by John Stewart
by John Stewart
by John Stewart
On Saturday Nantes was ablaze. The anger at the proposed new airport outside this city in Western France boiled over: http://youtu.be/eIgNvAHIVmw. Up to 60,000 people took part in what was largely a peaceful demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyZ9aDDqWfQ&list=PLYfjo3JyLy2TBtLWV_afrBLvUCVOzdOWa&feature=share The local campaign group ACIPA say that the tension rose when the police refused to allow the march to take the normal route through the city. When part of the march tried to do so it “faced violent police repression shot with rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades”: http://communiques-acipa.blogspot.co.uk/
I have been to Nantes several times over last few years (although wasn’t there not on Saturday). The campaign has become a cause célèbre in France. It has “support committees” in over 200 towns and cities across France and Belgium. On a regular basis each committee lobbies and demonstrates in its own area. Over 60 coaches arrived in Nantes on Saturday with supporters from across the nation.
During the last Presidential elections four “peasant” farmers, whose land was threatened by the new airport, went on hunger strike for a month. They were visited by most of the presidential candidates. All, except for Hollande and Sarkozy, came out against the airport.
The profile of the campaign wasn’t always so high. I first met the campaigners in 2008 when five desperate farmers drove through the night to promote their case at a major Heathrow rally. They subsequently modelled much of their campaign on the successful fight against the 3rd runway. In particular, they built up the widest possible alliance of support.
The proposed new airport would be built around 15 miles from the city of Nantesi n a landscape dotted with small farms and attractive villages. It is the classic French countryside, but without the British and their second homes!
The rationale for the new airport has never been entirely clear. Nantes already has a single runway airport which is under-used. The regional government argues that the new airport would regenerate the area. This is hotly contested by the campaigners who commissioned their own report which challenged the government’s economic case: http://www.cedelft.eu/publicatie/review_of_the_social_cost-benefit_analysis_of_grand_ouest_airport_%3Cbr%3E_comparison_with_improvements_of_nantes_atlantique/1191 They argue that the new airport has more to do with boosting the egos of the local politicians – including the former Mayor of Nantes Jean-Marc Aryault who was made Prime Minister under Hollande – than beefing up the economy.
It remains unclear how much support there may be from people in Nantes living under flight path to the current airport for the new airport. Certainly, it is not visible. In contrast, the opposition has mushroomed over the last six years. Local people have been joined by a range of political and environmental organizations as well as the direct action campaigners, many of whom live in tents and tree houses in a local wooded area known as the ZAD.
There have been tensions from time to time between the local community and the direct action activists in the ZAD but last winter the ZAD won huge respect from other parts of the coalition when, in freezing cold conditions, they defied attempts by authorities to remove them.
It is probably impossible at this stage to know what will happen next in Nantes. But I think it is part of an emerging pattern: it is becoming increasingly difficult to build major new projects anywhere in Western Europe. The Nantes campaigners have links with those opposing the HS2 high-speed link in Britain (http://stophs2.org/news/5792-les-grands-projets-inutiles-imposes) through what is known as the Campaign against Useless Imposed Mega-Projects. It is what is says on the tin! It includes the NO-TAV movement against high-speed rail in Northern Italy and Save RosiaMontana, the Romanian campaign against a vast cyanide-mined gold extraction project in Western Transylvanian. Last year the Nantes campaigners hosted the Useless Imposed Mega-Projects’ annual meeting.
Iain Martin wrote in the Daily Telegraph (14/1/09) about the Heathrow anti-third campaign: “the coalition assembled outside Parliament is extraordinarily wide. It runs from radical eco-warriors to middle-class mothers in west London, hedge fund managers in Richmond, to pensioners and parents in Brentford”. The links now being made by opponents of mega-projects are in some ways an extension of this. The anarchist on the streets ofNanteshas little in common with the millionaire executive in the Chilterns…….except they are both passionately against a mega-project.
Certain conditions seem to need to be present for a mega-project to attract opposition from very disparate people.
The new Nantes airport proposed for this unfashionable part of France has become the classic ‘useless’ mega-project. I suspect Heathrow Airport – and probably also the promoters of HS2 – will be looking closely at what happens next at Nantes.
by John Stewart
Heathrow Airport is more honest than many of its supporters when making the economic case for a third runway. They acknowledge that it is not the only game in town. The issue was highlighted last week when DeAnne Julius, a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England and British Airways chief economist in the 1990s, wrote a piece in the Financial Times (No one answer to the London airport question, 14/2/14 – http://on.ft.com/1c4OyKj) suggesting that a two-hub solution may be best for London’s economy, i.e. a second runway at Gatwick rather than a third runway at Heathrow.
I will return to Julius’s case for Gatwick in a moment but first to acknowledge there is merit in Heathrow’s argument. Their case is well-known. The Airport argues that, unless a third runway is built, London will have fewer direct flights than other European hub cities (Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid) to the key business destinations in emerging economies like China, India and Mexico. And that this matters because there is evidence that direct flights are an important tool in attracting business.
Heathrow argues that it is only a major hub airport which can provide those flights because the transfer passengers which a hub attracts provide the extra passenger numbers which make frequent flights to these destinations commercially viable.
Organisations like the Independent Transport Commission support this view. Peter Hind, author of research they commissioned and highlighted in the Financial Times (16/2/14), said “Regular long-haul routes need transfer passengers to supplement those starting or ending journeys locally. Hosting a hub will remain key to sustaining and or developing global aviation connectivity.” He added: “More UK passengers already transfer via Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle hubs than through Heathrow, Amsterdam, Paris and others are able to compete with London by hosting growing networks.”
Boris and the backers of an Estuary option make a similar argument but go further. They are arguing for a mega-hub (4 or more runways, 24 hour operation) that would give London the hub airport inEurope. It would be in the super league alongsideDubai and the fast-expanding airport inIstanbul. Paris,Frankfurt and the other European hubs would be left behind.
The argument Julius makes is different. Here’s how she put it in the Financial Times:
“There are clearly advantages to large hub airports, especially for cities with small domestic markets. For Singapore or Dubai, it is imperative to have an airport large enough to attract transfer traffic on which the small domestic market can piggyback. But London is the very opposite of Singapore or Dubai. It is the quintessential international city. It has a big domestic market of business and leisure travellers who want to fly from London. It also attracts large numbers of business and tourist visitors from other countries who want to come to London, not transfer through it. The larger this so-called ‘origin and destination’ traffic is, the smaller will be the benefit to a city of attracting transfer traffic. According to the Airport Commission, London is the largest aviation market in the world (in terms of passenger numbers) and the largest ‘origin and destination’ market. In other words, like New York, London is both large enough and international enough to support two international airports. It does not need to consolidate capacity in a single mega-hub – whether at Heathrow or in the Thames estuary – in the hope of attracting more transfer passengers”.
Her argument rests on this key fact: more passengers (business people and tourists) terminate in London than in any other world city. BecauseLondon is the magnet, Heathrow does not need to expand as a hub in order for transfer passengers to provide sufficient numbers of people to fill flights to destinations across the world that would not otherwise be commercially viable. If airport capacity is provided – at whatever airport – people will flock to the capital in even larger numbers, drawn by the magnetic pull ofLondon. London is the hub.
It is becoming ever more clear that the economy is not dependent on a third runway being built at Heathrow.
by John Stewart
Frankie Goes to Hollywood had a big hit with their 1983 song Two Tribes to War. It is a bit like that with aircraft noise. Not so much war, perhaps; just mutual incomprehension. People who are deeply disturbed by aircraft noise just can’t understand why their next-door neighbour hardly hears the planes. And the neighbour dismisses the noise sufferer next door as either cranky or using the noise to cover up their real concern: the price of their house.
Just how noise affects people is a key question – perhaps the key question – in assessing the impacts of a third runway at Heathrow. Heathrow Airport is carrying out useful focus group research in an attempt to find the answer.
The numbers under the Heathrow flight paths are well-known: currently over 725,000; a third runway would add around another 150,000. What is much less clear is how many of these people are, or will be, deeply disturbed by aircraft noise.
However, there is some research to help us find that answer. It is estimated that about one in ten people are particularly noise-sensitive. According to the German psychologist, Rainer Guski, these people are likely to become more annoyed by noise than the general population.
But there are other factors at play. I summarized them in my book Why Noise Matters, published by Earthscan in 2011: “we are likely to become more annoyed if we believe the noise may be harming our health or putting us in danger. We can get very annoyed too – even desperate – if we feel we have no control over the noise or we cannot stop it getting worse. Generally, we are less annoyed if we feel there may be benefits linked to the noise: such as jobs or economic regeneration. We are also less annoyed if we believe the authorities are doing everything they can to mitigate the effects of it.”
We also know that, although many more people are exposed to traffic noise, there is evidence to show that people become disturbed more quickly by aircraft noise. It is thought this could be to do with the high-level of low frequency it contains. In Why Noise Matters I concluded: “Wherever noise has a stronger than average low-frequency component – such as powerful stereo-systems, wind turbines, heavy lorries, high-speed trains – it seems particularly problematic.”
How does all this play out in the communities under the Heathrow flight paths? Reactions of individuals to aircraft noise could not be more varied. At HACAN we get angry letters from people who live within touching distance of the airport telling us we are talking nonsense since they have no problem with the noise. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people 20 miles from the airport who go to their relatives at weekend to escape the noise. In between, there are a lot of people who feel they can live with the noise (particularly if they were born and brought up under the flight path); and there is the group of people who are annoyed by the noise but not to the extent that it preoccupies them or they grab the first chance to move away when the opportunity presents itself.
What, then, be the impact of a third runway at Heathrow?
A small number of people would be deeply disturbed by the extra planes. Heathrow’s early research suggests it will be a lot less than 10%. I suspect it might be closer to the 10% mark because of the large number of people who would be under a flight path for a first time. What happened when the fourth runway at Frankfurt opened is instructive. The shock to the system of a plane coming over every 90 seconds or so brought thousands on to the streets in protest. These protests still continue well over two years after the runway has been open. I suspect that Heathrow will try to manage the impact of a new runway better than the Frankfurt authorities did but we can still expect a percentage of lives of be wrecked by the noise.
Heathrow’s problem, though, is less the fact that 10% of people or, if their predictions are right, even fewer, will be utterly disturbed by the noise if a third runway is built but more that it will be 10% of such a high overall number: with a new runway in place at least 875,000 people will be under the Heathrow flight paths
10% of 875,000 is 87,000 people. Even 5% is 43,000. That 43,000 figure is just less than 3 times the total number of people who will be living under a flight path at Gatwick if a second runway is built. Or about 4 times the total number current affected by noise at Stansted.
Aircraft noise is not the defining issue in the lives of most people living under the Heathrow flight paths. But it might be the issue that defines whether or not a third runway is ever built at Heathrow.
by John Stewart
It may be a first. Greenpeace hand-in-hand with UKIP. The Arctic rebels and the climate sceptics. But they are together under the banner ‘No Third Runway at Heathrow’.
And they are not the only unlikely bedfellows. The Tories Angie Bray, Adam Afyrie and John Randall sit at the same table as Labour’s Andy Slaughter, Virenda Sharma and John McDonnell. Brentford MP Mary Macleod and her Labour opponent at the next General Election Ruth Cadbury disagree on many things but are united in opposing Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith makes common cause with Seema Malhotra. Cabinet ministers Justine Greening and Lib Dem Vince Cable are on the same side.
Labour local authorities Ealing and Hounslow link up with the Tory boroughs Hillingdon,Richmond and Wandsworth. The Mayor and the London Assembly are at one in their opposition to a third runway.
Those masters of negative campaigning at Back Heathrow will tell us that support for Heathrow is also cross-party. And that is correct. They will also argue that the solutions put forward by many of the opponents are different. That is also correct.
My one real point in this blog is to highlight the breadth of opposition there is to a third runway. So many hurdles, so little time….for any Government to build a third runway.
Last time round the coalition against the third runway was described by Ian Martin in the Telegraph (14/1/09): “The coalition assembled outside Parliament is extraordinarily wide. It runs from eco-warriors to middle-class mothers in West London, hedge fund managers in Richmond, to pensioners and parents in Brentford.”
That coalition was successful: http://www.hacan.org.uk/resources/reports/how.the.heathrow.campaign.was.won.pdf
The situation now has not fundamentally changed from when Labour failed to push through a third runway just a few years ago.
And, oh yes, these eco-warriors have come out of hibernation. Plane Stupid is back. Take a look at their recent action: http://youtu.be/U6HrP0aHFPY
by John Stewart
The Airports Commission could be driving a quiet revolution in the way aircraft noise is measured.
A blog about noise measurements?!
Resist the temptation to stop reading! For this could turn out to be one of the most significant and far-reaching things to emerge from the Commission.
For decades the Department for Transport (DfT) has clung desperately to its favoured way of measuring aircraft noise in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was dreadfully out-of-date with present-day realities. Howard Davies’s no-nonsense approach has found them out and leaves them no place to hide.
The current metric the DfT uses – and the one adopted by Heathrow Airport in making its case for a third runway – to measure noise (or noise annoyance) suggests there is no problem with aircraft noise in places like Fulham, Putney or Ealing. Clearly not reality!
This much-criticised metric, known as LAeq, averages out the noise over a 16 hour day, which is then usually averaged out over a year. Most people accept that does not accurately reflect the way people are disturbed by the noise as it includes the quiet periods of the day and the quiet days of the year. It also gives too much weight to the noise of each individual aircraft (which has fallen over the years) and not enough the number of planes overhead (which has increased dramatically in recent years). Using LAeq, four hours worth of non-stop noise from Boeing 757s at a rate of one every two minutes is said to cause the same annoyance as one extremely loud Concorde followed by 3 hours 58 minutes of relief. Clearly not a reflection of reality! There has also been criticism that the level at which noise annoyance sets in – 57 db LAeq – is unrealistically high.
When the Commission’s shortlisted proposals are appraised over the coming months, the Commission will only expect the 57 db LAeq metric to be used to make historical comparisons. It is ushering a whole new era of noise measurement in its appraisal document https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/airports-commission-appraisal-framework
The Airports Commission use – and require the promoters of the shortlisted schemes to use- the metric required by the European Commission – Lden – where noise is measured over a 12 hour day; a 4 hour evening; and an 8 hour night; with 5 and 10 decibels being added to the evening and night levels respectively to reflect the lower background noise levels at these times. Many argue this gives a more accurate picture of noise annoyance. The Commission will also use a 54 db LAeq metric. Additionally, it will employ a complementary metric – N 70 – which measures the number of aircraft above 70 decibels passing over a property, providing the sort of understandable information local residents appreciate.
And the difference in the numbers of being impacted by the metrics the Commission will be using and that used by the DfT is startling. Using 55 Lden, 725,000 people are impacted by noise from Heathrow; 57 db LAeq puts it at 245,000.
It will be very difficult for the Department for Transport or individual airports to revert to using only the 57 LAeq method of measuring noise annoyance post-Davies. Whatever comes of its runway proposals, the Airports Commission will have set in train a quiet revolution in measuring aircraft noise. Policy in future will be made on the basis of much more accurate noise measurements.
By John Stewart
Is the Airports Commission in danger of being sidelined? That’s the question which keeps running through my mind following the huge conference staged by Runways UK last week. Sir Howard Davies, the Commission’s chairman, gave his usual assured performance. But the star of the show was Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London’s aviation adviser, who laid into the Commission with wit and elegance. He accused Howard Davies of acting like X-Factor judge Simon Cowell when deciding on new runways and said comparison with the TV talent show and its host was apt because – after a series of ‘auditions’ – Davies was also likely to come up with the ‘wrong’ winner.
It is obvious that the Mayor’s office is angry but what be of even more significance in the long run is that they are not alone. It has become clear that the promoters of a number of the schemes which have not been short-listed by Davies for further investigation are challenging the process. If – and it is still just an ‘if’ – these promoters continue to work up their schemes, Davies will become just one of several options the next Government will need to consider.
That possibility should not be ruled out given the discontent there is amongst a number of big players. Matthew Beard in the Evening Standard (13/12/13) reported that a Stansted Airport spokesman said, “This is not, and should not be a two- horse race. Heathrow and Gatwick appear to be attempting to make this the case to suit their own agendas…..we firmly believe all credible options should be taken forward for more detailed assessment during the next phase of the process. We also believe that Stansted is the right place for new capacity.”http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/stansted-expansion-must-not-be-twohorse-race-9003090.html
Last week there were reports that TESTRAD CEO Bridget Rosewell has written wrote to Sir Howard Davies because TESTRAD “remains concerned about the adequacy of the assessment upon which the Commission has based its conclusions for the final shortlist” after its proposal for ‘London Britannia’ in the Thames Estuary was dismissed. Rosewell claimed that some projects were given preferential access to the Commission: “We are also concerned that we were not given the opportunity to meet with the Commission and explain the detail of our proposal – our request for a meeting was refused, although, we understand that the Commission did meet other scheme promoters.”http://www.globalairportcities.com/page.cfm/action=library/libID=1/libEntryID=1226/listID=1
It is too early to say whether these promoters – and others – will continue to press their cases but at least some of them have wealthy backers who could commission research that would challenge the Airports Commission.
It could be that when the grand final of the ‘X-Factor in the Sky’ is staged in 2015 it will no longer just be between Heathrow and Gatwick.
by John Stewart
I’m not a Yorkshireman but, for once, I need to as blunt as a Yorkshireman. The Airports Commission has got it wrong on noise. And, unless it changes tack, its final recommendation will be fatally flawed and forever contested.
The Airports Commission has accepted the industry’s chosen method of measuring aircraft noise. That enabled it to write this dreadful paragraph (6.102) in its Interim Report:
“The number of people affected by noise around Heathrow is higher than at any other European airport, with a population of roughly 240,000 currently living within the 57LAeq. By 2030, this is forecast to fall by roughly 150,000 due to improvements in technology and operations. The impact of the construction and operation of the proposed third runway is estimated to be roughly neutral possibly even offering a further reduction over the expected baseline.”
Yes, by 2030 the planes will be a bit quieter and they will possibly be descending more steeply so flying higher for longer periods, but, with a third runway, there will be another 280,000 of them. Only by using a distorted metric can the Airports Commission write the paragraph it did.
There is one thing above all the metric fails to take on board properly. It does not recognise that it is the sheer number of planes now using Heathrow that causes so much disturbance and brings so many complaints. The fact that the planes have become quieter is welcome but not significant when set aside the fact that aircraft numbers have doubled since the 1980s.
The Commission has underestimated the current levels of noise annoyance because the metric it uses to measure it (called LAeq) gives too little weight to the number of aircraft overhead and too much to the noise of each individual plane when assessing noise disturbance. As a result, it does not reflect the extent of the problem.
One example illustrates just how far off-course the Commission is. Using the current way of measuring noise, four hours worth of non-stop noise from Boeing 757s at a rate of one every two minutes is said to cause the same annoyance as one extremely loud Concorde followed by 3 hours 58 minutes of relief: http://www.hacan.org.uk/resources/reports/hacan.the_quiet_con.pdf Clearly not a reflection of reality!
The Commission’s chairman, Sir Howard Davies, recognized in his speech introducing the Interim Report on 17th December that there are other ways of measuring noise annoyance to the one he is currently using. Let’s hope it is top of his New Year’s wish list to explore these other metrics or his final report will lack validity.
The irrelevance of the current metric, allowing the claim that fewer people are affected by noise from Heathrow than for decades, is contradicted by the reality on the ground. When HACAN started 45 years ago, it had a different name KACAN – Kew Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise. (I know we specialize in dreadful acronyms!). It represented just the West London suburbs of Kew and Richmond. Even when fighting the Terminal 5 Inquiry, HACAN just covered West London and parts of Berkshire. It was only in the mid-1990s that HACAN started to become the regional body it is today. And that was entirely because the number planes using Heathrow had reached a tipping point for so many people across London and the Home Counties. This summer the greatest number of complaints HACAN received was from SE London: http://www.hacan.org.uk/resources/reports/living.under.the.heathrow.flight.path.today.pdf
In my view, the aviation industry is clinging on to its noise metric, LAeq, because, without it, its claims that a 3rd runway could be built with no increase in the noise footprint would unravel.
However, there is another prop the industry in the UK also needs to sustain that claim. It maintains that people only start to get annoyed when aircraft noise, averaged out over a 16 hour day, reaches 57 decibel – what is known as the 57 db LAeq contour. Outside that contour are places like Fulham and Putney. Go tell Justine Greening, the feisty MP for Putney, that aircraft noise is not a problem in her constituency!
In fact, in her submission to the Airports Commission, Greening was scathing about the current contour: ““I believe this strongly shows that taking a traditional 57dB approach to assessing the level of noise annoyance from any new aviation strategy will exclude a large number of people who will be annoyed and affected but live outside of the 57dB noise contours.”
The European Commission also believes that the 57 db LAeq contour is misleading. It requires member states to use a different metric – called 55Len – when drawing up their noise maps. Under this method, noise is averaged out over a 12 hour day; then, separately, over a 4 hour evening and an 8 hour night, with 5 and 10 decibels added to the evening and night periods respectively to reflect the lower background noise levels at these times. This comes up with more realistic results. It extends the noise boundaries to places like Vauxhall and Clapham. But even this method does not cover all the places where people are annoyed as the averaging out includes the quieter periods of the day and the quiet days of the year. If averages were taken only at times the planes were flying, then the contour would stretch into South East London. Now, that’s reality!
It is little wonder the UK aviation industry is so reluctant to use the metric recommended by the European Commission. It would force it to admit that over 700,000 people are impacted by noise from Heathrow; as against ‘only’ 240,000 using its favoured method.
People of my generation will remember the day when that blunt Yorkshireman, Harvey Smith, gave a V-sign to the judges following a near perfect round which won him the British Show Jumping Derby in 1971. Howard Davies, although a Mancunian, needs to take a leaf out of Harvey Smith’s book and do the same to the aviation industry’s chosen method of measuring noise annoyance. Or all his final recommendations will be fatally flawed.
A blog from Frankfurt
Originally put together by ‘Mainz and Rhine-Main: Together against aircraft noise’; abridged by John Stewart
If this blog was a film, it would be x-rated. It contains graphic and compelling descriptions of the suffering of people hit by aircraft noise when the 4th runway opened.
When the fourth runway opened at Frankfurt in 2011, it resulted in massive protests, which still continue with thousands of people occupying the terminal every Monday evening. The flight paths over the city and the surrounding area were re-organised to accommodate the new runway, bringing serious aircraft noise to over 100,000 people for the first time.
In this blog some of the people tell of the way their lives were turned upside down.
Give the noise-affected a voice
This blog aims to give a voice to people like us who are living with continuous noise above our heads, at levels of 80 decibels or more, 18 hours a day from 5am to 11am.
The emails and other comments below give you an idea of what we are suffering:
“A silent Christmas? Time for contemplation? Elsewhere, it is accepted as a matter of course. Not here! Because of the unimaginable noise that has been imposed upon the people by the airport authorities”.
“Imagine it: Sunday, a relaxing mood, the sun is already shining, a day to enjoy peace and quiet – in fact: at 5 o’clock in the morning the first aeroplane startles us out of our sleep – and then it goes on, every the minute, at 80 decibels, without a break. No one can recover from that. The result of a policy made between the aviation authorities and the politicians. A policy imposed on citizens”.
“Over 100 years ago in 1905 the bacteriologist and Nobel laureate Robert Koch prophesized: “The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague.” It has come true today in the case of aircraft noise victims. Greetings from the Frankfurt South: 5.00 am and already overflown”.
“Since 5.00 o’clock the planes have being coming over the south ofFrankfurt, unbearably low…..remember, the airport is planning even more of them”.
“Silent night, holy night, until 5 o’clock when the planes wake you up. They crash and roar over Frankfurt South. Roth, Bouffier, Schulte [German politicians] and other lousy types are still in a deep sleep”.
“There would be a simple means to demonstrate to these people the noise hell we have to endure. Invite one of them home for 3 days home over Christmas. We have to suffer for 3 days 18-hours of continuous sound. At the feast of peace, we have to endure the whole days sitting under the noise. We can not even escape to work or to school. Fuck Christmas! May it pass quickly”.
“We should tell Al-Wazir [the leader of the Greens who had just taken his party in a controversial regional coalition with the Conservative CDU Party] that hedoes not match his Green by his words with his deeds. As long as at planes fly at low altitude from 5.00 clock (like today) over Frankfurt South, the situation remains intolerable. The problems have been there ever since the 4th runway opened in 2011. It is reckless torture. Everywhere is too loud. All of us are systematically denied sleep. Fraport [the airport] has become one of most hated companies in Rhine-Main. It must be smaller!”
“The World Health Organisation warns that annually 1 million healthy years of life lost in the EU by noise. These economic costs should be offset against the supposed profits of aviation. It is high time for a shift in the policy!”
“My generation looked back to 1945 and hoped and believed that totalitarianism had been finally overcome! I was thoroughly wrong!”
“2009: 485, 783 aircraft movements at FrankfurtAirport; 2012: 482, 242 aircraft movements at FrankfurtAirport. Without a single extra flight, the catastrophic fourth runway led to a DOUBLING of the noise and 100,000 people needlessly suffering more noise. TheFrankfurt hub at its current size, with absurd growth ambitions for more transfer passengers, is a crime against the people. Things need to change. There are a huge number of unnecessary short-distance flights toBerlin andDusseldorf when there is an excellent train service. 37.7% of Lufhansa’s flights from the airport are short-distance. This is ecologically unsustainable. Mayday, mayday … we need your help!”
“We need noise limits for continuous noise – but also for individual events. And we need others noise laws to apply to aircraft”.
“Hello from Sachsenhausen, I was as a child taught not to lie, do not cheat, do not steal, etc…. to respect nature and to help our planet live in harmony with nature. And to be tolerant of other people and their cultures! These were the values I have also taught my son. He is now 12 years and has seen the politicians sell out to the airport. 100,000 thousands of people ‘displaced’; our homes brutally destroyed; the environment dirty; and disastrous for the global warming! Our family is sick, our child is not sleeping and I could only cry when every 60 seconds a plane shakes our house”.
6th January 2014
by John Stewart
A third runway at Heathrow will never be built. That is my confident prediction for 2014…..and 2015! It is not simply that I don’t want it to be built. I firmly believe that it is just not politically deliverable.
And it is not just me saying this. Steven Norris, the former Conservative transport minister turned successful businessman, has consistently taken this view. And Willie Walsh, the boss of the International Aviation Group which includes British Airways (BA), told a conference over a year ago that he did not believe a third runway at Heathrow would ever be built and that his company was basing its future plans on that belief by buying slots from other airlines at Heathrow and expanding its operations in Madrid – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/9717087/Willie-Walsh-rules-out-third-runway-at-Heathrow.html. Walsh said it is “my personal belief that a third runway will never be built” and that “we are planning for life without it.”
So far we have heard nothing from the supporters of a 3rd runway on this. We know why they want it but no discussion about how they believe will succeed this time round when they failed just a few short years ago.
There are, though, some real signs that they have learnt lessons from that failure. A decade ago a self-confident industry felt sure it would get its new runway. Today it understands that is far from inevitable. It is the reason why Heathrow Airport is putting so much effort into trying to mitigate noise. It’s probably the reason it changed its name from BAA. And why Back Heathrow has been set up: to test and challenge the claims that most people in the worst affected areas oppose a 3rd runway. The promoters of Heathrow Hub also get it. The whole rationale of their proposal is an attempt to make a new runway more acceptable to the bloc of voters inWest London.
This change of tactic is a recognition they are on the back-foot. It is the opponents of expansion who are now self-confident. We climbed the mountain to achieve victory against all the odds in 2010 – read about it http://www.hacan.org.uk/resources/reports/how.the.heathrow.campaign.was.won.pdf. We believe we can do it again, if we need to.
I suspect that many in business and industry, and some of their supporters in the media, are still deluding themselves that our victory was down to luck, being in the right place at the right time, a one-off fluke. Time will tell.
I feel that our victory was more Andy Murray, who has a great chance of winning further grand-slams after his victory at Wimbledon, than Marion Bartoli, who promptly retired six weeks after taking the women’s title.
Those who took part in the decade-long campaign last time round have not gone away. They have all invested far too much in it to let the victory be overturned. Residents will still battle to save their homes and communities from destruction. Thousands will fight the prospect of a new flight path over their heads. Environmental groups won’t sit back and let an iconic victory against climate change be snatched away from them. Plane Stupid didn’t risk life and limb on the roof of the House of Commons only for Harmondsworth to be concreted over.
And all this is backed up by considerable cross-party political support. Look around the cabinet table: the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Home Secretary Theresa May, the Secretaries of State for the Environment, International Development and Northern Ireland, Ed Davey, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond are all known opponents of a 3rd runway. Political parties as different as UKIP and the Greens are firmly opposed to expansion.
And the tide is turning in Western Europe against expansion. Over the last two years public pressure has forced a third runway at Munich to be dropped and plans for new airports in Siena and Viterbo in Italy to be abandoned. In Frankfurt, thousands of campaigners have occupied the terminal every Monday evening for over two years in protest against the impact of the 4th runway, opened by Angela Merkel in 2011. And last Winter saw pitched battles in the French countryside between police and activists as the authorities tried to clear the land for a new airport outsideNantes.
I don’t know what the country as a whole thinks about a 3rd runway. I suspect it doesn’t really matter in political terms. What matters politically is that any government which proposes a 3rd runway will know it faces considerable opposition and the real possibility of never being able to build it. I hope the supporters of Heathrow expansion are ready with a Plan B.