Heathrow rules out 4th runway and gets tougher on night flights in effort to secure a 3rd runway

Heathrow Airport signalled its determination to get a third runway by accepting most of the conditions set out in the Airports Commission’s report last year.

It has agreed to a legally-binding agreement ruling out a fourth runway.  It is proposing to extend the length of time planes are banned during the night by one and a half hours.  And it has said the use of the new runway will be limited if problems with air pollution persist.

Last July the Airports Commission, set up by the Government to look at the future of aviation, recommended a third runway should be built at Heathrow.  But it made clear permission should be dependent on tough conditions being met.  Today in its long-awaited response to the report Heathrow has accepted most of the key conditions in full.

Here are the details:  http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Expansion-News-23/6296

Immediate comment from HACAN:

Heathrow has gone further than most people expected in largely accepting the conditions set out by the Airports Commission.  And, in some cases, it has gone further than the conditions.  It had probably little option but to do so if it was to convince the Government to give the green light to a 3rd runway later this year.   Not to have done so would have counted against it.

HACAN remains opposed to a 3rd runway.  Our supporters to want a tougher night noise regime (we’ve long called for a ban on night flights before 6am) and more respite during the day but they don’t want to wait 10 years for a third runway to be built to get them.

But Heathrow’s decision to move on night flights may have implications even without a third runway.  There has been stalemate on night flights for decades.  HACAN has long campaigned for a ban on flights before 6am.  The airlines have stoutly resisted it and some have called for more night flights.  It is possible  Heathrow’s proposals may prize open a door on night flights that has been firmly closed for 25 years, whether or nor not a third runway is given the green light.


Shock £17bn taxpayer bill for Heathrow expansion

Shock £17bn taxpayer’s bill for Heathrow expansion revealed

Press Release

Embargoed until 25th April

Shock £17bn taxpayer’s bill for Heathrow expansion revealed

(Hits the front page of the Financial Times 24316 billion black hole)

And the FT followed up the story the next day with more detailed figures: Follow up FT article

UK taxpayers could be asked to fork out a staggering £17 billion to cover the costs of transport links needed to deal with a massive traffic surge from Heathrow expansion, according to confidential estimates disclosed today.

Transport for London (TfL) documents released following an investigation by transport and environmental campaigners have revealed a multi-billion-pound gap in the official figures for the costs of road and rail improvements required by a third runway at Heathrow.

According to the agency in charge of the London transport system, the real price tag for boosting surface access to an expanded airport is nearly four times the figure put forward by the government-appointed Airport Commission [1].

The revelation will reignite the longstanding controversy over who will pay for the road and rail works needed to deal with the extra traffic from a new runway. The government has made it clear that it expects aviation expansion promoters to cover any surface access costs, but Heathrow bosses have said they are not willing to pay anything above £1.1 billion [2].

An analysis of the TfL figures released today shows this would leave a shortfall of at least £17 billion. The funding gap is large enough to throw into question both the financing and feasibility of a crucial part of the project [3].

The documents, released to Greenpeace following a Freedom of Information request, contain the first detailed comparison of the contrasting estimates by the Airport Commission and London’s transport agency. They show the figures published in the Commission’s report failed to take into account the costs of key rail schemes, extra buses, additional operational spending and road traffic management.

A third runway at Heathrow is expected to put an extra 30 million passengers on the London transport system every year by 2030, stretching the network’s capacity to breaking point.

In the documents TfL stresses that all transport upgrades included in its cost estimates will be essential to manage the increase in traffic. It also warns that, if surface access issues are not solved, there will be ‘serious implications’ for the government ability to meet its legal obligations on air pollution.

Environmental and transport campaigners from Greenpeace, Campaign for Better Transport and HACAN are calling on the Treasury to come clean over the real costs of expanding Heathrow and guarantee taxpayers won’t be left to pick up the bill.

Back in February, Andrew Tyrie, chair of the influential Commons Treasury select committee, wrote to George Osborne asking for more details about the calculations which led the Airport Commission to come down in favour of a third runway at Heathrow.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “These figures reveal a gaping hole in the financing for Heathrow expansion. The UK public needs to be told the full truth. If the government picks up the tab for the extra costs, this would be a £17 billion taxpayer-funded subsidy in disguise. It makes no sense to waste billions on a project that jeopardises efforts to meet legally binding targets on air pollution and climate change. George Osborne should come clean with UK taxpayers on whether they’ll need to bail out this project before it has taken off.”

Campaign for Better Transport Chief Executive Stephen Joseph said: “Astonishingly, this cost is even greater than the Government’s hugely wasteful national road building programme. Spending this amount of money in London would worsen the North/South divide, whilst bringing little benefit to the capital. What London needs is investments in public transport to help people get around the city, ease congestion and tackle air pollution, rather than squandering limited funds on unnecessary airport expansion. While people elsewhere in England might well ask: What would the Northern Powerhouse be able to deliver with this level of investment?”

 HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “What makes these figures so compelling is that they have not been plucked out of the air. Transport for London has done its sums. All their figures are backed up by detailed, painstaking work. The Government ignores them at its peril when making up its mind about new runways.”

Both sets of estimates include the costs of major road schemes such as putting part of the M25 in a tunnel and widening sections of the M4. But, crucially, the Airport Commission’s estimates overlooked the cost of additional buses, road traffic management, and major rail improvements such as an upgraded Great Western Main Line, a new rail link through Staines, and an extension to Crossrail 2 running from Teddington to Heathrow.

The Government is expected to give the green light to a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick later this year after the EU referendum has taken place.


All documents, including a summary table showing the contrasting estimates by TfL and the Airports Commission, can be found at energydesk.greenpeace.org

Notes for Editors:

  1. According to the TfL documents, the Airport Commission’s estimate for surface access costs adds up to £4.2 billion, but a figure of £5.7 billion has also been widely reported.
  2. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told the Environmental Audit Select Committee at its inquiry last year that Heathrow would only be prepared to pay £1.1 billion towards improved road and rail access.
  3. TfL estimates the overall bill for road and rail improvements to top £18.2bn. Taking out the £1.1 billion Heathrow bosses said they’re willing to pay, that would leave a funding gap of about £17 billion to be plugged.


Stefano Gelmini, Greenpeace UK press office, sgelmini@greenpeace.org, m 07506 512442, t 020 7865 8255

Alice Ridley, Campaign for Better Transport Press Officer, Alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.UK, t 020 7566 6483

John Stewart, HACAN, johnstewart2@btconnect.com, t 020 7737 6641, m 07957385650

Back Heathrow over-claimed support for 3rd runway

Advertising Standards Authority bans Back Heathrow Advert over its claim most local people back Heathrow expansion


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from Back Heathrow claiming that most local people back expansion at the airport. 

The lobby group, which was set up to push for a third runway and which receives funding from Heathrow Airport, was criticised for failing to provide polling data to back up its claim. 

Back Heathrow ran a regional press ad headlined “Rallying for the runway” which included with the line “Don’t believe the hype. Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion.”


The Advertising Standards Authority received five complaints that said the claim that the group had widespread local support was misleading.


Back Heathrow said in a footnote to the ad that the latest independent polling showed 60% of local residents had “expressed an opinion in support of expansion”.  The ASA found that to get to the statement of 60% in support, the Back Heathrow campaign had excluded 15% of those surveyed on the grounds they had not expressed any opinion, creating their own analysis of just for/against.


“Given that a significant number of respondents, who had expressed an opinion albeit a neutral one, had been excluded from the sample, we considered that this was not a suitable methodology by which to draw such a conclusion,” ruled the ASA. “We considered that the evidence held back by Back Heathrow demonstrated that only 50% of all those polled were in support of expansion.”


The ASA said that therefore Back Heathrow did not substantiate its claim that “most” people living in communities near Heathrow airports supported its expansion.  “Consequently, the ad breached the [advertising] code,” the ASA ruled. “We told Back Heathrow not to repeat the claims … unless it held robust substantiation for them.”


John Stewart, chair HACAN, the campaign group which opposes Heathrow expansion, “This ruling is a real blow to Back Heathrow as a cornerstone of its strategy has been to try to convince decision-makers that a majority of local people back a third runway.  These claims are now starting to unravel.”


Forthcoming Events

May 2016:

8th May:  ‘Going Backwards’ March organised by the Campaign against Climate Change on Government policy and CO2 emissions.  Gather under Nelson’s Column, 12.00pm.  Around 1pm march will stop outside Downing Street where aviation section will hold a giant plane in the air and chant, ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’.  Event finishes near Parliament Square at 2pm – see www.campaigncc.org  for details.

17th May:  Trade Unions against a Third Runway.  7.30pm,  St Paul’s Centre, Queen Caroline Street, London W6 9PJ.  St Paul’s Centre is attached to St Paul’s Church and is just a few minutes walk from Hammersmith Underground Station.  Speakers include Manuel Cortes, Gen Sec TSSA and Chris Baugh, Assistant Gen Sec PCS.  Organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group, with assistance from HACAN.  Open to all.

18th May:  Heathrow Community Noise Forum

19th May: Heathrow Noise Forum

26th May:  Public Meeting on 3rd runway organised by Stop Heathrow Expansion, 8pm, St Matthews Church, High St, Yiewsley, UB7 7QH

30th May:Celebrate’ Heathrow’s 70th Birthday

Midday, High St Harmondsworth* – outside the historic Five Bells Pub, UB7 0AQ.

  • 70 ‘No 3rd Runway’ birthday balloons will be released.
  • There will be music, a few speeches, refreshments and a chance to walk part of the route of the proposed new runway.
  • And everybody is encouraged to bring a birthday present for Heathrow which will be kept safe overnight and delivered to them on their official birthday the next day.

Link to leaflet: Heathrow’s 70th Birthday
















Press Release

 14/3/16 for immediate use


 Heathrow may need to fork out nearly £2 billion on insulation of properties if a 3rd runway goes ahead.

Last year Heathrow announced that it was putting aside £700 million to insulate 160,000 homes if the Government gives a new runway the green light.  But research by campaign group HACAN, which opposes a third runway, suggests the figure could be much higher if the insulation is done properly

In consultation with UK Soundproofing Ltd of West Sussex and Tudor Windows of London, HACAN has revealed that the average semi detached house will cost about £11,800 to totally insulate a property against noise. The total coast of full insulation of 160,000 homes would be £1.8 billion.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “Heathrow are offering to insulate many more properties than they do today.  Our supporters welcome this but only if their homes will be fully insulated.  The cost of doing that would run into billions.”

Stewart added, “Admittedly, our estimates are based on costs for an individual home and there would be discounts if an order was placed, but it will still cost substantially more than the £700m originally put forward.”


Local Councils may sue over 3rd runway

Four local authorities – Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and the Windsor and Maidenhead – are threatening to take the Government to court unless it drops plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow.

In a letter to the Government its solicitors cite failings in the Airport Commission’s report over noise and air pollution as reasons for a legal challenge.  They also say that, on the basis of David Cameron’s clear promise in 2009, ‘No ifs; no buts; there will be no 3rd runway’, people in the Heathrow villages had a ‘legitimate expectation’ that they could plan their lives on the basis that no runway would be built.

Any challenge is expected to be made after the Government makes known its decision later this year as it is that decision that will be challenged in the courts.

Press Release

Monday 1st February for immediate use



Campaigners against Heathrow expansion today plastered George Osborne’s constituency with No Third Runway signs.  They put up the signs in the main street of Knutsford in the heart of the constituency, including one outside Conservative Party headquarters in the town.  The campaigners wanted to get across to the Chancellor, thought to back expansion at Heathrow, that a new runway would cost the taxpayer billions of pounds .

Peter Jones, one of the Londoners who went up to Knutsford, said, “We deliberately chose the day after people have had to get their tax returns in so as to emphaisise to George Osborne just how much public money will be needed to pay for the road and rail links for a third runway.”

The Airports Commission, which the Government set up to look at the need for new airports, put the cost at almost £6 billion.  Transport for London has put it even higher.  Heathrow has said it will pay no more than £1.1billion (1).

Jones said, “That leaves the taxpayer to find around £5 billion.”

Campaign group HACAN calculated that everybody in the country would each need to fork out £80 to pay for the road and rail links a third runway would need (2).

HACAN also unearthed evidence that £5bn could buy 83,000new social homes or 835,000 hip replacements (3).

HACAN Chair John Stewart, said, “The billions of pounds of Government money that would be needed for 3rd runway road and rail schemes might even make the Chancellor, George Osborne, think twice about backing it.”


 Notes for Editors:

 (1). Heathrow would pay for the runway itself but not all of the associated road and rail costs.

(2). If the cost is £5 billion and the UK population is 63,182,000 (2011 census), that’s £79 each.

(3). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32309311

HACAN Launches Major Report on Aircraft Noise and Health

Press Release

 8/1/16, embargoed until 6am on 12th January, 2016

New Report: Health of over a million people at risk from aircraft noise

Launch: Tuesday 12th January, 2 – 3pm, Committee Room 19, House of Commons; Hosted by Tania Mathias MP; Key Speakers:Tim Johnson, Director of AEF, Professor Stephen Stansfeld, Professor of Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London

A major new report published today has found that the health of over one million people in the UK is at risk from aircraft noise.   The report, Aircraft Noise and Public Health: The Evidence is Loud and Clear, commissioned by campaign group HACAN and produced by the Aviation Environment Federation, has called on the Government to undertake a complete review of all its polices to ensure that they take full account of the health impacts of aircraft noise.

Here is the report: Aircraft Noise and Public Health the evidence is loud and clear final reportONLINE

And here is the summary: AEF_aircraft noise and health_FINAL3

Key findings:

  • People exposed to high levels of aircraft noise around Heathrow have a 24% higher chance of stroke, 21% higher chance of heart disease, and 14% higher chance of cardiovascular diseases compared to people exposed to low levels of aircraft noise
  • Over 460 schools around Heathrow are exposed to aircraft noise levels that may impair learning and memory
  • In the UK close to 600,000 people are exposed to night-time aircraft noise levels far above WHO recommendations

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “These findings are shocking but not surprising.  Aircraft noise is having a major impact on people’s health.  HACAN is calling on the Government to postpone any decision on new runways until a full health assessment has been carried out on each proposal.  Today HACAN is setting up the Heathrow Health Alliance to monitor progress.”




Campaigners  ‘plant’ 2000 black paper planes outside Parliament

On January 5th, the day Parliament returns, campaigners against a third runway at Heathrow ‘planted’ 2000 black paper planes in Victoria Gardens in Westminster at 10am to highlight the fact that 2016 will be a grim year for residents if a new runway is given the go-ahead.   The campaigners expect around 2000 flights at day will use the airport if it gets a third runway, up from 1350 a day at present.

HACAN black planes

(photo by Phil Weedon)

HACAN was joined by people from groups in Chiswick and Ealing as well as Stop Heathrow Expansion, which represents people in the Heathrow Villages whose homes are under threat, Friends of the Earth and residents west of Heathrow (1).

HACAN Chair John Stewart said, “2016 is likely to be the year when the Government makes a decision about a new runway.  It will be a grim year for Heathrow residents if the Government decides to go for a third runway at Heathrow.  Our New Year’s message to the Prime Minister is we will fight to the bitter end to stop a third runway happening.”

Just before Christmas the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that a decision about a new runway, expected in December, would be deferred for at least another six months.

The Department for Transport is still looking at the options for a third runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Gatwick and the plan put forward by Heathrow Hub to double the length of the existing northern runway at Heathrow.

(1). The organisations represented were HACAN, SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion), CHATR (Chiswick against Third Runway), ENAG (Ealing Noise Action Group), Friends of the Earth as well as residents living west of the airport.