Government has to change course on airport expansion, says advisor

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned the government that its gung-ho attitude to aviation and airport expansion must change if it is to meet the  ‘Net Zero’ target which it has announced.

CCC, in its understated way, makes it clear that international aviation must be included in the targets that are set as part of the Climate Act. (Government and Heathrow Airport want it to be left out.)

CCC also says that if aviation were to grow at the rate the government forecasts (and seems to be encouraging) then it would be impossible to meet the Net Zero target by 2050. Let alone by 2030, the date which most scientists and commentators think is necessary.

If a third runway at Heathrow were to go ahead, this would mean severe constraint on other airports in order to meet carbon targets.

CCC also rejects the ‘greenwash’ being put about by the aviation industry; for example that electric planes, biofuels and ‘carbon offsets’ such as planting trees would solve the problem.

More at Aviation Environment Federation.

Heathrow 3rd runway consultation closed 13th Sep

This is a ‘statutory consultation’ which Heathrow has to carry out as part of its planning application and the ‘Development Consent Order’ (DCO) process.  The consultation is, as one would expect from Heathrow, biased and misleading. But the responses will not just be evaluated by Heathrow – they can be taken to an Inspectorate which has to evaluate the proposals and recommend acceptance or otherwise of the plan and changes that are required.

See response that West London Friends of the Earth (WLFOE) has made.

The No Third Runway Coalition has produced a very short summary of the issues and points it and its member groups have made. See below.

  • Expansion will increase flight numbers to 756,000 flights, an increase of over 280,000 flights each year.

  • Destruction of 756 homes.

  • 3,000 homes rendered unliveable.

  • Destruction of Harmondsworth Primary School.

  • Diversions of the M25, A4 and A3044 including changes to junctions, roundabouts and new link roads.

  • 2 new massive car parks for 24,000 and 22,000 cars and new multi-storey car park near T4 – increasing total number of parking spaces by over 3,000.

  • 2.2 million people impacted by increases in aircraft noise.

  • 324,000 people impacted by aircraft noise for the first time.

  • Significant negative effects are predicted on the Wraysbury River, River Colne, Longford River and Duke of Northumberland’s River – all will be diverted.

  • Loss of multiple habitats in Colne Valley Regional Park, Staines Moor and a number of Local Wildlife Sites.

  • According to DfT, negligible economic benefit (Net Present Value of between -£2.5 bn to +£2.9 bn in the UK, and that excludes costs for climate change)
  • No  evidence that it would reduce unemployment (creating some jobs is expected to increase population and cause overcrowding, not reduce unemployment for those who live in the area)

 

 

Heathrow third runway consultation

As part of the process of deciding on ‘Major Infrastructure Projects’, the promoter (in this case Heathrow Airport Ltd) have to undertake a public consultation. The results of this must be taken into account in the next stage, which is the Development Consent Order (DCO) process.

The consultation consists of a series of events around West London and west of London and the information is also available on the web. (https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/collections/summary/)

Heathrow is running the ‘statutory consultation’. This is the same organisation which has been running a gigantic and highly misleading propaganda campaign promoting a third runway. So the the consultation will inevitably not be neutral or impartial.

For this reason, be very careful if you decide to respond.

In conjunction with the No Third Runway Coalition, West London of the Earth will be providing advice on how to respond. We strongly advise that you hold off responding until we issue this advice. (Consultation open till 13th Sep.)

A few immediate tips:

We suggest you preface any response by saying you are strongly opposed to a third runway.

Do not answer questions which are ‘leading’; or do not answer in a way that could be construed as supporting or accepting a third runway.

Don’t use the online response form unless you have seen all the questions before you start. Otherwise, not knowing the questions that follow, you could be led down a path.

Better to respond by email (or post) making the points you wish to make and not being limited by the questions.

However you respond, keep a copy of your answers.

Heathrow ‘Land Referencing’. Don’t be harassed and don’t be fooled!

Hundreds of thousands of people have received a letter ‘Proposed Expansion of Heathrow Airport – Land Referencing: Request for Information’ and a form to fill in and return.

Many recipients have been puzzled and some have felt worried or harassed, particularly if chased up about it.

You do not have to fill in the form. Our advice is: do not, for time being at least, fill in and return the form. Here’s why.

Heathrow say they have a statutory duty to carry out this exercise. This may be correct. However, you are under no obligation to respond.

We have several major concerns:

Firstly, this exercise reinforces the impression that Heathrow Airport wants to give – that expansion is a ‘done deal’. It’s not, because the Development Consent Order (DCO) process could reject the entire scheme or insist on major changes on the grounds of noise, air pollution, climate change or surface access.

Secondly, it suggests that people will get compensation. In fact, only a tiny proportion of recipients of the letter (those very close to the airport) will be eligible. (This is obvious when one looks at the map of property compensation areas provided at the Heathrow consultation events.) Heathrow and the government don’t have the slightest intention of giving the vast majority of us any compensation. It is very misleading to hold out hope to hundreds of thousands of people they will get compensation, thereby encouraging them to acquiesce or even support Heathrow expansion.

Thirdly, this is a massive data mining exercise. Much of the data will be made public and all of it will be available to certain companies and agencies. Data could be used by Heathrow to refine and promote its massive public relations exercise.

If you do nonetheless decide to fill in the form, we suggest you ask your own questions of Heathrow. In particular, ask what sort of compensation you might be entitled to, eg cash payment or council tax rebate, and type of impacts that might be applicable, eg noise, air pollution, congestion, flood risk.

WLFOE exposes flaws in government’s aviation strategy

The consultation on the government’s draft Aviation Strategy closed on the 20th June. West London Friends of the Earth (WLFOE) has responded to the consultation.

The strategy is, to put it frankly, appalling. We say in our response “We are fundamentally opposed to the overall thrust of the strategy, which is basically ‘growth at any cost’. “

Key environmental issues of noise, air pollution and climate change are of course mentioned. But there is no real plan to address them.

All we are offered is a ragbag of ideas.  Individually, many of the ideas are laudible, but none of the proposed measures will of themselves individually or collectively ensure that noise, air pollution or climate change standards and targets are met and thereby human health protected.

The justification for this growth is –  predictably – economy and jobs. But, extraordinarily, no real evidence is presented. There is much assertion and hype with a ragbag of largely irrelevant statistics thrown in. But what is conspicuously missing is an estimate of the Net Economic Benefit – that is the overall benefit taking into account all costs and benefits.

We know why this is missing.   A proper economic study was done for the government’s ‘flagship’ project, a third runway at Heathrow.  The result was a ‘Net Present Value’ of approximately zero.  That is, no net economic benefit to the UK.  (And even that was obtained only by leaving out all the climate costs and some of the surface access costs.) The government dared not do a new study to support this aviation strategy in case it too came up with ‘the wrong answer’.

The government is unable to justify with evidence or rational argument its gung-ho pro-growth policy. Given this, the only explanation is ideology.  Its disregard for people and the planet, shown by its complete failure to address noise, air pollution and climate change, is a further manifestation of government ideology.

See here  for full West London response to the consultation.

‘Independent’ Commission on Civil Aviation Noise

We went to a meeting on 2nd June with the new ‘Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise’ (ICCAN) yesterday.  4 very ‘establishment’ commissioners. Two were Tory council leaders, one a Rear Admiral and industry advisor and one a senior local government officer who then had other public posts.

Hard to imagine they will “challenge” [their word] Heathrow, government, Department for Transport or the industry.

The emphasis seems to us entirely wrong. ICAAN wants to “improve confidence and public trust in the management of aviation noise.” Surely the aim should be to “minimise aircraft noise and its impacts on people.”

London Plan Hearing- Mayor opposes Heathrow Expansion

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has included in the Draft New London Plan text which makes clear the Mayor’s current opposition to Heathrow expansion and conditions under which it would be acceptable. Heathrow Airport wants the text deleted on the grounds it is “inconsistent” with central government policy.

West London Friends of the Earth and others appeared at the hearing  on 10/5/19 to defend the GLA’s right to be able to state its policy and views.

The Mayor is democratically elected and it is absolutely right that that the London Plan should explain the Mayor’s views and policies. Heathrow’s attempt to censor these is another blatant attack on local democracy.

Previously Heathrow (via its ‘front’ organisation, Back Heathrow) has attacked local councils such as Hillingdon for “wasting” money opposing a third runway.

Councils are democratically elected and have the right, indeed duty, to represent residents, citizens, taxpayers and voters. Unlike Heathrow Airport, whose only responsibility is to make money for its owners and directors. If councils are concerned – as they must be – about noise, air pollution and congestion and about the health and quality of life of their citizens, they have every justification for spending a relatively tiny amount of money on opposing a third runway and trying to protect their citizens.

Committee on Climate Change says aviation must be included in zero emissions target

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report (275 pages) published today  today (2/5/19) makes clear that aviation must be included in the zero emissions target. And that international credits (offsets) must not be used to wriggle out of this obligation.

It is clear from the governnment’s own figures that a third runway at Heathrow is inconsistent with even the current target of 80% cuts by 2050, let alone 100% cuts. (See concise report.) We should not be surprised therefore that judges Holgate and Hickinbottom put out their judgement on Heathrow expansion just before the CCC report. Their judgement said (by implication of course, not explicitly) that a third runway could go ahead irrespective of such climate considerations.

Judges reject case brought by Friends of the Earth on Heathrow expansion

Judges Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate have rejected outright the Judicial Review brought by local councils, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace against the government decision to build a third runway at Heathrow. [Full judgment]

Nic Ferriday, from West London Friends, said “The upshot of the judgment is that the Paris Agreement, signed by the UK government, can be ignored when it comes to expanding Heathrow. Furthermore, the National Policy Statement (NPS), which materially misled MPs when it said that a third runway was consistent with UK climate targets [article and paper], should stand.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said: “We are in an ecological and climate emergency and parliament have supported an outdated decision to chase climate-wrecking development. How can we take any government remotely seriously when they claim to care about climate chaos while supporting this runway?”

Nic Ferriday added “Judges Hickinbottom and Holgate have meekly supported the government by saying that the government can ignore the latest evidence and even its own undertakings on climate change. The government can, with legal impunity, mislead MPs (and presumably anyone else). We therefore need to hold the judges as well as the government to account.”

See also a slightly longer opinion piece.

Heathrow court case – and how the government misled Parliament

The court case (Judicial Review) against the government’s decision on a third runway at Heathrow commenced yesterday (11th March). The case is being brought by local councils, Friends of the Earth, the London Mayor  and Greenpeace, among others.

See newspaper report. Updates will no doubt be provided where possible on Facebook etc, eg https://www.facebook.com/NoR3Coalition/ but bear with us. Our resources are concentrated directly on the court case. We do not have large amounts of money to spend on public relations like Heathrow and the government have.

The specific aim of the case is to quash the ‘National Policy Statement’ (NPS). This is the document presented by Chris Grayling to Parliament in order to convince MPs to vote for a third runway. But the NPS contained materially misleading statements and omitted crucial information on air pollution, climate change, economic benefits and surface access to the airport, meaning that assent was given under false pretences.

See our document ‘How the government misled Parliament‘ which covers just one of these issues.

Nic Ferriday, spokesperson for West London Friends of Earth said “Our analysis shows clearly and comprehensively how the government sought to deceive MPs on climate change. This is a very serious matter – not just in respect of Heathrow, but also what it says about the government’s attitude to climate change. It signals as clearly as anything we have seen yet that this government is not interested in achieving the UK’s climate targets, while still pretending it is.

The High Court is, of all places, where truthfulness and honesty should be tested. But it gives the judge a very difficult decision. Does he do the right thing and quash the misleading and dishonest NPS? Or does he find some obscure legal reason to reject the claims, thereby retaining favour with the government, Heathrow and other purveyors of ‘fake news’.