Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2016


Regional airports, not a bigger Gatwick or Heathrow,
should provide direct routes to global markets

Sunday Telegraph - 24 September 2016

Having approved a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, the next big infrastructure decision in Theresa May's stacked in-tray is that vexed question - dodged by politicians for decades - of where to build Britain's much-needed new airport capacity.

In July 2015, the five-person Airports Commission, appointed by David Cameron to shelve the issue until after the May general election, gave "unanimous backing" to a third runway at Heathrow. It looked almost certain Europe's largest airport would get the all-important government nod. Since then, as Cameron again avoided the controversial decision and then resigned anyway, Gatwick has fought back, vigorously campaigning for a second runway south of the capital. And now, with a new government, and a Prime Minister determined to break the deadlock, it seems either option could prevail.

While fully recognising the economic case for more airport capacity, I despair at the idea of expanding Heathrow. It's in the wrong place, for starters, with flight paths over some of London's most densely-populated areas. Does it really make sense to further develop an already enormous airport smack in the middle of a suburban landscape that's home to millions and set to become even more populated in the years to come? I think not.

Then there's the environmental impact. Britain's Supreme Court has already ruled that air pollution around Heathrow breaches legal limits, given that aircraft emissions combine with car pollution from the jam-packed M4 and M25 motorways. To add another 250,000 flights a year to the present 470,000, with all the related extra road traffic, would make a nonsense of our anti-pollution legislation.

The case for Heathrow apparently hinges on the airport securing its "hub" status, helping consolidate London as a centre for global business. For over four-fifths of those flying into the capital, though, London is their final destination. And almost 70pc of Heathrow's existing passengers are tourists. So while Heathrow may want to offer more flights to far-flung business hot spots in China, India and elsewhere, it could do that by giving up other non-business slots, allowing more of the Mediterranean holiday routes to go to Gatwick and Stansted.

A third Heathrow runway is estimated to cost an astonishing 17.7bn. Part of the reason is the extensive home demolition required, with all the legal wrangling and compensation payments that entails. Countless more billions would be spent diverting existing roads, including tunnelling under the runway to re-route the M25, pushing the total bill way above 30bn. The sheer complexity explains why a new Heathrow runway wouldn't be ready until 2029 at the earliest.

Gatwick has lobbied for a second runway
Expanding Gatwick, in contrast, involves far less demolition and local upheaval and would cost 7.8bn, with an arrival time five years earlier. A bigger Gatwick would also mean London ended up with two world-class airports - like New York, Paris and Tokyo - rather than one. And Crossrail means that we'll soon have much faster links between Heathrow and London's other airports, weakening the argument for a single, over-bearing "hub".

The main reason I don't back Heathrow's third runway, though, is that I believe in competition. Five years ago, the Competition Commission forced BAA, which runs Heathrow, to sell Gatwick, Stansted and some other UK airports. The idea was to challenge BAA's near-monopoly for the benefit of passengers and the broader UK economy. Since then, the private investors who bought Gatwick have financed a major improvement programme and reversed years of losses. That's on revenues in the hundreds of millions, though, compared to Heathrow's multi-billion pound operation.

It would be perverse, given the manner in which Gatwick's new owners have demonstrated their determination to give Heathrow a run for its money, for the Government to then take a decision that further cemented Heathrow's top spot. May has stacked her cabinet with vocal Heathrow opponents, including the increasingly influential Education Secretary Justine Greening.

Anyone who doubts the on-going dominance of the West London behemoth should consider that individual passenger charges are more than double those at Gatwick. Consider, also, that Heathrow accounts for 84pc of all long-haul flights, leaving London, according to the Airports Commission. The fine-print of last year's report actually admitted a third runway would divert traffic back to Heathrow and away from London's other airports - effectively undermining the Competition Commission's 2011 ruling. But this deeply-politicised document, entirely lacking in objectivity, opted for Heathrow anyway.

Money talks, after all, and Heathrow has long exerted serious lobbying muscle to maintain its grip on the market. With the Government limbering up to decide, Heathrow is now portraying itself as key to the UK's post-Brexit success, highlighting that last year almost a third of our exports to non-European Union nations took off from its runways. Gatwick, in response, says taxpayers will suffer to the tune of 305 a head if Heathrow gets the green light, given the huge cost of local road reconfiguration.

Both May and her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, represent constituencies close to Heathrow. Both have previously opposed a third runway. Now they're at the pinnacle of government, they could be keen to counter accusations of nimbyism by anyway backing Heathrow.

On the one hand, May has stacked her cabinet with vocal Heathrow opponents, including the increasingly influential Education Secretary Justine Greening and, of course, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who recently said Heathrow expansion, given the complexities, is "a fantasy" that should be "consigned to the dustbin of history". On the other, the Prime Minister has now promised the cabinet a free Commons vote on the airport issue - so no one elected on the promise of opposing Heathrow, if May's final judgment goes against them, should feel the need to resign.

Theresa May represents a constituency close to Heathrow
While May won't make her move in the next few days, lest bad feeling spill over into next week's gathering of the Tory party faithful in Birmingham, this impending decision will loom large over her first conference as leader. Maybe that's why Number 10 is now whispering that the Prime Minister could give the go-ahead to both Heathrow and Gatwick, while imposing restrictions on each to dilute local opposition. But I think May should be much bolder - not only giving Gatwick the nod over Heathrow, but further indicating the Government's desire to see the rapid expansion of key regional airports in Manchester and Birmingham.

Post-Brexit Britain needs global growth centres beyond the South East. That's why the Northern Powerhouse must now get off the drawing board, with HS3 being prioritised above all other high-speed rail projects, linking up Liverpool and Manchester in the North West, before extending to the long-neglected but still extremely promising North East.

An airport in Birmingham could offer regular and direct links to global markets
Imagine the possibilities if the West Midlands, already the UK's second-biggest exporting region, had in Birmingham an airport offering regular, direct links to global markets. That's why 29 business and political leaders from the West Midlands last week wrote to May urging her to prevent Heathrow's expansion, calling instead for a "truly competitive network of regional airports, which can act as drivers for local growth".

A third Heathrow runway "would re-forge its monopoly," the letter continued, "undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of BAA, and restricting the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities." Amen to that.

The UK economy, for all the swing of London and the Home Counties' well-heeled swagger, is ludicrously imbalanced. Theresa May says she wants to change that, spreading wealth across other regions - and I believe her. That's why the Prime Minister should block Heathrow's third runway, an expansion that would suck oxygen away from a host of other regional growth centres. "One Nation Conservatism" needs to get beyond vapid phrase-making and down to brass tacks. And Birmingham is where that should start.

Still more Runways? The argument continues.


Ben Martin, The Telegraph - 18 September 2016

The company behind Stansted, London's third-busiest airport, is to call on the Government to lift restrictions on passenger numbers as it ramps up its campaign to expand and eventually build a second runway.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive at Stansted's owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said the company was planning to apply officially in the coming months to have its so-called planning cap, which limits it to handling 35m passengers a year, raised.

If approved, it would allow the Essex airport to grow by making full use of its single runway, and lead to between 400m and 500m of investment in Stansted to expand its terminal facilities so that it can handle more travellers. The move could also pave the way for a second landing strip.

"As we move towards the end of this calendar year we'll be putting in an application to get that planning cap raised," Mr Cornish said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. He said MAG was already starting to compile supporting materials for the application, including noise and environmental studies, and is beginning to look at how it would extend its terminal. "We have to invest anyway to get to 35 million [passengers] and then to get to 42m we have to invest some more," Mr Cornish said.

MAG is Britain's second-biggest airport operator and owns Manchester, the country's third-busiest airport, East Midlands and Bournemouth. Stansted's cap was lifted to 35m from 25m in 2008. However, the airport is growing quickly, with passenger numbers jumping by 10.8pc to 23.2m in the 12 months to the end of March.


Ben Martin, The Telegraph - 18 September 2016

In the fierce debate over airport expansion in the south east of England, the loudest calls for a new runway come from the chief executives of Heathrow and Gatwick. But if the quietly-spoken boss of Stansted has anything to do with it, London's third-busiest airport will one-day have another runway too.

In as little as a decade, the Essex airport hopes to be handling more than 40m passengers a year, close to the limit for a single runway. If fast-growing Stansted is going to expand beyond that, a second landing-strip will be needed.

Charlie Cornish, the chief executive of the company behind Stansted, is already laying the groundwork for the ambitious project. "If we need a second runway in say 10 to 15 years we need to start thinking about it in 2 to 3 years' time," he says. "And when I say 'think about it', I don't really mean that because we are already thinking about. I mean actually start doing more detailed design development work and starting to think about how we'd put an application together."

Airport expansion will soon fly to the top of the Government agenda. The Government is expected to decide in a matter of weeks whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, with the former considered the favourite to get the go-ahead.

If Theresa May, the prime minister, does give Heathrow the green-light, she will resolve a controversial issue that has dogged British governments for years. With Heathrow and Gatwick both almost full, a new landing strip is needed to avert a looming aviation capacity crunch around London. But Cornish, the 55-year-old Scot who runs Stansted-owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG), believes expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick will not solve a much broader problem facing the country's air travel industry.

"We think it's much more important that the Government takes a decision on aviation policy in the wider sense," he says in his lilting Scottish burr, adding that MAG is "indifferent" as to whether it is Heathrow or Gatwick that gets the runway.


The Telegraph - 19 September 2016

Even if the Government does decide between Heathrow and Gatwick it could be 2030 before the new runway is in operation and capacity will remain constrained until it opens. The Government must "take account of short term measures, how you improve surface access to other airports in the UK, how you get best use of existing capacity," says Cornish. That means helping Stansted to grow.

As well as the Essex airport, MAG owns Manchester airport, which is the country's third largest, Bournemouth and East Midlands. That makes it the second-biggest airport operator in the country behind Heathrow, meaning Cornish's views carry considerable weight.

MAG handled 51.9m passengers across its four airports in the 12 months to the end of March, up 7pc on 2014-15, while revenues rose 5.5pc to 778.8m and operating profits were up 21.7pc to 186.9m. It is owned by a consortium made up of Australian asset manager IFM Investors and Manchester City Council, which each own 35.5pc stakes, and a group of nine other Greater Manchester local authorities that hold the balance.

Stansted is growing the quickest of MAG's airports with passengers surging 10.8pc in 2015-16 to 23.2m. However, a long-standing planning cap means Stansted currently isn?t allowed to handle more than 35m. Cornish hopes the restriction will soon be lifted.

"As we move towards the end of this calendar year we'll be putting in an application to get that planning cap raised," he says. Gatwick, the world's busiest single runway airport, carried 42m passengers in the last 12 months and there is "no rationale and probably no legal legitimacy" for Stansted to be limited to less than its rival, Cornish argues.

While Stansted's runway can also theoretically handle as many as Gatwick's, the rest of the airport presently cannot. Lifting the cap would trigger between 400m and 500m of investment by MAG into Stansted, to extend the terminal building and add more aircraft stands.

To grow any further after that, however, Stansted would need a second runway, which Cornish believes should form part of the broader aviation policy he is lobbying for. He is also pushing for improvements to the Stansted Express rail link with London and is a backer of former chancellor George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse project.

Even if Heathrow is allowed a third runway, the case for Stansted expansion remains strong because it attracts low-cost and charter airlines that find it too expensive to operate from the west London hub, Cornish adds. It would be the next major project for the MAG boss, behind a 10-year, 1bn scheme to revamp Manchester airport's terminals to boost its capacity to 30m passengers, from 23.5m currently. Building work on the Manchester project is expected to start next year.

Another Stansted runway, an idea that was proposed by the airport's former owners BAA but then dropped in 2010, would likely mark the culmination of Cornish's varied career. He grew up in Hamilton, just outside Glasgow, studied economics at Strathclyde University before taking a graduate trainee job at Plessey Communications. A series of management roles at aerospace giant BAE and Primark-owner Associated British Foods came next, followed by a spell in the NHS.

A switch to the utilities sector saw Cornish join West of Scotland Water, then Thames Water and finally FTSE 100 giant United Utilities, where he sat on the board and played a key role selling off its businesses around the world. He took the top job at MAG in 2010 after seeing it advertised in a newspaper and has since set about overhauling the group, overseeing its 1.5bn acquisition of Stansted from BAA in 2013 and selling a controlling stake in Humberside airport.

Cornish is not averse to doing more deals. MAG recently took an "outside in look" at London City airport, he reveals, but decided the sums involved were too "exorbitant". Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) eventually sold the business in February, a huge 33 times earnings. Cornish also cast his eye over Nice airport, which was recently sold, and would "have a look" at Edinburgh if GIP decides to offload it. Dublin, if it comes on the market, is another target.

Potential deals aside, Brexit also poses a challenge to the MAG boss. "We do think, like most economists, that there will be a downturn in the economy for the next potentially two years and then growth will start to come back in," he says. Irish budget carrier Ryanair, which is Stansted's biggest customer, has already signalled it will reduce capacity at the airport following the referendum.

But while Cornish is braced for MAG's passenger growth to slow to around 2pc, he believes it will then pick up again, meaning Brexit has not hurt Stansted's long-term case for expansion. "We'll know better in January, that's when airlines tend to load their capacity for the summer," he says of the potential impact of the EU referendum. By that time, however, MAG should already have started the process to lift Stansted's planning cap, and Cornish will be hoping his plans for the airport's expansion will be readying for take-off.

OUR COMMENT: We and MAG should remember that Stansted's passenger figures have yet to reach the maximum achieved well before MAG purchased the airport. It took over 6 years to recover lost business, so why the sudden need for permission to exceed 35mppa?

Pat Dale


Heathrow is considering scrapping plans to tunnel the M25
under the new runway and constructing smaller terminal buildings

Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 10 September 2016

Heathrow is planning to cut up to 3 billion from its plans for a third runway as part of a last-minute attempt to win Theresa May's backing for airport expansion, The Times has learnt. The airport is preparing to shave almost a fifth off the project budget and accelerate the building process by 12 months to deliver more flights "quicker and cheaper".

Revised plans include potentially scrapping proposals to tunnel the M25 under the new runway, axing a transit system to carry passengers around the airport in favour of buses and constructing smaller terminal buildings.

Lord Deighton, the airport's new chairman, said the measures would speed up the construction process, opening the runway by late 2024, while keeping costs down for passengers. He insisted that landing charges could effectively be frozen in real terms under the plan, countering claims by airlines that fees could double with the building of a third runway.

The move, to be announced at the end of the month, is being seen an ambitious attempt to swing momentum behind Heathrow over Gatwick. It comes just weeks before the prime minister is expected finally to rule on the issue, more than 15 months after an independent commission delivered an overwhelming recommendation in favour of Heathrow.

The reforms are also a response to criticism from Willie Walsh, the head of British Airways' parent company, who has repeatedly warned that Heathrow's "gold-plated" plans for a third runway would lead to sharp increase in the cost of flying.

In his first interview since joining the airport in July, Lord Deighton, the former chief executive of the London Olympics organising committee, said it was working on a plan to "deliver the runway quicker and cheaper". "It's the natural next stage when you move from concept to design and delivery," he said. "You think, is there a smarter way to do this? This is exactly what we did with the Olympics. Do we really need that, or is it a luxury?"

The third runway, to be built to the northwest of the existing airport, is projected to cost about 16.8 billion, opening by late 2025. Lord Deighton, a Conservative peer, who was commercial secretary to the Treasury for two years under George Osborne, said the airport was looking to reduce the budget by between "two and three billion".

In a significant change, the airport is considering scrapping plans to place a 14-lane section of the M25 into a 600-metre tunnel under the new runway. He said the current tunnelling proposal was "quite expensive and takes some time, so we are looking at other ways of getting to that solution", including diverting it around the airport or possibly even some form of bridge. A 1 billion rail transit system could also be scrapped.

Theresa May could give MPs a free vote on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow, according to a leaked document. The image of a confidential Cabinet Office email reveals that ministers may be able to express differing views on where to expand airport capacity in the southeast. Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are all opponents of Heathrow expansion. Some sources claim that none of this group would resign in the event of a free vote on Heathrow.


Peter Dominiczak, Political Editor - The Telegraph - 9 September 2016

Theresa May will give ministers including Boris Johnson a free vote on airport expansion, a leaked document has revealed prompting speculation that the Government will expand Heathrow.

The Prime Minister is considering waiving Cabinet "collective responsibility" when Parliament votes on whether to expand airports in the South East of England. It would allow Mr Johnson and Justine Greening - who are both firmly against to Heathrow expansion - to oppose any move to grow the airport without quitting their jobs.

The Cabinet is still considering whether to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow, or approve a rival development at Gatwick instead. The document, sent to Sue Gray, a senior official in the Cabinet Office, asks for advice on the "potential waiving of collective responsibility" for the airports decision. It says the decision on airport expansion is "forthcoming" and calls for advice on how shelving collective responsibility will work.

The paper, which was seen by a passenger on the London Underground and sent to Channel 4 News, also discusses the possibility of "allowing Ministers to speak against the government's position in the House [of Commons]."

Both Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Ms Greening, the Education Secretary, have long-campaigned against any expansion of Heathrow Airport. David Cameron, the former prime minister, waived collective responsibility ahead of the EU referendum, allowing members of his Cabinet to campaign on either side of the argument. The paper discusses following "the model of the recent EU referendum guidance".

Britain is running out of airport capacity in the south of England. There are fears that without a new runway serving London, airlines and businesses will go to other countries in Europe in the decades ahead. The decision on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, expected in October, comes after more than 15 years of delays by both Labour and Conservative governments.

Mr Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge in west London, has previously said that he is prepared to lie down "in front of bulldozers" to stop a third runway from being built, and was heavily opposed to expansion as Mayor of London.

Ms Greening, a former transport secretary and MP for Putney in south-west London, makes clear her opposition to Heathrow on her website. It says that she "will continue to stand up for the thousands of residents who are concerned about aircraft noise and she'll keep working to make sure our local community is listened to". As transport secretary in the Coalition she had said she would find it "very difficult" not to resign if the Government decided to expand Heathrow. She has indicated, however, that she could stay on in Cabinet now that she no longer holds the transport brief.

Government sources last night refused to comment on the leaked document and said any decisions on collective responsibility are yet to be taken by Mrs May.

Earlier this year, Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, who has campaigned for a third runway, said Britain should push ahead with airport expansion in the South East. He told the Telegraph that after the referendum Britain was facing a "very competitive economic climate" and could not afford to "put off big decisions on infrastructure".

Mrs May will chair a Cabinet committee which will decide on the third runway plan. Whitehall sources suggested the Government is "leaning towards" Heathrow, but added that there are still significant environmental and cost issues to overcome.


Sunday Times - 11 September 2016

The boss of Gatwick airport is in line for a 5m bonus when it is sold by its private equity owners. Stewart Wingate, who has run the airport since 2009, is one of a small number of senior managers who will split a pot of shares on the sale worth up to 10m. Wingate has a 50% share of this bonus scheme.

Gatwick is vying with Heathrow to win approval from the government for an extra runway. If it wins, the value of the airport will soar. The bonus plan was put in place by the airport's controlling shareholder, the American private equity giant Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). It bought the airport for 1.5bn in 2009 and now holds 42%.

Theresa May and her Cabinet are wrestling with where new airport capacity should be built in southeast England. Gatwick is up against a third runway at Heathrow, or an extended runway at the west London airport. After repeated delays, a decision is due by the end of next month. Transport secretary Chris Grayling is believed to have visited all three teams in recent weeks.

Heathrow has made a last-ditch effort to sway the decision this weekend, pledging to cut 3bn from the cost of its 16.8bn third runway - with potential measures including scrapping plans to tunnel the M25 under the new runway - and saying it could open by 2024. Gatwick has pledged to build its runway by 2025 at an estimated cost of 7.1bn.

Heathrow, which is owned by a clutch of infrastructure and sovereign wealth funds, including those of Qatar and Singapore, also has a bonus scheme for senior bosses - although it is explicitly tied to the runway decision. Eight Heathrow executives share a bonus pool worth up to 10.4m, with part of the payout dependent on their creating the right "political climate" for approval of a third runway. Heathrow initially denied the existence of the bonus scheme.

Wingate, 44, said the Gatwick bonus means he has a personal incentive to maximise the airport's success. "It has meant that as you go about making your decisions in the business... you genuinely are trying to create long-term value."

He added that GIP would be prepared to give the government assurances that it would not sell the airport for a quick profit if it won approval. Wingate also revealed that Gatwick has spent about 40m promoting its runway.

Under GIP's ownership, Gatwick's annual passenger numbers have grown from 31m to a projected 43m by next year. Wingate said its runway is the most viable option for the government. "Heathrow is in the wrong place," he explained. "If you get a more successful Gatwick, you will get a more successful Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The [Heathrow]... model sucks a lot of the very lucrative routes from the regions of the UK into a hub airport."


Greig Cameron, Scottish Business Editor - The Times - 8 September 2016

Ryanair has called for the Scottish government to abolish air passenger duty. It is also introducing new routes from Scotland.

The head of Ryanair has pledged to double passenger numbers to Scotland if air passenger duty is scrapped. Michael O'Leary called for the Scottish government not to be "mealy-mouthed" about the tax and to get rid of it altogether.

The SNP administration confirmed this week that it would bring forward a replacement for APD - which adds about 13 to the cost of flights - by April 2018. The details have still to be revealed, but a 50 per cent reduction is believed to be the favoured option.

Mr O'Leary, who was in Edinburgh yesterday to announce several new routes, said he believed that much more would be gained through additional tourism and business spending if the tax were to be abolished entirely. He said: "There is no need to wait until 2018, scrap it now. If they do it we will go from five million to ten million passengers within two years. The visitor spend from that would far exceed the cost of scrapping the tax."

"It is the kind of forward-looking thinking you need as we look forward to at least two years of uncertainty because of Brexit. If they halve [APD] then there will be a lot less growth."

The airline also confirmed that it will open 12 routes from Scotland next year, taking its total number to 77. Edinburgh will get new services to the Spanish airports Barcelona Girona, Vigo and Ibiza, as well as Porto in Portugal and Milan in Italy. The airline's traffic to Edinburgh is expected to rise by 150,000 passengers next year, taking numbers to about 2.5 million

OUR COMMENT: What are the views of those who live round Edinburgh - more noise? More traffic?

Pat Dale


Passengers would be forced to pay substantially higher air fares if
a new runway was built in the south-east and Britain kept to its carbon
targets, according to an analysis of the Airports Commission's backing
for a third runway at Heathrow

The Guardian - 8 August 2016

A report published by the Campaign for Better Transport claims that carbon pricing, a measure the commission suggested could be needed to ensure British aviation emissions remain on target, would add hundreds of pounds to air fares by 2050, spelling the end of low-cost flights. Another consequence of the Airports Commission's analysis is that growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded capacity at Heathrow.

A member of the government-appointed commission said that prohibitive pricing or other measures to curb demand for air travel would be needed whether or not a new runway was built in the south-east. A new runway is expected to add hundreds of pounds to the cost of flights from all of the UK's airports.

The CBT report, Air Traffic Controls, claims that the additional carbon price to offset the growing demand in air travel from a new runway could amount to more than the cost of the ticket itself on some flight. The extra costs, implied by the commission's data but not previously calculated, would be up to 127 for return flights from Manchester to Tenerife, 148 from Newcastle to Sharm el-Sheikh or 221 from London to Florida.

Leo Murray, one of the report's authors, said: "There has been far too little scrutiny of the Airports Commission's proposals for squaring airport expansion in the south-east with the UK's climate change targets, with the details hidden deep inside hundreds of pages of technical reports. Building a new runway, while still meeting our climate change commitments, is expected to add hundreds of pounds to the cost of flights from all of the UK's airports if the commission's proposals are enacted."

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "If the government approves a new runway in the south-east, it risks either breaking the national carbon budget, or pricing those on lower incomes out of the sky entirely. The Airports Commission uses heroic assumptions about technology and efficiency improvements which are at odds with the government's own analysis. Worse, the huge sums the commission proposes adding to the cost of plane tickets to allow a new runway to be built have so far gone almost unnoticed."

However, Julia King, who was on the commission and is a member of the Committee on Climate Change, said it was impossible to make accurate fare predictions for 2050, but that the level was irrelevant to the commission's verdict on runways. "We already have enough runway capacity in Britain to exceed carbon emissions as it is," she said. "The reality is that independently of whether we build a new runway or not, we will have to control the increase in flights."

The CBT report shows price rises are likely to see regional airports decline while London?s grow. King said that while it could seem "a harsh message", the commission's analysis of catchment areas and hub activity meant only expansion in the south-east would make longhaul flights to key destinations economically viable for airlines.

"Clearly there would need to be slower growth at regional airports generally if you have additional capacity in London. All the indications were that the big demand is in the south-east." She added: "If we are to have to compensate for reduced trade with the EU post-Brexit, the longhaul requirements become even more critical - and our conclusion that the need is best fulfilled from Heathrow becomes even stronger."

A Heathrow spokesperson said: "Heathrow supports the international aviation industry's commitment to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and the UN's international civil aviation organisation, which plans to introduce a mandatory carbon offset system to achieve this goal."

A spokesperson for Gatwick airport said: "Our analysis shows that expansion at Heathrow would be significantly less carbon-efficient than expansion at Gatwick." He added that Gatwick had pledged to cap landing charges, meaning fares would stay lower.


Press Release from HACAN East - 27 July 2016

The Government today announced that it has granted London City Airport permission to expand. It endorsed the recommendation of the Inspector who heard the evidence a Public Inquiry earlier this year. The airport can now go-ahead with building a new taxiway and larger parking spaces to accommodate the bigger planes it wants to use at the airport.

HACAN East chair John Stewart said: "Residents face a double whammy. Earlier this year London City concentrated all its flight paths. Today the people under these flight paths face the prospect of more and larger planes."

Stewart added, "The airport claims that the expansion will create over a thousand jobs. That is in the realm of speculation. What is certain is that residents' quality of life will get worse."


Planes coming in to Heathrow are to change
the way they land to cut noise for west London residents

Francesca Gillett - Evening Standard - 18 August 2016

Pilots have been told to delay the point when they lower the wheels beneath the planes - which causes wind noise which can be heard by residents - until they are nearer the runway. The changes will not alter the safety of the landings, an airport spokesman said. Heathrow has told airlines the wheels could be lowered 4.6 miles from the runway, rather than the current average of eight miles, without any risk.

The change is part of a plan to appease residents living near to the airport and reduce opposition to a third runway, The Times reported According to Heathrow's most recent league table of the noisiest airlines, El Al is the worst followed by Kuwait Airways. British Airways' short-haul planes were the quietest.

It is expected a new runway for either Heathrow or Gatwick will be approved within weeks by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Other measures in the ten-point plan to cut noise include encouraging more modern planes by introducing cuts in landing charges for newer aircraft, and bringing in 50 monitors to measure the noise. Matt Gorman, the airport's director of sustainability and environment, said there was "no single solution" but small changes can make a big difference.


Report in the Lancet - 15 August 2016

In the Lancet Joel Kaufman and his colleagues report an association between various metrics of long term air pollution exposure and progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC) a strong risk marker of future ischaemic vascular events. For over 10 years the investigators did repeated CAC measurements on a population of almost 7000 people living in different metropolitan areas of the USA, and comparing them with local air pollution monitoring.

OUR COMMENT: Full details of the results are given and it was found that the progression of the CAC levels in individuals related strongly to the levels of air pollution in the area in which they lived. The air pollutants studied were PM 2.5 particles, and nitrogen oxides, already associated with higher incidence of bronchitic and cardiovascular diseases and asthma. This study would appear to establish a more precise relationship between pollutants and the development of these diseases.

This confirms the damage to health that air pollution can cause, especially from traffic - both road and air traffic - from planes taking off and landing and increased road traffic associated with airports.

Pat Dale


Participants lived near an airport for three years or more

Reported by Sophie Antipolis - Airport Watch July edition and
Published 15 Jun 2016 (European Society of Cardiology)

Long term exposure to aircraft noise is associated with hypertension and organ damage, reveals research presented today at the EuroPRevent 2016 meeting by Marta Rojek, a researcher at Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow, Poland.

"The volume of air traffic has skyrocketed since jet powered planes were introduced in the 1960s," said Ms Rojek. "According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, there were 64 million take-offs and landings in 2013 and this figure is set to double in the next 20 years."

She continued: "The steady growth in air traffic and expansion of airports, along with the development of residential areas near airports, has led to more people being exposed to aircraft noise. There is emerging data to suggest that exposure to aircraft noise may increase the risk of hypertension, particularly at night, and of hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases - but more evidence is needed."

The current study assessed the impact of aircraft noise on the development of hypertension and associated asymptomatic organ damage. It included 201 randomly selected adults aged 40 to 66 years who had lived for more than three years in an area with high or low aircraft noise. Of these, 101 were exposed to more than 60 decibels (dB) of aircraft noise on average and 100 were exposed to less than 55 dB and acted as a control group.

For the analysis, the researchers matched the groups in pairs by gender, age, and amount of time living in the area. All participants had their blood pressure measured. Asymptomatic organ damage was assessed by measuring stiffness of the aorta and the mass and function of the left ventricle.

The investigators found that the group who lived in an area of high aircraft noise had more hypertension than those who lived in a low aircraft noise area (40% versus 24%). They also had higher systolic (146 versus 138 mmHg) and diastolic (89 versus 79 mmHg) blood pressure than the control group. When they looked at the indicators of asymptomatic organ damage, the researchers found that those who lived near high aircraft noise had stiffer aorta and higher left ventricular mass. The measurements of left ventricular function were less conclusive.

"Our results suggest that living near an airport for three years or more is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and hypertension," said Ms Rojek. "These changes may then lead to damage of the aorta and heart which could increase the risk of having a heart attack."

She added: "European Union regulations say that countries must assess and manage environmental noise, and there are national laws on aircraft noise. Poland stipulates a maximum of 55 dB around schools and hospitals and 60 dB for other areas. Noise can be kept below those levels by using only noise-certified aircraft, redirecting flight paths, keeping airports away from homes, and avoiding night flights."

Ms Rojek concluded: "More work is needed to enforce laws on exposure to aircraft noise as it is detrimental to our health. We also need further research to understand how the damage occurs and whether it can be reversed."


Robert Lea, Industrial Editor - The Times - 14 July 2016

Two of Britain's busiest airports [Manchester and Stansted] expect to suffer a Brexit-related slowdown in growth over the next couple of years, but their owner argues that one of them will still be so congested by 2030 that it will need a new runway. [Manchester already has a 2nd runway, which is scarcely used as there is not enough demand for it at present].

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, the owner of Manchester and Stansted airports, said that the post-EU referendum devaluation of the pound and the expected slump in GDP growth would hit operations. "Airlines tend to grow in step with GDP," Mr Cornish said. "Sterling versus dollar will have an impact on passenger numbers because the money you have will not go as far and that will translate into an impact on demand."

He said that a British withdrawal from the European Union would not in itself affect the group, but the impact on the exchange rate and the slowing economy would. "We will see a blip for between 12 and 24 months," he said. "We'll continue to grow but behind where we had expected to be."

Stansted, London's third airport, has rapidly accelerated out of the global financial crisis, during which it lost a third of its passenger numbers. Its mixture of sunseeking and short-break holidaymakers and its attraction to business people for flights to continental capitals means that it is particularly exposed to economic vacillations.

During the recession its woes were exacerbated by Ryanair, its main airline tenant, being in dispute with its former owner, Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly BAA. Manchester Airports Group bought Stansted for 1.5 billion in 2013. In the 12 months to the end of MAG's March financial year, Stansted passenger numbers grew 11 per cent to 23 million. That puts Stansted on course this year to overtake Manchester as Britain's third largest airport.

"We will be at capacity some time between 2025 and 2030, so in the next two to three years we will need to start having the appropriate dialogue with the government over the need for a second runway [at Stansted]," Mr Cornish said.

He was speaking as MAG reported a 21 per cent surge in underlying operating profits to 186 million on revenues of 778 million, 5 per cent higher, much of that due to Stansted's recovery.

OUR COMMENT: Why a second runway? Stansted already has permission to increase to 35mppa and has yet to regain the 25mppa it had achieved when this permission was granted.

Pat Dale


Falling pound has attracted foreign investment and
strengthened case for third runway, says John Holland-Kay

The Guardian - 22 July 2016

The Brexit vote has delivered a boost to Heathrow's fortunes, with the weak pound attracting foreign investors, encouraging international passengers to spend more in its terminals, and strengthening the airport's case for expansion, the chief executive has claimed.

The airport has reported an 8% rise in profits for the first six months of this year, driven by an increase in retail sales that John Holland-Kaye suggested could accelerate with the further drop in sterling since the referendum on 23 June. "With the exchange rate dropping, it's better value to shop at the airport than at the destinations," he said.

The growth in airport shopping revenues came despite a decline in "big spenders" from Russia, China and Nigeria, he said. In recent weeks Heathrow had "seen there's a huge appetite to invest: we've done a lot of deals and refinancing abroad, we just raised around 85m in Norwegian kroner at very attractive terms", Holland-Kaye added.

He said while buying into the UK had become much cheaper for foreign investors, there was also a "flight to quality... We're a very safe, long-term investment for people."

Releasing its results, the airport chief said the referendum had further strengthened the case for expansion: "In an uncertain economic environment, a 16bn privately funded infrastructure investment will create up to 180,000 jobs and 211bn of growth across the UK. Only Heathrow expansion will allow exporters to trade with all the growing markets of the world."

However, the head of the National Audit Office, Sir Amyas Morse, has warned that major infrastructure projects may have to be culled as the government prepares for a costly Brexit. Although the runway would be privately financed, additional road and rail infrastructure to support expansion was estimated to cost 5.7bn by the Airports Commission and up to 10bn more by Transport for London, a figure Heathrow disputes.

OUR COMMENT: We understand that Heathrow Airport bosses may net bonus if third runway is awarded.

Pat Dale


This is a golden opportunity to invest
in infrastructure and boost productivity

The Leader - The Times - 23 July 2016

All eyes are now on the UK economy, and it needs a makeover. With congested roads, patchy broadband, deficient airport capacity and a dysfunctional railway network, Britain is crying out for the productivity boost that a burst of targeted investment in infrastructure would bring. The National Audit Office has counselled the government to "rein in" its infrastructure ambitions. Theresa May's job is to see the bigger picture. She should be taking advantage of the rock-bottom cost of borrowing to fund investment and safeguard the economy in the long term.

Productivity is low. Among the G7 countries, only Japan squeezes less economic output out of each hour of work than Britain does. Germany is over 30 per cent more productive. This means slow longterm economic growth and laggardly wages. It also makes Britain a less appealing destination for international business.

A host of projects which promise to change this have been postponed for most of the past six years. After what has felt like interminable prevarication, it is time to make a decision on a new runway for the southeast. Gatwick remains the sensible choice for its location, capacity and potential for speedy construction. In political terms, the battle is all but won. Mrs May has yet to declare for an airport herself, but her top team contains both loud anti-Heathrow voices such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, and pro-Gatwick ones like Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd. The mayor of London agrees, as do the London public by a margin of 12 points.

The government's focus should be national, however. Crucial to developing the north is HS2, a high-speed railway to link London to the Midlands and big cities in the north. The recent appointment of Lord Adonis to the HS2 board ought to expedite the project, opening the way to increase capacity by a factor of three. Workers, business owners and customers on both sides of the north-south divide will benefit. In the long term, so will the taxpayer.

The biggest challenge will be addressing the housing crisis. When soaring prices in affluent areas push workers away from productive jobs, they either take up less productive ones elsewhere or waste time and money commuting. Attempts to help buyers on to the ladder inflate demand and push prices up further. What the market needs is an increase in supply for which looser planning regulations are the essential starting point. Bricks and mortar will follow.

Fiscal profligacy is never wise, whether in times of recession or expansion. A careful cost-benefit analysis, however, recommends borrowing to invest. Money has never been so cheap. Yields on government bonds, which fall as demand for them rises, hit records lows this month. Hints from Mr Hammond, the chancellor, of a fiscal "reset" in the autumn statement are appropriate given this new environment.

Naysayers may cast doubt on the vision of Britain as an independent trading hub championed by the more open-minded Brexiteers during the referendum campaign. If the government is to prove them wrong and live up to its promise to make a success of Brexit, it must signal to the world that Britain is modern, competitive and welcoming. That requires investment. While the sun is shining on Mrs May in the borrowing markets, she must fix the roof. Or better yet, build it.


The prime minister's attacks on airport expansion have been unearthed
years later. Gatwick's expansion plans are starting to look more likely
to be accepted.

Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 16 July 2016

A third runway at Heathrow would devastate the lives of thousands of people living under the flight path, Theresa May warned while in opposition.

A deleted web archive shows that the prime minister made repeated attacks on plans for development of the airport, in west London, while serving in the shadow cabinet under David Cameron in the late 2000s. In one statement she predicted that a third runway would result in "additional flights, increased noise and more pollution", insisting that the country needed a "better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow".

The comments underline the scale of opposition to Heathrow previously voiced by Mrs May, the MP for Maidenhead, which lies 15 miles to the west of the airport. The revelation will create further speculation that the new leadership may be hostile to the 17.6 billion third runway scheme, in the face of mounting pressure to expand Gatwick airport instead. Yesterday it emerged that Philip Hammond, the new chancellor, has previously called for Gatwick to be expanded and given a super-fast rail link to Heathrow, creating a "Heathwick" hub.

Other key figures in the new cabinet such as Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, and Justine Greening, education secretary, are openly hostile to the Heathrow proposal.

The disclosure was made as Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, used a speech yesterday to urge Mrs May to approve a second runway at Gatwick instead, insisting that it was the better option for London. He made the appeal despite the fact that expansion of Heathrow was the overwhelming recommendation of the government-created airports commission last year. It found that Heathrow would generate far greater economic benefits and would link Britain to a better range of profitable long-haul destinations. Airlines have also strongly backed the expansion of Heathrow.

Sources close to the airport have insisted that Mrs May's views on the subject are more nuanced than those of other critical Conservative MPs - suggesting that she would be swayed by the commission's recommendation when a final decision is taken on expansion in the months ahead.

However, anti-Heathrow activists unearthed a web archive yesterday that revealed her to be a fierce opponent of the airport while in opposition in the mid-to-late 2000s. Pages from the MP's website, which appear to have been archived, contained one press release from early 2009 voicing anger over the previous Labour government's decision to approve a third runway. She said her constituents faced the "prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead" from Heathrow.

"I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the government's decision," she said. "A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people."

In 2008, before Labour made its decision on the matter, she said: "I hope that the government will recognise the widespread hostility to Heathrow expansion and say no to a third runway."

When the new coalition government cancelled the third runway she released a further statement saying: "Like many local residents, I strongly welcome cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect." The material was obtained by the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise. Heathrow supporters insist that any criticism of the airport in the past is irrelevant, as the third runway scheme now envisaged is very different to plans submitted under Labour.

Yesterday Mr Khan threw his weight behind a second runway at Gatwick in his first big speech on airport expansion since winning the mayoral election in May. It came as the West Sussex airport announced a 200 million investment in the airport to expand its north and south terminals, upgrade its shopping facilities and create larger immigration halls. "There's now one obvious choice for Theresa May to take: a second runway here at Gatwick," he said.

A Heathrow spokesman countered: "The airports commission disagree with Sadiq Khan and Gatwick. Following an independent, 20 million, two-and-a-half-year deep-dive into the issue of airport capacity, they confirmed that Heathrow expansion could provide the capacity the UK needs more easily and quickly than any other option. Brexit makes the commission's conclusion that, with Heathrow expansion 'the benefits are significantly greater, for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy', even more persuasive."

OUR COMMENT: No mention of the possibility that with better routing, no extra runways are needed anywhere in the UK? And, that the increase in the number of fights would exceed the climate change commitments for CO2.

Pat Dale


Three Conservative local authorities have written to the
transport secretary warning that court proceedings will be
launched if a third runway is approved

Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 23 July 2016

Tory councils are threatening legal action to block the proposed expansion of Heathrow, The Times has learnt. Three Conservative local authorities beneath the airport's flight path have written to the transport secretary warning that court proceedings will be launched if a third runway is approved.

In the letter to Chris Grayling, council chiefs claimed that any approval given to Heathrow would create "severe political and social rupture" at a time when unity is needed. The leaders of Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth said that they were already preparing a "substantial and strong legal challenge" if the airport gets permission to expand.

The letter claims that air quality around the airport already breaches legal limits and that more aircraft and cars in west London will "blight the lives" of millions of people. The warning underlines how toxic the airport expansion issue remains for the Tories despite the resignation of David Cameron, who pledged to block Heathrow's third runway, "no ifs, no buts".

As reported in The Times last week, Theresa May has been equally opposed to a northwest runway at Heathrow, insisting that it would create "additional flights, increased noise and more pollution". While in opposition, she said that the country needed a "better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow".

Ministers are expected to make a final decision on a new runway in the autumn. A government-commissioned report on the issue, published last July, delivered a powerful recommendation in favour of a third runway at Heathrow over plans for a second runway at Gatwick. It also downplayed an alternative plan to double the length of Heathrow's existing northern runway to create additional capacity.

The issue has been dogged by a series of delays over the past year, with ministers deferring a final ruling three times. Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, criticised Heathrow's plans last week and supported the expansion of Gatwick.

In their letter to Mr Grayling, the three council leaders say that a third runway "would be an environmental disaster for our communities", urging ministers to back Gatwick's plans. "We must also be very clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge against the government in the unfortunate event that it resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects," the letter says.

"Our arguments... centre on the severe environmental damage that comes with a new or lengthened runway, and on the clear promises and policy commitments made to our communities by successive governments. We hope you recognise that Heathrow expansion is unlawful, undeliverable and would create a severe political and social rupture at a time when our country desperately needs unity."

"Councils, MPs, environmental groups, the London mayor and millions of ordinary Londoners will fight the Government every step of the way if it favours this option and we urge you again to choose the deliverable, lowest cost, safer option of Gatwick."

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth council, said: "We have made it perfectly clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge if the government resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects. Our residents have lived with this threat hanging over them for far too long."


Herts & Essex Observer - 19 July 2016

Stansted Airport has been awarded the UK's highest national standard for leadership and excellence in community investment. The CommunityMark involves a rigorous assessment process and means the Uttlesford hub joins an exclusive network of only 34 companies in the UK with the status. The airport's Corporate Social Responsibility programme was highly praised, in particular its education and community outreach projects.

Andrew Cowan, Stansted's chief executive, said: "We are absolutely delighted and hugely honoured to receive the CommunityMark accreditation. Earning trust is crucial to the long term success of the airport which is why corporate responsibility is firmly embedded in our DNA. In the last 12 months alone, we have opened an award winning education centre - the Aerozone - which has welcomed 3,000 youngsters from across 100 schools and colleges in the region, doubled our employee volunteering targets, introduced innovative aircraft navigation technology to reduce the impact of noise disturbance on local residents and helped almost 500 people find a new job on the airport."

"We are genuinely committed to ensuring that the business operates in a responsible fashion and is fully engaged in working with the East of England to develop a positive and effective sustainability strategy that delivers real value and change to benefit communities."

The airport was presented with the CommunityMark at Business in the Community's National Gala Dinner, supported by Fujitsu, the 2015 Responsible Business of the Year, earlier this month. Stephen Howard, Business in the Community's chief executive said: "I congratulate Stansted Airport for joining the exclusive network of CommunityMark companies. Business has a vital role to help create vibrant and prosperous communities. CommunityMark holders are at the heart of this movement, demonstrating an impressive commitment to identifying and responding to social needs.

"Crucially, these companies understand that excellence in community investment not only has a positive and valuable impact on society, but also creates real business benefits. We hope their example will inspire many more businesses to put responsible behaviour at the heart of how they do business."

One of the projects highlighted for special recognition was the airport's 500,000 Aerozone education centre. The hub opened last year to boost STEM skills - science, technology, engineering and maths - and showcase airport apprenticeships and careers to young people. Girls from Birchwood High School and Bishop's Stortford College attended the Aerozone earlier this year as part of a 'Girls in Engineering' initiative. The event aimed to give girls an insight in the world of aviation and engineering and inspire them to consider a career in what is still perceived to be a male dominated sector.

OUR COMMENT: An "effective sustainability strategy" must mean NO Second Runway!

Pat Dale

SSE Recent News
News Archive