Posts Tagged ‘Heathrow’

A runway too far.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Inside the giant human “No”. Photo Inel blog.

(Click to go to blog.)

After Tuesday’s Cabinet discussion, which failed to give Gordon Brown full backing for the third runway Heathrow runway, the Prime Minister scurried away to Germany to announce that he would be going ahead with the expansion of Heathrow. Today, Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, formally announced the decision to the House of Commons saying that MP’s would not be allowed to vote on the decision.

Hayes and Harlington MP, John McDonnell (Labour), echoed my own words, warning that the third runway would turn out to be Labour’s own poll tax, announcing: “The Government’s announcement is not the end of the battle against the third runway, it is just the beginning.”

With Tory leader, David Cameron, and London Mayor, Boris Johnson, both against the expansion – as well as some million plus affected residents and 24 local authorities – the plan is unlikely to survive the general election. All that protesters have to do is to delay the “point of no return” until after the election has been held.

Dyspozytor

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Brown to push through 3rd runway?

Saturday, 10 January 2009

stop-heathrow

The masthead of the Stop Heathrow Expansion website

(Click to go to website.)

Two UK national newspapers reported on Friday that the government go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow is imminent. Pro-runway groups, including: The British Airports Authority, British Airways, British Midland Airways, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress, are holding a special meeting on Monday to publicise the case for building the third runway. Gordon Brown and Geoff Hoon have agreed to present the decision for the Cabinet’s approval on Tuesday and a decision may be announced later that day or on Wednesday.

The bad news, for the hundreds of thousands of people who will be affected, will be sweetened by so-called ‘binding assurances’ that strict limits on emissions and aircraft noise will be met. Also there will be an announcement that Heathrow will be linked to Britain’s High Speed railway network if the government decides to go ahead with the latter.

But if a decision is announced next week, the battle will not stop then. Local authorities and anti-runway community groups will seek to challenge the government’s decision and postpone the ‘point of no-return’ until a Conservative government is elected. Prime minister, Gordon Brown, must fight a general election by 2010 at the latest and opposition leader, David Cameron, has said that he opposes the third runway proposal.

BTWT’s position on the third runway is simple. Going ahead with a third runway at Heathrow is would be environmental madness. London, whose air quality is already below international standards, would be faced with an even more concentrated cocktail of polluting toxic chemicals. CO2 emissions from aeroplanes and motor traffic fumes would increase. We also believe that the Government’s case that Heathrow must have a third runway to remain a major international hub is seriously flawed. Heathrow’s role as a major international hub is already declining.

If you really want to run in the Eurohub race you need at least FOUR runways, AND to be plugged into Europe’s high speed railway network. Europe’s busiest airport, Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris has four runways, its own Ligne Grande Vitesse station and room for further expansion. Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport is planning its SEVENTH runway and has a station served by Thalys High Speed trains connecting to Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. Frankfurt Airport has excellent rail links (nearly one third of all passengers come by rail) is building its fourth runway and has room for even more. Even with a third runway, Heathrow – with its lack of fast main line rail services (Yes I do know about the rail link to Paddington!), rat infested passageways, and widely dispersed terminals – hasn’t a hope of remaining in the top league.

There is massive opposition to Heathrow, not only from the million plus residents who will face more noise and pollution, but also by the twenty odd local authorities that represent them. Mr Brown is an unelected Prime Minister, representing a party that received only 35% of the votes cast at the last election. If he tries to force the decision through, he will face a crisis similar to the one which brought down Mrs Thatcher in 1990.

Dyspozytor

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FT – Cabinet set to back Heathrow expansion
Daily Mail – Heathrow WILL get approval for 3rd runway

MPs’ plot to stop Heathrow runway

Monday, 3 November 2008

The proposed third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport,
map Daily Telegraph

(Click map to read the original Daily Telegraph March 2008 article in which it originally appeared.)

The Daily Mail published an article last Tuesday which claimed that Ministers were helping to stir up a rebellion among Labour MPs in a bid to sink the plan to build a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.

John Grogan, MP for Selby in North Yorkshire, said that some senior Government figures, including Cabinet members, have privately urged him to launch a parliamentary revolt against the controversial airport expansion. Mr Grogan has sponsored an early day motion (a parliamentary device to signal MPs’ concern) urging the Government to rethink its Heathrow plans. According to Mr Grogan, there was ‘mounting nervousness’ among ministers that the runway plan could cost Labour a string of marginal seats around the West London airport at a General Election. ‘Given that airline traffic is now falling significantly, the Government surely cannot continue to base its policy on a White Paper on airports dating back to 2003.’

The motion urged the Government to rethink its plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport and to give full consideration to alternative solutions; regrets the Government’s heavy reliance on data supplied by the BAA in assessing the case for expansion and notes the likely forthcoming break up of BAA’s ownership of three of London’s airports following the investigation by the Competition Committee; believes that the consultation paper Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport was deeply flawed, as it paid insufficient regard to the costs of air and noise pollution in the surrounding areas and the commitment to curb carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change; regrets the fact that provisions to improve high speed rail lines from Heathrow to major cities have not been fully explored, along with the potential of other UK airports to handle more long haul flights; and urges the Government to initiate a consultation on a new national planning policy statement on the theme of airports and high speed rail.

The criticism of BAA supplied data is a shot across the bows to the tripartite alliance between the Government, civil servants and BAA which a year ago looked unstoppable. In March this year, The Times revealed how data on the impact of a third runway were repeatedly altered, giving the impression that its effect on noise and pollution would be negligible. Figures for carbon emissions were massaged down by the crude device of excluding incoming international flights from the calculations. BAA was effectively given a veto on the contents of the consultation document, being allowed to rewrite it. On Wednesday the new Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon told MPs on Wednesday he would make a decision after studying a summary of the 70,000 responses to the consultation. By Thursday the BBC had picked up the story as opposition leaders urged the government to to think again. By today 105 MPs had already signed Mr Grogan’s motion. Importantly, this includes some 40 Labour MPs, including former ministers Michael Meacher and Frank Dobson.

The pollution shadow from Heathrow, is generated not only by 2,612 plane movements daily (combined landings and take offs), but also by two incinerators which disperse radioactive particles and dioxins all over London and the South East. So if you live in Britain and feel that enough is enough, why not write to your local MP and urge him to sign John Grogan’s motion.

Tom won’t, but Terry will

Monday, 28 July 2008

Terry Hill, chairman of Arup

While Britain’s Rail Minister, Tom Harris, has been busy telling MPs that the UK is too crowded for high speed rail, and that high speed trains are not very ‘green’. Terry Hill, the chairman of Arup has been progressing his plans to build Britain’s next high speed line. Here’s an extract from an interview with him published in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

Hill and his fellow Arupites are old hands at the big politics that go with big projects. They were the behind-the-scenes movers and shakers on decisions that shaped the face of Britain over the past two decades.

Remember Margaret Thatcher’s mid-1980s plan to build three orbital roads for London, Ringways 1, 2 and 3? Thought not. Hill helped kill it. Remember the British Rail scheme to bring the high-speed rail line from the Channel tunnel carving through the south London suburbs? No? Hill and his merry men killed that too.

Now Arup has another cunning plan, a £4.2 billion extension of the high-speed line. It would run west of the capital to a new mega station near Heathrow, kick-starting new rail lines to the north, and perhaps removing the need for the airport’s third runway. Hill went to see transport secretary Ruth Kelly about it last week.

Click here for the complete article.

Arup were responsible for designing the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, now rebranded as HS1. They were also involved in the Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and in most of the new venues built for the Beijing Olympics.

In January Arup announced that it was working on a feasibility study for HS2, a new high speed line from London to the North. The company had first suggested building such a line 18 years earlier. Observing the distinctly chilly welcome that Greengauge’s plans for high speed rail received from the UK Treasury and Department for Transport, Arup repacked their plans and in May launched a proposal to build a new transport hub at Heathrow Airport, one that could in the future be served by high speed rail. Now Arup are advocating extending HS1 from Central London to the proposed Heathrow hub.

Perhaps, their slowly, slowly catchee monkey approach may just turn out to be successful.

The old joined-up thinking test

Saturday, 29 March 2008

third runway take off corridors

Heathrow third runway take off corridors


1896 – CO2 and global warming link proposed

The link between increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global warming was first proposed by a Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius, who warned in 1896, that the rapidly increasing consumption of fossil fuel caused by industrialisation would lead to increases in average temperature.

For FIFTY YEARS scientists have known about global warming. This excerpt is from the well known educational documentary

A British scientist, G. S. Calendar, calculated in 1938 that mankind had produced 150 billion tons of CO2 over the last 50 years. In the 1950s, American scientists Plass and Revelle warned that global warming could become a problem in the near future.

Unchained Goddess
Bell Labs documentary

1962

In 1962, the Russian climate expert Mikhail Budyko issued a stronger warning. He calculated that the exponential growth of industrial civilization would cause a drastic global warming within the next century. In 1965, a group of leading scientists issued a joint statement that “By the year 2000 the increase in atmospheric CO2 … may be sufficient to produce measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate.”

1972

bp_mag_cover_front_100.jpgIn 1972, The Ecologist published A Blueprint for Survival in advance of the first Environment Summit in Stockholm. Authored by Edward Goldsmith and Robert Allen, it put forward the case for adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Many of their ideas, which seemed radical at the time, are now part of EU policy. As regards UK transport they argued that,

270. No-one can contemplate with equanimity the doubling of roads within this decade necessary to maintain the status quo, and we must therefore seek sensible transportation alternatives. It is clear that broadly-speaking the only alternative is public transport-a mix of rapid mass-transit by road and rail. Rail especially should never have been allowed to run down to the extent that it has. The power requirements for transporting freight by road are five to six times greater than by rail and the pollution is correspondingly higher. The energy outlay for the cement and steel required to build a motorway is three to four times greater than that required to build a railway and the land area necessary for the former is estimated to be four times more than for the latter. Public transport whether by road or rail is much more efficient in terms of per capita use of materials and energy than any private alternative. It can also be as flexible, provided it is encouraged at the expense of private transport.

1985

In 1985 a French-Soviet drilling team at Vostok Station in central Antarctica produced an ice core two kilometers long that carried a 150,000-year record, a complete ice age cycle of warmth, cold and warmth. They found that the level of atmospheric CO2 had gone up and down in remarkably close step with temperature.

reconstruction of atmospheric temperature from measurements of the isotope Deuterium. Both are plotted against age (thousands of years Before Present, with the present at the far left).

By the time they stopped drilling a dozen years later, the team had recovered ice going back 400,000 years, across four glacial cycles. The CO2 levels in their record got as low as 180 parts per million in the cold periods and reached 280 in the warm periods, never higher. But in the air above the researchers, the level of the gas had reached 350 — far above anything seen in this geological era and still climbing.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. In 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development more than 150 nations signed a declaration committing themselves to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in their countries. In 1994, the IPCC stated that nations needed to make drastic changes in order to negate the effects of global warming. This announcement led to the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to fight global warming. The protocol called for countries to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases and was to take effect in 2005.

2005

The treaty was signed and ratified by 125 countries. However, the United States, which is estimated to be the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, refused to sign the treaty. In 2007 the IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former USA Vice President Al Gore.

At the end of 2007 the IPCC released its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) which provided irrefutable evidence how mankind’s activities are driving climate change. Since 2007, scientists have observed rapidly shrinking polar ice caps and have warned that as polar ice cover decreases so it will reflect back less and less solar radiation leading to an acceleration of global warming.

(Arctic summer ice 1997 – 2007, You Tube video)


UK contribution to reducing CO2 emissions

And what of the UK’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions? Since 1961 the UK has axed 2/3 of its railway network (pdf). In 1997, the UK Labour was elected on a manifesto that promised, inter alia, We will put concern for the environment at the heart of policy-making, so that it is not an add-on extra, but informs the whole of government, from housing and energy policy through to global warming and international agreements. Emissions of CO2, from power stations, motor vehicles and homes, amounted to 560.6 million tonnes in 2006, 6.4 million tonnes higher than the 2005 figure. The increase of 1.15 per cent means that Britain’s emissions are now at the highest level since Labour came to power a decade ago, nearly 3 per cent above 1997. (source The Independent)

UK traffic levels have risen some 11 per cent since Labour came to power in 1997. The three successive Labour administrations – the 2002 renationalisation of Railtrack notwithstanding – have done nothing to reform the dysfunctional management of Britain’s railways that they had inherited from John Major’s inept privatisation. Instead – after a brief pause – the government renewed the Tories road-building programme. Road transport is responsible for around 20% of total UK emissions of carbon dioxide. (Source: FOE press release) Emissions are rising because traffic is growing faster than fuel efficiency is improving. Aviation emissions have grown fastest of all. Since 1990, domestic aviation has seen emissions growth of nearly 100%, while international air travel emissions have grown by 123%.

Aware but not connected

The government is well aware of global warming and rising sea levels and the government controlled quango, English Nature, has just proposed allowing the sea to engulf the northern Norfolk Broads! Meanwhile Department for Transport declares that it is ‘modally agnostic‘ while actively promoting a third runway – mainly to handle internal UK – flights at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Terminal failure

At London’s Heathrow Airport, the opening of the new Terminal 5 (T5) to fare paying passengers on 28 March (there was an official opening by the Queen a fortnight earlier) was a shambles. Press reports highlighted cancelled flights, 15,000 – 20,000 piled up items of luggage and irate passengers. There was no mention that, when the T5 planning enquiry was held, local residents were promised that that the construction of the new terminal would not be be followed by the building of a third runway. However, even before Terminal 5 greeted its first passengers, The Guardian and The Independent were already drawing attention to the some of the continuing problems that travellers would face at Heathrow. This week as T5 passengers suffer cancelled flights and baggage chaos, its time to pause and reflect that more and more of the UK’s European neighbours are deserting the hassles of airport check-in, and the dubious facilities of toxic aeroplanes, for the safety, comfort and convenience of high speed rail. In its Saturday leader Terminal Failure, The Guardian injected a timely breath of fresh air into the third runway debate:

But above all else it should lead to a rethink of Heathrow, and the campaign by its monopolistic owner BAA to build a third runway in order to fill Terminals 5 and 6 with ever more passengers.

Unfortunately the prime minister and the transport secretary seem convinced of the case. It would be better if they shook their heads after this week’s disaster and instead backed at least one new high-speed rail line from London to the north, which could serve Heathrow too. This is what has happened in the rest of Europe, where fast rail links from Madrid to Barcelona or Paris to Lyon easily trump flying. Not many of the passengers struggling to board short-haul flights from Terminal 5 yesterday really wanted to travel to or from London by plane. They were doing so either because British Airways has abandoned direct flights from regional airports or because, absurdly, it is cheaper to travel by air than by train.

Even without short-haul flights Heathrow will still be packed. Many places can only be reached by flying. But there should be no need for BA to run 14 daily flights from London to Manchester. It will keep on doing so while the government tries to cap rail use. This week the Department for Transport delayed plans to lengthen Virgin Trains services to Manchester from nine coaches to 11. The government should change its mind on that, block a third runway and recognise that Heathrow has reached its limit. Terminal 5 will work in the end. But it is the new station at St Pancras which offers a real 21st-century gateway to London.

Now as Terminal 5 chaos continues some MP’s are beginning to question the wisdom of building a third runway at Heathrow.

Gordon Brown and Ruth Kelly, please note.


Further reading

Climate Change

How Mankind Is Sleepwalking… , The Ecologist
Climate Change, Friends of the Earth
Climate Change: facts and figures, Christian Aid
The 4 Stages of Global Warming Denial, M.G.R. Gatineau

Sustainable Living

How to use green transport, Campaign for Better Transport
Shifting Gear, The Ecologist
30 Steps to an oil free world, The Ecologist
Get Cycling, Sustrans
UK motor industry failing to tackle climate change, FOE

Heathrow Third Runway

MPs criticise Terminal 5 ‘Fiasco’, Financial Times
Britain stealing US crown of No 1 climate villain, The Guardian
‘Secret pact’ over Heathrow’s third runway, Times
Hemmed in at Heathrow, The Economist
Heathrow analysis ‘seriously flawed’, Financial Times
The Economics of Heathrow Expansion, CE DElft
No Third Runway Action Group, NTRAG

Airport Problems

No end in sight for disruption at Terminal 5, Scotsman
The showcase with not a lot to show for it, Daily Mail
What did go wrong at Terminal 5, This is Longford Blog
Other airports’ rocky starts, BBC News
United axes Denver baggage system, Computerworld