Davies Skirts Issues To Recommend New Runway At Heathrow
It was bad enough that Sir Howard Davies recommended Heathrow for a third runway but his Airports Commission Final Report showed that the government wasted two and half years and £20m on an analysis that came up with the old suggestion – tag a bit more onto Heathrow.
When looking at the 50 proposals to compile a shortlist, Davies should have asked himself why, since 1946, all the plans put forward to expand the airport into the villages to the north have failed.
Many residents still living in the villages today, remember Sipson and Harlington being under threat in 1946 and their reprieve in 1950 – the date earmarked for the destruction. Those residents had already survived the air raids of World War II because factories in nearby Hayes were a target for German bombing raids. In 2016 those villages, Sipson in particular, will have seen expansion plans come and go for 70 years and won every battle. Why on earth does Davies thinks the outcome will be any different this time?
This time round we have serious issues like climate change to consider. In the London briefing to around 150 stakeholders on 1st July, Sir Howard Davies said that his committee had looked at airports like Frankfurt and Paris but when climate change was mentioned the people he was consulting looked blank. I asked Davies if, considering that reaction, had he thought that he might have consulted the wrong people?
When member of the audience asked a further question on the subject Davies asked his committee member Professor Dame Julia King (member of the Committee on Climate Change with a background in the aerospace industry) to answer it. Despite her credentials, I am not sure anyone was convinced that you can pour concrete over such a vast area and add 250,000 more flights a year to the skies around Heathrow and still meet climate change targets. Remember her name. Future generations may want to know her role in the destruction of our environment.
Other major impacts include health. The Davies consultation event in Sipson in December 2014 showed how little thought had been given to this. Time was found for a series of business representatives to repeat one another regarding the economic predictions yet not one representative was invited to speak on health. It is therefore no surprise to discover that Davies skirts the issue.
Pro-expansionist think Heathrow is a great location because it already has the infrastructure, or will have at some point in the future. In his Executive Summary Davies compares the two airports that HE has decided are the best options. Gatwick “is heavily reliant on a single road and rail route” so significant incidents “can have severe consequences”. Whereas, he says,”The diverse links serving Heathrow mean that it has greater resilience to major disruption, which is of most concern to passengers.” Tell that to people using the transport network in the Heathrow and West London areas!”
The reality is that wherever you build a runway in the South East, there will be huge costs incurred in creating the infrastructure. Heathrow’s infrastructure is struggling under the pressure of a rapidly increasing London population. Add to that the country’s busiest airport and its desire to increase the number of freight vehicles on our roads and you see daily gridlock looming. Yet on page 165 (8.35) Davies brushes this aside and says that “analysis revealed little impact on overall levels of congestion, but highlighted specific roads, chiefly in the vicinity of Heathrow, which may experience a noticeable increase in goods vehicle movements.”
What planet does Sir Howard Davies live on? It reminds me of a report on Britain’s transport infrastructure in December 2006, during our No Third Runway campaign. That report was put together by Sir Rod Eddington, ex CEO of British Airways who lived in Australia, who could tell us all about using the British road network having flown over it in a helicopter!! Incidentally Sir Rod was keen on airport expansion (surprise, surprise) and also told us that our roads were so clogged that road pricing was “an economic no brainer”. Sir Rod then hopped on a flight back to Oz with a healthy bank account.
Talking of banks, before Sir Howard Davies was allowed to move to his next job selling off RBS, which taxpayers bailed out, he had to re-open the consultation to explore issues around pollution. That 3-week CONsultation was announced and began the day after the General Election. Funny that – providing you are not the one inhaling the particulates and shortening your life.
Box ticked, pollution could then be dismissed. Davies decided that toxic pollution didn’t rule out either Heathrow scheme because there are “mitigating actions” that “could be taken”. (9.84)
Same old rubbish we heard when Heathrow wanted the last runway to be operational in 2015. By now we were told we would have clean air even with flights on Runway 3. Didn’t Davies check what we had been promised in the past before he repeated the same old promises from Heathrow? If Heathrow had the answer to pollution it would have reduced the levels by now to avoid it being a sticking point yet again. Davies chooses to ignore logic and pin his hopes on modelling using dodgy data.
Davies’ haste to join RBS before publishing his final report was thwarted by Teddington Action Group. The group complained that Davies would be influenced by the fact that both Heathrow and Gatwick had financial links with the bank.
Now do you think Davies is so uninformed that he didn’t know his new employer had these aviation links?
If you believe Davies cannot even research his own future employer, ask yourself whether he was the right man to examine airport expansion. If you believe he did research his future and knew of the aviation link but failed to bring it up himself, that raises a whole different issue.