Heathrow report – EGVRA meeting 30 July 2018
Aviation National Policy Statement (NPS) (3rd runway) Parliamentary vote
On 25th June, after a late and much reduced debate, 415 MPs voted in favour and 119 voted against this environmentally-damaging project, a majority of 296, for the Aviation National Policy Statement, which takes Heathrow's plan for a third runway to the next stage in the planning process, namely the Development Consent Order (DCO).
Labour concluded that the NPS failed on all of their 4 conditions that would need to pass before they would support the NPS; these required
(1) noise issues to be addressed,
(2) air quality to be protected,
(3) the UK’s climate change obligations met and
(4) growth across the country supported.
Whereas Labour allowed a free vote in Parliament, with 119 supporting the Government's position, the Conservatives whipped the vote, requiring their members to vote for the NPS, with 8 Tories voting against.
The SNP abstained in the vote, as they correctly stated that there were no legally enforceable guarantees in the NPS for Scotland on connecting flights to Heathrow. In fact the Transport Select Committee (TSC) made 25 recommendations in their 23rd March 2018 report that should have been included before the NPS was presented to Parliament, 24 out of the 25 recommendations ( 1 of the 25 was rejected) that the Transport Select Committee (TSC) made were not in the NPS, thus providing no safeguards or legally enforceable conditions that could be placed on the 3rd runway DCO.
The TSC recommended that the 3rd runway should go ahead but only on the proviso that all their recommendations be included, before bringing the NPS to Parliament. If the TSC recommendations weren't included in the NPS, the TSC had stated that it would be very likely that a Judicial Review would succeed in stopping the 3rd runway.
As legally required the Government had published a written response to each individual TSC recommendation before the debate in Parliament. See Transport for London review
In the debate in Parliament the TSC committee's Chair, Lilian Greenwood, said this makes it more likely the courts will strike down the project. She said Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, “gave the impression that 24 of our 25 recommendations had been accepted”, but said his comments were just “rhetoric”. ... “The reality was that only two or three of our recommendations were actually accepted. ...“I suppose at best you could say that the government said they agreed with the spirit of our recommendations and would ensure those matters were dealt with in the [planning] process.” The committee’s recommendations, if the runway went ahead, included adopting stricter air-quality standards, setting a binding target to prevent more airport-related traffic and defining noise-pollution limits.
A subsequent interview with TSC chair revealed that the Government had taken 2 or 3 of the recommendations on board and ignored the rest. The problem with the rhetoric that the SoS gave in Parliament on 25th June is that Parliament cannot now challenge the NPS on the TSC recommendations as they are not in the NPS. And the Government are under no obligation to ensure those TSC recommendations are applied in the DCO.
Due to the lack of due diligence by MPs and the false promises and misinformation fielded by Heathrow and Government, as stated earlier the vote went in favour of Heathrow's 3rd runway to proceed to the next stage.
However, it is by no means a done deal as six separate legal challenges have been lodged, which will at a minimum delay and as stated by the TSC could halt the project altogther.
EGAG Question/proposal for the adoption by RBC Council 19th July
An EGAG member proposed that the Council publicly support the Judicial Review that 5 Boroughs have submitted to the High Court, challenging the NPS and made the following statement for the council:
“We appreciate that Runnymede Borough Council continues to support a strong and vibrant Heathrow airport but not an expanded one, with its consequent negative implications on environmental pollution. However on the basis that Parliament has now endorsed expansion at Heathrow, it is essential that enforceable noise and air pollution commitments be made to protect overflown residents. We would also ask the council to ensure that there are no added cost burdens on National government or this Council resulting from disruption of infrastructure changes particularly on roads.
Our question is on this basis: will RBC support the cross party judicial review that Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham and Richmond and Hillingdon are seeking to ensure that air and noise pollution is not increased from current levels?”
The leader of the Council, Nick Prescott (an Englefield Green Councillor) read out a prepared statement declining to support the motion.
“The Council acknowledges Parliament’s decision to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow. This was not policy decision this Council supported. Whilst this Council wishes that the Government would reconsider this decision, this seems unlikely and Heathrow Airport Limited are to proceed with their application for a Development Consent Order. We will continue to lobby for the interests of the communities of Runnymede in order to maximise benefits and help mitigate against negative environmental implications through the appropriate groups, consultations, and planning processes. This will include:
The Council is also in the process of compiling a list of requests which it believes will be for the greater good of the community and these will be presented to Heathrow Airport Limited.
As just stated, like other local authorities we wish to be assured that air and noise pollution will not increase from current levels, but we will not be partaking in judicial review activities which can only challenge the process rather than the outcome.
We will seek to maintain a dialogue with all interested parties on this important matter.”
Although a number of Englefield Green Councillors were supportive and wanted to debate the proposal, council protocol would not permit them to do so.
Subsequent advice was offered by the RBC CEO Paul Turrell and further representation was proposed for the next Council meeting to be held on 30th July.
Philip Hammond meeting 20th July 15:30 – 16:30
EGAG along with Cllr Peter Taylor met with Philip Hammond (PH) to discuss the following:
Topics to cover:
3) PH was informed that 24 of the 25 TSC recommendations were not included in the NPS.
As PH had advised the packed EGAG organised public meeting on 31st March 2017 at the Jurgen Centre, to accept the decision of the 3rd runway, but to ensure that the “Robust Safeguards” as outlined in the “Independent Airports Commission” Final Report are included in the NPS, EGAG was naturally extremely concerned, in spite of all the community and other interested parties opposed to expansion of Heathrow and our Herculean efforts in responding to all the NPS consultations, none of the “Robust Safeguards” have been included in the NPS. The industry have got everything they were asking for and given nothing (apart from noise and pollution) in return.
PH stated that his information is that the TSC report had been 'acted on'.
EGAG asked for a definition of what ‘acted on’ meant.
PH took ‘acted on’ to mean that had been accepted in some sense and will implement.
EGAG again asserted that none of the safeguards that could legally hold Heathrow to account have been included from the TSC report into the NPS.
PH asked for example of one of the TSC recommendations.
EGAG quoted a number of the TSC recommendations, none of which are accepted in the Government’s response to the TSC
PH agreed that it seemed unlikely (that Grayling had accepted the TSC recommendations) given the ones that we had highlighted.
Action PH will check with Grayling where we are with the TSC report in terms of acceptance and how the TSC report, more importantly Grayling’s response to it, links in with how that will be giving effect to what the process of getting from the NPS to the Development Consent Order.
5) PBN Concentration vs Dispersion and the Government’s View
PH stated that he didn’t think the Government had a view, but his own view is it should be based on minimising impact on the ground. In some places that could mean concentration; if you've got an ultra sparsely populated corridor, then he thought it would make sense to concentrate but where you're flying over populated areas, dispersion seemed like a fair and more sensible option. But he didn’t there is a blanket answer.
Heathrow Draft Airspace Design Principles:
EGAG asked about Heathrow’s Draft Airspace Design Principles.
PH thought that it would the CAA that created the Airspace Design Prinicples and was surprised that it was in fact Heathrow, the airspace change sponsor, would be doing this as per the CAA’s CAP 1616 Airspace Design Process.
EGAG pointed out that Heathrow’s first draft presented to us at the Heathrow Community Noise Forum (HCNF) working group, that we were told to review in 10 minutes and approve – this created an angry communities reaction and a subsequent letter to the CAA and the Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg highlighting the flawed nature of its proposal – it had completely ignored the consultation responses (1980 responses out of 2 million sent out) that the majority who responded believed that the noise should be shared out equitably. It also resulted in Heathrow extending the consultation period. One of Heathrow’s Design Principles proposed that to minimise the number of people newly affected by aircraft noise, which means the 260,000 new flights would be pushed over the people already experiencing aircraft noise, in a concentrated manner.
PH agreed to take away the issue of Heathrow’s Airspace Design.
PH asked what the position was in relation to the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN). EGAG didn’t know where this had got to, but were of the view that it had been mooted to be formed around this time or early autumn.
PH felt that ICCAN may well be the best chance of having the noise issues dealt with and would find out more about its formation and get back to us.
EGAG Question to RBC Council 30th July
“What quantitative measures are in place to achieve the objectives postulated by the leader of the council at the Council meeting of 19th July in regard to protecting Runnymede from environmental, air and noise pollution arising from an expanded Heathrow?”
EGAG reiterated that they were not asking the Council for a financial contribution but an expression of support for the cross party judicial review that Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Hillingdon and Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead were seeking to ensure that air and noise pollution did not increase from current levels..
EGAG also expressed concern that the Council’s Heathrow Expansion Member Working Group had not met regularly and he doubted whether the objectives stated by the Leader of the Council on 19 July in regard to protecting Runnymede from environmental, air and noise pollution arising from an expanded Heathrow would be achieved.
In conclusion EGAG urged the Council to act now to defend the interests of residents and protect communities. EGAG would support the Council on this highly important issue.
In response, the Leader of the Council explained the arrangements for dealing with questions and statements from members of the public under the Constitution .
The Leader then stated that the cross party Heathrow Expansion Member Working Group had met as appropriate when business needed to be transacted. He confirmed that Members were actively involved in defending the interests of residents and that there had been a number of discussionswith other organisations and the constituency MP. The Council had also responded to every Consultation Paper issued.
The Council was committed to lobbying for the interests of Runnymede in order to maximise benefits and help mitigate against negative environmental implications through appropriate groups, consultations and planning processes.
The Council would not participate in supporting the judicial review which could only challenge the process rather than the outcome.
A debate on the issue was not permitted as it did not fit in with Council constitution, it was said.
This prompted an elected Councillor, formerly leader of the Council, to suggest to the Chair that due to the importance of the subject that he believed the constitution should be changed.
This further prompted a ‘hear, hear’ from a member of the packed public gallery, for which the whole public gallery erupted in supportive applause.
As before on the 19th July, the council will not support the Judicial Review led by the 5 Boroughs.