Local people need Western Rail link, says Back Heathrow

Local people want to see an end to delays to the Western Rail link to Heathrow say Back Heathrow, the community campaign that supports job creation for residents close to the airport.

Planning permission for the project – that links Wales and South-West England to Heathrow airport has been delayed by a year, after many years of delays. The scheme was not even mentioned in the government’s own recent connectivity review of rail.

Back Heathrow Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda said: “This project boosts rail connectivity, cuts carbon and helps create jobs from Wales to west London. This could be one of the biggest ‘levelling up’ projects for working communities in the south of our country. The government needs to crack on and do it.”

Back Heathrow fully supports the Thames Valley and other Chambers of Commerce; many regional economic and transport forums; the Wales Assembly, and local councils that all say they are bitterly disappointed by delays to this much-needed project.

Western Rail to Heathrow link says the project will:

  • bring improvements in connectivity to 14m people across regions
  • support regional economies in the South West, south Wales, South Central and Midlands
  • will help deliver UK climate change targets and mitigate the impact of Heathrow
  • be a vital stimulus to the recovery of the UK aviation industry
  • help the recovery of international trade and inbound tourism.

See the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce story here: https://bit.ly/3y7QS2c

Plane vs Train – but no Automobile


In the run up to COP26, there has been a massive media focus on Britain’s domestic airline routes. The Campaign for Better Transport staged a fascinating race last month between the train and plane on a journey from London to Glasgow. For the record, the plane won by just two minutes.

On top of this, controversy was generated around Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s budget. Which saw a cut in air passenger duty for domestic flights, leaving environmentalists reeling in the run-up to COP26 and arguing for reductions in train fares instead. However, Heathrow does not need to compete with Britain's railways for passengers, because they both serve different purposes.

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America reopens to international travel: Time for aviation’s recovery?

The long-awaited lifting of the US travel ban was finally announced in September.

18 months into travel restrictions, the US government has said it will lift its travel ban on UK and EU citizens that had been in place since the start of the pandemic.

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SAFs: The fuel of the Present

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), created from household and industrial waste instead of fossil fuels, can offer up to 80% fewer carbon emissions over their lifecycle than traditional jet fuel, but their mass-rollout is hindered by lack of supply, resulting in high prices and subsequently, low demand.

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Under the Radar: Technological Solutions for Decarbonising Aviation

It’s not surprising that within the aviation industry it is new, innovative fuels like hydrogen, battery or sustainable aviation fuels that receive the most attention from commentators. After all, it’s kerosene that causes the emissions.

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For a Better Heathrow, think Rail

For a major international airport, Heathrow, unlike its European rivals, is poorly served by rail access. Currently, Heathrow is only directly linked by eastward-facing rail lines towards central London that neglect the huge number of passenger flows to the south and west of the airport.

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Can Hydrogen Powered Aircraft Become a Reality?

As part of the effort to decarbonise aviation, it’s often Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) that receive the attention. They are of course important, and immediately available - which helps. But whilst SAFs can cut carbon today, it has been said that hydrogen could eliminate carbon from aviation in the future. Let's explore this for a moment.

Over the last few weeks, the UK has quietly set out its credentials for it to lead the way in research on the use of hydrogen for powering aircraft.

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Back Heathrow welcomes the government’s decision not to oppose a new runway at Heathrow airport

Back Heathrow welcomes the government’s decision not to oppose a new runway at Heathrow airport – but warns that commitments on decarbonisation at the COP26 climate change conference in November are crucial if aviation is to meet its own emission targets.

Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said: “This decision not to review its airports policy is welcome news for communities in West London who want the benefits of the thousands of new jobs that expansion could create.

“They want expansion, but also want it done sustainably. There are a whole raft of new technologies for tackling carbon emissions in the aviation sector. Hydrogen and other sustainable fuels, electric, and battery powered flight must be taken to the next level through a firm commitment from government. It must back these solutions.”

Back Heathrow’s 100,000 supporters live close to Heathrow Airport and believe in the benefits of international travel.

Mr Dhanda added: “We believe the chance to visit family members abroad or take a holiday is a good thing. We also believe it is important to grow international trade, which will depend on Heathrow’s capacity in the years to come. All of this must come coincide with net zero carbon targets.”

The government’s existing approach is aligned with its long-term climate commitments, including net-zero by 2050 en-route to reducing emissions by 78% by 2035, against a 1990 baseline.


Aviation jobs critical to local communities in west London

A new report has set out the risks of aviation job losses to local communities around Heathrow airport and west London.

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of community campaign group Back Heathrow, which has over 100,000 supporters, said: “Our campaign is arguing the importance of Heathrow airport as an engine room for the economy. This report provides clear evidence of the link between the health of the airport and the prosperity of local communities.”

Back Heathrow believes the government should look carefully at this report, compiled by Airlines UK, and resolve to do more to protect jobs in aviation by extending the furlough scheme for the sector and by agreeing a safe return to international travel to boost trade and jobs.

The report shows that overall, over 100,000 jobs in London depend on aviation. This includes:

8,565 direct jobs in the Brentford and Isleworth constituency; 7,553 in Feltham and Heston; 6,346 in Hayes and Harlington; 3,797 in Twickenham; 3,732 Southall.

Mr Dhanda added: “These figures are the tip of the iceberg, the wider supply chain is huge. The Prime Minister’s own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is directly reliant on aviation for over 3,000 jobs. He needs to get control of the situation fast.”

The Airlines UK report can be found here. 

Back Heathrow Welcomes Amber List Announcement

Back Heathrow has welcomed the announcement from the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, that from 19th July, fully vaccinated Britons will not be required to quarantine on their return from amber-list countries.

Since the necessary restriction of international travel at the start of the pandemic, Back Heathrow has campaigned for targeted financial support for the aviation and travel sectors to protect jobs and livelihoods. The responsible adjusting of the rules for fully vaccinated travellers is good news for the many thousands of families who depend on Heathrow and airports across the country.

Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said, “Heathrow is crucial to the livelihoods of local people and it’s also the country’s most important port, contributing over £6 billion to the UK economy. Global Britain needs a vibrant Heathrow if it is to create the growth and jobs to get people back to work, locally and nationally. The next step needs to be a safe opening up of important business routes to places like the US.”

The government’s announcement opens up travel to over 100 ‘amber list’ destinations in time for the summer holiday season. This includes most of the European Union, including popular holiday destinations such as France, Spain and the Greek islands.