Consultation with Justine Greening of 2M Group at Portcullis House – 18.12.2007
Follow-up questions from J. Greening MP with responses by TRA:
Following on from our discussions regarding your original proposals in relation to the Thames Reach Airport, as you are aware we have set 4 key tests for the Heathrow expansion proposals.
As articulated by our Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers, the tests and supporting issues are:
Q1. Can expansion go ahead in a way which still allows us to meet our targets on climate change and cutting CO2 emissions?
Flight numbers in an expanded Heathrow (a new 3rd runway coupled with the end of “alternation” on the 2 existing runways) could see flight numbers increase to over 790,000 (over 68% more than current levels). The government will have some tough questions to answer on how they reconcile this with meeting their targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This question relates to the Southeast airport system as a whole, since growth would occur, if not in Heathrow, at any other SE airport: Mainly higher taxation and alternative transport, notably rail, can control the growth in CO2 emissions. Operational efficiencies can also reduce air pollution. On the ground, reduction of taxiing aircrafts and most important reducing surface access by car to the airport can improve the local air quality.
Thames Reach Airport is designed to reduce CO2 emissions with the following measures: 24 hour over-sea landing to avoid any holding of the approaching aircraft, shortest possible taxi routes to the gate. AirRail substitution for short haul flights. Zero carbon airport facilities. High level use of high-speed rail surface access with in-train check-in facilities, integrated with Crossrail, national rail, and CTRL. The Lower Thames tunnel further reduces travel distances for local and national car traffic in the Thames gateway area and produces a vital new rail freight link east of London.
Q2: Can expansion go ahead in a way which is consistent with meeting EU requirements on NO2 emissions?
Heathrow’s proximity to the M25 and some of the busiest roads in Europe means that there is a serious pollution problem from NO2 (or “Nox”). EU limits on Nox pollution will come into force from 2010. Meeting these in an expanded Heathrow will require a significant shift on public transport access to the airport to reduce emissions from surface transport.
We understand this will be at a very high cost. Heathrow is simply in a too populated area and close to UK busiest motorways with prevailing wind pushing the highly polluted air into West London.
Q3: Is expansion consistent with no increase in the overall noise footprint of the airport and a progressive reduction of that footprint in the medium term?
The government must take into account the impact of expansion on the quality of life of residents of west London and around the airport.
The noise footprint is a theoretical area, and will be perceived by the local residents very differently.
The “noise footprint” disguises the frequency of flights, i.e. it is not a continues background noise like a motorway. As the share of “old” and “noisier” aircrafts is assumed to be decreasing, so is the absolute number of flights sharply increasing – in frequency, location and longer hours.
Also, past history shows, an airport will try in the future to incrementally expand the footprint to maximise the use of the added infrastructure.
Q4: Is it possible to meet increased demand with more efficient use of existing capacity or providing better transport alternatives such a high speed rail?
The Hacan campaign group believe that 100,000 Heathrow flights every year are to destinations with a viable rail alternative. The government should consider whether the capacity needed at Heathrow could be freed up by providing better, faster and more efficient rail alternatives to a range of short haul flights.
For example, larger aircrafts and higher load factors can provide for some increase in capacity, but Heathrow has already maximised these capacity improvements, notably surface access.
Generally the rail network should be improved. However this requires a high degree of integrated planning on regional, national and international level with a closest possible integration with airports for fast and direct interchange – see Frankfurt/Main airport and our Thames Reach airport proposal.