Tag Archives: aviation

Sarah Olney (and other Lib Dems) on the problem of night flights

Sarah Olney was granted an adjournment debate yesterday, so took the opportunity to visit an issue that plagues her constituency – aircraft noise, especially at night. She was joined by her neighbouring MP, Munira Wilson, whose Twickenham constituency is affected even more. Christine Jardine and Wera Hobhouse also chipped in. Who knew so many Lib Dem constituencies had this problem?

You can read the full debate in Hansard, but here are some highlights.

Sarah Olney:

Night flights are the most intrusive form of aircraft noise and there is clear evidence that they harm both the physical and mental health of residents who live under flightpaths. This summer, the delays and chaos at Heathrow airport resulted in an increased number of flights landing through the night. For my constituents and for many others across west and south-west London, that disturbance resulted in countless sleepless nights.

This disturbance is completely avoidable. Night flights are by no means essential for airport operations. These flights can and should be moved and it is within the Government’s remit to ensure that that happens.

I therefore have two asks of the Department for Transport. My primary call is for a ban on scheduled flights at Heathrow airport between 11 pm and 6 am.  That is the only way we can be sure that residents will not continue to suffer from noise disruption. If the Government will not commit to that, they must commission a full independent analysis of the impact of night flights on the health of local communities, the environment and the UK economy to inform future policy development.

Munira Wilson:

My constituency of Twickenham is, of course, that bit closer to Heathrow and further along the flightpath, so I wholeheartedly welcome and support the two asks that she is making of the Minister today about trying to balance the economic benefits of night flights against the health risks and the distress that they cause to constituents. Does she agree that the Government could start by looking at extending the night-time restriction to 10 pm, from 11.30 pm, given the large number of frequent late-night departures that are blighting my constituents’ sleep?

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We can learn from the aviation industry about preventing and managing disaster

Air travel is safer than it has ever been. Despite a 60% rise in worldwide passenger numbers in the ten year period to 2015, that year was the safest on record for aviation. The following year was the second safest.

So this begs the question of whether we should look to the aviation industry when we consider how to respond to future tragedies like the Grenfell fire.

Put quite simply the airline industry is very good at learning from past accidents and near misses to understand why these have happened and what changes need to be made to make flying safer.

As an example after the Manchester airport runway fire in 1985 in which 53 people died, procedures from how pilots should react to an on board fire on the ground, to the seating configuration on planes were altered.

Planes are taken out of service when deemed a safety risk  and parts changed, pilots are re-trained and technology moves on to adapt to the safety needs of the industry. National air accident investigation bodies from different countries share knowledge and often work together after a crash.

This gives passengers re-assurance that their odds of being caught up in a plane crash are incredibly low.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

The Independent View: The Liberal case for airport expansion is strong

Centre Forum aviationThe debate over airport expansion, particularly in the South East, has been raging for decades. Later this year, it is due to reach a crucial moment as Howard Davies and the Airports Commission publish their final report. Ahead of this, CentreForum has published a report looking at the liberal case for aviation and explaining how genuine concerns over environmental challenges, noise and regional growth should be addressed.

Though not directly concerned with Liberal Democrat policy, the report does raise questions over the wisdom of the party’s current position.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , and | 40 Comments

Lord Brian Paddick writes… Is it reasonable to ban runway expansion across the UK?

Runway photo by Today is a good dayThis Conference we will be debating our Pre-Manifesto.  Of the huge number of policy proposals there is one likely to incite a great deal of considered debate within the Party – the commitment to no net increase in runways across the UK.  The pre-manifesto bans any expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick and it prohibits a new airport in the Thames Estuary.  Is this a reasonable position to take?

I am a loyal Liberal Democrat and like most of us, I am conscious of the need to protect our environment.  I don’t have a car.  My world is my Oyster Card and unless I’m late for a very important date, I take the bus, train or tube everywhere.

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A longer read for the weekend: Tim Leunig on how to increase airport capacity in the UK

leunig bigger and quieterCongratulations to Tim Leunig — these days a senior adviser in the Department for Education, but until recently chief economist at the CentreForum think-tank — whose report Bigger and quieter: the right answer for aviation was the winner this week of the economic and financial category at Prospect Magazine’s Think Tank of the Year Awards 2013.

Tim’s report, published jointly by CentreForum and Policy Exchange, examined all the options for increasing airport capacity in the UK. It supports placing four runways immediately west of the current Heathrow site, doubling the existing capacity to 130 million passengers, and cementing it as Europe’s premier hub:

We argue that the first best solution is to build four new parallel runways, arranged in two sets of pairs, immediately to the west of the existing Heathrow airport. These would run above the M25, and Wraysbury reservoir. The Poyle industrial estate and a relatively limited amount of housing would need to be demolished. Clearly the problem with Heathrow at present is noise. Moving the runways west reduces noise over west London, since the planes will be higher over any given place. We will reinforce this noise reduction by banning the noisiest planes. This is not possible in the short run, but could be achieved by 2030, a plausible date for this airport to open.

In addition, narrow bodied planes will be required to land more steeply, as they do in London City. Again, this means that they are further up when they are above any particular place, reducing the amount of noise that reaches the ground. Finally there would be an absolute ban on night flights.

Interested in reading more? Here’s the link, and below’s the full document…

Bigger and quieter: the right answer for aviation — Tim Leunig for CentreForum / Policy Exchange (October…

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What Lib Dem members think about the third Heathrow runway and increased aviation capacity

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Big thumbs-up to party’s continuing policy to oppose third Heathrow runway…

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose building a third runway at Heathrow airport?

    12% – Support
    79% – Oppose
    9% – Don’t know

The Tories may be preparing to U-turn on a third runway in readiness for their 2015 general election manifesto, but Lib Dems remain resolutely opposed to a further …

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Opinion: Time to take a stand on “Boris Island”

Local politics in the south-east of England, especially in North Kent and London, has been dominated by the proposed HUB airport, it was a key issue in the Mayoral debate, especially for residents of the Medway towns. London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson is pushing for a new airport either on the Isle of Grain where there is an RSPB sanctuary on marshland that was portrayed in Dickens’ Great Expectations or in the middle of the estuary itself.

It is a story that is hardly out of the local press or local Politicians blogs which is why I was reading a

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

Opinion: “Capitalism is a great success story.” Really, Nick?

On Monday, Nick Clegg gave a speech on responsible capitalism. This was his first real foray into the debate since it has erupted as a major talking point, even though we as a party have been arguing the need to reform capitalism before it was cool.

Before criticising capitalism, he praised it by saying this:

Capitalism may be today’s political punchbag, but let’s take a long view: it’s one of history’s great success stories. No other human innovation has driven progress  and raised living standards so consistently. Markets catalyse ideas, invention and experimentation. When they work well, they are meritocratic and

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 35 Comments

Opinion: Climate change – what can you and I do and the Government won’t?

Now that the UK’s 1400 top scientists have spoken (“Climate Change, A summary of the science” from the Royal Society), there’s no longer any doubt that human activity is a significant cause of the steady warming of the planet over the last hundred years. So, unless we change our habits, we face an increasingly unstable climate, with rising sea levels and worsening floods and droughts leading to major disruption to food production. With the predicted rise in world population from six to ten billion by 2050, it is clear that humanity is in serious trouble.

So …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 11 Comments
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