyond Heathrow’s extended perimeter and existing commercial zones in the borough.
SNP, which won just 1.45 million votes in the election, says it will decide the vote on a SE runway
The SNP have 56 MPs, and each was only voted by an average of about 23,000 voters, which is a much smaller number than even Conservative MPs, and massively less than LibDems, UKIP or the Greens. Nevertheless. Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will decide on whether a runway is built at Heathrow or Gatwick (they are not wise enough to appreciate no runway is needed). The SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry said the party was “neutral” between Heathrow and Gatwick, while earlier it had been thought they favoured Heathrow. The SNP will “negotiate” with both airports, to see which gives them a better deal and they will vote for whichever gives Scottish people the cheapest flights, and “guaranteed connections with international flights” which Scotland has not been able to provide for itself. The SNP is aware that people in England, especially those to be adversely affected (or evicted from their homes) by a runway did not get the chance to vote for or against the SNP. The runway is largely an English matter. But Zac Goldsmith warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes. (Combined anti-Heathrow party votes of LibDems, UKIP and Greens were 7.45 million. SNP votes were 1.45 million).
Heathrow campaigners provide the (suit)case against the runway, in holiday reading material for David Cameron
On 20th July, the day before Parliament broke for its summer recess, campaigners from national organizations and local groups opposed to expansion at Heathrow packed a holiday suitcase for David Cameron’s summer holiday – with material they believe he should read and view on his holiday before he makes up his mind on a 3rd runway. They were joined by the new Twickenham MP Tania Mathias and the veteran opponent of Heathrow expansion, Baroness Jenny Tonge. Organised by HACAN, some of those at the event were campaigners from Greenpeace, FoE, CBT, AEF, SHE , RHC and CAIAN. Items packed into the suitcase included “Heat,” a climate change book by George Monbiot; a video showing Harmondsworth; the most recent IPCC report; AirportWatch briefings on economics, noise, carbon emissions, and air quality; maps showing areas of London to be impacted by flight paths from a 3rd runway; a “No Ifs, No Buts, No third runway” beach towel; and John Stewart’s book “Why Noise Matters.” The case was then wheeled off in the direction of Downing Street. HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This diverse range of groups gives a flavour of the formidable opposition David Cameron will face if he gives the green light to a third runway.”
Heathrow gets 270 businesses to ask David Cameron to support building 3rd runway
Heathrow has got some 270 business people, many from companies with a clear direct financial interest, to write an open letter to David Cameron to ask him to get on quickly with building a Heathrow runway. They make the usual claims about the lack of a runway holding back the growth of UK business across the UK, and of limiting future investment in the UK. The actual connection between the runway, and all these good things, is never clearly set out, and the runway would in reality largely be used for holidays or visiting friends and family. The business people say in their letter that the runway would ” improve connectivity both within and outside the UK, driving exports and stimulating growth across the country.” Curiously, they never mention stimulating imports. They want the UK to be macho and show it is willing and able to “take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the 21st century” and “doing nothing will put Britain’s economy in a perilous position.” It claims “a majority of people in Heathrow’s local communities” back the runway. No evidence for that is given. Meanwhile Heathrow is encouraging passengers to send an easy-to-fill-in-with-no-effort postcards, to David Cameron, asking him to expand Heathrow immediately. Daniel Moylan tweeted: “Move fast on Heathrow? Before we work out the cost to taxpayer and passenger and the harm to residents? Got it.”
Report finding air pollution kills 9,500 Londoners revives Mayor’s opposition to Heathrow runway
A new study by Kings College, London, commissioned by the GLA and TfL, has shown that London’s pollution killed 9,500 people in 2010. It showed that about there were about 3,537 early deaths in 2010 due to PM2.5s, and about 5,879 deaths from NO2 (ie a total of about 9,416 in 2010. NO2 is largely created by diesel cars, lorries and buses, and affects lung capacity and growth. The findings have prompted Boris to renew his calls for abandoning the expansion of Heathrow Airport on air quality grounds, saying: “My greatest priority remains to protect the well-being and environment of Londoners.” Roads around Heathrow are among those in breach of EU rules. Johnson’s office said that the latest study means “the government must now rule out expansion of Heathrow.” But Boris has also said that he will not resign as Mayor, or as MP for Uxbridge, if the Conservative party back a Heathrow 3rd runway. He had earlier said he would lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop it. Now he says the runway plan is “crackers” and “I don’t think the Heathrow third-runway option has ever been credible … It’s just going to be politically undeliverable, and we need a better long-term solution.” But Zac Goldsmith has said he would resign as an MP, and stand as an independent, if the Tories back the Heathrow runway.
Plane Stupid activists set up protest, locking themselves together, on Heathrow northern runway
At around 3.30am a group of 12 climate change activists from the group Plane Stupid cut a hole in the perimeter fence at Heathrow, and set up a protest on the northern runway. They set up a tripod of metal poles, and metal fencing panels, and locked themselves onto these. Some were attached by D locks around their necks, onto the fence. Others used arm locks (two people link arms, handcuffed together, inside a hard tube) to make it difficult for police to remove them. Police arrived on the scene shortly after the protest was set up. The first flights arrive at Heathrow from around 4.30am. Flights were delayed while the airport needed to shift runways. Six protesters were removed quite quickly. The protest was due to the recommendation of the Airports Commission that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. Besides the serious negative impacts of the runway on noise, air pollution, destruction of Harmondsworth, huge costs to the taxpayer and considerable social disruption for miles around, the issue which has been glossed over is the CO2 emissions that the runway would create from greatly increased flights, many long-haul. The Commission itself was aware that a new runway would mean the UK could not achieve its aviation carbon cap, and make it less likely the UK could meet its legally binding carbon target for 2050.
FT says after government statement on runway in late autumn, there will be a public consultation
It seems likely that the government will indicate its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be in November). A Whitehall source has indicated to the Financial Times that Patrick McLoughlin is then expected to set out a “clear direction” — rather than a hard and fast decision. That will then require a public consultation by the DfT. The DfT said: “The government is now carefully considering the evidence before making a decision and the secretary of state for transport plans to make a statement in the autumn to provide clear direction on the government’s plans ….Further consultation will be required as part of any decision-making process and to secure planning consents.” George Osborne indicated recently that there would be a consultation before the government made any final decision. He said: “Now we’ve got to consult people, let Londoners have their say as well and not prejudge that.” Maybe that’s a way for the Cabinet to try to resolve their internal split on Heathrow. A Treasury spokesperson later said consulting widely with residents would be expected: “You would criticise us if we didn’t consult on a decision this big.”
Heathrow wants “discussions with government” to negotiate runway conditions set by Airports Commission
The Airports Commission recommended a 3rd runway at Heathrow, subject to a number of conditions (noise, compensation, local consultation, air quality etc). But Heathrow is not keen on these conditions, and now says it is “seeking discussions with government ” on them. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said Heathrow “would have to consider” the demand from the Commission that there should not be night flights, and that there should be a legal prohibition on a 4th runway. The point of conditions is that they are, well as they say, conditions. But Heathrow says: “We will work with the government to make sure we have a solution that can be delivered. I am not saying today that we will accept all the conditions that have been put down.” Airlines would not like night flights, as they make long haul routes less profitable and problematic. Heathrow’s hope of getting conditions, all recommended for good reasons, removed or reduced will only increase the level of hostility towards the airport by its opponents. Whitehall sources say the government will state its preference for the location of a new runway before Christmas (could be November?) — but will then launch a fresh consultation.
Queen could get £ millions to soundproof Windsor Castle from noise hotspot due to a 3rd Heathrow runway (some from the taxpayer?)
Windsor Castle would suffer increased noise from a 3rd Heathrow runway and the Queen could be given £ millions to soundproof the 900-year-old landmark, according to Whitehall sources. The Queen could be the single biggest beneficiary of a compensation scheme aimed at mitigating the noise from a new runway. Heathrow Airport has agreed to pay £700 million towards a £1 billion compensation scheme to provide nearby residents with soundproofing. An official said: “…if they do need to insulate the Windsor’s against noise it will cost a fortune — potentially millions….They will end up spending more on compensation to the Queen than they spent in the past 10 years on noise compensation.” And the taxpayer may have to foot much of the bill. A report by the DfT showed that Windsor Castle sits in a potential ‘island of noise’ which would be created by the 3rd runway. There would be an intersection of flight paths near Windsor, causing an extra noisy “hotspot” in the area. Heathrow’s noise compensation scheme would pay for double glazing, loft insulation and acoustic boarding, for homes near the airport and under flight paths. Heathrow said more than 160,000 households could be eligible for noise insulation “including in Windsor”.
Hounslow Council leader says 9,000-home “Garden City” could happen even without Heathrow runway
The Leader of Hounslow City Council says a 9,000-home garden city could happen even without another Heathrow runway. He said a new Heathrow ‘Garden City’ in Hounslow is not dependant on a 3rd runway, and Hounslow Council remains opposed to the airport’s expansion, with its official line being that it wants “a better not bigger Heathrow.” There are fears, however, in some quarters that if a runway was approved, Hounslow (Labour led – since May 2014 Labour 49 seats, Conservative 11 seats) would support it and aim to obtain the maximum possible benefits. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has implied that Heathrow would develop the “garden city” or at least be its cause – regenerating area of West London. Hounslow Council has been working with Heathrow on proposals for the new development, though details of where it might be built have yet to be released and council leader Steve Curran said it was “very early days”. Hounslow Council has to build 3,000 new affordable homes in the borough by 2018. That’s before a new runway increases housing demand. Hounslow says the scheme is critically dependant on better public transport infrastructure.
Heathrow starts runway work by setting up Procurement Forum
Heathrow has already moved into the delivery phase of a 3rd runway after the backing on 1st July by the Airports Commission. Heathrow says it has begun the procurement process for expansion. But the government is not likely to make the final decision before Christmas. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive officer, told the Runways UK conference the debate on airport expansion is now over and work has begun on expansion with the airport creating a Procurement Forum made up of representatives from different sectors and from across different UK regions who will work with Heathrow over its expansion plan. He said: “With expansion, we will create tens of thousands of skilled jobs while we build, as well as when we have built – skills that will leave a legacy of construction excellence in this country that can be sold all round the world. When we built Terminal 2, on time and on budget, we spread our supply chain to all parts of the UK, and we will do the same again, ensuring that all of Britain benefits from Heathrow expansion.” Link John Holland-Kaye called for an early decision from the Government so it could get “shovels in the ground” by 2020 and have the 3rd runway in operation in 2025. He said Heathrow would start working to secure planning consent, “continue to engage” with local communities and take “practical steps” like starting traffic surveys over the summer. Link
Teddington Action Group continue towards Judicial Review of Airports Commission decision
Campaigners against expansion of Heathrow are calling for a judicial review of the Airports Commission’s decision to back a 3rd runway. The Teddington Action Group argues that there was a potential conflict of interest over Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies accepting the chairmanship of Royal Bank of Scotland, banker for companies that own Heathrow and Gatwick, and that the Commission’s 3 week May consultation on air quality was “rushed and insufficiently publicised”. The Airports Commission rejected both assertions in a response from the Treasury Solicitor. But Teddington Action Group spokesman, Paul McGuinness, said: “We are advised that the Treasury Solicitor’s response, on behalf of the Airports Commission, is inadequate and that we should be able to see this Judicial Review through to a successful conclusion”. So work on this continues …
John Holland-Kaye reluctant to accept conditions on Heathrow runway set by Airports Commission
The Airports Commission, in recommending a 3rd runway at Heathrow, set out a short set of conditions Heathrow would have to meet, to be allowed to build the runway. These conditions are not very onerous. These included a ban on all flights between 11.30pm and 6.00am, better air quality, a legally-enforced “noise envelope”, and that Heathrow should be held to its pledge to spend over £1bn on community compensation. And no 4th runway ever. But now, just days after the Commission’s report, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, says the airport is “still assessing” the conditions, and “We’ll have to see how it fits into all the other things we’re doing,” and “I’m sure there is a package in there that we can agree with our local communities, with the airlines and with Government.” Quite why conditions to be imposed on a runway to protect the public need to be agreed by the airport itself, not just imposed on it, is a mystery. Lord Adonis said the noise envelope, which the commission said might stipulate that there should be “no overall increase above current levels”, was one of the “weaknesses” of the Commission’s report. It is not even clear what it even means – “total incidence of noise, high levels of noise, noise in particular communities”. when manifestly adding another 50% more planes will increase the overall amount of noise.
Heathrow hopes to make a monster 3-runway airport acceptable by building a 9,000 home “garden city”
At the RunwaysUK conference, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye spoke of his plans to create a 3-runway “aerotropolis” around the airport, with a 9,000-home Heathrow Garden City. He said: “When you are relocating hotels and offices, why not put them next to the rail interchange, so that we can have fewer cars on the road — an aerotropolis, if you like …. If you are re-landscaping the airport boundary, why not link up the open spaces to create a green ribbon round the airport, with better local amenities …. and …. improve local flood defences? Why not improve the local road network and cycle paths?” He said west London needs regeneration just as much as east London, and the airport would do that. The development is understood to be planned for the Hounslow area. Heathrow hopes to get public transport up by over 10% in 4 years, to try and get the air pollution problem down low enough to be allowed a runway. And then: “We should get shovels in the ground by 2020 and the benefits of an expanded Heathrow in 2025.” Work was starting on gaining the planning consents needed for the development. Holland-Kaye said the airport may not agree to all the conditions for expansion proposed by the Airports Commission, but believes “an agreement could be struck on them.”
Air travel makes you happy, says the Airports Commission. That’s why we need more runways
The Airport Commission (AC) changed its arguments sharply between its 2013 interim report and the final document. Initially the idea was that there was a need for a runway because of a rising need for business air travel, and vital business routes. Interestingly, in its final report, the AC – realising that the demand for business flights is not growing – has switched to saying it is good for leisure travellers. At Heathrow only at most 30% of passengers are on business, the majority are on holiday, and the rest visiting friends and relatives (VFR). The AC says because air travel and holidays make people happy, put them in a better of mind and give a feeling of well-being, a runway is needed so we can fly even more than we already do. This runway if ever built would, unavoidably, be mainly used for ever more leisure trips. Nothing to do with emerging economies or connectivity, unless the business people help make fares cheaper for the tourists, and vice versa. Having an annual holiday is associated with greater happiness. Whether taken by plane or other modes of travel. Nobody will be surprised. People who are able to take holidays tend to be happier than those that do not. (People involuntarily living with the adverse impacts of an airport may have lower well-being and be less happy).
Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour
A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow. This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”. The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic. Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell.
WWF comment on Commission’s Heathrow runway support – and the CO2 problem it would cause government
Commenting on the Airports Commission’s recomendation of Heathrow for a 3rd runway, the CEO of WWF-UK, David Nussbam said: “UK aviation has a serious CO2 emissions challenge. Runway expansion would make the problem worse and the solutions tougher. The Prime Minister should consider that ordinary families, businesses and our environment will gain little from a new runway. Expanding Heathrow would be the worst outcome for the environment. It would lead to the greatest increases in noise, in air pollution, and in climate-damaging CO2 emissions. Expanding runway capacity will not make Britain more prosperous, but it will make it impossible for the aviation sector to play its proper role in meeting the UK’s emissions targets, to which the Prime Minister and Climate Change Secretary are committed. The greater the emissions from aviation, the greater pressure there will be on other businesses to reduce their CO2 emissions even further. If the Government supports the Davies report, they will have to present a plan showing how these reductions will be achieved elsewhere – and at what price to the UK economy and people.”
Heathrow third runway unanimously recommended by Airports Commission, but with conditions
The Airports Commission has recommended that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow, but only if it can meet stringent conditions on noise and air pollution. Those conditions should include a ban on night flights, legally binding caps on noise and air quality – and legislation to rule out ever building a 4th runway [unlikely to be effective?] .The Commission has said their view was “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow’s plan was the strongest case for a runway, delivering the greatest strategic and economic benefits, and they hoped the conditions would make the airport a “better neighbour” than today. The conditions are: – A ban on all scheduled night flights from 11.30pm to 6am….- No fourth runway – the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand further. Davies states: “There is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway.”….- A legally binding “noise envelope”…..- A noise levy on airport users to compensate local communities…. – A legal commitment on air quality (details to be announced, compliant with EU limits)…. – A community engagement board to let local people have a say…. – An independent aviation noise authority to be consulted on flightpaths and operating procedures at airports….- Training and apprenticeships for local people. The government must now decide whether to act on the recommendation – by autumn, or before Christmas.
The Guardian view on expanding Heathrow: just say no. Guardian Editorial
The Guardian writes that the Airports Commission and most of the reporting of the Heathrow runway recommendation looked only at issues like economic growth, the alleged urgency of more links to emerging markets, and the UK keeping its place as top dog on aviation in Europe. A few voices were raised about the local “environmental” effect, noise, air pollution etc. But these “pale besides aviation’s contribution to the planet’s slow cooking. If there is a difficult question that has been ducked for too long, then that is the one about decarbonising the economy.” Though the Commission looked at carbon, their “emphasis … and the basis for arguing that increased capacity was not merely desirable but imperative, was on a …fairytale future, in which passengers double, under the auspices of comprehensive and globally enforced carbon trading.” This requires an effective global system in which the price of carbon rises from around £5 to several hundred £s which would greatly increase the price of air tickets. That is not likely to happen. The aim of the runway is to make flying cheaper, not more expensive, so people take even more flights. ” The infrastructure we have now is enough to speed climate change. “Transport networks need to be re-engineered for decarbonisation. But that would require some real blue-sky thinking, and of that there is no sign.”
Environmental case for new Heathrow runway has ‘Airbus-sized holes’ in it
The Airports Commission said the new runway should come with severe restrictions and be compatible with UK climate change and air pollution targets. But environmentalists dismiss the Commission’s calculations. Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “When it comes to carbon emissions the Davies’ analysis has holes big enough to fly an Airbus through. His claim that a new runway could be compatible with the UK’s climate targets is based on the unrealistic assumptions like the need for a 6,600% rise in carbon taxes, rose-tinted estimates about improvements in aircraft efficiency, and false solutions like biofuels….This is just a smokescreen to hide the obvious fact that a new runway will almost certainly derail our legally-binding climate targets. In the year the world is coming together to tackle climate change, we should be talking about how to manage demand, not where to store up a new carbon bomb.” Friends of the Earth’s Andrew Pendleton commented: “The UK will be a laughing stock if it turns up at crucial climate talks in Paris later this year, claiming global leadership while at home having nodded through new runways, killed its onshore wind industry and foisted fracking on communities that don’t want it.”
Caroline Lucas blog: “Heathrow might have been his answer, but Davies was asking the wrong question”
The Airports Commission (AC) has finally recommended that Heathrow, Europe’s biggest noise polluter, should expand. The decision has been framed simply: Gatwick or Heathrow? Either new runway would cost billions of pounds and cause thousands more people’s lives to be blighted by more aircraft flying low over homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Caroline Lucas considers the AC’s failure to properly consider the option of “no new runway” is indefensible. The proposed new runway isn’t just bad news for people living nearby – it’s extremely damaging to our efforts to meet our climate change targets. The AC knows the CO2 emission from UK aviation would breach the sector’s generous targets – even without a new runway. There are other questions that should e asked, not just if a runway should be at Heathrow or Gatwick. Should frequent flyers pay more, the more they fly? The runway is not “needed” for the average family taking one, or even two annual trips. Should public investment, which would be needed to assist a new Heathrow runway, be better spent elsewhere – on local transport? With different questions asked, there are different answers – not involving another runway.
HACAN comment on Commission choice of Heathrow: “The final chapter is yet to be written – it’s far from the end of the story”
In response to the Airports Commission, HACAN (the main community group opposing expansion of Heathrow) says even though Heathrow has been recommended for a runway, the Commission has left the door open for a 2nd runway at Gatwick. The Government will announce its decision towards the end of the year. John Stewart, HACAN chair, said: “This is far from the end of the story. The final decision will be taken by the Government. Given the strength of opposition there is to Heathrow within the Cabinet, the final chapter could contain a sting in the tail. Gatwick could emerge as the final choice by Christmas.” There is significant opposition to Heathrow within the Cabinet, and from Boris and Zac. The The obstacles to a 3rd runway remain enormous: – Noise disturbing more people than any other airport in Europe – Air Pollution levels hovering above the EU legal limits – Thousands of people facing eviction from their homes – Millions of pounds of public money required to upgrade the roads network – And the prospect of the biggest environmental battle in Europe
Airports Commission unanimously recommends a 3rd Heathrow runway, but leaving door open for Gatwick runway if Government find Heathrow too difficult to force through
The Commission has recommended the Heathrow north-west runway proposal, and is adamant that option has the most benefits for the UK. It has left the option of Gatwick open, but says the arguments are very, very much stronger for Heathrow. Having delivered its report, the Commission is now standing down.
Airports Commission’s Final Report
Airports Commission’s “Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway”
Sir Howard Davies’ letter to Patrick McLoughlin
Richmond Heathrow Campaign response to the Airports Commission choice of Heathrow
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign is wholly against a new third runway at Heathrow. There is unlikely to be any net benefit to the UK aviation market or to the UK economy. Why? According to the Airports Commission’s own figures, a new Heathrow runway results in no overall increase in the number of UK passengers, business passengers, flights or connectivity because it would be fed by re-distributing growth from other UK airports – in particular from airports outside the southeast. Heathrow expansion would result in cuts to flights at airports outside the southeast: as much as 45% at Birmingham, 30% at Bristol, 15% at Manchester and 10% at Edinburgh. It would stifle growth around the UK and concentrate it at a single airport in the economically overheated southeast. This would be contrary to the government’s aim of re-balancing the UK economy. And the RHC makes also sets out its other key reasons for opposing a new Heathrow runway.
Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airport community groups stand united against new runway decision
In response to the threat of a new runway at Heathrow (or very possibly at Gatwick, when the government decides on the Airports Commission announcement), the community groups opposed to increased aircraft noise have issued a joint statement. They say: “The announcement is bad news for all those who will inevitably be affected by increased aircraft activity, noise and air pollution and the associated effects on people’s lives and health as a result of a new runway. As groups representing hundreds of thousands of people already suffering the impact of changes in airspace use, or new flight paths we are very aware of the negative impacts of living under, or close to, a flight path. There has been insufficient and inadequate consultation of affected communities on the introduction of airspace changes in the past. There is little reason to believe this will improve when large numbers of new flight paths are to be created in the wake of this recommendation. The campaign to prevent further runways being built and to return the flight paths to their previously regionally acceptable routes will go on. The noise and pollution groups at City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports remain united in this cause.”
Gatwick MPs seek urgent assurances on Heathrow ministers’ involvement in airports decision
Crispin Blunt MP has called again on the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to make sure Ministers who have a constituency interest in the runways decision are not involved in the Government’s consideration of the Airports Commission report. Sir Jeremy Heywood has responded to Crispin Blunt’s original letter of 10th June in which Gatwick Coordination Group (GCG) MPs (chaired by Crispin) sought assurances that the provisions on conflicts of interest in the Ministerial Code will apply to the many Ministers who have a constituency interest in opposing a new runway at Heathrow. Sir Jeremy’s letter is equivocal, saying “These matters are considered on a case-by-case basis, reflecting specific Ministerial responsibilities and the nature of any constituency interest. These Code provisions will of course apply to the Government’s response to the Airports Commission’s Final Report”. The GCG is concerned that this is not a clear response to the specific high profile case of the runway decision. Crispin Blunt’s reply to Sir Jeremy says there is seen to be a conflict between constituency interests of Ministers, and the national interest. These suggestions “…should be an affront to you as Cabinet Secretary. That you appear not to be in a position to address our concerns on this very high profile issue is a grave matter.”
Committee on Climate Change confirm aviation CO2 must remain capped – putting new runway into question
On the eve of the Airports Commission’s runway recommendation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has told Government it has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions. The Government’s official advisory body on delivery of the UK’s Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’ to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand. The CCC says that given the anticipated growth in emissions from the sector, the DfT must set out how it will ensure that emissions from aviation are no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005 (37.5 Mt). The limited scope for improvements in aviation technology mean that demand growth must be kept to no more than 60% above its 2005 level. Current forecasts of air passenger growth with associated CO2 emissions exceed this level EVEN WITHOUT adding a new runway. With a new SE runway the growth in passenger demand – and thus CO2 emissions – would be even higher. Extensive analysis by the AEF has shown that a new runway would make the aviation emissions cap (37.5MtCO2 annually) impossible to achieve. Ruling out a new runway is the most obvious first step for the Government to take in response to the CCC’s advice. Adding a runway, and then having to deal with the extra carbon problem it has produced, is not an efficient way to deal with the issue.
Pollution could choke Heathrow runway plan
The Sunday Times expects the Airports Commission to say Heathrow is its preferred site for a runway. But they expect the Commission will leave the door open to Gatwick as well. An expected “fudge” by the Commission will allow ministers to pick Gatwick if building a 3rd runway at Heathrow would breach air pollution laws. Whichever runway is recommended, it is likely to trigger up to 6 years of planning battles before construction can start. The Times says bosses at both airports believe Howard Davies prefers Heathrow, because it has a stronger economic case – but that the Gatwick option is also a possibility. The Commission is expected to make clear that Heathrow must stay within strict EU air quality limits and highlight that the taxpayer may have to foot the bill for up to £6bn of road and rail improvements. “All of our political contacts near government or who have managed to talk to Sir Howard are saying that he will come out absolutely in favour of one option, which is Heathrow,” one aviation industry source said, but he will not totally reject Gatwick. Treasury officials signalled that George Osborne, who has previously been seen as a cheerleader for Heathrow expansion, would be prepared to support Gatwick. City Hall sources have suggested that TfLand the GLA could help bankroll a legal challenge by London borough councils.
Anti Heathrow runway protests planned after Airports Commission.
Anti-Heathrow campaigners are planning a big rally in central London this autumn if the Airports Commission recommends a Heathrow runway. Its aim would be to unify protest groups in a public show of opposition to influence the politicians who will decide by the end of the year whether and where to build an extra runway. Hacan will be lobbying quite hard at the political level more than at the grass roots. Hacan is planning to hold fringe meetings at the Conservative party conference in October and will prepare briefing notes for key members of Parliament. Alongside the rally, anti-Heathrow campaigners are also preparing to launch a legal challenge against a new runway at Heathrow on air pollution grounds with MPs, local councils and environmentalists involved in putting together a programme of action.
Heathrow and Gatwick CEOs both say their runway campaigns will go on, whatever Commission recommends
The CEOs of Heathrow and Gatwick both say they will continue their campaigns for expansion, whatever the Airports Commission recommends (next week?). Holland-Kaye is trying to make out that Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway had been so substantially altered since David Cameron blocked them in 2010 that “the prime minister could defend a decision to change his mind.” (The changes are small – different location, better compensation offers, more attempts to overcome local opposition … same need to destroy communities, make areas almost uninhabitable, immense increase in noise and air pollution etc etc). Gatwick keep attempting to persuade people their runway is more deliverable than Heathrow’s. Both fear the report ending up on a shelf, gathering dust. Heathrow expansion is environmentally and politically just about impossible, but it is what the airlines, the industry and its backers want. Holland-Kaye said Heathrow would not give up pressing for another runway even if the Commission recommends Gatwick. “It’s not a binding report … we’d have to wait and see. A decision hasn’t been made and to some extent the campaigns will keep on going.” As one commentator remarked: “… the most likely final resting place for Sir Howard’s report is a dusty shelf, somewhere in Whitehall.”
Eight new Factsheets from the Richmond Heathrow Campaign on a 3rd Heathrow runway
The RHC has published eight Heathrow Factsheets, which have been sent to every MP. There is also a summary of all eight are at rhcfacts.org. They are on: (1). The UK Economy: the Commission’s own figures show that Heathrow expansion would not add significantly to the UK economy or add further connectivity to the UK as a whole. (2). Deliverability: Heathrow expansion may require £54 billion or more of funding. State aid would be difficult to justify given the spare capacity at other airports and the prevalence at Heathrow of transfers and leisure passengers. (3). Carbon: It is very likely that Heathrow’s growth would be constrained by the impact of carbon emissions, rendering a 3rd runway uneconomic. (4). Air Quality: It seems unlikely that a third runway could be built while remaining within legal limits. (5). Noise: Heathrow expansion is likely to expose several hundred thousand Londoners to aircraft noise for the first time. (6) Local Economy: The local economy will grow with or without a runway, and providing enough housing is a problem. (7). Surface Access: Transport for London (TfL) has calculated that an investment of up to £20 billion would be needed to support. (8). Safety: Proposals for steeper flight paths on landing and for curved approaches raise concerns, as does the Heathrow Hub extended runway model.
Boris Johnson says David Cameron will not approve 3rd Heathrow runway
Boris Johnson has warned that a 3rd Heathrow runway would lead to “paralysis” and insisted that the government will not approve it. He will “counsel” David Cameron “very strongly” against it. He said David Cameron and George Osborne pledged that there would be no Heathrow 3rd runway in the Conservative Party manifesto in 2010. “I think that the government will stick to that.” David Cameron had said, in election literature: “No ifs, No buts, no third runway.” Boris will be free to campaign against a Heathrow runway, after the Commission reports, as he is not a member of the full Conservative cabinet. He said during LBC’s State of London debate: “It is perfectly obvious to me that there is going to be an unholy mess when Sir Howard reports. …They will plonk this great document on our desk. I will study the document with great care and I will reflect for about 40 seconds. If it comes out very firmly in favour of Heathrow I think that will lead to paralysis.” He did not say Gatwick should get a runway, as he has stated in the past that it could only be a “compromise.” Boris commented that he believes Stansted would be a better option.
Spending for ads just on the TfL network – £1.7 million by Heathrow; £1.6 million by Gatwick
Darren Johnson, Green Party Assembly Member at the London Assembly, Great London Authority, has obtained figures for the amount spent by the two airports. This is just on Transport for London, so on buses, tubes and trains. The Mayor revealed that Heathrow spent £1.7 million on advertising across the TfL network (from the start of 2012 until April 2015). Gatwick spent £1.6 million on advertising across the TfL network (from the start of 2014 until April 2015). Darren commented: “I’m not surprised that Heathrow has spent almost two million on ads on buses, tubes and trains. The grim reality of aviation expansion will be more noise, pollution and traffic hell for Londoners. As well as the acceleration of climate change which is the biggest threat to our economy. You need a big budget to paper over those huge cracks in your argument.” In December 2014 campaigners against a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick wrote to the Airports Commission to say the multi-million ££ advertising and PR campaigns being mounted by both airports for their runway plans were “subverting democracy”. They said the advertising was drowning out discussion of alternatives – and the basic question of whether a runway should be built at all.
Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary
Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts. These include the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others. In a letter to the Observer – in order to remove the alleged “need” for a new south east runway – they put forward the concept of allowing each person one tax-free flight per year, but increasing the rate of tax for people who fly frequently. The levy would rise with each successive flight. This would mean that instead of APD (£13 per return flight to Europe) there would be a higher rate of tax for frequent fliers. Their analysis shows that 15% of the UK population take 70% of all the flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year. Rather than a new runway being vital for business, the reality is that it would be used for the better off to take more leisure flights (holidays or visiting friends and family). The proposed levy would mean the number of flights would be cut to a level that would make a new runway unnecessary. The authors of the scheme have also shown that this change to the taxation of air travel would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.
Zac Goldsmith unveils map showing 1 million under indicative flight paths for a 3 runway Heathrow
Zac’s all party group of MPs has produced a new map showing where flight paths might be, with a Heathrow 3rd runway. Their map shows that hundreds of thousands more London residents would find themselves under new flight paths if the runway was built. Senior Tories including Justine Greening and Boris Johnson joined Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith in Parliament to launch a campaign alerting people to the potential impact on neighbourhoods across the capital. Heathrow disputes the map, and nobody knows exactly where the flight paths would be. Zac said Heathrow was “already the biggest [noise] polluter in Europe by far” and that additional noise was just one of the reasons to oppose expansion. Boris Johnson said David Cameron should honour his 2010 pledge of “No if, No Buts, No 3rd Runway”. Jenny Jones and the Green Party were the only politicians present who said no runway should be built.myself. Zac Goldsmith is aware of the environmental reasons why no runway should be built. However, he has chosen not to say this and go with the dubious assumption that it is just a choice between Heathrow and Gatwick. He commented: “I recognise by piling pressure against Heathrow expansion, I make it more likely that you have Gatwick expansion, but my first priority is to stop Heathrow expansion, it has to be.”
Teddington Action Group prepare to sue Airports Commission over lack of fair consultation on air quality
The Airports Commission and the Department of Transport have been notified by Neil Spurrier and Teddington Action Group (TAG) of their intent to apply for a Judicial Review of the Commission’s work. TAG is a group of residents affected by environmental nuisance in terms of emissions and noise from Heathrow flights. They have taken advice from leading counsel, and allege that the Airports Commission’s 3 week consultation on air quality, in May, was rushed and insufficiently publicised. This meant they (and many others) did not had a fair chance to respond. The consultation document was a highly technical 200 page report, containing a large amount of technical data. TAG say the lack of proper engagement by the Commission in relation to the latest air quality consultation is unacceptable and local people should be consulted in a meaningful way on an issue that directly impacts their health and well-being. TAG say the 3 week consultation is far shorter than the Cabinet Office guidelines which recommend three months for controversial or technical consultations. The length and nature of the air quality consultation was widely criticised, as being inadequate and unfair. TAG also questions the continuation of Sir Howard Davies in the role of chair of the Commission in the light of potential conflicts of interest, as he has been appointed to RBS.
Angry residents serve ASBO on Heathrow in flight path noise protest
Residents from a raft of communities to the west of London have served Heathrow with an ASBO (anti social behaviour order) in protest at the increase in aircraft noise generated by new flight paths implemented for Heathrow by their partner NATS. Members of a new grouping, CAIAN (Communities Against Increased Aircraft Noise) took their mock ASBO to Heathrow, to draw attention to the serious impact recent flight pattern changes are having on people across Surrey, Berkshire, and parts of west London. CAIAN represents local action groups that have joined forces to challenge new and altered arrival and departure routes imposed by Heathrow and NATS, without warning or consultation. The mock ASBO accuses Heathrow of “breaches of common decency”, specifically for running an airport “with general disregard for neighbours and the environment, that allows excessive noise for 17+ hours a day, and which contributes to high local air pollution”. CAIAN has a range of demands, including a moratorium on new runways until noise and pollution from the existing two are properly addressed. They will keep up the pressure, to get proper accountability in the aviation sector. There is widespread fury and outrage that PBN routes are being determined by airline profitability rather than any consideration for communities being overflown, who are suffering the consequences.
Ruth Cadbury MP says Heathrow low emission zone would be ‘unenforceable’
The new Labour MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, says banning all but greenest vehicles from roads around Heathrow would have a “serious impact” on the local economy. Heathrow has suggested that a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) around the airport might be introduced, or even an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in order to try and keep emissions low enough that they could add another runway. There is a LEZ – not a ULEZ – that has been operation in London, since 2008. That restricts the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in the capital. A ULEZ, by contrast, means all but the lowest emission vehicles are excluded. Ruth Cadbury says that to be effective, a ULEZ around Heathrow “would have to be so enormous it would have a serious impact on the economy of the Thames Valley area and would be virtually unenforceable.” Ruth believed the impact of non-ULEZ planned public transport improvements on reducing harmful emissions was “not going to be very significant”. She questioned whether a ULEZ scheme, which would require Transport for London’s approval, could ever happen. She was speaking at a parliamentary debate at Westminster Hall on air pollution on 9th June (called by Diane Abbott). .
Government will not make a runway decision soon, and not till “before Christmas”
The Financial Times has reported that it has been informed by a Whitehall source that Ministers will not provide a formal response to the Airports Commission’s recommendation on a runway till about “before Christmas.” The official told the FT there would just be a cursory acceptance of the report (expected in late June?) by senior ministers. It had been thought for sometime that the DfT would have to do at least 6 months work, considering the Commission’s verdict,before a final decision could be made. The Commission has left many gaps in its analysis, with many questions unanswered. The FT reports that: “Civil servants say they need to start work on any proposed legislation & prepare for legal challenges that are considered almost inevitable.” The decision for the Airports Commission has not been an easy one, because there are overwhelming arguments against a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow. The Cabinet faces division on the issue of Heathrow, with George Osborne in favour and other senior members deeply opposed. The pro- runway lobby has been complaining vociferously that a runway decision must be made quickly. Labour’s Mary Creagh has accused David Cameron of “unforgivable delay” on the issue, and putting party stability “ahead of the national interest.”
Residents in Colnbrook with Poyle parish will demand local referendum on Heathrow runway
A meeting of Colnbrook with Poyle Parish has been called for June 16th by residents who intend to invoke a clause in the 1972 Local Government Act. This allows them to trigger a referendum – this one would be on a Heathrow runway. (Either of the Heathrow runway plans would mean effectively the end of Colnbrook – one going slightly north of it, and the other slightly south). Residents agree that a Colnbrook Runway and the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) could completely transform the parish over the next few years. Residents are angry that neither Colnbrook Parish Council nor Slough Borough Council have asked them for their views – yet both have presumed to make policy decisions with potentially enormous consequences for the future of the village … and those who live in it. Hence the meeting on 16th. The first item on the agenda is whether or not to call for a Local Referendum on the Heathrow issue. Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council dismissed a call for a local referendum at a Parish Council meeting on November 4th. SIFE will also be discussed, to see if there is support for resurrecting the stop SIFE campaign in view of the imminent SIFE appeal.
Gatwick Tory MPs warn of ‘political stitch-up’ on runways by anti-Heathrow faction in Cabinet
A group of senior Conservative MPs has warned David Cameron that he must avoid a “political stitch-up” that would favour cabinet ministers, and other party heavyweights led by Boris Johnson, who are campaigning against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Crispin Blunt, the former justice minister who chairs the 9-strong group of Tory MPs representing constituencies around Gatwick, told the Tory chief whip, Mark Harper, this week that cabinet ministers opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport should “recuse” themselves [ie. not take part in a decision, due to danger of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality] when the government considers the Airports Commission’s findings. The decision by the government must be taken in an impartial manner. The Gatwick area MPs are concerned that as well as Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith, both keenly against a Heathrow runway, in Cabinet there are also Justine Greening, Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who are openly against a Heathrow runway. The Gatwick MPs are concerned about a political stitch-up on the runway decision. They do not believe a runway at Gatwick is in the national interest.
Patrick McLoughlin having final talks with Heathrow and Gatwick on their runway plans
Sky News is reporting that Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is to hold a final round of talks with Gatwick and Heathrow in the next week or so, with the Airports Commission announcement expected around the end of the month. Mr McLoughlin is to visit both London airports to discuss the prospective financing of their multi-billion pound schemes as well as crucial issues such as the environmental impact of new runway capacity. The DfT has already drafted in bankers from Rothschild to help assess the deliverability of the 3 runway schemes. All the runway schemes would mean huge expenses, which are not yet clearly known, for the taxpayer – due to extra infrastructure required. Spokesmen for Gatwick, Heathrow and Heathrow Hub all declined to comment on the meetings with Mr McLoughlin. The date of the Commission’s announcement is not yet known, and there is speculation it could be late June, or possibly on the 8th July, when George Osborne delivers is Emergency (or Summer) Budget. Osborne said in a speech to the CBI last month that the Government would act swiftly to get a new runway built.
Heathrow Villages ready to submit proposal for Neighbourhood Plan to counter threat from Heathrow
Residents of three Heathrow villages – Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington – have made great strides in the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan in a community-led effort to shape the future – if a Heathrow runway is rejected later this month. They feel the future of the Heathrow Villages should be defined by the communities of people living there and what they feel is important. The residents started work on the plan in November 2014, with a 21-member Forum, when they obtained £7,000 in Government funding from the Community Development Foundation. After piloting its questionnaire at Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday in March and conducting extensive consultation with the community the Forum originally agreed that it should be governed by 6 priorities – ‘housing’, ‘transport’, ‘enterprise’, ‘community spaces’, ‘green spaces’ and ‘heritage’. ‘Health and wellbeing’ has now been added. Each will underpin the principles to be embodied in the Plan. The area suffers from the proximity of Heathrow, and years of blight – through uncertainty about a runway. The Forum has enlisted the help of postgraduate students on the planning course at University College London. At present, the villages of Cranford and Longford are not included, in order to keep the focus on a small enough area.
Freight Transport Assn writes to David Cameron to push importance of hub for air cargo
The Freight Transport Association’s CEO has written to the Prime Minister, to say “the decline of Heathrow [presumably if a Gatwick runway was built] as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK.” He said the importance of air freight should not be overlooked when considering the options for creating new airport capacity in south east England, and outlined the importance of a UK global hub airport. Air freight makes up 40% of UK air cargo by value, but far less by weight. The FTA is “concerned that the importance of air freight is being overlooked.” 80% of freight at Heathrow is carried in the holds of scheduled passenger aircraft. In 2014 Heathrow moved almost 1.5 million tonnes of freight. The FTA wants expansion at Heathrow, and says “Gatwick does not possess the infrastructure to handle the volumes of cargo required.” The FTA says the Government’s decision on a runway should not be based solely on passenger considerations and “passengers are not the sole users of these flights nor the only beneficiaries of the wider choice of routes.”
Heathrow and Gatwick fighting to get support from Scottish MSPs for their runway plans
Continuing with their lobbying across the country, to try to get support for their runway plans, both Heathrow and Gatwick say they would provide more flights to Scottish airports. Both Mr Holland-Kaye and Mr Wingate are due to appear before a cross party group on aviation at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. The improved links to London is sold as providing better links for Scotland to global markets. Heathrow says getting a new runway would enable there to be more flights to the regions. These have been cut back in recent years, as they are less profitable than international flights. Heathrow is keen to tell Scottish leaders how very useful Heathrow will be for them, (though they have been conveniently ignored in the past – it is now time to try to win their support). Stewart Wingate is doing his usual negative campaigning, pointing out, helpfully, all the deficiencies of Heathrow’s plans, while being conveniently blind to the deficiencies of his own runway plan. Both airports hype economic benefits … lots of figures …The reality is that increasingly flights can be point to point, and people in Scotland have less need to transfer to London, before flying elsewhere. More long haul flights from Heathrow would cut demand for these to develop at Scottish airports.
Richmond Heathrow Campaign response to Commission’s air quality consultation
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) have submitted their response to the Airports Commission’s consultation on air quality. They comment on the inadequacy of the consultation, and the difficulty for lay people in understanding it. They say that with at least 100,000 people affected by a worsening of the air quality resulting from Heathrow expansion, plans, it is not realistic for the government to approve such a plan. The various possible mitigations for NO2 “may not be sufficient to avoid delaying compliance with standards that are already being breached. This will mean that if expansion were approved by the Government, it would knowingly be planning to continue breaching standards without a realistic plan to put this right.” The RHC put – in plain English – some of their concerns about the Jacobs study, done for the Commission, and the things it has left out. Just a few of these include: the date chosen to assess air quality is 2030, when a runway would only be perhaps 35% full; much of the anticipated reduction in air pollution is from a higher proportion of air passengers travelling to and from the airport by rail; the cost of the necessary enhancements of rail services would be a huge cost for the taxpayer; health impacts, especially of vulnerable groups, have not been assessed. Richmond Heathrow Campaign response here.
Campaigners gear up for legal challenge against decision for runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick
CPRE (the Campaign to Protect Rural England), which was one of the charities, which successfully took the last Heathrow expansion scheme to court, says it could do the same again if ministers press ahead with a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick. CPRE said it has always had “serious concerns” about the Airports Commission’s work, and believed their final runway recommendation was “bound to be tainted”. CPRE’s transport campaigner said: “If the government decides to proceed we are bound to take legal advice as the first step to a challenge in the courts.” Legal challenges have become inevitable with any big project, as opponents probe how effectively the decision process has been. HS2 has faced a number of judicial reviews. Back in 2010 CPRE was part of a coalition that took a court action against plans by the then Labour government, for a Heathrow runway. The judge found that the consultation process was flawed because it used old figures. Though it did not prevent the runway plan, it caused a delay – during which time the new coalition government decided not to go ahead with it. There remains a broad alliance of local authorities and charities that would go for legal challenge again, against either runway.
Zac Goldsmith says Heathrow expansion would split the Cabinet with opposition from the very top
Zac Goldsmith was re-elected to his Richmond Park seat with a majority of about 23,000 – up from a 4,000 majority in 2010. He has always been very firmly against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Zac believes that if Heathrow is “chosen” for approval by the Airports Commission, it would cause a split at the very top of government, and a real problem for David Cameron: “If you look at the cabinet today, there are at least 3 heavyweight people there, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening and Boris Johnson and others, in fact, who are implacably opposed to Heathrow expansion … He’d face a split at the highest level and I don’t think a fragile government with a small majority wants to do that.” Zac also says giving the go-ahead to Heathrow would be “an off-the-scale betrayal” from David Cameron, who came to west London before the 2010 election and promised locals, “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway” – and that there wouldn’t be a new runway under the Conservatives. Zac has repeated his threat of resigning if the government backs a Heathrow runway. His resignation would trigger a by-election in which he could stand as an independent on that one issue. It would offer him the opportunity to get a lot of publicity for the anti- runway case
Zac Goldsmith: Victory is in the air for the anti-Heathrow expansion campaign
Zac Goldsmith believes Heathrow is not going to get a new runway. The arguments against Heathrow have been won – and Zac sets these out clearly. They include ….it is already Europe’s biggest noise polluter, with the largest number of people affected by noise of any airport. A 3rd runway would increase flights from 480,000 to 740,000 each year. No matter how Heathrow talks about “quieter” planes (ie. fractionally less noisy) or “respite”, slightly reducing night flights or paying for more noise insulation, an extra runway would massively increase noise. Heathrow admit a 3rd runway would lead to a 4th, as that’s what they want. Just a 3rd runway would lead to 25 million extra road-passenger journeys each year. Heathrow (and the Airports Commission) has barely begun to assess the costs involved in adapting the road and rail system to cope. Transport for London told Zac the cost has been underestimated by a staggering £15 billion, to be paid by the taxpayer. London is already very well connected. We have 6 airports and 7 runways. — more than any of our European rivals. More passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world. A 3rd runway would only be at the expense of surrounding airports, just centralising existing activity and facilitating a monopoly. And more ….
Boris to fight (“undeliverable”) 3rd Heathrow runway; he won’t resign over it – but would fight from within Parliament
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is now also MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, has said he would not resign as an MP if the Conservative government approved a Heathrow 3rd runway. He believes he would be better able to fight it by remaining in Parliament. Boris will now be attending the Cabinet – but he does not have a ministerial role, so he can devote his attention to his final year as Mayor. Boris has, for many years, been an outspoken opponent of a new Heathrow runway because of the highly negative impacts of noise and air pollution on Londoners. He has now said that if there was a Heathrow runway, with meeting air quality standards a very difficult challenge, there would have to be a new congestion charge zone around it. That would be the only way to tackle the traffic congestion and air pollution caused by so many extra road vehicles (as well as planes and airport vehicles). Boris said in his MP acceptance speech that he would join Zac Goldsmith and lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that 3rd runway” at Heathrow. He said a 3rd Heathrow runway was “undeliverable” and that if the Airports Commission recommended it, he hoped their report would be “filed vertically [shelved]” as others had been.
Comments by planning experts on the key planning decisions for the new government, including runway
Planning magazine asked various planning experts what they thought would be key issues for the new government. As well as several raising the problem of needing action to improve air quality by the end of 2015, one commented on the runway problem: “The Conservative party is not committed to implementing the Davies Commission recommendations, yet it seems to me that they are in a difficult position if they don’t: the Conservatives were the main architects of the Davies Commission – can they afford to be seen to waste five years of expenditure and delay? I fear the easiest solution will be for the next Government to say that they will use Davies’ work to inform the Airports National Policy Statement without giving a clear commitment either way and that we embark on another lengthy process before the NPS is adopted. interesting to see how interventionist the new Government is willing to be.” Another said: “I am assuming that the decision will be implemented via the NSIP regime, but will this also include any associated terminal, car parking and warehousing development and major public transport improvement that will be associated with implementing the decision?” The need for the UK to produce a national spatial plan, which other EU countries have, was also mentioned.
Protesters stage silent air pollution demonstration at Heathrow Terminal 5
Around 50 campaigners have staged a silent protest against air pollution in Heathrow Terminal 5. The protesters wore face masks and t-shirts to make their point that the high air pollution levels in the Heathrow area should rule out its plans for a 3rd runway. The protest was just days after the Airports Commission announced a further consultation into air pollution at Heathrow, and a fortnight after the Supreme Court ordered the UK Government to produce plans by the end of the year on how it intends to tackle pollution across the country. The protesters at Terminal 5 included local people whose homes are threatened by a 3rd runway, activists based at Transition Heathrow and residents whose lives are disturbed by aircraft noise. Air pollution already affects local communities badly, with the amount of road traffic generated by the airport. It will not be possible for Heathrow to guarantee that, with a 3rd runway and an extra quarter of a million planes each year, and associated road vehicle journeys, air pollution levels could be reduced so they meet the EU legal limits. The Airports Commission’s consultation closes on 29th May, and its findings will be included in the Commission’s final report which is expected to be published in June.
Why this election result makes it less likely a 3rd runway will be built at Heathrow
Boris Johnson said in his acceptance speech after being elected MP for Uxbridge that he would join John McDonnell and “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway.” John McDonnell, re-elected as the MP for the neighbouring constituency of Hayes & Harlington, had said in his speech that he expected the MP for Uxbridge to follow the commitment of his predecessor, John Randall, “and join with me in lying down in front of those bulldozers if they come.” This determination will not make it easy to get a new Heathrow runway. There are many other Conservative MPs such as Zac Goldsmith, Justine Greening and “big beasts” in the Party such as Philip Hammond and Theresa Villiers (maybe Theresa May too) who are against a runway. There would be troublesome and potentially embarrassing opposition to any runway plans. Labour MPs Andy Slaughter, newly elected MPs Ruth Cadbury and Rupa Huq all oppose a runway. Though Vince Cable lost his seat, he is replaced by Conservative Tania Mathias, who is strongly against a runway. Senior Lib Dems, Vince Cable and Ed Davey, who opposed a Heathrow runway, will be missed, but the picture one day after the election looks as if Heathrow will find it increasingly difficult to get expansion.
Airports Commission to carry out a new consultation on air quality impact of runway schemes
It is reported that the Airports Commission is now intending to carry out a new public consultation on the the impact of air quality of a new runway. It is thought that the Commission is keen to avert a potential legal challenge to their decision, if the runway would put air quality standards at risk. Only recently the UK Supreme Court ruled that as Britain is still not meeting EU air quality standards, it must quickly produce plans to limit pollution, especially NO2. The FT reports that the consultation would be a very quick, technically focused one, perhaps being completed by the end of May. It is not anticipated to involve any meetings with the general public. Sir Howard Davies is off to become Chairman of RBS, starting that job on 1st September. He joins the RBS board at the end of June. Therefore the runway decision was anticipated during June. If the consultation on air quality is to be thorough enough, and give those consulted adequate time to respond, getting an announcement by the end of June would be very difficult. Parts of the Heathrow area regularly breach air quality limits. Though Gatwick has less of an air quality problem, expanding it to the size Heathrow is now would risk breaching air quality limits – and the Commission should not recommend a development that would mean NO2 limits would be broken.
Public inquiry into the ending of the “Cranford Agreement” to start on 2nd June and last 3 weeks
The Cranford Agreement was made in the 1950s, to ensure planes cannot take off from Heathrow’s northern runway, to the east, except in exceptional circumstances. That protected Cranford when there are easterly winds. However, it has meant that on easterly operations all take offs are from the southern runway, and all landings on the northern – hitting Windsor hard. Ending the Cranford Agreement would give Windsor residents more respite from the noise. Though the Agreement was formally ended in 2010, Heathrow needed to make changes in access and exit taxiways off the northern runway and consent is needed from Hillingdon Council. They have refused permission (on noise and air quality grounds), but the issue is now going to a public inquiry that starts on 2nd June. It is likely to last for 3 weeks. The Heathrow plans needing planning consent are also the creation of a new ‘hold area’ at the western end of the northern runway, and the construction of a 5 metre high acoustic noise barrier to the south of Longford Village.
BA’s CEO, Willie Walsh, says post-election indecision will block building of any new south east runway
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has again said that there will not be a new south east runway. He has often said this before, but this time he sees the likelihood of political indecision after the election as an additional issue. Willie Walsh thinks that to build a runway, there would need to be “political consensus across all the parties – not just coalition partners.” He also warned that the cost of each of the 3 runway proposals would all be prohibitive. The expense would lead to higher landing costs, and airlines would not find that acceptable. Willie Walsh reiterated his view that there was “no business case” for a 2nd Gatwick runway, with not enough demand from airlines for it. He has said in the past that Gatwick does not have the same international attraction as Heathrow. He commented that Heathrow was already “the most expensive airport around.” The runway decision would be a political one, and with a coalition government looking to be inevitable, there would be huge political difficulties in pushing through an unpopular runway, with dubious benefits even to the airlines.
Heathrow “Community Noise Forum” to get independent study into continuing changes (or not) to flight paths
In December 2014 Heathrow decided to set up a “Community Noise Forum” to set up dialogue with deeply upset and angry community groups – and try to build up some trust. There is already a separate “Noise Forum.” The Community Noise Forum consists of representatives of the Airport, the CAA, NATS, BA, local authorities, community organisations and campaign groups. One key task of the new Forum is to try to resolve the dispute between Heathrow and the communities affected by the flight path trials. These took place last year, and while the airport is adamant that the situation has returned to the pre-trial pattern, residents in areas such as Ascot, Teddington, Englefield Green, Lightwater, Binfield and Bracknell, are adamant that it has not. The Forum is to commission an independent study (it has to be independent) to look at the flight paths before the trials, during and afterwards. The aim is to see whether flight paths post-trial really have gone back to their pre-trial routes, or not. The independent study will also look into whether any other changes had taken place. Heathrow can give technical assistance and will pay for the study. A steering group will draw up the brief for the study, and report back to the Forum.
Landmark air pollution ruling by Supreme Court could scupper 3rd runway at Heathrow due to high NO2 level
The UK Supreme Court has quashed the Government’s ineffective plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year. The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, saying: “The new Government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.” This could have implications for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, as areas around the airport continue to be stubbornly above the EU legal limits. That is due both to air pollution from the planes in addition to the huge amount of traffic on the M4 and M25. In their verdict, 5 judges ordered the Secretary of State at DEFRA to consult on strict new air pollution plans that must be submitted to the European Commission by 31 December 2015. The EU Air Quality Directive demanded the UK brought pollution down to legal limits by 2010 or apply for an extension by 2015. But the government in 2011 said that a number of areas, including London, would be unable to comply by 2015 and instead argued the law allowed it to comply “as soon as possible”. The judgement marks a victory for the campaigning legal firm ClientEarth. HACAN commented: “This is a potential show-stopper as far as a 3rd runway is concerned.”
Teddington residents miserable under Heathrow easterly take-offs – though officially they are not affected
Teddington is an area largely affected by easterly take-offs from Heathrow. The wind direction in the south east of England is generally for westerly winds for around 70 – 77% of the time. The level of aircraft noise over Teddington is therefore not a problem during westerly take-offs. The way aircraft noise is measured – by taking an average over a period of time, and over many months, rather than the plane noise on a particular day – means that Teddington and areas like it, are not deemed to be within the noise contours that imply a significant level of noise nuisance. However, during periods of easterly winds, which can last for over 10 days, the level of noise is deeply intrusive. The campaign, Teddington Action Group, has made a powerful short film that illustrates the noise they are subjected to, for perhaps 25 -30% of the year. Yet, on the noise averaging system used by the CAA and the Airports Commission, they are considered not to be affected by noise. They wonder how many other areas can be regarded as untroubled by noise, when the reality on the ground is very different. And how much worse would this situation get, with how many more affected, if there was a Heathrow 3rd runway. Watch the film.
Windsor candidates against Heathrow runway, though Labour non-committal
Speaking in a live BBC Radio Berkshire debate, it was clear that none of the parliamentary candidates for Windsor support a 3rd Heathrow runway. However, Labour’s candidate, Fiona Dent would not say whether she supported the runway, but did promise a consultation on it, if elected. Lib Dem George Fussey, Independent Wisdom Da Costa and UKIP’s Tarik Malik said they were opposed to expansion. The MP since 2010, Conservative Adam Afriye, won the seat with 60% of the vote at the last election, with the Lib Dems second with 11%. Mr Afriye said: “For the last 10 years I’ve been absolutely clear – no third runway – and it’s not just about nimbyism… it’s not in the national interest, not in our regional interest and not in the interest of consumers….if Davies is sensible, he will recognise that Gatwick is the right option.” [Regrettable that he feels the need to pass the misery of increased noise etc, onto others, knowing how negative the impacts would be on his own constituents]. Mr da Costa said: “It shouldn’t be allowed to expand. The benefit to Windsor would be very, very small, economically but the disruption to Windsor, both environmentally and in terms of congestion and health, it will be phenomenal.”
Report by ERM shows Heathrow could not build a new runway and meet air quality standards
Gatwick Airport, keen to show up all the problems with a new Heathrow runway – attempting to promote its own scheme instead – has commissioned a study by ERM (Environmental Resource Management) on Heathrow air quality. The pollutant and averaging period of most relevance around Heathrow is the annual mean limit value for NO2, which is 40 μg/m3 of air. The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 say the Secretary of State must ensure that NO2 annual mean level is not over the limit value of 40 μg/m3 anywhere. Heathrow and the DfT predicted 10 years ago that diesel vehicles would emit much less NO2 by 2015 than they in fact do; diesel emissions from road vehicles have not fallen as fast as was expected. Heathrow is therefore not likely to meet the air quality standard, even without a new runway, till perhaps 2030. The Gatwick-funded ERM report is critical of modelling submitted by Heathrow to the Airports Commission that continues to use outdated emission performance of vehicles. The report says no detailed air quality impact modelling has been conducted since the DfT study 10 years ago. The Airports Commission has also not yet done adequate work on this, and said it would do “more detailed dispersion modelling”. This will probably not be available before the Commission’s (June?) announcement.
Heathrow hopes of cutting NO2 by congestion charge etc could transfer air quality problems to other areas
Gatwick Airport commissioned a report by ERM to show up the air quality problems at Heathrow, making a 3rd Heathrow a practical impossibility. The ERM report says the air quality mitigations proposed for a Heathrow 3rd runway are too vague to be properly evaluated or quantified in any detail. As the majority of the air pollution is due to road vehicles, many on trips associated with the airport, there needs to be credible detail on how this could be cut. Heathrow has suggested various ways to make small airside cuts in NO2 emissions, and possible measure like incentives for access to the airport by zero or ultra-low emission vehicles. Also, as a last resort, the use of a congestion charge to drive down airport-only related road traffic. But the measures lack the necessary implementation specifics to make them meaningful. Neither do the proposals address the potential consequential effects on road traffic distribution in the wider area around Heathrow. It could well be that the introduction of these sorts of Heathrow traffic measures results in shifts in road traffic congestion, and therefore the transfer the air quality problems to other areas. Just pushing the problem somewhere else.
Conservative and Labour candidates in Brentford & Isleworth say they would defy their parties to oppose a Heathrow runway, if necessary
At a Brentford & Isleworth hustings, Conservative parliamentary candidate Mary Macleod and Labour’s Ruth Cadbury told the audience they would vote against Heathrow’s 3rd runway even if it was supported by their respective parties. The Hounslow candidates are Joe Bourke (Liberal Democrat), Mary Macleod (Conservative), Ruth Cadbury (Labour), Richard Hendron (UKIP) and Daniel Goldsmith (Green). Both Mary Macleod and Ruth Cadbury said they would not resign should their parties decide to support a 3rd runway, but they would instead try to fight the policy from within the fold. The official policies of both Conservatives and Labour is to wait for the findings of the Airports Commission, which might make its announcement as early as late May, or else by the end of June. Green Party candidate Daniel Goldsmith and Liberal Democrat Joe Bourke both said their parties were clear in their opposition to a 3rd runway. But UKIP’s Richard Hendron was the only candidate in favour of the runway, even though his party’s manifesto is opposed to it (and backs Manston instead). The anti-expansion candidates said they wanted Heathrow to remain as Britain’s “premier” airport. Mr Goldsmith said he didn’t want Hounslow to be too reliant on a single industry.
Gatwick distributes 400,000 flyers around west London warning of Heathrow noise (to get backing for Gatwick runway)
As Gatwick has difficulty getting much local support for its runway plans (almost all local councils and local MPs oppose it) this week the airport is distributing 400,000 flyers to homes across west London. Uxbridge and South Ruislip in particular are being targeted, (86,000 leaflets) warning about the increased noise there would be from a Heathrow 3rd runway. Gatwick has focused its attention on negative campaigning about Heathrow, though Heathrow has not – publicly – being doing the equivalent on Gatwick. Gatwick is not revealing the cost of their 400,000 leaflet effort. As the local residents do not have the ability to choose whether a runway is built, the aim is to influence local politicians. Gatwick claims that 683,000 people and 362 schools would be impacted by noise if a 3rd Heathrow runway was built, while only 36,000 people and 15 schools by a Gatwick runway. In the 55 Lden contour. (Clever of them, as the flight paths are not yet know …. nobody knows the numbers). Heathrow and Gatwick are arguing over the figures. Gatwick appears to discount the impact of increased noise from its own planned runway. This has infuriated local residents in the Gatwick area. Gatwick’s ploy of leafleting people near Heathrow, who are rightly frightened at the prospect of a 3rd runway – playing on their fears – has further increased local opposition.
Harmondsworth Open Day shows the extent of the threat of a Heathrow runway, and what it would destroy
On Sunday 12th April the village of Harmondsworth hosted an open day, to show off the village – and inform visitor about what plans for a Heathrow north-west runway would mean for the area. The Heathrow Villages are fighting for their survival. If Heathrow is allowed to build its north west runway, Harmondsworth will be destroyed. Much of it would be built over, with the airport’s northern boundary slicing off around half of the village. Longford would disappear altogether. During the open day, held on the village green, there were tours of the magnificent early 15th Century Great Barn, and walking tours of the village and of Harmondsworth Moor. A huge canvas had been created, showing a plane and a wire boundary fence – which would be where the airport would come to within a few yards of the current village centre. Though the Great Barn and the Church of St Mary the Virgin would not be demolished, their proximity to the airport boundary would mean the level of noise and air pollution would be intolerable. In an effective short video, Neil Keveren explains how people in the area have been living through hell, unable to plan for their future – or even make decisions about whether to do improvement work on their homes – because of the Sword of Damocles threat hanging over them. And Christine Taylor shows on a map what would be destroyed.
Schiphol airport unfazed by prospect of new London runway – many UK passengers prefer transferring from Schiphol
Schiphol Group president and chief executive Jos Nijhuis, described Amsterdam as “London’s second hub”. Schiphol now handles up to 8 million UK passengers a year, 60% of whom connect to onward flights. Schiphol believes passengers from UK regional airports will continue to choose Amsterdam rather than Heathrow to connect to long‑haul flights, even if Heathrow gets a 3rd runway. 13 UK airports have services to Amsterdam and this will rise to 14 next month, with the addition of Belfast. The loss of UK regional traffic to Amsterdam because of capacity constraints at Heathrow has featured heavily in Heathrow’s lobbying for a new runway, wanting to prevent the loss of customers to Schiphol. And wanting to keep on being the biggest international airport, by far, in Europe. Jos Nijhuis said: “We are London’s second hub and doing very well. …I tell [Heathrow chief executive] John Holland-Kaye: ‘Consider our most western runway as yours. We can rename it Heathrow Runway Three….We are a much better transfer airport [than our rivals]. We designed the airport for transfers.” KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers said: “I don’t think additional capacity in London would make Heathrow more attractive than Schiphol to passengers in Newcastle or Humberside.” He felt higher charges needed by Heathrow to pay for a new runway would mean the runway would not reduce the traffic going via Schiphol.
Heathrow to reduce charges on domestic flights from £29.59 to £19.59 from Ist Jan 2016 – to reduce number flying via Schiphol etc
Heathrow plans to cut the fees it charges airlines for domestic passengers. It says that from 1st January 2016 it will reduce the minimum departure charge for all flights (currently £1,406) to £1,268.40 per domestic flight. It will also cut the charge from £29.59 to £19.59 per passenger, in a bid to increase the number of passengers flying between UK regional airports and Heathrow. Heathrow serves just 7 regional destinations, down from 18 in 1990. It hopes the lower charges on domestic routes would encourage fuller planes and make more efficient use of the limited number of slots for regional flights, which are less profitable for airlines than long haul flights. Heathrow also says it will reduce minimum charges per plane to £1,592.15 for EU flights and £2,689.82 for non-EU destinations. It will also cut the per passenger charge for passengers flying to European destinations by £5 to £24.59. They plan instead to charge more for the noisiest planes, and those that emit more NOx – with the overall changes revenue neutral. The aim is discouraging passengers flying via European airports like Schiphol, and using Heathrow instead. The environmental fees would rise from being 21% to being 28% of total airport charges. Heathrow also say that, if they get a 3rd runway, they would open 5 new domestic routes, including Humberside, Newquay and Liverpool.
Access to expanded Heathrow would cost £20 billion, TfL warns – maybe £15 billion more from the taxpayer than Commission estimate
Transport for London (TfL) has raised “serious concerns” about congestion and the costs of expansion at Heathrow just weeks before the Airports Commission’s final recommendation is due (end of June?). TFL Response to APPG on Surface Access Feb 2015 In response to questions by Zac Goldsmith, TfL said both Heathrow and Commission had “significantly underestimated” the challenge of improving transport access to the site, with the Airports Commission estimating £5 billion would be enough to make the improvements. TfL believes to provide an optimal level of service, the figure would be nearer to £20 billion, raising questions about who would pay the additional costs. TfL said population growth of 37% by 2050 has also not been taken into account, with regards to the increased pressure on London’s roads and public transport infrastructure, Zac said: “TfL is better placed than any other organisation to understand the effects Heathrow expansion will have on London’s transport network, and it is extraordinary therefore that the Commission never bothered to ask for its assessment. This raises serious questions about the thoroughness and reliability of the Commission’s work. If TfL is right, the taxpayer may end up having to cough up an additional £15 billion to help Heathrow secure its monopoly, in addition to all the associated problems of gridlock, noise and air pollution.” (not an April Fools story …)
“Back Heathrow” accounts published on 25.3 2015. Show its cash value as £282,823
Heathrow display 2 versions of their “economic benefit” poster – one saying £100 billion, the other “up to £211 billion” …. (Over 60 years)
Heathrow airport has two different versions of its massive poster near Terminal 5. They have the same text, with claims of the alleged economic benefits to the UK of a new runway. One poster says “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by £100 billion.” And other nearby says “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by up to £211 billion.” They cannot both be right. Is this merely a matter of picking wildly different figures out of the air? Heathrow airport responded that: “£100bn was our conservative estimate. When the Airports Commission analysed it they estimated up to £211bn across UK.” What the massive posters fail to say it these purported benefit are not for one year. They are over a 60 year period, 2026 to 2086. ie. not a huge amount per year, (£2 – 3 billion maximum, on a generous estimate) bearing in mind the huge tourism deficit (perhaps £10 – £13 billion per year); or the loss to the Treasury as air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty, (amounting to perhaps £10 billion per year). But the Airports Commission estimate of £211 billion economic benefit from a new NW Heathrow runway comes with many caveats – by the Commission itself. They say the “results should be interpreted with caution, given the innovative methodology used…” So more that are difficult to substantiate.
Heathrow funded report suggests using RAF Northolt as an interim 3rd runway for domestic flights
Heathrow airport set up and funds a body called the “National Connectivity Task Force” (NCTF). This produced a report in March, looking at regional connectivity – and putting arguments that suit Heathrow. (Gatwick airport, unsurprisingly strongly disagrees with it). As well as saying how important links to regional airports are from Heathrow, though these have progressively been cut as long haul flights are more profitable, the NCTF report says RAF Northolt airport, just a few miles north of Heathrow, should be used as an extension to Heathrow, for smaller planes to regional airports. As this news broke about the same time as the Germanwings plane tragedy, it did not get press attention. What Heathrow wants is to have Northolt brought into service, as an interim measure, before it can get a new runway. If Gatwick was chosen for a runway, Heathrow could use Northolt for domestic flights it has been promising regional airports, in order to get their backing for a Heathrow runway. Heathrow says the Northolt runway could not be used at the same time as a Heathrow north-west runway. RAF Northolt does not comply with the safety standards required for a civilian airport. Its runway ends just short of the busy A40.
Speculation on whether Heathrow Hub will be able to sell its ideas to Heathrow Airport for a huge sum
Sky News reports that the Board of Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) has been in discussions recently about buying the intellectual property rights held by the company putting forward the “Heathrow Hub” runway proposal. While Heathrow airport wants to build a north west runway, the Heathrow Hub idea is to extend the northern runway to the west, making it double length. The company behind the Heathrow Hub idea is “Runway Innovations”and in the past Heathrow has been moderately dismissive of their proposals. However, it is understood that though Heathrow’s Board would not yet pursue a deal with Runway Innovations, it could reconsider its position if the Airports Commission recommended Heathrow Hub’s proposal – rather than their own. A source believed Runway Innovations had been seeking at least £50m, though the figure may be lower. It was unclear if this included land options that could be developed to provide new rail facilities if the Heathrow Hub option is selected. The company’s land options are north west of Heathrow, where a rail intersection forms part of the Hub’s plan. Work on the Heathrow Hub proposal has been funded by 4 rich individuals with links to London’s financial sector. It has always been their plan to sell the intellectual property of their plans, for a substantial sum.
Heathrow would spend £10 million to increase some domestic flights, only if granted a 3rd runway, to get backing from regions
Heathrow has increasingly cut the number of flights to UK regional airports, as it has become more uneconomic for the airlines to run them – and long haul international routes are more profitable. But Heathrow is aware that it needs to get the backing of regional airports, in order to lobby to be allowed a 3rd runway. Heathrow therefore suggested the setting up of a National Connectivity Task Force. In order to boost flights to the regions, Heathrow now says that – only IF it gets a new runway – it will spend £10 million on for the development of 5 new domestic routes, for 3 years. These would include Newquay, Humberside and Liverpool. That would be in addition to the 4 extra routes that easyJet has said it wants to operate if there is a Heathrow runway, to Inverness, Belfast International, the Isle of Man and Jersey. There are currently 6 domestic routes from Heathrow (Leeds Bradford, Belfast City, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle). Heathrow also said it would launch a review of its airport charges in the coming weeks to focus on making domestic flights more commercially attractive (cheaper) to airlines. The results of this consultation, which is not dependent upon getting a new runway, will be effective from January 2016.
Windsor MP, Adam Afriye, says on NATS/flightpath fiasco, Heathrow has either been wilfully misleading or incompetent
Following sustained pressure from Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor, Heathrow finally admitted changes to flight paths that have inflicted more flights and greater noise on residents in Ascot, Binfield, Bracknell Forest, Cheapside, Sunninghill, Warfield and other nearby areas. John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, wrote in a letter to Mr Afriyie: “I recognise that as an airport community we have let you down in this instance. We need to do better to be a good neighbour and I would like to unequivocally apologise to you and your constituents.” Commenting on the letter, Mr Afriyie said: “I am deeply concerned on behalf of the residents who have suffered from extra aircraft noise without so much as a warning…What beggars belief is Heathrow’s insulting accusation that residents were imagining the extra noise! … Heathrow must take the blame for misleading residents and being dismissive of their concerns. And I now call on Heathrow and NATS to release all flightpath data on arrivals, which Heathrow is yet to disclose to me….Heathrow has either been wilfully misleading or rather incompetent. Heathrow and NATS have serious questions to answer and must be held to account in Parliament.
Dr Phillip Lee, MP for Bracknell, says Heathrow and NATS claims on flight paths “outrageous and unacceptable”
The MP for Bracknell, Dr Phillip Lee called staff from NATS and the airport to a meeting at the House of Commons on Wednesday 18th March, to answer questions about flight path changes affecting his constituency. He asked Jane Johnston, head of corporate affairs at NATS, and Heathrow senior staff to explain the situation of increased aircraft noise, and Heathrow’s claim that they did not know there had been a change. Since the start of the “procedural change” to flights on the Compton route, there has been a huge degree of protest by affected residents, with thousands of complaints made. Heathrow repeatedly told people who complained about noise that “trials” ended on 12th November. Only now, four months later, has it emerged that these procedural changes continued, and NATS has no intention of reverting to the previous system, before June 2014. Dr Lee was told that NATS “didn’t make the connection” between the changes, and the increased complaints. The staff told Dr Lee they were simply following procedure. Dr Lee said: “This is a wholly outrageous and unacceptable situation. Given all the publicity that surrounded the additional noise caused by the flight path trials, I find it completely unbelievable that these changes in the procedures were simply overlooked by NATS as a possible cause for increased activity over residents’ homes.”
Candidates in Uxbridge & South Ruislip pledge to oppose Heathrow runway, though Labour candidate doubtful
Prospective parliamentary candidates for Uxbridge and South Ruislip made promises – if they got in to parliament – about how they would vote on HS2 and Heathrow Airport at a hustings debate. Candidates from 4 of the 5 main political parties took part – but not the Conservative candidate, Boris Johnson. All four candidates said they would vote against any bill seeking to approve a Heathrow runway. However, there were doubts about the position of the Labour candidate, Chris Summers (a councillor in Ealing). Mr Summers suggested that any future government should follow whatever recommendation is published in June by the Airports Commission. He said: “I think it is right we have this Davies Commission that’s looking into the issue, and I think there is something to be argued that they are the experts, and if they recommend a certain way, then it does seem that it will be a basic political decision if whichever government rejects that…” The constituency contains much of Hillingdon, which is one of the councils most deeply opposed to a new runway. In a Hillingdon borough referendum in May 2013 66% were against a third runway. The ballot also showed the same number (66.3 per cent) do not want see any more flights in and out of the airport. The extent to which Mr Summers is listening to his residents, or just following Labour party policy, is questioned.
Heathrow says it did not know flight path changes were continuing – blames NATS for not telling them
Heathrow and NATS had flight path trials during summer 2014, which ended on 12th November, due to intense opposition. See details. But complaints have continued and people have been adamant that the trials have not ended. Heathrow has given assurance after assurance that the trials have ceased, implying people are imagining the noise – or have become over-sensitive to it. Now Heathrow and NATS have had to apologise. Heathrow says it did not know the trial affecting the “Compton” route to the south west and west of Heathrow had not ended, as NATS had not informed them. As NATS and Heathrow work closely together, that is very hard to believe. Even if it could be credible, it reveals a markedly dismissive attitude to the thousands of upset residents, who have complained week after week. The airport had made no apparent effort to establish the facts, for many months. The areas particularly affected by this change are Virginia Water, Ascot, Binfield and some parts of Bracknell, which are experiencing a concentrated flight path. John Holland-Kaye said: “Because of the assurances we received [from NATS], we in turn told residents in good faith that no changes had occurred. That is unacceptable and I unequivocally apologise to local residents.” However, NATS say they changed the route to improve the safe and efficient management of traffic departing from Heathrow and they are not planning to revert to previous procedures.
HS2 Heathrow spur plans dropped by transport minister, before Airports Commission report
Plans for a new rail spur to Heathrow as part of the HS2 high-speed network have been ruled out by the transport minister Patrick McLoughlin. He was responding to a question by MP Dominic Grieve (MP for Beaconsfield) about the Heathrow spur. Mr McLoughlin said: “I would now like to make clear that we do not intend to build the spur as part of Phase 1 or 2 of the HS2 scheme”. Previously the government had said any decision about the Heathrow spur would be delayed until the Airports Commission’s report with its runway recommendation – which is probably due at the end of June. Mr McLoughlin cited the Airports Commission’s findings – published as part of its consultation in November 2014 – which said: “This review … supports the view that an HS2 spur to Heathrow airport (whether to the airport site or a hub station) is not necessary to support expansion of the airport.” Nick Hurd, Conservative MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner was “delighted” that the spur had been dropped, and believed the best way of connecting passengers to Heathrow was via Old Oak Common. Paul Prentice of Rail magazine said it was a “very sensible decision. Bearing in mind there is already a spur tunnel to Heathrow and another western link being built”.
Polar bear flashmob at Heathrow Terminal Two draws attention to aviation threat to UK CO2 target
Over 30 polar bears invaded Heathrow’s recently opened Terminal Two in a protest against plans for a 3rd runway. In a lively flash-mob, the polar bears hung up banners, played in the terminal and danced to music produced by sound systems. They were watched by somewhat bemused travellers …….The action, which started on the dot of 11am, lasted about 30 minutes. No arrests were made, as the protesters left of their own accord. The direct action network Plane Stupid is thought to have been behind the protest which was timed to coincide with the big “Time to Act” climate change march that took place in central London at lunchtime. Many of the polar bears travelled to Westminster, to take part in the march. The building of a new south east runway, whether at Heathrow or at Gatwick, would mean that UK aviation carbon targets would be breached (the Airports Commission is aware of this) and UK carbon targets would also be at risk. To permit expansion of aviation CO2 emissions, all other sectors have to make cuts of over 85% – even 90% – in their carbon emissions. Otherwise the UK would not meet its legally binding carbon target for 2050. A Plane Stupid spokesperson said: “If the Government is serious about tackling climate change, it should not even be thinking about a third runway at Heathrow.”
Strong “No New Runways” bloc gets its message across at the London Time To Act Climate March
The huge “Time To Act” on Climate Change march was held in London on Saturday 7th March. There was a good turnout, described by some as “over 5,000” and by others as nearer 20,000 (numbers are always hard to be accurate on). The “No New Runways” bloc had a good attendance, from Gatwick and from Heathrow opposition groups, as well as many individuals. Gatwick protesters from CAGNE wore pantomime devil horns, and T-shirts with the logo “Gatwick, Neighbour From Hell.” Many people who stand to lose their homes, to be bulldozed for a new Heathrow runway, too part. The AirportWatch banner read “No New Runways”, and another” Aviation Expansion = Climate Threat. The runway bloc were with others in the transport bloc, and marched from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Parliament, where the speeches took place. During the speeches John McDonnell (the MP for Hayes and Harlington, which the Heathrow north west runway would wipe out) spoke of the need for climate action, not least to oppose a new runway – digging up the village of Harmondsworth. He described the level of protest and direct action that would happen, if the north west runway was recommended, as unprecedented and the “mother of” all environmental battles. The aim of the march is to put pressure on political parties before the general election, and raise the profile of climate change ahead of crucial climate talks in Paris in December.
Heathrow opposition rally shows united cross-party rejection of 3rd runway. Simply “NO”.
Simply No. That was the message of a cross-party rally staged by HACAN in central London on March 3rd. MPs from across the political spectrum lined up with environmental NGOs, local authority leaders, businessmen and trade union leaders to pledge opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Hundreds of people from London and the South East, including many whose homes are threatened by a new runway, showed their determination that the runway will not be built. Twickenham MP Vince Cable made it clear that Liberal Democrat policy remained one of total opposition to a third runway. He said there was no sound economic reason why Heathrow needed to expand. John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, thousands of whose constituents are facing the loss of their homes, predicted that any decision to go-ahead with a new runway would result in the biggest direct action environmental protest in Europe. As a reminder of the determined and successful campaign against the runway, last time around, people at the rally held up pictures of the huge “NO” spelt out on the ground in Sipson, at the May 2008 protest. HACAN chair John Stewart said: “The rally sent a loud and clear message to the next Government: build a new runway at your peril. The coalition which saw it off last time round is still alive, well and fighting.”
After voting against Heathrow runway, Runnymede councillor puts new motion to reverse decision [Later news – on 5th March the Council voted to keep anti-Heathrow runway position. The voting was 21 – 11 (3 abstentions). Cllrs wanting a pro-Heathrow vote had thought they would win …]
On 22nd January, Runnymede Borough Council voted against a Heathrow 3rd runway. They have previously been supportive. However, Councillor Furey (also a Surrey County Councillor) has put down a motion for discussion at a Council meeting on 5th March, to reverse that position. The motion states: “This Council reconsiders the current policy to support Gatwick Airport expansion at the expense of Heathrow. I call on Members to consider the economic and social benefits that could be derived from a third runway and the harmful impact of undermining Heathrow’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub. Members are asked to support reconsideration of the recent policy change and restore support for Heathrow expansion, subject to suitable noise, transport and infrastructural mitigation.” Local campaigners are dismayed by this attempt to reverse the runway decision, after such a short time. They do not believe the somewhat nebulous claims of ‘social and economic’ benefits of Heathrow expansion. No local councillor has been able to adequately quantify or qualify what exactly these benefits are for local residents. Residents of Runnymede are urged to attend the Council meeting on 5th March at 7.30pm at the Civic Centre, Addlestone.
DHL shrugs off threat from Heathrow Hub to move forward with new Poyle headquarters
The local paper, Colnbrook Views, reports that despite the possibility that the Airports Commission just might recommend that Heathrow builds a 3rd runway using the Heathrow Hub plan (northern runway extended to the west), DHL are taking the (small?) risk and planning a massive new distribution hub on the run-down Poyle estate, almost in the path of the runway. The application considered at a recent Planning meeting. Colnbrook Views says DHL is moving its headquarters to Poyle, from Hounslow. Property agents acting for DHL have secured a large chunk of the Poyle trading estate, which currently contains 17 partly unoccupied units. The plan is to build a vast 21,373 square metre facility with a 5-storey warehouse and distribution hub, plus HQ. There will be a 24×7 parcel delivery hub, and 60 HGV loading bays plus 585 car parking spaces. And nearly 700 new jobs. DHL acknowledges the risk as well as the benefits of its close proximity to Heathrow. Both its Colnbrook Lakeside and Poyle headquarters will be at risk from both the north-west runway, or the extended northern runway options. DHL’s Board say they have taken the risks into account and “DHL are fully committed to this site as it is ideally located….” They hope the new warehouse will be completed in April 2016.
Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, says Heathrow 3rd runway permission “cannot be bought”
Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary and MP for Runnymede & Weybridge, has said that Heathrow will not be able to “buy” planning permission for a proposed runway expansion. His comment came after Heathrow had said it could contribute to a £300m flood relief scheme, if it was allowed to expand. The government will pay £220 million for the scheme, with the RFCC paying £30 million – leaving an extra £50 million needs to be raised – from business etc..Mr Hammond said Heathrow should join other local businesses in helping to fund new River Thames defences. Heathrow claims that expansion “would allow environmental issues to be addressed.” (Unclear logic why it has to be allowed to expand before it can do so …?) Heathrow would directly benefit from the river defence scheme. Mr Hammond commented: “We’ve got a long tradition in this county that we don’t allow people to buy planning permission for controversial schemes simply by offering money…..As a very large local business that was negatively affected by the disruption in the area last February I would expect Heathrow and businesses around Heathrow to be among those we ask for a contribution.”
Heathrow claims “larger, fuller, quieter” planes – but load factor still just 70 – 76.6%
Heathrow says it had its busiest ever January with 5.45 million passengers travelling through the airport’s terminals. But the figures mask a decline in the number of flight movements and planes are still flying on average one third empty. There were about 37,130 air transport movements (commercial flights) using Heathrow in January, compared to 4 earlier years when there were over 39,000 flights. The reason why Heathrow can increase its number of passengers, with fewer flights is having more passengers per flight. Heathrow’s own figures show a lower number of flights at the airport contrasts with its claims that lack of hub capacity is “a ticking time bomb”. While the central premise of the airport’s drive for expansion has been its claim that it is 98% full, aircraft movements actually fell by 0.8% last month compared to January 2014. Details of Passengers by Market show growth in numbers of passengers to and from emerging economies. However, overall the load factor (the % of the seats in the plane are used) are far lower at Heathrow than many other UK airports, with 70.1% in January. Over recent months, the load factor was 71.3% in November, and about 76% in October and December 2014. It was 76.4% for the full year 2013 and 75% in 2012. Heathrow will say, if there is a fall in numbers, that this means it is losing ground to other hubs, and if they rise, it reinforces their case for new hub capacity.
Defra data on NO2 emissions show Heathrow would still breach limits by 2030, even with just 2 runways – let alone 3
Defra data showing 50 UK roads with highest nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels suggests the A4 road, that runs along the north border of Heathrow Airport, will still exceed EU air pollution limits by 2030 – even without the addition of a 3rd runway. The Defra figures (obtained by Clean Air in London by an FoI request) show that, in 2030, after the A501 (Marylebone Road in London) the A4 will be the road with the 2nd highest NO2 concentrations in the UK – with just two runways. A 3rd runway would inevitably lead to an increase in the number of passengers and associated road traffic coming, including freight. Air pollution is therefore likely to rise, and substantially. Environmental NGO the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) says a 3rd runway at Heathrow “now looks impossible” before 2030, due to the projections of the air quality impacts of expansion. And “Questions must be asked about the Airports Commission’s decision not to carry out detailed modelling of the air quality impact of a new runway prior to publishing its final consultation.” Heathrow produced a bland statement about “managing our environmental responsibilities” which did not address the problem – hoping to persuade passengers not to travel to/from the airport by car. And the air freight? John Stewart, chair of HACAN said, “These dramatic figures suggest once again that air pollution could be a show-stopper as far as a third runway in concerned.”
Heathrow claims “Those living around us are behind us” – those living under its flight paths do not agree
Heathrow airport has made much of its recent survey, from which it felt able to say – in yet more of its vast (expensive) adverts that “Those Living Around Us Are Behind Us.” The survey, done in November and December 2014, managed to get the level of net support in a list of boroughs near Heathrow, just up to 50%. The net level of opposition was 33%, with 16% neither supporting nor opposing. The earlier poll, done in September 2014, showed 49% support and 32% opposition, with 18% unsure. The scripts used for these telephone polls are not published, so it is difficult to know how much the questions lead people being questioned towards certain answers. Back Heathrow, in its submission to the Airports Commission, did something very unorthodox (ie. wrong) with the data. By leaving out the % of people who did not express a view in favour or against (16% in the December poll) they got the level of support up to 60%. But that is an incorrect use of data. By contrast, 22 out of 24 local councils in the Heathrow area and across London are against a new runway. The only two that are still in favour are Staines and Spelthorne.
John Holland-Kaye complains Heathrow pays too much in business rates (while paying little Corporation Tax)
John Holland-Kaye is complaining that the £168 million per year it pays in its business rates is too high, and it is “punishing investment.” He claims it is risking “jobs and growth” and it should be reformed. Mr Holland-Kays says Heathrow has the highest business rates bill in England, and the cost is so large that it was beginning to affect investment decisions. (Heathrow is also one of the largest emitters of CO2 in the country – not far behind Drax power station). Heathrow has paid little corporation tax for many years, as it invests money in its infrastructure. This benefits its overseas owners, but means the company does not make a profit – hence avoiding UK corporation tax. Heathrow argues that the £11 billion of investment, from its foreign owners, for its infrastructure benefits people and businesses in the UK, so other businesses pay more tax …. The foreign owners hope to make a good return on their investment. On the level of business rates, Mr Holland-Kaye says the level or rates “disincentivises significant investment like ours which has a huge benefit for the jobs that have been created while we’ve been investing.” Five years ago, Heathrow’s business rates bill was about £93.4 million. Gatwick’s bill is about £30 million this year. George Osborne pledged to conduct a review of the business rates system by March 2016 if the Tories are re-elected.
Heathrow has paid numerous Chambers of Commerce around the country to hold events, to drum up business support
Heathrow Airport has spent a lot of time and energy arranging seminars at as many Chambers of Commerce as possible, across the country. Heathrow has offered each Chamber around £3,000 to hold these seminars, where they can pitch their case for a 3rd runway. About 25 Chambers have agreed – costing Heathrow around £75,000 – and given Heathrow their support. However, when approached by Heathrow, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce was not impressed, and declined the seminar offer. The Manchester Chamber speaking for the local business community said there was increasing evidence that there is no need for a larger hub airport, and the UK should instead make better use of the network airports – including Manchester Airport. Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese described Heathrow’s approach as ‘desperate’. John Holland-Kaye has been speaking at events, spreading the word that only a new Heathrow runway will enable British companies to trade with the rest of the world .. etc etc. He mentions the “need” for a runway, because we “need” to be able to export live Scottish languostines to Singapore …. Truly a “First World Problem.” Or the “need” to be able to air freight chocolate to Mexico ….. John H-K speech with the source of those lunacies
Heathrow 3rd runway would affect south Buckinghamshire, especially Heathrow Hub impact on Iver area
People in south Buckinghamshire are very concerned about the threat of an expanded Heathrow, and the impact it would have on the south of the county. How badly they would be affected depends on whether a 3rd runway was built as Heathrow Airport Ltd wants, to the north west, or an extension of the northern runway, as Heathrow Hub wants. With either they face much more noise, and much more traffic. If the Heathrow Hub design was permitted, it includes plans for a transport hub near Iver (to the north west of the junction of the M25 and the M4.) It would mean building on green belt land between Richings Park and Iver village centre, with access to it from local roads. Iver Parish Council are very concerned about the increased traffic, especially HGVs, which would change Iver massively. They have been given no proper information about how the traffic scheme would work, and there are real fears this would change Iver and Richings Park forever. People in this area will be attending the large rally being held on 3rd March in central London, against a 3rd Heathrow runway. .
Heathrow’s improved offer of £700 million for noise compensation, if there was a 3rd runway, wouldn’t help residents in many areas
On the last day of the Airports Commission consultation about its 3 short-listed runway schemes, Heathrow Airport came up with a new, more widespread and more generous offer of compensation against aircraft noise, IF it got a new runway. However, this offer is not to be offered to residents in many affected areas, including Bracknell, Ascot or Wokingham. The £700 million that Heathrow says it would spend on noise insulation etc would only be for homes judged the worst affected by noise – with no homes south of Wraysbury included. The number of homes eligible for offered compensation will depend on the final design of flight paths from an expanded Heathrow, and those are not yet known. Residents in Bracknell and Ascot, who have been incensed by the aircraft noise to which they have been subjected this year, say that even if they were offered compensation it still would not be enough, and it would not solve the problem. Heathrow claims that flight paths and use of airspace in the area has reverted to its pre-trail state, but residents believe it has not. People are now much more aware of aircraft noise, and their tolerance for it has declined – and they know that no amount of money would be enough to keep the level of noise outside the house down, in gardens, parks, playgrounds and streets. Many believe the increased Heathrow offer, and its timing, is merely a PR stunt.
NetworkRail plans for improved rail link to Heathrow T5 from the west, by tunnel, go on show
NetworkRail has put plans for consultation, for a new rail tunnel, connecting the main line into London from the west with Heathrow Terminal 5. The proposed link, subject to planning permission, includes a 3.1 mile (5km) tunnel from the Great Western Main Line at Langley to T5. This could cut journey times between Reading and Heathrow and reduce road congestion, if passengers travelled by train instead of by car. A series of public consultation events is to be held in Iver and Slough. The rail plan was given the go-ahead by the government in 2012. There would need to be a new junction created between Langley and Iver stations. There are claims that the rail link would mean a quarter of people in the UK “within one interchange” of Heathrow. The tunnel only travels under 2 houses so is not expected to cause too much disruption locally. The tunnel would go ahead regardless of whether there is a new runway, or not. It is expected the tunnelling would take a year. It has the potential to make journeys from the west faster and easier. The timetable is for informal consultation now; formal public consultation in summer 2015; submission of application in early 2016; work starts spring / summer 2017; work completed and trains running by the end of 2021.
All Party Parliamentary Group analysis shows a 3rd runway at Heathrow would be at the expense of surrounding airports
The All-Party Parliamentary Group of MPs (APPG) has submitted a report to the Airports Commission (and to the Government) showing that, according to the Commission’s own figures, there would be no overall increase in the number of UK passengers, flights or destinations as a result of a 3rd Heathrow runway. Instead, any increased activity at Heathrow airport itself would be fed almost entirely by re-distributing growth from other UK airports. This would me an more activity at Heathrow at the expense of regional airports, customers and the wider economy. The All Party Parliamentary Group’s “Wider Economy” Report raises serious doubts about there being any net benefit to the wider UK economy, or to the regions, from a new Heathrow runway. It suggests the runway could even have a significant negative impacts on them. The Commission’s figures show that with or without an extra runway at Heathrow, the growth rate of the UK passenger market from 2030 to 2050 is anticipated to be 1.4% per annum. It is predicted that a 3rd runway would cause a reduction of 207,000 flights per year, to and from regional airports by 2050. The total number of destination airports for flights from UK airports might also be lower, if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway.
NATS to introduce “Time Based Separation” (TBS) at Heathrow to cut delays in windy conditions
Heathrow Airport is close to its maximum number of flights per year (480,000) and its runways take close to the most flights they can, most of the day. During periods when there is strong wind, there are currently often flight delays -causing inefficiency. Aircraft fly more slowly in relation to the ground (groundspeed) against a headwind, though the plane may be flying at the same speed as usual, in relation to the air (airspeed). Now NATS is introducing a system, called Time Based Separation (TBS), which it has been working on for some years. The aim is to reduce delays in windy conditions, so as many planes can land per hour as in still conditions, even if it is windy. The system works by separating arriving aircraft by time, rather than by distance. The separation distances are needed because of the wake vortices that planes generate – which can be dangerous for a following aircraft. However, the stronger the wind, the more rapidly a vortex is dissipated, so a smaller separation distance can be used. The Time Based Separation system will allow fewer delays during windy conditions, so more efficient operation. The system will start to be used at Heathrow at the end of March 2015 and NATS hope the system will be used at other capacity constrained airports around the world.
Labour Party plans “Infrastructure Commission” if it gets into power, to get things like runways agreed quickly
Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor for the Labour Party, has announced – if it gets into government – that legislation to set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission will be in Labour’s first Queen’s Speech after the election. He wants to stop long-term decisions, like building a runway, being “kicked into the long grass” with no action taken. A draft Bill has already been published by Labour, to ensure the plans could be fast-tracked through Parliament during the second half of 2015. There is also a consultation on a draft remit for the new Commission which sets out 10 National Infrastructure Goals for Britain. One of these goals is for the UK to be “The most connected and open trading nation in the world.” Another goal is for “A transport network which spreads growth and prosperity to every part of the country.” And it says the National Infrastructure Commission should consider (note, only consider) “environmental and climate change considerations.” Ed Balls says of the Commission it will “ensure government comes up with credible plans” to meet the goals “and hold Ministers’ feet to the fire to deliver those plans.” The review has been done by Sir John Armitt, who is on the Airports Commission. It is thought that the Infrastructure Commission would be instrumental in getting a new runway built.
Back Heathrow supporter number doubts after Zac Goldsmith sent supporter email
Some doubt has been cast on the validity of “Back Heathrow” after it emerged that anti-expansion campaigners were sent emails thanking them for their support for “Back Heathrow.” Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond and north Kingston, was among those to receive an email thanking him for supporting the campaign, despite being well known for his strong opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway. It would appear that someone has mischievously signed Zac up to the Back Heathrow website, without his knowledge or consent. It appears that other people (unconfirmed) in neighbouring boroughs have also had a letter from Back Heathrow, thanking them for their support, and this could amount to a “manipulation of data”. Back Heathrow has used deliberate scare tactics, to make people afraid of losing their jobs if there is no new runway. Zac said there are concerns that the supporter figures claimed by Back Heathrow need to be treated with caution, if there may be names on the list that should not be there. Back Heathrow said it was confident its system was not abused for bogus sign-ups and believed its supporter numbers were genuine. There are concerns that Heathrow may have been getting large numbers of its own employees to sign up, to back the runway, which would benefit HAL (Heathrow Airport Ltd) itself.
Advertising Standards Authority finds Heathrow advert about increased trade breaches their Code and is ‘misleading’
In October 2014 about 13 people send in official complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, on claims being made by Heathrow in its adverts. The ASA looked at 7 different complaints, and considered that 6 passed their standards. However, on the claim by Heathrow in its ads headed:”Expand Heathrow and its’s the economy that takes off” the statement “Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights” was found to breach the ASA code. The ASA say the claim was not adequately substantiated and that the ad therefore breached the Code, both by being misleading and by not having proper substantiation. The ASA say the advert “must not appear again in its current form.” They have told Heathrow “to ensure that they held robust substantiation for absolute claims made in their future advertising.” The ASA ruling also says the claim was presented as objective facts rather than an educated assumption and that Heathrow’s own report “One Hub or None”itself cautioned that direct flights would not automatically lead to more trade and that multiple factors could influence the amount of bilateral trade.
On final day of Commission consultation, Heathrow raises extent of its noise insulation offer, if it gets a 3rd runway
As part of its attempt to get acceptance for a 3rd runway, Heathrow has had to raise its offer on noise insulation. On the last day of the Airports Commission consultation, it has made a significantly better offer, saying it “could” (sic) pay around £700 million – which is £450 million more than its previous offer in May 2014. This would cover parts of the 55 Lden noise contour area. The number of people within that contour was 725,500 in 2006 and over 314,000 dwellings. Heathrow says their offer now covers about 160,000 homes, and they have included two new areas, not previously covered by their scheme (no map is published).Heathrow has now raised the quality of its noise insulation offer to match those already used in Europe – its current noise insulation offers are far below these. In its new scheme, Heathrow says homes in designated zones “stand to have” (not “will”) the ” full costs of their noise insulation covered by the airport. In addition, up to £3,000 in noise insulation would be offered to homes further away from the airport.” This would be acoustic double glazing; ceiling over-boarding in bedrooms; loft insulation and ventilation. Many noise affected homes already have double glazing and loft insulation … and still suffer noise. Gardens and parks cannot be insulated. Campaigners said the improved offer was welcome, and should be carried out even if no runway is built, as it illustrates how poor and miserly the insulation schemes have been in the past.
MPs to deliver letter to David Cameron to remind him to keep his “no ifs, no buts, there will be no 3rd runway” promise
On Tuesday 3rd February afternoon MPs and campaigners against Heathrow expansion will stage a protest at Downing Street – the day the Airports Commission consultation ends – reminding the Prime Minister of his statement before the 2010 election, when he said “no ifs; no buts; there will be no third runway.” Conservative MPs Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park & North Kingston) and Angie Bray MP (Ealing Central and Acton) will join the protest, with Kate Hoey MP (Vauxhall); Caroline Lucas MP (Green MP for Brighton Pavilion); Mary Macleod MP (Brentford and Isleworth); John McDonnell MP (Hayes and Harlington); John Randall MP (Uxbridge and South Ruislip); Andy Slaughter MP (Hammersmith) and Baroness Jenny Tonge. John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “We are deliberately targeting Downing Street because the decision about a new runway will be a political one. The politicians can override whatever recommendations the Airports Commission will come up with in the summer. This event once again demonstrates the cross-party nature of the opposition to a 3rd runway. It also shows the geographical spread of the current problems caused by Heathrow which can only get worse if a new runway is built. Representatives of groups from as far apart as Brockley and Teddington will be going into Downing Street.
HACAN accuses Heathrow of abusing the Airports Commission consultation process, by swamping it with pro-forma responses
HACAN has accused Heathrow Airport of abusing the Airport Commission’s current consultation – which closes on February 3rd – by “flooding the Commission with thousands of pro-forma responses.” In a letter to Sir Howard Davies, John Stewart says that Heathrow has “strained every sinew of its advertising budget to try to persuade as many people as possible to email or write to the Commission that they want a 3rd runway.” However, in its consultation the Commission asked for comments on whether it had correctly assessed the proposals put forward for a 3rd runway at Heathrow and a 2nd runway at Gatwick, and whether information had been omitted. “This was a technical consultation. What the Commission was not looking for was a flood of responses for or against a third runway. While most of the campaign groups have stuck to making the arguments, (having spent hours reading through the extensive documentation), Heathrow, together with its sidekick Back Heathrow, have engaged in an orgy of activity. Yet Heathrow even went as far as placing post boxes in its terminals for passengers to pop in their letters of support. It is simply a side-show to the serious work the Commission is undertaking”. Gatwick has behaved in a similar manner.
KPMG analysis of global runway build”readmore”>Click here to view full story…
ing, hoping to show UK being left behind, leaves out a runway…..
As a last minute bit of hype, to mark the close of the Airports Commission consultation, the pro-runway lobby “Let Britain Fly” commissioned a study by KPMG to look at plans in a range of countries to build runways. They produced an super-dooper graphic to persuade us all we are LOSING THE GLOBAL RACE (a term Heathrow especially likes to pepper its utterances with). Let Britain Fly is keen, as is Heathrow, to lead us to believe that the UK is to be “left behind” and that – using some highly distorted logic – unless the UK has a new runway (or two) all the UK’s history, economic power etc will be cast aside, and we will become a backwater ….. Unfortunately the KPMG graphic is wrong in showing London having 6 runways. It actually has 7, including Southend (which has been celebrated by the industry as a London airport, and is officially recognised as such by the CAA). With 7 runways, the case being made by KPMG and “Let Britain Fly” falls apart. It shows London continuing to have more runways – even by 2036 – than any other city they compare, other than Beijing. Unfortunate that the KPMG analysis felt the need to distort the facts, in order to make its case – and in doing so, showed their assessment to be incorrect.
Hounslow spending on school improvement includes noise proofing a special needs school against aircraft noise
Work has started on a multi-million pound project to deliver improvements to a special needs school in Hounslow. A total of £9m is being invested in the redevelopment of the Lindon Bennett School, in Hanworth, to tackle the borough’s shortage of places for pupils with special educational needs (SEN). The school is located just outside the Heathrow 55 Lden noise contour, meaning that it suffers considerable aircraft noise, mainly from take offs towards the east. A total of 70 new places will be created and the school will be extended and remodelled to include specialist teaching spaces, classrooms, offices, a hall and kitchen areas. The 2-year scheme to redevelop Lindon Bennett School is part of a wider schools expansion programme to provide more school places across the borough. But the amount of aircraft noise experienced means “where over-cladding on the existing roof is required we have to greatly improve its sound reduction properties to ensure that the noise generated from planes on the flight path doesn’t affect the children’s learning experience.” There is no indication that Heathrow will be contributing to the extra costs involved.
Datchet residents step up campaign against Heathrow Airport expansion
People in Datchet have been encouraged to send in responses to the Airports Commission consultation, to try to oppose a Heathrow runway – that would devastate their village. Datchet Parish Council has been helping residents to raise awareness locally about the consultation, with volunteers distributing 2,500 flyers. People fear a new runway would mean Datchet would be ruined, but they fear the Heathrow Hub option even more than the Heathrow north west runway option, because it would be 2 miles closer, with 50% more flights than at present, and at half the height – at about 600ft above Datchet. A resident commented: “We have a human right to a quality of life just like everyone else in this country and we should not have to live in noise and pollution hell! Does Heathrow expect us never to go outside?”
Detailed critique by Hillingdon Council of the Airports Commission’s failure to cover health issues adequately
In its response to the Airports Commission consultation, Hillingdon Borough Council has been highly critical of the Commission’s failure to deal properly with health impacts of a new runway. They say a specific Health Impact Assessment (HIA) would have been the best way of addressing weaknesses on health matters. There is no proper baseline for the health and wellbeing status of local communities. They say it is inequitable that existing airport-related impacts are not considered as a key part of the overall assessment of the three schemes. “There seems to be an implicit weighting for economic development and against health evidence.” Hillingdon say “it is unclear how local stakeholder feedback would be incorporated” on health issues. And “The Department of Health and Public Health England do not seem to have been consulted” during the Commission’s work. “Aggregating positive and negative impacts is flawed and inequitable. The negative impact of noise cannot be ‘bundled’ together with the positive impact of employment, because most often the negative and positive impacts are experienced by different groups of people.” “Impacts on children are not considered as part of this assessment either qualitatively or quantitatively. This is a significant omission.” And so on. A long catalogue of failures and omissions. Response is at “Equity Focused Review Report of the Airports Commission’s Community Health Relevant Assessments“
Problem of how people bothered by aircraft noise can register many complaints – use (abuse?) of automated computer systems
The Daily Mail is shares the glee of Heathrow in locating two people who had set up their computer to make automatic complaints about aircraft noise. This came to light, when after the clocks changed, the complaints about flights were made even before the plane had taken off….. Clearly not a proper complaint. However, the presumption is that one person should only make a small number of complaints, even if they find the aircraft noise they are exposed to is excessive. Heathrow appear to see the complaints line as for planes that are making a degree of noise that is greater than normal, or different. For people who are upset and annoyed by the noise, they may see every plane as upsetting and annoying. Airports are delighted if the number of noise complaints goes down, so the numbers matter. If people do not complain often, they are considered not to be annoyed. That requires people to make multiple complaints, but that takes a great deal of time and effort – hard to sustain while leading a busy life. John Stewart (HACAN) commented: ‘I think its unfortunate that many residents felt they had to resort to these kinds of machines, but unfortunately they have been left with no choice but to have them. ….that shows how disturbed people were by the noise from the flight paths.”
Report by Oxera for Birmingham Airport criticises Commission’s analysis on impacts of Heathrow runway on regional airports
Birmingham Airport has commissioned a study by economic analysts, Oxera, to look at the Airports Commission’s analysis of impacts of Heathrow expansion on regional airports – Birmingham in particular. Oxera believes a 3rd Heathrow runway would exacerbate, rather than reduce, regional imbalances and by sucking more business into the south-east, Heathrow expansion would just widen the north/south divide. Oxera say the methodology used by PwC, on behalf of the Airports Commission, could hide winners and losers in UK regions, and underplays the negative effect that Heathrow expansion could have on some UK regions. They believe there should be better analysis of where the national losses and gains would be, and how they would be distributed. CEO of Birmingham, Paul Kehoe, seems to be more in favour of a Gatwick runway, which presumably threatens Birmingham less. Kehoe said: “Whilst Heathrow is essential and must remain a world class airport for the UK and for the Midlands to grow, Heathrow must become complementary to Birmingham Airport. More capacity at Heathrow would limit our region’s ambitions.” The Midlands claims to be responsible for 16% of all UK exports.
Slough Borough Council lists its financial demands on Heathrow, if it gets a 3rd runway
Slough Borough Council is supportive of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. With Spelthorne, they are the only two councils near Heathrow that do back a new runway. Slough has now submitted their council response to the Airports Commission consultation, but it includes many points on which the council wants extra funding, if there is a new runway. Slough Council expects to be compensated for loss of council tax from residential properties, loss of business rates from commercial land lost; and loss of business rates from closure of the Colnbrook incinerator. They want Heathrow to pay for insulation of public buildings, especially schools, throughout the whole of Slough; fixed noise monitoring stations across all affected areas of Slough, with the airport paying for their operation; and replacement of the Grundon incinerator, with no break in service, all at Heathrow’s expanse. They also expect extension of the Slough Mass Rapid Transit bus system to Heathrow, which has been halted due to lack of money. And Slough wants Heathrow to contribute towards the cost of air quality monitoring, recognising much is due to the airport. And the list continues ….
The stubborn 30% who remain opposed to a 3rd runway could be politically more important than those who support it
Heathrow airport frequently gets opinion polls done by Populus. These are phone polls, done by phoning randomly chosen numbers, in chosen boroughs. The script of the interviewer is not published, but earlier someone who received one of these calls wrote down as best she could at the time, the questions. There appeared to be some bias in the phrasing. Populus has not chosen exactly the same list of boroughs for their surveys, making comparison impossible. Heathrow says, in its survey conducted in 10 boroughs, between mid November and mid December 2014 that there was 50% net support for a 3rd runway, against 33% net opposition – from the boroughs of Spelthorne, Richmond Park, Brentford and Isleworth, Feltham & Heston, Windsor, Ealing Central & Acton, Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Slough, Hayes & Harlington, and Twickenham. A survey carried out in 7 boroughs from late February to late March 2014 showed 48% net support, and 34% net oppose. A Populus survey of 6 boroughs in February to May 2013 showed 46% net support and 43% net opposition. A Populus survey in September 2007 (asking about a short 3rd runway) had 50% net support and 30% net oppose. So there really has not been a lot of change, though there are slight variations in the composition of the figures.
London leads as the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin – by number of passengers through its 5 airports
Simon Calder, writing in the Independent, says that “far from Britain declining as an aviation superpower, the capital’s global lead over every other city in the world is increasing.” Despite Heathrow being close the largest number of flights, London remains the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin (23%) – and is racing ahead of its closest rival, New York. There were a record number of air passengers using the 5 London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City airport) in 2014, and that was about 61% of all UK air passengers (same % as in 2013). Some 144.7 million passengers flew through London’s 5 commercial airports last year, which is the equivalent of 275 people – or one wide-bodied aircraft – arriving or departing every minute of every day of the year. Heathrow’s number of passengers in 2014 rose 1.7% due to using larger aircraft, and the number of passengers using the 5 London airports rose 5% in 2014 compared to 2013. While London is by far the best connected city in the world, New York comes 2nd, Tokyo 3rd and Paris the only other European city in the top 10. The pre-eminence of London indicates that the UK economy is not losing out due to any lack of airport capacity. London comfortably leads world cities, for airport capacity.
Runnymede Council drops its support for Heathrow 3rd runway
At a meeting on Thursday 22nd January, Runnymede Borough Council voted against their previous pro-Heathrow expansion stance. Runnymede has became the first council to change from a position of supporting a new runway at Heathrow. A packed public gallery burst into applause when the council’s Corporate Management Committee voted by six votes to three to change the policy. Many of the residents were from areas that had seen an increase in flight numbers during the recent trials by Heathrow. The Committee argued that the environmental downsides outweighed any economic benefits that Runnymede might get from expansion. Unfortunately the council voted instead to back a 2nd runway at Gatwick. The way the Airports Commission process has been conducted, the impression has been given that there will be a runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick. In reality, it is still very much whether there will be any new runway – so not a binary choice. The vote by Runnymede leaves only two councils, Slough and Spelthorne, as fully behind a Heathrow 3rd runway. The Council meeting and the vote came about due to pressure from local groups, such as Englefield Green and Windsor.
In 2014 Heathrow had 86,000 noise complaints in 5 months – with a 5-fold increase between 2013 and 2014
Heathrow have disclosed to Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith that they received a staggering 86,000 complaints about aircraft noise in just 5 months last year. Overall, 94,114 individual noise complaints were made to Heathrow in 2014 compared to just 18,826 in 2013. That is a 5-fold increase in the number of complaints, and a 3-fold increase in the number of people complaining. Heathrow says this is due to the airspace trails they carried out in the last half of 2014 where they tested new flight paths, both to the west and to the east of the airport. Zac Goldsmith said “the recent flight path trials offer a tiny hint of what’s to come if Heathrow is expanded. The trials affected a small part of West London, whereas a 3rd runway would bring hundreds of thousands of new people into the airport’s noise footprint. At this stage they know nothing about it. This …. demonstrates how badly affected people are by aircraft noise.” The figures also show that nearly 7,000 people complained about night and early morning flights in 2014. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heathrow and the Wider Economy, recently produced a report showing how the impact of noise from Heathrow’s flight paths has been seriously underestimated.
Windsor meetings on Heathrow expansion – afternoon & evening of Tuesday 20th January
The West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA) and Old Windsor Residents Associations are holding Open Public Meetings on Tuesday 20th January at Windsor Racecourse starting at 2.30pm and 7.30 pm. The aim is to inform local residents about the probably disastrous effects of extra runway capacity on life locally. Also to empower people to take action that will help to influence relevant decision makers, and ensure their voice is heard in the debate – above the noise from Heathrow, and big business. There will be presentations from local experts on noise, housing, transport, health. Those who are able to attend the afternoon session are asked to do so, in order to leave space in the evening for people who work in the daytime. There is the prospect, from another Heathrow runway, of around 50% more flights, some over previously quiet areas. There would also be a demand for around 70,000 more houses for 112,000 more employees and their families’ needs, which would inevitably have a huge permanent impact. Effects would be felt across many boroughs, all already stretched to cope with current demand, each required to find space for 5,000 more houses, plus schools, hospitals, doctors, transport improvements, etc.
MPs group identify serious concerns about noise implications of Heathrow expansion
On the 18th December 2014, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heathrow and the Wider Economy launched its report ‘Noise from Heathrow Airport’ which sets out how the Government, Parliament and the Aviation Industry have seriously underestimated the impact of noise from Heathrow’s flight paths. The report considered the present and future noise impact of Heathrow’s flight paths, with the existing two runways, and with the proposed 3rd runway. It found a substantial list of gaps in HAL’s proposals and has produced a list of actions for the Government, Airport’s Commission and HAL that are necessary to tackle the existing problem and that are central to the consideration of any 3rd runway. These include the need for noise to be measured using the WHO formula; the need for full information about future flight paths, and respite periods, so residents are properly informed; proper estimates of numbers affected by noise in future, taking into account the anticipated growth in population in affected areas; and reduction in night flights. The APPG notes that HAL’s CEO has confirmed to the APPG that a successful 3rd runway would pave the way for a 4th runway.
Council leaders tell Mr Holland-Kaye that he is wrong to presume councils don’t oppose his runway plans
The Leader of Richmond Council, Lord True, has accused the Chief Executive of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, as ‘talking utter nonsense’ in a recent interview regarding the future of the airport. Mr Holland-Kaye said: ‘Historically the five closest boroughs to us have opposed our plans. Now all are either neutral or support us and only Hillingdon opposes our plans now.” Lord True says Mr Holland-Kaye should wake up and realise the opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway from West London boroughs is stronger now than it has ever been. Lord True, said:“Mr Holland Kaye is talking utter nonsense. When he claims councils near Heathrow are either in favour or neutral about his expansion, it is as if Caesar were claiming Gaul would welcome his legions. Sheer fantasy. Richmond remains implacably opposed to gifting a bigger Heathrow to its wealthy foreign owners at the expense of ordinary Londoners – and we and Hillingdon are certainly not alone. Mr Holland Kaye – wake up!” Leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia has also reminded Heathrow that councils across London and the Home Counties are deeply opposed to a new runway and creation of new flightpaths. He said: “Councils surrounding Heathrow and across London are resolutely opposed to expansion and that is not going to change.”
Expansion of Heathrow could ‘destroy Windsor’ according to councillor
Another Heathrow runway could ‘destroy Windsor’ according to a Windsor councillor and chairman of the Royal Borough’s Aviation Forum. The comments were made at a meeting of the forum,discussing the Airports Commission’s options for a new south east runway. The councillor said: “If the expansion of Heathrow Airport is given the go ahead, it will destroy Windsor and the reason why people want to come here. It will affect the ability to hold state functions at Windsor Castle and the north-western option will affect Eton….It would see an increased level of noise for our residents and will affect our world heritage sights, which the commission have seemed to overlook.” The Royal Borough of Windsor are now drafting a submission to the Airports Commission. Another councillor said: “The Airports Commission’s paper is one of the biggest things the borough has had to respond to and the implications are enormous.” Another councillor commented that the need for up to 70,800 new homes, for a 3rd runway, would created turmoil and require highly valued green belt land.
The case of the mysterious post boxes appearing in Heathrow’s terminals … for pro-Heathrow consultation forms
Post boxes have started to appear in the terminals Heathrow Airport urging customers to “help us expand Heathrow”. They coincide with the final public consultation by the Airports Commission. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, said “Local people alerted us to these post boxes…… It seems as if Heathrow is using passengers as a weapon in its fight to get a third runway.” Questions are being asked by campaigners whether passengers are being handed forms as they come off their planes for them to send to Heathrow or put into the post boxes. John Stewart said he expected Heathrow may have miscalculated, as the Airports Commission is interested in solid arguments rather than simply filled in campaigning forms. It should be remembered that Gatwick and Ipsos Mori decided that consultation responses through an NGO, the Woodland Trust, should not be counted as responding that was was too easy. Neil Keveren, who chairs SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion), commented that while local people have to campaign using their own time and resources, Heathrow is able to drum up support from passengers from around the globe who “have little interest in communities such as ours.”
Windsor councillor says there would be homes ‘turmoil’ if Heathrow is expanded
A Windsor councillor has said that creating up to 70,800 homes if Heathrow expansion plans go ahead would cause “absolute turmoil.” He said a 3rd runway north-west of the airport could create the need to use greenbelt land for housing. However, almost unbelievably, a Heathrow spokesman said: “There will be little or no need for additional house-building over and above current local authority plans.” The Airports Commission, said Heathrow expansion would create between 47,400 and 112,400 jobs by 2030, which in turn would require an extra 29,800 to 70,800 homes to be created in the surrounding area, including Windsor, Slough and London boroughs. There will be a public meeting in Windsor to discuss the Heathrow plans, before the consultation ends on 3rd February. Windsor already has an enormous housing problem in the area, and are having go consider building on green belt land (which is locally very unpopular), even with no new runway. And there is increasing urbanisation …”The impact will be felt across the Thames Valley – it’s commercial greed gone mad.”
Heathrow Airport to set up a new Community Noise Forum, to help residents understand flight path issues
Heathrow Airport knows it has a real problem with aircraft noise, that could block its runway aspirations. The recent flight path changes and trials revealed a degree of anger and opposition to increased plane noise that stunned Heathrow staff. Thousands of people newly overflown, or under new concentrated flight paths, expressed their intense opposition to the noise nuisance inflicted on them. Heathrow, at its Consultative Committee meeting on 10th December, was keen to set up a new “Community Noise Forum” through which to try to defuse some of this local anger and dissatisfaction – and to try to win back some trust. For many, the repeated half truths and worse from the airport mean trust has broken down irretrievably. The minutes say: “Even the CAA had been regarded by some as not entirely independent in the process.” There is already a “Noise Forum” (which replaced the Heathrow Noise & Track Keeping Working Group (NTKWG)), but that only involves HACAN and not other community groups. The new plan is to get something started as soon as possible, to give the appropriate community members and local authorities access to the raw data on flight path dispersal and concentration. A suitable chairperson needs to be located.
SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) suggested basic response to Airports Commission consultation – deadline 3rd February 2015
The Airports Commission consultation, on the three runway options, ends on 3rd February. It is important that as many people as possible submit their views, especially things the Commission has either left out – or got wrong. The local group for the Heathrow Villages, Harmondsworth in particular, has put together a simple response form – to help people who do not have the time, or expertise, to read through the 55+ long, difficult documents. The response form can be used by people in the Heathrow Villages area, or anyone else who would like to do so. People in the Villages stand to suffer particularly badly from either Heathrow runway scheme. They are already very close to Heathrow, already suffering local blight, noise and air pollution. They face loss of their homes by compulsory purchase, uncertain financial compensation, loss of their village character, history, facilities …. In view of the intense threats they face, the Villages have joined together in their campaigns, to speak with one voice and provide a unified front against the threats.
National Farmers’ Union seeks farmer views on airport expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is seeking views on the knock-on effects to farm businesses of airport runway expansion plans either at Heathrow or Gatwick. Depending on the final site chosen, there is a strong possibility that farm businesses and good agricultural land will be lost. A spokesman for Berkshire farmers J Rayner and Sons, based in Horton, near Slough, (map) said they were “very concerned” about possible expansion of Heathrow. He added: “The northern runway extension would go straight through our farm and finish us off. Even if they don’t take any of our land to build the runway, the infrastructure around here cannot cope. The family has farmed here since the 16th century. We are in the same boat as farmers affected by HS2. Our lives are on hold. We cannot do anything on the farm to invest, such as making units or renting farm properties, because of the threat of Heathrow expansion.” Another farmer, in Harmondsworth, said: “The whole situation at the moment is totally fluid. Nobody knows what’s going to be happening until the commission reports back.” Farmers want adequate compensation.