Several members from TAG attended the DfT publicity schmooze held on behalf of Heathrow in Twickenham February 23rd 2017 so in case you missed it, some observations from our visit…..
- It was astonishing how little DfT representatives knew, staff were lacking both in knowledge and facts and without exception replied along the lines of “Put your views along with your experiences and any hard facts which you believe refute or negate Heathrow’s grounds for its proposals into your response to this consultation.” No one was really interested in taking on board the public’s response and all seemed to have been primed to expect hostility and not to engage in debate.
- An interactive map showing noise contours used at the roadshow excludes many areas already currently impacted by noise. A DfT representative confirmed that the noise contours prepared by them do include non-noise days. (reduces impacts to watered down averages) When it was pointed out that this is contrary to EU Regulations it was then claimed that the maps were only models for illustration, nothing more. This is patently untrue since these contours were in the Airports Commission reports and decisions have been made based on these noise maps including the allocation of the health impact analysis as part of the National Policy Statement. The DfT are not being helpful in producing maps like this.
- After speaking with the DfT aviation capacity director, it became clear she:
- had no specific views on the positioning of the noise contours on the noise maps.
- had no answer to how the Government would comply with the environmental requirements other than the Airports Commission was of the view that “it can be done”.
- had no view on Climate Change and the effects of a Heathrow expansion on regional airports and their ability to expand.
- had no view on the bribery of the Scottish Government and the letter of confirmation of expected payments for supporting expansion.
- had no knowledge of two court judgements against the UK Government on air pollution or that the DfT had yet to comply with them.
- confirmed that there is to be a further environmental report in April as stated in the NPS but had no view on how that would comply with the Court orders from cases brought by ClientEarth.
- The most frequent comments from members of the public leaving the event were that the consultation was extremely biased in favour of Heathrow, that no significant questions had been answered, they had simply been passed from one to another to another of the DfT representatives present, with none able to give answers of any real meaning or value.
- The DfT claims that UK airports have ‘trust’ and ‘positive relationships’ with communities now. When questioned as to which airport(s) got on well with their “neighbours”, there was a long pause and then a hesitant ‘Manchester?’
- The DfT representatives questioned denied revolving door hiring practices between their department and Heathrow and claimed to have no knowledge that Howard Davies was a paid board member of Heathrow owner the Singapore Government Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC prior to assuming the role of head of the “Independent” Airports Commission.
In summary, when told what a load of piffle the exhibition was, the standard DfT response was that now is the time to tell the DfT what we think in our responses to the NPS consultation! So, TAG’S recommendation to you is to respond to the NPS consultation, write to the DfT with any unanswered questions, copy your MP and continue to chase until we all start getting the answers we are owed.