AirportWatch October 2015 News Bulletin

The october edition of AirportWatch News Bulletin reports what has been happening lately about the 3rd runway at Heathrow airport.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

Page 1
– Huge rally against Heathrow 3rd runway demonstrates intense cross-party opposition in London
– Top Civil Servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, ‘warned ministers not to comment’ on Heathrow runway issue before conference

Page 2
– Guardian reports Patrick McLoughlin saying Government statement on runway likely to be delayed – even past May 2016?
– Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill says Heathrow has to pay for surface access work resulting from a 3rd runway
– 2M group boroughs produce highly critical report of Airports Commission’s Heathrow runway recommendation

Page 3
– Leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils tell PM that flight path consultation must precede Government’s runway support
– New Heathrow runway would mean at least half those affected by noise would only get 4 hours respite per day
– Protesters blast aircraft noise outside hotel of Conservative Party conference at4.30am

Page 4
– Cameron reminded of his “No its, no buts, no 3rd runway” pledge on its 6th anniversary
– CAA data show nearly 6,000 more people in Heathrow’s 57 Leq loud noise contour in 2014 than in 2013

Page 5
– Teddington Action Group show – from Heathrow report -that they are now suffering more aircraft noise
– Flight path groups write to Heathrow  to express concerns about ineffectual Community Noise Forum
– Boris warns regional airports of likely cut in links to Heathrow with a 3rd runway

Page 6
– ‘Northern Powerhouse’ a myth as region expected to lag behind south in 2025
– ‘Clean Air in London’ obtains QC Opinion on Air Quality Law (including at Heathrow)
– Sunday Times exposé cites “potentially dangerous levels of air pollution” at Pippins School in Poyle

Page 7
– Heathrow send survey to Heathrow villagers facing potential compulsory purchase – to soften people up?
– Corbyn said to be ready to oppose Heathrow runway, partly due to air pollution

Page 8
– Heathrow runway would mean loss of over 431 hectares of Green Belt – and more in future
– New group, CHATR (Chiswick Against the Third Runway) formed to oppose Heathrow expansion
– Careful analysis by Richmond campaign shows up weaknesses in Airports Commission economic arguments

Page 9
– BALPA questions effectiveness of Heathrow 3.2 degree approach trial – noise might even increase?
– GACC warns Patrick McLoughlin of the future costs to the Exchequer of infrastructure needed for Gatwick runway

Page 10
– Sir Howard Davies writes to Patrick McLoughlin to dismiss Gatwick’s claims
– Gatwick noise campaigners “optimistic” about flight paths review by Bo Redeborn
– Edinburgh trial (no prior consultation) of new narrow route to be ended 2 months early, due to opposition

Page 11
– Labour peer Lord Adonis to head Osborne infrastructure body – to get things like a new runway built fast
– Alex Salmond says SNP will not back a SE runway unless they are paid huge sums under the Barnett Formula
– Citizens in major cities across the USA will unite on Saturday 24th for #NoFlyDay – against NextGen

Page 12
– 17 NGOs write to European Commission to get them to push for inclusion of aviation and shipping in Paris agreement
– New report by the Green Party shows UK will not meet climate change targets with new runways

Page 13
– Andrew Simms: Cars, aviation, steel … the stranded assets risk spreads far beyond fossil fuel firms
– Head of European aviation body EASA warns of cyber-attack risk against aircraft
– Residents around Frankfurt hold their 150th huge Monday evening protest against aircraft noise
– CPRE raises concerns about government plans to raise cost of legal challenges, on projects like a new runway

Page 14
– Leaked documents reveal secret plans for West Midlands Combined Authority to have control over APD at Birmingham airport
– Berlin Brandenburg airport problem of terminal ceiling being too heavy … already years late, hugely over budget
– Blog asks #WhatsyourlegacyDave ? and how would he be remembered, for a broken promise?

No 3rd Runway Rally.  There was a huge rally in Parliament Square on 10th October, at which a range of speakers from all parties emphasised the strength – as well as breadth – of the opposition to a 3rd runway. All the Mayoral candidates are deeply opposed to it. The star of the rally was Mrs Taylor, a lady in her eighties, who has lived in Harmondsworth for decades and raised her family there – but now faces losing her home, if it is compulsorily purchased.

The Party Conferences came and went. AirportWatch and AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) had stalls at the Conservative, Labour and LibDem conferences, and talked to large numbers of delegates – including many MPs and councillors.  An encouraging number weren’t just interested in the issues, but concerned not only about the environmental and social impacts, and also the effects on the regions of adding yet another runway to the south east.

Plane Stupid and Heathrow villagers made their mark visually (huge banner and replica plane) outside the Conservative conference – but also audibly, by playing aircraft noise at realistic volume outside the hotel in which many attending the conference were staying.  At 4.30am. (That is the time the first plane goes over London, going into Heathrow).

Sir Jeremy Heywood.  The  Conservatives were a bit reluctant to allow AirportWatch and AEF to have the stall, though it was finally passed. That figures, when it emerged recently that the most senior Civil Servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, had  ‘warned ministers not to comment’ on the Heathrow runway issue before the conference, as it was too contentious. That sort of gagging is apparently “unprecedented.”

Heathrow case crumbling….  More details emerge about the weaknesses of the case for a Heathrow runway. These range from its problems meeting air pollution standards, the unwelcome truth that people who currently get half a day of respite from aircraft noise are likely to only get 4 hours, the reduction in links to the regional airports from a 3 runway Heathrow, and the impossibility of meeting UK carbon targets with a new runway.

There is more on all these in the bulletin.

Government won’t pay.  Heathrow (or Gatwick) also got an unwelcome – for them – confirmation by the Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill, that the government would not be paying the costs of surface access infrastructure from which the airport would directly benefit.  Heathrow has said it will not pay for the costs of putting the M25 in a tunnel. The government will not pay for it either.

Cost of Gatwick runway infrastructure.  Gatwick airport has been keen to make out that it would cover all its costs, but GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has written to Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, to clarify the situation.  The Airports Commission only looked at surface transport infrastructure up to 2030, when a Gatwick runway would have few passengers.  When the runway filled up, many more road and rail improvements would be needed – and the cost would then have to be borne by the taxpayer.

Aircraft noise.  The various flight path groups have been busy.  The trial of a new, narrow flight path at Edinburgh airport is being cut short by two months, due to the high level of opposition.  Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City airport groups are working together to get new thinking on the way flight paths are being changed,  and proper recognition of the  unacceptable level of aircraft noise to which many communities are being subjected.  The groups have had meetings with the DfT, and will be meeting the Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill, next month.

After being told by Heathrow for months that they were imagining the plane noise, people in Teddington and Twickenham have found, through a new report for Heathrow, that the noise they are experiencing is – indeed – worse than it was before. The residents were not wrong.

No Fly Day rallies in the USA. The equivalent changes to flight paths are also happening in other countries, and meeting similar opposition. In the USA this coming Saturday (24th) there will be rallies in Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco Bay Area, Phoenix, Greater Los Angeles/Culver City, Seattle and San Diego against the imposition of unfair and health-threatening levels of aircraft noise on communities through the NextGen programme.

Short briefings.  In preparation for the party conference season, we prepared a series of short briefings (several just two pages) on a range of topics, relating to aviation – and especially to a possible new runway.  Carbon emissions. Noise. Air pollution.  Economics.