Thanks to years of campaigning plans for a third runway at Heathrow are still in the planning stages yet the government is consulting yet again on a third runway at Heathrow. Take action in 2 minutes to say NO to a third runway at Heathrow before 19th December.

As part of other actions and campaigns against a third runway at Heathrow, it is worth responding to the consultation, reminding the government, yet again, why so many of us are against a third runway at Heathrow.

A third runway at heathrow will:

  • Increase UK carbon emissions at a time when the world is already warming by 1 degree

  • Displace local residents

  • Massively increase air and noise pollution to residents surrounding heathrow airport

    All you need to do is copy and paste the draft response below and email it to runwayconsultation@dft.gsi.

To find out more about how you can oppose a third runway at heathrow have a look at HACAN: A voice for those under Heathrow flightpaths and Plane Stupid

All you need to do is copy and paste the draft response below and email it to runwayconsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk with the title ‘NO to a Third Runway at Heathrow’. Feel free to add your own thoughts too. Consultation is open until 19th December. 

CONSULTATION RESPONSE

This response aims to question some of the overarching ideas of the current policy as well as to address some specific paragraphs.

Passenger forecasts: Only a minority of passengers are travelling on business (even at Heathrow it is only around a third). This means that the most of the growth in passengers is in the leisure market, but only for a select few. A startling 75% percentage of all frequent flights are taken by only 15% of the population. This means that it is principally those who can afford it, the rich who are benefitting from flights, not the majority who continue to fly very little.

Fiscal measures, such as VAT on tickets, a frequent flyer’s levy or higher rates of Air Passenger Duty could dampen down that demand, risking the profitability of an airport expansion when demand falls.

Risk factor 1: There is little doubt that a 3rd runway is the riskier option: even the DfT admits in the consultation document there is a “high-risk” of a three runway Heathrow not being compliant with air quality targets between the year a new runway is expected to open, 2025, and 2029. There is little Heathrow can do about this, the DfT argues, as the risk arises from the uncertainty in the modelling.

Risk factor 2: The DfT admits to carrying out no further work on the costs of surface access. This means the cost of creating sufficient road and rail schemes to serve either a second runway at Gatwick or a third runway at Heathrow remains uncertain. The cost of the road and rail infrastructure that might be required at Heathrow has ranged from just over £3 billion to £18 billion. Heathrow has said it will only contribute £1.1 billion. And who will pay the rest when we live in a time of austerity?

Noise: The DfT acknowledges that all the schemes “have the potential for significant negative noise impacts”. But it believes the impacts will be less than previously thought due to the impact of quieter planes, but where is your proof of this.

At Heathrow it says around 92,700 more people will be affected by noise with a third runway in place compared to a two runway Heathrow Airport in 2030: a total of 653,900. Whilst planes may be getting a little less noisy and operational practices are improving, the DfT underestimates the impact of the increased number of planes, particularly on areas that have not had flights previously. A 3rd runway will mean 700 extra planes a day using Heathrow which will be an extra 700 plane noises.

Jobs: The consultation document states that expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick will bring jobs but acknowledges that some of these jobs may be relocated from elsewhere: “the updated figures further support the view that expansion will create tens of thousands of jobs, and that more jobs are likely to be created by expansion at Heathrow [than Gatwick]…..These jobs are not additional at the national level, as some jobs may have been displaced from other airports or other sectors. The department has not quantified the impact of the shortlisted schemes on national jobs”.

Climate Emissions: A new runway should be ruled out on climate grounds. However the DfT is predicting lower carbon emissions for either Gatwick or Heathrow than the Airports Commission estimated. This is for two reasons. It expects that more passengers will be carried in fewer planes than previously thought because the planes will be bigger and fuller and it expects the planes to be more fuel-efficient than originally estimated. Heathrow would result in an initial increase in emissions but these would be expected to fall by 2050. The DfT concludes that “that any of the schemes could be delivered within the UK’s obligations under the Climate Change Act.”

Bizarrely,as explained above,  this document claims that a third runway at Heathrow will still ensure that the UK government sticks to its targets around climate change and carbon reduction. However, this is based largely on the assumption that aeroplanes will become more efficient and less polluting, other secondary emissions to aeroplanes at airports will reduce, such as vehicle emissions and carbon taxes and other economic measures will have an impact on carbon emissions. It is shocking that this point is based solely on assumptions. From what we have seen since the UK Government has had carbon emission reduction targets is that the UK is not on track to reach it’s targets, event at the current rate without a third runway at Heathrow.

Furthermore, building a third runway and saying this will not impact carbon reductions targets is like saying that turning the water tap on will not result in water flowing into the sink.

Finally: Paragraph 4.32 asks that the Secretary of State ensures that the project is sustainable, but what is environmental sustainable about building a place where even more polluting airplanes can land and take off?

Paragraph 5.36 asks that there should be consultation with local communities and stakeholders about this project and the mitigation plans. Residents have for many years let their voices be known, they say no to a third runway next door.

Paragraph 5.145 talks of the threat of flooding in the UK, both nationally as a result of climate change and also in relation to the local Heathrow area. Whilst it is good to see the flooding impacts of a third runway included, this policy does not recommend to not build the third runway if flooding is more likely, only that sufficient mitigation should be put in place. With climate change, flooding is only likely to become more and more severe, putting mitigation sticking plasters solutions to the problem can only go so far before they tear.

END