Heathrow news January to June 2017
Letter sent by ChATR (Chiswick) to all new Cabinet members on Tory backing for 3rd runway
ChATR, Chiswick Against the Third Runway, have written to all the new Cabinet ministers since the election, to express their grave concern at the Conservative manifesto promise to build a Third Runway at Heathrow – and to urge them not to support these proposals. They ask: “How can this government lend support to a development that knowingly harms public health? There is a weight of evidence against the Third Runway showing the adverse effects of noise, pollution and sleep deprivation. It seems utterly bizarre to us that this government has endorsed a scheme that benefits foreign shareholders at the expense of millions of Londoners who will suffer these very serious and well documented health consequences.” … They say: “Poorer communities nearer the airport and working families under new & existing flight paths, trapped by debt, mortgages, stamp duty costs or other reasons will suffer the most. It seems quite wrong that the inequalities and injustices of airport expansion, which have been repeatedly raised by the affected communities, are being simply brushed aside for an, as yet unproven, marginal economic gain.” And the DfT now acknowledge that the economic benefit (without including the carbon costs) of Heathrow is only about £6-7 billion over 60 years. Read the whole letter.
Ever increasing numbers of city-breaks and short holidays ruining cities – and the climate
With rising affluence in much of the world, and flying being unrealistically cheap (as it pays no fuel duty, and almost no other taxes) people want as many short holidays and city breaks as they can get. This is starting to have very negative impacts on some of the cities most visited, eg. Barcelona. Growth is relentless. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) even speaks about tourism as a right for all citizens, and their forecasts suggest increases from 1 billion international travellers today, to 1.8 billion by 2030. But there is a huge price to pay in carbon emissions from all these trips and holidays, most of which is the flights. Short breaks therefore, pollute more per night than longer breaks. And you can fit more into your year. “The marketing department might prefer a Japanese tourist to Barcelona because on average they will spend €40 more than a French tourist – according to unpublished data from the Barcelona Tourist Board – but the carbon footprint we collectively pay for is not taken into account.” People are being persuaded by advertising and marketing, and a change in ethos of society, to take more short holidays – not one longer one. A report in 2010 suggested that makes people the happiest. More trips = more carbon emissions.
Lord Adonis: Hard Brexit could halt Heathrow runway plans, as investors won’t risk the money in UK
National Infrastructure Commission chairman, Lord Adonis, says UK must maintain ties with EU to save key projects such as Heathrow 3rd runway and HS2. He said a hard Brexit would spell the end for the 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow airport was keen, before the referendum in 2016, for the UK to remain in the EU. While Heathrow, since the referendum, has argued that Brexit makes its 3rd runway ever more important, Andrew Adonis said private investment in infrastructure would be off the table unless Britain could maintain ties with the EU. He said that a host of major projects including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3 rail links between northern cities, as well as universal broadband and mobile services, would be under threat but particularly those that rely on private funding. “These decisions on Brexit have a crucial bearing on infrastructure. Business will not invest for the long term if they think Britain is going down the tube. It’s as simple as that.” And “If we were to go for a hard Brexit which severs Britain’s trading ties with the continent I think we could be heading for a calamity as a country.” The cost of the expansion at Heathrow would be about £17.5 billion (with Heathrow only paying about £1 billion towards surface access). They are trying to find cost savings. The money needs to come from its range of foreign investors, the biggest two of which are a Spanish Ferrovial (25%) consortium and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund (20%).
Andrew Adonis, Chair of National Infrastructure Commission, urges government to get on with Heathrow runway
Lord Andrew Adonis, chair of the UK National Infrastructure Commission, has urged the government to show it is committed to getting a 3rd Heathrow runway built. He wants to reassure backers of the runway that the current woeful political instability in government will not delay the project. The FT says Lord Adonis (a long time backer of the runway) considers it “essential” – but though it was in the Tory election manifesto, it was not mentioned in the (watered-down) Queen’s Speech. The Airports National Policy Statement is due to be considered by the Transport Select Committee (when it is re-convened) and then voted on in the House of Commons – perhaps early 2018. Andrew Adonis has urged Theresa May to get the vote as early as possible; that would be May 2018 “to send out a positive signal to business”… that “Britain is open for business.” He considers (with the problems on Hinckley Point C power station) that getting the runway built would be “the “acid test” of the government’s commitment to infrastructure investment.” But the parliamentary vote is far less certain that before the election, and Theresa May is not likely to remain Prime Minister for long. If Boris Johnson became PM, he has always been vehemently opposed to the runway. There remains huge uncertainty about the whole scheme.
Cllr True announces retirement as Leader of Richmond Council
23 June 2017
Cllr Nicholas True, Leader of Richmond Council since 2010, announced at the Cabinet meeting on 22 June that he will not be seeking re-election to the Council in 2018. As a result, he will be stepping down as Leader of Richmond Council on 4th July to enable a successor to be elected to lead the administration forward up to and beyond May 2018. Lord True said: “This will leave a big hole in my life. The greatest honour I have ever had was to be trusted by local people and my colleagues to lead this special community for over seven years.” …“At an age when many others think of full retirement I find myself with the privilege of a seat in Parliament at a critical time for our country. I will continue to be active there.”He led Richmond Council since 2010. He became a member of the House of Lords in 2010. He has been a fierce opponent of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and has led Richmond council in its opposition. The noise from Heathrow planes, at around 1,000 feet over head as they land from the east for over half each day, has a highly negative impact on the borough. The number of hours without these landings, (so with no plane noise) might halve if the runway was allowed. Thousands who are trying to prevent the 3rd runway will be very grateful indeed for the work that Nick True has done, for the campaign, for many years.
Mayor of London publishes draft Transport strategy for consultation – not in favour of Heathrow runway
The Mayor of London has published his draft Transport strategy for consultation. It states: “A three-runway Heathrow, however, would have severe noise and air quality impacts and put undue strain on the local public transport and road networks, and alternative airport expansion options should be considered. London’s growth is important, and it must be made to work for all of the city’s current and future residents.” And Policy 20: “The Mayor will continue to oppose expansion of Heathrow airport unless it can be shown that no new noise or air quality harm would result and the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities. Any such expansion must also demonstrate how the surface access networks will be invested in to accommodate the resultant additional demand alongside background growth.” Also Proposal 96: “The Mayor will seek a commitment from Government to fund and deliver within an appropriate timescale the extensive transport measures required to support the expansion of Heathrow.” The consultation closes on 2nd October 2017. It can be found here. People responding do not have to answer every question, but can say if they agree or disagree, and whether the Mayor should consider other aspects.
Tory MPs say Heathrow runway ‘not going to happen’ following hung parliament
Conservative MPs have warned that a manifesto pledge to expand Heathrow will not go ahead, following Theresa May’s failure to secure a majority in the election. As many as 40 of the Prime Minister’s own MPs are against the building of a 3rd runway. Labour are divided on the issue and their election manifesto only committed the party to expand Britain’s airport capacity, with four conditions; the proposed Heathrow runway cannot meet those conditions. Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond – re-elected in June – tweeted: ” Heathrow expansion… not going to happen.” He told The Sun: “Heathrow expansion already faced huge obstacles, not least a very strong legal challenge by Local Authorities and appalling air pollution implications.” Both Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, are ardent opponents of a Heathrow third runway. The campaign, No 3rd Runway, canvassed candidates before the election and found 31 out of London’s 73 MPs were opposed to the runway, many posing for photos endorsing their pledge to oppose it. The number of opponents would far outweigh Mrs May’s waver thin Commons majority potentially provided by the DUP.The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is opposed to it. The new Minister for London, Greg Hands, is opposed to it.
Election fallout: will government plan to get 3rd Heathrow runway be hit?
The Conservatives are set to form a minority government, which could affect a range of transport issues from Heathrow expansion to road schemes even if the Conservatives remain in Government. Although Theresa May intends to continue as prime minister, with the support of the DUP, we are now entering a time of uncertainty. Anti-Heathrow expansion campaign group HACAN has done its own research on MPs, showing that 31 of the capital’s 73 MPs are known to oppose the runway. HACAN chair John Stewart said: ‘Once the views of all London’s MPs are known, it is highly likely that a majority will be opposed to Heathrow expansion. Of themselves they may not stop it but they could act as a very awkward bloc to a new runway ever seeing the light of day, particularly given the fact that the new Government doesn’t have a majority of seats in Parliament.’ Rob Barnstone, coordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, the group representing residents opposed to the project, claimed the failure of the Conservatives to win a majority in the Commons has created less certainty on issues including the third runway at Heathrow. He said: “The Government were relying on a large parliamentary majority, including many new and loyal backbenchers, to push through a third runway. “Now that Theresa May’s gamble has rendered her anything but a conquering hero, the future of the project looks much less certain and potentially in jeopardy.”
Around 42% of London MPs (since the election) oppose a 3rd Heathrow runway
List from John Stewart, Chair of Hacan, (the main residents’ group working on Heathrow noise issues) of the MPs known to be, or believed to be, opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. So far they number 31 MPs out of the total of 73, and more details may be added when the information is known. In the 2005 election, the Conservatives had 306 seats. In the 2010 election they had 330 seats. Now in the 2017 election, the Conservatives have 318 seats. The party wants to get the 3rd Heathrow runway built. The Conservatives may form an alliance with the Irish DUP, which has 10 MPs and is a firm backer of the 3rd runway. That alliance would take the Tories to 328 MPs, which is 3 above the key number of half the MPs in the Commons (650). The hung parliament will make it harder for the government to force through highly contentious, and widely unpopular polices like the runway.
Heathrow now considering (not tunnel or bridge) but cheaper series of “viaducts” over M25
Heathrow has a huge problem in how to get a runway over the busiest, widest stretch of the M25. The original plan was a full 14-lane tunnel about 2,000 feet long. Then there were plans for a sort of bridge over the road. Even those would be prohibitively expensive (Heathrow says it would only pay £1.1 billion on roads etc). How there are plans, by Phil Wilbraham, who oversaw the construction of Heathrow’s terminals 2 and 5, to build a cheaper system. It would be 3 parallel bridges across the M25, with narrow ones for taxiways at the side, and a wider one for the runway in the centre. The plan is for a 2 mile long runway, to take even the largest planes. The main airline at Heathrow, British Airways, suggested a runway about 1,000 feet shorter, that would not need to cross the motorway, but that might not be able to take A380s, and would mess up the flight patterns. The earlier “bridge” concept would have meant the runway would be on a slight slope, to get over the motorway. The cost of moving the thousands of tonnes of earth would be immense, and it is thought Heathrow has had to reconsider. The airlines do not want to have to pay for the building costs of roads etc associated with a 3rd runway. The government does not want to force Heathrow to pay, as this would mean increasing the cost of flying – and reduce demand at Heathrow.
Another response by Sir Jeremy Sullivan on the NPS, showing his oversight is not satisfactory
ir Jeremy Sullivan was given the task, by the government, of monitoring the DfT consultation on the draft Airports NPS. People can write to him with concerns about the process. Some very unsatisfactory responses have been received. One person wrote to say: “One of the boards at the consultation displays said the following: “Expanding Heathrow is estimated to deliver additional benefits to passengers and the wider economy up to £61 billion over 60 years.” In the absence of explanation, any normal person (one who has not obtained and studied the detailed evidence) would take this to mean that there is an overall economic benefit from Heathrow expansion. In fact this is not the case. The £61bn is GROSS benefits, the benefits without any of the costs being subtracted. If costs are subtracted the NET economic benefit, according to the DFT, is £0.2bn to £6.1bn. That is, 10 to 300 times smaller. …. This is not a matter of content, which you have stated you will not consider. It is a matter of balance, objectivity and not misleading the public in a consultation.” And the reply? “Whether statements such as those which you mention in your email are/are not ‘misleading’ is a matter of opinion. This is precisely the kind of point that you can make in response to the consultation.” ie. washing his hands of his responsibilities in this task. Nobody else is overseeing his overseeing of this very poor consultation.
Spanish study shows traffic-related air pollution negatively affects children’s attention in the short term
Research from Barcelona’s Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, by a team of ISGlobal researchers, indicates that on days with high air pollution, there was a marked reduction in the children’s ability to focus on problem-solving tasks. The study looked at two traffic-related pollutants—nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and elemental carbon (also known as black carbon). The children who had been exposed to high air pollution on their way to school took longer to respond to questions and found it harder than usual to concentrate. On average, their brain function slowed to the point where attention span was that of someone a month younger. Scientists tracked 2,700 pupils aged 7 to 10, in about 300 classrooms in 39 schools in the city of Barcelona.t They tested their ability to pay attention in class and comparing the results with peaks and troughs in air quality. This shows children’s brains work less well when are exposed to high levels of air pollution, especially from diesel. This research suggests that polluted air in Britain’s cities is negatively affecting youngsters’ brains as well as their lungs. Fine particles in diesel fumes raise our risk of suffering heart damage and an early death. The same team in 2015 found pupils’ brain function developed at a slower rate if exposed to high levels of air pollution.
Leading economists warn that very high carbon tax, starting soon, needed to avoid climate catastrophe
A group of leading economists have warned that the world risks catastrophic global warming in just 13 years unless countries raise taxes on CO2 emissions to as much as $100 (£77) per metric tonne. Experts including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern believe governments must impose a tax on CO2 of $40-$80 per tonne by 2020, to limit emissions from high carbon polluting industries. The price needs to rise to $50-$100 by 2030. This would be needed to attempt to prevent global temperature rising above 2C, in line with targets set by the Cop21 Paris Agreement in 2015. In a report by the High Level Commission on Carbon Prices, backed by the World Bank and the IMF, the authors suggest poor countries could aim for a lower tax, as their economies are more vulnerable. Currently though Europe talks the talk on carbon, the EU carbon trading system currently charges major polluters just €6 (£5.20) for every tonne of CO2, which is far too low to have any impact. Stiglitz and Stern say CO2 prices should rise now, to give businesses and governments the necessary incentive to lower CO2 emissions even when fossil fuels are cheap. The rise in the cost of carbon, if the aviation industry was included, would have a significant impact on the cost of air travel, reducing demand slightly. Heathrow runway?
British Airways could have to pay £100m compensation bill to passengers due to its huge IT failure
British Airways could face a bill of at least £100 million in compensation for its passengers affected by the cancellations and delays caused by its IT systems failure. The problem, perhaps caused by a loss of electric power, which then lead to most systems not working, resulted in BA flights around the world being unable to take off, passengers unable to check in, even the website not working. The problem affected Heathrow the most in England, as the largest base for BA. Gatwick was also affected. In total about 1,000 flights were affected, with problems likely to last several days more, while systems are fixed and planes get back into the right places. As this computer fault is entirely the fault of BA (and not any sort of “act of God”) BA will be liable to pay full compensation, to anyone delayed over 3 hours. The airline was particularly busy as it was the start of the school half term, and also a Bank Holiday weekend, with people flying for weekends away. The GMB union said the problem had been caused in part because BA made many good IT staff redundant in 2016, to save money. They instead outsourced the work to India. Besides the huge cost of compensation (and improving its IT resilience) BA will have suffered serious reputational damage, with many saying they would avoid ever flying with BA again.
Heathrow loses High Court challenge on charging Crossrail trains using the line it built
Heathrow has lost a High Court challenge over access charges it can can levy on Crossrail trains travelling to the airport. The airport spent £1 billion building a five-mile spur 20 years ago to connect Heathrow to the Great Western track. Legal action was triggered after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) decided the amount which Heathrow could charge Crossrail, and others, for using the spur could not include any amount connected to the recovery of the spur building costs. Heathrow applied for a judicial review at London’s High Court, arguing the decision was irrational and ORR had no power to reach any decision over the access charge at all. Now Mr Justice Ouseley has ruled that the challenge failed on all grounds. He refused permission to appeal, but Heathrow can still ask the Court of Appeal to hear the case. Heathrow is counting on the arrival of Crossrail in May 2018, as part of its plans to increase the airport’s rail capacity by 2040. There had been concerns that had the decision gone in favour of Heathrow, Transport for London (TfL) may have opted not to serve the airport at all. Heathrow needs a higher proportion of passengers to arrive by rail, to try to deal with its air pollution problems.
IAG warns the “costs and complexity” of bridging M25 could be major problem for Heathrow runway plans
British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG) estimates bridging the M25, close to the M4 junction, would cost £2 billion-£3 billion. The Airports Commission suggested the cost could be higher, with £5 billion for local road upgrades, including the tunnel. The Commission said Heathrow should pay for these, as part of the cost of building its runway. The cost and complexity of somehow putting the runway over the busiest, widest section of motorway in the UK are considerable. IAG, as by far the largest airline at Heathrow, does not want to be charged for this work, which would mean putting up the price of its air tickets. IAG says there is no detailed risk and cost analysis of the airport’s plans on what to do with the M25, though a bridge is cheaper than a tunnel. Willie Walsh said: “Airlines were never consulted on the runway length and they can operate perfectly well from a slightly shorter runway that doesn’t cross the M25.” He wants Heathrow to build a shorter runway of 3,200m rather than 3,500m that does not require going over the M25. But that would mean the motorway directly at the end of the runway, in the worse danger zone. IAG says: “We will not pay for a runway that threatens both costs and delays spiralling out of control and where critical elements of the project could be undeliverable.”
Walsh says Heathrow does not have the ability to ring fence slots to increase domestic flight routes
A row has emerged between British Airways and Heathrow over the airport leading domestic airports to believe they will get air links to Heathrow, if it builds a 3rd runway. Heathrow has written to the government asking it to “ring-fence” a proportion of its take-off and landing slots for domestic flights. But BA has replied that Heathrow does not have any standing to control destinations served by the slots. Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO said: “It’s not in Heathrow’s gift to increase domestic flying from the airport … Airlines, not airports, decide where to fly based on routes’ profitability.” He wants Heathrow to keep its charges down, so IAG’s airlines can keep growing and making more money. Walsh says only with low airport charges would there be many domestic flights, as they are otherwise not profitable. Currently, only 6% of passengers travel on domestic flights from Heathrow. It has links to 8 UK destinations. Heathrow has told several airports that it will pay for a Route Development Fund, for 3 years, to subsidise some routes and get them going. It has not said it would subsidise them indefinitely. European regulations restrict how much flights to small airports can be subsidised, due to competition concerns. Heathrow has depended on backing for its runway plans, from some regional airports, which have been led to believe they will benefit from it.
Heathrow expansion plans, and ability to reduce road vehicle trips, threatened by Crossrail costs row
Simon Calder, writing in the Independent, says plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway could be jeopardised by a row between the airport’s owners and Transport for London (TfL). Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4 are expected to be served by the new Crossrail east-west line, which is due to open in May 2018. But Heathrow is demanding very high fees from rail users to pay back the estimated £1 billion cost of the privately funded Heathrow Express spur from the Great Western line – into the airport. That opened in 1998. The Office of Rail and Road said that Heathrow could not recoup the historical costs of building this link. Heathrow challenged this decision, and a legal judgment is expected shortly. If the ruling is in favour of Heathrow, TfL may choose not to serve the airport at all — which would throw into doubt predictions of the proportion of passengers using public transport if a 3rd runway was built. The NPS for the runway requires a higher proportion of passengers and staff to use public transport in future, than now. One of Crossrail’s selling points has been easy access to Heathrow from east London and the City, down to 34 minutes from Liverpool Street to Heathrow. “Without straightforward, low-cost rail links, more airline passengers may opt to go by road to Heathrow — adding to pollution, congestion and noise.”
Tory manifesto backing for Heathrow runway, during NPS consultation period, turns process into “worthless charade”
Lawyers for HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) will be looking at the Conservative Manifesto pledge to expand Heathrow, despite the public consultation still running. The manifesto states: “We are investing to reduce travel time and cost, increase capacity and attract investment here in the UK. We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and we will ensure that these great projects do as much as possible to develop the skills and careers of British workers.” The current 16 week Department for Transport consultation on the Airports National Policy statement (setting out the policy for the basis of a Heathrow 3rd runway) ends of 25th May. The Manifesto was published on 18th May. Hacan believes the consultation, which is intended to ascertain public opinion about the runway project and conditions that should apply to it, is invalidated by the manifesto pledge. The NPS consultation also has to be assessed by the Transport Select Committee, and then be voted on in parliament, before it is official government policy. But by seeming to pre-empt this process, the Tory manifesto says the party has already made up its mind, which makes the consultation process into a worthless charade.
Enough is enough when it comes to aircraft noise say community groups from across the UK
A large number of community groups, representing hundreds of thousands of UK residents, delivered a statement to Number 10 demanding that the next government takes action to reduce aviation noise and emissions. The groups are seeking a new policy on aircraft noise and tough regulation of the aviation industry that balances the interests of people living near airports and under flight paths with the demands of the industry for more flights. Charles Lloyd of the Aviation Communities Forum said: “Anyone who lives near an airport expects some noise. But the changes caused by new concentrated routes – motorways in the sky – and the growth in flight numbers are having unacceptable affects on people’s lives, up and down the country. … For far too long the aviation industry has been unaccountable and able to do virtually what it wants in the skies. The industry has little interest in its impact on people on the ground and there’s no proper regulation to hold it to account. The Government’s hands-off attitude needs to change: communities near airports and under flight paths are no longer willing to be ignored. … Frustration is reaching a boiling point: people can’t sue the industry because its exempt from noise laws, there’s no noise regulator to turn to, the industry plays pass-the-parcel if you try to get things changed and they don’t even have to pay compensation if they destroy your health or the value of your house.” Read the full statement.
Heathrow and Crossrail in legal dispute over how much TfL would have to pay to use 5 miles of track
Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) is a £15 billion train line designed to cross London from west to east, bringing relief for commuters, but it seems it may not now stop at Heathrow because of a legal row with the airport’s owners over fees. Heathrow has its lucrative Heathrow Express service runs partly on a 5-mile stretch of track, built and paid for (over £1 billion) by the airport. The Crossrail link into Heathrow would run on this section of track. It is an expensive (£25 per ticket) route, and Heathrow’s foreign owners want to recoup past spending on the private train line with an “investment recovery charge” of £570 for every train that uses the track, plus extra fees of about £107 per train. But the Elizabeth line, by contrast, will be in line with the fares that apply across the rest of the capital’s transport network. The opening of the new Crossrail service to Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 is expected to throw the financial sustainability of the existing Heathrow Express into question, though Heathrow insists it would continue to run alongside the Elizabeth Line. Heathrow’s owners are now in dispute with the Office of Rail and Road, which sets track access charges, over the amount that TfL, which runs the Elizabeth Line, will need to pay to use the track. The hearings were held earlier this year and a High Court judgment is expected within weeks.
Boris Johnson says he disagrees with Tory plan to build Heathrow runway – as “very difficult to deliver”
Boris Johnson, who once pledged to lie down in front of the Heathrow bulldozers to block the 3rd runway, has been completely silent on the matter, since being made Foreign Secretary. But he has now made a short comment expressing his opposition to it – the constituency he wants to win back, Uxbridge & South Ruislip, is badly affected by Heathrow flights. He said that the runway would be ‘very difficult to deliver’ because of noise and pollution concerns. “I don’t think it’s the right solution. I’ll be honest with I think it’s very difficult to deliver. I just think noise pollution, the vehicular pollution, the air pollution, these are things that really have to be addressed.” The Tory manifesto says they “… will continue with the expansion of Heathrow Airport.” He told LBC that “The position is the one I was arguing as Mayor and as Foreign Secretary. That remains unchanged.” LBC’s Political Editor then asked him: “Has Theresa May got it wrong?” But Mr Johnson was whisked away before he could answer. In October 2016 Theresa May told all Cabinet Ministers “…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”
Inadequate and unsatisfactory replies from Sir Jeremy Sullivan to complaints about the NPS consultation process
Many people have taken part in the DfT’s consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS). The NPS is to provide the policy to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. The DfT appointed Sir Jeremy Sullivan, a retired judge, to oversee the consultation and ensure it was carried out adequately. However, it appears Sir Jeremy is only looking at process, and not at content. Responses by Sir Jeremy to letters to him, complaining about the consultation, have received some unsatisfactory responses – and some of these are copied below. Sir Jeremy is unconcerned that the material in the exhibitions by the DfT was biased, and gave only partial information. His view is that as the government is in favour of the runway, it would be expected that the material would reflect this. To all those who complained to him, he merely advises that all comments and points should be sent to the DfT in consultation responses. In response to many people who complained about the absence of flight path detail, he comments that “In my view it is still possible to have a fair consultation upon the basis of indicative flight paths, provided it is made clear that they are only indicative.” And on selective quotes from backers of Heathrow (no balance with other comments) he says: “In my view using quotes from business leaders and others which are in support of this position is in keeping with the purpose of the [DfT consultation] events.”
Heathrow fares badly in party manifestos – small, limited reference in Tory manifesto
By inserting only a small and limited reference to Heathrow expansion in the Conservative Manifesto (published on 18th May) is interpreted as meaning the Tories are leaving themselves room to drop the proposed runway, if necessary. The manifesto only says: “…We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and we will ensure that these great projects do as much as possible to develop the skills and careers of British workers.” The No 3rd Runway Coalition, set up earlier this year, includes over a dozen campaign groups, parliamentary candidates, local authorities and NGOs, working together to oppose Heathrow expansion. The Coalition believes the weak reference could indicate recognition of the insurmountable challenges that expansion at Heathrow faces including poor air quality, climate change, noise reduction, surface access difficulties and costs to the public, and the demolition of thousands of homes. The Labour manifesto only said the party “recognised the need for additional capacity in the south east” and it would “guarantee that any airport expansion “adheres” to Labour’s four tests. The LibDems made an explicit commitment not to support a 3rd Heathrow runway, or one at Gatwick or Stansted.
UK government must not use international climate deal as a “smokescreen” with which to force through Heathrow runway
WWF is urging the next UK Government to come up with a credible climate plan for aviation – not just offsetting. They say the UK should not merely depend on the ICAO deal (very weak) as a “smokescreen” to pave the way for adding a 3rd Heathrow runway. The proposed new runway would make Heathrow the UK’s largest single source of greenhouse gases and increase emissions 15% over the limit for aviation advised by the Government’s independent expert advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The UK government hopes the ICAO deal for a global offsetting scheme agreed in Montreal last October – called CORSIA – would allow it to ignore aviation CO2. But the new WWF report Grounded explains ten problems with this approach. These include a weak target well short of the ambition of the Paris climate agreement and ignoring the non-CO2 pollution from planes, which probably almost doubles their overall global warming impact. The ICAO CORSIA scheme is no panacea for limiting the climate change impacts of airports expansion. The CO2 emissions from use of a new runway cannot just be offset. Instead government Ministers need to come up with a credible plan for limiting UK aviation emissions before making any decisions on allowing an extra (intensively used) runway (largely used for long haul flights). Otherwise, with no plan to deal with the huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions poses a very real threat to the UK’s legally binding climate change commitments.
What is in the Labour and LibDem manifestos in relation to aviation
The Labour party has not given more than vague support for a Heathrow runway, merely reiterating their “4 tests” that had been mentioned several years ago. Now their manifesto says: “Labour recognises the need for additional airport capacity in the South East. We welcome the work done by the Airports Commission, and we will guarantee that any airport expansion adheres to our tests that require noise issues to be addressed, air quality to be protected, the UK’s climate change obligations met and growth across the country supported …. We will continue working with our neighbours … negotiating to retain membership of the Common Aviation Area and Open Skies arrangements.” They also say on carbon emissions: “We will reclaim Britain’s leading role in tackling climate change, working hard to preserve the Paris Agreement and deliver on international commitments to reduce emissions while mitigating the impacts of climate change on developing countries.” The LibDem manifesto says they will: “Develop a strategic airports policy for the whole of the UK, taking full account of the impacts on climate change and local pollution. We remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary and will focus instead on improving existing regional airports such as Birmingham and Manchester. We will ensure no net increase in runways across the UK.”
The Institute of Directors want government to allow two new runways – not just Heathrow
The Institute of Directors (IOD) are firmly convinced that people should fly more, and so the south east needs more runway capacity. They appear to be entirely convinced by the publicity Heathrow has put out about the alleged benefits a 3rd runway would bring. But they want more than just one runway. The IODs wants the government, after the 8th June election, to build two more runways, and a follow-up Airports Commission be established. They want a fast-track commission be set up immediately to recommend locations for two additional runways within a year. Plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway need the draft National Policy Statement to be voted through parliament, perhaps early in 2018 and then several years of planning process. At the earliest the runway might be in use some time after 2025. Numbers of air passengers are rising quickly, as flying is so cheap and the moderately affluent in the UK get richer. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also called for the next government to enable a 2nd runway at Gatwick to help create a “megacity”. While Gatwick was shortlisted as a candidate for a new runway by the Airports Commission, other airports such as Stansted and Birmingham would be likely to push hard should a future opportunity emerge.
Elmbridge man warns against health dangers – noise and air pollution – of Heathrow expansion
An Elmbridge man has warned residents of health dangers from the proposed expansion of Heathrow. It’s claimed that a third runway would see the airport provide up to 720,000 flights per year, from the current cap of 480,000. He said: “Having an extra 200,000 flights and a vague promise to actually reduce traffic and air pollution, which is currently breaching all legal limits, it’s just not credible, the idea that there will be less pollution, less noise. … In Elmbridge, in all the high streets, it’s breaching European limits at the moment, and around Heathrow of course it breaches limits. So, the combination of noise and air pollution certainly does affect the health of the people of Elmbridge. If you put the tobacco industry in charge of tobacco regulation, if you put the car industry in charge of diesel emissions, and if you put the airline industry and an airport in charge of air pollution, it’s just not credible. … The truth is we really can’t trust these people to take our health into account”. By contrast, Heathrow PR claims there will be less noise (quite implausible) with the extra 200,000+ flights, and there will be no problems with air pollution levels. Both claims are entirely without justification.
DfT data show Hounslow, Hillingdon & Slough (all near Heathrow) have the most heavily used roads in UK
There are more than twice as many vehicles on the roads of two west London boroughs than anywhere else in the UK. The DfT figures show Hounslow to have considerably more road traffic even that the second busiest borough, Hillingdon. Both are close to Heathrow, and much of the traffic is associated with the airport. In 2016, 8,339 vehicles passed an average point in the Hounslow road network every day, a marginal increase from 8,240 the previous year. This is more than twice as many than the national average, where a typical stretch of road would see 3,587 vehicles a day. Hillingdon had 7,889 vehicles using the average stretch of its road network daily. The figures were also very high in other boroughs in west London, such as Ealing, Brent and Harrow. Another area near Heathrow, Slough, had 7,576 vehicles per hour. Road use is at the highest level it has ever been across the country due to steady growth in car traffic. Heathrow hopes to increase its number of passengers, with a 3rd runway, by about 50% and to double the volume of air freight. It claims that it will try to keep the number of road vehicles to no higher than current levels, though it has no effective means to ensure this. The DfT data shows just how bad the current problem is, even with a 2 runway Heathrow.
Sir Jeremy Sullivan, given task of overseeing NPS consultation, rejected ban on Heathrow night flights in 2008
The DfT has set up a retired High Court judge to oversee the process of the consultation into the draft Airports National Policy Statement. His brief is to look at the process, and he is not interested in the content of the consultation. Sir Jeremy is reputed to have been a good and popular judge. However it is interesting that he presided over an appeal for a reduction in the number of night flights at Heathrow, in 2008. Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils had taken the DfT to a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice, to seek a reduction in the number of aircraft allowed to arrive at Heathrow before 6am. But Sir Jeremy Sullivan ruled in favour of the Government, rejecting the review on all grounds. Mr Sullivan said that while the Government had a policy of bearing down on night noise this did not necessarily mean that it had to make things better. He added that the policy was, therefore, “vacuous.” The councils argued half the planes in this early morning period had been placed in the wrong noise category and if they had been correctly classified they would not have been able to fly. The judge agreed with the DfT that the government did not have to take specific action on the Heathrow problem, as the night flights scheme pooled noise data over the 3 London airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
Heathrow cargo consolidation app, to cut NO2 – but outweighed by anticipated freight growth
Heathrow has said it hopes to double the amount of air freight it carries, if it gets a 3rd runway. Most of this freight arrives at the airport, or leaves the airport, in diesel powered lorries or vans. Heathrow knows it has real problems worsening local air quality, with particulates and NO2 in particular. The Airports Commission report was particularly weak on NO2 air pollution, and ignored the emissions from Heathrow’s air cargo. In March 2016 Heathrow put out the news that it is trying to get freight companies to consolidate some loads, share journeys etc. Now Heathrow has put out a similar story, about a new App it has produced. This new load consolidation App is called “Heathrow CargoCloud.” It might save companies a bit of money, and it might slightly cut the number of trucks, and hence the levels of NO2 air pollution. The illegal levels of air pollution are a real problem for Heathrow, and neither the airport nor the government has any realistic means of getting these down in the short term. In reality, getting a few trucks off the road – though very welcome – is not going to be enough to negate a planned doubling of freight tonnage. Heathrow hopes its App will make Heathrow “an airport of choice for cargo.” ie. attract more freight (and more congestion and air pollution) cancelling out any improvements …
Draft Government plans to cut NO2 pollution are woefully inadequate, having limited impact
The government was forced to publish its draft Air Quality Plan consultation (closes 15th June) on 5th May, having tried to delay it till after the election. It has not impressed campaigners for lower NO2 in our air. The plan has been criticised for being “woefully inadequate” and containing measures that would make only slight improvements. There is a planned scrappage scheme for a year, but this would only be for 15,000 vehicles (9,000 diesel and 6,000 petrol). The plan would replace these vehicles with electric Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs). It would cost the government money. There are plans to get more vehicles retrofitted, with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology for buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and LPG technology for black cabs. But it would only be for around 6,000 buses, 4,400 black cabs, and 2,000 HGVs by 2020. Across the UK. There could be more incentives to buy both battery operated and plug-in hybrid electric ULEVS. And also hopes to change driver behaviour to drive more smoothly, remove speed humps, or cut speed limits. All sound sensible ideas, but would have minimal impacts on the vast numbers of UK road vehicles. There are around 160,000 vehicles per day on the M4 near Heathrow, and around 263,000 on the M25 near Heathrow. It will take more than the government’s current proposals to make more than a tiny dent in all that NO2 air pollution. There is no mention of airports in the Defra document.
LibDem Leader Tim Farron says voting Tory “sends relaxed message over 3rd Heathrow runway”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called on Londoners not to give the Tories a free pass to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Mr Farron claimed that a vote for the Conservatives in the general election would send a “relaxed message” about the most significant construction project in the capital since the Second World War. “If the Conservatives win in south-west London that would be taken as a message from local people they were happy and content with where we were with Heathrow,” he said. Reaffirming his party’s position as anti-Heathrow expansion, Mr Farron said his MPs would block every vote on the issue in the Commons. Pressed on how he would solve the shortage of runway capacity for the anticipated rise in air passengers, he said was about providing alternatives and making use of the other runway capacity around the country, especially in places like the Midlands. Meanwhile it is expected that the Conservative manifesto will again (as in 2015) avoid any mention of the runway issue, in order not to cause problems for local MPs like Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening (not to mention Theresa May herself, in Maidenhead) getting re-elected, despite their difficult positions of not standing up for their constituents on this matter.
400 mile walk Harmondsworth to Holyrood: Neil takes his anti-Heathrow runway message to the SNP
Neil Keveren, a builder who lives in one of the villages that would be partially destroyed by the construction of Heathrow’s proposed 3rd runway, has completed a 400-mile walk from Heathrow to Edinburgh, in protest at the SNP’s backing for the plans. Neil arrived at the Scottish Parliament 23 days after leaving his home in Harmondsworth on 4th April, having covered about 20 miles every day. Neil was born in the village of Sipson, which is also facing partial demolition if the expansion goes ahead. For Keveren, the expansion of Heathrow is deeply personal. His house in nearby Harmondsworth is located only 54 paces from the enlarged airport’s boundary fence, while his 82-year-old uncle Ray (his support driver on the walk) also stands to lose his home. The SNP block of 54 MPs formally backed the Heathrow bid, in the probably mistaken belief it would bring significant strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, including the very dubious indeed figure of “up to 16,000 new jobs” – over many years. Neil had appointments with a number of SNP MPs during the day, and had the opportunity to give them more information about the runway. So far most of them have only received very biased information from Heathrow, and they were interested to learn some of the inaccuracies and exaggerations in what they have been led to believe. Neil’s amazing walk proved the opportunity to talk to the SNP and correct misapprehensions.
Heathrow plans 4 regional construction hubs for proposed runway, to give the impression of spreading jobs around UK
Four UK construction hubs are being sought by Heathrow to allow components of its £16bn expansion project to be built away from the airport. The logistics hubs will pre-assemble components for the proposed 3rd runway before transporting them to the airport. Heathrow claims this will make the project cheaper, and provide some jobs to other parts of the country. This form of construction may have been used in the housebuilding sector but had only had a “limited” role in major British infrastructure projects. The areas to have these construction hubs need to have good connectivity (road, rail?), have “a relevant supply chain and strong local skills”. Areas need to apply by July 31st, with a list of potential sites expected to be announced later this year. The airport can only start submitting its development consent order if the NPS is voted for in Parliament, and if the government wins the legal challenges. That could not be before spring 2018. Heathrow hopes, perhaps unrealistically, to have its runway built and working by 2025. Heathrow says it has used off-site locations before, with large parts of the structural steelwork for Terminal 2 building constructed in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In October 2016 the Scottish government said: “Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway.” No mention of that now?
Government cannot delay air pollution plan – must be published by 8th May
The UK Government has lost a court bid to delay publication of its air pollution strategy, and must now release it before the 8th June election. Courts had given the government until Monday 24th April to set out draft guidelines to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. Late last week, ministers lodged an application to delay their release until after the general election saying publication would fall foul of election “purdah” rules. But now the High Court ordered the draft plans to be published on 9th May, five days after the local elections, but long before the general election on 8th June. The date for publication of the final air pollution strategy document remains unchanged on 31st July. The government’s lawyers said publication now would drop a “controversial bomb” into the mix of local and national elections. But the High Court said purdah was a convention only and did not override legal obligations to clean up the air. Additionally, the impact on public health would exempt it from the purdah rules anyway. This is the latest development in a long-running legal action brought against the government by environmental lawyers, ClientEarth. This at least means that there will be some idea of the air pollution proposals before the end of the draft Heathrow NPS consultation. Had they been delayed, there would not have been. .
Tainted pro-runway “Back Heathrow” director gets top job in Heathrow community relations team
Residents are dumbfounded and angry after learning that Rob Gray has been appointed as the new Director of Community and Stakeholder Relations at Heathrow. Until recently, Gray had been the Director of Back Heathrow Ltd., a company set up by Heathrow Airport Ltd., to promote a third runway. Under his leadership, Back Heathrow was found by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to have produced misleading adverts aimed at politicians, where they overstated support for their campaign. On a different occasion, Gray oversaw a mismanagement whereby people replying to their campaign materials were automatically registered as supporters. Gray also led the campaign using scare tactics, designed to make local residents fear that if they didn’t back a third runway, Heathrow would decline and close, causing mass unemployment across west London. Rob Gray’s new role requires him to foster good relationships with the local community and strive to make Heathrow the better neighbour it should be. Opponents of the runway believe this is an appointment that can only cause further deterioration in relations between the airport and local communities. It would especially be the case for those that would be destroyed to make way for the runway or because living in such close proximity to it would be impossible.
Day 17 of Neil’s walk to Scotland – through the Northumberland National Park
21st April: Day 17 of Neil Keveren’s 400 mile walk from Harmondsworth to Edinburgh. Neil is less than a week away from his destination, Edinburgh. His body is holding up but he is facing the toughest part of his walk, with the weather forecast next week talking about Arctic winds (headwinds) and thunderstorms! Neil has blogged about what it has been like walking through the Northumberland National Park. “Strong winds today and I have my waterproofs on. It’s so hilly! I’ve been on this same road now for days and it takes some getting used to. When I look at the road ahead I’m aware that I have to walk as far as the eye can see. When I look behind me I see a vast stretch of road that I’ve walked. …The landscape is stunning. A bonus on this walk has been absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. … It’s also been good to have so much support on the road – not just from Ray in the van. Drivers beep me and people on the street stop to wish me well. A few people have walked along for a while to keep me company and have chat. Perhaps the most unusual though was a flock of sheep who walked their boundary with me – I think they liked my hi-vis. … Today was a tough walking day, with serious hills on one long, mostly Roman, route.”
Voters in Maidenhead need proper representation in opposing the negative effects of 3rd runway
With an unexpected election, residents in the Prime Minister’s constituency – Maidenhead – have the chance to elect an MP who opposes the Heathrow 3rd runway. Back in 2009 Theresa May on numerous occasions voiced her avid concerns about its impact on her constituency. In May 2010, when the runway was stopped by the coalition government, she said: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow……and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.” But that was all reversed, and Mrs May U-turned on the issue. Two letters in the local paper express the frustration and disappointment of constituents. One writes: “… since her elevation to Prime Minister, Maidenhead residents no longer have a voice for their views.” … Maidenhead needs an MP who opposes the necessity for the local council to spend tens of thousands of £s on legal action against the proposed runway. … “Also the Department for Transport in their “Sensitivities” report outline that the Net Benefit to the country, after construction costs etc is only from £0.2bn to £6.1bn over 60 years, i.e. divide this by 60, so a miniscule percentage of the UK Economy” ….We need an MP who “properly represents the interests of Maidenhead constituents.”
IAG complains paying unblighted price + 25% + costs is too generous for those forced to leave their homes
IAG claims Heathrow’s proposed compensation package for residents being compulsorily purchased for the runway is too generous. For homes to be bulldozed, and for up to 3,500 that Heathrow admits would be too unpleasant to comfortably live in, Heathrow says it will pay “un-blighted” market price + 25% + legal costs and stamp duty. That amount would scarcely buy those forced to move an equivalent home, in a suitable area – let alone compensate for loss of community, home, local attachment etc. IAG made its complaints in its response to the Transport Committee call for evidence on the draft Airports NPS. IAG says “While IAG wants to see people properly compensated, [Heathrow] has gone far beyond the usual amounts offered for public compensation. … In doing so, it has no regard for its airline customers who are paying for this as for all elements of the development and has not consulted IAG or others on the topic.” This has angered local councils which have collaborated to launch a legal fight against the proposed 3rd runway once a plan is confirmed. IAG is using the threat of raising air ticket prices against the government. Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said the Government was now “left trying to sell a scheme which the local community detests and the airlines refuse to mitigate”.
Builders Balfour Beatty want expansion of regional airports – as well as Heathrow – and Gatwick
Balfour Beatty claims that a 3rd runway at Heathrow will not be enough to address overcapacity at UK airports and that other airports around the country should also be allowed to expand. In a report, “Getting off the ground – an aviation policy for a post-Brexit Britain”, they say there is no clear airports strategy from the government and outline a series of conclusions to address key issues, including relaxing planning legislation to help expand regional airports. None of that is surprising, as they are a building company, wanting lucrative building work. Balfour Beatty report is sceptical about whether the 3rd runway at Heathrow will ever be built, as legal and political obstacles will mean the planning process is likely to be delayed “well into the 2020s”. Their report wants airports elsewhere, especially in Scotland, Birmingham and Manchester, to be allowed to expand. They also want Crossrail to be extended to Stansted – as well as a 2nd Gatwick runway. ie. build baby, build …. pour concrete and make us rich …. They are quite right that the government does not have a proper aviation policy for the whole UK, preferring instead to force through the Heathrow runway, and only then think about the wider picture.
Growing threat of wake turbulence, with larger, heavier planes – and more crowded airspace
Wake turbulence may be a growing problem that needs more investigation and reassurance for air passengers. There were 34 serious wake turbulence incidents in the past 10 years but 11 of those have been in the past two years. The most serious was the encounter between an Emirates A380 and a corporate jet in March 2017. The A380 was on flight EK412 from Dubai to Sydney and was at FL350 (ie. 35,000 ft) about 630nm south-east of Muscat when the business jet passed 1,000 ft underneath in the opposite direction. The corporate jet, an MHS Aviation Challenger 604 was flying from the Maldives to Abu Dhabi with 9 people on board and was en route at FL340 (34,000 ft). After the A380 passed the crew lost control of their jet and were only able to regain control of the aircraft only after losing about 10,000 feet. A number of the passengers sustained injuries. With more larger planes in global fleets, the problem may increase. The strength of the wake turbulence is governed by the weight, speed and wingspan of the generating aircraft. The greatest strength occurs when the generating aircraft is heavy, at slow speed with a clean wing configuration. It is an industry-wide problem that is increasing mainly because air traffic is doubling every 15 years – so there is more air traffic congestion and more stacking or holding of aircraft prior to landing.
Easter: Neil makes it to 200 miles to York, halfway to Scotland – with support from Rachael Maskell MP #walktoscotland #no3rdrunway
Day 12 saw Neil cross the halfway point on his 400-mile walk from Harmondsworth, the main village that would be demolished with a 3rd Runway, to Edinburgh. He is seeking to raise awareness of the campaign and speak with Scottish politicians, as the SNP is intending to vote as a block in favour of the runway. He wants to ask they why they are prepared to destroy his home, community and the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, for vague pledges of help for Scotland and more air freighted salmon and whisky. In York, Neil was met by Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central,at the iconic York Minster, Rachael offered her support to Neil and the campaign, commenting: “It’s great to be here today with Neil … to raise awareness of the impact that a third runway at Heathrow would have. It’s fantastic he’s made it so far on this journey about what’s going to happen to housing, air pollution issues, noise pollution and of course the cost of the project. I’ll be taking his message out into the city, do a public meeting and ensure that people understand the real impact on the local community on a third runway…. Whilst we hear so many jobs will be created, what’s really important is the community voice is also part of the consultation and people understand the consequences of what will happen if a third runway actually goes ahead.”
Michael Gove criticised after turning down public meeting on Heathrow 3rd runway plans with constituents
The DfT held 20 public consultation events on the draft National Policy Statement about plans for a 3rd Heathrow at places near, of affected by, the airport. A 21st is now to be held, which Greg Hands MP will chair, for Chelsea and Fulham. But though seriously overflown by Heathrow planes, Surrey Heath was not given a DfT event. On March 17th, Surrey County Council publicly challenged the DfT’s refusal to hold an information event in Surrey Heath and Elmbridge – but there will still not be one. The local campaign group, Aircraft Noise 3 Villages (AN3V) is highly critical of their MP, Michael Gove, who has not got a public meeting arranged, and declined to either hold one himself or even attend one. Rosalie James, from AN3V (representing Lightwater, Windlesham and Bagshot, said to Michael Gove: “The public meeting was requested by many people keen to understand what your position and that of the council is in terms not only of existing noise, but how residents will be protected from yet more noise IF expansion is finally approved.” Had Mr Gove bothered to attend a public meeting on the Heathrow runway proposals, it would have been an important opportunity for constituents to find out the position being taken by the MP, and their local council – and find out how their representatives are intending to protect their area from increased aircraft noise.
Extra DfT consultation date added for Chelsea & Fulham constituents on draft NPS plans
The DfT originally planned 20 of its consultation information events in areas relatively near, and affected by, Heathrow. There was outrage that some areas badly impacted by the airport did not get one. One such area was Chelsea and Fulham. Now its MP, Greg Hands, has persuaded the DfT to add a session for his constituency, which he will chair. This will be at Fulham Library on 19th April from 6.30 – 8pm. This is the day before the final event, at the O2 arena, on 20th April. The arrival route from the east, onto the proposed 3rd runway, would be directly over parts of Chelsea and Fulham, with planes at about 3,000 feet. There could be an aircraft overhead every 90 seconds or less, for large parts of most days (depending on the wind). At that level of noise, it is difficult to hold a conversation outdoors at normal speech volume, when a plane goes overhead. Greg Hands said he opposes a Heathrow 3rd runway, (though believes the UK needs more airport capacity) and he also wants a ban on night flights- for seven hours – from 11pm to 6am (Heathrow wants flights to start by 5.30am).
Freight train to China leaves UK – carrying whisky, pharmaceuticals etc – not needing air freight from Heathrow
The first rail freight train from China to the UK arrived three months ago, carrying imports. Now the first return trip is being made, on 9th April, leaving Essex, on the 7,500 mile trip. Thirty containers contain British produced goods including whisky, soft drinks, vitamins, baby products and pharmaceuticals. The DB Cargo locomotive leaves the DP World London Gateway rail terminal in Stanford-le-Hope for the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province, eastern China. After going through the Channel Tunnel the train will pass through France, Belgium, Duisburg in Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, arriving at Yiwu on 27th April. The operators say it is cheaper to send goods by train than by air and faster than by sea. The service is part of China’s One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West. The train link means products can be both imported and exported from the UK, as well as ship – with both being far lower carbon modes of transport than air. Heathrow claims it is vital to the UK economy because of its exports of items like pharmaceuticals and whisky. But it makes better sense to ship these by rail, rather than use so much fuel getting them up to 38,000 feet …. Items that are non-perishable do not need to be air freighted. Frozen fish (Scottish salmon) can be carried by rail.
Grayling tells the Welsh that Heathrow 3rd runway will be of huge benefit to them
On Friday 7th April the DfT held one of its regional events, promoting the 3rd Heathrow runway – as part of its draft NPS consultation (ends 25th May). Chris Grayling must have felt the need to try to encourage attendance (which has been woefully low at other regional events) so he had a piece in the local paper, Wales Online. He pushes the potential benefits of the runway for Wales as hard as he can, with comments like how it will “boost jobs” and “promote our innovative industries on the world stage” and “the new runway could provide better links to more destinations around the world, a wider choice of airlines ….” He said: “According to Heathrow, it currently handles £2.8 bn of Welsh exports each year. The new runway could double the airport’s freight capacity, linking Welsh businesses with fast growing global markets.” And so on. Heathrow signed up to a deal with the Welsh government in January, in which the airport gave some very dubious figures of how much Wales would benefit. These figures are based on Heathrow’s own assumptions, based on assumptions, based on an out of date, highly exaggerated figure of economic benefit of the runway, of £147 billion (that is, over all the UK, over 60 years). Even the DfT no longer believes that figure.
Ferrovial (owns 25% of Heathrow) halts future UK investment over Brexit – but will keep on with Heathrow
The Spanish company that owns 25% of Heathrow has said that uncertainty over the UK’s exit from the EU has put a halt on future UK investment deals. It is not investing more, but it is not divesting either. Ferrovial’s Chairman Rafael del Pino said that though investment in Heathrow is not in doubt, he saw “no opportunities” in the UK in terms future merger and acquisition deals. However, Ferrovial hopes Brexit would have “positive side effects”, including “a more favourable view of Heathrow expansion” – in fact the current government is so panicked by Brexit that it is desperate to try to show the world Britain is “open for business” by building a new runway, largely as a symbolic gesture. As well as a 25% stake in Heathrow, Ferrovial also owns stakes in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports. Those help make the UK one of Ferrovial’s most important markets, with about 30% of its revenue generated here. Del Pino said Ferrovial viewed the Brexit process “prudently”, not just because of its effect on the UK “but also throughout Europe”, as nobody knows what the consequences will be. Last month, Heathrow’s investors said they would invest £650 million in Heathrow. Not a lot seeing they have taken £2.1 billion in dividends since 2012, and paid hardly any corporation tax.
Neil Keveren making great progress up England, about a quarter of the way to Edinburgh after 4 days
8th April 2017
Neil is doing a fabulous job, on his walk north, taking his NO 3rd Runway message on a 400 mile walk, up to Edinburgh (to talk to the SNP and ask why they plan to back the Heathrow 3rd runway. #walktoscotland On Saturday 8th he walked from Olney to Corby, via Kettering. He made a short film clip this morning, in the van – before breakfast (with his support driver, Neil’s lovely uncle Ray). It touches on the huge issue – about which the government and the DfT stay totally silent – of the massive cost to taxpayers across all the UK, of the Heathrow 3rd runway. See Neil’s short film. Though Heathrow will itself pay for all the on-airport work (perhaps £17 billion +) it is not prepared to make more than token payments for all the necessary upgrades to surface access infrastructure (roads and rail links). There is also the problem of having to tunnel, or bridge, the 8 lane M25.
Transport for London (TfL) has said the necessary works could cost up to about £18 billion. Heathrow has said it will pay £1.1 billion, maximum. Chris Grayling does not want to make Heathrow pay for more. That might make it hard for Heathrow to raise the money. And it might need the price of air fares to rise (government wants flying to get cheaper …) That means, while already there is about x6 as much spent per person in London on transport infrastructure, than in the north, this would only get far worse. Neil is explaining, on his travels, how this is unjust to taxpayers who are not in the south east, or deriving any benefit from Heathrow.
Neil Keveren set off on 400 mile walk, explaining along the way why there should be NO 3rd Runway
A lively group in Harmondsworth village saw Neil off on his one-man long walk north, to Scotland, as he set off on the first day’s stretch to Chesham. Councillor Ray Puddifoot attended the gathering, and spoke about the significance of Neil’s trip, and the importance of persuading MPs across the country, and particularly the SNP, to vote against the runway. The 54 SNP MPs in the House of Commons are likely to vote, en block, for the runway having been dubiously persuaded to believe in huge benefits it would bring Scotland. Ray said the runway was nonsensical, as well as illegal – in causing breaches of air pollution standards. He said Neil was representing the interests of tens or hundreds of thousands of people, taking his message across the country, that the 3rd Heathrow runway should not be built. Zac Goldsmith also attended the send-off party, saying in the middle ages – to avoid undue bloodshed and loss of men – armies would sent out their best and bravest fighters to do battle on behalf of everyone. So it is with Neil, courageously setting off to speak up for everyone whose lives would be made worse by the impacts of the runway, and especially those in Harmondworth who face losing their homes, their village and their community, in act of wanton destruction for an unnecessary, and high carbon venture.
Night flight noise likely to increase risk of Type 2 diabetes for those living under flightpaths
Research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel has shown that people who live below an airport flightpath are more than 80% more likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who live in quieter areas. The findings have led scientists to suggest that aircraft noise, rather than air pollution, could be to blame. The noise of the planes overhead, when they are low and loud, is likely to have a devastating effect on the body’s metabolism, leading to increased blood sugar levels. The effect is largely from noise at night, confirming that night flights are damaging to health. The cost to the health of over-flown populations needs to be properly taken into account, and given enough significance against small economic benefits of night flights to airports and airlines (which is how the DfT assesses the issue at present). Heathrow already has – by an order of magnitude – the most people affected by night flights, with over 700,000 living within the 55 Lden noise average contours. The link to diabetes is through the body’s reaction to stress, raising blood pressure. Noise stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis, leading to increased blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, limb amputations and blindness. It affects over 3 million people in the UK.
Click here to view full story… Ironic bearing in mind the news story below ….
Willie Walsh adamant Heathrow must have arrivals well before 5.30am – then full on for next 2 hours. He will not accept a six and a half hour ban on scheduled night flights (let alone unscheduled)
International Airlines Group (IAG), which is Heathrow’s biggest customer, has submitted its evidence to the Transport Committee, to its inquiry into the Airports NPS. IAG does not agree there should be a ban on night flights of six and a half hours, that the NPS and the DfT are proposing – hoping that would overcome local opposition to the runway. The WHO says for good health, people need 7 – 8 hours sleep, and more for some age groups. Therefore even six and a half hours is not enough. But IAG says …”the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.” … from small changes IAG has made “Local communities have therefore benefited … from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.” … if Heathrow opened at 7am, that would be 2 hours later than Frankfurt … to make the best use of the new runway, increase connectivity etc … “the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.”
Willie Walsh and IAG: Work out cost of crossing M25 before Heathrow runway plan
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, says pushing through Heathrow’s 3rd runway should be suspended until there are proper plans of how the airport is going to bridge the M25. The section of the M25 that the runway would have to go over is about the busiest stretch of motorway in the UK, and it is unclear if there would be some sort of bridge (a cheaper option, about 8 metres above the road surface), or a proper tunnel (more expensive for Heathrow). IAG, and British Airways, are concerned the extra cost would mean higher charges by Heathrow, so higher ticket prices. Heathrow says landing charges would remain as close to flat “as possible” but Walsh fears they could double and they raised their concerns in their submission to the inquiry by the Commons Transport Committee, into the draft NPS. There are a few airports globally that have some sort of bridge, with planes taxiing above the road, clearly visible to traffic. None over such a wide, busy section of motorway. In October, when the bridge idea was first suggested (the Airports Commission always presumed a tunnel) papers from Highways England showed it described the scheme as “high risk”, warning of a “a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption”. IAG is also deeply opposed to Heathrow ending night flights between 11pm and 5.30am, as that risks flights going instead to airports like Frankfurt, losing IAG money.
One man’s 400-mile, 3 week, walk London to Scotland, to save his village from Heathrow bulldozers
On Tuesday 4th April Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot and others well-wishers will gather in Harmondsworth at 11am as local man Neil Keveren sets off on a marathon 400-mile walk to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to ask Nicola Sturgeon why the SNP is backing a 3rd runway at Heathrow and destruction of his home and village in the process. Neil aims to finish his walk on Thursday 27th April at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. There will be a theme for each day and a number of campaigners and politicians will join Neil for sections of the walk. The route can be found here and covers places within Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland, Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh. Neil Keveren, who was born in Harmondsworth’s neighbouring village of Sipson, has lived in the area all his life; he hopes that his walk will highlight the reasons a third runway should not go ahead. Keveren, who built up a successful building business in the area, said: “I am not one of nature’s natural walkers but I felt I had to do this for my family, my village and the wider campaign.” Neil will also use Facebook Live to provide daily updates of his progress and any highlights of that particular day. Further updates will be available on the Stop Heathrow Expansion twitter page @StopHeathrowExp.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Mayor criticises DfT’s lack of answers to fundamental questions on Heathrow
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has submitted evidence to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into the DfT’s draft NPS on a 3rd Heathrow runway. The Mayor said there would be unacceptable consequences for London; it would hamper efforts to improve London’s air quality; 200,000 more people would be exposed to noise while scheduled night flights could increase by at least a third; and there are no credible plans to maintain traffic levels or commitment for infrastructure to support 250% increase in public transport trips. He said ministers’ plans were based on the 3rd runway not being fully utilised – playing down the real impact. The government had ‘completely failed’, and was his duty to Londoners to oppose a third runway. He said: “The government has completely failed to demonstrate how Heathrow can be expanded without a severe noise, air quality and transport impact on London. The government’s position appears to be to simply hope for the best, with unproven plans that look to take advantage of unrelated improvements being made to air quality and public transport. It’s simply not good enough for one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, and it leaves me even more concerned about the prospect of Heathrow expansion on London and the UK.”
Residents face just 4 hours free from aircraft noise if 3rd Heathrow runway goes ahead
Sarah Olney, the new MP for Richmond Park, has criticised the Department for Transport for not being open with residents that a 3rd runway at Heathrow could mean just 6 or 4 hours per day respite from aircraft noise. Currently residents under many of Heathrow’s flight paths can expect up to 8 hours without being disturbed by incoming and outgoing flights from Heathrow. However, hidden away in the public consultation on a third runway (the draft NPS) is an admission from the Government that whilst residents can expect more ‘certainty’ over when respite periods will be, the number of hours they can expect to be free from aircraft noise will drop to just 6, or even 4, hours. Sarah Olney raised the issue in the House of Commons on 30th March, asking the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to explain why the consultation did not make this evident. Responding for the Government, he failed to answer the question, stating only that the consultation “set out in broad terms the impact of the changes”. Speaking after their exchange in the House of Commons Sarah Olney commented that the government is treating local residents with contempt. If Chris Grayling cannot even give a proper reply in Parliament, either he isn’t aware that residents will suffer from more noise (if not, why not, if he is Minister in charge of the process), or he isn’t willing to admit it. [No questions of ministers on Heathrow are ever answered properly – always evasively].
SAS raises $75 million from Heathrow slot sale – Virgin uses its slots as collateral
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has sold two pairs of Heathrow slots to an undisclosed buyer, raising $75 million from the transaction. Before the sale, SAS had the 6th largest Heathrow slot portfolio with 19 daily slot pairs. This has now been narrowed to 17 pairs, although under the deal SAS can continue to use the two pairs for up to three years. “The intention is to maintain the seat capacity to/from London Heathrow through the use of larger aircraft on remaining departures.” This is not the first time SAS has sold off part of its Heathrow slot portfolio. In 2015, the airline sold a pair of slots to Turkish Airlines and—in a separate transaction—transferred a pair to an unknown major airline. Whilst the cost of landing at Heathrow is determined by the CAA and Heathrow Airport Holdings, the allocation of landing slots to airlines is carried out by Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL). IAG, which includes BA, has around 54% of the slots. Virgin has the second highest number (around 3%?) and uses them as collateral, taking the total value of the loan notes it has issued since 2015 against Heathrow slots to £252 million. Many other airlines have small percentages of slots. Details are not readily publicly available, and trading goes on behind closed doors.
Fears on how Tory party want post-Brexit bonfire of EU “red tape” on environment etc regulations
Brexit comes with immense uncertainties, one of the main ones for anyone concerned with the state of the environment, air pollution, water pollution, or carbon emissions, is how much European legislation will be dumped. The Telegraph writes of how keen it, and many in the government, are to get rid of tiresome regulations that hold back business and economic growth, for no better reason than environmental protection. There are comments like these: the “Telegraph calls on the Conservative Party to promise a bonfire of EU red tape” … Iain Duncan Smith thinks the Tories should promise at the next election to “whittle away” unnecessary rules, reducing the “burden” on businesses and citizens. … “we can reduce the cost on business and on individuals by reducing regulations which will improve our competitiveness, our productivity and therefore ultimately our economy” … Lord Lawson (prominent climate denier) says UK must swiftly seize the chance to “transform the British economy” by cutting “massive” numbers of EU regulations. … “Builders have been frustrated by rules on preserving newts, which are classed as “endangered” in Europe even though they are thriving in the UK” [probably due to years of protection] …. The Green Alliance is working to ensure proper environmental protections survive. Read their blog here.
IPPR says apprenticeship levy will deepen north-south divide – with areas like Heathrow benefitting
One of Heathrow’s most often repeated claims as benefits for a 3rd runway is taking on 5,000 more apprentices, taking the number up to 10,000, by 2030. In reality, much of the training for apprentices comes from the government, so companies benefit. Many of the apprentices are not young people entering a first job, but existing staff improving their skills. Heathrow would benefit, and get money back, that they have to pay into the levy. Now analysis from the Thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests the new £3 billion levy on larger employers, starting in April 2017, will raise less money and have smaller impact on areas that need it most – in the regions. Instead it will deepen Britain’s north-south divide, with London and the south-east benefiting most, as this is where there is the highest number of big employers. The areas where it is most needed are those that have been hit by deindustrialisation and suffer from low levels of qualifications, low productivity and low pay. Not the Heathrow area. The levy is to be paid by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3m and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual wage bill (ie. perhaps nearly £3bn per year.) The IPPR said: the government should analyse the regional impact of its new apprenticeships policy, so it does not leave unemployment hotspots in the north-east or Yorkshire with proportionately less funding.
Virgin likely to be in the red again, and wants lower charges if Heathrow gets a 3rd runway
Virgin Atlantic wants Heathrow to reduce its passenger charges once (perhaps that should say IF) its 3rd runway opens. Virgin CEO Craig Kreeger said charges are already too high. Virgin, naturally, wants flying to be as cheap as possible – or growth in numbers is slower (less profit). Virgin is not doing very well at present. The Times reports that Virgin Atlantic’s pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional items, rose by 2.2% to £23 million last year – the 3rd successive year it has been in the black. However, it may make a loss this year, because it faces competition from British Airways and increasing capacity in the North Atlantic market. BA will start low cost transatlantic flights from £86 this summer, on a new airline called Level, from Barcelona.They also have to contend with lower air fares, rising fuel prices, fears of London terrorism and currency fluctuations that will hit profits. Virgin faces weak consumer confidence since the £’s fall against the US $, making trips from the UK to the US, its main route, more expensive. Virgin has to pay more for its fuel and new planes now, as these are bought in dollars. It is not yet known if many US tourists will be wary of coming to London, after the killings in Westminster. Virgin’s air cargo turnover fell 15.9%, due to weaker sterling and overcapacity in the market.
Packed first public meeting of new anti-Heathrow expansion group, BASHR3 in Hounslow
Nearly 200 residents packed out a church hall to attend the launch meeting of a new local anti-Heathrow expansion group – BASHR3. The first public meeting of Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASH Runway 3) meeting on March 21st was a lively event, with speeches from Ruth Cadbury (Brentford & Isleworth MP), John Stewart of HACAN, and Maggie Thorburn, from Friends of the Earth. Putting profits and pollution before people were high on the agenda and there were serious concerns that tens of thousands more people in Brentford , Isleworth, Osterley, Chiswick and Hounslow will be affected by a third runway. Ruth Cadbury was adamant that the threat of a third runway would be eradicated, and many claims made by Heathrow of how they would deal with problems such as noise, air pollution and carbon emissions were “laughable.” …Ruth believes that “Together, we’ll see off the threat to our area for good.” The 3rd runway means the massive intrusion of aircraft noise into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, who not currently under a flight path. Being overflown for the first time would come as a deeply unpleasant shock for many, and the DfT has made no attempt to give out information about who would be affected. Air pollution will also become worse across the constituency as a result of the traffic generated by the extra cars and lorries on the local and motorway road network.
Major new coalition launched to fight Heathrow 3rd runway
A major new coalition has been launched to fight the proposed 3rd runway at Heathrow. The coalition is formally backed already by 18 local campaign groups, including to name a few, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), HACAN, Teddington Action Group (TAG) and recently formed BASH Runway 3 (based in Brentford). More groups are expected to join in the coming weeks. The coalition also has the support of 5 local authorities as well as leading politicians from all main parties. The aim of the coalition is to put additional pressure on the Government to drop plans for the runway, building upon the work of existing opponents including campaign groups, local authorities and MPs. It will provide opponents of the runway a platform, allowing them to work effectively together – including support from MPs to the heroic local Councils challenging Heathrow in the courts. The coalition will work to highlight issues – including noise, air pollution and economics – with the DfT’s current, deeply flawed, consultation on the Heathrow National Policy Statement (NPS). Though the DfT has held 20 consultation exhibition events across west London, Berkshire and Surrey, considerable numbers of residents were left disappointed that there was no information on locations of new flight paths, and that will not be presented until much later in the process.
Four Select Committees launch an unprecedented joint inquiry into air pollution
MP’s from four Parliamentary select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots. The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution. The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits. Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee (dealing with the draft NPS on Heathrow), said emissions from vehicles are a significant problem and the standards that governments have relied on have not delivered the expected reductions.: “We will be asking what more can be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles as well as to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.”
Heathrow 2.0: a ‘sustainable airport’ that pretends no one has to choose between planes and pollution
A thoughtful article, by two leading academics in public policy and ideology, casts huge doubts on the claims of Heathrow to have solutions to the increased environment problems of a 3rd runway. It is well worth reading it all. A few extracts: “Heathrow expansion has become an emblematic issue in the fight against climate change. … An airport that exists above politics gives the illusion that no one has to choose between planes and pollution … its “cake and eat it” narrative, in which we could fly more and still cope with rising CO2 … the plans lack clarity and ambition. Strategic priorities like a ‘noise envelope’ … are often stated, but not accompanied with clear targets … As Heathrow itself accepts, the airport cannot deliver on most of the claims it makes …The airport is simply trying to fill the void left by Theresa May and Chris Grayling, who have abandoned their responsibility to offer policy leadership … this absence of leadership betrays the emergence of a new “post-sustainable” aviation, designed to accommodate the challenges of Brexit … people are increasingly urged to believe that human progress and innovation are enough to meet environmental challenges. … In this emerging discourse, the demands of economic growth trump those of the environment and social well-being.”
DfT report says widening the M25 on its south-west quadrant would not be the right solution
The M25 South West Quadrant Strategic Study (M25SWQ), has been published by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England. It claims to “identify and appraise options for improving performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant”. It has concluded that the M25 should not be widened (beyond what is already committed) in the SW quadrant, because that would have “significant (negative) effects on surrounding communities” and would not be effective in reducing congestion”. The study was looking at the section of the M25 between, and including, junction 10 for the A3 at Wisley and junction 16 for the M40 in Buckinghamshire. This is the busiest section of the M25, close to Heathrow. The report says future work on the M25 should not focus on widening it, but reduce the pressures and recommends further work to “Explore options for new or enhanced highway capacity, separate but parallel to the M25.” “This should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes. … But the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.” There could be upgrades for existing roads, and options for roads to fill in the gaps.
New anti-airport expansion group formed in Hounslow – BASHR3 – after launch of DfT’s NPS consultation on 3rd runway
A new anti-airport expansion group has been set up by residents of Hounslow and Brentford. The group, Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASHR3), has been launched in the wake of the government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) consultation on proposals for a northwest runway at Heathrow. There are serious concerns in the borough about the increased noise, traffic and air pollution – amplified by the recent report by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, that is highly critical of the government’s implausible assurances on these issues. Brentford resident Dave Waller has helped set up the new campaign group as many more lives will be blighted by another flightpath. BASHR3 is urging people to attend the DfT consultation events, and submit their responses. Dave Waller commented on the air pollution issue: “If the third runway goes ahead, it is sure to get worse and we will be forced to move out of the area. Our lives will also be blighted by an increase in noise caused by the new flightpath, which will cut across Brentford.” People concerned about Heathrow health impacts are encouraged to join BASHR3. Website and on Twitter at @bashrunway3 The first consultation event for Hounslow residents is February 27th at Hounslow Civic Centre from 11am to 8pm.
Investigation reveals Heathrow airport staff are set targets to get passengers to spend money in shops
The Sun has used an undercover reporter to work as one of Heathrow’s Passenger Ambassadors, whose job is to boost retail sales in the terminals. There is a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on this, also showing how airport passengers are getting a raw deal from changing money. In 2016 the airport made a record £612 million in retail income, which is rent from retailers and from car parking charges. This was up 7.7% compared to 2015, while aeronautical income remained unchanged at £1,699 million. Heathrow’s retail division now makes up 22% of its revenues – £612 million out of £2,807 million. The 150 Passenger Ambassadors help travellers once they are through security, and are set strict targets about persuading them to visit shops and spend money. These are between £2,500 to £4,000 per day, and the most successful senior ambassadors claim to hit £10,000 per day. They are told: “The majority of the role will involve interacting with passengers, persuading them to shop if they had not planned to, or encouraging them to spend more by talking to them about offers and promotions across the Terminal….The average spend per passenger must go up as a result of your presence on the terminal floor.” The job description says: “A minute should not pass without a conversation with one or more passengers.”
Willie Walsh and aviation insiders think Heathrow hopes of getting planning consent by 2020 are unrealistic
The Times reports that Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent company IAG, (Heathrow’s biggest customer), said that Heathrow’s target for its runway plans were over optimistic. He did not think the timetable of getting the support of MPs in the Commons within 12 months and then getting the planning process completed – through all the legal and planning hurdles – in a further 2 years was realistic. Those timings are highly optimistic, but Heathrow is preparing to start work on a 3rd runway in three years from now – in 2020. An airline insider told The Times that DfT officials had privately told industry bosses that planning permission would not be won until 2021. There will be legal challenges, and those could mean the timetable could slip even further. Heathrow wants to get its runway built by 2025, so it could increase the number of flights by 50% by 2030, compared to the number now. Heathrow has said it wants to apply to raise the number of flights from its legal cap now, of 480,000 per year, to 505,000 from 2021 – if it has been granted planning approval for the runway. That might involve one or two fewer flights in the night period, but a loss of some runway alternation during the day – perhaps softening people up for the worse noise, and shorter respite periods, there would be with a 3rd runway.
Council leaders attack ‘dishonest’ Heathrow promotional leaflet, circulated widely by DfT
Conservative town hall leaders have accused the Government of “misleading” up to three million people over the impact of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and a “dishonest approach.” The leaders of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead council tore into the DfT over the “shamelessly one-sided” consultation leaflet sent to around 1.5 million households and businesses (an estimated 3 million people). The leaders say the leaflets fail to include any details of proposed new flight paths, or the extra numbers of flights, or the reduction in “respite” periods that would happen, due to the 3rd runway. There is also no proper information on likely increases in traffic, and therefore in air pollution.The leaflet is instead ecstatic about alleged economic benefits it might bring, and unashamedly bigs up pledges of home price compensation for compulsory purchase, future insulation schemes (over up to 20 years?), and some apprenticeships. The leaders believe the leaflet is intended to mislead, and its dishonest approach is undermining the fragile trust residents have in politics. Areas that are already badly overflown by Heathrow planes, such as Clapham, Lambeth, Pimlico, Marylebone, Westminster, Streatham, Mayfair and Kennington were not included in the consultation exercise. Lord True commented: “The Government need to stop the spin.”
New damning Environmental Audit Committee report:“Government must mitigate environmental impact of new Heathrow runway” – current plans do not
The Environmental Audit Committee report on plans for a Heathrow runway show huge failings by the government, on noise, CO2 and air pollution, even after several years of trying to gloss over them. The EAC report warns that proposed safeguards surrounding noise and pollution are inadequate, and just how inadequate the current NPS consultation on the 3rd runway is. The report warns that the proposed ban on night flights between 11pm and 5.30am would, in reality, result in only 4 arrivals being rescheduled each day. At present the airport is limited to about 16 night flights in a 24-hour period, with most scheduled just before 6am, which would not be affected by the new ban. The report criticises ministers for effectively giving Heathrow the green light without “concrete policy proposals” covering the environment. There is no proof that Heathrow could be expanded without an increase in the number of polluting cars being driven to the airport. The runway is likely to increase aviation CO2 by 15% above a previously agreed limit, with no plans for how other sectors of society could compensate with deeper CO2 cuts (or even that they have been advised of the problem). Noise would become worse for many areas, and the independent aviation noise watchdog proposed would be inadequate, with no powers and just an “advisory function”. And much, much more.
New EAC report highly critical of government lack on clarity on aircraft noise targets
The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances on noise targets and its low level of ambition in limiting noise in future. The EAC says: “We are concerned that the Government’s National Policy Statement has provided no further clarity on how predictable respite will be achieved or on the specific timings of a night flight ban.” … “The Government must carry out further work on respite which should form part of the NPS process, alongside plans for a live timetable of respite to be published beginning when the new runway is operational. We welcome the Government’s commitment to a 6.5 hour night flight ban. … it would appear inconsistent to reject its key recommendation on the precise timing of a night flight ban.” … and …”The stated goal of “fewer people […] affected by noise from Heathrow by 2030 than are today” shows a lack of ambition. Without Heathrow expansion, local communities would have seen a decrease in aircraft noise as new technology and airspace management techniques were developed.” … and “We are concerned with the inconsistency of the metrics used to measure noise attitudes. The Government has recognised that the level of significant annoyance has reduced and the number effected increased, yet it bases its conclusions on the out of date 57 dB LAeq 16hr contour.” And much more.
New EAC report says government must provide clarity about its intentions on Heathrow CO2 emissions
The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will meet carbon limits. The EAC says: “The Government claims that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within “the UK’s climate change obligations”. The Government has not set out what it means by “obligations”, let alone how it will meet them. It has not decided whether to accept the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation on limiting emissions from international aviation. It has not decided on whether to follow the CCC’s advice on offsetting. The Airports Commission told us the appropriate body to make recommendations on managing aviation emissions is the CCC. It would not be a credible position for the Government to claim that it can deliver Heathrow expansion within emissions limits whilst rejecting independent advice as to what those limits should be and how they should be met.” … The EAC says though Chris Grayling said told them the Government had not decided whether it intended to work towards the planning assumption [of limiting UK aviation to 37.5MtCO2 by 2050], when asked if he “had consulted other Ministers or sectors over the higher emissions reductions that they might be required to make if the planning assumption was not met. He said he had not yet done so.” And much more ….
New EAC report says government has given no guarantees that air quality targets will be met with Heathrow 3rd runway
The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will not increase air pollution. The EAC says the government’s air quality analysis is over-optimistic. “The effectiveness of the Government’s new air quality plan will be integral to determining whether Heathrow expansion can be delivered within legal limits. We are concerned that the timing of the draft National Policy Statement consultation means the Government will be unable to carry out a comprehensive re-analysis of the air quality impacts, using the new air quality plan, before the [NPS] consultation process is complete.” … “The Government must publish such an assessment alongside the final NPS, it must work towards a scenario in which all road links affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins.” ….”Since the Government intends to withdraw the UK from the EU before April 2019, there is no certainty about what our legally binding air quality limits will be after 2019. We are disappointed that these limits are not clearly laid out in the Draft NPS.” And there is much more ….
Transport Committee announces start of its inquiry into (Heathrow) Airports NPS (24th March deadline for evidence)
When he was Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin told the Transport Select Committee that there would be a 3 month inquiry, by a select committee, into the draft National Policy Statement for a Heathrow runway. He said in February 2015 that the inquiry would take place after the end of the NPS consultation. Now the Transport Select Committee has announced, just 20 days after the publication by the DfT of the draft NPS consultation, the start of their own inquiry into the NPS. They are only taking written evidence until the deadline of 24th March. The committee’s website does not say what happens next, if or when witnesses would be called, etc. The Committee says they are interested to hear more about a variety of issues including: “How well the proposal reflects government policy on airports and aviation more generally” … “The suitability of the Government’s evidence and rationale in support of a north-west runway at Heathrow” … “How well the proposal takes account of other aspects of the Government’s transport strategy.” … “How comprehensive the proposal is in terms of the supporting measures for affected communities” … “How well the proposal takes account of sustainability and environmental considerations and the adequacy of relevant documentation and information published alongside the draft proposal.” And so on.
RHC challenges economic need for night flights at Heathrow, when slots can be provided during the day
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has submitted a detailed response to the night flights consultation. One particularly interesting point they make is that Heathrow does not actually need flights between 11pm and 6am or even 7am. The airport proposed adding 25,000 more flights per year, if it is given planning consent for a new runway, before the runway is built. That means there can be 25,000 more flights per year – around 68 more per day, or about 4 – 5 per hour more (half take offs and half landings). Heathrow says it is full, but would be able to fit in these extra flights, if it wants to. Therefore, if these slots are possible, some of the flights currently in the night period could be moved into the day period. However, there are concerns that the extra 25,000 flights per year would mean loss or runway alternation, that is seen as vital for those currently overflown by Heathrow approach flight paths. The RHC believes late running flights and increased numbers of flights between 6 and 7am are largely ignored by the consultation and people may wish to comment. For the sake of people’s health, the noise disturbance to sleep has to be ended, with no flights before 7am. There needs to be a ban on scheduled and unscheduled night flights starting by 2020, irrespective of any decision on a 3rd runway.
Critique of 11 claims by DfT, in its 1.5 million pro-Heathrow runway leaflets, for NPS consultation
The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets to households in areas not too far from Heathrow. The leaflets make no attempt whatsoever of balance, and are merely advertising the runway plans and promoting them. Many of the claims are misleading, or so abbreviated as to be unclear. Below there is a critique of the claims, point by point, and links to evidence backing up the criticisms. If anyone has received a leaflet, and wonders about the facts, this webpage may give some useful information. Just a few examples of the dubious statements in the leaflet: the figure of £61 billion economic benefit is given, leaving out the proviso that this is over 60 years. There is much made of the generosity of the compensation to be given for compulsory purchase, but in reality anything much below 125% would be derisory, and way below world standards. The claim about six and a half hours of no scheduled night flights omits to mention how many flights, scheduled before 11pm, often take off almost to midnight. And though there may be 6 more domestic links from Heathrow, these are likely to be unprofitable and may not last for long. The loss of long haul routes from other UK airports, due to a larger Heathrow, is conveniently ignored.
DfT hold 20 consultation events in areas near Heathrow, plus 13 around the UK promoting Heathrow 3rd runway
The DfT is holding a large number of consultation events in the coming two months, both in areas affected by Heathrow, and after that, across the UK. The first event locally was on 13th February and the final one is 20th April in London. The DfT backs the runway, and so the information given out is very much in support of the runway. The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets about the consultations, with simplified text backing the runway (and ignoring any negative impacts) – which look like Heathrow’s own PR about their expansion plans. The events locally are from 11am to 8pm on weekdays (10 – 5pm on Saturdays). People have to register to attend events outside London. Due to the very short notice between the announcement of the NPS consultation (2nd February) and the first event on 13th February, it is difficult for local campaigners against the runway to attend all of them. The DfT has paid staff to man them all. People are encouraged to attend the events, and ask the DfT staff questions. Some suggested questions are shown below. People are also advised not to make their responses in the consultation events, but do them in a considered manner, from home, when they have had time to assess all the information, both for and against the 3rd runway.
Ice block (presumably off plane approaching Heathrow) damages roof just west of Windsor
There have been a number of incidents, at many airports, of lumps of ice falling off planes overhead, coming in to land. Ice can form naturally on aircraft flying at high altitudes, and this can break away and fall off when the plane comes down through warmer air. There is another recent incident of this, to someone under the approach path into Heathrow, just west of Windsor. On 10th February (some time between 7 am and 8.30am) some ice crashed through the roof of a house in Oakley Green Road near Windsor. The owners of the house were not hurt, though there is substantial damage to the roof. This is another incident where it is fortunate the ice fell onto a roof, and not onto people. Such a large object falling onto someone would kill or seriously injure them. Builders secured the property before the weekend and repairs were set to begin the next week. The CAA says this sort of incident is “‘relatively rare” and the CAA website says: “As the safety regulator for UK civil aviation, the CAA requires UK aircraft operators to minimise the risk of ice falls by performing regular maintenance to prevent leaks and take prompt corrective action if a defect is found. The CAA is unable to investigate the potential origin of an ice fall, but does record reports of this nature.”
Particulate emissions from electric cars as bad as conventional – due to more tyre and brake wear
While electric vehicles are a welcome technology, enabling a cut in local air pollution from diesel and petrol cars and vans, (as long as the electricity they use has been sustainably produced) they are not wholly a “silver bullet” solution. A new study shows that much of the particulate air pollution in cities comes from from vehicle tyres and brakes, and road surface wear and resuspension of road dust. There is a positive relationship between vehicle weight and these non-exhaust emissions – the heavier the vehicle, the more wear on tyres and brakes. As electric vehicles tend to be around a quarter heavier, for the equivalent size, than their conventional equivalent internal combustion engine counterparts they produce more of this pollution. Therefore electric vehicle PM emissions – overall – are comparable to those of conventional vehicles. The study found that these non-exhaust sources account for around 90% of PM10 and 85% of PM2.5 from traffic. They conclude: “Future policy should consequently focus on setting standards for non-exhaust emissions and encouraging weight reduction of all vehicles to significantly reduce PM emissions from traffic.” Heathrow is pinning its hopes for cutting air pollution on more use of electric vehicles.
Court in Austria blocks 3rd runway at Vienna airport, as climate harm outweighs a few more jobs
A court in Austria has ruled that Vienna Schwechat Airport cannot be expanded with a 3rd runway, on climate change grounds. It said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. The court said the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. It also said it was important to conserve valuable arable land for future generations to provide food supplies. The airport will appeal. It is using the same false arguments that the DfT and Heathrow are using here – that building a 3rd runway would (allegedly) reduce the amount of carbon emissions and noise because they claim (against common logic) that “fuel consumption and the noise are reduced, because the waiting times of the aircraft would be avoided at peak times.” The airport hopes the runway would bring more tourists into Austria to spend their money, and would be needed by 2025. The airport had 22.8 million passengers in 2015. It is a mystery how such a low number of passengers could require 3 runways, when there is barely enough to fill one, let alone two, runway.
Heathrow airport workers might get financial payout to encourage those with diesel cars to scrap them, to cut NO2
It is rumoured that workers at Heathrow may be offered around £2,000 each, to replace their diesel cars with less polluting electric or petrol models, to try to overcome the problem of NO2 air pollution. Staff at Heathrow are estimated to drive around 27,000 diesel vehicles. Detailed proposals are still being worked up, with talks due to take place with airlines, retailers, cargo operators and other airport employers. Discussions are understood to have taken place about the possibility of a pilot diesel scrappage scheme, by the DfT, in various areas of the UK with the worst pollution (perhaps Heathrow is one) before a nationwide rollout. An earlier Government scrappage scheme to get older, more polluting vehicles off the roads involved motorists being offered £2,000. Half of this came from the government, and half from the motor industry which benefited from more new car sales. Heathrow wants the M4 out to the M25 to be included in the Low Emission Zone to clamp down on polluting lorries and vans. It hopes that by cutting this pollution (much of which is from vehicle trips associated with Heathrow) it can be allowed a 3rd runway, keeping air pollution just within legal levels. Meanwhile, the EC is expected to soon take the next step in legal action against Britain for failing to cut illegal NO2 levels.
Pope: CO₂ compensation for air travel is hypocrisy
Pope Francis has denounced the CO₂ compensation for air travel as hypocritical. He said: “The planes pollute the atmosphere, but with a fraction of the sum of the ticket price trees are planted to compensate for the damage inflicted.” If this logic were extended, one day it would come to a point where armaments companies set up hospitals for those children who fell victim to their bombs. “This is hypocrisy.” He said this was one of the greatest ethical problems of today’s capitalism, that industries were producing waste and then trying to conceal it or treat it to make it invisible. He demanded an economic system that would not only reduce the number of victims, but also require no sacrifices or offsets at all. He was speaking to about 1000 entrepreneurs from around the world who are committed to the social economy. With offset schemes for air travel, passengers can transfer money to so-called compensation agencies. The amount of the sum is generally determined by the distance, consumption and seating class. The agencies then invest the money in climate protection projects in developing countries. Critics see in this practice a modern form of indulgences, which leads to increased flights.
AEF comments on DfT airspace “modernisation” consultation: it provides little future noise reduction
The DfT has a consultation on management and modernisation of UK airspace. It ends on 25th May. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has now had the chance to read it in detail. AEF comments that though proposed new powers – in a very limited way – for the Secretary of State to “call in” plans for some planned flight are welcome, there is little ele to give real benefits to people overflown. On proposals for more consultation and engagement etc, the AEF says: “Improvements to the process in terms of transparency and communication won’t tackle the underlying need to reduce noise.” They comment: “…the introduction of quieter aircraft and a reduction in stacking … will only have a marginal impact given the likely increase in the number of aircraft.” And the SoNA study (2014) now published shows people are more annoyed by aircraft noise than they were in the past, despite technological improvements. That means noise must be taken seriously. On the plans to set up an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) AEF says while this will provide advice, verify noise data etc, with “no requirement to deliver a noise reduction strategy, and without enforcement powers, or the teeth to make binding recommendations, the Commission’s effectiveness may be limited.” Anyone affected by aircraft noise should read the whole AEF comment.
CAA publishes SoNA study, showing high levels of annoyance from aircraft noise well below 57dB
On 2nd February the CAA published a report on a survey about attitudes to aircraft noise, done in 2014. It is called SoNA (Survey of Noise Attitudes). This follows the ANASE study done several years earlier, that was shelved by government, as its methodology was questioned, and it showed high levels of annoyance in response to plane noise. The SoNA study findings are that some adverse effects of plane noise annoyance can be seen to occur down to 51dB LAeq 16hr. The conventional level of averaged noise considered a problem is 57 dB LAeq, and noise is measured on a logarithmic scale. The SoNA report also found sensitivity to aircraft noise has increased, with the same percentage of people being highly annoyed at 54dB LAeq 16hr in SoNA as there was at 57dB LAeq 16hr in the ANIS study that was done in 1985. This gives further evidence to the demand that the government no longer uses the 57dB LAeq metric as its main noise measure. The debate continues about the merits of averaged noise over 16 hours in summer, with metrics measuring the number of plane noise events in a given time. The study says “there is insufficient evidence to link chronic health outcomes with event-based noise metrics, and SoNA 2014 found these performed less well than LAeq 16hr as a predictor of annoyance.” But the findings may show “it may be appropriate to use N65 as supplementary measure for daytime noise…”
Government allows ending of Cranford Agreement, so Heathrow planes can take off to the east from north runway
On 2nd February, later in the day after the announcements on the NPS and the airspace consultation, the DfT added news that the government has agreed to end the Cranford Agreement. This would have been a major announcement in itself, but craftily buried with the other news. The Cranford Agreement was an undertaking, set up about 60 years ago, that planes taking off towards the east would only use the southern runway, not the northern runway. This protects people in Cranford from appalling noise. The ending of the agreement means less noise from arrivals (when the airport is on easterlies – about 30% of the year) from the west – so places like Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle – under the northern runway approach path – could have half as many arrivals per day (around 330 rather than 630). But areas like Old Windsor, Wraysbury and Stanwell Moor could see the number of arrivals on easterlies from 26 to 328 a day (on the southern runway). For take offs, areas south west of the southern runway will see fewer planes, but areas north east of the northern runway will have more planes. It is likely some people in the very noisiest areas might be able to get some insulation from Heathrow, but not a lot. There are also implications for the distribution of air pollution from the planes. A condition of the planning permission gives Heathrow three years to enact the new infrastructure to implement the changes.
Airlines may decide to leave Heathrow for cheaper rivals, if costs of 3rd runway passed on
February 4th 2017 (Graeme Paton in The Times)
Major airlines may drop Heathrow for rival airports such as Amsterdam amid concerns over a steep rise in landing charges to pay for a third runway. Rafael Schvartzman, European vice-president of IATA, said that airline backing for the project was “conditional” on fees remaining at today’s levels. It has emerged that Heathrow had already taken the first steps to pass its expansion costs on to airlines, which could in turn push up prices for passengers. It has been given permission by the CAA to translate £10 million of early planning costs for a 3rd runway into its day-to-day running expenses. This means that airlines could be liable to cover these costs in exchange for using the airport. Heathrow has said that charges will remain flat on average in real terms. Times link
Heathrow villages set for destruction get no consultation event from DfT
Residents, community representatives and local MP John McDonnell are outraged that the public consultation on the DfT’s draft National Policy Statement on expanding Heathrow does not have a public exhibition event in any of the Heathrow Villages. The villages face the prospect of being demolished to make way for the runway. Though 20 local events are planned by the DfT, in areas not far from Heathrow and affected by it, the nearest one to the Heathrow villages is in West Drayton, not easy to reach by public transport from many of the villages. Previous public consultations on Heathrow expansion have always included exhibition events for those who would lose their homes. Local MP John McDonnell commented: “Quite frankly the Government are having a laugh by not holding a consultation event in the Heathrow villages. My constituents face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life if this runway goes ahead.” …“I will be organising a further series of public meetings across the constituency over the coming weeks to ensure that local people and community organisations are fully informed and are able to fully participate in the Governments consultation process. I am confident that yet again we will defeat these disastrous proposals.”
Heathrow NPS – summary of the main (probably) insuperable obstacles the runway faces
The government hopes to get a 3rd Heathrow runway approved, but it realises there are a large number of massive obstacles. The purpose of the NPS (National Policy Statement) consultation is to attempt to persuade the country, and particularly the MPs who must ultimately vote on it, that these obstacles can be successfully overcome. At present, there are no apparent solutions to many of the problems. Below are some very brief outlines of what some of the insuperable hurdles are – and why the government is a very long way from resolving the difficulties. The issues listed here are the three main environmental issues – noise, carbon emissions, and air pollution. The economics is complicated, but there is a note on that too. When Chris Grayling makes bland PR statements about the runway, or the papers regurgitate undigested blurb from the DfT, it may be useful to remember how very thin some of these statement are, and how far the government would have to go, in order to find even partial solutions.
Wandsworth Council raises concerns about absence of flight path details for Heathrow runway
The DfT published its draft National Policy Statement (NPS) on a Heathrow 3rd runway on 2nd February. This was announced alongside a consultation on “modernising” airspace, to use it more intensively, so more flights can be accommodated. There is no detail in the NPS of flight paths for an expanded Heathrow, and it was confirmed at the Heathrow Community Noise Forum that there would be no details of flight paths until the end of the airport’s Development Consent Order process – several years away. For tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people living within perhaps 30 miles of Heathrow, the flight path details are vital – otherwise they have no idea how they will be affected by noise. Wandsworth councillors have expressed concern about the secrecy. Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “What millions of Londoners want to know above anything else is whether the new flight paths will go over their homes, schools or communities. There is no justification for keeping this vital information a secret. The Government seems to be consulting on the benefits of expanding this airport but not the drawbacks. This renders the whole exercise meaningless. This is more like marketing than consultation and the transport secretary is damaging already fragile trust in politics.”
How will people who would ultimately be – newly – intensely overflown by new Heathrow flight paths know they need to make their voice heard?
There is a considerable problem with the DfT consultations on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow, and their Airspace modernisation consultation. If there is a 3rd Heathrow runway, tens or hundreds of thousands of people – who are not currently overflown – would be. They would also be likely to be overflown intensively – as the intention of the airspace management industry is to use narrow routes, and have planes directed down these accurately. That means the same people would get plane after plane overhead, often most of the day, perhaps on most days or on many days per year. However, many of these people have no idea yet that this threat may await them. They will neither be aware there is a consultation to which they should respond, nor of the severity of the noise burden to which they may be subjected. No flight path details are yet known, and probably will not be know for another couple of years. There is a considerable risk (as at Frankfurt with their 4th runway) that people could find themselves, once a runway opens, with a level of noise they had been warned of, and for which they were not prepared. The DfT is sending out 1.5 million leaflets for its NPS consultation. But how will the relevant households know that this might be a matter of real significance for them in the future? Unless people are fully informed, with proper information, the consultation is not adequate.
Government publishes draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation, to pave the way for Heathrow runway
The government has announced the start of the DfT’s consultation on the draft “Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England”. It is the necessary first stage in the process of getting consent for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The consultation will last for 16 weeks, and end on 25th May. The text associated with the draft NPS says little new, that we had not heard before. It is rich in statements like: “..proposals show this Government is not only making the big decisions but getting on with delivering them” and “…will ensure Britain seizes the opportunity to forge a new role in the world after Brexit ….” No real practical, enforceable constraints appear to be placed upon Heathrow, other than it will have to put in place “measures to mitigate the impacts of noise including legally binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled [note, scheduled only] night flights” … and “implementing measures to deliver on its commitments of no increase in airport related road traffic…” And that: “Planning consent will only be granted if the new runway can be delivered within existing air quality limits and climate change obligations.” The only noise body offered is the “Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise” – ie. a Commission, with no powers, not an Authority with powers.
Court rules that legal challenge by 4 councils cannot be heard until final Heathrow NPS published
Four councils that a negatively affected by Heathrow, plus Greenpeace and a local resident, applied for a legal challenge against the DfT because of its plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The case has now been struck out, at the High Court, by Mr Justice Cranston, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim, because of the provision in the Planning Act 2008 which said that proceedings may only be brought in a six-week period that followed once the NPS was adopted, or if later, published. The claim is “precluded” until the NPS is published, and that might be the end of 2017 or early 2018. The court can then consider the challenge. The legal claim is because there was a failure by government to consult residents before going back on promises made repeatedly that a 3rd runway would not be built. John Sauven (Greenpeace) said: ‘Today’s ruling was about the timing of our legal challenge, not its merit. It doesn’t change the fact that ministers have no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems caused by a third runway.” Ravi Govindia (Wandsworth) said “The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality. Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting.”
In the 4 councils’ legal challenge, lawyers say Government plan for Heathrow runway is ‘unlawful’ because people believed repeated promises
Four Conservative councils affected by Heathrow (with Greenpeace, and a local resident) are bringing a legal challenge against the government, because of the plans for a third runway. They say the plan is “unlawful” because locals bought houses and sent children to schools due to repeated Tory promises it would not happen. The councils argue that their residents had a “legitimate” expectation” the project would not be approved, due to assurances received. They have identified 19 “broken promises” made by David Cameron, Theresa May and other political figures saying the 3rd runway would be scrapped. One is by Theresa May in 2009, telling her constituents she will fight the 3rd runway. The lawyers, Harrison Grant, say such promises are not in law to be treated as mere “empty gestures” but legally significant promises. People had, reasonably enough, believed them. There was a hearing at the High Court on 19th and 20th January, and a ruling may be given this coming week. This will decide whether the councils can bring forward their judicial review claims. The DfT has tried to get the case thrown out or delayed till after there is a parliamentary vote on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow – probably around the end of this year.
Government likely to ignore climate advice by CCC, turning just to carbon trading, to try to push Heathrow runway through
Chris Grayling and the government plan to ignore the assessment of the government’s own independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, on how to manage the CO2 emissions from a 3 runway Heathrow. The Environmental Audit Committee wrote to Grayling on 19th December, asking how he planned to square the CO2 emissions and the CCC advice with DfT plans. His response shows there is no way it can be done, and building the 3rd runway means not meeting the UK aviation cap – recommended by the CCC – of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, meaning about 60% passenger growth above 2005 level. Grayling says ministers “have not taken a view on whether to accept the CCC’s planning assumption,” ie. rejecting the advice. He goes on to note that “a future global carbon market would allow emissions reductions to be made where they are most efficient across the global economy”. Then he says “measures are available” even if the aviation sector grows by more than 60%. This goes against the CCC’s own calculation that these levels of growth would mean “all other sectors will have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.” Grayling hopes carbon trading will cut emissions – but in reality there are no effective carbon trading mechanisms that would do this well enough.
Text of speech by Chris Grayling to Airlines UK expressing total support for aviation growth for decades
Chris Grayling gave a speech to Airlines UK (used to be called BATA), giving the industry his strongest support for its growth. Some of his comments: (on Brexit) “… positive expression of our desire as a country to raise our ambitions and look beyond the EU. To strengthen our position as a global country. With the global connections and gateways to make that possible.” … “We already have the largest aviation network in Europe. Direct services to over 370 destinations abroad. … (bit on routes added) … And demand for flights continues to grow. … though we’re awaiting the final figures, the signs are that 2016 will break [the 2015] record once more. … Over the next 20 years, the industry estimates a doubling of the world’s aircraft fleet. That’s another 33,000 aircraft – quieter, cleaner, more efficient aircraft that can actually deliver a fall in carbon emissions. ( sic ! ) … And as the world increasingly embraces aviation in the coming decades, in return, aviation will increasingly drive the globalisation of trade and commerce. …. We are currently working on our new aviation strategy. It’s a long-term framework covering airports, safety, security, competitiveness, consumers, regulation and capacity. [Note, no mention of environment at all !] …It’s part of our plan to build on the momentum of the Heathrow decision – so the whole of Britain can benefit from new aviation capacity.” … and so on …
One noise sufferer’s struggle to cope with the noise burden of Heathrow flights under 3,000 feet overhead
Someone who is now dealing with depression has contacted AirportWatch about the difficulties they have with high levels of Heathrow aircraft noise – living 7-8 miles from the airport. There are flights nearby or overhead at under 3,000 ft, on easterlies. Some extracts from the letter are copied below (with their permission): “We are on Easterly Winds until Sat, meaning we have so much noise to come. I am doing my best to cope, but the thought of this much noise is hard to take. … It is not fair. … The thing I loved doing the most has been taking away from me – to be able to sit and read a book or study something new in peace, in my own home. I can’t do this anymore. It is so sad, as with the noise, I never will be able to sit in my garden and have dinner in the summer months. I brought my house and it was so lovely and quiet – now this has happened. … The noise is just getting too much for me. … Why this the government allowing this to happen? I have no support, no protection. My MP is in favour of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, and is unhelpful. … I didn’t choose to live under this. This government, and earlier governments, have brought this to me. I just can’t understand why it is allowed to continue. … When will it stop?” A letter received from the Dept of Health was unhelpful – just advising visiting the GP ….
Zac’s back: Goldsmith to lead four-borough campaign against Heathrow runway
Former Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith has been appointed spokesman and organiser of the anti-third runway campaign by Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. The appointment was announced at Richmond Council’s full council meeting on 17th January. A revised motion put forward by leader Lord True read: “(This council) endorses the appointment of Zac Goldsmith as spokesman and organiser for the public and legal campaign being waged by Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead and Hillingdon councils against the expansion of Heathrow and calls upon all elected representatives to give full assistance to Mr Goldsmith in this campaign.” Richmond’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Gareth Roberts said he would support Mr Goldsmith’s appointment. Mr Goldsmith’s role is an unpaid one. Lord True’s motion also rejected the government’s recommendation to build a third runway, and reaffirmed the council’s commitment of £50,000 to an “initial fighting fund” against Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith lost the local election, which he had called because the government backed the runway, on 1st December – to LibDem Sarah Olney, who fought the election on Brexit, rather than on Heathrow. Sarah Olney is also deeply opposed to the runway.
New anti-3rd runway group forms in Hammersmith & Fulham, concerned about worse Heathrow impacts
A new campaign group fighting plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway has been formed in Hammersmith and Fulham. The “H&fnothirdrunway” group was formed by concerned local residents Victoria Timberlake and Christina Smyth. Christine was chairman of Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s resident-led commission on airport expansion, which submitted a 56-page report on the 3rd runway proposals to the Airports Commission. The group is urging residents to attend its first public meeting on January 30th, an anyone is welcome to come along, whether they are members or not.”It’s time to get involved.” [At Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Road, Hammersmith and begins at 7.30pm] Hammersmith and Fulham Council has repeatedly opposed a 3rd Heathrow runway. In July 2015 the Council Leader, Steve Curran said the runway would have an adverse impact overall on the borough. Many local residents already have their sleep shattered by aircraft noise, which could only get worse. There would be extra pressure on our roads and more air pollution. “No amount of mitigation could make this acceptable. “We are urging the government not to support proposals which would be a nightmare for residents and make no financial sense.”
Chris Grayling’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on noise – in relation to Heathrow runway
Chris Grayling was questioned by the Environmental Audit Committee on 30th November 2016. Below are the parts of the questions, and answers by Chris Grayling and Caroline Low (DfT) on the subject of noise. Mr Grayling reveals only a very partial understanding of the problems, and of the noise levels – and a somewhat trusting belief in how “quiet” new aircraft are going to be. He says the UK should not impose restrictions on noisy aircraft of developing countries, as it would be unfair on them. He admits that people who currently get “respite” from Heathrow noise will get less, and there will have to be new flight paths – means unknown numbers of people will get noise for the first time, and not a lot of “respite”. His aspiration is for no scheduled flights for six and a half hours per night. He believes (mistakenly) that slightly steeper landings would help. He manages to repeat the mantra that despite 50% more flights “noise levels will be lower than they are at the moment.” He places unjustified trust in an “independent noise authority (or commission)” sorting out a lot of insoluble noise problems in future. Much that he could not give proper replied to depends on consultations in 2017. He will “look at” the issue of when insulation of affected homes is done – over up to 20 years, rather than right away. A worrying performance, for those affected by Heathrow noise.
DfT publishes disappointing consultation on night flight regime at Heathrow, Gatwick & Stansted
The long awaited consultation on Night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted has now finally been published, for the 5 years to October 2022 (well before any new runway). It has been delayed for 3 years. Many people whose sleep is disturbed by night flights had been hoping for real prospects of the number of night flights being reduced. However, the consultation (that ends on 28th February) merely suggests keeping the numbers of flights between 23:30 and 06:00 the same at Heathrow and Gatwick, but increasing the number at Stansted. [“Night” is defined as 2300-0700 local time]. At Heathrow the number would remain at 2,550 in the winter and 3,250 in the summer (seasons based on dates the clocks change to/from summer time). That is an annual total of 5,800 which averages as 16 per night through the year. The figure at Gatwick is 3,250 in the winter and 11,200 in the summer, making an annual total of 14,450 which averages as 40 per night through the year. However, the DfT proposes reducing the total noise quota (points based on the noise of planes at night) at Heathrow Airport by at least 43% in the winter and 50% in the summer, ie. a reduction of at least 1,740 in the winter to 2,340 (from 4080) and 2,560 in the summer to 2,540 (from 5100). The cut in quota count at Gatwick would be 17% in winter and 21% in summer., ie. a reduction of at least 345 in the winter to 1655 (from 2000) and 1,330 in the summer to 4870 (from 6200).
Chris Grayling’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on climate – in relation to Heathrow runway
Chris Grayling, and Caroline Low from the DfT, gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on 30th November. Chris Grayling was not able to give the committee satisfactory assurances on how much UK aviation emissions would rise, due to a new runway. Nor was he able to comment on the CO2 cuts needed by other sectors, to accommodate aviation CO2 rise. He said: “Of course in the case of carbon emissions, there is no law of the land that requires us to meet any particular target.” When asked by Mary Creagh when we could see the aviation emissions strategy, Grayling could give no answer other than an evasive: “documentation on that expansion will be published in the new year.” Grayling’s responses indicate only an incomplete grasp of the facts on carbon, avoiding specific answers to questions, but with the intention of allowing aviation expansion (and perhaps later trying to sort out the problem). He hides behind the CCC as much as possible. On the issue of non-CO2 impacts, he says “there is no international evidence at the moment”for this” – and then some half-digested waffle about cutting CO2 by more direct routing of flights. He also hopes biofuels will make a difference in future, despite this being unlikely to provide more than a tiny % of fuel. Grayling makes it clear he has no intention of letting aviation CO2 get in the way of a 3rd Heathrow runway.
NATS realise the importance of good sleep for their controllers’ alertness – but not for those overflown at night?
In an article on the importance of sleep (and of taking naps in the day, if people need them) the BBC happens to have focused on NATS (he UK’s national air traffic control service). They say how important it is for their air traffic controllers to not be tired, and get enough shut-eye. NATS says staying alert for them “can be a matter of life or death” and they have an “entire department dedicated to this question” because they are “responsible for one of the busiest stretches of airspace in the world, over London.” At their centre at Swanwick there is a “dormitory room where those on night duty are encouraged to get two hours’ kip in the early hours.”We want them to be at the very top of their game at 5-6am, when the arrivals are starting to come into Heathrow.” And that is all great. Except it ignores the inconvenient fact that the work NATS does is routing planes late at night (sometimes until 11.30pm or midnight) at Heathrow, and again from 5am (with a few even before 5am. That is sleeping time for most people living under flight paths, whose sleep is being disturbed. By the activities of NATS. The negative impacts of not getting enough sleep are many, including poor concentration, depression, reduced alertness, less good memory – and many other impacts. Ironic?
Rivals Frankfurt and Heathrow airports are both resistant to more controls on noise
Heathrow is reluctant to agree to a proper ban on night flights – what it has offered is only on SCHEDULED flights, rather than any flights. It fears its airlines would lose money, and that rivals do not have such a ban. But Frankfurt has had, since 2012, a ban of flights between 11pm and 5am (and restriction of only 133 flights between 10pm and 11pm, and 5am to 6am per day). Airlines using Frankfurt also do not like the night flight ban, and complain it damages the competitiveness of Frankfurt. The Hessian Ministry of Economy and Transport has presented plans for noise ceilings, including a limit on the number of takeoffs and landings if noise limits are not achieved for two years in a row. A spokesperson for BARIG (the airlines) described the proposals as incomprehensible. This all sounds so like Heathrow: “The plans regarding noise ceilings are jeopardising the role of Frankfurt and Germany as important aviation locations … The consequence of further restrictions would be that airlines have to evaluate more critically than before whether Frankfurt remains to be part of their network in the future.” And so on. So Heathrow and Frankfurt would be similar – but each is scared of the other airport doing better.
Heathrow bullish about how fast it could get its runway Development Consent Order through
Colnbrook Views reports that Heathrow has begun geeing up airport workers in the past few weeks with internal messages that suggest it hopes it could get its Development Consent Order for a new runway approved as early as 2020. The announcement, to employees and contract workers, implies that the airport believes it could still see a new runway opening within 10 years – by 2027. Heathrow has started work on its development consent application and intends to make a submission in 2019. This has to come after the government gets approval for its National Policy Statement (NPS) – which will go for consultation very soon. The NPS process will take at least a year, depending on hold ups. Heathrow plans to do 2 public consultations, looking at the benefits and impacts of the runway project before submitting an application for DCO “sometime in 2019”. It anticipates a 6 month sprint through the DCO approval process, which will be carried out by the Planning Inspectorate, before a decision by the Secretary of State for Transport (currently Chris Grayling). Heathrow would like this before the 2020 General Election …. By contrast, the DCO for the M4 Smart Motorway took 18 months, March 2015 to final decision in September 2016.
Heathrow intent on getting kids (+ parents) into the habit of multiple plane-dependent holidays per year
Heathrow has been working on its PR by giving figures on how much parents spend on air travel and holidays (some exotic) for their children. They hope to give the impression to parents that they need to provide these luxuries to their children, as part of being good parents …. more consumerist pressure …. Heathrow says in 2016 an unbelievable 19% of children (presumably in the UK, or those passing through Heathrow?) took at least 7 trips trips per year; 5% go on more than 10 trips per year, taking into account family holidays, school trips and holidays with friends. And the “dream destinations” (ie. long haul ones that make more profit for airlines and Heathrow) for under 16 year olds were “Australia, Hawaii, Everest and Thailand”. (Really? Everest? Is this a joke?) Heathrow says the average cost per trip for a child (those under 16 pay no Air Passenger Duty) is about £616 – and on average parents will spend about £30,000 for the holidays of their children, up to the age of 16. Heathrow says “The current generation of kids are dreaming of Bondi Beach, kangaroos and the Outback, with nearly a quarter (23%) of children citing far-flung Australia as their dream destination for 2017.” And on it goes …. Heathrow’s future customers. “Get ’em young” … So THAT’s why we need another Heathrow runway, with all its public expense and negative impacts over vast areas within perhaps 20 miles of the airport.
Back Heathrow complains Hillingdon has to spend money fighting runway – refuses to say how much funding it gets from Heathrow
The “astroturf” group (not actually a real community group) Back Heathrow gets its funding from Heathrow. It refuses to say how much money it gets from the airport. John Holland-Kaye has in the past also refused to say how much it contributes. Back Heathrow is complaining that Hillingdon borough has spent a lot of money on its campaigns against the 3rd runway. This is money that the borough is being forced to spend, because of the activities of Heathrow, against which it has to defend its residents. The account for Back Heathrow show it has around 154,000 in the bank; it has assets of around £653,000; it gives its net worth as about £482,000; its current liabilities are shown as – £171,000; and it only has one employee, Rob Gray. No activity is reported, and no turnover is reported. Back in December 2014 the Sunday Times revealed that Back Heathrow had had at least £100,000 from the airport, but no details are ever given. Back Heathrow says, rather bizarrely, that ‘It would not be fair to publish the amounts given’. Their next accounts will be published on 31st March 2017. Being private companies, the sums cannot be extracted through FoI. Hillingdon Council makes its figures public, and has defended its campaigning, saying it is representing the views of residents.
China starts rail cargo link from Shanghai to London (Barking) – cheaper than air freight, faster than sea
China has launched its first freight train to London, travelling from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China (near Shanghai) to Barking. The trip will take around 18 days to travel over 7,400 miles (about 6,200 miles, as the crow flies). The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, on the way to London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city. There are hopes that it will strengthen China- UK ties. The railway is a major strategic development to assist Xi Jinping’s multi-billion dollar ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy. The plan is to create a trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Road trading routes. There are currently 39 routes linking 16 Chinese cities to 12 European cities. The train to London carried a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items. In October a train arrived in Hamburg from China after a 13 day trip. Its 45 containers carried consumer goods, furniture, clothes, lamps and electronics, which were then transported to various European cities. The trains returning to China have carried items such as German meat products, Russian woods and French wines. Transporting goods by rail is a much cheaper and lower carbon method than air freight via Heathrow, and faster than sea cargo.
Hacan shows numbers of Heathrow flights over London boroughs – Hounslow & Richmond the worst
HACAN has produced a short paper looking at just how much the London boroughs, to the east of Heathrow, are affected by its noise. Using figures from Heathrow’s own data, it can be worked out how many planes (take offs and landings) fly over each area in a year. The study did not look at areas west of Heathrow, like Windsor, which are also very badly affected – largely by take offs. The wind blows approximately 70% of the time from the west, so that is when Heathrow is on “westerly operations”. HACAN’s research shows – predictably – that Hounslow is the most overflown. It gets the noise from all arrivals from the east, on both runways. It also gets all departures towards the east. That is around 240,000 per year – ie. half of all flights using Heathrow. Richmond is close behind in second place, with nearly as many (slightly fewer take offs). The boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lambeth are close behind. A map of the London boroughs shows why this is. Other boroughs in London get not only the noise of Heathrow arrivals, but planes using London City airport too. These boroughs – especially Waltham Forest, and Southwark – suffer from both, and are therefore high on the list of the areas suffering the most planes overhead per year.
Advertising Standards Agency confirms that Heathrow and Gatwick aren’t actually in London
A complaint was made (it is not clear by whom) against an advert by London City Airport in June 2016. The advert stated that “Business or pleasure, time is on your side when you fly from London City Airport … Fly with British Airways or Flybe from Edinburgh, or from Glasgow with British Airways, to the only airport actually located in the city of London….” etc. The complaint was its claim that London City is the only airport in the city of London. It is, of course, not in the square mile of the City of London. The ASA accepted that “the city of London” was intended to refer to inner London, as opposed to the “square mile” City of London. City airport has an E16 postcode, which Heathrow has a TW6 postcode. The ASA said the primary message of the ad was the time that could be saved by flying from or to London City Airport, which they accepted. They therefore said the ad would not mislead, dismissed the complaint, and it was not in breach of advertising codes. Many airports call themselves “London” airports, regardless of the length of journey to get to them from central London.
Heathrow air cargo includes “80 million animals per year” – and largest import is fresh beans
In a long and breathlessly excited and impressed account, a writer for the Daily Mail records his trip to Heathrow cargo warehouses. There are some interesting insights. He says Heathrow handles 80 million animals per year, including “280,000 reptiles, 28 million fish, 16,000 cats and dogs, 2,000 birds and 200 horses every year.” … and “including bears, lions, penguins, elephants and tigers.” (There may be good reasons to question the environmental sustainability or morality of shipping non-domestic animals in this manner …) Some of the animals in the Animal Health Centre in Feltham have been seized from smugglers, such as number of African pygmy hedgehogs. Apart from the animals there are vast amounts of flowers and perishable goods. Huge amounts of bell peppers, cucumbers and salmon are shipped to the Far East and the US every day. Some 100 tonnes of salmon, “from countries such as Scotland and Norway” are flown overseas each day. Luxury cars are shipped by air, and ship parts. Drugs are sent when needed urgently. One of the most daft shipments was “ice cubes sent from London for a swanky cocktail party in Korea” … “The biggest import into the UK are fresh beans, but also berries, asparagus and exotic fruits.”
For earlier news about Heathrow, see
- Heathrow Airport News. August to December 2016
- Heathrow Airport news. January to end of July 2016
- Heathrow Airport news from 24th July to end of December 2015
- Heathrow Airport news from 4th January to 23rd July 2015
- Heathrow Airport news June to December 2014
- Heathrow Airport news January to June 2014
- Heathrow airport news July to December 2013
- Heathrow airport news Jan-June 2013
- Heathrow Airport News 2012
- Heathrow news 2011
- Heathrow News in 2010
- News April 2009 to Feb 2010
- News Feb – Mar 2009
- News Jan 2009
- News April to Dec 2009
- News Jan 2008 to Jan 2009
- News December 2008
- News Sept to end Nov 2008
- News to end of Aug 2008