Friday, July 25, 2008

Economic case for Heathrow expansion 'flawed'

An article in the RTT needs little to be added to:
Economic case for Heathrow expansion 'flawed' (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)

The Friends of the Earht have commissionned a report to the Stockholm Environment Institute was commissioned: see their press release here.

The report was written by Elizabeth A. Stanton and Frank Ackerman from the Stockholm Environment Institute - US Centre. A link to the full report is

From the RTT site:

The report found three major flaws in the assessment of these benefits and called for an independent review:

  • The passenger demand projections are uncertain - for example they rely on fares falling because the cost of oil per barrel is predicted to fall from an assumed $65 in 2006 to $53 in 2030. Oil is currently around $130 a barrel and experts predict will not fall below this before the end of 2016.
  • Foreign passengers changing planes in the UK are counted as a benefit to the UK economy - but this is against HM Treasury guidance on project appraisal. In 2005 nearly 30 per cent of Heathrow passengers were travellers simply changing planes.
  • It assumes “doing nothing” is the only alternative to airport expansion ignoring alternatives with less environmental impact like switching short haul passengers to rail travel, investing in video conferencing or limiting transfer passengers.
This comes as little surprise, after the government commissioned a study on the future of transportation by no one else than the former BA boss: The Eddington Transport Study.

Strangely, although it's successful everywhere else in Europe, he did recommend against high speed link (see my previous post: Finally, high speed train gets national coverage).

Just to repeat myself: looking at Heathrow in isolation is at best misleading since there are 4 other international aiports in London (plus spare capacity in Portsmouth, Midlands, ect, all easily reachable by high-speed train if there was any) and it is dishonest because it doesn't look into alternative transport modes.

But then, the DfT, BA and BAA are forming a ménage a trois to protect the commercial interests of BA and BAA...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Restaurant review: TAS

It's not often I enjoy a good and fairly priced restaurant in London. But it's exactely what we came across last week-end when we went to have dinner at Tas, a Turkish eaterie on The Cut, close to Waterloo station -perfect to finish a day of rambling through the capital and visit some attractions such as Tate Modern.

We had several dishes, all quite pleasing: a lentil soup, grilled chicken, hummous, falafel, tabouleh salads, etc... All mediteranean dishes, simple and honest, washed with a good rosé (Don Jacobo Rijoa, £15.35).

Best news was the price: the menus are less than a tenner, making it possible to eat for under £20, a rare feat. Even the teenagers we had with us were pleased!!!

Highly recommended!

33 The Cut
Waterloo, London SE1 8LF
020 7928 1444

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Finally, high speed train gets national coverage

The 2M group, representing the 2 millions people living under the Heathrow airport flight path (LHR is the airport annoying the most people in Europe) has managed to get great coverage:

Evening Standard: £30bn rail link to put Sheffield within three hours of Paris
BBC: Proposals for speed rail link
and more...

Read also this well research page: High Speed Rail to the North on andTHE IMPACT OF HIGH SPEED RAIL ON HEATHROW AIRPORT on Greengauge21.

From the 2M Group website:

High Speed North - Joining up Britain
2M Group has published a new study which looks at how a new high speed
rail network could link major cities throughout the UK and provide
direct routes to Europe.

The proposals would join Heathrow to this new rail network – removing the need for most domestic flights.

It would link UK cities to Europe with, in many cases, a travelling time of less than four hours.

The proposals have been published by 2M as part of its contribution to the growing debate on alternatives to aviation growth.

pdf icon High Speed North – Joining up Britain (515 kb)

You can also download some of the more detailed workings of the report's author.

pdf icon Principles of high speed rail (126 kb)

Read my previous posts on the subject under the tag Heathrow.

Finally, listen to this BBC report showing the collusion between the DfT, BA and BAA:

Heathrow plans 'not biased'

Friday, July 18, 2008

Today, I've solved the energy crisis (Friday post)!

See my commentary on
Rob Enderle's post: The Desk That Could Save Your Life.

Actually, I think I've solved several problems:
  • reduce dependency on (foreign) oil and other fossile energy sources via a totally renewable (read "breeding) source
  • reduce NHS deficit and combat obesity epidemic
  • solve back problems of office workers
  • provide new-age management metrics
  • and many more!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Environmental perversity...

Because the Government has imposed a "use it or loose it" rule for those precious Heathrow take-off and landing slots, some airlines such as BMI plan to have planes ‘fly empty’ to keep slots at Heathrow.

This shows the difficulty of governing in a free market economy (if there's such a thing?): any regulation potentially affects market forces and can be perverse.

In this case, the perversity is that if prevents short term downwards capacity adjustment.

However, it brings the LHR third runway question again: at a time where the Government seems to already have made its mind (read Hutton signals go-ahead for Heathrow expansion before consultation), another proof of its collusion with BA and BAA, it seems that with oil prices at a record level and not going down any time soon the need for additional capacity may not be there anyway.

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Monday, July 14, 2008


So politicians want us to be green... Seems laudable, especially since it is badly needed, the country being bad at recycling, etc...

But then, it seems it always only translate in one thing for citizens: more taxes. Car are an obvious and easy target, but even if one accepts taxing based on CO2 is a good idea (I don't), France for instance have figured out a way to achieve the same goals with a fiscally neutral system.

But in the UK, nope -it's always tax more.

For example, there are no incentives to install solar panels for (the payback is something like 15 years) the German or France again goverments provides grants in the shape of subsidised feed-in tariffs (home and business can sell solar-generated electricity back into the grid), which makes it affordable and reduces the return on investment to 3-5 years). As a result, over half a million homes are equiped in Germany, helping with mass production scale economies -and creating 400 000 jobs in the process.

But in the UK? Nope. Another bad example is public transportation, where the goverment wants rail users to contribute more: reduced subsidies mean that passengers revenue will climb from 50 to 75%!!!

This is my point: the Government is taxing polluting cars on one hand, but not taxing aviation fuel and increasing the cost of alternative, less polluting, transportation modes. Can't think of being more hypocritical on green issues!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Heathrow expansion is vital...

...for Mr. Walsh's bonus!

His arguments in this Richmond and Twickenham Times article dubious for the least:

1. The jobs impact has never been quantified by an independent survey

2. Comparing LHR alone to other airports is dishonest for the least because London has FIVE (international) airports.

3. Finally, BA and BAA just can't be trusted: T5 was given planning permission on the condition there will not be further expansion...

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where to buy some cheese in Richmond?

Here's one of Richmond's best secrets: every Saturdays and Sundays, on the Homebase/Curry's car park, there's a French-style market van, complete with the Frenchman selling cheese inside!

See the picture as proof.

He sells alls sorts of cheeses, including some real unpasteurised ones such as Camembert de Normandie AOC, Roquefort, Comté, etc... All very reasonably priced, which is even better!

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Should cyclists follow the same rules than cars?

Read today:
BBC NEWS | England | Cyclists 'don't obey road laws'

IMHO, why should cylists follows a road legislation designed a long time ago and mainly for cars?

For instance, for cyclists to start ahead of a green light is much safer and allows to avoid being mowed down by lorries and busses.

The insurance law need to change to give automatic rights to cyclists vs. cars, it's how it works in Netherlands.

Resistance, un-informed comments and inadequate cyling infrastructures (like paths stopping where one needs them most) usually comes from automobilists who have never cycled.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Smile... and don't film back

Most of us are incredibly uncomfortable with the increased surveillance we're coming under:
This surveillance onslaught is draconian and creepy

The cameras, they are multiplying - and now they even have ears. But the state hasn't stopped to run the plan past us, by Marina Hyde in The Guardian, on Saturday June 28, 2008. And now, they're even using military technology to track us.

Especially when the wombles tell you not to film in public places:
Pretend cops bully videographer, videographer wins - Boing Boing

So, next time you're signing up for an Oyster Card, think again.