Job, opportunities and sustainability – that’s what the country needs

Back Heathrow supporters in front of Royal Courts of Justice

October 17, 2019 was another huge day for the Back Heathrow campaign. Our supporters were outside the Royal Courts of Justice on what was the first day of an appeal launched by several London boroughs, environmental groups and the Mayor of London.

They were the same claimants who lost a judicial review earlier this year, when the High Court threw out their challenge to the new runway at Heathrow on all grounds – and then awarded costs of £625,000 against them.

It was a good day from a Back Heathrow point of view. We had dozens of supporters present – including GMB and Unite union reps who added their voices to the chorus of: Get on and build it!

The mood among supporters was enthusiastic and good natured, fuelled by lots of coffee and the expectation of being on the other side of the road from the anti-expansion protesters. 

It was a very busy and eventful day, with Extinction Rebellion protesters at Gatwick Airport, others provoking an ugly looking brawl at Canning Town DLR station, which dominated social media and newspapers the next day.

We believe you can have sustainable airport growth and tackle climate change too. Our message is simple: We want to see a new runway delivered with tight regulations: mitigating noise, protect air quality, cutting carbon and enshrined in law.

Likewise, the message from our friends among the trade unions at Heathrow airport is equally straight forward: Joe McGowan from Unite said: “Expansion will make a massive difference to the west London economy. We are campaigning for quality new jobs alongside tough regulations to protect our environment. At Heathrow we can have both." 

Perry Phillips GMB’s Aviation Officer added: "We know it’s in the interests of current and future GMB members to expand the airport. This is a crucial project for London and the whole UK."

Job, opportunities and sustainability. That’s what the country needs.

See the pictures from the event here.


The apprenticeship pathway can work for all and everyone

Back Heathrow team members attended the recent Hounslow Regeneration 2.0 Conference, skilfully and ably hosted by Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, where a range of business, political and educational stakeholders gave presentations on their roles in the future of the borough. It was fantastic to see so many people and businesses committed to making Hounslow a better place for both residents and businesses.

One of the presentations that really caught our attention was by Janet Rowson, head of Apprenticeships at the University of West London (UWL). Apprenticeships have long been one of the core pillars of the expansion promise, offering 10,000 apprenticeships to help young people locally into work.

At Back Heathrow we have often made reference to this offer as part of the wider Heathrow proposal, but what do we really know about the technicalities of what a modern apprenticeship looks like? In order to better understand this issue we listened with interest as Janet gave her presentation.

She introduced the topic by asking the audience how many of us knew that you could get a degree level qualification from an apprenticeship? Not many! Through the employer levy that was introduced in 2017, any company with a turnover of £3million or more can engage with the programme.

The employer must pay a salary, provide all the standard benefits of work and allow at least 20% time off for the apprentice to learn. If the employer is not eligible to pay the levy the apprentice is co-funded with the government.

From April 2019, for a non-levy-paying employer, the government covers 95% of the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. If an employer does pay the levy, it will also be able to transfer up to 25% of unused annual funds to other organisations.

UWL offers approximately 15 higher and degree apprenticeships starting at Level 4 intermediate to Level 7 masters level.

Across the wider UK, the number of apprenticeships starters has doubled from 20,000 to nearly 50,000 Since 2014-15. This includes a sharp increase in Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships at degree and master level.

The proximity of Heathrow means a strong relationship and the proposed new runway brings the potential for 5,000 new apprenticeship on top of the existing 5,000 already provided by the airport.

Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye later told the conference that Heathrow airport had forged close links over decades with the local community and many Hounslow residents have had long and successful careers at the airport.

Heathrow says that to ensure sustainable, long-term employment for Heathrow’s current and future workforce it has launched a new Apprenticeships and Careers Show. It will give attendees the chance to explore future skills and apply for live vacancies and apprenticeships. It focuses on three main groups:

  • Employers offering current job opportunities and apprenticeships
  • School and college groups of Year 11, 12 and 13 students who can visit exclusively on the first day of the event to find out about their future career options
  • Active job seekers of all ages and abilities who are looking to join Heathrow immediately.

In the interests of fairness, there are other Apprenticeship schemes available in the colleges and universities across west London and the Thames Valley. However, Janet’s presentation gave us a real insight into what modern apprenticeships let you achieve and how the apprenticeship pathway can work for all and everyone.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the apprenticeship pathway on offer at UWL, you can find out more at - https://www.uwl.ac.uk/for-business/apprenticeships


Support for Heathrow expansion remains strong in local communities

This year has seen significant developments in the campaign for a new runway at Heathrow airport.

Heathrow launched two of the biggest ever consultation exercises as the planning stage for the proposal edged forward. The planning application is now expected next year after the airport digests responses to its consultation on its ‘master plan’.

The latest polling undertaken by Populus in August shows that in 16 out of the 18 constituencies around the airport more people support than oppose the new runway.

The Back Heathrow campaign has been boosted by several council surveys that showed strong support for expansion among its residents. In February, a surveyof Hounslow residents revealed a significant shift in local opinion in favour of Heathrow’s new runway. It showed that 59% of residents overall supported a new runway – up from 44% in 2016.

In June, another residents’ survey– this one in Ealing, revealed that that a large majority of its residents now backed the scheme with 69% of residents backing expansion.

What factors are in play to keep support for a new runway consistently strong? Back Heathrow has always stressed the economic benefits of such a massive infrastructure project and the arguments remain persuasive: 5,000 new apprenticeships, 40,000 new local jobs and over 180,000 across the UK, and much improved public transport links.

This economic boost to prosperity is worth billions and has the potential to end youth unemployment in local boroughs. Good for residents, their families and the wider community across London and the UK.

A second factor that has gained traction locally is the idea that you can have expansion and tackle the challenge of climate change. A combination of technological innovation; more efficient aircraft and tough government regulations on carbon and air quality will ensure our country meets its targets on sustainability.

For more information about our campaign visit Back Heathrow’s website: www.backheathrow.org

Parmjit Dhanda
Executive Director
Back Heathrow


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