Heathrow Expansion: Brent Council's idea of stakeholder consultation

In November 2016 Brent FoE contacted Councillor Butt, Leader of the Council to voice our concerns over the Council's support of the Heathrow Airport expansion. See below for a copy of this letter and further correspondence. The response was vague and paid little more than lip service to our concerns. Today, some 10 months after our first letter was sent, we are yet to be shown any evidence to support the council's assertions and have been provided with no further detail of what the proposed robust mitigation measures to minimise the environmental impact of the expansion might look like... 
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11th November 2016
 
Dear Councillor Butt,
 
We are aware that Brent Council’s policy for the last year or so has been to support the building of a third runway at Heathrow. We are writing to ask that you reconsider this stance.
 
We believe that it would make a lot more sense for Brent Council to do all it can to oppose the proposed expansion of Heathrow. We believe that it is vital to oppose this development, for the following reasons:
 
1)    Crucially, the expansion of Heathrow will put the UK in breach of its international commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions, including the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 and signed by the British Government earlier this year. It is clear that Heathrow expansion will further accelerate climate change[i].
2)    The expansion of Heathrow will increase aircraft noise in the area, which has proven deleterious  effects on health[ii].
3)    Heathrow expansion will add to NO2 air pollution, which is a major problem in London, which breached its annual limits on air pollution in the first week of 2016[iii]. The recent ruling in the High Court concerning the case brought by ClientEarth means that the Government is already in breach of the law on air pollution, and must comply as soon as possible[iv]. The increase in road traffic as well as  flights from Heathrow will make this impossible. Brent already faces high levels of pollution from the North Circular Road, one of the most polluted roads in London, and this development can only exacerbate this problem. Air pollution is a major danger to public health[v].
4)    The UK business case for this expansion of facilities at the airport is highly disputed. Independent  analysis shows that the economic benefit to the UK over a period of 60 years is less than the cost of a  cup of coffee for each airport passenger[vi].
5)    The case for expansion in terms of local employment or regeneration is similarly unclear. The Airports Commission itself states that any new jobs created are likely to be specialised jobs, with employees coming from other areas of the UK[vii], putting more strain on housing provision[viii]. In its analysis of the impact on London Boroughs, Brent is not considered, as it is not one of the 5 boroughs  that presently employ half of Heathrow’s staff.
 
For all of these reasons, we call on Brent Council to oppose this expansion, in line with the policy of the  London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and in accordance with the policy currently being pursued by the Labour Party in the Richmond Park by-election.
 
Yours sincerely,
Ian Saville and Pam Laurance
Joint Coordinators, Brent Friends of the Earth
 

Notes:
[i]See ‘Heathrow expansion and climate change’, Briefing paper by West London Friends of the Earth.
[ii]‘Aircraft noise and public health; the evidence is loud and clear’, Report by Aviation Environment Federation, January 2016.
[iii]‘London takes just one week to breach annual air pollution limits’ The Guardian, January 8th 2016.
[iv]http://www.clientearth.org/major-victory-health-uk-high-court-government-inaction-air-pollution/
[v]See Aviation Environment Federation analysis: http://www.aef.org.uk/issues/air-pollution/
[vi]‘Howard Davies on aviation and climate change’ https://www.gov.uk/government/news/airports-commission-releases-final-report, p. 147, and commentary by West London Friends of the Earth.
[vii]  Airports Commission: ‘Economy: Wider Economic Impacts Assessment’ (July 2015), https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/airports-commission-final-rep... - 3rd document. Para 3.19, page 16
[viii]Airports Commission: ‘Heathrow Airport North West Runway: Business Case and Sustainability Assessment’ (Nov 2014).  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil... .  Para 1.56, page 25.
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From: Brent FoE <info@brentfoe.com>
Sent: 11 July 2017 11:45
To: Butt, Councillor Muhammed
Subject: Heathrow expansion
 
Dear Muhammed Butt,
 
I have attached a letter that Brent Friends of the Earth sent you last November, regarding the Council's support for the plans for Heathrow expansion. As far as we are aware, we received no reply to this. Perhaps, with other matters pressing, the issue was overlooked.
 
It would be good if the Council could revisit this question, as particularly on the question of air pollution, evidence is mounting that this development would not be in the best interests of Brent residents. Indeed, at the "Clean Air for Brent" meeting at the Civic Hall on Thursday 6th July, Cllr Eleanor Southwood expressed some concern that this would lead to more traffic and higher levels of pollution in the borough.
 
We would therefore appreciate your response to our proposal that Brent should oppose the development of a third runway at Heathrow.
 
With best wishes,
 
Ian Saville and Pam Laurance,
Coordinators, Brent Friends of the Earth
 
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From: Dave, Amar
Date: 28 July 2017 at 12:37
To: Brent FOE <info@brentfoe.com>

Dear Mr Saville and Ms Laurance,
 
Thank you for your email to the Leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, and for drawing our attention to your letter of last year regarding the Heathrow Airport third runway. As Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment at Brent, the Leader has asked me to respond on his behalf.
 
The council supports the Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway as the preferred option to deliver the additional airport capacity needed to sustain an international airport hub.
 
The council takes the view that the expansion proposals will drive significant economic growth, providing jobs for residents in West London, including Brent residents, by attracting more business investment and tourism. Park Royal industrial estate, in particular, should benefit from the dual development of the Old Oak Common and Heathrow site, through both business-to-business links and improved international access.
 
The council acknowledges that the expansion will have an element of environmental impact. We therefore believe, it is absolutely critical that those affected are consulted in a fair and transparent manner, in order that those impacts are fully explained and that proposed mitigation measures are appropriately robust.
 
It appears that greater focus is being put on air travel environmental impacts, and an equivalent focus should be placed on air quality. The proposed airport surface access strategy must make every effort to maximise the number of passengers and staff trips to and from the airport made by sustainable modes of transport. It should also encourage the use of cleaner and greener modes of transport, including for freight movements and during the proposed construction period. 
 
Responding to the recent Government consultation on the Draft Airports National Policy Statement, the council has pointed to an assumed heavy reliance on existing radial rail and Underground schemes coming forward independently of the Heathrow expansion proposals (including improvements to the Piccadilly Line, the new Elizabeth Line and HS2). Consideration must be given to new and additional transport and infrastructure schemes, orbital public transport routes, and increased use of zero and low emission vehicles, to ensure competitive and sustainable modes of transport to the private car exist for those many visitors to Heathrow not travelling to and from central London.
 
The council will continue to work with relevant stakeholders on these matters. We invite Brent Friends of the Earth to encourage greater scrutiny of the surface access environmental impacts associated with the Northwest Runway, in order that appropriate and robust mitigation measures are put in place to minimise detrimental effects on air quality, noise and carbon emissions.
 
This note should help to clarify the council’s position on this matter. If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Amar Dave
Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment
Brent Council
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From: Brent FoE <info@brentfoe.com>
Date: 3 August 2017 at 18:53
To: "Dave, Amar" 
 
Dear Mr Dave,
 
Thanks very much for your email dated 28th July.
 
We are disappointed that you make a number of assertions in your email, but offer little evidence to support these, and you do not address the points we made in our letter.
 
You say that Brent Council takes the view that the development at Heathrow will drive significant economic growth, and provide jobs for Brent residents. However, as we say in our original letter:
 
"The Airports Commission itself states that any new jobs created are likely to be specialised jobs, with employees coming from other areas of the UK , putting more strain on housing provision . In its analysis of the impact on London Boroughs, Brent is not considered, as it is not one of the 5 boroughs that presently employ half of Heathrow’s staff."
 
It is also the case that such economic growth as may result is not thought to lead to a reduction in overall unemployment. As the Airports Commission report says:
 
“It is important to note that it is assumed that there is no net additional employment in the UK and that all these additional jobs in the do something are being displaced from outside the catchment area.” [“do something” means a new runway]
‚Äč
What is more, this growth would come with large costs in terms of the need for additional infrastructure:
 
“The additional employment supported by Heathrow’s expansion would lead to a significant requirement for additional housing. The Commission’s analysis indicates this would total between 29,800 and 70,800 houses by 2030 within the local authorities assessed as part of the local economy assessment. This additional housing and population growth would also require substantial supporting infrastructure including schools and health care facilities.”
 
We have provided evidence of all of this in our references to the Davies Report, and in reports from the Airports Commission. We would be interested to discover on what evidence you base your assertions, or if there is unpublished information or communications with Brent Council on which your judgement is based.
 
On the crucial question of the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion, you offer merely a hope that such questions will be dealt with, and that you can rely on mitigation measures to be robust. However, there is much evidence that the expansion proposed will not be compatible with the UK's commitments under the Paris Agreement, and on this you make no comment.
 
In terms of our involvement in the consultation process, our considered opinion is that the expansion is ill-advised and can only have a negative effect both on climate change and surface air pollution, and we believe that the only feasible mitigation is to abandon this project.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Ian Saville and Pam Laurance
Joint Coordinators,
Brent Friends of the Earth.
 

 

 

 

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