back to article BAA 'invented green superjumbo' to OK Heathrow plans

The BBC's renowned Panorama team - famous for breaking the "news" that Wi-Fi really does make your head explode - will tomorrow reveal that UK airport operator BAA has cynically colluded with the government to falsify the environmental impact of expanding Heathrow airport. According to early reports, BAA drove down the projected …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    There is almost such a plane coming up

    According to Wikipedia, Airbus's upcoming A350-1000 is supposed to carry 412 people in a two-class configuration. That isn't very far off from 450 passenger mark and A350 will have only two engines.

  2. Perpetual Cyclist

    In 2030 Heathrow will be a very quiet place.

    Oil is today $131/barrel, down from $147 last week, up from about $20 ten years ago. ALL major airlines are cutting services, jobs, planes at these prices. Several large airlines are expected to go bankrupt within a year. The price isn't going down significantly anytime soon, and there is NO practical alternative fuel source. The UK is heading into deep recession, and is facing acute energy shortages in terms of oil, gas and electricity within ten years. Demand for aviation is unlikely to be coming back to recent levels within a generation.

    And then there is the peak in the world's oil supply...

    To invest in new runways in the current economic/energetic crisis is economic insanity.

    I fully expect the government to force this through within months.

  3. William Clark
    Thumb Up

    Freedom to fly

    What I don't understand is why so many people talk as if they have some god* given right to fly as and when they please.

    (*apostate/atheist here - no particular god as such)

    Hopefully the price of oil and credit crunch will start to have an affect on the number of flights people take and reduce the number of aircraft flying - though just be be balanced - I do realise that this affects the poor first.

  4. Steve King

    Pick on other industries first

    'pick on other industries first' won't work - many of them can say that they emit much less than the airlines. There is also concern that emissions at high altitude may be disproportionately damaging.

    In any carbon reduction scenario, any industry that is allowed to escape without sharing the burden will be requiring other industries to make still greater cuts.

    Allowing one industry to claim that they are a special case and should be exempt will just lead to every industry doing the same.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "According to early reports, BAA drove down the projected noise and emissions figures by stating that flights to and from Heathrow would be made by "non-existent" "green superjumbos" which will never be built."

    I'm pretty sure that BAA never stated that flights to and from Heathrow would be made by non-existent green superjumbos that will never be built. That would have been silly. Doesn't matter where you put the quote marks.

    And on another point, by the time any expansion plans get a green light, the planes may well be very different to the current models. How long did T5 take to design and build, starting from the original premise ? It's roughly 18 years since the final design was selected after a competition, and you can bet the competition was running for a while. Not to mention getting outline planning permission before going to the design stage.

    If there's one thing that Heathrow should teach us, it's that we should design and build for the future, not the present.

  6. Stephane

    What about the A350-1000 ?

    It is expected to carry 412 people in a 2 class combination.

    It wouldn't take long before an airline flies it in a 1 class cabin, which would be quite close to 450 pax...

  7. FlatSpot
    Black Helicopters

    Reverse Nimby?

    "It isn't at all clear that the rest of us, who don't live near Heathrow, should submit to having brakes put on our national economy just so that local residents can have untroubled barbecues and weekend lie-ins. That benefit is purely for them - but we would all share the costs"

    Thatcher would be proud of you. Isnt this a case of reverse nimby? ie. as long as its someone else's patch its fine? Whats the recommended sleep period vs operating times? Yeah screw those young kids they dont need to be asleep before midnight.

    Exactly what are these mystery benefits? or do you mean that company x makes an extra million pound profit which goes to the upkeep of the MDs private island, rented out to your MP at mates rates?

    Limited runway space will ensure priority to its use, rather than just another plane load of chavs off to Spain which drains money out of the UK.

    Seems you can do anything these days if it brings in a couple of cleaning jobs and a HR department.

    What happened to government for citizens rather than the big corps??

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who then?

    "And anyway, by most estimates aviation accounts for less than five per cent of global carbon emissions. It would make a lot more sense to pick on other industries first."

    Where does that place it in the list of carbon emission industries then? In the top 5 I would guess so I don't think that excuse will wash. Or should we just pick on the top polluter first and then after a few years work out way down to the others?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    I'm not a hardcore green (I would say I'm fairly environmentally conscious though) but I oppose the expansion of Heathrow. My opinions are based on the report that the government had comissioned (by an ex-airline head). It mentioned the channel tunnel rail link a grand total of no times whatsoever. We already know that flights from UK to European destinations are being hit by the CTRL and that the French almost totally wiped out their internal airlines with a descent inter-city rail system. This at the same time as other EU rail operators are looking to make use of St Pancras for extra routes/destinations. The report doesn't accept that this has happened and presumes that air is the only form of transport valid for most of Europe, if the amount of flights to/from Europe are dropping this makes more capacity on the existing ionfrastructure for extra long distance flights, it may not be enough but as noone has yet bothered to look into the matter the case for expansion is hardly conclusive.

  10. W.S. Burroughs

    You what...?

    I used to live 10 miles from Heathrow, heading towards central London & the noise of the jets as they lumbered upwards was enough to drown-out a conversation. Not all the time as they'd swing the flight paths around to give everyone their fair share of nuisance. Those babies are loud & the aggrevation will only grow.

    The bestest time was after 9/11, flights were stopped over London, the crafts all had to climb over fields, then turn to their destination. It made such a difference, so peaceful that the urban could be mistaken for rural.

    The object lesson was that the majority of those disturbed could have quieter, better lives, but only at the expense of the airlines having to pay a few quid more for extra fuel & adding 10 minutes to each journey.

    The airlines will always be considered before mere people, can't imagine why.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    "GTFs use a gearbox rather than a fixed shaft to link their compressors and turbines, allowing better fuel efficiency - perhaps as much as 12 per cent."

    Is that 12% efficient? Or 12% better than the current average? Or both? :o)

  12. Rob

    As I've said before...

    If you're 90 years old and live (near LHR) in the house you were born in then, fair enough, you're probably entitled to complain about the noise.

    Everybody else - if you don't like the sound aeroplanes make, why did you buy a house next to a fucking airport?

  13. Rupert Stubbs

    Economics of Heathrow...

    How on earth did we get to the acceptance of the idea that making money for BAA was part of our national interest, over and above the sanity of those hundreds of thousands of people living under their flightpaths?

    Talking about the importance of Heathrow being an international "Hub" is just spin for "we're terrified that all our landing fees and shopping revenue will go somewhere else". Of what particular benefit to the UK are the people just using Heathrow as a hub, and taking other planes on elsewhere (except as very indirect taxation on revenues, which I bet are kept pretty small as BAA is Spanish-owned these days)?

    Meanwhile, the effect of having a major airport so close to the over-populated capital city is profound to those that live there - I have been to weddings in Barnes where the service has had to halt every couple of minutes because of planes overhead. Read Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" for the effect that BAA are imposing on the thought processes of all too many people...

  14. Matthew

    Nice provocative article

    This will get everyone nicely wound up and generate page hits (are you on a variable pay rate?).

    Building a business case on dodgy numbers is not good practice or even ethical. I'd like to think that all of our tax money will be well spent. Hahahah, anyway....

    More than 2 millions people will be affected by increased noise generated by the additional planes. This is not a "few" people.

    Besides, if those of us who live "near Heathrow" (an area encompassing Putney to Windsor) affected by the flight paths don't want a bad business case put together by a company that owns way too many civil servants and ministers meant to police said business case, maybe you should build the airport in your back yard and you can 'reap the benefits'.

    Building for the future is an excellent idea! Why not build an airport that will be able to cope with the required traffic in an area not surrounded by people like the Thames estuary. The econmic impact will be felt by all taxpayers when one plane lands a little short.

  15. Chris Miller

    Almost long-haul

    "There are also some two-engine ones already flying that can manage 370 people and go to almost long-haul ranges - for instance the Boeing 777."

    NZ5 flies daily from Los Angeles to Auckland nonstop with a 777-200 (and NZ6 back the other way) - 5,670nm in 13 hours*. Sounds pretty long-haul to me :)

    * This may be the world's longest ETOPS** service.

    ** Extended-range Twin-engine OPerationS (alternatively Engines Turn Or People Swim)

    Mines the anorak.

  16. Frederick Karno


    IMO putting more capacity into heathrow is stupid there are other airports that can handle the capacity in this country already.They should concentrate on getting more use out of existing facilties first rather than forcing more into an already overcrowded area.

  17. Kenny Swan


    You can't move to somewhere near an airport then complain about the noise! Heathrow has been there a good while and it probably there when most people moved in, so get used to it. Don't like aircraft noise? Don't live near a f**king airport. The UK is a big place, move somewhere else and let us demolish your house to build a new runway. Less queues and cheaper flights all round. (Almost) everyone is happy.

  18. Aron A Aardvark

    Airport expansion

    My take is that there won't be any further runways at Heathrow as the political cost of nearby villages could be too high. I expect to see attention refocused on Stansted and then Gatwick. The govt/BAA won't publicly say that of course.

    We could dust off the plans for Maplin Airport off the Essex coast - nice new airport on a reclaimed island, Hong Kong style, complete with M12/M13.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    er.... for once I can't completely agree with you...

    "Noise is the reason that BAA has an actual political fight on its hands, as the vocal property owners of wealthy, economically successful southwest London often feel they have quite enough racket already."

    This and another later comment in your article really sticks out somewhat. In fact, while some of southwest London is economically successful, I would hazard that it's actually Hounslow and Osterley that are the major sticking points - neither economically successful nor particularly pleasant places to live, partly because of the noise of Heathrow. There is also some research that claims increased morbidity rates in that part of the city due to Heathrow's fumes, although it's not conclusive.

    And, of course, expanding Heathrow is just not the cleverest idea, given that another runway would involve completely razing to the ground at least one village, amongst other things. Stansted and Gatwick may not be as easy to get to from London, but they have the huge advantage of being in the middle of wide open space, on which building could be undertaken fairly inexpensively. For some reason BAA has no interest whatsoever in doing so, preferring to gouge airlines and passengers alike for the pleasure of spending increasing amounts of time in the seventh circle of Hell, sorry, Heathrow. And it's for this reason, amongst others, that breaking up BAA makes so much sense

  20. David

    Meta-pedantry [@Alan]

    "I'm pretty sure that BAA never stated that flights to and from Heathrow would be made by non-existent green superjumbos that will never be built. That would have been silly. Doesn't matter where you put the quote marks."

    Very good. Except that you conveniently ignored the phrase at the beginning of that sentence that said that the characterisation was "According to early reports". So quote marks or no, it's still correct, assuming those words were in the report.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used to like this program, I used to find it's investigative journalism insightful and fascinating.

    Now if I see the "new" version of the show "I'm Jeremy Vine and this is Panorama", and cringe.

    I think the last straw landed with the Wifi program, suddenly they were investigating a subject I know very well (I have a background in IT and radio telecommunications) and sat incredulous as one half-arsed theory was stretched way beyond it's elastic limit and applied to something complete unrelated.

    I now treat any episode I am unlucky enough to see with all the respect I normally reserve for The Daily Sport.

    Actually, correct that, there are less tits in The Sport.

  22. Jonathan McCulloch


    "Actually, correct that, there are less tits in The Sport."

    Actually, correct that: *fewer* tits in The Sport.

    -- Jon

  23. MG

    > As I've said before... By Rob

    > As I've said before... By Rob

    Which is why I bought mine in a north London suburb - only to find that when the wind blows the wrong way, and Heathrow switches to its westerly operating pattern, I get 500 flights a day a few hundred feet above my flat.

    They wake us up before the morning chorus has had a chance to clear its throat and continue until 2 or 3am the following day - and a few hours later the cycle starts again.

    Aircraft noise is not limited to a few houses around the runway - it's a growing problem for thousands of people in urban London and in the surrounding countryside.

    And BAA is entirely unaccountable - flight paths may be changed at as they see fit, are not subject to public debate and local councils have absolutely no say in the matter.

    Which has led naturally to BAAs "route planes over them and see who complains" approach.

    Which together with extra runways & more planes just increases the likelihood of an A380 making its presence felt in your back yard sooner rather than later.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Heathrow: world's worst airport?

    It's certainly the worst I've been forced to use on a relatively frequent basis. The T5 fiasco just makes the point better than I ever could.

    Almost half the people travelling through Heathrow are using it as a transit airport, they're travelling to *and* from somewhere else. These folks don't *want* to go through Heathrow, so why force them? Oh, I remember, it's because BAA run most of the sizeable UK airports and BAA can make more money if they and the airlines force folk through LHR.

    Renationalise BAA and shoot the managers.

  25. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down

    A new Register sport: Percentage bingo!

    "And anyway, by most estimates aviation accounts for less than five per cent of global carbon emissions.", I knew it was going to be there. I hereby inaugurate the new sport: Register Climate Change Percentage Bingo. Every time one of the unchecked-development-apologists now apparently colonising the Reg uses the "anyway, industry X only accounts for desultory percentage Y of global carbon emissions" argument to suggest that we should let industry X do whatever the hell it likes, take a shot.

    In case it's not pathetically obvious, here's the flaw: *no* single operation or industry accounts, all by itself, for a significant percentage of global carbon emissions (or - if we could get off the bloody focus on carbon emissions which one side likes to push because it's simple and the other likes to push because it's not actually that important, hence supporting their argument - consumption of energy, pollution etc etc, much more important than bloody carbon emissions). If it did then it would probably be a damn sight easier to reduce energy consumption, air pollution, damaging impact on biodiversity and - if you really insist - carbon emissions.

    Fact is, though, that we do about ten zillion things which cause these problems. Hence, obviously, none of them *on its own* adds up to a significant proportion. The argument that we shouldn't do anything about any given issue because it only represents a small percentage of the problem has an obvious flaw in this case: it applies to every single thing we do that causes the problem, and hence to take the Reg's position to its logical extension, we can never do anything to reduce energy consumption and pollution because we can never address any single cause of it because each single cause, in and of itself, is comparatively insignificant.

    If I wasn't so bleeding lazy I'd go back through the archives, note every time the Reg had used this argument, and add up the percentages deployed. But I am lazy, so I won't. Consider it a thought experiment.

  26. Martin

    @ Aron A Aardvark

    Yes, yes YES to Maplin (and M12/M13).

    Didn't Boris Johnson make approving noises about such a plan recently?

  27. Daniel B.

    Re: As I've said before...

    I still wonder why people insist on moving into neighborhoods in the "final approach/takeoff" line for major airports. Come on!

  28. donc
    Thumb Up

    @As I've said before...

    Spot on, this kind of comes with the terroritory. I have lived next to an RAF base and under the approach to Heathrow so I have experienced it, the benefit is usually cheaper housing


    BAA doesn't set the flight paths but the CAA. Council input is limited but not excluded. The reason is because other things have to be taken into account, spacing from other aircraft (not just other airliners), weather, etc. all the things that keep flying safe.

    The studies I have seen for an airport in the Thames Estuary involved building on a bird santuary, how is this greener than expanding Heathrow? It just moves the airport out of sight and this is what Lewis is driving at.

    The number of runways doesn't necessarily define the pollution, Paris CDG has four runways and Amsterdam Schiphol has six. Both of these are hub airports and both have large number of transit passengers, this is inevitable with a hub and spoke system as run by most of the major airlines.

    The main impediment to an extra runway (in terms of actual position anyway) are some medieval buildings in one of the villages, why doesn't BAA pay to move them instead of letting them be demolished? Sony did this in Berlin when they built the Sony Centre, moving the few remaining parts of a famous hotel from the 1920's, preserving them for the future.

    Personally I would like the third runway but with the number of flights kept similar to today. Then the delays would mostly go away (can't do anything about the weather). It would be nice to see high speed trains in the UK to reduce the number of regional flights and from London to Paris but I would take the train today anyway. However for flights going further into Europe than France it would still be quicker to fly.

  29. Chris

    Routing flights & BAA

    Never one to miss bashing BAA, but isn't routing of flights the responsibility of NATS & their European counterparts. I can't help but feel the entire air tragic control system (air traffic control to those who've never dealt with them) might be a little upset at BAA rerouting some aircraft without mentioning it!

  30. Chris G

    @ Percentage bingo

    Excellent comment Adam, you said exactly what I wanted to say but better than I could have. Just to put a couple of extra penn'orth in, the road infrastructure around Heathrow is not up to current traffic densities, let alone another runway's worth.

    It may be time finally to build a north south motorway through the centre of London running directly down to the M23 in the south and linking with the M1,M10 and M11 in the north. To improve access to Luton, Stanstead and Gatwick. Only electric cars on it of course.

  31. kain preacher

    Ha Ha

    You can't move to somewhere near an airport then complain about the noise! Heathrow has been there a good while and it probably there when most people moved in, so get used to it. Don't like aircraft noise? Don't live near a f**king airport. The UK is a big place, move somewhere else and let us demolish your house to build a new runway. Less queues and cheaper flights all round. (Almost) everyone is happy

    Thats like were I live at. we have an airport called reed hillview. Been there since 1947. People in the are want it shut down do to the noise. Its the oldest thing in the area. I know its a small airport, but how do you not notice an airport thats out in the middle of no were ?

  32. Robert Hill

    @AC - you know nothing of SW London...

    "In fact, while some of southwest London is economically successful, I would hazard that it's actually Hounslow and Osterley that are the major sticking points - neither economically successful nor particularly pleasant places to live"

    Really? Are you familiar with Hounslow at all? As in the Hounslow that has neighbourhoods like Chiswick? Where one neighbour parks his Masserati coupe, or the other neighbour his Audi S4? Or any of the other host of BMWs and MBs in the area? The Chiswick that has the famously styled Porche mega-garage on the A4? Sounds really poor to

    Having said all that, I really don't think that the point can be made for Heathrow expansion right now - the current rise in air travel was due to much cheaper air travel brought about by more efficient planes and airline de-regulation over a 20 year period. New demand for oil from China and India (at a billion people each) have pushed the price of oil into territory that probably means the end of very cheap flights, until we manage to find some other way to generate cheap airborne power. Until Boeing and Airbus begin to put planes with such engines on the drawing boards, a third runway for Heathrow is hard to fathom, unless it is viewed as just a cash handout to BAA from the UK taxpayers...oh, wait...

  33. Bob Worcester

    All that's wrong with government

    I live in London so know all about the aircraft noise problem. I've lived all over and in every spot aeroplanes have woken me up at one point or another but then that's city life I suppose.

    However I am firmly against the Heathrow plans. I worked on the consultation and to be honest it's the biggest stich up I've seen in my career. Professional advice was not taken in order to fudge some data and i had a real problem with that attitude from those who are supposed to be there to look after our interests. To be honest i don't know how some people sleep at night.

    There's no way, without a massive unforseen change in the way aircraft work, that Heathrow can ever meet it's noise and air pollution limits. The third runway is going to happen not because it's right or because there's a strong economic case but because of lobbying by those who stand to gain hand over fist (BAA) while others without such powers stand to lose out (Local residents, air travellers).

    At the end of the day people may choose to live near an airport but it is unfair to suddenly start exposing people to aircraft noise when there are viable alternatives (e.g. the many Thames Estuary proposals) and it is certainly not on to take risks with people's health with very optimistic predictions on additional NO2 pollution. Wherever people live surely they have a right to an environment which has pollution below dangerous levels even if this means that BAA are going to have to look elsewhere for profits.

  34. davenewman

    Hub airports waste fuel

    I recently flew on a new Embraer jet, which had fuel consumption and CO2 production figures on a card in the seat pocket.

    For UK domestic flights, it uses almost as much fuel taxiing, taking off and landing, as it does flying from Gatwick to Belfast.

    So landing at an airport like Heathrow and changing planes wastes fuel and increases pollution.

    Instead of expanding Heathrow, allow airlines to increase the number of direct, point-to-point flights (as long as they can fill them with passengers). Unfortunately for BAA, these airports are owned by others.

  35. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down


    If anyone wonders what my positive suggestion is, it's this: sod all the airports and build trains. Yes, the airport situation will become increasingly nightmarish. That's the idea. Heathrow's already a hellhole, the more of a hellhole it becomes, the more people will want to avoid it. Re-route all the cash and effort from expanding airports into building a proper European high-speed rail network.

    Properly handled, high speed trains are by far the most sensible way to get around Europe from all points of view. They're very energy-efficient, produce very little pollution, are much quieter than airplanes, require far less development room, are much less of a security nightmare, are far nicer to travel on (I honestly prefer spending 24 hours on a decades-old train which never gets past 60mph to get from Vancouver to San Francisco than getting on a plane, so you can imagine how much more preferable Eurostar is to a plane ride...), and with the technology we have available these days, would be only slightly slower, the same speed, or even faster than a plane trip. It's a bit of a bleeding no-brainer, really.

    The Eurostar people clearly understand this - anyone who's been to St. Pancras will have noticed that it's about ten times larger than it needs to be to handle the current level of use...

    Anyone remember that old game Transport Tycoon? Up the the 1950s or so, before any planes with more than 50 passenger capacity showed up, you built almost all train routes. Then from the 1950s-60s through to the 1990s you built a ton of planes. But when the TGV, Eurostar - and later maglev - trains show up from the 1990s onwards, it suddenly stops making much sense to buy planes, and you start building train routes again. I always thought that was pretty much on the button with how it should be.

    So, yes, I propose complete neglect for the air travel industry, much as happened to the trains from the 60s to the 90s. Don't give 'em any public money, don't give 'em preferential planning treatment, don't give 'em sod all. Active sabotage a la Dr. Beeching would be fine also, but not really necessary. If we just stop propping it up and start developing the logical alternatives, it'll do a fine job of going away on its own.

    A high-speed rail network across continental Europe could be built within a decade or so, reasonably cheaply, and provide reliable, well-priced, extremely energy-efficient and environmentally sound service from England right across to the eastern E.U. states with a journey time of a few hours and far superior comfort and overall experience to what you get in the travel hell that is the air industry these days. I don't know anyone who actually *enjoys* air travel. Why wouldn't we go for this? Heck, you could rebuild the bloody Orient Express (the real one, not the much-reduced service operating under the name today) and make a profit doing it, I reckon.

    If you want to get really advanced, there was a Bruce Sterling (I think) book whose name I forget which was set in a world where there were super high speed trains running intercontinental via vast undersea tunnels. We're not quite at that level of engineering yet, but you could do Europe now. All it needs is the political will to get off the 1960s technology that is the passenger jet.

  36. Christopher Hogan

    Empty vessels make the loudest noise.

    I love the sneering tone of so many of these messages.

    "Everybody else - if you don't like the sound aeroplanes make, why did you buy a house next to a fucking airport?" - errr 'cos it didn't have 3 runways? Because it had only 3 terminals, not 5? Because the government "promised" no terminal 6 & 3rd runway when they pushed through terminal 5?

    The argument isn't really about CO2 or noise - that comes from battling the Greens & the locals, it's all about greed from BAA and lies and incompetence from the government.

    If a bigger airport is "good for the economy" then why not 4 or 5 runways - reductio ad absurdum, but if this is a good idea why not pave over the whole of southern England - what a minute, 3 million new homes in the south east? They want to do that already.

    And ground transport? To get to Heathrow travellers mainly use the M25, the business motorway in Europe. It's already 12 lanes wide at T5. Build a railway link? Apparently, yes across Staines moor a SSSI

    And the principle of all your eggs in one basket? Bush's visit to Heathrow caused enormous disruption, as did the recent "glide in" incident. So it seems daft to keep on concentrating traffic in one place. Spoke & Hub? So most passengers are in transit & never see more than the terminal - explain to me who that benefits other than BAA & BA? I still remember the BA jet crashing down on the roundabout (yes, I live locally, but not under the flight path), so what happens when a jet crashes at Heathrow, or on the surrounding housing (they've built over most of the green fields around the airport & a 3rd runway would get rid of most of the rest). Ashford hospital was the main emergency centre for the airport, but it's been downgraded to a minor injuries unit - a major incident at Heathrow now would require a nightmare journey through London traffic.

    It's interesting to see those swearing at the opposing viewpoints: always the tactic of the small minded fascist.

  37. Lee Fear

    Why London?

    Perhaps the solution is to increase capacity at other airports around the country. Rather than the governments normal stance of only investing in London. I am pretty sure there are people that live and work in other parts of the UK, but I may be wrong. Perhaps all along I have been living in London without realising it.......

    Increasing capacity in other areas would also have the benefit of increasing business in these areas and therefore smoothing out the wealth across the country. But who cares about the rest of the UK, most Londoners will not have heard of those little places called Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol or Glasgow anyway.... (I seriously met a Londoner who didn't know where Birmingham was!)

  38. Hal Dace


    Aircraft are a noisy, polluting nuisance. However, they are at present the only viable means of intercontinental travel and of domestic travel in bigger or lower-density countries.

    Further, IME, most European regional flights operating from Heathrow are in smaller, less noisy planes like 737s and A320s.

    So the question then, if noise is the problem, is really about volumes of intercontinental travel.

    Now, onto London. In the post-Imperial age, London owes its continued economic power and prosperity to its role as a hub of various kinds. It's not like the UK has any major domestic manufacturing industry, or an automated inflow of stuff from the colonies, so London secures its place in the world by being a place of connection -- financially and culturally -- for world business and anglophone culture in general.

    In a very real sense then, London's airports are what enables it to maintain its status in the world, and its levels of prosperity. The life of the city which you who live there choose(!) to call home stems from it being a place where people from all around the world choose to do business, congregate and visit for personal of professional reasons.

    So you are called to make a compromise, and the question for you guys is, what is London's status as a global hub worth? It's not just about ongoing flights -- it's just as easy to connect through, say, Frankfurt or CDG. It's about how easy it is to keep your city a global hub of money and culture.

    You don't get to have both prosperity and peace & quiet.

  39. Dai

    Re: Why London?

    Wasn't there a plan a few years back to build an island and airport on it in the Bristol channel to save an hours flight for planes coming in from the US? The idea being that not all people fly to the UK from the US to go to London but to go to places like Bristol, Cardiff, Swindon?

  40. spiny norman


    The Maplin proposal was a case study on my economics degree course in 1972. The environmental impact was dreadful then and I can't imagine how it would be better now.

  41. TeeCee Gold badge


    Ssshhh! It's a cunning plan by HM government. By convincing everyone that they're *not* interested in Maplin airport eventually it'll become surplus stock, Maplin will reduce it by 40% and bundle the M12/M13 with it for free*.

    *if we're really lucky we may get some toy helicopters, solar patio lighting and CCTV kit thrown in too.

  42. Lee Fear

    Re:Re: Why London?

    Exactly, There have also been many other airport and genral transport projects suggested, planned and then canned in favour of London Alternatives. It is starting to get silly now! Birmingham New Street is only just getting an upgrade and that is only because it is now so overcrowded that it was having to be shut down at certain periods for safety reasons. It is the busiest station on the network and it was causing the majority of the delays, but the money was being spent on upgrading Londons already widespread transport system instead! All of the large cities in the country need extensive Tube systems but they will not get them, but London needs a new tube line and it is given the go ahead with hardly a question asked.

  43. John Chadwick

    As I've said before... By Rob

    I lived in Blackheath, not exactly close to Heathrow, but 5.00am in the morning, I got woken by the sound of all the red eyes turning in and throttling back for final approach. Didn't hear them when we viewed the house, nor consider that it might be an issue, but then who views houses at 5am. I noticed later in the day they tend tobe closer in to London.

    I now live near Luton airport and when the wind is in the right direction get the full force of aircraft turning South and East on take off. Again you'ld have to be there on the right day to hear it. At least Luton starts a 6.00am.

    Around London there are an awful lot of places on airport flight paths, soit's a bit difficult to avoid it. Around London you have Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton, City, Southend, and loads of smaller airfields, in fact I'd think you'ld be hard pushed to find somewhere in the southeast that wasn't under a TMA, now where are my Aerad maps. So why do we want any more aircraft? let them go to Manchester, EMA or Paris and lets have some nice quiet high speed rail links.

    Still if you really want aircraft noise try V-Bombers landing and taking off from Hatfield when we still had an aircraft industry.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    EL REG!

    Look here mate, Heathrow is rubbish, BAA are Rubbish and a virtual monopoly as well and thats never been good for us lot now has it!

    My solution:

    1) force BAA to sell of 3 of 6 major Airports including Heathrow or Gatwick. They can repay their debts, invest in their airports and stop screwing us.

    2) Move all non passenger, i.e. air freight, to a new purpose built airport outside of London and the M25, connected with rail, road and anything else links.

    3) This will increase efficiency in air freight, reduce local air and road congestion and allow for passenger flight expansion without building another runway. Maybe even make Heathrow usable or at least less painful.

    Speccy guy as i am being sarcastic, its a easy win solution.

  45. Trygve

    Don't live near an airport? What do you want to do, evacuate a third of London?

    You people are friggin kidding. I live in Streatham Common, at least 15km from Heathrow, and frequently get to experience long-haul planes going overhead making enough noise to drown out normal conversation at a sunday barbecue.

    According to the grauniad BA 26 (5 am every morning) hits two million people with at least 50 decibels. The idea that everyone who is inconvenienced by LHR noise is some sort of nimby is just ludicrous.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Supermarket sweep

    It would appear that supermarkets are just as dodgy:

    Morrisons claim that they have "today" saved enough energy throughout their stores to power 18 million 3 bedroom homes for the whole day. As there are only 25 million dwellings in the UK this seems a little fanciful from the off

    Morries have 375 stores

    So that's 48,000 homes per store.

    From a typical household uses 1960kg oil equivalent per annum. **Note at this point that households use gas as well as electricity, but it's all power**

    So lets be generous and say that a 3-bed home would only use 1000kg oil equivalent (or 1 tonne, in energy circles known as a TOE ) per annum.

    To save any messing about working in single days, we'll consider one year for each store and its 48,000 associated homes.

    48,000 homes @ 1 TOE pa = 1 store at 48,000 TOE pa

    Now, 1 TOE is equal to 11.630MWh so in a year the store is saving 48,000 x 11.630 = 558240 MWh per year,

    If we divide by 365, and then 24 we get a figure of ~63 MWh per hour, or an energy rating of 63MW for each store. (assuming constant load through the day and year)

    back to our figure of 375 stores and that's 375 x 63 = 23.6GW for them all. And that's just the power they've saved, we've never even thought about what they've used. That means we could close down nearly 6 Drax Power stations, but as Drax is about 7% of our national generating capacity that seems fanciful - it means Morrisons claim to every day to have reduced their power consumption by 42% of the electricity on the national grid. And they're smaller than Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury's. Imagine if they did decided to help in the same way, we could switch off all our power stations!

    Now I know each store will be supported by a whole load of other infrastructure that uses up energy, from the diesel in the trucks to the plant at their depots. But they say in their stores and even so....

  47. Mr Mark V Thomas

    Re: Heathrow expansion

    Ironically, with regard to a third runway, this was considered in the late 1940's/1950's when Heathrow was under delevopment, and the recommendation was made, at the time, that the land necessary for the construction of said 3rd runway, be bought "in case" that future expansion required it...

    The proposal was rejected....

  48. JohnG

    I lived <5 miles from LHR, under the flight path for 12 years...

    ...and the Heathrow expansion is fine by me. Like others have said, if you move next to the busiest airport in the UK, there will be some noise - and the airport will probably have to expand over time.

    It was only the night flights that pissed me off - if they can build more runways, they can shift more aircraft during the day - that's fine with me.

    There's also the jobs issue - LHR provides employment for many people in the surrounding area and injects considerable money into the local economy.

    This is the same nonsense as the idiots who move to tne country and then moan about the smell of the (long established) pig farm down the road.

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