Hammersmith and Fulham Council could scupper Thames Water’s flawed Counters Creek scheme

thameswaterWhen there is exceptionally heavy rainfall there is a risk of flooding for many basements in homes in Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea. In the July 20th 2007 storm there were 1,700 homes flooded in the two boroughs. The water flowed down from Brent and Camden.

There has been nothing on that scale since. That amount of rain – a month’s rain in a day – is very rare. Perhaps once a decade, once a generation, once a century. We never know. But it is certainly right to seek ways to safeguard against the misery and disruption of flooding when it does occur.

Some basements are more at risk than others. Some of those flooded had faced the same problem in 2004. The good news is that if there was an equivalent downpour now around 600 of them would be protected as they have had anti flooding devices called FLIPs (flooding local improvement projects) installed. These are mini pumping stations that can help prevent sewage from entering homes through pipes and lavatories. The hi-tech devices cost around £35,000 each.

Other mitigation work has been done. One important project has been to clean out the existing sewers including the one at Counters Creek – lorry loads of sludge have been removed.

On the other hand, there are also more basements now than there were eight years ago as people as people have strived to get more space in their properties.

So it would be good to do more to deal with the flooding problem. But what? Thames Water propose a relief sewer connected to existing sewers at Counters Creek. (Counters Creek used to be a stream from Kensal Green that flowed down to the River Thames via Little Wormwood Scrubs, Stamford Bridge, Brompton Cemetery, Lots Road and Chelsea Creek. It got filled in at various stages – mostly to provide a railway.)

The proposed Thames Water scheme is staggeringly expensive – it has a price tag of £300 million. If it averted flooding of a thousand basements that would cost £300,000 a time.  As with the notorious Super Sewer project Thames Water can just pass the cost onto customers as it is a monopoly. Indeed it has a perverse incentive to spend money and thus build up its asset base.

Furthermore the Thames Water proposal would involve considerable environmental damage in various parts of the borough. Residents in Astrop Terrace and Hammersmith Grove could face 15 months of drilling through concrete (7am-7pm weekdays, 7am-1pm Saturday). That would be followed by two months of 24 hour construction work. 25 lorries everyday, reversing up Hammersmith Grove and Richford Street. In the long term the vents from the sewer would cause pollution. Sewer gas emissions are dangerous to health. Trees would be damaged.

A small but heavily used and valued park by Gwendwr Road, just north of the Talgarth Road, is threatened with the same disruption.

The public garden in Baron’s Court Road near West Kensington tube is also on the hit list. So is a site in Sulgrave Road and another by the Edward Woods Estate.

Could the £300 million be better spent?

George Warren, the Council’s Flood Risk Manager, has sent me a briefing note about one such scheme in Australia Road.

He says:

The proposals are to convert the existing road into a pedestrian and cyclist space with limited vehicular access for emergency and maintenance vehicles. It also helps provide a safer link between the Early Years Centre and the playgrounds (on opposing sides of the road).

Initial neighbourhood wide consultation with residents, businesses and councillors was undertaken in March 2013 as part of the White City Neighbourhood scheme. During this neighbourhood wide consultation, the initial idea to convert part of Australia Road into a pedestrian space was raised by Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre and supported by both Team White City and the White City Residents’ Association. Further consultation was undertaken on-site with Team White City, Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre and the White City Residents Association between March 2013 and March 2014 as the concept design for the scheme was being developed.

Public consultation regarding the concept design for the Australia Road pedestrian space was undertaken in February and March 2014. Residents responded to the consultation either during the public meeting held on 18 February 2014 at the White City Community Centre or via online and postal options.

The scheme includes the following SuDS / flood risk reduction elements:

  • Permeable Paving
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Raingardens
  • Bio-retention Basins
  • Controlled Sewer Release

Sustainable drainage is a core aspect of the concept design. The aim is for water to be retained within the site during storm conditions and for peak discharge into the combined sewer system to be reduced during rainfall events. The retention basins are the critical features to achieve this. Permeable paving will also be used throughout the paved areas of the site. Rainwater from the school roof will be fed into a retention basin using open channels.

The design restricts runoff rates to the sewer to greenfield rates up to the 1 in 30yr ARI and reduces overall flow volumes to sewer by 50%.

Recent hydraulic modelling carried out as part of the Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP), currently out for public consultation (www.lbhf.gov.uk/swmp), shows this section of Australia Road to be a Flooding Hotspot. The implementation of SuDS here will help to address this flooding issue as well as provide amenity and biodiversity benefits.

The project will cost approximately £830,000, made up from TfL LIP Funding, Lead Local Flood Authority Funding and an additional contribution from the GLA.

Work began on site on 10th March 2015 and is due to be completed in late July 2015. Planting may occur at a later date to avoid placing plants under stress during the summer months.

That project will reduce the risk of flooding. But that is not the only benefit. It will make visiting the Early Years Centre, the adventure playground, and the community playground easier and more pleasant. It will mean more community events and a safe space for children to play and learn to ride a bike. Planting will enhance the natural environment. There will be improved air quality.

So that is costing £830,000 (Thames Water declined to chip in towards the cost incidentally). £300 million would pay for 360 such schemes. That could transform our borough. Council estates could see vast areas of concrete replaced by grass and flowers.

Yet little or no serious work seems to have been done on whether comparing the impact of SUDS schemes on such a massive scale with the relief sewer in effectiveness of reducing the risk of flooding.

The Council don’t seem to have made any estimates of the impact. At the Council meeting last night Cllr Lisa Homan, The Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing,  said the relief sewer was essential as however much was spent on SUDS it could not possibly be as effective. She said this was established by the report from the Flooding Scrutiny Task Group of 2012, which was chaired by Matt Thorley. It was an excellent report but it established nothing on the sort. It didn’t even mention the relief sewer.

Thames Water themselves haven’t been able to come up with anything so far.

An Ofwat spokesman tells me:

“It is for Thames Water to set out and decide how to meet their outcomes, and that means it is a decision for the company to set out the best and most efficient way for delivering.”

What about the Consumer Council for Water?

Their spokesman tells me:

“Essentially we don’t have the technical expertise in this area to make that kind of assessment, and it’s not part of our remit.”

Hammersmith & Fulham Council does have the power to prevent the Counters Creek scheme from going ahead.

I asked:

“Please advise if we could choose to prevent the Counters Creek Storm Relief Sewer from proceeding by denying planning permission? Or is it one of those major projects (like the Super Sewer) that we are obliged to allow?”

Ellen Whitchurch, the Council’s Head of Development Management replied:

“Thank you for your query about the Counters Creek flood alleviation sewer project. Unlike the Thames Tideway Tunnel, this project does not appear to be of a scale to be classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) to be considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

“Instead, there will need to be a series of planning applications submitted relating to the new sewer construction and the interceprion sites where shafts will be sunk and cabins and/or vents remain. These applications will be determined by H&F through the normal process, considering development plan policies. The Local Plan policy does support, in principle, measures to reduce flooding to properties in the borough. However, local circumstances and impacts could, in theory, result in the refusal of individual applications.

“In practice, however, Thames Water will be seeking detailed pre-application advice on individual sites once the options under consideration have been further assessed. There will also be further public consultation before apy applications are submitted. Officers would expect Thames Water to have regard to consultation response, and would not anticipate applications to be submitted where sites have generated significant grounds for objection.”

I am not convinced that the present proposal represent good value – either for money or for the environment. There needs to be some proper accountability and transparency in considering the SUDS alternative.


Tenants halls left to sit empty on local estates

On Saturday I wrote about the missed opportunity of 457 council owned garages sitting empty.

But the asset management for them looks positively rigorous compared to the 23 Tenants and Residents Association’s halls which the council owns in the borough.

I recently asked the Council:

“What is the revenue from hiring out tenants halls? Please provide in the form of a list of the tenants halls in the borough (with the figure of nil beside any where there is no revenue.) Please include all different sources – for instance if there is regular income from using as a nursery school, or a weekly session from judo or just a single booking for a party. Please indicate what income goes to the TRA and what goes to the Council.”

For the following six the answer is nil:

Becklow Gardens Residents Hall, Becklow Road, London, W12 9HB

Charecroft Estate Residents Hall, Rockley Road, London, W12 8PQ

Flora Gardens Residents Hall, Flora Gardens, London, W6 0HP

Springvale Estate Residents Hall, Blythe Road, London, W14 0PW

Wood Lane resident Centre, 80 White City Close, London, W12 7DZ

Woodmans Mews Residents Hall, Woodmans Mews, London, W12 0HU

So that is a poor start. Of course they may be fizzing with activities for which the local TRA decides to not to charge a fee because there is some community benefit. That would be fair enough. But I suspect it is more likely these buildings sit empty for months on end.

Then there were others where the annual revenue was pretty low. These nine each had revenue below £5,000:

Aspen Gardens Residents Hall, Aspen Gardens, London, W6 9JD – £705.18p

Emlyn Gardens Residents Hall, Emlyn Gardens, London, W12 9TH – £1, 067.50p

Gibbs Green Residents Hall, Gibbs Green, London, W14 9NB – £3,942

Lytton Estate Residents Hall, North End Crescent, London, W14 8TE -£3,582.50

Maystar Estate Residents Hall, Sun Road, London, W14 9XN – £1,795

Philpot Square Residents Hall, Philpot Square, London, SW6 3HU – £222.50

Robert Owen Residents Hall, Fulham Palace Road, SW6  – £1,415.54 

West Ken Community Centre, 80 Lillie Road, London, SW6 1TN- £4,845.83

William Church Estate Residents Hall, 60 Lime Grove, London, W12 8ED – £1,915

A few others did a bit better –

Clem Attlee Residents Hall, Freeman Place, London, SW6 7TN – £5,957

Field Road Residents Hall, Mathews Community Hall, 12 Margravine Road, London, W6 8HJ – £8,808

Fulham Court resident Hall, Fulham South Court Estate, Shottendane Road, SW6 5TJ – £8,224

Kelmscott Gardens Residents Hall, Kelmscott Gardens, London, W12 9BU – £12,720

Lancaster Court Residents Hall, Darlan Road, London, SW6 5TB – £8,821.54

Queen Caroline Estate Residents Hall, Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9EH – £5,330

In that batch above are some good examples. There is the Jack in the Box Nursery School at Kelmscott Gardens which no doubt provides useful funding to benefit residents. As does the Little Lillies Pre School at Lancaster Court.

It’s great that Field Road hosts judo and martial arts classes.

But there are a couple further examples which show the sort of potential there is to achieve more:

Twynholm Residents Hall, Laundry Road, Fulham, W6 9PZ – £86,003

White City resident Centre, India Way, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7QT – £85,139

Twynholm has a bar. Good for them. I enjoy a drink myself. Doubtless the revenue goes to some worthwhile use as well as providing a social hub.

However I think that White City Centre provides the best example with an array of community events. Crucially they have enough money to emply staff to run it. Perhaps some deal could be done where they help sort out bookings for other TRA halls in return for a share of the proceeds? Or the the Council does so (which has already happened with the Gibbs Green and West Ken examples).

It is really not acceptable for these – often quite large – buildings to sit empty. Or even to sit empty 90 per cent of the time. Sometimes they are boarded up and left to fall into disrepair.

Properly marketed for suitable uses they could provide a useful source of revenue for estate improvements as well as providing activities that would be welcomed. Another alternative would be to provide some much needed new housing.


Hammersmith and Fulham Council owns 457 empty garages

Recently I asked Mike England, the Council’s Director for Housing Options, Skills and Economic Development about garages.

I asked:

“How many void council owned garages are there in the borough – both as a number and a proportion of the total. What plans are there to reduce this number – for instance to replace with “hidden homes” or to rent or let in the open market?”

Mr England replied:

“There are currently 1,275 garages in the borough; 818 are occupied and 457 garages are void. We continue to try and let as many garages as possible to reduce the number of voids. In regards to the Hidden Homes project, currently we have one development at Becklow Gardens with planning permission to demolish 17 garages and replace them with 13 affordable homes. We are currently in the design stage of our Jepson House project; which will involve the redevelopment of parking spaces and stores to provide approximately 28 new affordable homes.”

As I mentioned with the Rational House post the Council has let progress on hidden homes drift since Labour took over failing to find new sites and making glacial progress on the sites already identified.

But even allowing for that why have the garages sitting empty? They could be rented out for £3,000 or £4,000 a year each. That’s around £1.4 million a year. That’s money that could be used for estate improvements – which we are routinely there’s no money for.

Richard Owen: Housing association sells Loftus Road house

Richard Owen reports

loftusA Housing Association is selling at auction a large freehold house in Loftus Road, with a guide price of £1.2 million+.

As usual it has been left to rot and is quite an eyesore with steel shutters over the windows. The neighbours will be cheering. But hopefully the considerable proceeds can be recycled into better maintenance of existing stock and building additional homes in areas without such a large price premium on land.

Brian Mooney: Hasty and faulty – the Council’s slower speed consultation

 A guest post from Brian Mooney of the Alliance of British Drivers. Brian is a management consultant and used to be a keen cyclist before his bike was vandalised. He also runs a personal website.

In my October article, I outlined reasons why LB Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) should not go ahead with its proposed borough wide 20mph scheme.

My objections are shared by many other concerned local people. When the public meeting kicking off the consultation was announced in May, there was quite a backlash. In roughly the first 24 hours after the webpage went up, those expressing a clear opinion divided 67%:33% against a borough-wide scheme, and 62%:38% against, if you strip out the responses that were specifically against 20mph limits on main roads.

A fair number expressed concerns about speed camera enforcement. The Council responded in a very one-sided consultation booklet that I understand is being posted out to all homes. It says it is not proposing more speed cameras – but that doesn’t rule it out.

Of course, if borough-wide 20mph limits went ahead, existing cameras such as the ones on Fulham Palace Road and Shepherds Bush Green would not be left at 30mph.

We would then have the farce whereby the law was changed to make life easier for those who couldn’t be bothered to respect road safety laws and senselessly step out in front of traffic, but safe drivers could be prosecuted for doing a speed that is legal in most of London and the UK.

It makes a mockery of the current administration’s manifesto pledge of being “fairer to drivers

The scrutiny committee meeting open to the public on 9 June was also farcical. In one of the rambling floor speeches, a supporter of the scheme defended it as “You can’t stop children dashing out”.

Hang on a minute. Dashing out can be dangerous to other road users, too – particularly if it causes a pile-up when a driver has to slam on the brakes, or if a driver swerves to avoid the culprit and collides with an innocent person.

It should not be encouraged – rather children (and some adults) should be educated in proper road safety, particularly in using designated crossing places. This will prevent them being hit at any speed, with all the grief to their loved ones.

The Highway Code is quite clear on this – especially the need for parental responsibility. (Think – it would be equally unacceptable for parents to claim that they “can’t stop children playing truant” for instance.)

The entire thrust of the “argument” is wrong. Nobody suggests that, say, the mains voltage should be reduced to make life easier for children who stick their fingers into power sockets. If a public figure got up and said that trains should be slowed right down to make life easier for trespassers on the track, they would rightly be considered daft.

The consultation form (inside the booklet and online) is equally lacking. It reminds me of the episode of Fawlty Towers where all that is on the menu is duck, duck with lemon, or duck with orange. The only alternative for guests is a cricketing duck – i.e. nothing at all.

To me, it is questionable whether the consultation meets expectations that residents are offered fair alternatives and a means of intelligently selecting a course of action.

While being high on imagery and suggestive language, there is no real discussion on the causes of accidents.

Police accident reports aren’t an exact science, but they comprise the best available information. I’ve studied a deep cross-section from the last three years, and am amazed at how infrequently (excessive) speed is a factor.

Far more prevalent are misjudgement of turns, lane changes or overtaking; car users opening doors unthinkingly, pedestrians and cyclists not taking due care….

Labour’s national Shadow Roads Spokesman is Richard Burden MP. As holder of a track licence, he knows much about driving safely and speed. Responding to his own local authority consultation (in Birmingham), he called for proper safety assessments in context to determine how best to make roads safer. He felt 20mph zones were not a ‘silver bullet’ for improving road safety, rather “The goal… should be to build and manage safer roads and save lives, not to reduce speeds as an end point in itself.”

Unfortunately, the “arguments” in LBHF’s consultation booklet are so weak, that a colleague has the suspicion that the proposal’s main focus is speed reduction rather than road safety (no other approaches mentioned), and by sending out such a biased booklet out in bulk, it will soft-soap enough residents to tick boxes and thus claim “support”.

There is not even any ‘white space’ for general comment on the form, only what duck, sorry, “speed restricted roads” and “traffic calming features” respondents would like!

The sloppy booklet is not even consistent with other LBHF documents. For instance, it claims pollution reduction as a “benefit” although elsewhere this is decided to be “negligible”.

To promote a more balanced debate, the Alliance of British Drivers has been giving out leaflets and talking to residents and cab drivers. A webpage provides more information about the proposal, how to object, and some proper alternatives for road safety!

Irrational delay to the Rational House

biscayroadThis house in Biscay Road, just off the Fulham Palace Road, was built in 2011 as a prototype on a piece of council owned land. It just took 11 days. This is because it consisted of pre-made panels from a factory off-site. Thus the impact on the local community in terms of noise, dust and traffic movements is kept to a minimum.

The 1,550 square foot family town house costs only £100 per square foot to construct  and £145 per square foot fully fitted.

This housing offers high density – it can manage up to 600 habitable rooms per hectare. So this innovation offers another example of how it is possible to have high density but low rise.

It is eco friendly. Using sustainably sourced materials, Rational House is built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 with the ability to reach Level 5. It is capable of zero-carbon performance in larger developments when integrated with communal heat and power systems. The low maintenance design features integrated PV panels and allows for rainwater harvesting and mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR).

I don’t find the design attractive but I am assured that is a matter for planning policy. The techniques could be adjusted to produce something beautiful and traditional in appearance.

Anyway some more of them are due to appear. On Monday the Council is due to approve the following new council homes (using the proceeds from right to buy sales to provide replacements as required by the Government):

  • Barclay Close (near Fulham Broadway tube). Six homes.
  • Becklow Gardens (just off Askew Road). 13 homes.
  • Spring Vale estate in Brook Green. 10 homes.

Some others may well follow.

But why the delay with those listed above? They were all ready to go under the previous Conservative council. The scraps of land had been found – for instance a row of disused scuzzy garages on the Spring Vale estate. (part of the “Hidden Homes” approach pioneered in Wandsworth.) Planning permission had been agreed. Yet Labour delayed the new homes for 14 months for no particular reason. They say they care about those in overcrowding or temporary accommodation but then twiddle their thumbs. The same number of “units”, in the same places, to be built by the same firm. Just over a year later than they could have been. The process takes long enough as it is without gratuitous, needless further delay.

There is it is. Another example of dysfunctional decision making. The council leader refuses to delegate so we get this terrible logjam.

Boris attacks third runway proposal

borisThe Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described the Airports Commission decision to recommend that a third runway be built at Heathrow as highly predictable, short-termist and completely politically undeliverable. He was astounded by their recommendation that there be a legislative ban on a fourth runway, a ban that the Mayor believes absurd as no Parliament can bind its successors and can be considered even more ludicrous given that the report published by the Commission today says a further runway will be required by 2050. It only makes even clearer the inevitability of proposals for a fourth runway at Heathrow, which would offer even greater noise pollution and fumes over west London.

The Mayor also described pledges to cut aircraft noise made in the report published by the Commission this morning as hokum. In their report the Airports Commission proposed a ban on night flights that does not cover the entire night period. They propose a ‘noise envelope’ with no information on how that would be measured and they propose an independent noise authority that would be a statutory consultee, not a regulator, effectively rendering it toothless. The Commission’s report also makes grand promises of noise compensation – but that in reality would provide insulation for less than 200,000 homes – a fraction of those exposed to noise pollution by a third runway at Heathrow.

The Mayor’s team also criticised the Commission for making a recommendation that would expose over a million people to aircraft noise, with dire consequences for their health.  Studies have shown that the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular disease increases by 10 to 20 per cent in areas plagued by aircraft noise. Aircraft noise is also linked to significantly reduced reading comprehension and memory recall in school children.

Beyond noise, a third runway’s impact on air quality is also a serious environmental and public health concern. The Airports Commission’s own analysis shows that a third runway would make Heathrow the worst air quality black spot in London by 2030. That would not be compatible with the UK’s obligation to meet EU air quality targets and would fly in the face of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court that ordered the Government to make plans to tackle air pollution.

Quite incredibly, despite acknowledging the importance of aviation links to the UK economy and that Heathrow already operates at 99 per cent of its capacity, the Airports Commission recommendation that a third runway be built would only provide enough capacity to deal with the increase expected over the next 15 years and completely fail to address the future demand for aviation capacity.

In 2013 the Commission’s own analysis found that a three-runway Heathrow would be 80 to 90 per cent full shortly after opening and therefore without the resilience required to operate the airport reliably and effectively. A three runway Heathrow would essentially suffer from the same problems of the two-runway Heathrow today, an airport which struggles with any sort of weather disruption, where many new routes to emerging economies cannot be started and valuable links around the UK are squeezed out.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

“This highly predictable report offers a short-termist recommendation that would be judicially reviewed from here to Kingdom come and is completely politically undeliverable. Heathrow already contributes more to noise pollution than any other airport in Europe and the Airports Commission’s pledge that noise can be reduced there is quite frankly hokum.

“The question the Government will now inevitably return to is whether we should go for an ambitious and visionary long term approach by building a new airport to the east of London, rather than a short term and environmentally catastrophic expansion of Heathrow. There are much better solutions and that is where we will end up.”

By recommending expansion at Heathrow the Airports Commission have only prioritised the short term and private interests of the large corporations controlling Heathrow and they have entirely missed the opportunity to plan for the wider development and planning challenges faced by a city where the population is forecast to increase by 37 per cent to more than 11 million people by 2050.

The Mayor’s team have also highlighted a wholly inadequate approach by the Airports Commission in their consideration of the costs and provision of new surface access to Heathrow. The expansion proposals at Heathrow rely heavily on new schemes – notably Crossrail and the Piccadilly Line Upgrade – which been designed to meet the existing level of passenger demand, not for an expansion at Heathrow.

The Commission has also taken an approach that favours parts of the road network that are already or soon to be at capacity – on the basis that someone else will solve the capacity problem. The result is that these proposals would place severe strain on already congested road and rail corridors; and increasing gridlock on the M25 will only exacerbate air quality problems. It is also clear that the Commission have severely underestimated the cost of the extra surface access improvements that are required, potentially by as much as £15bn.

The Mayor of London’s chief advisor on aviation, Daniel Moylan, said:

“The noise impacts of an expanded Heathrow are truly monstrous – and no amount of finessing flightpaths by Heathrow Airport Limited can hide that – or the increased incidence of stroke and heart disease that will follow. Faced with a report that runs roughshod over the serious environmental concerns it has identified, the only environmentally responsible course of action is to file this report where it belongs – in the recycling bin.”

  • Heathrow is the worst airport for noise in Europe, accounting for 28 per cent of all those exposed to airport noise in Europe (at 55db Lden) – more than its five main rivals combined.
  • A three runway Heathrow would expose over 1million people to noise by 2050 (CAA analysis for TfL)
  • Studies have shown that the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular disease increases by 10-20 per cent in areas plagued by aircraft noise.
  • Studies in West London have linked aircraft noise to significantly reduced reading comprehension and memory recall in school children.
  • In 2030, with a third runway, Heathrow will be the worst NO2 blackspot in Greater London. The scale of the increase, in some cases as much as 12 µg/m3, would require a level of mitigation previously unheard of (without major scheme redesign). The Airports Commission has failed to quantify the benefits of any potential mitigation measures – and so have failed to demonstrate that an expanded Heathrow can meet EU limit values.
  • By recommending expansion at Heathrow the Airports Commission have only prioritised the short term and private interests of the large corporations controlling Heathrow. Heathrow Airport is owned by Alinda Capital Partners (United States), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (via Britannia Airport Partners) (Canada), CIC International (via Stable Investment Corporation) (China), Ferrovial Group (Spain), GIC Special Investments (via Baker Street Investment) (Singapore), Qatar Holdings (Qatar) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (UK).
  • Airports Commission analysis shows Heathrow will be full in 2030, shortly after opening a third runway: operating at 80-90 per cent capacity, it would suffer from the lack of resilience in the face of disruption that plagues the airport today.
  • Insufficient capacity will mean inability to launch new routes to key markets in emerging economies – and vital connections to UK regions being squeezed out.
  • The Airports Commission have identified a significant capacity gap in 2050, but do not address this. Instead they focus on runway options to 2030 rather than a long term plan for the UK.
  • TfL’s noise modelling shows that the only result of a new runway at Heathrow will be a substantial increase in the number of people exposed to noise, and that this is the inescapable result of flying more aircraft over a city that recently reached a new record level of population.
  • The  Airports Commission approach has failed on several fronts and it will now be for the Government to give very serious thought to plans that would provide us with a hub  airport with the capacity to get even larger.
  • Very little effort was made to reach out to the general public by the Airports Commission consultation. Only two discussion sessions were held, one at Heathrow and one at Gatwick, which as ticket-only events effectively limited access for the public. Two short two hour drop in sessions received limited publicity and one gave people barely two days of notice.
  • While the Airports Commission flies the UK up a blind alley the rest of the world is already building new runways and terminal buildings that are designed and built using British expertise and which will put them well ahead of the UK in the race for new global business.
  • By restricting their consultation to expansion plans at Heathrow and Gatwick they have only prioritised the short term and private interests of the large corporations controlling our airports; and they have entirely missed the opportunity to plan for the wider development and planning challenges faced by a city where the population is forecast to increase by 37 per cent to more than 11 million people by 2050.
  • Figures from Oxford Economics illustrate that in 2050, the air service connectivity available at a new four runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary would underpin £92.1bn of national GDP each year. By comparison, the inferior connectivity on offer at a three runway Heathrow would generate £59.1bn.
  • In rejecting the possibility of a new airport, the Commission turned its back on the rapidly growing population of London. That population desperately needs the homes and jobs that an Estuary proposal offers. The regeneration of east London and the Thames Gateway, entirely in line with current Government policy, would transform the south-east and create 336,000 jobs across the UK, whilst contributing £92 billion annually to UK GDP by 2050. A regenerated site at Heathrow could provide homes for up to 190,000 residents and as many as 90,000 jobs.
  • Without a four runway hub airport it is clear that cities around the UK whose airports have already lost their connection with Heathrow, will fail to get it back as a third runway will be full from day one.