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.

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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.

 

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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.