Communities unite to fight the Third Runway

hacanrallyLast night saw a coming together of politicians of all parties, Trade unionists and environmental campaigners at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster for the Rally against the Runway, organised by independent campaign group HACAN Clearskies. (As previously reported on our site by Heathrow Villages ward representative, Bryan Tomlinson)

Chaired by HACAN’s John Stewart, this was a community reply to the significant financial muscle of Heathrow Airport Ltd and their ‘astroturfing’* propaganda arm, Back Heathrow, who have spent millions plastering adverts over newspapers, the internet and just about any billboard in London they can find. Go on any tube train currently and you will see those ad’s, usually with a modified Union flag, telling you how the country needs this expansion – Ironic when none of the investors in the airport are actually British!

 

It was a rare showing of political unity but totally justified when out of 27 surrounding boroughs, only 2 actually support expansion (Hang your heads in shame Spelthorne and Slough!)

Many valid points were raised by the speakers – Destruction of housing, pollution, noise, the lack of infrastructure to support additional traffic around the airport, the flawed business case and the madness of allowing an increase in numbers of aircraft flying across the densely populated urban sprawl of London to name just a few.

3rd runway John RandallThere were veterans of the previous campaign – Outgoing Uxbridge Conservative MP John Randall (Left) was third up to the podium, with the final speaker being Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell – He repeated his call from the recent public meeting that ‘you can’t trust any of the politicians from any of the party’s on this ‘, no doubt mindful that despite his own stated aim to stop the Runway that neither his own Labour party or The Conservatives will say where they stand on expansion before the election, preferring to wait on the recommendations of The Davies Commission that has been postponed until after May 7th.

 

Former Conservative transport minister, Steven Norris (Below),  spoke of the calls in the seventies to make urban freeways on flyovers through London, and that at the time the prevailing wisdom that we needed to be ‘more like Detroit’ in order to get cars around London is similar to the flawed case being put forward that we need more aircraft capacity at Heathrow to deal with increased ‘hub’ traffic.

3rd runway Steven Norris

Headline speaker Vince Cable MP (below left), the current secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, spoke of the flawed projections of ‘hub’ passenger numbers that are being put forward, arguing that the biggest hub of the future will be in Dubai and that Heathrow’s best option for growth is to embrace the switch to more short haul traffic and direct flights to long haul destinations.

3rd runway Vince Cable3rd runway Adam Afriyie

MP’s Zac Goldsmith and Adam Afriyie spoke of their determination to beat the runway, with Mr Afriyie (Right) speaking of his childhood in South London teaching him how to fight and if the airport wanted a fight he would give it to them.

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace’s John Sauven gave the environmental viewpoint, talking of pollution and the effects on climate, whilst Chris Baugh of the PCS Union  dispelled the notion that the Trade Union movement are solidly behind expansion despite what the airport would have you believe (Manuel Cortes of the TSSA was also scheduled to speak, but was called away on urgent business before he could do so)

Further speeches were also heard from Lib-Dem GLA leader Caroline Pidgeon, Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia and MP’s Mary Macleod and Andy Slaughter.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also spoke after waiting patiently just before John McDonnell’s closing speech and seemed to be getting over the cold that had hampered her TV performances in the previous week (Below)

3rd Runway Natalie Bennett

UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour MEP was due to attend the event, but due to unforeseen circumstances was unable to show up on the night – With trepidation, I stepped in to represent UKIP and my speech can be viewed below –

 

Cliff Dixon speech to Rally against the Runway

I’m sorry that Jill Seymour MEP, UKIP’s National Transport spokesperson, is unable to be here tonight but as UKIP’s candidate in the constituency that includes the airport and a Hillingdon borough resident I hope I can speak from the heart and tell you why UKIP is firmly against another runway at Heathrow.

With a life long interest in aircraft, I can see the idea of a third runway for what it is – Not an essential requirement for the UK economy, but a cash cow for the investors in Heathrow Airport to swell the coffers of their bank accounts.

cliffdixonrostrumThey care not for our local communities affected by noise and pollution on the flightpaths in to the airport – Indeed, Akbar Al-Baker of Qatar Holdings, a major stakeholder in the airport, has been quoted in the national press as saying that locals enjoyed ‘excessive freedom’ and ‘made too much fuss’ about noise, which they would ‘soon get used to’.

It may be fun to visit an airshow for a day, but it’s not much fun for Heathrow Villagers who see aircraft flying over their houses every couple of minutes – Some of whom have been in those houses for generations before the expansion of Heathrow in to the airport that is has become today. People I have been fortunate to meet and class as friends who stand to lose those homes if expansion goes ahead and will see a community they have been a part of torn asunder.

This is to say nothing of the pollution that increased aircraft activity will bring. My mother was a Hillingdon resident who suffered with breathing problems which have now mysteriously disappeared since moving out of the area . How many of our children in Cranford, Sipson, Harlington and Harmondsworth are suffering similarly today?

We hear from Heathrow Airport Ltd that newer aircraft are less noisy and less polluting. That might be so, but if there are more of them then those benefits will be negated by sheer numbers.

I have stood close to an Airbus A380 at Farnborough Airshow and it is indeed an improvement noise wise on take off, but that same almost empty plane sounds somewhat different with a full load taking off from a runway at Heathrow – Those here from Harlington will know what I mean.

They also neglect to mention that their proposed steeper glide paths to offset noise in the outer boroughs will require faster deceleration on final approach, meaning more ‘reverse thrust’ and increased airframe sound – You can only do so much because of the sheer physics of aircraft design and those closest to the airport, our community in Hillingdon, are likely to see increased disruption from these measures.

3rd runway audience

So, what can be done?

Heathrow is a major employer in the area and has been here for many years. It has become a part of our daily lives.

However, it can be a better neighbour to us all by engaging with the local community over improved noise mitigation.

Heathrow can improve operations by looking at the flights that operate out of it – For a ‘hub’ airport, there are a disproportionate amount of short haul point to point flights versus long haul.

There also needs to be a radical rethink of the ‘grandfather rights’ that allow airlines that have traditionally had landing and take off slots to use under occupied or empty flights to block out new routes from coming to the airport and making better use of the existing runways. By doing this, it will preserve and create jobs that Back Heathrow have been scaremongering will be lost whilst improving relations with those of us who live daily in its shadow.

Whatever people’s view on whether we actually need to increase aviation capacity in the South East of England, there is no convincing argument for building a third, and possibly fourth, runway at  Heathrow particularly when weighed up against all the arguments against it.

lies

If we do indeed need to increase aviation capacity in the South East of England then we need to be smarter in our use of the existing airports in concert with Heathrow. In London, we have 7 runways spread around 6 airports. We also have an unused large runway at Manston in Kent that can be re-opened if necessary and would not require the decimation of housing nor bring the noise and pollution issues we would see at Heathrow.

Finally, improving our communications networks should be a priority and would do away with the need for some of the business flights.

I stand here tonight alongside our community and members of all political parties and none who oppose a Third Runway at Heathrow.

Whilst this is a non-politically aligned event, it will ultimately be politicians who make the final decision on whether the runway gets built.

I can relay a message from Jill Seymour MEP, that UKIP stand with you in opposing the Third Runway at both a national and local level.

Make sure that those who seek your mandate at the General Election can say the same with their national party’s support and hold them to account at the ballot box.

The future of our local communities depend on it.

Thank you very much

Last night’s event showed that local communities and those who represent them will not be bullied in to an expansion plan that benefits the corporate interest of the Airport at the expense of  our area. The Third Runway has been beaten before – Through unity, it will be beaten again.

* ‘Astroturfing’ is a term for a fake grass roots campaign propped up by vested interests

 

 

 

 

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Labour MP slams his own party as opposition to 3rd Runway grows

Last week saw the culmination of the Airports Commission Consultation in to expansion at Heathrow Airport and with it increased activity from those who oppose construction of the Third Runway.

Airbus A380 on ground Farnborough 2014

The Commission is currently looking at three options to increase aviation capacity in the south of England – A new Northern Runway at Heathrow, an extension to one of the existing runways at Heathrow to enable it to operate as two, or a second runway at Gatwick.

With the deadline for submissions to the Commission being 3rd February, Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell called a public meeting in Sipson on the evening of 29th January to lay out what the proposals on the table were and how to respond to the consultation.

Continue reading

Airports Commission sets out it’s interim report

Howard Davies has given his interim report in to airport expansion in the south of England, with two Heathrow and one Gatwick proposal on the table.

Here is an overview of the proposals put together by John Stewart of HACAN Clearskies which gives a snapshot of the findings for those who have an interest in Heathrow Expansion

Airbus A380 in flight

 

Airports Commission Consultation

 

The Commission argues that one new runway is required in London and the South East by 2030 to cater for demand and enable the economy to remain competitive. It accepts that a runway at any of the three options would do the job.

 

Davies says that hubs are important but says that does not imply he is arguing, at this stage, that only a bigger hub at Heathrow is required. He leaves open the question of whether a two-hub system could be equally as effective.

 

He repeats his earlier view that, because the demand will be from the South East, expanding airports in the regions instead of a new runway in the SE is not an option. Future demand projections suggest he is correct.

 

He also repeats his view that one new runway can be built without breaching the UK’s CO2 (climate change targets). Again, the figures support his assertion. It would, though, as organizations like the Aviation Environment Federation have pointed out, curtail the ability of other airports to expand.

 

Davies acknowledges that he has not factored the cost of carbon into his calculations at this stage. It appears he intends to do so. That might well reduce the net economic benefit of a new runway.

 

He assesses each of the airports against key criteria

 

  1. Benefits to the wider economy

 

Heathrow Third Runway: £112bn – £211bn

 

Heathrow Hub: £101bn – £214bn

 

Gatwick: £42bn – £127bn

 

Comment: Although the economic benefits of Gatwick are lower, they are still substantial. Gatwick can no longer be regarded as a ‘bucket and spade’ airport. Davies has, in effect, ‘mainstreamed’ it. A second runway at Gatwick could deliver substantial benefits to the UK economy.

 

  1. Jobs

The Commission has produced out a very wide rage of estimates for each airport. For example, it says a 3rd runway at Heathrow could create anything from 47,000 – 112,000 jobs by 2050 (a lower number than the 120,000 Heathrow has claimed). Davies says Gatwick could create as many as 63,000 and Heathrow Hub up to 92,000.

 

Comment:   Given the hugely different range of estimates about the number of jobs that would be created, Davies needs to do more work on this and we need to take Heathrow’s claims about job creation with a pinch of salt until further work has been done.

 

Heathrow terminal 5

 

  1. Cost of the new Runway

Davies estimates a 2nd runway at Gatwick would cost £9.3bn (the promoter, £7.4bn). Davies puts the cost of a 3rd runway at Heathrow at £18.6bn (Heathrow, £14.8bn); Davies puts the cost of the Heathrow Hub £13.5bn (the promoter (£10.1bn). Of course, all these costs would be paid by the airports themselves, probably requiring higher landing charges.

 

  1. Public Cost

The cost of the associated works to the public purse would be £6.3bn for Heathrow Hub; £5.7 bn for Heathrow; and £787,000 for Gatwick. The Heathrow options are high because both would involve extensive work to the surrounding motorway networking including tunneling part of the M25.

 

Comment: Is the public really going to accept the taxpayer forking out over £5bn to facilitate a new runway at Heathrow?

  1. Noise

 

For the Heathrow Hub option, Davies says there will be a ‘significant increase in the number of people affected by noise’ – as many as 900,000 within the 55Lden contour (the metric used by the EU) as compared to 760,000 today. Davies does, though, say that there is the possibility the 900,000 could be cut if different flight paths were used.

 

For the Heathrow Third Runway Option, Davies says that the numbers affected would fall from 760,000 to just under 600,000 if no new runway were to be built. He is taking on board some of Heathrow’s arguments about the impact of quieter planes, steeper descents and more respite. If a third runway was built the numbers affected would be just under 700,000.

 

For Gatwick, the numbers would rise from 10,000 today to around 35,000

 

Comment: Noise is the area where Gatwick wins hands down

 

  1. Air Pollution

Davis argues that either of the Heathrow options will have a real problem of staying within the EU legal limits. It all depends what sort of measures can be taken to deal with motorways and roads in the area but Davies says there could be a ‘significant’ risk the EU targets will not be met. At Gatwick, he says, there is a ‘potential’ risk but lower than at Heathrow.

 

  1. Homes

Heathrow would require 783 properties to go); Heathrow Hub, 242 homes; Gatwick 186

 

Comment: Most people in the immediate Heathrow area would argue that more than 8783 properties would need to go to make way for a third runway. 783 would leave a lot of people unrealistically close to a new runway.

 

Airbus A380 on ground Farnborough 2014

 

  1. The influx of workers

Either of the Heathrow options could require as many as 70,000 extra homes which Davies believes may be ‘challenging’ for the local authorities. He doesn’t, though, buy the idea that the Sussex countryside will be flooded by new homes if a second runway is built at Gatwick. It is worth quoting him in some detail here: “[There]could be between zero and 18,400 [homes] (dependant on the scenario). This housing would typically be provided in a phased manner and across the entire assessment area, and therefore the demands on any individual local authority are likely to be relatively small. For example, if we assume these properties are provided over a 10 year period (2020-2030) and split evenly across the 14 local authorities, then the additional housing need for each LA would be only 130 houses per year at the highest end of the range. There are also many reasons the additional housing required is unlikely to be as high as these figures, depending on assumptions about population growth, net migration, unemployment and commuting”

 

Comment: Boroughs such as Croydon support a second runway at Gatwick because they believe that a lot of their residents will commute to the new jobs on offer. Davies would seem to back this view.

 

  1. Surface Access

He’s surprisingly relaxed about surface access at both airports as he argues the public transport schemes, plus some road widenings, should do the trick.

 

 Miscellaneous

 

Davies acknowledges there are concerns about flooding around Heathrow. He says it could be ‘problematic’.

 

He argues that the deliverability risks of Gatwick are low and that the opening date of 2025 is ‘achievable’

John Stewart

 

3rd runway consultation CD

 

After reading John’s paper, a few problems spring instantly to mind

 

The flaws in Davies’ proposals

 

1 – The Single Hub – Davies does not answer the lynchpin of Heathrow’s argument that a single hub is needed to be competitive. Indeed, he pointedly does not answer whether a two hub system could work just as well.

New York is a similar city to London, and runs with two international hub airports (JFK and Newark). In Australia, they are building a second airport to service Sydney rather than expanding the current one.

The argument that Schiphol in Holland, Charles De Gaulle in France and Frankfurt in Germany have a single, large hub airport misses the fact that London already has additional airports servicing the capital at Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend, rather than just one super site. With the density of London’s population and the difficulty traversing the capital because of it, it could be argued that having a series of airports that passengers can approach the city from in different directions  takes some of the strain off of the road and rail infrastructure. Also, from that viewpoint, if Heathrow is a hub airport where long haul passengers just change for domestic and European flights, it would not matter where it is situated – Indeed, I have already taken up with representatives of Heathrow Airport Ltd that they accommodate too many short haul flights for a supposed hub airport and are taking up valuable long distance slots with smaller aircraft.

2 – Jobs and increased financial benefit – The amount of jobs and economic benefits of a third runway are unproven and may not bear up to scrutiny.

A report published in September 2011 by Optimal Economics Found that Heathrow delivered 114,000 jobs locally with a benefit to the economy of £5.3 billion. If we expand that to London, we are looking at 137,000 jobs and £7 billion, whilst UK wide they estimate 206.000 jobs and £9.7 billion.

 

With those figures in mind, how can an additional runway generate such an exponential increase in both jobs and profits as claimed by Third Runway supporters?

A380 take off rear view

3 – Public cost and housing – With the government driving cuts to balance the books, where is the money for additional infrastructure coming from? The M25 and surrounding motorways creak with the pressure at the moment, despite some parts of the orbital route having 5 lanes for traffic. In Hillingdon, we have massive issues surrounding housing and the projected figures for additional need would break an already dysfunctional social housing system as well as piling pressure on to take more of the green belt – Land that needs to be our natural lung to take the sting out of the pollution being put in to the air by ever increasing air and road traffic.

 

4 – Noise – The claim that there would be more respite periods is out of the hands of the airport, and in the hands of the prevailing winds. If you view the HACAN Facebook page, you will see many people posting about increased traffic over their houses caused by the airport having to switch approaches based on which way the wind blows, which is a fundamental of how an aircraft’s lift system works. Many reports have come in from people previously unaffected by aircraft noise about how they are now affected based on recent trials for new flightpaths, and the National Air Traffic Service cannot say where the aircraft will go and how the noise will be distributed until they have solid proposals of which expansion programme will be put in to practice.

 

The new ‘quieter aircraft’ line is also misleading – I have stood within a few hundred yards of an A380 taking off at Farnborough during the airshow, and it is indeed a lot quieter than a 747 – However, the display aircraft is not loaded down with passengers and baggage, which requires more thrust for takeoff as can be heard if you stand next to an A380 on a departure runway at Heathrow. They are quieter, but there is still a lot of noise and there will be more of them with a 3rd runway

 

5- Influx of workers – Davies claims this would be ‘staged’, but the reality is that a new runway opening would need additional support and service workers immediately and would drive a huge spike at opening. That would put additional pressure on local housing and services in a short space of time at opening.

 

6 – Surface access – The M25 around the airport is at 5 lanes and can’t cope at peak, likewise the M4. Rail services are expensive and currently packed out at certain times of the day. Road widening hasn’t worked with a 2 runway airport and Heathrow Villages are overrun with off airport parking because of the prices that Heathrow Airport Ltd currently charge. Davies needs to see the situation on the ground before glossing over it so lightly.

 

 

 

Airport expansion update

Please find below an overview of the latest developments surrounding Heathrow expansion, passed on to me by John Stewart of independent campaign group HACAN Clearskies.

Airbus A380 in flight

Revised Proposals for New Runways

 

The revised plans for new runways Heathrow and Gatwick were submitted to the Airports Commission on 14th May.

 

The Background

 

The Airports Commission was set up by the Government in 2012 to assess the need for new runways/airports in London and the South-East….and, if any should be required, where they should be.

 

In its Interim Report in December 2013 the Commission argued that, in its view, there would be the need for a new runway in London and the South-East by 2030. It shortlisted 3 possible options…out of the 58 schemes which had been submitted to it. There were 2 possible options shortlisted for a 3rd runway at Heathrow and one option for a 2nd runway at Gatwick. The Commission felt it did not have enough information on an airport on the Isle of Grain (what it regarded as the best of the Estuary options) and asked for more work to be done on it.

 

The Latest Plans

 

This week the promoters of the three shortlisted schemes submitted their revised proposals to the Commission. We outline each of the Heathrow option in turn.

 

1. Heathrow Airport Limited (formerly BAA): 3rd runway

 

  • The new runway would be to the north of the existing airport (between the A4 and M4).

 

  • It would require the demolition of 750 homes in and around Harmondsworth, though it is likely to be more would need to go as houses close to the airport boundary would be uninhabitable.

 

  • People whose homes would be demolished would be offered the value of their house (pre-blight) plus 25%; payment of relocation costs and any stamp duty.

 

  • Heathrow Airport has also set aside additional money to assist more people who live, or will live, under the flight paths: “Over the last 20 years Heathrow has spent £30m on insulating homes, schools and community buildings from noise. Now, we are proposing a £250m fund to pay for free noise insulation and compensation for people in high noise areas if a third runway goes ahead.” Heathrow is not clear how many people will qualify but we estimate that it is unlikely to benefit those living over 6 miles from the airport.

 

  • Heathrow argues that there will be at least a 30% reduction in noise levels. This, they maintain, will be achieved through less noisy planes, improved operational procedures (such as steeper approaches paths), periods of respite for every community and the fact more homes will qualify for the better insulation packages. However, they are silent on the impact of 260,000 extra planes a year that will use the airport. In recent years, it is the sheer number of aircraft that has caused residents the real grief.

 

  • Because the new runway is being built further west than then existing ones, parts of the M25 will need to be tunnelled. Heathrow has admitted that it will be looking for £1.2bn of public money to sort out the M25

 

  • Heathrow has floated the idea of introducing a congestion charge for cars using the airport. This is an attempt to keep congestion on the surrounding roads to manageable levels and to ensure that the high air pollution levels around the airport are brought within the EU legal limits. It is also a recognition that, even with Crossrail and improved rail links to Berkshire and Surrey, public transport will struggle to cope with the extra passengers.

 

Details of the Heathrow proposals can be found at:

http://www.heathrowairport.com/static/HeathrowAboutUs/Downloads/PDF/taking_britain_further.pdf

 

2. Heathrow Hub

 

  • This plan is being put forward by a private company.

 

  • It proposes to build a new runway on the same alignment as the current northern runway to the west of it. It would, therefore, not require a new flight path.

 

  • Like Heathrow’s plan, it would need significant work done on the M25.

 

  • It talks about public transport improvements but says nothing about congestion charging.

 

  • It argues that, apart from the 3 or so miles closest to the airport, it would provide respite for local communities, as planes would join their final approach path in an alternating herring bone fashion. It also envisages a reduction in night flights.

 

  • It says that just under 250 properties would need to be demolished, mostly in the eastern part of Colnbrook and the northern part of Poyle.

 

Details of the Heathrow Hub proposal can be found at:

http://www.heathrowhub.com/media/filer_public/c1/00/c100d5d6-3dc5-45c6-b063-da87ff25677f/updated_exec_summary_140514.pdf

 

 

Flight Paths

Heathrow have not indicated where the new flight paths will be. They say it would be premature to do so because, over the next few years, flight paths across the whole country will be looked at again. But the landing approach to the new runway is not difficult to work out. It will be over areas about a mile or so north of the current northern flight path. New take off routes are harder to figure out.

 

——————–

 

Details of the Gatwick proposals can be found here:

http://www.gatwickairport.com/PublicationFiles/business_and_community/all_public_publications/Second_runway/Consultation_full.pdf

Aberdeen Airport jet

What happens next?

The Airports Commission will now consider the revised proposals submitted by Heathrow Airport, Heathrow Hub and Gatwick Airport. It will discuss the plans with their proposers. In September the Commission will stage a 2/3 month public consultation on its own view of the plans. An Estuary airport will only be included in that consultation if the Commission, by then, has decided, it is a viable option. During the first half of 2015 the Commission will start to write its final report. It will not be submitted to the next Government until Summer 2015, two months after the next election. In that report it is expected the Commission will list its favoured option. But the Government is not obliged to accept it. The final decision on how to proceed will rest with the Government.

 

——————-

Heathrow – Putting politics before the public good?

Heathrow terminal 5Heathrow Airport has been firmly back in the spotlight after Sir Howard Davies recently announced his interim report in to airport expansion in the south of England.

Three options have been put on the table –  A new runway to the North West of the existing airport, an extension of the Northern runway to the west (Allowing it to operate as two separate runways) or a second runway at Gatwick. Sir Howard has also committed to reviewing his decision to rule out an airport in the Thames Estuary, the so-called ‘Boris Island’, later this year – This seems unlikely to make the shortlist.

A Political hot potato

The threat of a third runway at Heathrow is not new – The Blair government were committed to the project, but local residents won out through dedicated and active campaign groups such as NOTRAG and HACAN, with support and assistance from local Labour MP John McDonnell. The people of Hillingdon spoke loudly and were heard – Yet the spectre has come back once again.

So, where do the politicians nationally stand on the issue of expansion?

Conservatives

David Cameron 3David Cameron promised that there would be no new runways during the duration of this parliament, which comes to an end in May next year. Interestingly enough, Sir Howard Davies was reported  as saying this week that he could have delivered a full report on a shorter timetable but had been asked to delay his findings by the coalition government.(Source – Daily Telegraph)

With Chancellor George Osborne known to be a supporter of Heathrow expansion, could this be a ‘fudge’ so that a policy that could harm Tory re-election prospects is kicked in to the long grass? It would also be massively unpopular with at least two Tory MP’s whose constituencies would suffer in Zac Goldsmith and Adam Afriyie, both of whom have been consistent in their opposition to the third runway.

London mayor Boris Johnson has been very vocal in demanding a completely new airport in the Thames Estuary, and attacked both the Davies Commission and the Commons Transport Committee in very strong terms for ruling it out recently, criticism that resulted in Davies using the term ‘vulgar abuse’. Expect more toys to be thrown out of the pram if Boris doesn’t get his own way with his unaffordable and impractical vanity project going forward.

Labour

The original proponents of the third runway, they have officially dropped the idea and are thought to favour new runways at Gatwick or Stansted according to HACAN. (This would make sense, as neither are traditional Labour areas and in theory it would not be too damaging to them nationally at the ballot box)

However, shadow chancellor Ed Balls is known to favour Heathrow expansion and two key union backers in the GMB and Unite have both publicly backed it. Leader Ed Miliband was vehemently against during the final term of the last Labour government, but his stance appears to have softened with a recent statement that he has ‘yet to be convinced’ of the case for Heathrow expansion. Maybe the threat of the withdrawal of Len McCluskey’s wallet may ‘convince’ him in the coming months, although again he will be painfully aware that an unpopular policy could bite at the General Election.

J McDonnell

Local Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell (Above) is a vociferous opponent of Heathrow expansion, which could put him once again on a collision course with party command should the union bosses get their way.

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg 2Opposed to all airport expansion in their 2010 general election manifesto, leader Nick Clegg recently indicated on his LBC radio phone in show that the position may have changed and he could be in favour of a second runway at Gatwick. Party heavyweight Vince Cable remains firmly opposed to Heathrow expansion, which would directly affect his South London constituency

Clegg backed up his statement by saying that Davies sees more growth in point to point flights rather than long distance ‘hub’ solutions, which puts him at odds with his own coalition partners who have stated on numerous occasions that the lack of a ‘superhub airport’  is damaging to our trade with emerging industrial powerhouses such as India, China and Brazil.

Greens

Totally against all airport expansion (Unsurprisingly) – No ‘plan B’ if it is shown that there is demand for additional flights.

Working together locally to stop the third runway

Shortly after the Interim announcement, local meetings were convened to rally support against the third runway.

UKIP Hillingdon postponed our event and attended a non-aligned meeting with cross organisational support in Harlington on 16th January organised by John McDonnell.

Nearly 100 people turned out on a wind and rain swept evening to hear speeches and swap ideas with John Randall MP, NOTRAG’s Christine Taylor and a very late arriving John McDonnell, who had been caught in traffic and initially relayed information to the meeting via phone through his assistant Helen Lowder (Below – I myself arrived over half an hour late due to a combination of work and a serious accident on the M4)

heathrowvillages-meeting-300x225

Noise, pollution and blight were all subjects that were high in the minds of the local residents at the meeting, with questions surrounding the ability of the existing road and rail infrastructure to cope with more people arriving on flights also aired. Our Heathrow Villages spokesman, Bryan, also pointed out to Mr McDonnell the Ed Balls support for Heathrow which elicited a response of “Leave Ed Balls to me” – I would pay good money to be a fly on the wall when that conversation takes place!

I myself made 2 points to the meeting – Firstly, that many residents in London who are not currently affected by noise from Heathrow will be should the expansion go ahead, and those communities and their MP’s need to be made very aware of it. (It would appear that some of the activists at the event are already working on this)

Secondly, in response to a gentleman talking about the roads disruption and the possible closure of the M25 during construction work causing massive delays and extra pollution – If the third runway goes ahead, then a spur will be run from the proposed HS2 high speed rail line to the airport, most likely running through West Drayton and Iver. This makes the two projects symbiotic – An HS2 link is already listed on the third runway plans, so this project going ahead gives extra weight to the campaign to build this monstrous and unnecessary rail project. Likewise, if HS2 goes ahead then part of the economic case for third runway will be that a high speed rail line exists close to the airport already that is relatively easy to hook up and therefore Heathrow has ‘superior transport links’ over it’s competitors in the airport expansion stakes.

John McDonnell replied that he is for high speed rail (Hardly surprising as he is the RMT union’s parliamentary spokesman) but voted against HS2, and was not aware of any current plans as to where a proposed Heathrow HS2 spur would go. I offered to share with him the draft plans that had been seen by some of the Stop HS2 campaigners – These can be seen on the following link at the bottom of the page

http://www.hs2.org.uk/have-your-say/consultations/phase-two/exceptional-hardship-scheme

It was generally agreed that we all need to work together to stop Heathrow expansion irrespective of our political allegiances, which made the report that came in from the council meeting that night almost surreal

Hillingdon Council backs Heathrow Closure

The local Labour opposition group on the council proposed a motion for a ‘better, not bigger, Heathrow’ – Essentially, to oppose the Third runway whilst working to make sure that jobs are not lost by a gradual rundown of the existing airport.

Ray PuddifootRather than discussing the proposal, which on the face of it seems reasonable, the ruling Conservative Group unanimously voted to close the airport – Council leader Ray Puddifoot’s (Pictured left)’Third Way’ as reported by Jack Griffith in our local Gazette.

After hearing of the council meeting, my UKIP Hillingdon colleague Jack Duffin received the below tweet from Tory Cllr Dominic Gilham after he enquired as to what was going on

Heathrow have said without expansion it will close, so it’s a clear choice What do you support as do nothing is not an option?”

https://twitter.com/DominicGilham/status/423963391984926720

A strange tweet, but also quite revealing – Cllr Gilham is essentially saying that unless you expand Heathrow it has to close, a tactic that the airport has been using to try and bully the third runway through.

This also poses the question – Do the council really want expansion and the closure threat is their way of justifying a potential change of heart should a 3rd runway be Tory policy AFTER the general election and in line with the full report from The Davies Commission? If so, this is a very risky strategy – Heathrow Airport Ltd’s Colin Matthews has already stated live on LBC radio to claims that a third runway would be inadequate and a fourth would need to be built immediately after it’s completion that they will do that if required.

Alternatively, with Cllr Puddifoot already having stated in the press previously that he was comfortable with Heathrow closure, are they jockeying to assist Boris Johnson’s Estuary airport and the Mayor’s vision for a high tec based ‘London Borough of Heathrow’? With David Cameron unlikely to survive as Tory leader should they not win the next general election outright, is this an attempt to curry favour with one of his potential replacements?

Either way, the council and indeed their national party should state what their position is and stop playing politics with people’s lives.

We have already seen the council quite rightly opposing the HS2 rail project whilst their national party is recklessly pushing ahead with it – Our two local Tory MP’s, John Randall and Nick Hurd, voted FOR the paving bill that enables money to be allocated to pay for the railway, a clear case of a muddled message that leaves Hillingdon residents unsure of which way their public representatives will react at any given time to their concerns.

As was stated at the public meeting in Harlington, everyone needs to work together to confront and stop Heathrow expansion – We have offered to print leaflets and publicise the upcoming West Drayton third runway meeting that John McDonnell is organising along with our own event in February, which both he and John Randall have been invited to attend (Which they have declined, in John Randalls’ case due to a prior engagement)

It would also be helpful if the major political parties got off of the fence and stated what their intentions are towards airport expansion in the south east and stop hiding behind a delayed report – To start the ball rolling, below is the UKIP policy on aviation in the South of England

 

UKIP’s alternative to the Third Runway

Airbus A380 in flight
UKIP opposes a third runway at Heathrow – The infrastructure surrounding the airport will not support the additional traffic and the environmental concerns regarding air quality and noise need to be listened to.
The public in the surrounding borough’s have made their voices heard and are against – It is time for the politicians to listen to the people.
Likewise, we are not convinced of the need for a ‘super hub’ airport similar to those in Holland, France and Germany. A comparable city to London is New York, which operates with two hub airports (JFK and Newark), a large domestic flights airport (La Guardia) and smaller business airports such as Teterboro.
We are well placed to operate a similar system in the South of England already, with Heathrow operating as one of the two hub airports with it’s existing runways, whilst a combination of Gatwick, Luton and Stansted can cover short haul ‘point to point’ services in the way LaGuardia covers US domestic flights. The business jet community is also well served by London City, Biggin Hill and Farnborough.
Our solution is to develop the existing airport at Manston in Kent (Kent International) as a second, complimentary hub to assist Heathrow.
Manston has the second largest runway in the UK, and can already accommodate the largest airliners including the Airbus A380 (Pictured above). Indeed, it is a designated divert airfield for both Heathrow and Gatwick in the event of problems and has a high level of available safety equipment – BA already use it as a training facility for their pilots.
No demolition of houses would need to be undertaken as would be the case with Heathrow expansion, plus the pollution and noise aspects would be minimised by flightpaths that come in over the channel. The local council are in favour of the project as it would bring much needed jobs to the area (Whilst leaving Heathrow to operate in West London and preserve those jobs that already exist for the communities in Hillingdon and Hounslow)
Expansion of Manston would be far less expensive than the alternatives – With the runway already in place (Plus wide enough that side by side landings would be possible at a future date with minor modifications if demand increased drastically), the only major infrastructure upgrades required would be a revamp of the terminal buildings and links to existing road and rail infrastructure.
A spur line to the existing HS1 channel tunnel rail line, which operates currently at less than 50% capacity, would enable international travellers to be in the heart of London in 40 minutes and give a much needed boost to a loss making service. It would also open up the possibility of international travellers using Manston as a gateway to the channel ports, re-invigorating communities. Indeed, with the City of London being a main economic driver for our country, it could be argued that an additional airport to the east of London would be a better way to service the city than making people disembark at Heathrow and then have to fight their way through central London to go eastwards from Paddington.
Likewise, links to both the M2 and A2 road network can be achieved relatively quickly  and would enable comparatively easy access to London and the South East.
(It is also worth pointing out that a ‘hub’ airport exists to take passengers from long haul international flights and transfer them to short haul flights for the domestic or European final leg of their journey – To this end, it does not matter where the second hub is placed for this particular part of the airport function, as passengers will only be travelling within the terminals and will not need additional transport infrastructure outside of the confines of the airfield.)
We would also look at the issue of ‘grandfather rights’ at Heathrow – Currently, the runways are operating at 98% capacity but the terminals are operating way below that, in the main caused by airlines with historic slot allocations filling them with empty or almost empty aircraft to deny rivals the ability to land. Making Heathrow more efficient would also have a positive knock on effect for employment in the boroughs surrounding the airport.
Aberdeen Airport jet
You can help to stop the third runway
If you are concerned about the impact of Heathrow expansion, please help spread the word.
There are a number of groups organising against the proposals – I have attached links below if you would like to get in touch, or you can contact us at www.ukiphillingdon.com
HACAN Clearskies                                         http://www.hacan.org.uk/
Office of John McDonnell MP                     http://www.john-mcdonnell.net/
iPetitions                                                          http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-third-runway
Zac Goldsmith MP                                         http://www.zacgoldsmith.com/default.asp?contentID=26

Davies Commission report leaked – Heathrow expansion green lighted

My thanks to John Stewart of HACAN Clearskies for his update this morning on the disturbing findings of the Davies Commission in to aviation expansion in the south of England, which I reproduce below –

Airbus A380 in flight
Press Release

12/11/13 for immediate use

Campaigners furious Davies favours two new runways at Heathrow

The campaign against the third runway at Heathrow has kicked off today”

Campaigners have reacted with anger and disbelief to the news, leaked today (1), that the Airports Commission Interim Report, to be published on 17th December, favours two more runways at Heathrow. The Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is expected to go for a third runway at Heathrow followed by a fourth Heathrow runway or a second runway at Gatwick. The draft of the report, presented to Chancellor George Osborne, ruled out new runways at Stansted or an Estuary Airport. It is thought, however, that Tuesday’s report may formally retain more options in an attempt to give it some balance.

John Stewart, who chairs HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said, “Davies has put Heathrow front and centre of his thinking. There will be fury across whole swathes of London and the Home Counties. The campaign against a third runway starts today with Davies seen as a busted flush.”

Stewart added, “It is astonishing that Davies has put so much faith in an option he must know is politically the hardest to deliver. The one good thing is that he will force political parties to come out for or against a 3rd runway before the 2015 General Election.”

Geraldine Nicholson, who chaired NoTRAG, (The No Third Runway Action Group), said, “This means that thousands of people stand to lose their homes. If Howard Davies thinks they are going to stand by and let that happen, he is sorely mistaken.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:
(1). http://gu.com/p/3y52k/tw

(sources subsequently confirmed to HACAN that the Guardian article is broadly correct)

Planes,Trains and Automobiles

Issues of transport infrastructure have never been far from the headlines nationally in recent months, with the government’s commitment to the controversial HS2 high speed rail project getting a large share of column inches.

Heathrow terminal 5Airport capacity has also been flagged up, with the spectre of the Third Runway at Heathrow raising it’s head again – A political hot potato, the government have set the Davies report in to this issue for after the next general election.

In Hillingdon, we are affected by both, with HS2 looking to carve a swathe of devastation through the north of the borough and a possible third runway decimating the south. Our local UKIP branch have been campaigning on both issues, but also on the state of our roads – Indeed, a resident’s petition in Cowley co-ordinated by the branch has seen the three roads affected re-surfaced recently after years of failed patching of potholes.

We have also been alerted to heavy goods vehicles speeding in both Harmondsworth and West Drayton, with our teams out talking with local residents about how they would like the issues tackled. Upcoming EU regulations increasing the size of lorries allowed on English roads could also make a bad problem far worse.

 

Public Meeting – Saturday 14th September

In response to the many enquiries we have received about transport issues, UKIP Hillingdon have now organised a public meeting entitled ‘Trains, Planes and Automobiles’ for next Saturday (14th September) at 7pm.

The venue is the Yiewsley Baptist Church, Colham Avenue, Yiewsley, UB7 8HF

The speakers include –

John Stewart – Chairman – HACAN Clearskies

JohnStewartJohn is a respected campaigner on noise and pollution issues surrounding airport expansion who has spoken and campaigned across Europe.

HACAN Clearskies, along with campaign group NOTRAG and assisted by local MP John McDonnell, fought and successfully stopped a third runway being built at Heathrow last time it was suggested.

John will be giving the case against Heathrow expansion.

 

Cliff Dixon – Chairman – UKIP Hillingdon

I will be putting forward the radical alternative to the third runway as laid out in the UKIP manifesto – Far less expensive, friendlier to the environment, utilising existing facilities with small upgrades and mainly welcomed by local residents and businesses

 

Special Guest Speaker

Mike Nattrass MEP – UKIP Transport Spokesman

Mike Nattrass MEP 2Two term Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the West Midlands, Mike is not only the UKIP spokesman but sits on the EU committee for transport and tourism.

A former deputy leader of UKIP, Mike will be outlining the issues surrounding both our roads and the HS2 rail link, offering sensible alternatives for the future

 

Admission is free, and there will be a Q&A session after the speeches.

If you have an interest in transport on a local, national and indeed international scale, then we look forward to seeing you there.