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’.

Heathrow Airspace consultation closes

Heathrow Airspace consultation closed on 4th March.  See previous post for details.

West London Friends of the Earth has submitted a response.

The consultation was disgraceful. WLFOE explains why: “The reason why the consultation is so bad is that Heathrow Airport is hopelessly conflicted. If it were to be transparent and honest in its consultation, that would conflict with the propaganda put out in Heathrow’s multi-million pound public relations campaign for a third runway.”

Beware Heathrow Consultation !

Heathrow Airport has finished its roadshow of of consultation events on Airspace changes, but the consultation continues on line: https://afo.heathrowconsultation.com/  It closes on 4th March.

It is a slick professional presentation, but don’t be fooled. The word “modernisation” is used, but the aim is to cram in thousands of more flights.

Heathrow wants to add 25,000 more flights pa with the existing two runways. But they are doing their best to hide that from you by burying this bombshell halfway down page 13 of one of the consultation documents. People coming out of the consultation events did not realise this until we told them!

With more flights on existing runways, all the options they give for airspace arrangements just confuse and hide the fact that 25,000 more flights would create more noise, as well as more air pollution and more congestion.

It is by no means certain that a third runway will go ahead. (It is being challenged in the courts. Also, Heathrow cannot easily afford it and are looking for government subsidy.)

A third runway would mean over 50% more flights – 260,000 extra flights pa. But Heathrow hide this crucial fact from their displays and consultation documents.

With 260,000 more flights, a large number of people of new people would experience regular flights overhead. Those that already suffer regular flights are being offered less respite.

All the options Heathrow give for airspace arrangements just confuse and hide the fact that a third runway would create even more noise, as well as more air pollution, more congestion and more climate change.

You do not have to answer the questions that Heathrow poses, if indeed you can find them online (there are 10 not including sub-questions).

If you do answer, be careful. Some of the questions are leading and your answers could be used by them to claim that you support expansion.

All the options mean more noise overall than without expansion. The only difference between the options Heathrow offer is that one particular option may give one community bit less noise at the expense of others.

We suggest you make a general response to the effect that you are strongly opposed to 25,000 extra flights pa with two runways and are even more strongly opposed to a third runway with 260,000 pa extra flights on the grounds of noise, air pollution, congestion and climate change.

You could add that you want to see changes which are win/win for all communities, eg quieter aircraft and compensation for noise impacts. Not flight path changes which just push noise around from one community to the next.

Consultation closes 4th March. 

A detailed response by West London Friends of the Earth is shown here.  Please use freely! If you don’t wish to spend too much time on this, there is short response on page 4.  You can respond by email to feedback@heathrowconsultation.com

But however you respond, make clear that you are strongly opposed to 25,000 extra flights with two runways and are even more strongly opposed to a third runway with 260,000 flights on the grounds of noise, air pollution, congestion and climate change.


Community Engagement?

Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB) held a ‘Question Time’ on 23th Jan in Brentford.  The panel consisted of 5 members, but the only one who in any way represented residents’ interest was Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth. Thank you, Ruth!  3 others – John Holland-Kaye from Heathrow, Tim Johnson from the Civil Aviation Authority and Caroline Low from the Department for Transport (DfT) – are a cabal trying to push through a third runway.

Caroline Low from the DfT again tried to mislead the public by claiming “huge economic benefits” from Heathrow expansion. Despite the fact that her own department has published figure showing negligible benefits! (See ‘Economics and Costs‘ page, linking to detailed briefing.

John Holland-Kaye, trying to counter concerns about (proven) health impacts of noise and air pollution, argued that jobs are a health benefit.  This builds on Heathrow’s massive campaign of deceit and mis-information about jobs that would be created by a third runway and ignores the fact (noted by Ruth Cadbury) that unemployment is already low in the area.

Rachel Cerfonyne, head of HCEB, highlighted “lack of trust” as being a big issue.  It’s not hard to see why there is such a lack of trust!

The massive imbalance in the panel also caused attendees to question how independent the oft-claimed “independent” HCEB really is.

Heathrow and Grayling deceit on access to Heathrow

Data from a London TravelWatch  report exposes Heathrow and government deceit on surface access to Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport has claimed there will be no increase in road traffic,  despite that fact passenger numbers would go up nearly 50% with a third runway. But to achieve this, a massive increase in the % of people travelling by public transport is needed.

There is no evidence that this will happen. The TravelWatch report confirms government figures that between 2007 and 2017 the percentage of people accessing the airport by public transport rose only 1% (from 39-40%). At that rate of improvement it would take approx 250 years for Heathrow to hit the 65% that would be require to prevent an increase in road congestion!

Heathrow is refusing to pay for the road and rail schemes necessary to prevent more congestion. And Transport minister Chris Grayling says no taxpayer’s money will be used to improve access to Heathrow.

David Attenborough speaks for world’s people at UN climate change conference

At the UN climate change talks in Poland, Sir David Attenborough spoke for the world’s people.

“… Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale.  Our greatest threat in thousands of years: Climate Change.  If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon …

The People have spoken.  Leaders of the world, you must lead.  The continuation of our civilisation and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands.”

Speech (very short).