Category Archives: Information Library

New freedom to fly campaign an ‘industry front’…

Residents would prefer the ‘freedom to sleep’

HACAN ClearSkies, representing residents under the Heathrow flight path, has branded the Freedom to Fly lobby group, to be launched on Monday (1), as nothing more than front organisation to enable the industry to campaign for a big expansion of aviation regardless of the social and environmental consequences.. The new group, which is to be headed-up by John Prescott’s former right-hand man Joe Irvin (2), is expected to argue that if aviation is not allowed to expand people on lower incomes will not have the freedom to fly open to others. (3). It is also expected to reveal survey figures to show that most people want to fly more often (4).

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “If all Freedom to Fly tells us at its launch is that most people like flying and want more airports, the whole thing will be a damp squib. To tell us that people like cheap flights is no new dramatic revelation. What this new lobby group fails to address is the effect that an expansion of aviation will have on the people living under the flight paths to airports and the damage aviation is doing to our wider environment. Our members are more concerned about the freedom to sleep than the freedom to fly”.

Stewart added, “The Freedom to Fly campaign is the response of an industry under pressure to clean up its act. In recent years it has been heavily criticised by residents’ groups and environmental organisations concerned about noise and pollution. Freedom to Fly claims it is interested in campaigning for the continued right of ordinary people to fly around the world at low prices. But that is simply a smokescreen to allow the industry to carry on expanding. Freedom to Fly is a propaganda organisation for the aviation industry masquerading behind a concern for the rights of ordinary citizens. It has very little to do with equity. The appointment of Joe Irvin to front the organisation once again raises questions about the close relationship between the Labour Government and the aviation industry.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Freedom to Fly is to be launched on Monday 14th January at 8.00 for 8.30am at the offices of the CBI at Centrepoint, Charing Cross Rd.. Its backers include BAA, BA, Virgin Atlantic, the Confederation of British Industry, The Transport and General Workers Union and the British Tourist Authority.

  2. Joe Irvin was John Prescott’s political adviser for several years until he stood down last Summer. Previously, he was head of research at the Transport and General Workers Union.

  3. The Freedom to Fly campaign is expected to argue that if residents and environmental groups get their way, people on low-incomes will be denied the freedom to fly open to their better-off counterparts.

    The equity implications of more expensive air travel are often raised. HACAN ClearSkies counter-arguments would be:

    • The poorest in society would not be losers from a clampdown on aviation. Frequent air travel is not an option for the least well off, and probably never will be. They are more concerned with finding the money to pay the local bus fare than thumbing through the brochures of Ryanair or Easy Jet.

    • Leisure travel by air is so cheap at present that it would need to go up enormously before people would need to cut flying out altogether.

    • Any equity ‘losses’ need to be balanced against the equity ‘gains’ that would result from more expensive air travel: the improved quality of life for some of the very poorest in the UK living under aircraft flight paths.

    • Curbing air travel would have environmental gains for poor people in developing countries as it is often those countries that are the big losers from global warming, to which aviation is becoming a major contributor

    • The backers of the new group promise “dramatic new polling results on the public’s attitude to flying and airport development.”

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

3rd Runway Home Demolitions

Pressure group accuses government of burying the true number of homes that might be demolished to make way for 3rd runway at Heathrow

A pressure group has accused the Government of burying the true number of homes that might need to be demolished to make way for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. HACAN ClearSkies, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path, has unearthed evidence which suggests the number could be much higher than the 260 the Government has talked about. The Government might need to evict 35,000 people from their homes if an expanded Heathrow is to keep within the air pollution standards set down by the European Union.

The consultation document looking at options for airport expansion in the South East, published last week (1), admits that, if a 3rd runway were built, 35,000 people in the Heathrow area could, by 2015, be exposed to levels of nitrogen oxide above that permitted by the European Union (2).

In the consultation document the Government admits that, if it decided to go ahead with the 3rd runway, the only way it might be able to stay within EU limits would be to buy the properties of the people who would be exposed to unlawful levels of nitrogen oxide. The consultation document says the Government might “undertake fully to fund the purchase (and, if necessary, demolition) of properties which would otherwise be made subject to exceedences, and to properly compensate the owners (3).”

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, “Jo Moore would be proud of the way the Government has buried this information. It is tucked away in 3 lines in the consultation document well away from the section on land and property. The Government needs to come clean. Just how many houses could go and where will there be. Many of the homes to go could be well away from the site of the new runway”

John Mcdonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said, “Nobody believes that only 260 homes will go. If a runway is built many more homes will become unliveable because of the noise and the pollution. I will be pushing for a clear statement on exactly how many homes will be lost.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Regional Air Studies, laying out options for airport expansion across the country, were published by the Department for Transport on Tuesday 23rd July. They are being put out for 4 months consultation. The results will be fed into the Aviation White Paper, due out in Spring 2003. SERAS (the South East Regional Air Study) outlined options for London and the South East. The options included the building of a 3rd “shorter” runway at Heathrow.

  2. Government can be subject to hefty fines by the European Court of Justice when pollution levels are exceeded. If it is drawn to the attention of the European Commission that a member state is breaching the pollution limits, the EC is obliged to ask the member state to comply. If it refuses, the EC is required to take the member state to the European Court of Justice. If the Court finds the member state guilty, it imposes fines backdated to when the breach occurred and the fines are added to on a daily basis until the member state complies. This why the Government states in the section on Air Quality (p56): “Another runway at Heathrow could not be considered that levels of all relevant pollutants could be consistently contained within EU limits”. The one way the Government could get round the EU air quality limits would to remove the people exposed to the limits by compulsorily purchasing and knocking down their homes. This emerges on p120 of the document: “undertake fully to fund the purchase (and, if necessary, demolition) of properties which would otherwise be made subject to exceedences, and to properly compensate the owners”

  3. The other key quotes in the consultation document:

    In the section dealing with Land and Property (page 53): “around 260 homes would need to be physically taken”.

    In the section on Air Quality (page 55): “our modelling predicts there will be significant numbers of people exposed [to nitrogen oxide] in 2015 if a third runway is built”, but admits that number could fall to 5,000 if there were significant improvements in aircraft technology. The documemt makes no attempt to assess how likely these improvements are. But most experts agree that the industry has still to develop the technology to significantly cut levels of nitrogen oxide.

For further information contact John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650 (mobile); or Brian Sobey (of the local residents association in Harmondsworth) 0208 759 1677.

Government should come clean on its intentions

Heathrow Residents’ Group Calls on the Government to Come Clean on its Plans for the Airport

HACAN ClearSkies, the organisation which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path, has called on the Government to come clean on its plans for the airport. Reports in the weekend press (1) suggest that one of the options in the forthcoming Regional Air Studies (2), to be released shortly by the Government, will be a 3rd runway at Heathrow. But the residents’ group points out that only last November Stephen Byers, when giving the go-ahead to Terminal Five, agreed to a limit of 480,000 flights a year at Heathrow (3).

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “The Government is either mixed up and muddled or dreadfully devious. Less than a year after recommending a cap on flight numbers at Heathrow, it is touting the possibility of a 3rd runway that would destroy the cap at a stroke. Local people are angry and cynical. They feel they cannot believe a word the Government says.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Sunday Times (7/7/02) carried a story which detailed the options for airport expansion that the Government is expected to unveil later this month.

  2. The Regional Air Studies, which the Government has been drawing up over the last 2/3 years, are expected to be published, for 4 months consultation, on 22nd or 23rd July. The most controversial study is expected to be the one covering London and the South East — the SERAS Study. A third runway at Heathrow is expected to be amongst the options it will outline.

  3. When he gave the go-ahead for Terminal Five in November 2001, Stephen Byers agreed with the recommendation of Roy Vandermeer, the T5 Public Inquiry Inspector, that the number of flights at Heathrow should not exceed 480,000 per year by the time the Terminal opens (2007). Last year the number of flights was 460,000. A 3rd runway — even if it were not a full-scale runway — would guarantee that the 480,000 cap could not be adhered to. In April 2002, an all-party coalition was launched, supported by over 90 MPs, calling for the cap to remain.

HACAN ClearSkies condemns government decision to appeal…

‘a kick in the teeth for residents under the flight path’

HACAN ClearSkies, representing residents under the Heathrow flight path, condemned the Government’s decision to appeal against the recommendation from the European Court of Human Rights to ban night flights at Heathrow (1) as ‘a kick in the teeth for residents under the flight path’. HACAN ClearSkies pointed to the irony that the announcement was made just hours before the Government released its National Noise Strategy for consultation (2).

The residents group accused two government departments of putting out conflicting messages on the same day: DEFRA (the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is issuing the Noise Strategy while Stephen Byer’s DTLR (Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions) is appealing against a major European ruling.

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “This decision is a huge disappointment for residents under the Heathrow flight path. To say that it is against the spirit of Christmas is a massive understatement. It is hugely ironic that the announcement was made only hours before the Government published its National Noise Strategy aimed at cutting noise from aircraft, traffic and industrial premises. It raises the question of whether the Strategy is a serious attempt to cut noise or merely a flight of fancy.”

Notes to Editors

  1. On October 2nd th European Court of Human Rights overwhelmingly backed the Heathrow residents in the case they brought against the British Government over the 16 night flights into Heathrow. The Court found that a decent night’s sleep was a human right. It also found that the Government had failed to come up, as required by the court, with any economic justification for taking away that human right. The Court had asked the Government to come up with evidence to show that the night flights into Heathrow were of such importance to the British economy that they justifies depriving people of a good night’s sleep.

  2. Environment Minister launches the 3 month consultation on the Government’s Ambient Noise Strategy today. It covers noise from traffic, aircraft and some industrial sources. It will require local authorities to draw up noise maps for their areas and then to produce action plans to show how they will deal with the noisiest areas.

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

Public inquiry inspector’s tough conditions…

Public inquiry inspector’s tough conditions may mean Terminal 5 will never be built

Serious strings attached to Inspector’s recommendation to give the go-ahead according to new information obtained by HACAN ClearSkies

HACAN ClearSkies, the organisation which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path, has obtained information which may mean Terminal Five will never be built. A senior Government source told the pressure group that the Inspector’s report into the long-running Public Inquiry will recommend that Terminal Five be given the go-ahead, but only on condition that BAA sticks to the terms it set out in its evidence to the Inquiry.

The fact that the Inspector, Roy Vandermeer, has put a cap on the number of flights that could use Heathrow if Terminal Five is built could mean that BAA may be forced to drop its plans to build the £2 billion Terminal. HACAN ClearSkies has been told that the Inspector has recommended the number of flights should not exceed 453,000 — the figure that BAA told the Inquiry would be reached by 2013 with T.5 in place. The problem for BAA lies in the fact that the figure was reached in July of last year.

‘Hoisted by their own petard’

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “BAA has been hoist by their own petard. They have been found out. At the Public Inquiry they tried to play down the number of flights that Terminal Five would bring to give the impression that its environmental impact would not be significant. They have no one but themselves to blame if the Inspector took them at their word.”

Stewart added, “It is now all down to the Government. If it decides to give the go-ahead to Terminal Five, it should also impose the tough conditions the Inspector has recommended. Otherwise, it will have made a mockery of the public inquiry process — after all the T5 Public Inquiry, lasting from 1995-99, was the longest in British history.”

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

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.