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Over 90 MPs join all-party coalition

Over 90 MPs join all-party coalition to limit flights at Heathrow

Over 90 MPs have joined the all-party coalition, launched last week (1), calling for a limit on flight numbers at Heathrow (2). MPs who have signed up to the coalition include Government Ministers Tessa Jowell, John Hutton and Elliot Morley as well as Gwyneth Dunwoody, the Chair of the Transport Select Committee. Leading Conservatives John Redwood and Peter Lilley have also signed up. Nearly half the members of the Greater London Authority have joined the coalition (3).

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path, said, “The response has been remarkable. It sends a strong message to the Government that Heathrow is big enough. Members of all parties, including the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Ulster Unionists, have joined the coalition. It demonstrates their concern that further expansion at Heathrow can only come at the expense of their regions”.

Stewart added, “After the local elections on May 2nd, we will be inviting local authorities in London and the Thames Valley to join the coalition. Questionnaires that we have sent out in key boroughs suggest we will get a good response (4)”.

Notes to Editors

  1. The coalition was launched on Tuesday 16th April in Committee Room 10 of the House of Commons.

  2. The coalition is calling for a ban on night flights at Heathrow and the cap on the number of day flights (480,000 per year), recommended by the Terminal Five Inspector Roy Vandermeer and endorsed by Secretary of State Stephen Byers when he gave permission for T5 to go ahead last November, to be adhered to.

  3. Key MPs to sign up include Tessa Jowell (Lab, Dulwich & West Norwood), Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; John Hutton (Lab, Barrow & Furness), Minister of State, Dept of Health; Elliot Morley (Lab, Scunthorpe), Parliamentary Under-secretary, DEFRA; former Conservative cabinet ministers John Redwood (Con, Wokingham) and Peter Lilley (Con, Hichen and Harpenden); Gywneth Dunwoody (Lab, Crewe), Chair, Transport Select Committee; Maclcolm Bruce (Lib Dem, Gordon), DEFRA Shadow Spokesperson.

    MPs who have joined so far from London and the Thames Valley: John Mcdonnell (Lab Hayes and Harlington); Jenny Tonge (Lib Dem, Richmond Park); Michael Trend (Con, Windsor); Joan Ruddock (Lab, Lewisham Deptford); Tony Colman (Lab, Putney); Martin Linton (Lab, Battersea); Vincent Cable (Lib Dem, Twickenham); Tom Brake (Lib Dem, Carshalton & Wallington); Nigel Beard (Lab, Bexleyheath & Crayford); John Randall (Con, Uxbridge); Simon Hughes (Lib Dem, North Southwark and Bermondsey); Tessa Jowell (Lab, Dulwich & West Norwood); Rudolf Vis (Lab, Finchley and Golders Green); Iain Coleman (Lab Hammersmith & Fulham); Edward Davey (Lib Dem, Kingston & Surbiton); Ian Taylor (Esher & Walton); David Lidington (Con, Aylesbury); Bob Marshall-Andrews (Lab Medway); Sue Doughty (Lib Dem, Guildford); Clive Soley (Lab, Ealing Action & Shepherds Bush); John Redwood (Con, Wokingham); Jane Griffiths, (Lab, Reading East); Philip Hammond (Con Runnymede & Weybridge); Harry Cohen (Lab, Leyton & Wanstead); Sir Sydney Chapman (Con, Chipping Barnet)

    GLA members who have joined so far: Sally Hamwee, Lib Dem, Chair GLA; Darren Johnson, Leader of the Green Party; Graham Tope, Lib Dem; Roger Evans (Con, Havering & Redbridge); Richard Barnes (Con, Ealing and Hillingdon) Samantha Heath, Lab; Meg Hillier (Lab, North East); Tony Arbour (Con, South West); Andrew Pelling (Con, Croydon & Sutton); Elizabeth Howlett (Con, Merton & Wandsworth)

  4. HACAN ClearSkies has sent out a questionnaire to all candidates standing in the local elections in the boroughs of Richmond, Hounslow, Ealing and Southwark asking three questions: do you support a ban on night flights? do you support the 480,000 cap on day flights? do you oppose a 3rd runway. Of the questionnaires returned, 95% answered Yes to each question. Return rates: Ealing: 55% of candidates returned the questionnaire; Richmond, 25%; Hounslow, just over 20% and Southwark just under 20%.

For further information contact John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957 385650 (mobile).

HACAN ClearSkies calls for Heathrow health study

Government should commission an independent study into the health effects of Heathrow

HACAN ClearSkies, which represents residents under the flight path to Heathrow, has called on the Government to commission an independent study into the health effects of Heathrow. The call follows three months of inaction since the national pressure group, Transport 2000, published its report highlighting the high levels of cancer around Chicago-Midway airport in America (1).

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, “The Government hasn’t a clue what the cancer risks are like around Heathrow. It has never carried out a study. This is the height of irresponsibility, particularly as it is about to make a decision on Heathrow Terminal Five. In the three months since Transport 2000 published its report highlighting the high levels of cancer around Chicago-Midway Airport, there has been a deafening silence from Government. It should commission an independent study immediately”.

HACAN ClearSkies spokesman Mike Riley, said, “The study co-ordinated by Spelthorne Council into the pollution levels in the four local authority areas nearest the airport showed that, after Central London, Heathrow is the most polluted area in the South East (2). But Spelthorne acknowledge that there needs to be a follow-up study to estimate how much of this pollution comes from aircraft. We need a Government study”.

Mike Riley added, “I am particularly concerned that David Wilshire, the MP for Spelthorne is not doing enough to put pressure on the Government to carry out an independent study. We would expect any decent MP to take it up in Parliament. But it appears Mr Wilshire turns a deaf ear to anything that could get in the way of his strong support for Terminal Five.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Plane Truth: Aviation and the Environment, written by Professor John Whitelegg, was published by Transport 2000, and the Ashden Trust in January of this year. It highlighted research carried out by the US Environment Protection Agency which showed a “heightened incidence” of cancer in the vicinity of the Chicago-Midway Airport. It estimated that emissions from aircraft were responsible for 10.5% of cancers caused by air pollution in the Midway area. Heathrow is substantially larger than Midway; it is used by five times as many passengers and has 50% more landings and take-offs. There have also been studies at Chicago-O’Hare Airport and in Seattle which would appear to confirm the findings at Chicago-Midway Airport.

  2. The in-depth study, co-ordinated by Spelthorne, looked at pollution levels in Spelthorne, Hounslow, Hillingdon and Richmond. It found that, as pollution is cut across most of London (because cars are getting cleaner), Heathrow will remain polluted.

For further information contact:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or Mike Riley on 07775 838756.

Green MEP to address HACAN ClearSkies’ AGM

Green MEP, Champion of Environmental Charges and Tighter Aviation Noise Controls, to address HACAN ClearSkies’ AGM

Dr Caroline Lucas calls for aviation fuel to be taxed

Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for South East England, who successfully steered measures to reduce the environmental impact of air travel through the European Parliament last year (1), will be the guest speaker at the AGM of HACAN Clear Skies, the world’s largest anti-noise group with 25,000 members, on 29th March (2).

Dr Lucas, who is a member of the European Transport & Environment Committee said, “Aviation is one of the most feather-bedded industries in the country — a million miles away from the lean machine image the industry likes to project. We need to end the subsidies it that receives. I am pressing Europe to introduce a kerosene tax. At present, aviation fuel costs just 18p a gallon. It defies logic to give tax breaks to an industry that is so harmful to the environment.”

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, supporting Dr Lucas’s call for a tax on aviation fuel, said, “A million people under flight path to Heathrow are paying an awful price for cheap flights. We live under a sky of sound, with aircraft coming over our homes one every 90 seconds. It is plain daft that it can be cheaper to fly to Rome than take the train to Edinburgh. European government’s must cut the massive subsidies the aviation industry receives.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Caroline Lucas is the rapporteur to the European Parliament Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism Committee for the report on Air Transport and the Environment. In approving her paper on aviation last year, the European Parliament agreed to press for:

    • airports to give preferential flight times to aircraft with higher environmental performance;
    • aviation to be subject to the same 5% greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as other sectors under the Kyoto treaty;
    • a worldwide kerosene tax;
    • an environmental charge to be introduced on flights to and from EU airports;
    • new initiatives to reduce noise from aircraft based on World Health Organisation guidelines, and the designation of “noise sensitive” airports;
    • an urgent study of the economic impact of the present zero rating of VAT on air tickets, kerosene and aircraft purchase;
    • a study into the possibility of awarding environment performance certification marks for the industry.
  2. The HACAN ClearSkies AGM will take place at Sheen Lane Centre, Sheen Lane, East Sheen on Thursday 29th March at 7.30pm.

For more information contact:

John Stewart, 0207 737 6641 or 07957 385650
Caroline Lucas (London) 0207 407 6281; (m) 0802 721 996
Alan Francis Green Party MEPs Press Officer 0776 997 0691

Skies over London busiest in the world

New research shows London way ahead of its rivals

Research by HACAN ClearSkies, the organisation which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path, has revealed that over 100 million people used London’s five airports last year (1). The research showed that no other city in the world came close to matching London’s 112 million passengers (2). Chicago was second with 87 million. Third-placed Tokyo had 83 million. Paris, the other principal European destination, was back in fifth place with just over 73 million. The skies over London and the South East are the busiest in the world.

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “These figures give the lie to the claim that Britain will lose out if Heathrow Terminal Five is not built. London has become the Michael Schumacher of the aviation world – so far ahead of the pack that no other city is in with a serious chance of overtaking it. It is way ahead of its so-called rivals in Europe, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.”

Stewart added, “In our research we deliberately compared like with like. We looked at the passenger numbers at all of London’s airports and compared them with all the airports in other cities. It is quite dishonest compare just Heathrow with other cities.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The figures are these: London Heathrow, 64 million; London Gatwick, 32 million; London Stansted,

    81/2 million; London Luton, 6 million; London City, 11/2 million.

  2. The top 12 world-wide:

    • London 112 million
    • Chicago 87 million
    • Tokyo 83 million
    • Atlanta 80 million
    • Paris 73 million
    • Los Angeles 68 million
    • Dallas 60 million
    • New York 57 million
    • Frankfurt 49 million
    • San Fancisco 41 million
    • Houston 41 million
    • Amsterdam 39 million

For more information contact John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957 385650.

London’s parks blighted by aircraft noise

New report to be launched by Darren Johnson, Mayor’s Environment Adviser

Darren Johnson, the Mayor’s Advisor on the Environment and Leader of the Green Group on the London Assembly, is set to launch a new report which highlights the way many of London’s most famous parks have become blighted by aircraft noise (1). The illustrated report, published by HACAN ClearSkies, which represents residents living under the flight path to Heathrow, will be launched at 11am on Monday 2nd October on Clapham Common (2).

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “Since aircraft started making use of the extended flight paths in recent years, many of London’s best-known parks have become ruined by aircraft noise. From Hounslow Heath in the west to Greenwich in the east, aircraft noise has become a problem. London’s parks used to be oases of peace and quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of life in the Capital. Now many of them have become a plane spotter’s paradise.”

Darren Johnson said, “For far too long the social and environmental costs of increases in air traffic have been ignored. Aircraft noise is a nightmare for many Londoners, not only disturbing people’s sleep patterns in their own homes, but threatening the tranquillity of our open spaces, too. The Mayor must produce an Ambient Noise Strategy which finally gives us a real opportunity to start tackling this problem and I very much welcome HACAN’s report.”

Notes for Editors

  1. London’s Blighted Parks highlights what is happening to 10 of London’s best-known green spaces. There are. of course. many other areas affected by aircraft noise. HACAN ClearSkies used a normal camera to take the pictures, so as to avoid any accusation that planes were superimposed on the photographs. As a result some of the planes appear to be flying high enough not to be disturbing. That, of course, is not the case.

  2. The launch will take place on Clapham Common just after 11am. People will gather outside Clapham Common Underground Station at 11am and then make their way to the Common, just a few minutes walk away.

Many of London’s green spaces are being ruined by aircraft noise. Our report features ten of the most famous — Greenwich Park, Blackheath, Hilly Fields, Dulwich Park, Clapham Common, Battersea Park, Richmond Green, Kew Gardens, Osterley Park and Hounslow Heath.

A letter to Tony Blair

HACAN ClearSkies wrote to the Prime Minister and the press released the letter.

Rt. Hon Tony Blair MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

21st September 2000

Dear Mr. Blair

I am writing to urge you to reverse a trend that is undermining London’s reputation as a world-class city, adversely affecting the lives of its inhabitants, and steadily increasing the risk of a major disaster in the heart of London.

You said recently that direct action was not the way to influence public policy in a parliamentary democracy. I would like to prove you right.

Nearly half a million aircraft now land in Heathrow every year. Almost all of them fly over London. One million people now live under the Heathrow flight path. In July, the number of aircraft over flying London exceeded the figure BAA had forecast for 2013 only five years ago. That means homes as far east as Lewisham and New Cross now have aircraft flying low overhead every 60-90 seconds from 6am to 11.30pm: incredibly, sometimes nearly 1000 planes a day. There is also increasing concern about the pollutants they emit and the effect they may be having on the health of Londoners.

In a global economy where quality of life indexes increasingly make the difference in decisions to locate corporate headquarters, this is bad business. The City’s competitiveness depends crucially on London continuing to attract such investment. In a country where environmental considerations are becoming increasingly important in the way people vote, I believe you will agree that this is also bad politics. But perhaps most importantly, following the recent tragedy outside Paris, none of us — politicians and Londoners alike — can be complacent about the possibility of a major air disaster striking the very heart of London. Unlike Paris, where air traffic controllers divert aircraft away from built up areas, a similar disaster in London could kill literally thousands of people on the ground.

This is not scaremongering. With nearly half a million now flying over London every year and rising, the chance of such an accident is no longer negligible. In 1999 there were 76 near-misses in the UK, the vast majority of them over London and the South East. I hope it will not take such a disaster to reverse this dangerous and unsustainable rise in aircraft over London.

You and your ministers have the power to reverse this trend and make London a safer and better place in which to live. I urge you to consider your responsibilities as you examine the Inspector’s report on the Terminal 5 inquiry, and prepare to publish the Government’s consultation document on aviation policy.

In particular, I urge you to consider the following options; options that would both lessen the number and annoyance of aircraft over flying London without restricting the increasing consumer and business demand for air travel:

Use your power over flight paths to divert aircraft away from built up areas, and to spread them out as much as possible

Develop the principle of burden-sharing between London’s major airports to take the unsustainable pressure off Heathrow (including the improvement of transport infrastructure to speed links in to central London)

Impose noise limits on aircraft landing at Heathrow (noise limits currently only apply to aircraft taking off from the airport)

Work with other countries in the EU and with the US to encourage airlines to switch to larger, quieter aircraft, and so reduce the number of flights

I very much hope you will be able to support us. We will be informing our 25,000 members and affiliated members of your response, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Londoners who feel strongly about this issue.

Yours sincerely,
John Stewart

Reply from the Prime Minister still awaited.

Heathrow Flight Numbers Reach BAA’s Terminal 5 Forecast 13 Years Early

BAA had greatly underestimated the number of planes that would use Heathrow.

Pressure Group, HACAN ClearSkies, presents abacus to BAA top management to help them with their sums

The pressure group, HACAN ClearSkies, which represents residents living under the flight path to Heathrow, presented BAA with an abacus to emphasise the extent to which they got their sums wrong over Terminal 5 (1). BAA have proved to be 13 years out-of-date with their forecasts regarding flight numbers at Heathrow. They told the Terminal 5 Inquiry in 1995 that by 2013, passenger flight numbers would reach 453,000 with Terminal 5 and that they would remain at that level. In fact, they reached that number in July of this year.

John Stewart, Chair HACAN ClearSkies, said, “BAA have been utterly discredited. The Inquiry Inspector, who is currently writing his report, must now look very carefully at all their figures. We have made an application to the Guinness Book of Records for the worst forecasting yet by a FTSE 100 Company. Residents fear that unless a cap is set on the number of flights landing at Heathrow the noise will become even more unbearable and safety problems will inevitably get worse.”

Notes for Editors

  1. A group of members of HACAN ClearSkies presented the Abacus, nicely mounted in marble, to BAA headquarters at 130 Wilton Road, London SW1 on Friday 25th August at 11am.

Follow-up: The press release received major coverage in both the local and national media.

October: HACAN ClearSkies launches an illustrated report on the way London’s parks are being blighted by aircraft noise.